Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Learning the same thing over again?

So since the human learning curve is a spiral, I suppose it is normal for the same things to come up again that we thought we learned a long time ago.

God is calling us to personal relationship, and personal holiness, and to taking Him seriously. I thought I had learned that. But since I am trapped in this claymation dwelling, I cannot seem to go for very long before I find I have forgotten who I am in Christ. I am so grateful for new mercies every morning and the fact that He never lets go of the other end of the rope.

Major things like hurricanes and earthquakes bring home the fact that we do not have the control in life that we think we do, and His sovereignty is the only thing that keeps me from despair.

May we all live less selfishly, and may we all remember the One in charge.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Step by step with patience

Ever find yourself inordinately grateful for the patience of God? I mean, really, He has every reason to give up on me. And yet, He continues His pursuit of me as if it hasn't already been nearly 25 years and I am still a wreck in so many ways.

People who think they are going to earn their way into heaven, work their way in, just be good enough to get in, have it all wrong. Because as I have said before, life isn't about me.

Self aggrandizement and self pity and self hatred and self esteem - or lack thereof - all have in common this one thing - "self."

The sooner we get over ourselves the better off the world will be.

Jesus came to suffer, to reach out to the lost and lonely, to heal the sick, to preach good news.

Shouldn't those of us who claim to be His do likewise?

Thank God He is still willing to let me. Thank God for His patience.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Around and around we go

So these retreats and summits are so great for recharging the batteries - and the battered. Those of us who are battered by life, I mean. We get to slow down so we can actually hear the voice of the Divine speaking to us - personally.

I am convinced that the enemy of all that is Good uses the fast pace of life to rob us of that opportunity. As a result, we get bogged down, distracted, and when we do think about God and our relationship with and to Him, we tend to have a somewhat skewed view.

For me, it usually comes in the form of dwelling on past mistakes about which I can do nothing, and with which consequences I daily live, trapped in the knowing of what could be and not being able to make it come to fruition. And so I pray that I am forgiven, and that He will help me out of that mess or this, and I end up "knowing" that I cannot possibly be the pleasing child of the King that I want to be, and "knowing" that I have made a mess, and "vowing" to be better.

And then comes the Voice, sometimes internally, sometimes in nature, and sometimes, as this, in the form of a friend, saying exactly what is needed, and echoing the words sent form the Throne of Grace - that my Father is proud of me, knows what I am doing, and has His Divine Hand on me to work, and to guide, and to mold, and to make, because He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it.

And I return, ready for another round on the spiral.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Center of the Spiral

I have been hearing the message over and over again lately - this life is not about me. This life is about making the most of what God gave me to do His work. It is about others - taking care of their needs, showing love and compassion and mercy at every turn.

Alison Littauer quoted a "dead guy" in a talk she gave, saying that even in the church, "self" is an issue. "The self can survive at the very altar, and watch the bleeding victim die, completely unmoved."

Oh, that I might not live that way - in service to self, in ignorance of my fellow man, in rebellion against my God!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Spiraling out of control...

Yeah, so I thought I would write things slightly more often for this blog...but alas, my life has been spiraling out of control.

Can't do it all, it seems.

Which is really pretty normal. I mean, even Jesus didn't do it all. There were probably still a few sick people in the world when he said, "It is finished." But He did everything the Father gave Him to do.

I can only strive to do the same. Right now it is being with my students and doing a musical - "Man of La Mancha." We're having fun.

Serving where I am planted - what a concept.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Spiral is Unbroken

There are so many people who think that God has changed, or that the Old Testament talks about a different God than the New Testament. They couldn't be more wrong. God has always been about being in relationship with us, and has always given the same guideline - believe in Him and walk with Him.

Now, people interpret these things differently sometimes, but I don't think there are that many different ways to look at it. God has always been gracious - even Deuteronomy tells us that He loves to reach out to the alien. Isaiah talks about the Gentiles being included in the plan all along. And the New Testament is all about finishing the work He started, giving us a mediator who knows what it is to BE us, and who succeeded where we failed. Hebrews says that God, therefore, can deal gently with us.

We have ever been meant to walk in His steps, to be like Him. And the promise of life has ever been the same.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Spiral Peeled

When God created humans, He created them to have fellowship with Him. They were created innocent, sinless, and in complete communion with Him. He gave them a home - the Garden of Eden, and a job - to tend it.

He gave them two commands: Be fruitful and multiply, and stay away from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." I have a few questions about this.

First, why is everyone always talking about the fruit being an apple? We don't really know what it was. Could have been kiwi or mango. But that isn't all that important I suppose.

Second, was there some magical property in the fruit of that tree to open the eyes of Adam and Eve? Or was it the simple act of disobedience to the One who made them and had given them everything that made them see sin and shame, and experience the fact that sin ruins our relationships with God, creation, ourselves, and others? I do not think the fruit had any magical properties. I think it was in the act of disobedience that their eyes were opened.

How they must have felt. To have never known shame, and now to know it so well. To have forever ruined the perfect relationship of trust between themselves and their Creator. Need a picture of that? Has a friend ever broken a trust? Something is different afterwards, isn't it? No matter what you do, things cannot ever be the same. We grew up with this. But Adam and Eve were the first ones to ever feel that, and, in fact, are the reason we all feel it. One time they disobeyed the command, and the whole thing unraveled.

Now, my last question is why even put that tree there? I mean, here was a perfect garden, a perfect pair of humans, perfect communion, with a command that, if disobeyed, would ruin it all! Why take the chance?

Because without free will, we would have been automatons in communion. God wants us to love Him by choice. He loves us enough, as the poem goes, to "let us go." We have the choice to come back to Him. And that makes our communion all the sweeter.

How sweet it will be when we get back to the garden, and God opens to us the tree of life.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bonhoeffer and Hebrews 2

This morning I was reading "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He talked about the fact that the Kingdom of God is built and lived right in the midst of His enemies. While we were still sinners, says Romans, Christ died for us. We were enemies of God, and Jesus came and lived among us, became like us, so that he became the perfect author of our faith.

Then I was reading Hebrews 2. Verse 10 says that Jesus, the author of our faith, was made perfect through suffering. He will bring us to glory, but it was through suffering that He is able to do it.

How do these tie together? I am not totally cemented in my thinking yet, but let me give it a shot.

We are going to suffer in this life. It is how we live with this, how we live above it, that will show those who do not yet belong to God who we are. Building His kingdom, building His community here, will mean suffering. But we are "sown among the nations" to show God's character. And eventually, He will gather us in again completely, even as He has already gathered us in spiritually. This is part of why community is so important. If we share our suffering with another, our suffering is halved. And our joy at making it through is doubled!

Now, I say all this at a time when I am experiencing little pain and no real suffering. I just hope I can remember it later. But isn't that all part of being on the spiral?

Monday, February 07, 2005

The First Step onto the Blog Spiral

There is something to be said for the idea that the human learning curve is like a spiral staircase. Over the course of our lives, we seem to cover similar issues from different angles at different times. Hopefully, as we progress up the spiral, we get a better understanding, deeper picture, fresh perspective.

Learning to live out our faith is a lifelong pursuit. Living it out in community requires a readiness to share our lives and our thoughts. We must have people we trust with whom we can travel the road home.

I have no idea how often I will write articles for this blog. But as I learn, I want to share. My thoughts, stories, and lessons may help someone on their journey. Since we are all in this together, why not help each other along?