Saturday, December 30, 2006

What the World Needs Now... grace, grace, grace.


Not only do we need grace for ourselves, we need to extend grace to others. I was shocked at the undercurrent of frustration and anger as I shopped this holiday season. It seems like people went shopping mad and only got madder if things weren't moving fast enough, or if they couldn't get exactly what they wanted right away, or if the clerk was new and made mistakes.

In fact, it isn't just shopping. It's everywhere. An undercurrent of anger, lurking just below the surface. Look around on your morning commute - road rage waiting to happen. And I am not immune to it, either, I am afraid.

We have got to slow down and get gracious.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I am leading worship this week at my church. I am doing some fun stuff with the "prepare" theme - Prepare ye the Way of the Lord; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; My Hope is You; Rescue; I Know My Redeemer Lives; Joy to the World. It is a list meant to make the progression from expectation and preparation to the fact that Jesus has come, and will return. I enjoy linking Christmas and Easter songs together, because even while we celebrate the Child in the manger, we celebrate the eternal, risen, and returning King.

I think it will be fun.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Distinct Roar

Saturday afternoon I found myself sitting where even a week ago I would not have bothered to go. On a log, by a river, after a little walk in the woods. It was beautiful.

A friend had mentioned hearing this generic roar, and following it to the river that was creating it. He found that where he expected a single, generic roar, there were actually a few distinct sounds combining to make that roar. Here the gentle whoosh of water rushing over the rocks. There a tiny trickle persevering to flow. Over there, a deeper pool with a deeper, more hushed swishing sound. All combined so that from a distance all one hears is a roar, but when one moves closer one discovers there is more there than originally met the ear.

In the constant rush of humanity, and the loud noise of life, one wonders how in the world God can hear all our prayers at once. But He hears every disctinct sound we make - be it the enthusiastic new believer praying like crazy, or the beaten down person fighting to hold on.

As I sat on that log, I found myself glad that God's hearing is so much better than mine.

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Accent

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Boston

You definitely have a Boston accent, even if you think you don't. Of course, that doesn't mean you are from the Boston area, you may also be from New Hampshire or Maine.

The West
The Midland
North Central
The Northeast
The Inland North
The South
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Is disagreement automatically intolerance?

That's my question today. Is disagreement automatically intolerance? How about hatred? Is disagreement automatically hatred?

Is it possible to be friends with someone who has chosen to live in a manner which might be considered to be outside of God's values?

Well, do you have any friends who are gossips? Who speed? Who have sex outside of marriage? (Ooohh - touchy one there...)

I think it is possible to love and respect people even while they choose to live a different way that you.

So why is it that if I think someone is wrong, I might get called a "-hater" or a "-phobe" or any number of things?

Just thinking.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Toothy Friday Five

Friday once again, and the Friday Fivers ask us to consider our dental tools...


Friday Five: Nothing But the Tooth

We are in the throes of what will (hopefully) be the final set of braces in this family, and so my mind is on the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

Please share your thoughts on the following:

1) The Tooth Fairy

Caught in the act when I was young! And she is conscious of inflation apparently, because my niece got four quarters recently...

2) Flossing

Painful sometimes, but necessary. Minty floss is my favorite.

3) Toothpaste Brands

Grew up on Colgate. Now I use Crest. I rememeber seeing Crest commercials on TV as a kid. Guess they worked.

4) Orthodontia for Adults

If adults want to go through that, they should go a head. I had braces as a kid, teeth pulled to make room, bands shoved between my back teeth...Ugh. But I appreciate not having impacted wisdom teeth.

5) Whitening products

Don't use them myself, but I've been thinking about trying them. At first I thought they were only for vain Barbie types, but I see the point. My teeth are naturally not white like magazine teeth. Of course, magazine teeth aren't either. Thank you, Photoshop and other like programs, for making us all think we need to look a certain way...

Thursday, November 02, 2006


OK - not the right word for the song reference - should be Changes. You know - David Bowie.

Anyhow, I was thinking about choices today. Mostly how we choose to respond to circumstances and situations. I had a big decision to make - choosing Drum Majors and Color Guard Captains for next season's marching band. We hold auditions and interviews, the staff and I confer, and I make the final decision. I am happy with my choices - I think the individuals who will serve in these positions next season will be great.

When I told the parties involved, they had a choice. They could accept or reject their appointments and the associated conditions. Or not.

They chose to accept.

Then I had to tell all the candidates - some of whom would be disappointed. They could then choose how to respond. We will see tomorrow how they did respond. One has already emailed me to find out why. I appreciate the question, and hope it comes with a teachable spirit.

Then I thought about how I responded in class today to the fourth, fifth, sixth, twentieth time a couple of kids made the same mistake - and were laughing about it. I chose...not exactly well. I went on too long, and I wish I had not. But I did get my point across, and they then hunkered down and succeeded three times in a row and I got to say good job. Liked that!

We have choices to make all day every day. Do we say something, so we remain silent, do we take that second brownie in the cafeteria line...all sorts of things.

Lord, give us the wisdom and will to choose Wisely.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Proverbs 10:17

I have been thinking about Proverbs 10:17, because I will be speaking on it at one of the meetings of our youth group next month. I always enjoy speaking to the youth - maybe because I teach high school, and feel a natural affinity for them.

Anyhow, the verse is "He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but he who ignores instruction leads others astray." There is a lot to say here.

First, we are to be people who heed discipline. But it is more than just listening to someone who is correcting or rebuking us. It is also about living a disciplined life in general. If we do that, we are not only on the way to life, we are setting a good example. If we ignore instruction, we are not only on the wrong path, we are leading others astray. We never know when someone is watching us as a role model.

So this is not just about living in a godly way. It is about standing up for the godly way, living it "out loud," as Steven Curtis Chapman says. This is a really important message for high school students to hear, because to many of them standing out is a bad thing.

I hope I can help to bring the word that convinces them otherwise. Our society is starved for people who will stand and live right.

Friday, October 27, 2006


You are in the right place. I have just jumped onto the renovation band wagon - a la Julie over at onehandclapping. She had this cool looking blog, and she gave the link to PannasMontata, where there are several formats for download. This girl does some great work! Check them out!

Halloween Friday Five

Greetings, all who drop by, and Happy Friday. I must say I am pretty wiped out this particular week. Marching season is winding down, and I am looking forward to recapturing some of my time. Even so, with the group we had this season, I actually find myself wishing for one more week. What a time we have had!

And now, on to the Halloween Friday Five...
Reverendmother here...

I checked out last year's Halloween Friday Five, which dealt with candy and costumes. Great questions, supplied by Songbird. If you weren't around last year or didn't play then, feel free to do so now. Mmm. Candy.

You wanna see something *really* scary?...

1. Do you enjoy a good fright?

Nope. Hate it. A lot.

2. Scariest movie you've ever seen

Nightmare on Elm Street. Didn't want to drive home afterwards. It was the last scary movie I saw.

3. Bobbing for apples: choose one and discuss:
a) Nothing scary about that! Good wholesome fun.
b) Are you *kidding* me?!? The germs, the germs!

Well, as a kid I didn't mind. But as I get older, I am less and less attracted to the idea of putting my head in cold water to retrieve apples I could just as easily get off of a tree. And people's hair in the water first...Ugh.

4. Real-life phobia

Heights. And the dentist.

5. Favorite "ghost story"

Amityville Horror. I have not read it in a long time, but I was fascinated by this supposedly true story when I was a teen.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A powerful - yet somewhat hopeless - story

I have finally seen Rent. The movie version, not the show. I enjoyed the music, particularly the opening song, Seasons of Love. I cared about the characters. I was captured by the powerful story of these young people, several of whom were basically making the most of life until they died. And I was deeply moved when I called to mind that there are people who really live like this.

The message in the story was that we must make the most of each moment, because any moment could be our last. For these Bohemians, that meant the pursuit of whatever carnal pleasures they desired. There was some reference to trying to help others less fortunate, and the plot device about the young man, Benny, who "got out" and got married and got a good job from his rich father-in-law was interesting. Benny was now trying to take over part of the old neighborhood to build a cyber-cafe. This was seen as "selling out." The Bohemians saw themselves as the less fortunate that others should be helping, I think, to some extent.

But aside from one event toward the end of the movie, there was not much hope to be found. Nothing about the reason that we should help others, nothing about faith in anything beyond the now. "There's only us, there's only this..."

Seems to me that for us there should be more to making the most of each moment than the selfish pursuit of whatever carnal pleasure presents itself. We have our mandate - to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

Maybe instead of watching movies about it, we should try to help. Walking humbly requires getting off of our couches.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Wise in Our Own Eyes

As the wind blew Friday night, gusting to 50 miles per hour, I found myself thinking that no matter how great our technology gets, how strong our buildings become, God always wins in the end. We cannot "out-power" God.

How often we go about our business, making choices, doing our thing, without consulting the One who knows all. How often we live as if our wisdom - human knowledge - were all we needed.

But if we are to live the lives we were meant to live, we are going to have to trust in God rather than ourselves. To live a Kingdom life requires Kingdom vision, Kingdom will, Kingdom courage.

The only place to get that is to consult the King.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Wow" Moment

Last week I talked about having to tell my marching band that the show left me wanting more - as in volume, dynamism, passion - almost everything that would have made it a show.

This week I got to tell them that the show left me wanting more - as in can we please do that again because "THAT is what I'm talkin' about."

What a difference a week of hard work can make. There is so much in our society that says we have a right to instant gratification, and that if we want something we should be able to just go out and get it. Well, music doesn't work that way. That's why it's so good for people to be involved in music. You have to do the work to reap the benefit of a good performance and the good feelings that come from it. And nothing compares to doing a good show. I mean, there are a lot of good feelings in a pint of Ben and Jerry's, but not the kind of feeling you get coming off of the field after doing a good show, and realizing that the rest of the group was doing a good show right along with you.


Friday, October 20, 2006

October 20 Friday Five

Time once again to play the Friday Five. That means it's Friday again. Wasn't it Friday yesterday?!

Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a sentence, a poem or a story.


...romance. Don't know why - must be all those chick flicks I've seen in my life. Some seem to lead to whirlwind weddings, but then the marriage is a whirlwind of an entirely different sort...


...cracking. As in my friend's woke up to their foundation cracking this past week and we are praying hard for them.


...a DeMotivators series poster. It had a picture of lightning, and the caption was, "Every cloud has a silver lining, but lightning kills hundred of people each year who are trying to find it." I laughed so hard at that!!


...a room that my parents house never had. It was a playroom!


...When you're this, you PRAY.

Happy Friday to anyone stopping by on this day.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Telling the Truth

My marching band had its first show this past weekend. Not first football game - we have had a couple of those. But the first marching band show, where people shush each other to hear the bands.

First I must note that I and my staff are placing more demand on the band members than anyone else we saw. Our music is more intricate, and our drill is, as well.

That noted, the band played a bit tentatively, sometimes played downright nervous, and the show did not come across as we had hoped it would.

Now, I always talk with them after the show, and I always like to be very upbeat. So it killed me to say what I said in the previous paragraph, even though we will all be better for it in the end. In fact, I am pretty sure they already knew what to general tone would be.

Either way, I was so proud of them! They work hard, and the crowd enjoyed the performance. And I know this group will come back in firing on all pistons.

On another topic, I am the teacher of the new friends and members class at my church. I enjoy it a great deal, because it gets me the chance to meet new folks coming in. This group is very tangential - holy cow, the questions! It is pretty fun, since I am a bit tangential myself.

Last week we ended with a question about how we read the Bible, and someone noted that we don't have any specific statment about the Bible being the Word of God in our statment of faith, which is simply the Apostle's Creed. We use the creed in order to avoid some of the non-essential points of "debate" among Christians. But this seemed to me (and to our pastor) kind of an strange oversight, which we'll have to do something about.

The Bible being the Word of God, and the final authroity for faith and practice, is an incredibly important Christian doctrine, and one that is being attacked.

Now, that said, we must always be aware of the lens we read the Bible through. We cannot read our assumptions into the text. We must be willing to conform to it, not make it conform to us.

It was an interesting day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday Fiving

Once again, it is time for the RevGals Friday five. Can't tell you how much I look forward to this each week. Almost nothing can wreck a Friday! So, without further ado, away we go.


Reverendmother here...

Maybe it's the arrival of crisp October, my favorite month. Or maybe it's the fact that the divine little miss m has been sick all week (and if the baby ain't happy, ain't nobody happy). Whatever the reason, my thoughts have been turning to cozy creature comforts--those activities and spaces that just make a person feel good. And so...

1. Comfort beverage

Hot chocolate, of course. Is there another one? Oh yeah, maybe gin and tonic...

2. Comfort chair

My recliner in my living room, all cozied up with a comforter. No better place!

3. Comfort read

Blogs, or fanfiction. There are some decent writers out there.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music

Whatever I have recorded on my DVR that week. I happen to love Dancing With the Stars, Grey's Anatomy, and Battlestar Galactica. How's that for diverse?

5. Comfort companion(s)

My posse: Chris, Nancy, Carl, Pete, and Belinda. Or my dear friend CeCe.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Always learning something

Today's job - figure out how to add the new RevGals thingy you now see on my blog.

I actually had to find the right spot in the blogger template code. Always learning something 'round here.

Someone over on Emerging Women started a great discussion about how we read the Bible. I take a fairly conservative position on this, figuring that it is the way in which God chose to reveal His story, and I should trust it. Some folks seem to think that we should almost "go with our gut," and that the Bible is a great collection of stories, but not a "rule book" or "owner's manual."

If you feel like putting in your two cents, feel free. Or go to Emerging Women and check out the original conversation.

Friday, October 06, 2006

RevGals Friday Five for October 6

Well, I find myself with time to blog on a Friday, so I will choose to do the RevGalBlogPals Friday Five, an always enjoyable diversion from normalcy, and downright fun to do.

Friday Five: Civic Duties
It's that season of the year when lawn signs are sprouting as surely as flowers in the spring; elections are just around the corner. And so today we bring you a Civic Duty Friday Five.

1) How old were you when you voted for the first time?

I was 18, and it was 1984.

2) What was the contest at the top of the ballot?

President was the top of the ballot - Ronald Reagan v. hmmm...don't remember that. Was it Mondale? President Reagan won by a landslide. I was a young Republican, then, and I was always a Reagan fan. Boy, could he speak, and he reminded me of my dad. Plus, I liked that he stood by the law with the whole air traffic controller thing. A President should stand for and abide by the law, and it was illegal for them to strike.

3) Can you walk to your polling place?

Depends on the day and the weather. It is a little over a mile and a half.

4) Have you ever run for public office?


5) Have you run for office in a club or school or on a board?

Well, does running for Vice President of my teacher's association count? If so, I did, and I won.

Well, that was fun. Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Small Miracles

Just when we think God isn't paying attention anymore, something really cool happens on a scale we forget He notices.

My car heating system has been "healed." Yup. "Healed."

It had been malfunctioning. At the end of the last cold season - which ended in June, I think - ha! - I knew I would have to get some work done. The heat would not kick in until I got the car up to 2000 rpms, despite the fact that the engine was warm and that the temperature indicator was reading warm.

So imagine my surprise one day recently when I used the remote start - quite out of habit really - and subsequently got into a warm car! That was not "supposed" to have happened - I had not yet gotten the engine up to 2000 rpms. But the car was warm, the windows defrosted. And the heat has worked ever since.

"Healed." A car!

Thank God that He cares about all the stuff of our lives, because He loves us. Next time you feel like He isn't paying attention, look again. And if you need to, come on back and read this post again.

I know I will.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Illiteracy in the Church?

I am concerned. Deeply concerned, actually. As I read emergent blogs, and hear about what some leaders are reported to have said at conferences and things, I am struck by the fact that the trend in the so-called "emergent conversation" is to take a low view of the Bible.

For 2000 years, it has been understood that the Bible is the very inspired word of God. God's story of God's intervention in human history - the history of the humanity that HE Himself created. 2Timothy 3, Hebrews 13 - other places - clearly indicate that this Book is what will guide us in belief and in faith and in practice.

So, if you disagree with the Bible, it isn't the Bible that's wrong. It's you.

Our understanding of certain issues may be adjusted as we learn more about the culture and language of the Bible. But none of the Apostles got it wrong in the Book. Ever. If you don't trust that, you don't trust God.

Need I remind you, dear reader, that He is all powerful? Do you really think He could not make sure that those men wrote what He wanted them to write? Do you really believe that the God of the universe could not make sure that the Word was preserved through the ages, and that He does not now guide the heartfelt seeker in understanding?

No! No! and No! again.

The Bible is the authority. If you throw it away, you throw away the rule, the measure, the standard that God Himself gave us.

So, not only should we not throw this book away, we should study it more, study it deeper, let it change how we think and act and believe, and let it help us become more and more like Jesus.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

RevGals Friday Five - the Rookie Edition

This summer I discovered a web ring called "RevGalBlogPals." There are some intelligent, caring women - and men - whose blogs are a blessing to read.

I decided to participate in this weeks "Friday Five," a weekly meme, because it was kind of fun.

The meme begins here:

"In the coming days, I'll be meeting my creative/artistic role model--a singer-songwriter who has been a part of my spiritual journey for some 10 years now. I'm psyched!David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so...

1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.

I worked as an usher at a summer stock theater when I was in high school, and I have been a regular attendee of concerts since then, because nothing beats live music. I have met Robert Goulet, Rita Moreno, Livingston Taylor, Eddie DeGarmo and Dana Key, and Randy Stonehill.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.

I would love to meet Michael W. Smith.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.

Our worship pastor, one of my very dearest friends, and a man who personifies the word grace, Glen Boardman.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?

Yup - Eddie DeGarmo, Dana Key, and Liv Taylor.

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?

Singing or preaching.

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?

Yeah...Tom Cruise, Angelina and Brad, and Paris Hilton.

Friday, September 08, 2006

One down...

...and about 41 left to go until summer vacation starts again. I feel like I have been hit by a truck as I have come through the first week of school. And it isn't over - I have a game tonight, and a practice tomorrow.

The most ehausting thing is being in charge all the time - being the one to make decisions, on whom the liability rests, with whom the buck stops. Add to that the forced absence from small group until November 7, and it is hard to keep the spiritual equilibrium I spent all summer regaining.

This life is hard. And it is hard every day to be like Jesus. I must count on God's strength to make it through. I know that He is here through all of the craziness, but it is so easy to forget that simple fact.

It's no accident that Adam and Eve's first day on earth was a day off.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ready or Not...

Here i am at the end of another August, back around to the beginning of another school year. I can hardly believe it! I am not ready for the culture shock of running back into the fall schedule, but I have enjoyed the music at band camp again, and look forward to lots of great music this year - with my band and otherwise.

I've been reading some cool blogs this summer, and have recently discovered some centered on the "Emergent Conversation" in the church. I put that in quotes, because I am not even certain those who are "emerging" really want a name for the "movement." I mean no disrespect by it.

I think there are some very good things about this conversation. It challenges us to reconsider assumptions we have grown up with about church and faith and issues and what is really important. It makes us look more deeply at how we are applying our faith.

But sometimes it points out problems and then doesn't get constructive. That is too bad. Because we are all supposed to be part of the Church community, and we should be able to learn and grow together.

Maybe that's part of why I like my band so much. No matter what, they quite literally have to play together, and we must be constructive with each other. The church has a lot to learn from the band...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Worship Experiment

Leading worship yesterday I took a risk. I know the idea was from God. The text for the sermon was Ephesians 5:19-20, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks..."

So we gave the congregation a chance to sing and make music in their hearts - with a period of silence.

I was worried about this, because people (particularly small children) don't always understand stuff like this, and it is easy to have the experiment ruined - without malice, of course - by people who don't catch on. Also, you never know if the people are in the mood for a new thing when they come to church. We are creatures of habit, right? This was only a small, secondary concern, because our church is particularly open to the worship team's ... uh ... eccentricities. HA! So I prayed and left it up to the Lord.

So, we came to the moment, and there was a Holy Silence. It was awesome - in the best sense of that much overused word. And then, we started playing How Great Thou Art - no singing, just an instrumental. It was so sweet - thank you Lord!!

We so often think of worship as singing songs. But it is so much more.

Friday, July 21, 2006


I have just read about two teens who killed a third teen out of a "morbid curiosity" to see what it was like to shoot someone in the head. Apparently, these boys killed this girl, left her body in a field to go eat at the local IHOP, then returned to bury the body in a shallow grave. They were caught trying to flee to Canada after the body was discovered.

Sickening and twisted. I wonder how we get to this point as a culture. Teens killing teens out of "morbid curiosity?" (That is a direct quote from on of the killers!) We do have a culture of death, that seems to see this kind of deviant behavior as normal. Look at some of the big hit movies recently. Movies that show torutre and murder - movies that seem to depict these things as something to look at, try out, think of as normal, and, at the worst, even celebrate - are raking in huge money from a society increasingly fascinated by the most violent types of entertainment. How long will it be, and how big a step is it at this point, until we return to live barbaric entertainment like the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome?

We have got to find a way to stop the insanity.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Inner shift

So I recently came to the realization that God really has called me to preach, and that it's OK to want to do that, and it's OK to do that. I think I was holding on to some reservation about the women in ministry thing.

I have for a long time thought that a solid case could be made on both sides of this issue. I no longer believe that the case for restrictions/hierarchy is as solid as the case for inclusion. I think that those who say women should not preach/teach men/lead/be pastors are not looking at the whole pciture. To pull two restrictive verses out of context and make them the end answer about doctrine is to engage in poor scholarship. Isn't that how we got the whole "tongues as evidence of salvation" doctrine? And we know that is bunk. When ALL of the evidence is taken in - including all references to women, an understanding of the culture and time, and a look at just how radical Jesus and Paul were, I really don't think we can escape the fact that we are laboring under a long held tradition of patriarchy from the middle ages and earlier when we shut women out.

I think I will never again be part of a church that holds the view that women are to be kept from certain roles. Not meaning to be offensive. I have just finally landed someplace, and I don't ever want to go backwards.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

God Built the Spiral

You know, it is so cool when we run into something and it confirms for us that God is really doing some cool stuff and it isn't just at our little local church.

I just happened on a blog - - that shows that this whole "emergent church" movement or whatever is more than some fad or some catchy name of a group of pastors or churches. There are churches all over the country which are rethinking what church is all about and how to "do church" in a way that is meaningful and helps people learn to live like Christians. The mega-church movement had us thinking about how to "grow" our churches. But growing our churches is not about numbers - it is about growing disciples.

Wouldn't it be nice to know that Sunday morning is not the sum total of the average Christian's faith experience?

God has laid out a path that we are to walk - in the very steps of Jesus. I hope that every day I am better and better at keeping my feet in His footsteps.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Strength for Today

Today's sermon was on Ephesians 3:16-20, and the main point was that it is what is on the inside that makes us able to live a life "worthy of the calling."

The Holy Spirit dwelling in us gives us strength in our inner being, so that we are rooted and grounded in love, and are able to do the things that Ephesians 4, 5, and 6 will tell us to do. We are also told that this is how we can begin to grasp how wide and high and deep and long the love of God is for us. Grasping this can free us from the self-love that keeps us choosing sin, and help us to choose holiness.

This is not going to happen all at once. Our sanctification is a lifelong process - daily living, choices minute by minute, leaning on the strength of the Spirit, calling for the Father's help - this is how we live a holy life.

So next time you are confronted with the thing that always "gets" you, call out to God for strength for today. He will answer. He will give strength.

I can hardly wait until next week.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Contentment as We Climb

Yesterday I was reading Philippians 4, where Paul talks about being content no matter what our circumstances. I was challenged by this. I always find it easier to focus on what I don't have and how to go about getting it than on being content.

Yet, we are supposed to derive our self-identity and -esteem from our positional righteousness and heavenly citizenship in Christ rather than on our possessions and accomplishments here on earth. It is so easy to forget that God owns it all anyhow. All good and perfect gifts come from above, so I may think I have done things, but really God works through me to do good. He gave me my job, and I should rest thankfully in that. He gave me my car, my home, my family, my friends, and my gratitude for all this should overflow into peace and contentment.

All of that is great, but the best part is that this world is not my ultimate home. I have an ultimate eternal home in a place where there is no sorrow, no tears, no pain, no decay - a perfect place, with God Himself, forever, especially prepared for me. Remembering that is where contentment comes from. I can take anything for the short period of time that is this life. I know there's Light at the end of the tunnel.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Balancing Act

I was at my home group the other night, and the whole subject of eternal security came up, albeit in a roundabout way. Like, we can count on God adopting us as His children. But we are also supposed to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling." But God "chose us before the foundation of the world," right? And we are still supposed to strive to "make our calling and election sure."

It is that age old argument. Well, it's an argument from our perspective, I guess. And my friend said it in a really cool way. He said at the end, when we get to the entrance gate or whatever is there, and we are in front of God Himself, and He asks us why He should let us in, what will be our response? Well, I for one know I will fall on my face and say that of course He shouldn't, but would He please let me in because of the blood of Christ? That's the only thing that will get anyone in anyhow, and there is no way I am going to stand there and try to argue that I was good enough during my life to merit living eternally in the presence of a perfectly holy God.

So if that will be what happens then, there's two things about now that I know. a) I should never take Jesus sacrifice for granted. And 2) I can take Jesus sacrifice for granted.

I can work to make my calling sure even while counting on the gift of the shed blood of Christ. There's always a balance to be struck.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A little view of the top

God reveals His love for us in so many ways - many times through other people. We are God to each other sometimes, when we show real love. The flowers that show up at work, the note from someone you have not seen for too long, the surprise party thrown on a Friday night, of all nights, right before vacation. Pretty cool, really.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Center Pole is...Whom?

Who is at the center of our spiral line of life?

For most people, it really is ourselves. We see everything through our own frame of reference, we look at every new situation in terms of how it might benefit us, we seem to constantly ask the question, "What's in this for me?" But is that how we should live?

Certainly not as Christians. We are supposed to be walking in the steps of Jesus Christ. And if there was ever an unselfish person in this world it was Jesus Christ. He knew He was God in the flesh, He knew He had power to do anything, have anything, become anything. And He chose to follow His Father's plan right to the cross and death. He always had His perspective straight, and had the long view in mind. "For the joy set before Him" he scorned the shame of the cross, endured the pain. What was the joy?

I think Jesus' joy was multifaceted - bringing honor to God, returning to the Father and sitting at His right, winning the battle over sin and death. But we were also part of that joy. He loved us! He still loves us, and is in the throne room of God advocating for us. "This one belongs to me," He'll say when our Accuser stands and tries to show God we are undeserving of salvation.

God is to be the center of our spiral. We are to always be looking to Him, walking in His love and grace. And anything that drags us off of that focus is bad - I would even go so far as to call it idolatry.

That includes being in despair about our own weaknesses. In fact, the ancient theologian Fenelon would say that despair over our weakness is worse that the weakness itself. If we can just recognize our weakness, then give it over to God, and walk forward knowing His love remains on us, then we are doing well. But if we wallow in it, analyze it, cry over it, hold onto it like some unwashed security blanket, then we are focused on ourselves and not on God. This attitude reflects our lack of belief in His promise that He will never leave us, that He will always love us, and that His grace is sufficient for everything - even for getting us Home.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Myopic Spiral

I was thinking about perspective the other day. I remembered that when I was learning to drive, I was taught to keep my eyes up toward the horizon, and this would make it easier to drive within the lanes on the highway. When we look at the road directly in front of our car, we begin to make small, frequent, and conscious adjustments, which sometimes only serve to keep us weaving around in the lane, instead of just driving straight ahead with our eyes on the goal, so to speak. If we look to where we are going, it is easier to stay on the straight course to get there.

So it is with our life of faith. If we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will find it easier to walk steadily toward Him. If we start looking down at the road right in front of us, we find ourselves veering off course. It is the long view toward the goal that keeps our path straight.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Long Haul

Have Americans really forgotten what happened in Louisiana and Mississippi a mere 6 months ago? I heard someone lamenting about that this morning.

My church has teamed with the local high school to build a house and send it down to Cut Off, Louisiana for a displaced family. Whay would happen if every vocational center building program teamed with a local church and sent a house? Imagine that!

Could it happen?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sure Footing

When God adopts us as His children, granting us the Holy Spirit, He grants us certainty. The trick is to walk in what we know to be true, rather than what we feel at the time.

Faith is the ability to look at any situation, face any kind of "feeling" about that situation, and still choose to believe the Truth that we know. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of what is not seen. So says Hebrews 11. But the ability to walk in certainty requires constantly reminding ourselves of that truth.

It is difficult to be in a crazy circumstance and hang on to that. But I think it is even harder to live this in the everyday. I mean, when a hurricane completely destroys your house, you don't have much but your faith to fall back on, so to speak. The thing in Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all of your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight - is eaiser to see when it is all you can see. But when you're in your everyday life, and just going through the normalcy of it, and everything around you is the familiar, normal stuff, and you have plenty of knowledge about what is going on and such, it is hard to remember that you're God's child. And when a question comes in the everyday, it is harder to pause and ask God. But we should, right? I mean, He is there all the time, and He always knows the answer.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking. Walking in the certainty of being God's child requires teaching ourselves to do that in all of the realms of life.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Nature of the Spiral

A spiral staircase ascends in a circular line, so you come around to the same view of the room you left downstairs over and over, but from a slightly different perspective each time.

I am coming round to the anniversary of this blog, and I have realized that, just as I could have predicted, I am learning similar things to last year, but in a slightly different way, maybe at a deeper level. I started this endeavor after a weekend away with my church worship team. The annual prayer summit on which we go is a spiritual highlight of the year for most of us. We have time to spend in prayer and worship, and in talking with each other about the things of God.

It might be surprising, but most Christians don't spend that much time focused on the Divine because we are living here in this world and trying to do our jobs, care for our families, pay for our toys, and generally get along like everyone else. Sure, we try to spend time with God every day, we pray, we read our Bibles. But spending hours steeping in the presence of the Spirit? Listening for the Voice, learning to hear it better? There is nothing like a weekend away for that purpose to recharge one's soul, and to help one to re-learn how to hear, how to see, how to pray with the mind of Christ.

Of course, being a Christian isn't about how many hours we spend praying in our rooms, or about how many times we do our "read through the Bible in a year" plan. These things are the foundation for a life that is worthy of the call of the Creator of all.

At the end of the day, I know my God loves me. But I want to be able to say at the end of each day that I did all I could to stay true to Him whose name I bear and to bring honor to the One who purchased my soul.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Spiral is Fluid and Connected

All that we learn comes together in the arts. We use it all - kinetic, aesthetic, mathematic, literary, all the subjects we ever learn - when it is connected in the arts.

Why is it that some think the arts less important than other disciplines?

I will never understand that.