Wednesday, July 27, 2016

THE POSITIVE LIFE OF BEING OVERWHELMED

The Kingdom of God is deep.  You know that don't you?  Its very design is for its adherents to swim in the risky recesses of the Divine's pool where wow and awe excel. We want to try to ward off our temptation to piddle about in the shallow end of the church pool where there would less likely be threat or struggle.  Work and wonder, potential and power await within those of threatening locations; the very places where we feel that we might likely go under.

It seems odd and backward to deem God's call toward us to launch out into the deep, does it not?   I mean, does He really want us to go into zones of Kingdom Life where we could actually go under simply trying to carry out His imagination for us?  Wouldn't fishing for men from bank's edge be wiser than to just be personally thrust into an unknown, unmanageable, unchartable course?

The Word repeatedly references us walking in the mystery of God.  Mystery? Unexplainable.  Undefinable.  Basically un-many-zones.  Yet, the point of entering into mystery is the allowance that God will be there; He will provide.  I like how Calvin Miller points us into courage by remarking, We do not go deep to study God, we go deep to taste his reality.  In such experience we cannot define God, for he is not definable.  But we do, ultimately, define ourselves.  In the depths we meet our smallness, our powerlessness, our need.

Oh that last sentence pegs me.  I would have assumed that by this ripe age I would be much farther along than what is.  Really, the temptation can be to shrivel up in a corner and admit I'm always going to be this way.  Oh, how I wish it weren't true.  But, it is.  So I (and we as well) offer Him my (our) smallness in hopes that His mystery will kick in to make a meaningful difference.  

Being overwhelmed has all the marks of being a positive blessing.  May we work together on believing this is true.  It seems consistent that the less we are there is more room for the I AM.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

THE STRESS OF OUR NATION

We are in a wonderful struggle politically at the moment.  Last week the RNC stood at the Nation's microphone declaring that it had the solution to America's woes.  Yet, their division beat them to the podium.  For a few days it seemed that the DNC should be feeling pretty confident for theirs was assumed to be a harmonistic group....until...until they approached their very first day.  Ooops!  Are we all alike?

Odder yet, both parties call for unity.  It seems that these don't mean a unity of thinking alike in philosophy and plan; but rather in framing a harmony which would mean that a particular party would stand in sync...against the other.  That's it?  To oppose your enemy is hardly meaningful unity if your own group is fragmented.  One party slams the other for their blatant inner division; but then turns only to gloss over their very same practices.  Somehow, it seems that the ones on "my side" get an exemption.  Odd, don't you think?

But not all people of the other political party (nor their biased-media coverage) are divisive, arrogant, or self-serving.  It is upon this awareness of the good, devoted, compassionate ones (on both sides) where our country finds eventual and solutionary hope.

While both of the groups should be slightly (okay, very) uneasy about their inconsistencies, we churches have a few matters to improve ourselves, don't you think? If one believes that society-at- large is turned off by one (or both) of the political groups, surely we of religious bent have work to do on the very same scale.  Where I'm headed with this is that it would seem that what would cure that which ails the church would, in turn, help the field of politics as well.

What if humility were to take the public square?  What if those seeking office were to express regret for their failures rather than shouting over their opponents?  Don't you think we would begin to believe that we may have happened upon someone rather....real?  And so it is in the church.  We are not in a contest to out-shout nor out-maneuver the Methodists or the Catholics or the Churches of Christ.  We are in this field to learn from the walk of Jesus how to more efficiently step aside and allow the tender mercies of God to help each of us get through the day.

I speak not of a cowardly, classless group of church wimps.  Rather, I point us in the other direction.  Jesus won by losing.  Jesus brought life to us by his dying.  This is a matter that would/does bless the church when we can get our hearts wrapped around such kind and potent expressions of outreach.  And if we could get better at this sort of thing, maybe the politicians would be encouraged to be truly unifying rather than divisive; rough around the edges sorta like myself on some days.

The stress of our nation has pockets of negative intensity.  But it doesn't have to remain this way.  The words and the style of Jesus might just cause more of us to dismount from our high horses.  And then wouldn't we all breathe a bit easier if we were to care about our opponents rather than out-yell and out-insult them?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

BELIEVING IS SEEING THROUGH TO WHAT ISN'T....YET

I know of nothing more bizarre than faith.  It carries a conviction of things not seen and the assurance of things not yet; but can be ultimately hoped for...Hebrews 11:1.

So what I wish to say to you today is that this element to our daily walk...this thing known as faith...is absolutely a world-changer.  So don't treat it as a non-essential religious chatter which evaporates into mid-nothingness.  Dreams and imaginations and hopes must have the Miracle-Grow of faith.  Otherwise, the mundane filters and then depletes our every day.

Believing takes a gander at a need within the very center of what isn't yet.  And then it becomes convinced that what isn't yet can, indeed, come about.  Too many carry invisible totes of indoctrination to church without the slightest conviction that what is desperately needed among us can become a new reality if faith were to be executed.

Faith changes things and people.  When many think they can't and run into someone who believes they can, often life takes a turn for the better.  All people need to know that possibility lingers upon their paths for greater hope and accomplishment...beyond anything ever to be imagined....Ephesians 3:20-21.

Believing is staring down what isn't....yet....but is assured that such hope can become reality from the very element that falsely says there just isn't anything alive here...Romans 4:17.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

YOU KNOW THAT....DON'T YOU?

We are in over our heads.  You know that don't you?  Or do you?

What size is this living God who we follow?  Write out His description.  Try to frame your words in an understandable synchronization that removes the bafflement demanding even more questions?  Our God is untermable and yet we want explanatory, definable terms.

We humans want two extremes.  First, we want God to truly be the Almighty of the entire universal scope of absolutely unfathomable creation.  Second, we want our faith to be comprehendable as well as controllable.  These, the pro and the con of faith, should drive us to be overwhelmed and underdefined.  You know that...don't you?

Desiring to appear upright, we want this faith stuff to look good.  We surely want to be impressive.  Yet, the famous apostle said that his walk and ours looks foolish.  Foolish. Really?  You know that...don't you?

I watch courageous faith be short-sheeted by the silliness of fear.  We tend to be afraid to let go so that we (and witnesses) might see Him at His best.  Mankind is in desperate need of unflappable hope.  There is none greater than the empty grave of Jesus. He....he is the light..and the life..and the hope for all.

May we gain momentum in shedding our hesitancies while raising our public voices of praise as to how much we love Him and how happy we are as we move through the normal routines of life. Yes, wouldn't it be a grand start just to be happy?  Many around us are looking for one spark from a believing heart which would say of our day, We've got this because God has our backs.

You know that....don't you?


Friday, July 22, 2016

HOW THE CHURCH WILL GAIN TRACTION

Society is watching us.  A vast number begrudgingly avoid us.  There is an errant assumption among all of us.  We church people are presumed by those in and those out that we have our acts together.  Announcement to church and community: We.  Don't.

Churches operate under a most subtle threat: we may have gone Jesus-less.  The reason that I would dare make such a statement is that, of course, I found myself to be guilty of such about two decades ago.  I found myself caught up in gaining momentum in the realm of Kingdom truths.  Even this was a facade as I certainly was not.  To cap it all, I realized I was doing a lot of Bible pounding from the pulpit with a very grave absence in referencing the one named Jesus.

The church will gain traction within our ailing communities when we increase our hunger to know this very real Son of God.  There can be no substitute: not doctrine, not works, not activity.  Either Jesus will capture the minds and hearts of the church or else we will simply fade into the unbelieving landscape while campaigning for stronger church attendance.

I watched the Republican Convention this week with great enthusiasm.  I will be equally glued to next week's Democratic gathering.  America's hopes are not built upon the dreams of political leaders.  Our nation's hopes are to be energized by men and women who courageously trade our religious-practicing robes for a suit of Spirit armor as we plunge into the pits of desperate humanity which needs new life.

This is where the church will gain traction; wading into the blind alleys of the brokenness and despair of our neighbors.  We are currently viewed, by some of our neighbors, under the magnifying glass of suspicion.  The church deeply desires to be a blessing everywhere we turn.  All the while, we are a broken people ourselves needing the restart of Jesus day by day.  The secret combination to effectiveness is a broken people and a resurrected Lord.

This is this factor that the onlookers don't get.  They assume that we believe that we have our acts together.  They aren't ignorant.  Their assessment of us us half right.  They see through us.  What they don't see is that we see through ourselves.  When the latter happens we effectively turn our eyes toward Jesus for he is the only one who gets us....warts and all.

Oh how we tried to jump enough religious appearing hoops to ward off the judgment of God.  We tried oh so often....and failed 100% of the time.  It is at this turn that the church seems to openly awaken.  To be in the church without the sense that we desperately need a Savior is to miss the point....completely.  We gain incredible traction when we confess that as long as we have been in the church we are never sharp enough to earn our way.

Our communities need our churches to gain traction.  Arrogance of systemic traditional beliefs will never cut it.  Humility...humble hearts of repentance...will.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE WALK OF JESUS IS ANYTHING BUT PRIVATE

Could it be possible that even among us who sense devotion to the Christ movement that we move about in somewhat of a stifling fog?  I mean, do we translate Bible life into our walk or do we more basically just focus on knowing our Bibles...the end?  I'm concerned that the fascination of the actual, very real, God-called spiritual exercise anticipated for every individual is being suffocated.  Faith seems to be better regarded as practical; but not exceptional.

Exceptional faith?  Meaning what?

I speak neither of a pushy in-your-face walk.  Nor do I reference a brash and arrogant stance that wishes to regard itself as among the rare who stand for Truth.  No, I merely inquire as to whether we have the faith and the courage and the love to launch out into the vast deep threat of the unknown in order to experience the provisional hand of God.

To put it another way, have we transformed the dynamics of His moves, (such as those of Moses, Joseph, Mary, Peter, and others), from profound to indifference?  Do we regard His teachings as personal and faith-building or do we reference them as mere Bible stories?  Has our belief privilege been stolen by the most subtle fear-traits that perpetually undermine the greatest call on earth which is to respond to the very personal activity of God among us?

I believe that I (we) have slipped into a self-preservationism that is causing the Christian fabric to unravel thread by slow thread.  Go to church is not the call from God.  Be the church is.  The difference is that the former promotes a self-development of right and wrong with a pseudo-satisfaction that our check-list is His check-list.  The latter says things like we will be in over our heads.  We will not know what to do, how to do, nor where to look.  We will be mistreated and are expected to take it.  And, also, that we are to be quite certain that God supplies for His children in ways far beyond our own calculating vision.

We are launched to live.  The cord has been cut.  Earth strategies oppose the Heaven ones.  Ours is a serious, tough, and yet rewarding choice day by day; moment by moment.  We are called to give when we want to keep, to speak when we want to go unnoticed, and to reach when we would rather hesitate.  The walk of Jesus is anything but private.  Through him, Father went public.  And we are expected to follow in his sandals?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

THE SIMPLE ACT OF COMPASSION

Society at large is in a world of hurt.  Everyone has enough on their plates; even to the point of overload if not, at least, significant distraction.  To be frank about it, every person hurts significantly.  What we want to address is how to ease the pain; no, cure the burdens we each encounter.

A healthy perspective is to recognize that humanity is a composition fabric.  No one is an island; though we often seem to strive to find our space and guard it ferociously. When we are blended, however, we learn to look out for one another.  Community is to offer substantial strength.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is devastating.  We may find ourselves all alone.  We need at least one someone to help.  Good neighbors, then, like teamwork or family or group carry new health for all encompassed within the expanding populace of valued acquaintances.

From experience (observing others and my own), the strongest way to recovery from feeling abandoned or forgotten is to care for another/others.  Deep within the secret passages of our hearts is the yearn to make a difference....for someone else.  When we set our insecurities aside and wade out into the deep end of the pool to give assistance to another, our weight can seem to lift.  The simple act of compassion is all that is needed for any individual who is struggling with depression or loneliness.

The magic of God is that He noted a hurting world and waded right into the center of its deepest wounds; insult, abandonment, and even death.  He arrived with a message; I.  Understand.  Take a look at Hebrews 2:14-18 and then 4:14-16.  The life that we encounter when we give ourselves away to those who hurt is the fulfillment of what God has promised all along; if we will lose our lives we will find them.

Those who can't find life to be of meaning and purpose are the same ones who measure conversations and actions by what they want without compassion for a neighbor who is hurting every bit as much.  When we give ourselves away in sympathy toward another, we run into the very life we have always craved.

I you happen to be having a very bad day (or even life), bring such to an end by caring more about those around you.  As you lift their spirits by giving your valuable attention He will lift yours.  He promises.  That's the way...the only way.,.life works.  Stop the complaining.  Shelve the criticizing of others.  Do something meaningful.  Love your neighbor more than yourself.  You'll like the results.