Sunday, December 10, 2017

MAY YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD DAY

Abundant life is God's devoted forte.  Disruption is Satan's career.  Healing from Satan's interference is God's specialty.  He has given His life for this cause through Jesus.  Plus, God provides unfathomable personal energy through His Holy Spirit.  

God.  Has.  This.  Because.  He.  Has.  Us.

So you, dear one, need to know that you are double-targeted by two very large powers.  No wonder some days are a scrambled mess, huh?  Therefore, I cheer you on through reminder of who you are coupled with your Creator/Colleague.

Perhaps we could have a very good day if we could admit that we are all alike.  While being regretfully injured by others, we injure....others on the very same day and often on the very same turf.  Just as we must have/really need mercy, we very much must offer it to our offenders.

Perhaps we could have a very good day if we were to vocally rehearse the large quantity of really good breaks we are receiving.  Yes, we undeniably encounter our own personal train wrecks.  Yet even more true, we float down the steady soothing rivers riding on the boat of gratitude, joy, and love.  We have so many in our lives of whom we are just crazy about!  Think.  On.  These.  Things.

Whatever it is you encounter that offends your heart today, you can rest assured that you do likewise to others.  That's the broken life we navigate day by day.  Such doesn't depress us as much as it reminds us to ease up on our friends and relatives.  Rather than being their chiefest critic, maybe we could actually become more like Jesus and die to ourselves that others might go through their day healed because of our sacrifice.

Ah, there's an idea!  May you now have a much better day than you might have intended!!  When you do...so will those around you!!!  


Friday, December 08, 2017

LIVING IN A SEATBELT SOCIETY

We have designed within our minds an ideal church that is two things; happy and safe.  However, this isn't reality.  This isn't the church that Jesus built.  Yet, it is the very weave we choose to form organizational tactics.

The Jesus-Life continues to be the ultimate call for every heart.  Its powerful impact remains available for today's world; yet, its designed strength has been sabotaged and weakened.  And, what would I know about it as I am among the weakest?  Therefore, my judgment is based upon looking at our world and looking at His Word.

I see a calling for drastic adjustment.

The Jesus-Life is often the opposite of our tendencies.  We seem to believe we can/should choose where to serve; find a place that makes us feel needed and useful.  The underlying criteria is that it shall not make us uncomfortable.  However, this is not necessarily losing our life due to our crosses strapped to our backs.  No, we are driven by a state of religious convenience which permits individuals to hide from reaching the world while carrying out various church works....in quite demanding safety.

Edwin H. Friedman spells out a concept in his book, A Failure of Nerve that we have become a "seatbelt society".  He expresses this term to point out that we are creatures of safety over adventure.  A thirst for safety directly impacts our talk, our doctrine, our walk, our entire mission.  Fundamentally, far too many of us are afraid to venture even into additional truths of the Bible because we operate from safety of not being challenged by nor in trouble with co-believers.

Churches are clearly buckled up with seatbelts of safety and, thus, stymied from opportunity.  As long as one perpetually looks over his/her shoulder to see if what one is discovering from God is going to be accepted, we are basically shut down; focused toward where we have been with no vision for where we are going.

We are left with the repeated motions of what we have always believed.  To buckle up with our religious seatbelts of safety is a drastically costly move.  It is costing us friends, relatives, and neighbors as they don't find life among us....just more church habit.  The demand for religious habit was what called for the killing of Jesus.  He was living without a seatbelt.

I would encourage us to unbuckle.  Drive the lanes of faith without seatbelts.  Yes, some of us might die to our biases, preferences, and whims....but hasn't this been the call for every believer all along?

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

THE POWER TO MOVE FROM THE HIDING FACTOR

Of the very many things the Spirit of God is among us, He is the Empowerer of making us new in order to take us to new levels of being.  Bible students are quite aware of the new call toward us and for us.  Conversion isn't from non-church attendance to church attendance alone.  Neither is it from non-student to student.  It is the fundamental personality change from can't to can, from won't to will, and from withdrawal to openness.  God doesn't make us a part of the church to disrupt our schedules; but to disrupt our bold patterns of self-trusting security.

There is a mighty move within the spiritual world that assists many of us in development and growth.  We find ourselves engaged in areas we never deemed possible.  Tests help us to learn where our gifts are and how to express them with meaning.  Once such new discovery is made, we tend to sense an important factor of belonging....of participating.  Yet, there is a partnering backfire to this seeming advancement.  It is what I would note as a simultaneous Hiding Factor.

The Hiding Factor is embedded within every personality to afford permissive restriction when one comes upon situations which ordinarily challenge.  The Hiding Factor is one's permission slip (trump card) to bail on tasks or situations which make us uncomfortable.  The ego prefers to be in charge (in control) and bucks against moments which would leave us appearing inadequate.  This is a humanistic way of life for each of us.

Cynthia Bourgeault comments in her book (The Holy Trinity and the Law of the Three; Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity), Using that classic ego bait--"let me learn my type, some interesting new thing about me"--it draws people in, only to put in their hands basic tools for self-observation and nonidentification that classic psychotherapeutic models have generally failed to deliver.  An inner shut-down of sorts is taking place while we are blind to our own process.

Basically, what is happening is that rather than expanding our personalities to be openly advancing into new zones of serving God and His Kingdom, we use our discovered and test- approved gifts to hide from learning more of what we can/could/should become in Christian development.  We tend to hedge; even fight, personal expansion.  We respond to new territories with test-proven factors of, Oh, that's just not my gift.

My observation is that nearly all who are effective in reaching to others have had to overcome giant barriers to get there.  For each of us the Hiding Factor was a strong and relieving temptation as it offered inner security.  I don't think I've ever met anyone who is able to teach a neighbor from their Bible because it was just a natural and easy inclination.  There is usually the strain of learning, the stress of trying, and the dread of failing that goes on with every one of us who is eventually successful at this ability. 

The Spirit implant from God to us is designed for constant and steady breakthrough; that we each gain confidence to move into more zones of application and outreach than we ever deemed possible.  This post isn't to get on your case for hedging when it comes to interacting with others.  It, rather, is to open you up to a continued world of potential and possibility.  We can't get things done on our meager own; but we can when availing ourselves to His marvelous call...coupled with His adequacy...embedded within us.


Saturday, December 02, 2017

CANDACE CAMERON BURE AND ME...WELL, SORTA ME

                                                         Image result     

I've long been a fan of Candace Cameron.  Years ago we were at an extremely fun event together in Iowa.  Both of us participated in a special weekend at the Field of Dreams film site in Dyersville.  I was there to play ball against former Major Leaguers in Randy Hundley's camps for three days.  Candace was there for a special game on one of those evenings where several other TV/Movie celebs from Hollywood were brought in to play a game against the same former ML stars.

I was in the stands to watch her game.  After the game, I was at a party where these gathered.  What I noted about Candace is that, although I was in the room, she restrained herself from approaching me for a pic or an autograph.  Such was a thoughtful unmove on her part.  Maybe she noted that I was not surrounded by one famous person and, therefore, I must prefer being alone and ignored and shunned.

So while I've never really met Candace Cameron Bure, we do have a history...although significantly brief.  There were a couple of moments where I thought she leaned over to one nearby and inquired, Who is that man?  Ah, for a brief moment, I felt she may have recognized me!

That....is my very brief history with this one whom I continue to admire (as her Hallmark movies are adorable).....and I'm stickin' to it.         

Friday, December 01, 2017

THE "I'M MORE RIGHT THAN YOU ARE RIGHT" RELIGIOUS POISON

We must break this sleeping narcotic of religious egotism which competes as to who is the better understander of God's will and way.  This is a we thing; not only a they, not just a you, but a definite me as well.  Unnecessary division reigns supreme and we must reverse this trend. 

There is a teaching by Jesus of two men praying.  One was so very thankful that he wasn't like the other.  We live repeating his mistaken standard.  I hear it coming from the most devoted-to-God mouths day by day.  My grave mistake would be to assume that I'm not in the guilty-as-charged mix.

Being the most right (doing church correctly) was the constant theme of the Pharisees...the rejected-by-Jesus Pharisees.  Yet, somehow we have transferred their formation over to ours; yet pronounced it wisdom from above....just as did they.

Are we to be weak losers?  Yes.  Really?  Doesn't God teach that power is perfected in weakness?  Didn't He stand firm that those who are last will be first?  We refuse to buy into this insightful trek.  And why?  Because it makes us look like....we are weak...and that we are losers. 

Oh, so Jesus must have given us mistaken directions?  Remember, Jesus won the world because he lost.  He was resurrected because he first died.  He offers cleansing of the hearts of mankind because he absorbed our sins. 

The "I'm more right than you are right" is religious poison....that we all seem to drink with great delight and pride.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

OUT WITH THE OLD ISN'T ANYTHING NEW...EXCEPT

Transitions!  We live in a wonderful world of perpetual transitions.  They are important, they are necessary, and they are good for all of us.  Having recently stepped aside from my beloved work (that I still miss), I have developed a special sensitivity to this matter...and I still say transitions are necessary.

Veteran player, Eli Manning, has been replaced as the starting quarterback for the New York Giants.  This headline was posted, Eli Manning embraced New York, and New York loved him back--until it didn't.  Such must be painful for him.  Yet, he knew the day was coming, even in his rookie season, that his once gratitudinal placement would be found with yet another term...replacement. 

This.  Is.  Life.  In.  Progress.

Life isn't over for Eli.  It will just take on a new form...of newness.  Coach?  TV analyst?  Motivational speaker?  And life isn't over for the rest of us when our transition time arises.  Out with the old isn't anything new.  So we middle-aged and older should begin to recognize the process and embrace it rather than push back.  It's progress in motion...so thank God for it!

Regardless of leadership position in the church, we best be anticipating the God-ordained will of new leaders who will not do things the way we did them.  And, church, that's much of the point.  To bring on the new team and remain firmly attached to the past will likely smother as much as it will groom.  Letting go of the reigns is a vital part of effective and intentional maturing leadership. 

Much, much of good leadership is found within the scope of two words; letting go. 

Transitions are absolute.  They are here now or will be soon.  Our role is to determine whether we will step aside with leading grace or stand in the way with blocking selfishness.  Out with the old and in with the new certainly has its challenges; understandably so.  But the snake in the woodpile is the leader-gone-awry because he or she has determined that no wise decisions or implementations can be made without his or her input. 

Out with the old isn't anything new...except for those of us with a few years under our belts.  In that case, being out is very new.  Ah, another opportunity to learn where we can serve efficiently...again!


BE THE LIGHT

Richard Rohr wrote that light isn't what you see; but it is that very element by which you see everything else.  For us to respond to God's call that we be the light would, therefore, call for our walk in dispensing light upon people and things all around us.  We are not to be praised for being visible light; but rather, to bring praise to those items upon whom/which we shine. 

The light isn't the glory.  The brilliance of the object seen due to it is. 

Don't be the critic.  Be the light. 
Don't be the Scrooge.  Be the light. 
Don't be the Bible-banging, scripture quoting Pharisee.  Be the Light. 
Don't be the accuser.  Be the light. 
Don't be the naysayer.  Be the light. 

Life...and light...is always about how good we can make others appear.  We, then, have much good work to do.  Be.  The.  Light.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WHEN CHRISTIANITY WILL HAVE STRONG IMPACT

We go to church.  We sing the songs.  We quote the scriptures.  We extend ourselves to others within our communities who have yet to respond to God's call.  Yet overall, we who promote these wonderful and spiritual dynamics shut down the most tender heartbeat of God among the scenes of humankind. 

We refuse to forgive and love our enemies.

To deny our enemies mercy and grace is to call Jesus a liar.  It's a proclamation back to him that he wasted his dying breath for while he died for sinners...we...will...not.  End of our story.  This should make us shudder.

I'm a retired minister with decades of experience.  Yet, I still love those I love and tend to despise those who irritate me.  Great!  That's surely the call of Jesus, huh?  NOT!!  What a public sham.

So what's with not speaking to former friends all about?   What's with distancing ourselves from church because of past offences and offenders?  Where does the inner confidence get its arrogance to spell out our likes and don't likes about one other person when we, ourselves, publicly disavow the deepest call of our Savior to love the unlovable?

Churches are on every street corner.  Each has its front door where the new enter in and then the back door where the disappointed and frustrated exit.  To close the back door will not occur when the church gets its act together.  It will take place when we as critics step back a moment to evaluate whether we forgive and love our enemies...or do we simply offer a plastic and most temporary love as long as they don't offend?

Have you ever contemplated what the assigned-from-God cross strapped to your back is all about?  Do you work from it?  Do you forgive those who hurt or do you smack them up the side of the head with your cross?  Which is it?

Christianity behaves more like a spoiled brat than a saving community.  We have a long way to go when it comes to living from the same hill Jesus did.  But the good news is that we can make strides; we are trying to gain momentum. 

I'm very pumped about the future of the church.  It will increase when we decrease...um...same pattern as Jesus.  Shall we change our talk?  Shall we dismantle our grudges?  Shall we pay (as did Jesus) for the other person's malfunctioning style?  We surely can, you know.  We all need it.  No one is exempt...not even the loudest critic.