Tuesday, April 22, 2014

KEEPING UP WITH THE CREATIVITY OF GOD

Man has forever confused theology with methodology.  How we do church has done as much to take away from being divinely authentic as any premise.  What the scriptures teach remains ultra-important.  Their silence, however, still bugs the control obsessant.

How oxymoronish of us to try to be so correct in all matters; yet, we sometimes think nothing of operating from fear which is one of God's most major warnings.

A challenge for me is being 66 and liking what I like and disdaining what I choose to disdain.  So especially now I must be willing to perpetually yield to the newness of God.  The Holy Spirit, however, offers such a life of strong flexibility (Jn. 3:8), that we must speak and listen, study and learn from the Divine Funnel which lives to invigorate His offspring.

We are to be swept away by the creativity of God.  Never is He old hat.  Neither is He rote...nor mundane.  Always is He the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Ours is the job to walk through life very, extremely, highly....awake!

Keeping up with the creativity of God is an eternal effort.  That's why that even heaven will never be boring.  It will be a fountain springing forth awe and wonder, charm and energy, spectacularism and full life.

Keeping up with God is a full-life job.




Monday, April 21, 2014

LEARNERS AND NON-LEARNERS

Eminent sociologist, Benjamin Barber, once said, I don't divide the world into the weak and the strong or the successes and the failures....I divide the world into the learners and non-learners.

If I were to try to express why the elders at Memorial Drive seem to bless this congregation so much, one area would be that these men are learners.  They seem to be driven to want to know what God has in mind regardless of herd-pressure of teaching what we have always taught.

If I would to try to estimate why some preachers seem younger as they age, while others seem old while very young, it would be discovered in the territory of learning vs. non-learning.

The very theme of the Restoration Movement implies to some, discover Truth and never budge from it.  Yet, others in the very same movement see the reverse, discover Truth and continue to investigate as it is surely the same size as God.

I agree with Mr. Barber, the world isn't divided into the haves and the have-nots.  It is split between those who hoard information and those who explore it.

Truth is of utmost importance.  It is too big to be contained in a vacuum.  It is too raucous to be cornered by tradition.  It is too God-synchronized to be anything but luring as it bids us perpetual entrance into the yet to be discovered.

We must be on our spiritual toes; otherwise, we will reach errant conclusions before we finish learning.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

THE DEAD SPACE IN HIS TOMB

It had been quite a week.  Anger mixed with sorrow flooded the hearts of those on the streets.  Jerusalem was a wreck; soldiers, prayer meetings, the sound of hammers and spikes.  Much wailing and second guessing went on Thursday and into Friday.

And then there was the hush of the dead space.

The tomb.

The dread.

The hoarse whispers of those who had cried maxing out their vocal chords.  The silence rang clear.  Jesus, the certain hope of all of the world for all time, had been silenced.  The dead space was all wrong; yet was reality.

For two days....nothing.  No thing.

The dead space seemed to declare far too much.  Evidently the disciples appear far more foolish than they even originally seemed.  It looks like the talk of another king and kingdom were just mere and fading words.  Proof positive that Jesus too was a fake due to the dead space that made hearts sick; except for boisterous soldiers out of Rome.

Make a note; Jesus silenced silence by a greater than nuclear power resurrection. The dead space gave birth to eternal life!

So it is with us.  A reason for an authentic theological pattern.  Our dead spaces are pregnant with God moves.  We can count on it.  Whether it be disappointment, or setback, or loss, all of these dead spaces are each pregnant with God-hope of life!

Therefore, we never lose heart.  Even though our outer man is decaying we are to be renewed day by day.  Newer everyday is due to the life beginning to take steam in all of the dead spaces.

Only God could design such for His children!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

IT'S EASTER AND I'M GLAD

This weekend is celebrated world-wide as Christians remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  While many of us observe these three weekly in communion, the world is now on high alert to this activity some 2000 years past.

The truth of Jesus finds itself challenged in a web of disorderly followers as myself. Our critics are often such due to proper judgment.  For our moments of cynicism and swagger, we put a blemish upon the beauty of Jesus the Lamb.  If these traits and others go out publicly, and they do, we then find the perception of goodness and holiness of the Christian life becoming blurred if not completely disregarded.

Christians live on a strange and complex stage.  Where we can cause rebuke because of our mis-steps in following Jesus by our arrogance or ignorance, there is also the likely rejection by the same people if we were to follow spiritually closer to Jesus in the first place.  After all, a huge part of this weekend's celebration is that he was crucified.

One of the challenges before us, therefore, is that we live devotedly and humbly enough in faithfully following Jesus that we would properly be dismissed by those who reject the Son of God anyway.  Because we are silly about our faith or snobbish about it does not give us room to crow.

What we want the world to know is not our religious correctness; but our Savior.  We want them to meet him just as we did a few years back.  Jesus is neither a magician nor is he a figment of history's imagination.  He is a real person who walked in our sandals and begged for a signal from above that he did not have to be punished for our sins.

Yet....he took them on....and won!

This Sunday will bear the fruit of full houses of worship.  Once a year--other than a similar trend at Christmas--churches are packed.  I say Hurray!  Yippee!  Way to go!  Awesome! and Cool!  America still has embedded within its populace a recall of what Jesus did for each generation.

A lot of people will be visiting our places this Sunday.  Would you pause for a moment when you begin to brush past those you don't know?  While we mean nothing by it, some are watching to see if we have eyes like Jesus to notice those who wish to touch him; even those up a tree who wish to just look at him.

Visitors will be abundant Sunday morning.  I'm pumped.  May our messages be full of hope and our greetings be full of welcome!

It's Easter......company is coming....and I'm really glad.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

HOSPITALITY UNDERSTANDS

We don't need more critics.  These are a dime a dozen.  What we need are sympathizers who care enough to stand with us, instead of run, when we fall very short of the mark which God has called.

Fellowship and relationship within the body of Christ are essential.  Religious activity seems to want to skip the connected-to-others part by focusing upon standards and measures.

Hospitality, a trait even necessary for elders of the church, has a unique personality. It understands others who suffer so deeply that it offers direction and guidance into fruitful labor.

I very much like what Henri Nouwen penned as he connects hospitality with our common struggles.  This is so because shared pain is no longer paralyzing but mobilizing, when understood as a way to liberation.  When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope.

Through this common search hospitality becomes community.

To note value in our own pain is not a call to obsess over our sorrows.  But rather reaching out to those who are down finds that we have a meaningful and wonderful new mobility to effectively boost others.  Our agonies do not shut us down.  Instead, they thrust us into compassion for neighbors of hurting hearts with both experience and understanding.

Attention is not for our difficulties to be duly noted; yet, it frees us to give attention to all others with unusual spiritual insight.  Hospitality sympathizes because we have endured similar discouragement.

Jesus understands us best from the Cross.  He became the sin of our independent lies and our dependent false gods.  He absorbed humanities foul sins as gigantic Kitty Litter upon Golgotha.  He knows sin.  He knows us.  He alone knows how to save.

Because we fight the battles of injury and discouragement and raging agonies, we are qualified to offer a hand to our neighbor through the wild and effective means of hospitality.  We can reach because we have been reached.

What every neighbor wonders is, Does anyone understand my demise and failure? We can arise with strong voice, Yes, I do.  Enter meaningful, sympathetic hospitality.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN LIFE

I don't know of an individual who has not at one time dreamed of making a big difference from where they lived.  I regard myself as like all other youngsters growing up.  Being heroic and/or successful by accomplishing very great things filled my imagination.

To give you insight, my brother and I had one Sunday shirt each for church; white, short-sleeved, wide-collared.  Simultaneously, I dreamed of being a Major League baseball star.  I was nine at the time and one of the 1956 bubble gum cards that I loved was of Roy Campanella; number 39.

Not having a uniform, I designed my own by taking a ball-point pen and drawing 39 on the back of my Sunday go-to-church shirt.  Granted it appeared very unauthentic; but it was my imaginary uniform.  And...I was proud as the imaginary crowd roared immediately upon the Public Address Announcer calling out, And no-ow batting-ing---num-um-ber 39--Terr-err--y Ru-u-sh!!!  (cheers were deafening).

Some of us, maybe most of us, never reach that stage by the means we assumed. Stardom just isn't in the cards for the most of us.  Fame seems to leak badly.  It turns out we are most ordinary and rather plain; in a good sort of way.

So how do we really make a difference in life?  We make it, not by fame, but by giving ourselves away.

In the Parable of the Talents, I believe we discover a buried secret within its wording as to how we are to make a difference in life.  It is by the simple process of giving away.

Too often our assumption is that the way we get ahead is by grasping, clinging, and hoarding.  We call it saving up.  But God has a different direction, which from experience many of us can testify He has it figured correctly.

Matthew 25:16 shines light upon the man with the five talents.  He went and traded. When he risked losing by trading away, he gained.  The same procedure is accredited to the two talent man.  The one talent?  No trade.  No risk.  No exchange.  Hid in fear of losing....and he did lose.

The way to make a difference is not to self-groom nor to accumulate.  It will always be found luxuriously in the reverse; let go, trade, risk, yield.

Oh I'm in on wanting to be the local hero, or the famed one being interviewed; but it isn't going to happen.  My job is to trust God; give Him my goods, my personality, my dreams.  He will use them as He wishes; not as I imagine.  He....so says Ephesians 3:20....will faithfully trump my imagination with His glory and creativity.

So it is for all of us.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

HAVE A GRACE FILLED DAY. IT IS LEGAL, YOU KNOW.

Today's post will be a bit different.  It simply contains quotes from my good friend, Philip Yancey.

Breathe the thoughts in.  I believe they will enrich your heart.

The problem of pain meets its match in the scandal of grace.

Grace is not about finishing first or last; it is about not counting.

Grace cannot be reduced to generally accepting accounting principles.  In the bottom-line realm of ungrace, some workers deserve more than others; in the realm of grace the word "deserve" does not even apply.

People are prepared for everything except for the fact that beyond the darkness of their blindness there is a great light (Frederick Buechner).

Grace baffles us because it goes against the intuition that everyone has that, in the face of injustice, some price must be paid....God gave up His own Son rather than give up on humanity.

In Christian theology, Jesus reversed the ancient pattern: when the servants erred, the King was punished.  Grace is free only because the giver himself has borne the cost.