Thursday, July 02, 2015

OUR GIGANTIC WORLD OF POSSIBLE, POTENTIAL, PROBABLE HOPE

God makes a statement in Second Corinthians that astounds me every time I see it...every time.  Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  At age 68 I can verify decay; but only of my outer shell.  The inner me is wide-eyed as if I'm in kindergarten; not just occasionally, but every day.

This fascinates me about who we really are because of Whose we really are.

Do I get discouraged?  Yes.  Do I ever want to give up and quit?  Never.  Renewal of the inner man is a verifier of God's support system for His creation.  We have reason to hope when things are going well..Romans 5:1-2.  And, we have equal reason to hope when things aren't going well...Romans 5:3-5.

The outer man is our flesh; arms, legs, torso, etc.  The inner man is our spirit comprised of knowledge, imagination, and emotions.  The flesh will ultimately pass. The spirit is a fountain of youth.  As a result we individually are often found to be in conflict because the spirit is willing; but the flesh is weak.

The spirit of a man or woman is always on the hunt for the creative, the imaginative, the hopeful.  This may be why we can rearrange the same old furniture in our living rooms and it comes off feeling like everything is new.  The spirit thrives on new even if it is merely the restructuring of the old.

Our spirits seem to blossom as we search for possibility.  We don't care for ruts; for being stumped or stuck with a problem.  Something goes on within that brings flourishing hope even if others have formed grumpy assessment of the same situation. We are built by God to dream of what isn't yet; but can be.

This fact is most fascinating to me.  However, I believe there is a reason that so many do not feel this way and do not live this way.  Very simply put, we do not want to be wrong.

Being wrong is most likely our largest threat.  We tend to debate, argue, and even push back.  We will run from and totally ignore, at times, rather than say three of earth's toughest words, I am wrong.

Deborah Meier innovated and then renovated a successful new approach to learning. A substitute-teacher-became-principal, Meier dreamed of developing education more creatively.  Her results are now used as formula for success.  Her basic thrust came from a very plain conviction.  I believe you have to have an open-mindedness to the possibility that you're wrong.

When we question, we tend to keep what is effective for the day and purge those elements which would possibly keep us stuck.  One of the grand facts about God's creation is flexibility.  Jesus is the one who said, regarding being born again, that being able to adjust is a thrust of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8).

May we always be in pursuit of life for the day with the awareness that our world is gigantic in possible, potential, and probable hope.  Wonderful, wonderful things have transpired in our past.  Our future is quite bright.  But it is our very right-now-ness that should cause a magnificent buzz of amazing hope.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

THE CALL FOR CALLING SIN SIN

As in all I do, I feel quite inadequate to address this theme.  For those who don't hear me preach (and only know me through writings), I continually speak that I am the least in any room of people; the chiefest of any sinner.  For one it's true.  Secondly, I know it. Take this into account as I continue.

There seems to be an increase of demands coming from some within the Christian community of late to call sin sin.  Of course, this is nothing new.  Sin is the devastation of mankind; ruination while we try to live.  It is serious.  It is deep.  It is volatile.  Its consequences are immeasurable.

Yet, there could be an insincerity that rides alongside this prominent call by some for us to call sin sin.  This may contain an unsaid statement that possibly overshadows our intent.  Why has it never been said, It's time we call my sin sin?  Why is this statement never heard.  Why do bold blogs and sermons not use this phrase?

There seems to be a reason.

The Christian world has always battled the need to be in contact with hurting people. It seems much safer and handier to join in on Bible class theory.  I speak only in general terms for very much engagement goes on.  I question, however, the call for calling sin sin by those whose lives display an avoidance of the lowly....and the sinful.

We are long on principles and short on love for people.  Jesus died making this very point.  When this happens we find it acceptable to be quite vocal against another for, in reality, we don't care about others.  We care about our concepts.  These demonstrate, in our minds, our stances.  Doctrinal positions run ahead of community compassion.

The Pharisees were masters at such.  This is why they and Jesus were in one constant tangle after another.

If not cautious, we will be strong on stances; weak on relationships.  Jesus reverses this order.  To him Truth loves others to the maximum extent including all enemies.  This Truth will always challenge organized religion because it is easier to speak of rules than to relate to any who don't think, believe, or act the way we think they should.

What has happened, I believe quite unintentionally, is that we are prone to express our deepest opinions with clarity.  Our objection about those guilty of sin may freely be expressed while our extended hands to help in their rescue are not as available.  When this happens we cause a glare rather than shine.

Indeed, there is a great coming out of comments regarding the same-sex topic of our day.  Stances are taken.  Lines are drawn.  Yes, the sin is deeply serious.  And we must also raise our voices are for the sinner because someone did the same for each of us. Remember?

To simply be loud about standing against sin is anti-Jesus.  Did he condone sin?  Not one time.  His mission was to rescue the sinner; common ones like you/ME.

With great fascination, the church has enormous opportunity right now to display the love of Jesus in our tired and discouraged and distracted communities.  Yes, sin is wretched.  It brings misery.  Yet, to be adamant against a practice and not practice a deep compassionate love for the sinner is in itself the ultimate sin.  Is this not what makes the Son of God different from the religion that barked loud enough until he was finally executed?

I'm more than calling sin sin.  I'm saying the call for sin to be labeled as sin to be a ruse from which many who regard themselves to be strong Christian leaders are merely hiding.  We have work to do.  Words are easy.  Connecting to people is the difference Jesus makes.  He is the Master when it comes to this.  We have a world to love; the gay, the gossips, the touchy, the grouchy, the thief, the adulterer, and on the list goes.

The loud call for us to call sin sin is disingenuous when and if we are silent when it comes to our own missing of the mark.  Always.  Noticeably.  Loudly.  Silent.

Indeed we are to call sin sin.  But, it must be targeting our own sin first.  This changes the entire religious landscape.  May we perpetually learn from the One who became our deep dark personal sin so that we could become the righteousness of God....II Corinthians 5:21.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

THE CONFLICT SOLUTION

Conflict rages; if not outwardly then this villain will press to reign inwardly.  This is spiritual warfare that many  refuse to acknowledge or address.  Unrest, therefore, rules both our conversations by day and our pillows by night.  The result is severe vulnerability.

The battle isn't regarding others; although we surely live in self-defense by pointing to the error of their ways.  No. It's much heavier than that.  The war escalates because we each have a rule; the very same identical rule....each of us.  That rule is: it is never my fault for how things are; but rather caused by another.  Always another!

The solution isn't found in the right church.  Many of us try to build the right church. Yet we basically go nowhere different than all of the others.  The solution is found in the Builder of the church; Jesus.

Why is it that when such a statement is made in finding answers in Jesus, it is the church which is usually among the first to reject it?  Why is that?  Well, it is the very same reason the religious leaders of Jesus' day were high on themselves while insisting that Jesus be strung up.  They were self-righteous (compared to Jesus-righteous).

The lost of the world are so largely because we saved ones have substituted best show for only Rescuer.  We put on our best, attend our best...and it's all fluff...and the community knows it.  When we are given to Jesus--not our denominations, not our pet doctrines, not our favorite worship style; but to Jesus--it is then that transformation has a chance.

Those observing us see through us.  We don't think they do.  What we want to offer is our admission that we are nothing (a big zero) without Him.  We are aware more of our own sins than anyone elses.  Our adoration is vocally given to God; not to our successes.

Conflict is solved; not in a list of do-goods-we-got-done, but in knowing the only man who gave his all....and then...he beat the grave.

What shall we do?  We shall humble ourselves before the Lord.  And then we shall enjoy the work He gets done to influence others about truth and hope.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

ADVANTAGED....ALWAYS ADVANTAGED

God puts the iffiness of whether out of commission.  Happiness is not dependent upon whether things go a certain way.  Productivity isn't aborted when interference develops.  Neither is reason to hope.  Once a person believes this truth, life never looks the same.  Doubt and fear wilt as  possibility and expectation begin to govern.

Romans 5:1-5 is just one Bible text that expresses sheer hope during good days and the identical hope in the bad ones.  This is where the mind and heart make adjustments for real living.  Regardless of circumstance--positive or negative--there is always supreme reason to excel in the range of hope.

God is all about hope.  So is Jesus.  So is the Holy Spirit.  So are you and me; we are to possess this incredible, unconquerable dynamic.

Young, handsome, athletic Van Phillips was in a boating accident on a lake in Arizona. He awakened from surgery only to peek beneath the covers to find a foot missing. Where his future could have been perceived as setback, he chose to sense that he was now advantaged.

Fitted with a pink foot at the end of a tube, Phillips began to intensely study the science of prosthetics.  He wanted to make improvements.  This included not only research; but multiple failures.  That's what winners do; learn via failure.

Warren Berger wrote of Phillips, Every time a foot broke, he dissected the failure through questioning: "Why did it break? What if I change the mix of materials?  How will this new version hold up?"  Each time Phillips fell, he landed in a place that was further ahead, closer to the breakthrough.  He was failing forward the whole time.

Each time Phillips fell, he landed in a place that was further ahead. Advantaged...always advantaged.

Berger, then, reveals an amazing thing about Phillips' consistent demeanor of failing forward, as a winding road oft uphill, to success.  His Flex-Foot creation has impacted society.  An amputee climbed Mount Everest.  A double-amputee sprinter competed in NCAA track and field.  South African, runner Oscar Pistorius ran on two Cheetahs as he competed in the 2012 Olympics.

Regardless of pressure, disappointment, or sheer difficulty, we are always advantaged.  There is never the exception.  High waters?  Jesus walked atop of them. Punished upon the cruel Tree?  He advantaged his enemies with a remarkable reason to life full life eternally.  Dead in a tomb?  What a stage for an amazing exit?

Advantaged?  Oh....that would be you and me....every day!

Friday, June 26, 2015

THE GREAT WAR EVERYONE FACES

World War I.  II.  Korea.  Vietnam.  Afghanistan.  On and on and on the list builds.

War.

Vicious.  Ruinous.  Suffocating to the heart.

Yet, there is a bigger war; more threatening, more painful, more damaging.  It is the War of the Mind.

The War of the Mind battles people and circumstances.  Thoughts are the sneaky culprits infiltrating, even manipulating, past conversations.  This war's weapon is embellishment.  Embellishment is nuclear as it doesn't just do immediate damage.  Its residue sabotages the mind for grand lengths of time.

The Bible is not vague as to effectively countering discouragement.  It knows the battle of the mind; our minds.  It notes our vulnerability in negative chatter; whether from external critic or that dreaded internal conversation.  The Word of God understood us before we existed.

So I say to you from another angle to look again at the same place....because I'm saying that many of you need this today; like in right now.  Read Philippians 4:4-9.  Read it. Let it measure you for size.  Allow it to evaluate your mind; your thinking technique that may perpetually betray you.

There is a new world out there for each of us.  It is loaded with mines of gold.  The discovery is not found in the location of the fields.  Rather it is first found within the regions of how we choose to think.  And....it is always a choice.

Everyone faces the great war.  There is no exception.  The good news is that everyone faces renewed potential and victory.  Every one!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

THE LIBERALISM OF CONSERVATIVE CHURCHES

People.

Everywhere we go there are people.

THEY are a mess.  THEY do the weird, the obscene, the irresponsible.  THEY...it's always a THEY because we ignore the words WE and ME.  Conservative churches develop the THEY chatter as much as the liberal ones do; possibly more so.

I've hit upon an area where we (conservative) are extremely liberal.  (By liberal I mean the act of ignoring what the Word of God says to satisfy our own whims and bias.)  We are quite liberal when it comes to the call of God to be evangelistic.  Conservatives wither in fear over this and, therefore, refuse to be responsible in reaching to our neighbors with the great news Jesus intends.

Sticky, sensitive, and intentional, conservative members monitor closely that everything called for in the Bible is to be fulfilled individually...except...evangelism.  It is at this juncture that conservative churches become excessively liberal by dismissing a very clear and Christ-centered will of God.

Conservatives don't care about this one.  We can find other things to do in the church. Mission isn't one of them regardless of who extended it.  Our glib reaction to the command to love our neighbors would incense and infuriate us if we were to give such non-regard, say, to communion or to baptism.  Yet, we somehow have developed a disregard which is sheer liberalism to the max.

ISIS isn't to be single-handedly blamed for its successful aggression.  The silent liberal church could also share responsibility. Washington appears to be a mess in multiple zones; but it's the church which hides publicly in her various buildings and has significantly lost her voice; hoarse from yelling at that other church across the street.

Admittedly, it's one thing to point out our dirty laundry of liberalism among ourselves. So may we move forward by wishing, praying, reaching to our neighbors.  May we find that we are faithful in receiving/welcoming the grand charge God has given us.  Let there be voices heard, attention given, and neighbors noticed for the love of God is desperately needed within every home on every street; no exception.