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Showing posts from January, 2012

Following

Last week I walked outside of the YMCA where I get some exercise and noticed something that put a smile on my face.  There was a line of about 20 children, probably all 5 and under, grabbing onto a rope, 10 or so on either side, and an adult in the front (and one behind) saying, "Come on, keep up, follow me."  I smiled as I watched this "duck waddling" group of children all keep in step as they held on to the rope and kept walking.

What is it about following that seems so child like?  Scriptures, and especially the Gospels where Jesus talked a lot about it, speak a lot on following.
Mark 1:16-18 (NIV)
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
18 At once they left their nets and followed him



Luke 5:27-28 (NASB)
27 After that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting …

A Monk in Each of Us

This Sunday our Church fellowship will celebrate Communion.  I love Communion because it is such a mysterious attraction of my seeking fellowship in worship with God. That sense of fellowship, the presence of God, the real person present and in worship, prayer, taking bread and cup a connection is made in body, soul and spirit...I love that.

I've always been fascinated by the lifestyle of a Monk.  I think it's the unhurried, reflective, seemingly quieter lifestyle that appeals to me.  Perhaps also its the "daily rhythms" of life that help preserve a sense of order and balance in terms of both "doing" and "being".

That's the key thing, our "doing" vs. our "being".  It was in Genesis that we're reminded:
Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Our first identity is a stamp of God upon us.  We're image bearers, "Adams" which…

ALL IS GRACE

It was about 15 years ago that I ran across the writings of Brennan Manning.
A Catholic Priest who became a monastic, and also an alcoholic; who after going through recovery began to write on the love of God.  Through his book, Abba's Child, I was set free of the thought that my performance and efforts were what caused God to love me. When I read "The Ragamuffin Gospel" I was undone.  No Protestant who should believe in grace through faith quite captured the heart of the gospel as he did.

Brennan learned all of this in both serving and in recovery.
It all started for him very early.  In February 1956, while Brennan was meditating on the Stations of the Cross, a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ sealed God's call on his life.  "At that moment, the entire Christian life became for me an intimate, heartfelt relationship with Jesus."
In the late 1960's he journeyed to Spain and lived in a monastic order serving the poor in a rural…

Selective Spirituality

1 Samuel 15:13-23 (NIV)
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD's instructions."
14 But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?"
15 Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest."
16 "Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night." "Tell me," Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.
18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.'
19 Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do …

Fully Human

Luke 2:52 (NIV)
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

The word for stature is helikia, a word that implies maturity...growth in more than physical ways.  It implies formation of character, principles, values that serve to guide a person in living.

In a recent message surrounding this passage I mentioned that for some Jesus' growing up was not equal to our own - he was God.  But that is the fateful error (sorry to say, but heresy) of those who refused to believe Jesus was fully human, as well as fully divine.  In other words, we must not diminish his humanity in order to understand all that he is.
Being "fully human" is not just a way of describing Jesus; it is also an objective for each of our own lives.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move al…

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."


In just one week the Winter/Spring semester begins for me at Christian Life College - Madison.  I am a Pastor in both my passion and my sense of God's calling.  That is what I do most of the time.  The other part of my time is to have the privilege to teach a college class and enjoy the academic side of Spirituality.
I don't think a lot of people think about their faith often enough.  We're told that the greatest commandment is "to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, your soul, your mind."  It certainly seems important to think with our mind.  In a classroom I often ask questions...seeking to get students to think and personalize the material.

This next Semester's class is a…

What about "IF" faith?

Yesterday I mused on the idea of "High Faith".  The words faith and high don't necessarily ring a bell; but I wanted to think out loud about how we approach faith, or don't approach it on a daily basis.  Most of us who believe in Christ struggle with the daily aspect of walking out faithfully the faith we affirm on Sunday.  It's easy to be a Sunday Christian.  I can say, act, do the right things in the company of my believing friends; it's Monday thru Saturday that my faith leaves me perplexed.
Think about these two accounts.
Mark 9:2-9 (NIV)
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.
3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one…

"High" Faith

Faith is a footbridge that you don't know will hold you up over the chasm until you're forced to walk out onto it.  (NICHOLAS WOLTERSTORFF)
So much of our journey with God involves "choosing" to trust in someone other than our own selves.  In his book, Faith and Doubt, John Ortberg talks about the way in which faith really works.  He has this chapter that begins with the idea of "Mountains" and with that jumps into the theme of "height" as a metaphor.
Altars in ancient times were built in "high places".
Sacrifices were made in Israel by "high priests".
Today we speak of "high ideals" and "high achievements" and politicians who run for "high office".
When someone is a snob, arrogant, we tell them to get off their "high horse".
When someone gets addicted to drugs they get a "high", and when they seek to get off their addiction they seek a "higher power".
Heights attract…

Epiphany - A Day Late!

Epiphany was January 6th, and I'm a day late, but was traveling yesterday, so forgive me for not getting this on time.
We’ve come to the end of the 12 days of Christmas.  Epiphany is the appearance of the Wise Men, the Magi, who came from the East to find the “King, born of the Jews”.   Each of the days between Christmas and Epiphany celebrated an aspect of our faith.  And now, the twelfth day arrived. “On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My true love gave to me: Twelve Drummers Drumming”
What did it stand for?  The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. 5) On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. 6) He will come again t…

Days 8,9,10,&11

OK, so the 12 days of Christmas is getting a bit accelerated.  I'm off for a couple of days and want to get ahead...planning on making a final blog on the 12th day.

By the way, Shakespeare wrote "Twelfth Night".  The twelfth night is January 5, which is one of the days I'm gone, so I'll lean a bit towards that now.
The origin and counting of the 12 days is not universally held in the church.  Western churches count after Christmas and the 12th day is Jan. 6th.
The 12th day is celebrated as the day the Magi - the wise men - from the East arrived to present their gifts to the baby Jesus.  Here is the passage that records that in the New Living Translation:
Matthew 2:1-12 (NLT)
1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when…