Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fighting to Find Your Way

Fight the good fight to retain your reliance on Christ, lay hold on the life eternal, to which you were called, and did confess your profession of faith in the sight of many witnesses.  --1 Timothy 6:12 (self)
It's a simple matter to lose one's way.  I think in particular this morning of all those who were raised in The Church.  Parents took you to church rain or shine and you got out of it only through illness or a noisy house full of crazy visiting relatives (and even then maybe not.)  You sat through more interminable boring Sunday Schools and sermons than you care to remember.  Then the great day arrived that you stood up in front of the whole church at your Confirmation and said "I do" and "I will" in all the appropriate places to "join the church."  Then you went off.  It became easier to sleep in on Sunday.  Life got busy, then it got complicated... then you woke up one morning realizing, "I am lost."  In the noise of culture and independent thinking, in the blizzard of all forms of information media, in the happenstance of circumstance, in the blur of trying not to look retarded or backward, in the attempts to keep up with a goal or others it is easy to get lost.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pay No Attention To The Person Over the Back Fence

But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: 'Nay; but there shall be a king over us; that we also may be like all the nations; 1 Samuel 8:20 (Jewish Publication Society) 
It would seem that a basic tenet of being human is the burning desire to be certain my neighbor isn't getting ahead of me.  Materialism has been rampant in our culture since at least the 1950's.  If the next door neighbors got a new television, you could be pretty sure my sister and I would badger my parents until we got one too.  Same with cars, washing machines, dishwashers, and a varied host of everything else under the sun.  

The elders of Israel had the same problem.  They were delivered safely into the

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Humbling Treasure

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, was this grace given, so that I might make clear to the nations the good news of the unsearchable treasures of Christ:  --Ephesians 3:8 (self translated) 
I have been pondering the question of humility vs. self-deprecation.  Psychological self-help books suggest that self-deprecation is damaging to one's ability to relate and grow.  It is founded on a humanistic ideal that all people are of utter worth so consequently, if you can't claim your intrinsic value, then you are putting your abilities under a barrel.  This is in opposition to the older Orthodox Christian belief that humanity is fallen and prone to being sin-filled.  Knowing our place in life seems key to our sense of who we are.  I'm not sure there is a substantial difference between humility and self-deprecation.  What differs is where you stand in relation to God.  If you accept the idea that you are a god - maker of your own world and success, then in 21st century developed nations to have humility (be self-deprecating) is to lose out on chances of gaining even more.  On the other hand, if you accept the idea that God is God, and you are simply a disciple or servant, you will view success differently.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gospel Simplicity

For God has not pre-destined us to meet His anger, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; who died on our behalf, so that whether we are awake or are sleeping we may share His Life. Therefore encourage one another, and let each one help to strengthen his friend, as in fact you do.  I Thess. 5:9-11 (1912 Weymouth New Testament)

A lot of faulty teaching about the Christian faith gets blasted out over the spongy ears of the masses.  Their ears absorb the misinformation, then they incorporate this viral information into their heads, and let it color all their thinking.  The next thing we know 10,000 misconceptions about Christianity are flying; some of them even amongst those who have been part of churches forever (and should know better.)  So it is refreshing when we come across a short, succinct Bible passage that cuts through all the trash talk and lays it out plainly: God has not pre-destined us to meet his anger.  (Other translations use the word wrath.)  Instead we are destined to share in the life of Jesus Christ... Go strengthen your friends with this news.  How much simpler can the Gospel get?  No tally sheets of sin.  No hoops to jump.  No special prayers or words.  Awake or asleep just share in the life of Jesus.

Now, knowing the life of Jesus becomes the on-going homework assignment.  His first miracle was changing water into wine at a wedding banquet. (John 2)  So, attend church and take communion to remember.  Remember how easily his friends and disciples don't even recognize him (Luke 24:13ff) until he breaks the bread with them.  Jesus healed a lot of blindness in his short three years of ministry.  Don't be a blind person yourself and not see the needs around you.  Share in a Jesus-life of compassion and sensitivity to the troubles and sorrows and misery of those whose lives you cross or pass every day.  All carry some burden or pain.  Encourage, strengthen, smile and uplift always.  Against such there is no law... and in it, awake or asleep, you live out your destiny: salvation through our Lord.

Thank you O God, for meeting us not in wrath or anger but in loving acceptance.  Encourage and strengthen us, and help us do likewise for each person we meet throughout all the day long.  In Christ's name, and in union with His life that we share.  Amen.