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Monday, November 30, 2009

The world will end in 2012?

So, the world is going to end in 2012. Or, so Hollywood "The Blindside" with Sandra Bullock. To our surprise, it was sold out. Not wanting to leave the theater empty- handed, we settled for viewing "2012" instead. 
I thought the creators were creative in how they pitched it, that the earth's crust will get too hot, causing the outside to melt and throwing the world into a catclysmic end, wrought with huge tsunamis that was whatever is left of the crust away. I'm sure it has a lot of people thinking. and why not? As I sit in here in what should be CT's turn into winter, I look at my thermometer, only to find it reads close to 50 degrees. This movie could make the  usual viewer question if they only have 2 1/2 more years of life left.
Then, on Sunday, I came across this verse from matthew 21:8: "8He replied: "Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not follow them. 9When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away."(NIV). 
Thank goodness we have the Word of God to turn to in times of uncertainty. 
Be encouraged today! The Lord is not through with you yet!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Black Friday Phenomenon

I didn't think I could let this day go by without talking a little bit about my Black Friday experience.  No, i wasn't up at 5 am, but i did go around 8-9 am. I normally check out the deals in the flyers the night before and pick out a few things I would like to get. If i don't get them, I'm not that disappointed.  So, I looked in the flyers, but Walmart was the only store I thought had any deals.  I went in at about 8 am, and was surprised by how little lines there were, and people there were! There were people and it was busy,but no long lines, no hysterical people . (Although, talking to a woman at Kohl's she said someone was arrested in front of her at 5 am). 
I still am floored by our society's lack of reverence for what this holiday is all about.  Apparently, the big wanted item ( besides the tv's) were character pajamas for  $3. I got one of the last ones and a woman asked me about it. I told her where they were, then in a gesture of kindness, offered her mine. She was shocked. She declined, but added how nice I was to offer.  I'm thinking to myself " It's just pajamas!"  Have we become so far removed from the actual meaning of this holiday that we would not offer our neighbor a pair of $3 pajamas?
Perhaps the reason why we are quick to say " happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas"  is because God was already gone from this holiday for a long time,  we just made it official. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

" I thank my God every time i remember you . In all my prayers for all of you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel." - Philippians 1:3.
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, let us remember to whom we should give thanks!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The power or Perspective II

I was looking at my digital camera the other day and reflected on the reason why I hadn't gotten one earlier. I used to have an older film camera that I have had for 4 years.  I kept relying on the fact that it worked well in the past and had served me well to fill my kids' photo albums with pictures from their past. But, something must be wrong on the inside because eventually all the pics that I was developing came out blurry. My perspective was that it had worked well, but eventually became too blurry to serve its purpose.
Isn't that the same thing with us? Don't our perspectives sometimes get blurred and they don't become as reliable if we like? I thin back to times when i have misconstrued situations in my life because I thought I had the right perspective. The other person thought one thing, I thought another, and the truth lied somewhere in between. Until I talked it out with the other person, the truth then shown itself to me. 
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, are their any perspectives that need to be changed on people or situations so that the truth can show itself to you? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Power of Perseverance

click clack
almost there. 
click clack
Only 5 more minutes
click clack.
If I just keep going, I'll meet my goal.
 Bleary-eyed  and thirsty, this is how I normally start most mornings. 
I'm trying to train for a half-marathon. Well, sort of.  
These are the sounds I normally hear as i ride my elliptical trainer, or run on the treadmill. It would be so much easier if I just stay in bed. But, I don't.  
It hasn't gotten any easier since I started to become more conscience about my fitness level.
But, these are also the sounds that I have gotten me further along than ever before. For the first time today, I was able to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes and not get winded. Now, i don't know how this will translate to the actual road, but I'm getting there. it's a start. 
All because I get up every morning and persevere.  The results are not immediate, but are found at the perfect moment. 
Are you willing to persevere through whatever challenges come your way?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Power of Reconciliation

A lot of times I think about how I can live my life out to others as a Christian, yet do it in a way that does not offend or alienate them from the faith. I think that the answer lies in living out the Word that is "hidden in my heart"  everyday. 
For example, i have read many times about  " if you have something against your brother, go to him before you go to the communion table," but have not had many opportunities to have to put it into practice( thankfully).  But, today I had to have a discussion with someone to clear the air about some things I (and she) had misconstured. I had the chance to just let it blow over, but I didn't. I felt like if I didn't do something about it, I would care more about myself than about the relationship. The meeting went fine and everything was cleared up, but what if I hadn't? What if it festered enough to where a relationship was strained, even broken because of my negligence? That's the meaning behind this verse. Do we care enough about reconciling to each other , even if it means not participating in the Kingdom?

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Power of Culture

Culture is all around us. We can't get away from it. Think you can? Then, here's an assignment: try to go one day without engaging with any media. That means: no advertisements, no tv, no radio, no newspapers, no music, no books, no nothing that  influences you or your ideas about something. I actually had to do this once for an assignment for school for college. i actually didn't do too bad. I did my normal things, but made sure I didn't engage in my normal recreational activities, turned my head when I saw a billboard, etc. I did well, that is, until that day I was at work and broke my foot. I had to go to the hospital. When I was wheeled into the emergency room ( in a wheelchair), the first thing that greeted me was the sight and sound of the tv set playing from the waiting room. Game over. 
Whether we like it or not, we engage in culture everyday.  I have heard it said that we, as christians, should " be in the world, not of the world", as the bible dictates. This is true, but not exactly as it is used today. 
there used to be a time in this country where the church was at the center of every town, not just physically, but figuratively as well. Whenever there was a problem, people went to the church for guidance and support. This is, unfortunately not the case anymore. Someone just told me recently that a teenager told her friends her dad was a pastor, and her friends replied " What's that?" The church is slowly losing its voice in society, and its no one's fault but ours. 
What is we could get back to where the church "sets"' the trends of culture, rather than just merely mimic them and Christianize them. What if, instead of making shirts that say " faithbook" or "sonbucks" as opposed to Facebook and Starbucks,  we set trends that we saw mimicked in society. They say imitation is the best form of flattery. 
If we think we are anti-culture because we are Christians, I challenge you to rethink that. You can't say that in one breath, then walk into Walmart, and pick up the latest new Joel Osteen in another and not think you are participating in culture.  
I don't have a quick answer to how to change this ever-growing problem. However, I wonder if us modeling what we believe and letting people know what we are for rather than what we are against is a good place to start. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Power of Community

One of the best new shows of this season is the comedy " Community" that airs on Thurs. nights on NBC. It's witty, clever, and pushes an agenda.  In the first episode, we learned that truth is relative( one of the characters actually states this), that the show surrounds itself around a group of unlike people ( or a community), and that intergenerational mentorship is an important part of life. why else would Chevy Chase be seated next to Joel McHale?  Yet, they are spreading some beliefs that have been around since the beginning of time.  Ones that the Bible supports. 
The first thing in Genesis that God says is " not good", is the fact the Holy Spirit.  Many times throughout the New Testament, Paul talks about the importance of others, whether in the church body or outside of it).  1 John and Titus  are  prime examples of the importance of older people "sharpening" the younger generation, and vice versa. 
The truth is relative issue is a tricky one. God's word is timeless and God is never changing, yet he calls us " to be like a jew" no matter what that person may be like. The truth is, no matter whether the person believes in the Bible or doesn't, believes in truth or doesn't or believes that God is anything but love or doesn't, one thing is clear.
Matthew 28, which says " Go into all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and surely I am with you until the very end of the age."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Power of Preparation

I have a preparer's heart. I always have.  In fact, I have already purchased my Christmas cards, wrap and most of my presents, and it is not even Thanksgiving yet! I do this not to be boastful about how good or organized I am, but because I'm trying to avoid the inevitable "rush" that accompanies all Christmases. You know the one I am talking about. The rush that comes when you are writing Christmas cards the night before and rushing to get them in the mail on the last day so they are on time.  Or, the one where you find yourself in the middle of Walmart on Christmas eve searching through the picked-over shelves to find the last minute ingredients to your Christmas day feast.  I prepare ahead of time so I can enjoy what is to come: the joy and magic  of a season unlike any other. A season where Jesus oftentimes gets lost in the hustle and bustle of these "rushes." My preparation of doing a little bit at a time saves me a lot of stress, not only on my body but also in my wallet. 
The Bible also talks about preparedness, believe it or not. It is most readily found in "the parable of the ten virgins."  Basically, for those that can't remember it, is a story where 5 virgins have their oil ready in preparation to light the way for them when their groom comes to sweep them off their feet.  Five, however, were not.  Five begged the other  five to give them their leftover oil. When the women say no, the five go away with the groom, and five are left "holding the bag", or in this case, their empty lamps. 
They missed out on the prize of going away with their groom.  And were left empty-handed. 
Are you prepared for your groom to take you away? Or are you stuck empty-handed?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Without discipline you can't be a disciple

I am fascinated by the words discipline and disciple. They are so similar, and they carry different connotations. Yet, I don't think you can have one without the other. Ironically, when you take out the word " in" out of discipline, you get the word disciple.In other words, once these things are "in" you, you become a disciple.     Discipline, to me, is inward. when I think of discipline, i think of fasting, journaling, prayer, etc. Once you get these things and make them a regular habit, they become a part of you,. They start to form you. They naturally emerge from you. If you notice, Jesus spent a lot of time with people he called "disciples", and he taught them what that meant. He taught them how to pray, how to care for others, how to be saved etc. Even though they didn't understand it, they were formed by His teaching. Then, once he was done teaching, he sent them out to live out what they had learned. it is the same with us. Once we are formed by these disciplines,( fasting, prayer, daily Word, etc.) we are formed. The true test, however, is when we live out what we learned. that is the difference between being a true disciple, and going through the motions.
Are you practicing daily disciplines that are making you into a disciple?
More importantly, are you living out what you believe?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The power of Intergenerational Mentorship

I have always had a heart for intergenerational mentorship. I didn't know why I did, until now. Maybe it is because the bible commands it in both 1 John and Titus. Maybe because it makes me get out of my comfort zone. Or, maybe because it shapes me just as much as it shapes those around me.
As some of you know, I feel God calling me to write a book.  So, whenever I feel God calling me to do something, I try to step out in faith and do something to test to see if it is truly from Him, or something from my own desires. 
 For reasons beyond my understanding, i found myself carpooling with a new found friend to a writer's group in Ridgefield. This is an hour away from my house. So, as we are driving, I'm thinking to myself " What am I doing?" I am writing along with someone whom i just met, who happens to have published her own children's book, and has been around the block a few times in the area of writing.  So, I'm nervous because I don't know what to expect.  I take that back. i do know what to expect, or at least I think so. i expect to be sitting in a room with all of these well- read, expert novelists who have published more books than i have paper in my house.  I expected to sit there , quietly take notes, and not say a word. That is, until my friend asks me to go again next month. Then I know what I will say.
So, we get there and it appears that I am right. But, then they start talking. As each person shares, I find myself in the awe of the fact God has brought me further along in my concept and idea for this book than I ever thought I was. When one woman shares her story of polishing her essay, submitting to a writing contest,  not winning, and questioning God's direction, I pull out the two paltry articles I had written for some digital magazines. I feel led to read my first one, which is all about my own experience with that and how God wanted me to share my story, and my heart, not to make every line of writing the most beautiful prose ever written.  When the meeting is over, I slip away to the ladies' room to prepare for the long ride home, and the same woman said to my friend " I know I'm going to learn a lot from her." Me!?  Really?! What do I have to share with all of these "expert novelists?" And then I realized. God has given me my own experiences and my own story to share with the world. It doesn't have to be the prettiest, most glorious story, but a story.  The beauty comes when I am willing to share it with the world.  That's when the mentorship really begins. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Give Yourself Away

  It was a mastepiece. Or so I thought.  After much prayer and consideration,  I put the finishing touches on my article and clicked “ send” on my computer.   I was pretty happy with it. I thought it covered the topic well, was thought provoking, and as the Bible says provided the “spiritual meat”  any reader would feed on.  My mind drifted to visions of my inbox being overrun with e-mails of publishers who had seen my work and wanted  to put it into print.  Even Ralphie from A Christmas Story would be jealous.


And then I waited.  And waited. And waited .


Then,  it happened.



 No repsonse.

I asked the Lord why, if I felt like He was calling me to become a writer ,did no one respond to publishing my article.  “ Give Yourself Away” was the response.

Then I realized.

 My article lacked one thing.


I wrote all the right things.  Everything was accurate, concise and  thorough.  But, it lacked the passion and  authenticity of my conversion exeperience that began when I was 18 and, thankfully, continues today. An experience that can be classified as rocky at best.  An experience that continued with me   being  thrown out at the age of 20 because of my faith.  Sure, God provided for me with everything  I could ever need  in the midst of family turmoil and kept my well from ever going dry. An experience that included  a calling into the ministry at the age of 22 in a small country church  2700 miles from my hometown.  An experience that includes the death of my mother at the age of 25.  An experience that includes  the planting of our current  church less than two years later. But, I hadn’t written any of that.  I hadn’t given any of myself away.  I missed the interaction with an Incarnational God.

  I had missed the point.

  So, did Peter.

 In John 21, Jesus has an exchange with Peter that some publishers have subtitled “ Jesus reinstates Peter.”   Sure, Peter was the one that got out of the boat and begins to walk towards Jesus.  He also defends Jesus when the soldiers arrest him in John  18 .

But, when push came to shove, Peter took his eyes off the prize.  He took his eyes off of Jesus and onto the temporal things of the world: what people thought of him,  the storm,   his circumstances.   Peter did all the things a disciple is supposed to do. He talked a great game.  But, those things were never a part of who he was.

Jesus refers to Himself as “ I am” because, put simply, He is.  He doesn’t have to be anything else than who He is.  That’s why Jesus asks him three separate times if Peter loves Him.  The first two times the Greek word for love is agape. In other words, if  Peter loves Him, then He will love Jesus above all else.

He didn’t.

The third time the greek word for love is phileo, or brotherly. The same reason why Philadelphia is nicknamed “ The City of Brotherly Love.”   So, if Peter really loved Jesus, he would love Jesus above all else, and love his brother as himself.

Sound familiar?

Peter showed Jesus he loved  him by doing all the right things, but it was never a part of who he was.  Peter  ignored the Greatest Commandment.

And so did I.

If I want to spiritually form others into His likeness, I need to “ give myself away” a little everyday. 


Not my neighbor, or my husband, or my pastor.

 But me.

 Myself,  including all of my failures,  my mistakes and my flaws.  Including my misconceptions and marred perspectives and my bad theology.  Me.

I can “ be” the church a little everyday and give myself away.

Have you given yourself away today?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

It all started with a kiss

A rub on the back. A warm hug. A kiss on the cheek. These are just some of the ways we show affection and love for someone.  These are also the things that change  a relationship from an acquaintance or a friend to family.  Think about this in terms of your own relationship with your spouse or family. What would your relationship be if the only sign of affection to your spouse was a firm handshake? 
I try  to kiss and hug my children everyday. I want to show them that I love and care for them in an intimate way. I guess in a sense it moves me from merely saying " I love you" to actually meaning it. 
I thought about this as I continue my bible study of John, a " disciple whom Jesus loved."  I just came across the chapter where Judas betrays Jesus. He doesn't just say " There He is, Go get him!" Instead he makes it a point  to greet him with a kiss, which was customary during this time. What a brutal betrayal this really was. It wasn't just anyone ratting him out to get a "piece of the pie", but it was one of his own. It was someone He had spent a lot of time with, teaching, discipling and making him more like Himself. As a matter of fact, after his resurrection, He calls all of His disciples " his brothers". The disciples were His family.  It must have been like a knife through Jesus's heart. I wonder if this is the reason why, during the last Supper, Jesus says to Judas " What you are going to do, do quickly." Perhaps it was the Lord's way of dealing with  this brutal blow to His soul. 
It all started with a kiss.
Yet, God, who is our picture of redemption, allows us as His disciples to redeem that kiss everyday. We can be the touch of God people are desperately seeking, yet never finding.   Think about it: what if we treated everyone whom we have a relationship with as family? What if we made every effort to give a hug, or a quick touch on the back, or a handshake? How would that change our relationship with those people?
Who do you know who could use a touch from God today? 
How can you be a picture of redemption that all started with a kiss?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Power of internal Dialogue

It's easy to talk yourself out of it. Anything, really.  Exercise.  Devotional time.  Eating right. Rest.  Why do we talk ourselves out of the things our bodies and souls need the most? "I'll do it tomorrow."  " It won't hurt if i have another piece." " If i just get this project done, I can rest."  It is easy to talk yourself out of lots of things. Then, however,you wind up doing nothing. It is one of the enemy's craftiest yet subtle tools. 
Internal dialogue is the key to a closer walk with God. The Bible addresses this very issue when it says " Be transformed by the renewing of your minds(   Romans 12:2).     
 It all starts with the mind. where it ends up is the heart. 
I am fascinated by the word "renew" in this verse. It literally means to make new again.  It makes me think about all of the words the Bible uses that have the prefix "re"- renew, repent,reborn, etc.  I am also fascinated that Jesus used most of these words when he addressed his followers.   It is as if Jesus is calling us to constantly shed our flesh and become like him. But, it starts in the everyday. 
I know this will spark a bit of controversy, but i wonder if the experience to become " born again" is not just a one- time deal, but everyday. Everyday repent. Everyday make your mind new again. Everyday enter into the world a new person. 
  I have heard it said that there is a long distance between your head and your heart. If the head changes, the heart will quickly follow.  
Renew. Repent. rebirth. The result? Transformation. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Facing the Giants

I heard this story on the movie " Facing the Giants."  I am moved by it every time, I thought i would share it with you. 
Revelation 3 says " We serve a God who opens doors no one can shut and who shuts doors no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." The Lord is not through with you yet. You still have an open door here. And until God moves you, you are to bloom where you are planted....
I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. And both of them prayed for rain. But only went out and prepared his field to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God for it?  The coach replies' The one who prepared his field for it.' Which one are you?"

Monday, November 9, 2009

The disciple Whom Jesus Loved Contd.

I apologize. I noticed one more reference of " the disciple whom Jesus loved." It is in chapter 20, which says John and Peter heard Mary say to them " They have taken my Lord and I don't know where they have put them!"  It states that both started running, but John outran Peter and got to the tomb first.  Peter enters the tomb first and sees the linens there. John also enters the tomb . The Scripture makes a point of saying" He saw and believed." Verse 9 then says " They still did not understand the Scriptures had to be fulfilled." I immediately asked myself " why does john make a point again of saying ' He saw and believed," but then the point of view changes from "He" to "They."  I think there is another point to be made here, which is probably why there was so much more in this gospel than in any other. the point is this: He saw and believed even in his unbelief. The next verse clearly says they still didn't believe..." and yet John still chooses belief, even when his realm of understanding dictated otherwise.   
Do you still choose to believe even when your realm of understanding dictates otherwise?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Becoming The Disciple Whom Jesus loved

The third and fourth references of John being " The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" comes at the end of the book. Chapter 21 contains both references. The first in that chapter says that the " disciple whom Jesus Loved" cried out " it is the Lord" ( Paraphrase).  The interesting thing is that all of the disciples saw him on the shore, yet " no one recognized him." Now, I have heard it said that we will have new bodies when we get to heaven. So, i don't know if they didn't recognize him because he looked differnet than what they remembered, or he as too far away for them to see, but John is the only one  who knows him intimately enough not only to recognize him, but be confident enough to call out " It is the Lord!"  I interpret this to mean that intimate relationship was such that John had no problem identifying him. 
The last reference is after Peter is " reinstated" ( or at least what the publishers of my Bible decided to call it).  Peter answers Jesus's call to " Follow Me!"  and Peter turns around and sees " the disciple whom Jesus loved following them."  While Peter is too busy looking around  at the outward things of life (ie. John's escape from martyrdom) , John is already following. He didn't need an extended invitation. He was already there! Whether or not he responded immediately to Jesus's call to Peter or already got up and followed him  before the call, I'm not sure. But, the result is the same: John dropped everything and followed his Lord. 
Do you know Jesus intimately enough to recognize him and call him your Lord? 
Are you willing to drop everything and follow Him?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Fresh Look at Spiritual Formation II

Let’s look at another example of spiritual formation- the story of Mary and Martha.  There are a couple of accounts regarding Mary and Martha , one having to do with Mary and Martha’s priorities, found in Luke 10:37-39, and Mary and Martha’s grief in the death of their brother, Lazarus, found in John 11.

I have  heard  a pastor speak on this passage in Luke 10 and he gave a fresh new look on it. He said that the reason why Martha was so upset about Mary being at Jesus’s feet was not because she should be helping her in the kitchen prepare for Jesus’ dinner. He says it is because  Mary was acting like a disciple , which were typically men during this time.  This display of affection was unheard of for women to do at this time.  If this is the case, Martha was probably trying to protect her sister because if someone heard of this display of  insubordination, she probably would have been stoned.  Jesus responds by saying  “ it will not be taken from her.” In other words,  Jesus transcends culture and the people’s need to conform to it.   So, Martha’s heart was to protect her sister, not to rebuke her. 

            Let’s follow up with John 11: 17-28. So, given this new information about Martha,  we see Martha as a woman of action. She goes out to meet Jesus, while Mary who has a heart to be His disciple, stays home.  But, look at the difference in heart attitude. “ But, I know that EVEN NOW, God will give you whatever you ask.”  Even though she didn’t understand what Christ was doing, she believed anyway, and went out to meet him to find Him.  He asks her ‘“Do you believe this?” She replies “ Yes, Lord…”.  She knows full well who He is. She knows in her heart as well as her head.

 Do you know what is interesting about this passage?  According to this account,  Jesus chooses Martha’s reply to set the plans in motion for His crucifixion. According to John, Martha is the first person to publicly declare Him the Christ.  Up to this point, people have put their faith in Him,  or called Him a prophet,  or not known who He was. But, it is through Martha that  He uses to spread the Word that He is the Christ. Two people  with the same worries and cares of this life, yet two different attitudes. Peter gets choked by the world’s standards, and Martha  has the faith to set in motion a plan for reconciliation for all the world.

Which are you ? Do you merely confess Christ, or do you live it out?  Are you acting like someone who believes in God or getting choked by the world? Are you being spitirually formed by loving and feeding those around you? 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Fresh New Look at Spiritual Formation

Over the past ten years, I have had the privilege of being a pastor’s wife and joining people on their journey to a deeper walk with God. But, I have always wrestled with the question of how to help women be sptirtually formed, and eventually transformed into the likeness of Christ.  Recently, I joined a bible study that has helped me look at the gospel of John in a fresh, new way. I never realized that this gospel account has a lot to say about sptiritual formation.

 Perhaps the best excample is in John 21:15-17.  Now, in my Bible, the publishers chose to subtitle this section “ Jesus reinstates Peter.” I think that is so interesting that  this is the last interaction we have with Jesus before the book ends.And what is the last event John wants us to remember about Jesus- – a reconciliation between Peter and Jesus.  What is the last thing that happened between Peter and Jesus before He is arrested?  Peter’s denial of Jesus.  How fitting of John to leave us with a message of hope and reconciliation as He ends the book.

 I’ve never quite understood why Jesus asks  him three times “ Do you love me?”.  The answer is this: Peter  had lost sight of what is important. Think about some of the encounters of Peter that we know of. Peter walks on water, for example.  The first person to jump out of the boat, yet as soon as he thinks about what he is doing in the context of life’s surroundings, he doubts and falls. He takes His eyes off of the prize.  Jesus is arrested.  Soldier comes at Jesus. What does peter do?  Cuts his ear off.  Jesus has to heal his ear in response. Because the point  was not to  protect Jesus.  The soldiers were doing what had to be done for Scripture to be revealed.  Peter’s proclamation that Jesus is the christ. Jesus says he’ll deny him , Peter responds with “ even if everyone else does, I won’t”.  Jesus says   “you will”, and peter still denies. Before the end of the night, Peter denies.  What does peter care about-what people think of him.  He lost sight of what was important.  So, why is this exchange so important?  It is Jesus’ reminder of what is truly important.  Peter was so good at proclaiming  it. He knew Jesus in his head, but his heart was elsewhere. He cared more about  the temporal things of life than about his relationship with Christ.  Jesus says, if you want to be my follower, and if you really believe me above all else, feed my sheep. This is spitirual formation at its finest.  

So, think about this in terms of the farm illustration. What does feed mean?   It means  to shepherd, guide, direct. Show them the way to go.  Literally, lead them to pasture. Notice it doesn’t say eat for them.  We can only lead, and set the example for other. We cannot make people eat and grow .   Shepherds also not only have the knowlwdge of how to manage their farms, but they also act on it.  They usher others to do the same. 

            Dallas Willard, in his book Renovation of the Heart  talks about 3 keys to spiritual foramtion,  He calls it the VIM diagram: Vision, intention and action.   We have a vision for a goal to be transformed, we make an intention, or as Willard says we decide to do it, and then we do it.  We can have all of the visions for our life. We can even make a decision to do it. But, if  there is no action to it, it never produces the fruit that lasts. Willard says that the Kingdom of God is right here, right now. We have an invitation  to particiapte in it or not. But, we have to act with intention.  Actually,Willard says if  there is no fruit behind the decision or belief, you cannot be a part of the Kingdom.  

Some harsh words from Willard, but thought provoking as well.  What will you say to the Lord when He asks you to " feed my sheep?"

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The gospel is a sales pitch

I turned on the TV Friday  night just for some background noise. Soon, i heard the ever-catchy Men at Work song " Be Good, Johnny" which is the Supernanny theme song.  So, I stopped what I was doing and watched for a while.  Now, i like watching it, probably because it makes me put my own parenting skills into perspective, and to help me realize I'm not the worst parent in the world.  Soon I'm engrossed as Supernanny introduces her next clever parenting technique.  I start to think " I can do that, too."  I'm happy that ABC airs this show for parents like me. For a moment. Then I think " How many children does Jo have?" Then I come to a sobering reality.  The answer is none. 
They are nice techniques to make every parent feel like they can take control of their out-of-control homes.  But,what does that mean in the mundane parts of the everyday? They are nice ideas that  make me wanna get out the glitter and glue. But, what happens when the sticker charts, supper wheels and reflection rooms fail?  When the day has tarried on for so long that  you  don't even want to look in the direction of the kitchen, let alone let the children decide to spin the supper wheel?
Jo has all the knowledge, the skills and techniques to a tee.  But what she fails to have is the real life experience. 
Why do we think we can pass off our christianity as real life experience, when in reality we have not had a real life experience with the Lord? If we lack the intimacy of  the ups and downs with the Lord, anything else is a sales pitch. 

Monday, November 2, 2009

To Be or Not to Be

Jesus  was incarnational. By that I mean he embodied all of the qualities of His father because He and His Father were one. Jesus refers to himself  as "I am" because, simply put, He is.  He never needed to become like His father, because He already is.  It was a part of Him. All of His healings and miracles manifested out of the qualities of Himself. 
We are called to "be" the church. Not go to church, but to be it. In action. This means to allow our actions to come out of who we are as a body of Christ. I heard it once said that" Going to church doesn't make us a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger. "   It's true. We , as Christians,are always looking for the next Bible study or Sunday School class to teach us what we already know and is a part of us.  God has already equipped us with all that we need to " make disciples" ( Matt. 28).  When we begin to fulfill our purpose in the world as the missional people of God and "be",  then world will start to change.