Saturday, March 29, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
This sign hangs in the local Border's bookstore.
I am not sure why it intrigues me, but there is something about this sign that hangs from the ceiling that grabs my attention. It may be because I am easily impressed and distracted by signs.
"All things local..."
John Wesley said, "the whole world is my parish."
There is a sign at the end of the parking lot at church that says, "the mission field begins here."
"All things local..."
Another sign I saw recently said, "think globally, act locally."
All of these signs have caused me to stop and think. Yes, I can be concerned about needs half way around the world, yes, I can think of pandemics that are raging in 3rd world countries, and yes, I can ponder the plight of millions of people in other places. But what about the people that I meet every day?
I am not suggesting that we ignore global needs. I am suggesting that our influence and ministry begins locally.
Do you have any friends outside of the church you attend? Do you have relationships with people who are not in some way associated with the church that you attend? Are you sharing your story of the difference that His Story has made in your life with someone?
Are you living in a world where, "all things" are "local?"
"May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole..." Hebrews 13:18 (The Message)
What do you think?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I am not talking about minor things along the way. I am not talking about moments of disappointment that come in the course of everyday living.
I am talking about those “life changing” moments when our expectations were dashed, moments when our hopes were unfulfilled. Those moments which hang in the air like smoke from a smoldering fire.
Talking with people, I have heard stories that trapped the storyteller in a quagmire of bitterness and anger. The toxicity of those moments made it seem like the events and disappointments were yesterday when they actually occurred years ago.
I said it. I used a “made up” word.
Let…it…go. Easier said than done, and I realize that.
But I also realize that past experiences, disappointments and hurts can hang like a “two ton boulder” around our neck.
I have had huge rocks sitting on my shoulders from time to time, who hasn't? When those moments come, we are faced with a choice.
My hurt? or His hand?
Letitgo….His hand? No! My disappointments, hurts and unfulfilled expectations? Yes.
'Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go. I'm telling you, 'Don't panic. I'm right here to help you.' Isaiah 41:13
What do you think?
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Yet, everything you can imagine happens in twenty two minutes of comedy.
One of the primary characters is George Costanza. He is the lifelong friend of Jerry Seinfeld and the show’s resident philosopher.
Elaine, his friend, describes George as a “short, stocky, slow witted bald man.”
His escapades and lying are legendary.
Jerry seems to admire George's ability to lie. Jerry says that George is duplicitous, deceitful and a pathological liar, yet he is quick to get his advice. In the episode entitled, “The Beard,” George seems enamored with his own ability to bend the truth.
He says, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”
Our culture seems to buy this “lie.”
Recently, I was watching and George was caught in a precarious spot. He was trying to come up with a solution to the problem he was facing. When he could not come up with a lie he blurted out, “I’ve got nothing, Jerry, I’ve got nothing…”
Our culture is not quick to make this admission.
Recently I was thinking…”I’ve got nothing…” That may seem like an admission of weakness, but I am beginning to think that it is an admission of strength.
Once upon a time I read a statement that has changed the direction of my life. It sounds something like this, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
“I’ve got nothing…”
Sunday, March 23, 2008
He is Risen!
He is Risen!
New Easter clothes.
He is Risen!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Today is a day of waiting. It is a day to ponder the events of this past week and to consider the coming of His Day….Resurrection Day.
In the silence of the moments of this day, I begin to realize that shadows seem larger than light. It seems like death has won. It feels like there is an abysmal chasm which cannot be bridged.
Resonant baritone voices will sing…“Low in the grave he lay…”
Death. Grave. Darkness. Uncertainty.
Pilgrims during that first Holy Week watched as their hopes, dreams and thoughts were dashed against the reality of Friday moments.
Jesus, the “miracle worker” was dead. No more excitement.
Jesus, the “healer” was dead. No more cases to baffle the doctors.
Jesus, the “life giver” was dead. No more transformation.
Jesus, the “Story-Teller” was dead. No more parables.
In the tradition that I grew up in we didn’t dwell much on Saturday. We rather looked to Easter because we would be able to rambunctiously sing….”up from the grave He arose” and everything would be rosy again.
I don’t want to walk to quickly through this day. The emotions that rampantly ran through the corridors of the disciples minds must have mystified them.
That’s the question that haunts me in the early hours of this Saturday.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Words provide a framework for understanding concepts. Images work as well, but today is a day of words.
It is a day of words....words uttered by Jesus on the cross. They are powerful reminders of the drama which unfolded on a hill overlooking the city.
Father, forgive them . . .
This day you will be with me in paradise...
Woman, behold your son . . .
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me . . .
It is finished!
Father into your hands . . .
Later this morning I head downtown on a personal pilgrimage through the Stations of the Cross. At noon today the church I attend will be open for pilgrims to celebrate the Stations of the Cross.
History is rich with worshipping communities who have considered the scenes from Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial and death. Prayers have been prayed, memories have been refreshed, hymns have been sung and pilgrims have again been reminded that He went to the Cross.
I wait for Him today...I look at the cross...I think of His forgiveness extended to me, and I am grateful.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I am tired of shallow talk shows tracing the woes of some starlet heading into rehab.
I am tired of shallow reality shows which prey on people’s miseries.
I am tired of shallow.
Holy Week takes me deep into the plot which changed the course of the world. Holy Wednesday is a day which the Church invites her people to consider two fascinating stories.
Matthew 26 records the story of the sinful woman who extravagantly anointed Jesus shortly before His passion.
There is also the story of Judas, Jesus’ disciple, who betrayed the Lord.
Both stories have deep plots. The sinful woman in an act of grace acknowledged Jesus as Lord and was set free, while the disciple who betrayed Jesus experienced loss and separation.
Holy Wednesday is celebrated in a variety of ways. Holy Wednesday known also as “Spy Wednesday” denotes the day Judas Iscariot conspired with the Sanhedrin, the ruling body, to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
In parts of Europe, children build an effigy of Judas and climb to the top of church steeples to throw it to the ground. People on the ground then drag it through the village where people strike it with sticks and stones. Finally, whatever is left is thrown into the river.
We are moving through the plot and narrative of Holy Week. We are moving toward the final act of Lent. Maundy Thursday…Good Friday…and the Cross are before us.
Nothing shallow here. Deep plots, deep love, deep change…
What do you think?
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
* When was the last time that you invited someone to join you in Sunday School or to accompany you to your Life Group?
* How are you doing on getting acquainted with those sitting next to you who you do not yet know?
* When was the last time your shared the story of what God has done in your life with someone?
* When was the last time that you helped a person find a place of ministry in the life of the church?
Friday, March 14, 2008
One of my favorite theologians Karl Barth, often said to his classes, “no one dare do contemporary theology until they have mastered classical Christian thought.”
In an age when everything seems to “up for grabs,” there are some anchors that will keep the church steady. Youth For Christ’s slogan seems to capture the spirit well, “Anchored to the Rock, Geared to the Times.”
Today’s church seems to stand in an “in-between” time, a time between what “was” and what “will be.” These are challenging times in which we are called to minister. There are forces that want to take the church back to the “good-ole days,” and there are forces that suggest that our recent heritage should be jettisoned away.
There is an increasing sense that another way needs to be examined. It is the way of exploring the “Ancient-Future” dimensions of the faith.
By way of definition, “Ancient-Future” is an orientation that seeks to allow the rich history of Christian tradition to inform the future shape and character of the church. It asks questions of the “faith of the fathers” and seeks to build a credible faith expression in a world that is largely devoid of absolutes and anchors.
Here is a “crash course” in church history that will help explain the “Ancient-Future” concept.
The 1st century church celebrated Mystery, Community and the Power of Symbol. During the Medieval period the church became institutionalized and structured. At the time of the Reformation, Martin Luther attempted to re-assert the authority of the Word God in a time when the culture slept. Recent history in the Modern period highlighted the importance of Reason, Organizational Structures, and Individualism. We have moved into the Post-Modern Period in which Mystery, Community and the Power of Symbol has resurfaced.
Researchers tell us that the day in which we live is “more like the 1st century than any other period in our culture’s history.” They further suggest that if the church is to make a lasting and favorable impact upon the culture, we must possess an “Ancient-Future” orientation.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
The conference presenter moved on quickly. But I was mesmerized by that thought. I couldn’t believe that he said it. But I think he is right.
What about your church? What about the place where you worship? Where is your church along the continuum?
“Well,” you say, “if this or that were different, then our church would be (fill in the blank)”
Here’s the question. It’s an age old question. “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?”
Do healthy people make healthy churches? Or, do healthy churches create healthy people?
Studies tell us that North American churches are experiencing unprecedented decline. Oh, sure there are some striking exceptions to this, but if you look around it seems that churches are experiencing what some observers identify as “flat-line” growth. An oxymoron.
There are a lot of churches that are in “recline.” The reasons are legion.
Then there are churches that are on the “incline.”
At the risk of being over-simplistic, could it be that our churches reflect us, they mirror our spiritual condition?
Just a thought…
Monday, March 10, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Michener, as a small boy, asked how this miracle happened.
The old farmer's statement stuck with Michener.
"Hammering the rusty nails gave it a shock to remind it that its job is to produce apples."
Michener relates that in the 1980's, when he was nearly 80, he had some "nails" hammered into his "trunk"—heart surgery, vertigo, a new hip.
Like the apple tree, Michener made the decision that these adversities would not hold him back, but would be the catalyst to producing healthy fruit through the written word.
Have you had any "nails" pounded into your life? I mean, have you had any circumstances that have caused you to wonder where God is?
No one is exempt from "life."
Nails changed the course of history when they were placed in hands of the Story Teller. And nails can change the course of your life...
What do you think?
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Friday, March 7, 2008
It is the story of the paralytic being lowered through the roof so that Jesus could heal him and announce, “your sins are forgiven.”
Reading that story over the years has led me to the conclusion that this is a “salvation story.” It is the account of a paralyzed man and his faithful friends who knew where he could find help.
It is the narrative of four friends, “grabbing a corner of the mat” and taking their friend to Jesus.
It is the record of Jesus, the paralytic, the friends and the observers. I have always read it that way. I have always looked at the story through one lens.
Yesterday I was absorbing the intensity of the narrative when it hit me.
Maybe this story is about something else.
What if the story is metaphorical? What if this story points to a larger truth than what I have observed in my studies?
Here’s my thought…
I think that maybe the "church" is the paralytic being dropped down through the roof of culture and community. Jesus is Jesus. And his words to the church are the same as those to the paralytic. He tells the church, "your sins are forgiven." He tells the church, "get up, take your mat and walk."
In this day, I am beginning to think that we are lowered through the roof of a busy culture. We are lowered into rooms filled with busy people. We are dropped into settings that require us to act like we are forgiven.
I really need to hear the words of Jesus which remind me, “I am forgiven.” I need to be reminded to “get up, take your mat and walk.”
The church I attend needs to hear these words. We are a forgiven people, yet we are susceptible to paralyzing forces that cause us to be held down on the mat of our existence and experience.
Here’s what I know….when a church realizes God’s forgiveness, paralysis is broken. When people experience God’s forgiveness, paralysis is replaced by life.
What would happen if we realize what the paralytic experienced could happen to us. The mat that held him down, Jesus gave him the authority to pick up.
Jesus “saw their faith” and responded.
I love those words…”your sins are forgiven” and “get up, take your mat and walk.”
They are life changing….for individuals and for churches.
What do you think?
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Getting back to his office he summoned the head of Engineering to his office. Worrying that he might lose his job the engineer hurried upstairs where he heard Iacocca's proposal.
“You don’t understand,” Iacocca said. “I want one today! Have someone take one of our cars to a body shop, have them cut off the roof, and put on a convertible top.”
In Paul Harvey fashion..."and now you know the rest of the story...Iacocca had the modified car by the end of the day. He spent the rest of the week driving his “convertible” and found that everyone who saw it loved it. A Chrysler convertible was on the drawing board the following week.