Pinebrooke Community Church
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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Week of June 20, 2022

Wednesday, June 22, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                “Courage is borne in adversity!”  I don’t know if you are familiar with the author, Corrie ten Boom, but you should be.  As followers of Jesus if ever we needed to own this truth, the moral chaos of this present day should call us to out once again.  To say the least this is a culture-wide day of moral adversity, when right is declared wrong and wrong is declared right.  I’m especially aware of the confusing message for children and adolescence.

                The struggle for biblical morality is not a new thing.  It is as old as human existence, but it is new presently because it has become a national and political strategy to influence society intentionally against the truths of God’s Word.  It is not that we have every been a truly Christian nation, but we have been a people with a deep respect for what the Scriptures teach.

                Courage is a positive statement of what is right and what is wrong.  Courage as a virtue has brought about most of the greatest acts from the people of God.  Where is God asking you to stand up and be courageous for truth and righteousness?  Courage begins with faithfulness to the Word in our own ways of living, that is, we were meant in Christ to live righteously.  Be what you speak!

Week of June 13, 2022

Monday, June 13, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                There are basics that make all the difference in life, not the strange and unusual, but the basic.  I have in mind something that was developed by Dawson Trotman in the 1930’s that is so essential that it has not been improved upon.  The development of the individual has three streams of behavior that reflect the nature of character: faithfulness, availability, and teachability.  In reverse order, are we open to be taught?  Do we make ourselves available or present to life’s teachers?  Are we willing to hang in there and be consistent in the learning process?

                We are examining the lives of some of the “Great Christians” that have gone before us.  Are we willing to learn from them as to how they lived out the gospel of Christ through their lives?  We are each unique, but what can we learn from others as they took the Word of God seriously and they had dynamic personal relationships with God in Christ?  Each life had an emphasis that we can learn from.  But the question is, are we learners or boxed-in “knowers?”

                It is wisdom to observe how specific truths shaped and formed the character and activity of another of the Saints.  Can we open ourselves to learn from them?  They obviously had shaping and forming experiences that God gave them to live out His kingdom in fresh ways.  In our work this week we are giving our attention to George Muller whose work continues more than a century later.

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Week of June 6, 2022

Tuesday, June 07, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Beginning with this week the rhythm of the church moves again into ordinary time.  Ordinary Time has the support of the redemptive pillars of the Lenten Season leading up to the great celebration of our salvation accomplished on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  The scent of Easter has been with us for seven weeks culminating this past Sunday with Pentecost and the advent of life in the Spirit.  So, what of ordinary time?

                The summer season before us is naturally fruited with growth and rest.  These feel like contradictory realities, but I assure you they are not.  Rest or making empty space with God is critical to our growth.  Growth is not pure activity but is the result of the intimacy created through “empty space.”  In God’s way with us He speaks in whispers and learning what His will is requires quiet so that we can hear Him.

                The shift that is required in our “perceptual framework” is to realize that God’s will and our natural wills are not the same.  If we choose to live for the glory of God, then His will becomes paramount.  If we live for our own glory, then we can settle for the lesser reality – our will.  No matter how loud our world is our self-referenced will is a dead-end path.

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Week of May 30, 2022

Tuesday, May 31, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                The end of God’s written revelation to us emphases the imminent return of Jesus.  The exclamation and the invitation are the same, “Come, Lord Jesus!”  In the midst of the context in which John’s letter is written to the seven churches of Asia Minor, the most precious thing for them given the impending persecution would be the return of Christ to escort them into the New Jerusalem.  That would be the least painful outcome.

                At the same time Jesus is inviting people to come to Him.  The return of Jesus will be a great relief to those who know Him, but tragedy to those who do not.  Therefore, there is a standing invitation to those who will come to Him.  For all who long for the peace of Christ both now and later the invitation is absolutely good news.  If people still reject the offer, His arrival is bad news.

                The fact is that we only have one life to live no matter what Hindu philosophy suggests.  What is true is that life with Christ is surely a new life apart from the life before Him.  The lie of the evil one is that we have “second chances” and that some how we are on a progressive cycle upward.  The is truly a “line in the sand” that is drawn by our Creator, Redeemer, and Friend.  Never forget that we get to choose.

Week of May 23, 2022

Monday, May 23, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                I’ve been interacting with John’s letter to the seven churches in his letter called, Revelation since Easter Sunday.  Historically, my experience with Revelation as a child was all about end times and listening to spokespersons trying to figure out when Jesus is coming back.  But this time I perceive that the point is somewhat different.  Some have noted that John is writing a letter describing his celestial experience to encourage his audience as they anticipate a dark time of persecution.  That makes a lot of sense to me.

                The hope of Easter is a promise of redemption and a challenge to develop a faithful life, trusting in the truth of Christ and the hope of the New Heaven and New Earth and in particular a New Jerusalem, Jerusalem being the place we go to meet with God.  Given the experience of deception and hostility that Satan has originated among us, to gain a clear minds eye of the endgame or destination of all who remain faithful is a great encouragement.

                Living in light of the New Jerusalem is a whole new way of living.  Though we are not there yet, we get a chance to recognize what is substantially important about living life that will not change.  Substance is the essential to living in the reality of God.  Substance is what is genuine.  Based on the New Jerusalem, the glory of God is the attraction not the glory of man.  In the end, all of our human glory will be subsumed into the only glory that lasts.  The good news is, we can live that way now – not perfectly but intentionally.  

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Week of May 16, 2022

Tuesday, May 17, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

              Easter hope is a redemptive restorative characteristic.  It is meant to renew the relationship between man and God, but it is even more than that.  It is restorative in that it is meant to restore the developing intimacy with God.  This Easter hope provides the open avenue, but we must make an investment as individuals in the cultivation of the intimacy.  Our investment is not about earning anything, but it does require effort.

              The best metaphor for me is the metaphor of the work of the farmer.  His work is cultivating work from plowing, or pruning, or watering, or weeding, and certainly patient waiting and praying.  God always causes the increase.  There is both the process of effort and yet it is also the humility to know that he is not making something happen.

              Intimacy with God is kingdom of God on earth.  Out of that intimacy, God directs us to the actions He has prepared for us, Eph. 2:10.  Our struggle is when we take up the ways of the kingdom of man and assume they are the same in the kingdom of God.  When we live that lie, we are either “puffed up” or we are consumed by despair.  As Gordon Smith made clear to us that God’s kingdom is the experience of mankind is built on “vocational holiness.”  Our calling or work is holiness as God is holy, 1Peter 1:10.   

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Week of May 9, 2022

Monday, May 09, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Easter hope is a redemptive characteristic.  If we learn to live Easter hope in our hearts and minds, we are positioned to live out the kingdom of God in the kingdom of man.  There is no real sense of redemption outside of Jesus.  People attempt to massage their lives, but their messing around is limited to their sin-sick potential.  The best that we can do as humans is always lacking as to what is needed.

                Easter hope is a life that lacks nothing because Easter hope is lived out under the supervision and enabling power of the Great Shepherd, the Holy One of Israel.  Easter hope enables us to live in light of the throne of God upon which Jesus sits.  Easter hope narrows the space between the now and the then.  Easter hope captures the vision for our lives as we seek to live out the prayer that Jesus first gave his disciples.

                When we pray in the now that God’s kingdom come His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are praying that it would first be done in us and then around us and through us.  Without Easter it would be just noise, but because of Easter we enter a new but old kingdom for which we were first designed as workmen.  Lift up your hearts, lift up your minds we live in the kingdom of eternal Easter!

Week of May 2, 2022

Tuesday, May 03, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Easter hope is not just a theological concept, but a living reality.  This past week I attended the memorial service of my brother-in-law, Richard Eugene Thiessen.  Easter hope is a statement as to how we shall then live.  My brother lived with the scent of Easter filling his nostrils, not just at the end years of his life, but throughout his life from his first encounter with Jesus to his last breath.  Easter hope is meant to be the air that we breathe, energizing our spirits all along the path.

                For most Easter is but an annual event to be celebrated each spring, yet its dynamic is meant to ingest our lives with the hope of Christ every moment of every day of our lives.  Easter hope allows us to live in the present moment with the Spirit of eternity filling that moment.  It is meant to shape and form our presence as we encounter what is placed before us.

                Easter hope is not a description of the past, but a commentary on the present.  It determines as to whether we live life well or whether we live life poorly.  Easter hope is a matter as to whether we live life from the inside out or the outside in.  If our souls are at the center, then everything that we do to enrich the substance of our souls is effort and time well spent.  Easter hope is carried in the soul.  

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Week of April 25, 2022

Monday, April 25, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                One of the great benefits of celebrating Easter each year is the subsequent reminder that He is coming again.  The next time He comes will be as judge of the living and the dead.  The fact that Jesus has earned every right to be the Judge is encouraging.  The encouragement is that justice will be served.  Justice as to the souls of men.  The text of prosecution is the Book of Life.  Is my name there or not.

                Judgment is God’s expression of morality.  The fact that Jesus comes to render judgment is necessary to maintain the morality of the universe.  Some don’t want to consider the importance of morality, but it is God’s task to maintain the morality of the universe.  Holiness is the separateness of God.  Morality is the nature of that separateness.

                So, Easter reminds us of the moral separateness of God.  Without this moral separateness, sin would not need to be forgiven.  Sin has to be forgiven because of morality.  God alone can maintain the moral nature of the universe that He created.  When we read of the “wrath of God” it is always because it is His desire to maintain the moral nature of the universe.  The forgiveness of sin is no small thing.  It is the largest thing in light of the universe.

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Week of April 18, 2022

Tuesday, April 19, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                What is life like in the aftermath?  If Easter is simply an annual holiday of family/friends gathering with Easter eggs and chocolate for the kids and ham and sweet potatoes for the adults, then we have missed the point.  Just like any celebration in common culture, it usually misses the point.  The social pressure to celebrate with food and activities tends to drain the resources.

                Easter is a unique season in the life of the church.  The part of the church that practices Lent actually keeps things in perspective.  Easter requires that we prepare for it spiritually.  Though I did not grow up with the 40 days of preparation, it makes sense to me to walk with Jesus in sobriety, fasting, and grace in order to deepen my sense of victory over sin and death.

                In the aftermath the lectionary this year takes us into the Book of Revelation.  Honestly, we either avoid Revelation like the plague or we become fixated on it at the exclusion of the rest of Scriptures, especially the Gospels.  In the aftermath Easter has needed to give us a perspective or perceptual framework from which to view our world and the importance of the kingdom of God.

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Week of April 11, 2022

Monday, April 11, 2022

 Weekly Blog

 

                Like most things spiritual when the object of the spiritual is God, they remain invisible in our noisy world.  To engage Holy Week, we have to be intentional because there is nothing about it save Easter Sunday that is noticed even a little in our common society.  It seems to me that the further we go in the Jesus journey, the more we need to be intentional.  It is not particularly about religion per se, but it is definitely about spiritual in light of our spirits and the Holy Spirit.

                There is a richness to be gleaned when we consider the last week of Jesus’ life in the flesh assignment.  I’m pretty sure in the following days and years the 12 minus 1 had many a conversation reflecting on what was about this week that they did not realize as it was happening.  That’s one of the benefits of memory, convergent things come to mind.  The is an illumination that comes from recalling the story.

                As we enter Holy Week this week, it behooves us to consider the story of the scriptures slowly.  Using our imaginations adds to our deep awareness of Jesus great compassion and ability to keep his focus centered even as he responds to all that is presented to him.  Maybe if we can learn from him, we might take on a depth of spirit that enables us to respond to what God puts before us and still remain in conversation with Him.  May your week bring you to a richer experience of God’s love for you. 
 
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Week of April 4, 2022

Tuesday, April 05, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                We’ve lost the value of a great word in the midst of our world culture, fundamentals.  Fundamentals have been co-opted by the term “fundamentalist” which has in kind been co-opted by the word “terrorist”.  Most of what Jesus taught us were the fundamentals or the building blocks of the kingdom of heaven.  He taught us that “this is the way it will be in eternity in the Presence of the Trinity.”

                As we encounter the N.T. Epistles by one author, or another simply explain the application of those gospel of Jesus fundamentals.  These are the building blocks for the Jesus Way, Truth, and Life that Jesus came to give us in order to live out heaven’s realities.  Fundamentals when used historically were able to teach us what something was built upon.  When you change the foundation, you change the building.  The building can be weak or strong depending on the foundation.

                As we head toward Jesus’ last pre-resurrection week, the fundamentals will be on graphic display both in Him and in fallen humankind.  Celebrating joyously one day and crying out for assassination the next is so fundamental to man’s sinful nature.  This would be a great week to read through John 10-19 and pay attention to the fundamentals of Jesus’ actions and words.

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Week of March 28, 2022

Monday, March 28, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                The Christian ethic remains revolutionary from when it was first declared on the Sermon on the Mount through every century including the present.  The Apostle Paul taught that ethic over and over in his epistles to the churches that were being formed in city and village after city and village throughout the known world.  Much of the God-with-us Story is characterized by the moral will of God lived out among people.

                Though the Story is old, it’s effect remains revolutionary.  Just as in the founding of our nation revolution is meant to secure territory and instigate moral knowledge rooted in the Book.  Our opportunity as followers of Jesus is as vivid now as it has ever been.  As the “Word” lives in us given the nature of our world, we become necessary activists of the revolutionary message of God among men.

                I must confess that I do not like to be an activist because “I am not cut out for this” but I’m coming to realize that I do not have a choice – really.  The great Apostle tells me in 2 Cor. 5:18 that I have been given the “ministry of reconciliation.”  It has been assigned to all of us who are called by His name.  It is time to stand up!  I must see that I am, we are, called to punch holes in the darkness!

Week of March 21, 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                We live in a world full of suffering!  I don’t think that is a new thing, but since our world has shrunk because of technology we become aware of suffering both near and far.  In this Lenten Season it is a good question to consider, “How do I respond to suffering?”  Has it simply become a distraction because of the sheer volume of incidents?  What does it strike in us when it is not our own suffering?  I wonder if our hearts are “glazed over” with a self-protective membrane in order to survive?

                Appeals are constantly made that are designed to gain a sacrificial response from us.  Apparently, that works well in marketing.  For some of us suffering becomes like white noise that is not actually heard.  Yet, in the Apostle’s concern for us is that we become people who are “tenderhearted merciful people.”  I wonder if what is missing in us is an intimacy with Jesus that would lead us to always pray, but only sacrificially respond when He tells us to.

                The more complex the world becomes the more we depend on intimacy with Jesus to keep us whole, holy, and healthy in body, soul, and spirit.  The complexity is fraught with a cacophony of voices.  We need to learn the tenor of His voice, or we will get lost in the static of everyday life.  The Lenten Season is a great time to make some space for silence empty of everything but oneself and Him.

Week of March 7, 2022

Monday, March 07, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                It seems like the further we go in the journey, the more we need the fruits of the Spirit.  Today I am thinking about self-control.  Actually, the subsidiary of self-control or self-discipline is what I am thinking about.  Every time in contemporary culture is chaotic, but as followers of Jesus we are continually called to a different realm in the midst of the chaos.  I’m thinking today of our precious Lenten Season while the growing noise is like static to the soul.

                Our sense of rhythm leading up to the Resurrection is so important for the sake of the soul.  The Cross of Jesus and the Empty Tomb are the eternal realities, the heavenly realities that deserve our attention.  These are the facts, truths, and events that will last.  To give ourselves to this Story is what is needed.  It lasts beyond the next headline or news story.  Living real life is rooted in these two events that happened.  It no longer needs any present-day fact checking.  It is settled history, settled reality.

                The self-discipline that is required is to carve out empty, quiet space in which we can meet God alone.  Fasting, prayer, and sobriety is needed to gain a focus that is given us to reshape our perceptual framework.  How we see things and think about things and what we are able to hear in the silence are the disciplines that are necessary to gain life in its eternal fullness.  There is nothing that naturally causes us to make these choices.  We need a vision for what reality is and then an intentionality that puts us on the good path and then the actions that we need to take.

                  

Week of February 28, 2022

Friday, March 04, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                We are on the precipice of the pinnacle of the Church’s spiritual seasons.  Beginning Wednesday with Ash Wednesday we are invited into the days leading up to the Cross and the Resurrection, the two events that set Christianity apart from all other religions.  This is the season of our salvation story.  Our story is unique in that salvation was instituted by God because He loves His creation and wants to redeem it from its path of destruction and lostness.

                In these next 40 days we rehearse the focus on Jesus’ part to prepare his twelve for his soon departure from earth.  This was an intense training season to raise the economy and philosophy of the Kingdom of God front and center.  Through the parables and teaching moments leading up to Holy Week Jesus is making clear the Jesus Way, Truth, and Life to his disciples.

                The practices that are traditional during Lent are meant to capture the consistent themes of Kingdom of God life.  Fasting or choosing a path of sacrifice for the sake of focus is essential for us as followers of Jesus.  Sobriety or facing life with truth and honesty is meant to keep us sensitive to the truth about ourselves in light of God’s holiness.  Alms giving is about generosity and openness.  Living free of the grip of materialism is meant to live for the sake of others.  This is not ritual but grandness!  The grand life we have been given in Christ.

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Week of February 21, 2022

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                What has come to my mind this week is the connection between spiritual seasons and natural seasons of life.  Here we are in the midst of winter, though I am much fonder of spring and am anticipating it arrival.  Winter is our lives can be a season of hard suffering or it may not, but what is characteristic is that it is a season in which the growth from the growing seasons is solidified.  Winter is when the growth rings in a tree are solidified and distinguished from the previous year.

                The activities of winter include solitude, silence, and prayer.  I find it interesting that sometimes our growth is most distinguished by our willingness to listen, reflect, and respond instead of plan, direct, and act.  The will of God is not natural to us, but is expressed by God through his Word, through our hearing his Voice, and through our obedience.

                Therefore, winter can be the most fruitful season of growth because it is a matter of getting God in front of us instead of behind us.  The images we have of Jesus and the sheep always has him in front.  Not just because of Middle Eastern agriculture, but we have never been likened to cattle who have to be driven.  If you get in front of cattle, they do not follow…sheep do, however.  May the remaining weeks of winter find you embracing the posture of solitude, silence, and prayer.  

Week of February 14, 2022

Tuesday, February 15, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Through many FB posts I am struck with the continuous battle over the Bible.  It’s as though many know that the Bible is important, but they do not want the Scriptures to speak to our times because it challenges the narratives that we carry within ourselves.  The assumption is that contemporary thought should trump ancient texts rather that the Word of God is to correct our present-day wrong thinking.

                The inclusiveness of God’s love and yet the exclusiveness of God’s plan and way is continually rejected because of the power of contemporary sociology.  It seems that so much of righteousness is defined and exported by the “thought police” instead of sought out by a sincere study of God’s Word.  We reside in a time when sociologists and psychologist and academics become the writers of holy script.

                I’m sure it is not news to us, but in case we need to be reminded every generation has to “battle for the Bible.”  The serious study of the Word of God requires that we have some grasp of the science of interpretation (hermeneutics) and the a sincere study of the text so that we recognize its inspiration and hold on to the historical accuracy of the text.

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Week of February 7, 2022

Wednesday, February 09, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                What do you desire for others that like the Apostle you are willing to “struggle in prayer” for them?  Many in history grasped the path to the heart of God and often it led to prolonged seasons of prayer.  When I think of prayer I am struck with the nature of our prayers.  Frankly, it is most often for “things” or “healing.”  Rarely is our prayer for ourselves that we might grow in the character of Christ and if we pray for others, it seems to me that it is most often that their circumstances might change.

                Many of our forefathers, George Mueller comes to mind, understood both the “long term” aspect of struggle and the absolute dependance in the midst of struggle.  I am also mindful of something that C.S. Lewis said, “Prayer changes the pray-er.”  The more we learn to prayer the greater the realization that “we cannot make happen” what we care most about.  I think the Apostle’s challenge to us is, what do we really care about for the sake of others.

                I think the challenge of prayer is also whether we think all things are possible with God.  For the sake of others are we asking God to do what only He can do?  Are we familiar enough with the will of God that what resonates in our hearts is what resonates in His heart?  Are we willing to enter the Lion’s mouth where spiritual battles are fought?  I confess that I have not been consistent in prayer over the character of Christ in my own life.  Will you join me in prayer for your own life, for the sake of others?

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Week of January 31, 2022

Wednesday, February 09, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                “I’m just not cut out for this!”  Isn’t that a common response when we are called to do something that is hard?  The shaping and forming us in the image of Jesus is not a painless process.  Often times hard is good!  The transformation of our souls is not easy, it creates friction for us and is not our preference.  What is natural to us is to be able to control the agenda of life.

                I suspect that when we encounter the “hard” it would behoove us to consider that what God is facing us with is meant to change us, to mature us.  “Cleansing the inside of the cup” is Jesus’ way to describe our growth in him.  This is the inside/out transaction that is meant to mature our being.  In order to do what Jesus did in the way that Jesus did it requires the re-formation of our being.

                Hard is a flag to remind us to turn our attention to Him.  The prayer, “show me what you want me to see” is the necessary prayer of openness to open the aperture of our minds and hearts for the Spirit’s fresh working within us to “will and work according to His good pleasure.”  The shaping and forming into the person that we were created to be is on-going until the day we meet Him face to face.

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Week of January 24, 2022

Wednesday, February 09, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                What is the nature of opportunity?  It comes with our “seeing.”  Robert Mulholland is his little book, Shaped By The Word shares a term that has been potent since I came across it, perceptual framework.  I’ve come to see that how we see is one of the most important aspects of our discipleship.  When you think about it, the perceptual framework of Jesus is one of the ways he was set apart from us in his humanity.

                When the scriptures tell us that “we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ” does it not suggest that we are to be conformed in his humanity since we never become divine.  Seeing things from Jesus’ point of view is substance for our ordinary lives that sets us apart from the noise and distraction that permeates the world around us.

                When we walk through life saturated with the presence of Christ in us, we see differently.  We see opportunities because our perceptual framework is changing.  We are seeing with spiritual wisdom and understanding.  It is what Paul often prayed for bodies of believers that he wrote to, Col. 1:9-14.  Jesus is formed in us through how we see.

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Week of January 17, 2022

Wednesday, January 19, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                One of the most impactful chapters that I have read period – and that is saying something when I consider that I am almost 74 years old – came from a little book that Gabe Lyons wrote some 12 years ago, Next Christians.  The title of the chapter is, “Creators, not Critics.”  The gist is this there are those in the years to come who will use their energy to create good culture rather than use their energy to critique culture.  That resonates deeply within me.

                In every encounter and opportunity in life am I invested in creating or critiquing.  It seems that it is quite easy to see what is wrong if we are shaped at all by the Word of God.  The great challenge remains, how do I create that which is clearly stated as the kingdom of God in my day-by-day interactions and activities.  God has always been the Creator of good, beauty, and truth.  Am I willing to walk in those same steps?

                As a follower of Jesus, I think that might be my mantra for each day and each encounter that is presented to me.  Creating good culture is something that seems to me is consistently reflective of Jesus.  The conflicts that arose only existed because there are “forces” that are bent on stealing, killing, and destroying.  Creating good isn’t always easy because it requires a stability, certainty, and wisdom.  Join me in this work, would you!?

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Week of January 10, 2022

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                As I have been thinking about the contrast between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man it seems that the difference is peace versus chaos.  Truly, chaos brings the worst out of us, and peace is the best of us.  Maybe that is because we were created for peace.  The further we go in the journey the more we understand that we were created for the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of man.

                Is it not true that Adam and Eve were genuinely created for the Garden and that their resistance was not what they were here for?  The fact is that we have been created with the freedom to choose.  So, it is our choice as to which kingdom we will live in.  Like most things in earth life what we experience comes down to choosing.

                It seems to be a very vivid circumstance in which we live.  We are surrounded by chaos.  To not live in chaos is a daily choice.  It takes genuine effort to focus on the invisible kingdom of God and it takes effort to position ourselves so as to not react to the chaos but to respond to the presence of Jesus day by day.  If in the Spirit, it still takes a pushing against the chaos rather than a submission to it.  Life takes effort that has nothing to do with earning anything.

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Week of January 3, 2022

Thursday, January 06, 2022
 

Weekly Blog

 

                According to the lectionary we are still in the season of Christmas up until Thursday with is Epiphany or the showing of Christ.  I’ve learned that for those in the Jesus Movement that the lectionary leans heavily on the Gospel readings throughout the year.  My education focused more on the Epistles as the living out of the Gospels which is good, but sometimes to the neglect of the Gospels except around Christmas and Easter.

                There is a tacit movement of Jesus’ story through the lectionary gospel passages and, in this week, the second week of Christmas we know that focus of the Magi was to come worship the King.  It is to our advantage to broaden our sense of certainty that God sent non-Jews, the Magi from an astrology perspective to confirm what God had done in the birth of Jesus.  It adds support to the Christmas Story.

                It behooves us to live at Jesus’ pace as we enter a new year of life.  His pace is resident in the Scriptures and given the three years of active ministry out of 33, there is a great deal of preparation in God’s time.  Scholars tell us that the Magi most likely came some two years after the birth, thus Herod’s assassination plot.  Isn’t it interesting that the whole story is reduced to one night in our celebration?  My main take away is that living at Jesus’ pace is a lot slower than we are inclined to live.  

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Week of December 20, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

 Weekly Blog

 

                As we approach the fulfillment of the Advent Season in a week, I am reminded to the declaration, “I bring you tidings of great joy!”  I’m concerned that we have lost the edge that we have been given as pilgrims of great joy.  Have we allowed the concerns of the day to rob us of our birthright?  The fear and confusion of our day is actually a perfect opportunity for followers of Jesus to rise to the occasion with sincere joy.  Speaking from hearts filled with the joy of redemption.

                We have been saved and are being saved not just for heaven but to bring the messengers of heaven on earth.  We pray that from time to time, “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth just as it is in heaven.”  For the kingdom to come to earth God has chosen his messengers, not angels, but his children to be the bearers of the kingdom.

                C.S. Lewis is quoted as saying, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”  If that is so, and I think it is, we are meant to be the joy bearers.  Our message is the message of Gabriel at Christmas time, announcing the reality that cannot be seen except through the lives of the Christ-followers, “Glad tidings of great joy.”  Do you think our world needs to be reminded of that life-giving truth? 

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Week of December 6, 2021

Tuesday, December 14, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                The thread in our Advent season is the thread of love.  It’s not the love that strikes most peoples fancy, but the love that moved the Trinity to shuffle its dynamic at great sacrifice for humankind.  We love the gentleness of the Incarnation story, but the essence of that love is sacrifice.  Just as we have focused on the substance of hope being trust and the substance of peace being wholeness, so the substance of love is sacrifice.  One wonders about the prevalence of love in the midst of the redeemed.

                In the Biographical History of Christian Missions, Ruth Tucker tells our stories as followers of Jesus.  One of the constants among these known and unknown heroes of the faith is their commitment to sacrifice for the good of people who have never known the redemption story of God’s love.  That is what biblical love looks like.  It is important that we not lose sight of the central nature of love.

                Often times we are educated in the definitions of love, but that can cause us to lose sight of the power of love.  In non-religious terms love is often described as “making the world go ‘round.”  Maybe this Advent Season it would be a good time to let God define love.  His defining activity always brings us back to the soul-building sense of sacrifice.  What are we willing to go through for the sake of others?  I’m reminded of something missiologist, Ralph Winter once said, “Risk is not to be evaluated on the probability of success, but on the value of the goal.”  Love sees the value of the goal.

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Week of November 29, 2021

Thursday, December 02, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Suddenly the colors of the season have changed from green to Royal blue.  For those of us who are conscious of the liturgical seasons, we know something is afoot.  The weekly scriptures turn to the Jesus Story and the Advent of the Christ.  This year we begin with Jesus’ account of the Second Advent when things are different than the Story of the Nativity.  By nature, we love to remember the baby in the manger account, but we don’t like the power and upheaval of the Advent of the Judge.  We like love, but we don’t like holiness so much.

                The accountability of holiness is one of our least favorite sports.  I have a friend who told me a true story of a customer who refused to pay for the repair/replacement of her tire after she had hit a pothole and blew out her tire, because it wasn’t her fault that she hit the pothole.  It was the municipality or government entity who was accountable for the blow out.  It was the pothole’s fault, not hers.  In the mindset of our world, everyone goes to heaven, the world lives unprepared for the return of Christ.

                One of the things I most notice in the life of the Christians today, the lack of compassion for those who do not yet believe.  Luke 21: 25-36 is this week’s gospel reading.  Jesus tells us that when he returns and he surely will, he will come as the Judge, not the Savior.  It will be the market day for the sheep or the goats, this is the day when things will be seen for what they are.  It is my hope that we will return to the great compassion for men’s souls that lead us to step it up and step out.

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Week of November 15, 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

 

Weekly Blog

 

                What is your vision of the holidays of this season?  What is most unlikely is that we might have a difficult time sorting through the jungle of common notions to get at one of the most certain aspects of either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Both events are rooted in sacrifice.  For the Mayflower pilgrims what is a significant part of the scene is the sacrifice of ordinary people to leave family and friends to travel to a new land in hopes of a better life only to be faced with a harsh land that would require great sacrifice to simply survive.

                Sacrifice is something that people both Europeans and Native Americans were willing to accept as part of living life.  There is a real sense of strength of character that is on display in all our sentimental scenes of the first Thanksgiving meal.  At least there is a clear notion of strength that carries the scene, and the strength is expressed in generosity and true community.  What was true is that the Europeans knew that they needed the natives in order to survive.  The Native Americans knew the nuances of survival.

                Whatever the strength of character that enabled our forefathers to survive seems to have ebbed away in our present-day culture.  The circumstance of pandemic seems to have captured our attention to the degree that our humanity has shrunk, and we are so much less than we have been for the most part.  We have in the season before us a clarion call to step up in the strength of our hearts to step into the gaps that exist all around us.  May this years’ celebration call us to the meekness (strength under control) that the circumstances that we face are asking of us.

 

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Week of November 8, 2021

Sunday, November 07, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

              The holiday season is right in front of us.  I know some dread the thought for various reasons.  It may surface disappointments from the past.  It may conjure up burdensome expectations.  It may produce frenetic anxiety, or it may generate buried feelings of loneliness.  In conversation with a friend, sometimes the temptation is to see the holidays as uninspiring obligations.  But in reality, I think they are given us as gifts to help us slow down not speed up.

               Take Thanksgiving for example.  We have drifted away for the agricultural culture that our nation was founded on.  The new emigrants from Europe, most of our forefathers, came seeking a new world and a new opportunity.  It was an unfamiliar land with unfamiliar inhabitants.  Thanksgiving was a celebration of God material provision and protection through the preceding year.  It was a celebration of life with new friends and families.  No matter what has happened in this past year, we are here and with much to be grateful for, so it behooves us to slow down and embrace the joys of the day.

              Then there is Christmas.  We should know better than to get caught up with the cultural parts of the American celebration that do not really matter.  There is a lot of fun to be had in the weeks leading up to Christmas day, but the season is about hope and peace and love and joy.  Don’t let the noise drown out those graces for your life.  What matters is that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but has eternal life.”  Maybe that is why “giving” has transcended everything else about our culture.  Somehow, we know that it is the season for giving.  So let me encourage you to let your giving be the fruit of your loving.  

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Week of November 1, 2021

Tuesday, November 02, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

              As I have been listening and reflecting on the consequence of the COVID pandemic for people, one thing has become clear.  It has caused people to pause.  What ever their normal speed of life, they have had to stop in some sense.  If they have come to work at home, or if they have lost their jobs, or if they have come to the realization that they are not in control of everything about their lives, they have experienced a pause.

              I have heard all kinds of reactions, some reflections, and some fears that they never realized.  What I have not seen a lot of is people coming to the end of themselves and asking the important questions.  Maybe it is because of so much noise and national emotion, but then again, maybe it is because of such a lack of self-awareness.

              Which raises the question for me, since God has such love for his creation, what will it take to get people’s attention and what will it take for people to actually come to the end of the rope of control in their lives?  I suspect that it will have to get worse to wretch away the grip people hold their lives with.  But, then again, maybe it is time for followers of Jesus to be bold in their conversations regarding the hope that lies in Jesus alone.

 

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Week of October 24, 2021

Wednesday, October 27, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

                As I talk with all kinds of people from many walks of life, it seems that most feel chaos deep down in their souls.  For followers of Jesus, it seems like you have to deny so much of what God has said if we choose the path of chaos.  Maybe it is an indication that we have hardly been shaped or formed by the Book that we say is so very important to us.  I suspect that our living notion of what God has said to us is only in slogan form.

                I’m not sure how we have gotten to where we are in the superficiality of our faith, but it seems like we are satisfied with placing our favorite biblical passage or phrase on a plaque and call ourselves disciples of Jesus.  I wouldn’t be surprised if God were to allow so much chaos in our circumstances just to get us to return to actually living by the Book.

                Our spiritual anemia seems to be rooted in the fact that we are hardly trained by and formed by the “inspired Word of God.”  In some ways it comes down to the basic question, “what is the revealed Word of God – the Bible” for?  I fear that we have separated life into compartments and disconnected the Word of God and the in Christ life from ordinary life.  Maybe it is time once again for Back to the Bible.

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Week of October 11, 2021

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

                Discipline is an important reality in kingdom of God living.  Surprisingly the scriptures tell us that “God disciplines those that he loves” and one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives is self-discipline.  On the one hand discipline by God is about bring correction or correcting the course that we have set our compass on.  On the other, self-discipline is about maintaining or orienting our focus.

                One of the phrases in Psalm 19 tells me that for a “man after God’s own heart” like David knows that there are hidden “hidden faults” that God is perfectly aware of if we are not.  The desire is for forgiveness, but more often it is inviting God’s discipline because not only is there a need for forgiveness, but there is also a need for change.  The confrontation of conviction of sin is painful but necessary for transformation.

                The self-discipline of the Spirit is because our focus is in need of regular refocusing.  Self-discipline also includes learning to restrict our mouths and our actions.  Not everything that our mind or heart is aware of needs to be expressed.  It is a natural struggle to discipline ourselves instead of expressing our selves.  The only place we need to always “get it off our chests” is with the One who loves us most.

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Week of October 4, 2021

Sunday, October 03, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                There are some basic things about a biblical worldview that sets the Christian apart in every generation.  In our present world and its concerns, it is a season of exposure, exposing what people genuinely think.  The season seems to be about fear, anger, and hopelessness.  Simply because the circumstance of life seems out of control.  The response of many is to accept anything that promises control.

                It leaves society in a state of panic and confusion, even in parts of the Church.  It seems to me that this is a beckoning call to those who say they are servants of the Faith to become people of faith, the verb.  Biblical faith is a relational faith in which God is the object of our faith and our faith is a response to Him.  Our calling is different than people who are not part of the Faith.

                The question is do we live life in response to God not a response to the panic of world culture?  Biblical faith requires a real communion with the Godhead, Father Son and Holy Spirit.  Maybe the weakness of our day is that it has exposed the lack of deep communion with God.  Are we willing to attend to the Voice of God in the scriptures and in prayer more than the voice of the panicked and confused?   

 

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Week of September 20, 2021

Thursday, September 23, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Yesterday I attended the memorial service of an old friend.  The time reminded me of a story that Tony Campolo tells of his pastor talking to the high school senior class in their church when he said, “You can live for titles, or you can live for testimonies!”  Well, my friend lived with a great well-lived out testimony.  She was one of the most faithful and faith-filled people that I’ve known.  I will certainly miss her.  She was a person who lived out the Word (Rom. 12:12).  She was a person who was faithful in prayer.

                One of the consistent themes in Jesus’ parables is faithfulness.  If we are to live out the kingdom of God while we are on earth it will be through our faithfulness.  Faithfulness never makes the headlines because the headlines are always about drama.  Jesus’ faithfulness was such that he could go about his mission without distraction.  It makes me wonder about myself.  Does faithfulness describe my m/o?  Am I consistently willing to give up notoriety for faithfulness?  My friend certainly was!

                Maybe one of God’s strategies to bring light to the world is for his children to bring faithfulness into each encounter and faithfulness to the spirit of life.  My friend suffered greatly for a number of years, but she remained faithful in prayer for the world, for her friends, and for the church of Jesus Christ.  It makes me realize that her prayer was a great pillar that held up the highway to heaven.

 
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Week of September 13,2021

Thursday, September 16, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Is it fair to say that we live in a “trustless” society?  Maybe at the root of the trust lessness is fear, but more likely having been deceived.  I wonder if there isn’t something within the soul of man that he needs certainty to be trusting and in trusting to be free.  So, what is certain, what is worth our trust?  It seems to me that we ought then in our society to be in the perfect position to find our soul’s center in God alone.

                It is my observation that in our contemporary culture that humankind will come up with all kinds of strategies to assuage their fears of deception – except to turn to God.  Control is the predominant force in many people’s strategy.  What I see is the anger expressed in judgmentalism and hostility.  It seems like everything is held with an “edge.”  Very little peace and joy!

                This ought to be an ideal time for followers of Jesus to step up into the maelstrom with the fruits of the Spirit.  Maybe that is not happening because we are not filled and controlled with the Holy Spirit of God.  Imagine what it would be like if love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control characterized your life and my life in all our human interactions.

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Week of September 6, 2021

Thursday, September 09, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

               God is a God of rhythm which is why He created the seasons of the year.  Each season of the year carries a flavor that also characterizes the seasons we go through in life.  Though it is unseasonably hot in September, still we have entered the autumn season of the year.  In agriculture this is a harvest season, especially harvesting grains and some fruits and vegetables.  In like manner we are encouraged by God to begin harvesting what was planted in our souls throughout the other seasons of the year.

               It is also a time in nature to gear up for the winter months.  In the wildlife in our part of the country this is both a time for bears to prepare for hibernation and elk and deer to mate.  It is a time of taking on astronomical amounts of calories for the winter season when the great sleep will begin.  It is calculated that bears consume 20,000 calories a day in preparation for hibernation.

               Autumn is also a spiritual season, not only of harvest, but also a time to take on the “calories of God’s Word” in preparation for the winter season or any hard seasons that are ahead.  This is a great time to begin memorizing scripture if you don’t already do it.  Personally, as I consider being in the last quarter of the “race” it is my deep desire to be shaped and formed by the Word.  The truth of God has always been, but even more so in our day, a key to living life to the full.

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Week of August 30, 2021

Wednesday, September 01, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Hope is demonstrated through faithfulness.  Maybe that is why there is so little hope in our world.  I wonder if most have succumbed to the panic of “quickness” and therefore have no substance of long-suffering (patience).  Most deadlines in life are arbitrary if not synthetic.  I wonder if one of our stressors is that we assume if something doesn’t happen now, it won’t happen.  Tyranny has become the opioid of our present reality.

                It brings to mind the prayer of the children of Abraham in Egypt.  Praying that God would deliver them from slavery was their continual prayer for 400 years.  Yet, God was listening to them all along.  It is hard for us to live under the righteous, yet loving hand of God.  It seems embarrassing to say, but don’t we think God should live under our hands of the tyranny of the present?

                Faith and trust take a lifetime to build and as our literary friend, Brennan Manning used to say, “Trust is deeper than love.”  I hear most often our lament is often, “If God loved me, he would….”  The truth is, it is not about His love, but about my trust.  We cannot not truly experience the depth of hope without the reality of trust and the requirement for trust is faithfulness.

 

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Week of August 23, 2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                My grief in genuine!  When I read the accounts of my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan who are being martyred, I hurt.  I am aware that martyrdom continues day by day in many places in the world, so I keep that in my mind and heart, but when the anger and injustice is brought to our senses in a dominating way there is a new wave of grief.  It brings to my mind a song written early in my generation about the return of Christ, “I Wished We’d All Been Ready.”    

                The issue before us in not a doctrinal point of view, but the harsh reality of evil in the hearts of those who deny the “Fear of the Almighty” (Psalm 19).  As tragic as it is wherever martyrdom takes place among God’s children, it is a stark reminder that we always need to live “ready.”  It is never a surprise to God, but I do think he hurts with us when we encounter the works of the Serpent.  The challenge before us is to uncouple ourselves from the ways of our world so that we might be separated unto Him.

                I’ve been working my way through Psalm 19 very slowly.  The investment our lives in the “law of the Lord,” the “statutes of the Lord”, the “precepts of the Lord”, the “commands of the Lord’, the “fear of the Lord”, and the “ordinances or the Lord” prepares us for whatever comes our way.  It seems like God has made it clear that training is essential for readiness.  May we all live Ready!

 
 
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Week of August 16, 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                In the midst of all the noise and calamity of life what are we being shaped and formed by?  Good question!  It is our choice as to what we let in and what we limit.  The “noise” tends to want to force its way into our minds, hearts, and souls, but we still have choices.  The most important practice is to know what is real and focus on that.  We combat the “forces” most effectively by homing in on what is, has been, and will be whether in the body or not.

                I just had a conversation with friends who encouraged me to “get up to speed” with what is going on so that I am not deceived or taken advantage of.  However, I remember something that I learned a long time ago.  For the experts to discover forgeries they needed to be expert on the real so that they could spot the counterfeit.  I think that wisdom remains in place.

                Life in Christ and being shaped and formed by the Word is essential to know and not just know about what is real.  It is as our minds and hearts are being formed by the revelation of God and enlivened by His Spirit that we come to know the truth in our being.  When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” that is something we can know in our whole being.  We then need to set out a vision to be transformed from the inside out so that we can consistently live the truth and reject the false narratives that we hear every day in the world.

                  

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Week of August 9, 2021

Tuesday, August 10, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

              For the first time ever, I entered a conversation on Facebook.  It is not something I expected to ever do, but I did.  I don’t really expect anything to come of it, but it was an act of obedience to God.  In July, Norma and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and as a consequence some strange things took place.  I have a friend in New York who has been talking about “finishing well” for quite some time.  He is a year or two younger than me.  I have been giving it tacit agreement for a long time, but for some reason it is different now.

              I think I have to blame the Olympics for providing a metaphor for what I am thinking.  Because of my age I know I am in the last 100m of a 400m race.  As is true in any race including Paul’s in Philippians, it is about how you finish.  What has come into focus is how I think the Lord wants me to finish.  I think this is a good exercise for all of us.  How am I running the race and what will it take for me to finish well?

               Two things have come into view for me.  First, I feel led to focus my energies in being “shaped and formed” by the Word.  I want to be a part of the solution to what is wrong in the church today: people who neither know the Word for its reality nor are they truly shaped by it so that they have little impact in the world today.  Second, I want to be devoted to bold prayer, praying for what only God can do in my life and in the world.  Think about it!  What is in view for you?

 
 
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Week of August 2, 2021

Monday, August 02, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Change is upon us as we turn the page in the calendar.  Creation seems to also confirm that truth as it seems like summer is yawning in exhaustion from the oppressive heat.  Almost overnight God takes pity on what he has made as he is sending rain that the earth may now drink deeply of the life-giving refreshment.  The leaves on my lawn are not because the season is changing to autumn, but because they are all dried out and crispy for lack of water.

                It won’t be long before the seasonal change does take place in truth, but we endure the month of transition before it gets here.  As Mark Buchanan notes, “Summer’s warning is dehydration.”  We can be just like the trees in nature and burn to a crisp unless we intentionally drink deeply of the Spirit through the Word and prayer.  Just because we know “cooler” weather will soon be upon us, it doesn’t preclude our grasping hold of that which our souls most need in this season.  Summer is not over!

                I have grasped the Word in fresh ways this summer knowing that it is essential for staying “upright” in the encroaching suppressions in our contemporary life.  The Scriptures cannot be “squeezed” or drained of their Spirit inspired power.  In the midst of the delight of summer, distractions can suck the life out of us if we don’t remember that the core of our being still needs to be fed.  We never get past the need for empty space to sit alone with the One who loves us most and we can find Him in the Word and prayer.  All of that to say, finish the summer well.

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Week of July 26, 2021

Thursday, July 29, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                I’ve been giving gratitude a great deal of thought this week.  Like most things if we give it unhurried thought there is much to glean from most anything.  Gratitude or gratefulness is a chosen posture of life that can deliver a wealth of meaning for our lives.  Much has been made about purposefulness, but in a rather simple way gratitude can raise the attitude to such a degree that the angle of life is naturally purposeful.

                Norma and I are celebrating 50 years of a rich meaningful marriage that surfaces a very deep gratitude.  Like most deeply meaningful experiences of life God brings them to us and it becomes a source of richly held gratitude.  Much of gratitude comes in the form of being a recipient rather than a generator.  Gratitude is not something that I do, but it is something that I am.  Do I approach life responsively or generatively?

                Approaching our days as God acting and simply noticing, attending, and wondering about His acting seems most to produce gratitude within.  Seeing the hand of God is the source of richness in our experiences.  However, it requires patience and setting aside self-directed expectations.  We must walk at “Jesus’ speed” in order to see the hand of God daily.  When I think of 50 years with my life companion gratitude washes over me.  Noticing how much of life’s riches were simply beyond me.

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Week Of July 5, 2021

Friday, July 16, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                This Sunday we celebrate a specific American holiday – Independence Day.  The history of the day was to celebrate the founding of a new country set free from European control.  Obviously, it was a national freedom that came at great cost with the loss of many lives.  Over the past 245 years much good has been done through from these shores to distant shores.  When I think about the missionary effort within our own boundaries as well as to far off pagan lands that was incubated here, I am feeling blessed.

                One of the great threads that has been sewn into the fabric of our national psyche is freedom.  In the present as well as the past that freedom has continued to need to be contended for.  In the culture it is always under attack.  As fallen creatures we want our freedom, but at the same time we don’t want others to have their freedom.  What instead has surfaced is the paradigm of “offendedness.”  If your freedom offends me, then you ought not have that freedom.  Honestly, I just shake my head – sideways!

                Surely for those who are Jesus followers our focus is on the freedom of soul that He has provided to us by faith.  Freedom is an important value in the kingdom of God.  A word-study on freedom begins in the scriptures with Galatians 5:1, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free.”  Jesus wanted us to be free from the bondage of sin so much so that He was willing to take on our sin upon himself on the cross that we might be free of it.  No matter the freedom of our circumstance we can live free in our souls.  It has been purchased for us.  Celebrate that this “Independence Day!”

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Week of June 14, 2021

Sunday, June 27, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                As if we couldn’t tell summer is upon us by the calendar, we certainly can by the thermometer.  But summer is also a spiritual season of joy and blessing.  As Mark Buchanan notes it is most like heaven itself.  With the invitation to play and rejoice it carries the spirit of heaven itself.  I find it interesting that most in our common culture look for retirement to have earned a life of leisure but fail to grasp the importance of the rhythm of the seasons in daily life.  I’m sure that God did not create us to eventually burnout and that the joy of summer was something to have earned.

                Yet God has given us the summer as a gift, not something to be earned.  But we have to learn how to practice summer as a normal part of life.  Summer brings with it both a warning and a particular blessing.  According to Buchanan, the warning is to avoid dehydration.  We know physically that dehydration is a matter of the need for water/fluid.  Spiritually it includes the spiritual practices that are core to health: the Word and Prayer.  Whatever is involved in the summer season of practices, the Word and prayer are always essential.

                The blessing of summertime lies in the “first fruits.”  Where we live the first fruits are the strawberries, bib lettuce, and early peas.  The first fruits of the season.  There is something especially sweet about the earliest crops.  The first fruits spiritually is in offering the best of ourselves to God.  My first fruits this summer is in making sure that my alone time with God comes at the beginning of my day.  For the summer (at least) I have made a commitment to memorize complete psalms and then to journal my way through it so that God might fully shape me through the Word.  Why not join me!

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Week of May 31, 2021

Monday, May 31, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                There is a text that I take out periodically called, Spiritual Rhythms.  It was written by Mark Buchanan.  Mark is a pastor in BC and is a very inciteful observer of the spiritual journey.  In this particular text he uses the seasons of the year as a metaphor for the spiritual life.  I just reread the season of spring and gained a fresh reminder of the natural activities of the season: plowing, planting, and cleaning.  He contextualizes these activities with three spiritual practices: listening, doing something new, and discarding that which is dead of any present meaning.

                Spring is a natural season for growth and freshness.  I love spring and I resonate with these activities of listening, newness, and letting go.  Sometimes I find it most difficult to “let go” of something, but spring has a forward lean to it and somethings just need to be prune out of life so that the best can find root.  The assumption often has been that if something was best it must always remain that way.

                The fallacy is to think that with God the journey is into the right box, but our understanding is so limited that God can only reveal one thing at a time.  When we engage the eternal, there is always more to learn.  I think that every time we read a particular scripture it continues to speak to us in greater and greater ways.  I think that is why there is no need for “new revelation.”  It is my experience that when we “dig deeper” the soil of reality has no bottom.  Therefore, never tire of engaging God’s Word.

 

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Week of May 24, 2021

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                If we are willing to slow down and think, the discoveries can be profound and transformational.  I have been aware of the notion that just as there are natural seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall, there are also seasons in our lives somewhat similar to nature’s seasons.  There are circumstances that arise that can be associated with nature’s rhythm, but there are also ways to intentionally identify with what God has created.

                Though it has seemed unseasonably cold and wet here in our locale, it is spring.  Spring is the season of new growth and in general newness of life as it follows winter which is a natural season of internal transactions.  Trees establish the solidifying of the growth rings that have taken place during the growing season.  Human beings face internal responses to their life encounters.

                But spring has now showed its colors, and this is an ideal time to slough off “deadness,” letting the “leaves that have hung on during the winter” fall.  It is time to consider fresh practices in the Spirit in order to open oneself to any new thing that God wants.  Our journey with Jesus is always evolving.  There is always more to the journey than what we have traveled.

 

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Week of April 19, 2021

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                This is a season of joyful celebration ignited by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  That is the theme of Eastertide.  No matter what is going on around us we have truth that has been entrusted to those who believe in Jesus that has given to us as a gift that ordinary man lives ignorant of.  Our joy is rooted in substance, the substance of Jesus overcoming death and dead-end living.

                In order to live out the truth in any meaningful way, we have to live with intentionality.  I have to choose to keep the Easter story alive in the quiet moments of the day, remembering who and whose I am.  I have a friend who used to introduce each Sunday’s worship with a statement about our being Easter people.  What he meant be that was an encouragement to embrace the joy that is ours.

                A critical part of life is rooted in the attitude with which we live.  Easter is meant to be an on-gong attitude that strengthens us in the midst of the “storms of life.”  And life can be quite stormy from time to time.  The Easter attitude requires cultivation and effort to engage the truth of God more than we engage the truth of man.  So, be encouraged this week to make space to sit with the Good News of who God is and what richness is resident in Him in us.

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Week of April 12, 2021

Tuesday, April 13, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                This season between Easter and Pentecost is called Eastertide in more liturgical churches and for good reason.  Like most things with God life is rhythmic.  Think about it!  Aren’t the seasons in nature’s realm different from each other?  Isn’t winter, spring, summer, and autumn God’s idea?  There are spiritual roles in each of these seasons in our life experience.  The winters in our lives are equivalent to the hard times when we are faced with the reality that God has to be enough.  The spring times are the seasons of new growth and recovery.  We need that to keep our breathing working.  Summer is the season of growth and rest.  Not everything can move with the same intensity.  Autumn is a season of harvest and preparation for winter.  We gather fruit from the seasons of growth and take on more of God’s word to prepare us to navigate the winter.

                Eastertide is the season of celebration of the resurrection with an eye fixed on the ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  It is a time of joy and gratitude, but also of anticipation that God with reveal Himself in his totality now to live within us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  With our eyes fixed on the Spirit, it becomes a season of newness and power.  Where would we be without the resurrection, most miserable!

                In Eastertide we have the luxury of gathering up all the rich glory that came to earth through the Resurrected One.  Overcoming death is the last marker in our mortality.  If we choose to live in the life of the resurrection, all fear is now gone.  Life is now connected between the now and the not yet.  The movement is now the journey in the words of Dallas Willard, “moving from one room into the next.”  We are at home now and if we choose to live in it, we can live with a new assurance and power.

 

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Week of March 29, 2021

Monday, March 29, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                One could say that no week in one’s life is any more important than any other week, but the week before us could be different.  There are times and seasons rooted in the scriptures that seem to set us up as followers of Jesus to naturally open the aperture of our minds and hearts to something more.  I wonder if with the disciples that a year after the first Holy Week if they spent any time reflecting on the previous year.

                In each of the gospels this week’s journey from the two days before the Triumphal Entry to the early morning on the First Day of the week after the Resurrection the account is quite expansive, covering a large part of each gospel writer’s essay.  This week is one of those times that it behooves us to “drill down” into the story and using our God-given ability to place ourselves in the storytelling.

                 The great privilege is to surrender ourselves to the rhythm and sequence of joining Jesus and the disciples in an incredibly unique week in history.  At each place and in each day, you are there if you allow yourself to be.  Use your five senses to participate with Jesus and your fellow disciples.  We have the benefit of being able to sit with what we read.  Let it benefit your spirit.

 

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Week of March 22, 2021

Tuesday, March 23, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Time seems to march on no matter what, does it not.  Here we are only a few days before the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem for the final time.  I wonder what he was thinking and feeling as the scriptures tell us that he had turned his face toward Jerusalem knowing what was about to happen.  In the events before him the astounding statement in a way was that nothing caught him off-guard or by surprise.  Why is it that we are so often “caught off guard” or are surprised by what goes on?

                Learning to live in the “already” and the “not yet” simultaneously seems to me what it looks like to follow Jesus with every step in the journey.  I have a friend who used to introduce worship with the invocation, “Jesus Christ is in this place and anything can happen here.”  Isn’t that the truth of living in the kingdom of heaven here and now?  In the days over these next two weeks in Jesus’ life we are faced with the absolute worst and the absolute best.

                In these days leading up to Maundy Thursday (the upper room incident), Gethsemane, Good Friday, and Resurrection Morning I have been reading the story of eight women in recent history who have been persecuted severely for their faith in Christ.  There is so much history to support the fact that we need to learn how to live in the “already” and the “not yet” and not be surprised by the best and worst rolled up into the one life God has called us to live.  This isn’t heaven yet, nor is it hell.  As someone that I know used to say, “Good is often hard.”

 

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