Pinebrooke Community Church
Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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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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Week of March 15, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                I wonder why in every season in the church year, prayer is always one of the primary disciplines?  What is it about prayer that seems so central to everything in our lives in relationship to God?  Is it like any human relationship – communication?!  I think that is what is essential with anything that is animate.  It is the difference between all that God created for the sake of relationship.  Is there a reflection on the Genesis statement that animals were created to fill the relational need of man?  Only to find them as inadequate.

                The creation of woman was for fulfilling the image of God as well as to fulfill the relational need of man.  Man was incomplete without woman and the purpose was to be completed in the relational dimension of human existence.  Relationship seems to be everything in the creation of humankind.  Relationship with the Almighty has everything to do with prayer.

                Some have defined prayer as talking to God, put the saints of old have helped us conceive of a much higher role for prayer.  As much if not more prayer is a matter of listening to God.  Throughout the scriptures, prayer has emphasized both if not more on the listening side.  The will of God is central to existence not the will of man.  From Adam through John of Revelations, prayer carries the weight of the relationship that begins with birth and carries on into eternity.

 

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Week of March 8, 2021

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Repentance as a theme in the Lenten season is probably one of the least appreciated and understood of the Jesus Way.  It is most commonly perceived as confessing sin and feeling bad about it, but is that really what Jesus was calling us to?  You are probably quite aware that the Greek word in the New Testament is metanoia or to change one’s mind about.  That repentance requires so much more from us than sorrowful emotions.

                Repentance is seeing things as they are.  It is not unlike Paul’s word in Romans 12 when he calls us to “sober judgment” or having an accurate judgment of ourselves.  Repentance begins with facing ourselves in truth.  What is the truth about me in thought, word, and deed?  Is it possible that in light of repentance we have been living in denial of what God says about us?  For instance, am I living with false narratives about God, myself, and life in general?

                In that sense repentance is not reserved for the season leading up to “The Day the Revolution Began” to use N.T. Wright’s title.  It is meant to be a way of life in which we are growing aware of falseness within ourselves, both in the sense of unrighteousness as well as distortion within our hearts.  In the Lenten season there is a fresh emphasis to own thoughts, words, and actions that are less than what we were created for and what God says.  Repentance is not my enemy, but my friend.

 

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Week of March 1, 2021

Wednesday, March 03, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Sacrifice is what this season is about.  These days are all leading up to the price Jesus paid for the forgiveness of sins and what it took to introduce the kingdom life on earth.  The price was sacrificial, it was the laying down His life for ours.  Sacrifice is not understood in our day with deep respect and appreciation, not just on Jesus’ part, but on anyone’s part.  The only sacrifice that has a path in our world is one that would eventually be remunerated, usually with money, power, or prestige.

                I’ve been reading the stories of eight women in history, some in the century behind us and some quite contemporary.  The consistent theme is the theme of sacrifice, sacrifice their faith demanded of them.  I wonder if there is a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of our faith, my faith, your faith?  Or, have we become so weak that we will no longer sacrifice in the face of persecution, easy persecution or life and death persecution?

                The mantra Jesus taught anticipated how his sacrifice would be viewed when He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  I wonder, is there enough in my faith to merit persecution?  The issue it seems to me is, “Has the quality of my living faith enough to be a threat to the ways of my world?”  Living differently no matter what the difference makes our world uncomfortable.  Is there a difference in our lives, the difference that sacrifice creates, to make my world uncomfortable?  Lent should remind us of that difference.

 

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Week of February 22, 2021

Monday, February 22, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                I did not grow up with any knowledge of the seasons of the church year, so I didn’t know anything about Lent as the 40 days before Easter to give ourselves to enter the last 40 days of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  I did not know what it was to give oneself to “preparation” for the Cross and the Resurrection.  They were just an extra day off from school (Good Friday) and new clothes for Easter morning.  How shallow and cheated my spirituality was.

                Since this past week beginning with Ash Wednesday, we have entered into a sober season that our sin created for Jesus and if I’m going to take my apprenticeship to Jesus seriously wouldn’t I want to be with Him in these days.  The traditional spiritual practices for this season include repentance, fasting, prayer, and alms giving.  I’ve learned that those are good not just for Lent, but as an ordinary part of one’s life in Christ.  But I’m sure there are other disciplines that may also be helpful in this season.

                The point is to “turn our eyes onto Jesus.”  I know it is also a consistent challenge to “always keep Him before us,” but specifically this is the time to focus on the heavy season that we learn to carry His concerns all the way to the Cross in hopes that we will be readied once again to join Him in His heart for redemption, reconciliation, and restoration in our own hearts and for the sake of the whole world.  Look for something that you can attach yourself to that can gain your attention.

 

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Week of February 15, 2021

Monday, February 15, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                The culture hangs onto religiously oriented holidays, but for different reasons.  St. Valentine was known for doing good out of a heart of love, so what can secular culture do with that?  Of course, all that natural man knows is the romantic love between people but lacking a more substantial love as in “love your neighbor as yourself.”  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is a delight to share romantic love if you have a spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend, but I doubt that we need to be reminded of what we “feel.”

                What might be a greater need is to have a holiday to emphasize, “love your enemy, do good to those that persecute you…”.  I guess that is what sets the Christian faith apart from all others.  Maybe in light of Valentine’s Day we could make space to consider who we think of as “your enemy” and set aside a day to make a list and then consider praying God’s blessing on them one at a time.  What if we were to set aside one day a week to pray for our “list of enemies?!”

                I suspect the reason that we don’t do that is because we doubt that it will change them or us and besides, “we don’t want to.”  We would rather use the negative energy that “enemy” provides to energize our anger or hatred for those persons, rather than invite God to change us and bring transformation in them.  Since we all get exercised about politics and politicians, why not start with them in praying God’s blessing.  That is the “cold water” that we can pour on them while releasing the pent up feelings within us.

 

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Week of February 1, 2021

Monday, February 01, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                What after all is the “good?”  When Paul writes that “all things work together for the good,” what is the “good?”  It seems when we turn to the pages of the Scriptures, “good” takes on an expanded meaning.  If we were the center of the universe instead of God, “good” would have a limited meaning since we are finite creations.  Our finiteness makes “good” to also be finite.

                Like every other quality or virtue God defines the terms.  The amazing (to me) reality is that God always has my good in mind as he works through my mind.  My “good” from an infinite perspective is not necessarily my finite sense of comfort and convenience.  Sometimes it is, but most times not.  As God’s creation I have little natural sense of the eternal.  It has to be revealed to me.  When God says something in His Word as truth the issue for us is trust.

                Am I willing to trust God for his plan for my life (Jer. 29:11)?  It is more difficult for us to trust Him from a distance, than it is to trust Him up close.  Therefore, once again we are faced with what Paul had learned from his desert experience with Yahweh way back in the Arabian desert soon after his conversion.  When he writes this affirmation in Romans 8, he has experiential data to support what he is declaring.  The practice of reflection sets us up for confidence in the truth.  It is not hard to believe when one gathers the evidence.

 

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Week of January 25, 2021

Monday, January 25, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Facing ourselves in truth is the foundation for personal transformation.  If we give ourselves to an honest openness in dealing with ourselves in the midst of everyday life, we position ourselves in the healthiest way to capture reality.  It gives us the gift of seeing what God is doing in our inner person as well as recognizing needed changes.  Facing ourselves is an exercise that the Holy Spirit is glad to engage in with us taking the lead.

                It seems that it is easier to seek to live out life in Christ by committing to certain principles rather than to live in response to the direct leadership of the Spirit.  In some ways to live by principles is no different than arranging life around the Old Testament law-keeping.  The New Testament provides a testament of the will of God as well, but there is a difference between living out an ethic and living out a living relationship with Almighty God.

                Living by principles leads us to think that we know God’s will in any particular situation.  It is a messier process to “seek his face” to listen to Him, converse with Him, and ask Him for his help in following through personally in an immediate circumstance.  There is a great diversity among people who are “trying to live out Christian principles.” Sometimes those approaches are in conflict with one another.  Our own subjectivity, or ourselves, is the most determining aspect to how we see and then act.  The most effective aspect of living out truth remains, “facing ourselves in truth.”

 

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Week of January 18, 2021

Monday, January 18, 2021
 Weekly Blog

 

“In the world, but not of the world!” It is always easier said than done. The world in which we live has a competitive pull on all of those who belong to Jesus. The “pull” is the tension that exists between the two kingdoms that we live in, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. The challenge is in the fact that we live in a temporal world with the calling of the eternal world. Our vocation is holiness, and our worldly environment is power.

In this season of testing, it is a “refiner’s fire” of sorts. What will be burn off and what will rise to the surface. I hope that you recognize the stressors for what they are. If we choose to listen to the eternal Voice in the midst of the noise, we will benefit if we listen to the noise, we will suffer. This a great time to sort out the voices.

The season we are in is the time to listen for Jesus words to us. This is an ideal time to immerse yourself in what Jesus has said to us in the gospels. I would highly recommend that we devote ourselves to the memorizing of the scriptures and to prayer. How we respond to the chaos around us is dependent on the condition of our inner man.

 

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Week of January 4, 2021

Tuesday, January 05, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                After the cultural holidays how do you approach your days?  For some of us with the reduction of activities we begin to feel the backwash that can lead us down, but in the realm of the kingdom of God what we have before us is the “sacrament of the present moment” which can keep us engaged in the movements of God right in front of us.  One of our challenges is to let God lead us into each day looking for his presence or his direction.

                One of my favorite verses was expressed when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus prayed, “Glorify me Father for I have done what you showed me to do.”  As we enter each day, we can bring that prayer with us.  I’ve learned to pray, “Father show me what you want me to do today.”  There is more than enough agenda in his hands for each day. 

                Part of our spiritual disciplines includes living in light of Jesus’ agenda for our lives as his followers.  That way we can know that each day has enough in itself and we don’t have to depend on the way of our common culture to decide what is of value.  The hard part for our natural egos is to learn to live responsively – responsive to God and his will.

                We often quote Jer. 29:11 as an encouragement, but what is in his promise is the challenge to engage the plans (will) of God each day.  The promise requires our daily participation in those plans.  This is meant to be a very active interactive participation.

 

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Week of December 28, 2020

Tuesday, January 05, 2021
 

Weekly Blog

 

                As I contemplate Advent and Christmas, I know that I used to think of life differently than I do now.  I used to move from event to event, not even season to season.  I see things differently now.  It has become a major mantra to me, slow down, slow down.  As I think about that one of my favorite songs from many years ago is entitled by those words – “slow down.”  The gist of the song is to slow down so that you may encounter the Holy One.                                                                                                                                       It is quite difficult to fully encounter anything or anyone while in a hurry.  The wisdom of Richard Foster’s response to the question as to the major obstacle in today’s world to the spiritual life is obvious – distractions.  Whether technology, speed in its many forms, or superficial appetites a distracted life tends to squeeze all the meaningfulness out of human existence.                                                                                 Therefore, it is essential to learn to make empty space for God alone.  Isaiah’s prophecy identifies Jesus in the terms that we desperately need: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  God works independent of the circumstance, but I think it behooves us to do our part.  And that part is to slow down and make empty space for God.  Intimacy with Him takes that empty space for God to transform our experience with the counselor, God, the father, and the prince.  Join me in the “emptying” way this year.

 

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Week of December 21, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

 

                “Do not be afraid.  I bring you glad tidings of great joy that will be for all the people…”  Yes, we are quite familiar with those words, but what do they actually mean for you?  We have a hard time thinking about a time when we did not know these words.  We know the story.  We rehearse it annually.  But what does it actually mean for me?  What is the joy of having a Savior?!  The promises that seem destined for the future, like “when I die” or “when Jesus comes back” are hard to hold in the frontals of our minds.

                There is a difference between historical truth and spiritual truth.  History can be confirmed through an intellectual process, but spiritual truth is quite another thing.  Spiritual truth is entered in through our Creator/creature experience.  Spiritual truth has to be revealed and cannot be known any other way.  We cannot come to spiritual truth simply through our intellect, God has to bring it to us.

                What was the spiritual truth that came alongside the historical truth of the Incarnation?  The spiritual truth was that this Jesus, fully human and fully divine was sent to enter into personal experience with each who would receive Him.  Reception included a complete makeover of our human experience.  We were then invited into a real relationship with our Creator.  How then would you describe what that relationship means in your ordinary life?  The Nativity that stands before us this week is not just historical, but fully spiritual.  Can you enter the spirit of that good news this week?

 

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Week of December 14, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Our Advent week before us is focused on love.  Certainly, it is the character of everything that has to do with Yahweh.  It is out of love that the Incarnation was conceived.  What we have before us is a standing call to love as God so loves.  However, most of the love intended in our day is the feeling it gives the one who loves, and we miss the sacrificial nature of God’s love.

                We need to know what loves is generated out of and I think love as it relates to followers of Jesus is captured by the great American theologian and pastor, Jonathan Edwards when he said, “A true love of God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this.”

                I think we know so little of true love, so it behooves us to gather the wisdom of others to capture what is truly transformative in the Incarnation.  More recently the wisdom of MLK is helpful at this point when he said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”  In the sense of these two Christian thinkers Advent love is about overcoming the gaps that naturally form in our lives.  May this Advent Season bring you the strength to overcome the disappointments and wounds that our life has brought you.

 

 

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Week of December 7, 2020

Thursday, December 10, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Times and dates change but truth does not.  Jesus remains the Prince of Peace though it was heralded so very long ago.  Matthew Henry said it so long ago, “What peace can they have who are not at peace with God.”  First things are always first!  Our weakness is when we ignore the power of our inner life and settle for a reduction of conflict in our public life.  The substance of life is often ignored for the sake of image.

                Our lives are actual inside out affairs.  What the reality is, is what is on the inside of us.  Thomas `a Kempis brings us wisdom in this Advent Season when he said, “All men desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.”  Ironically, real peace comes through our surrender to Christ.  Why wouldn’t we do that?

                It seems to me that we are too busy and frenetic to actually embrace the peace that Jesus offers to us day by day.  Empty space must be created to dwell in the peaceful Presence of the “Holy One of Israel.”  In order to pass on the peace of Christ to the other, we must experience it ourselves.  That is surely the way of God in everything.

Week of November 30, 2020

Tuesday, December 01, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                I’ve been giving thought to foundations upon which we build our lives.  As we make space to listen to the pain and thinking that guides our day, it seems like the foundations have to be recalibrated.  I’m wondering if each new generation needs to revisit the foundations that set the disciples of Jesus apart from those who are simply Jesus admirers.  What does it mean for us to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, and all of your mind?”

                I’ve been rereading the work of A. W. Tozer, solid disciple of Jesus in the middle of the 20th century, The Knowledge of the Holy.  What stands out is that we are almost completely ignorant of who God is and how God works in our day.  The renewal that is needed in the church it seems is to restore the truth of God as our foundation.  Rather than our shaping God in our own image, it behooves us to let God shape us in His image.

                For all the desire in recent days to make the gospel of Christ relevant in our cultural milieu, it seems that our calling instead is to call the common culture to the gospel of Christ.  I am struck with Jesus words in the Sermon on the Mount when he said, “Enter though the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  In these days of an ever increasing volume it seems that Jesus calmly calls us to just live the gospel and our Father will rejoice.

Week of November 23, 2020

Sunday, November 22, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

 

                In anticipation of a holiday instituted by presidents (Washington and Lincoln), Thanksgiving Day has more of a biblical spirit than a cultural one.  In the culture most make Thanksgiving a favorite simply because of celebrating family, food, and a break from the “hurriedness” of most people’s lives, but from a biblical worldview it is something much more substantial.

                Thanksgiving is about gratitude in the midst of whatever is the cultural circumstance.  Few of us were alive during World War II, but I’m confident that Thanksgiving was celebrated even in the midst of war, or even the Great Depression.  Thanksgiving provides a deeply needed heart posture – gratitude.

                Thanksgiving reminds me of Millet’s famous painting The Angelus in which two peasants with bowed heads are expressing their heart-felt thanks for God’s simple provisions in life.  Thanksgiving is a time to bow our heads is genuine gratitude for God’s beauty, goodness, and truth.  Personally, I intend to make space this week to take each area of my life and “count the blessings” of what God has done.  Do you want to join me in that?!

Week of November 16, 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Absolute necessity!  As we seek to follow Jesus and be shaped and formed by the Scriptures – God’s revelation to us we each have different lenses.  In a political world we tend to develop a hierarchy of values as to what is most important down a ladder to least important according to what we see in the pages of God’s Word to us.  Therefore, what is highest on that ladder is an absolute necessity.

                The hard part of living life together is that our hierarchy of values can become ways of separating ourselves from people instead of understanding that God doesn’t use that same set of values to decide who he loves and who he doesn’t love.  That which joins Christians in family relationship is something else.

                As John says in his first epistle three things, three times a true believer: believes the truth about Christ, walks in the light, and has love for the brethren.  We are going to have differing hierarchies of values.  Our focus is meant to be on what is truly is a biblical absolute necessity.  It needs to come from what the scriptures treat as absolute.

Week of November 9, 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

 

                Righteousness is a unique phenomenon in our world today.  It maybe that for most, we are either ignorant of the blueprint or the Source or both.  It seems that we suffer from the myopic notion that we, individually, are the center of the universe and therefore, we are in the vaulted position to massage reality to fit our personal preferences.

                However, it seems that we are set up to experience the consequences of that false thinking.  Righteous is naturally beyond everyone of us.  We have the Source and the sources necessary to live in light of righteousness, but it requires a humbling of ourselves to understand that true righteousness is not self-generated.

                We have been blessed with the gift of the revelation of God both in the flesh, Jesus and in the written text, the Scriptures.  It would seem to me that we have lost touch with both and are left somewhat high and dry.  With the givens of our culture, this is certainly the time to renew our commitment to learn Jesus Way, Truth, and Life and become genuine people of the Word.

Week of October 26, 2020

Sunday, October 25, 2020
 Weekly Blog

When asked what the chief obstacle to spiritual progress in our day Richard Foster responded, “distraction.” There are issues that we ought to be cognizant of in our day, but not to the extent that we are living distracted from that which is of eternal value, our on-going relationship and intimacy with Jesus. Some things are more important than other things.

In fact, the deeper we walk with Jesus, the better prepared we are to respond to what is placed before us. “Issues” can move us away from living in the present which is all that we are accountable for. Living in the present moment and finding God’s presence and purpose in it is eternal work. I cannot live tomorrow today, but the best preparation for tomorrow is being fully present to God today.

It is the shape of our character that contributes most to today and tomorrow and being present to God is the most dynamic aspect of character shaping. The scriptures say something about that when it is said, “Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isa. 64:8).

Week of October 19,2020

Wednesday, October 21, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                We are all familiar with a variety of scriptures that we most likely agree are true, but in fact we hardly ever do what those scriptures teach us.  Maybe that is because we think that since we know the scriptures that is all that is needed or we haven’t been able to “read” the reality of our situation in order to see what it is that we need to “do” in the midst of it.

                It seems apparent to me in these days that the evil one has been successful in sowing mistrust in our society to a seemingly “victorious” extent.  Between mistrust and hate does it not smack of the “thief” who Jesus said would “steal, kill, and destroy?” Look around at what is being stolen from us.  Look around and see what is being destroyed?  The “killing” has grown exponentially in taking life, taking speech and taking hope.

                But what has God given us with which to battle the “thief?”  “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  The successful strategy is laid out for us.  Will we participate as the soldiers that we are? 

 

Week of October 12, 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                I ran across something in my quiet time several days ago that I think could be helpful for us every day, but especially in our present politically violent context.  The general focus was on living the compassionate life and the key passage was Luke 6:27-28, “… love your enemies…”.  In this period of history, most differences are treated as personal enemies that are painted with the “hatred brush.”

                Hatred is not a new thing, but an old thing, as old as Cain feelings toward Abel.  I think the hatred today reminds us that humankind, both personally and collectively is sinful and fallen from the grace that was offered in the Garden.  Choosing rebellion against God either passively or actively colors the heart of every human being.  This hatred makes people into enemies.

                I found great wisdom in the words from MLK.  This is why we must obey Jesus.  “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate.”  “Hate scars the soul and distorts the personality.”  “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”  “We must love our enemies, because only by loving them can we know God and experience the beauty of his holiness.”  Obedience to Christ is always better for everyone.

Week of October 5, 2020

Wednesday, October 07, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

              In the midst of the chaotic world in which we live, I’ve given thought this week to the notion of nobility.  Back in the day nobility was a social status which was relevant in days gone by, but I’m wondering that we might gain a sense of the scriptural sense that is not a matter of social status, but a matter of individual character.  I’m wondering if part of what David is getting at in Psalm 139 is the created nobility that is shaped in each one whom God has made.

              In fact, the wonder that David wonders is in the nobility that lies in the reality that each of us are first of all, made in God’s image.  There is I think a nobility in the path God has called us into as reflections of him.  As we usually use the term nobility is a human calling to rise above the ordinary to the place of extraordinary.  I suspect that God has given each of us the potential to “rise above” where we have been.

              I think the reality of nobility involves courage, perseverance, and risk.  Our greatest nobility is in arising to challenges that have been placed before us.  In that we have to have a sense of the invisible world of God’s kingdom life that calls out from us at least circumstantially our very “best self.”  When faced with the challenge, are we willing to lay aside our personal comfort and convenience for the sake of a greater good?  I think that is the question.  Any time we say or hear, “these are challenging times” it ought to be a clarion call to “step up” to accept the challenge.  I think that is what human nobility looks like.

Week of September 28, 2020

Wednesday, October 07, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

              From time to time someone says something that seems so very timely though it was said at a different time.  I ran into one of those things this week that seems so timely in our present circumstance.  Michael Cassidy, “The sort of person I am, is largely determined by how I handle the negative situations in which I find myself.”  We get to choose whether we will be persons of peace or persons of chaos.

              One of the great fallacies that we have learned to live into is to assume that circumstances create our responses to it, but Jesus showed us a different way.  When Jesus said in John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives….”  The question is, from what source do I find my peace?

              Our world lives and breathes turmoil and has no peace to offer its citizens.  Yet, that is the only peace that most are aware of.  It would seem that this is a great opportunity for the apprentices of Jesus to offer real hope.  We have a real Object for hope, having hope in Him is hope that brings peace, real peace. 

Week of September 21, 2020

Wednesday, October 07, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

              As a philosopher, Dallas Willard engaged in the discussion and pursuit of “just what a good life” actually is.  Good living is not as popular as the pursuit of happiness.  They may seem somewhat the same, but they are actually quite different.  A good life carries a quality of goodness, which is a moral statement.  Therefore, what is a morally sound way of living?

              Happiness on the other hand is the contemporary replacement for the historic sense of goodness.  Since the focus has moved from a cosmic definition to a completely personal definition, the measurement has completely changed.  As C.S. Lewis stated, “Happiness is about what happens, joy is not.”  The deep inner sense of joy contributes to the cosmic sense of goodness.  Joy is a descriptor of the reservoir of the soul.

              As external circumstances change and the change all the time, happiness is always in question.  As such, the pursuit of happiness has become all consuming because of its variance.  This distraction is a subtractive element to life, always taking and never giving.  Goodness on the other hand has a filling and stabilizing influence on the individual life as well as our communal life.  As we learn to embrace “goodness” we naturally are drawn to the Definer of the Good and that helps us live differently and peacefully.

Week of September 14, 2020

Tuesday, September 15, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

              On one hand our world has come to relish in diversity and on the other not so much.  It seems that we are bent on the same path as civilization has always been on.  There are acceptable aspects of diversity that are championed; race, sexuality, and creed, in modern society and there are aspects of diversity that are denied; political incorrectness, a biblical worldview, and disagreement.  Often the outcome is reduced to socio-political power.  Then we are back to the same bent who has the power.

              It would seem would it not that the Jesus Way is not bent on power, but on a different Way.  Isn’t it more about simply going about creating “good culture” wherever we go?  Truly being redemptive, restorative, engagers of faith, hope, and love.  If indeed Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is a description of God, then doesn’t that call us to His Way in this world differently?

              It is easiest for us to expend our energy in what we are against.  In a way that seems to be “angry energy.”  It is more difficult for us to spend our energy on what we are “for.”  I’m calling that “restorative energy.”  Knowing what was originally intended requires that we pay attention to history so that we can invest in restoring and rebuilding that which is broken.  Wasn’t that, isn’t that simply what Jesus’ work has been, is, and always will be about?

Week of August 30, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                I read an article in the present issue of Christianity Today magazine asking the question, “Can voting be a sin?”  The responses gathered were as diverse as were the respondents.  The only thing in common among the respondents was that they were all “spokespersons for Christ.”  It may suggest that the Church is as divergent as its adherents’ worldviews.  I’m sure that every respondent believes that their worldview is resident in the scriptures. 

                No wonder the world is confused about righteousness and justice.  There is little certainty in the Church, how could there be certainty is the common culture?  After reading the differing viewpoints I found in my own reaction wondering whether this person or that person is even a Christian.  The redevelopment of our worldviews from childhood or provincial adulthood to a serious apprenticeship with Jesus is the task of every serious disciple of Jesus.

                How we see things and what we value constitute our worldview, and we are accountable to God for our conclusions.  I am reminded of Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  One thing is sure, we must be men and women of the Word and rearrange our thinking and our living in light of God’s Word as best we can.

Week of August 24, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                Self-reflection seems to be one of the least practiced disciplines in contemporary life.  I’ve wondered why that is and the best I can come up with is that our “center” is rather mushy, so we do not have a solid center made up of something more than simply opinion.  In order to reflect we have to bounce things off something that doesn’t change easily.  In order to know who I am and where I am, I need to recognize a “center” within oneself.

                The question: “Who am I” is not an untested question.  I’m reminded of Bonhoeffer’s poem by that name in the midst of a world “coming apart” in the early 1940s.  The reality is that circumstances can never hold the weight of my identity nor value or I will come crashing down.  Gordon MacDonald calls that a “sink hole.”  But I am much more than my worldview – the way I think things ought to be.

                It is in my “private world” that substance exists, and it is in our “private worlds” that we are held together.  I suspect that the “driven-ness” and noisiness of contemporary life leaves us scattered and distracted, not knowing which end is up.  The certain truth is who God says I am since He is the one who “dreamed” me up and brought me to life.  As we continue in uncertain circumstances, may we find great solidarity in the Word of God and the Jesus Way, Truth, and Life.

Week of August 17, 2020

Saturday, August 22, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

              There are many challenges before us.  What do you use to confront those challenges?  The more I talk to a variety of people the more one of those “hidden” dimensions of life surfaces – worldviews.  How we see things and what the nature of our own certainties are for the most part how we experience life.  I’ve been asking this question to many, “How does one become strong emotionally and how does one become weak emotionally?”

              When our worldview is based on how we think things should be and is rooted on the conclusions that we came to as members of our families of origin and the messages that have been prevalent in our society, then we are rooted in that which is temporary or transient.  The challenge for us as followers of Jesus is to make an unpopular decision, base our worldview on the revelation of God – the Scriptures.

              The worldview of the kingdom of God is the best and only eternal worldview that transcends time as it was given to us as “best.”  God’s way has been, is, and will always be best.  The best way to live makes us strong and centered in whatever the circumstances.  Just as the battle rages over what is truth or right, we can contribute a solidarity in a truly broken society.  Join me in living our “salt and light!”

Week of July 13, 2020

Tuesday, July 14, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

              Some have observed that a root problem in our “Judeo/Christian” society is that instead of influencing society sadly the common culture has influenced the Church.  It seems to me that just maybe the church has required so little of itself so that Christian discipleship has come to mean almost nothing.  I’m not sure how we have gotten to where we do not take the Bible seriously as an essential means of becoming followers of Jesus, but I think we are there for the most part.

              If we become satisfied with an altruistic ethic, rather then the painful process of true spiritual transformation, we not longer are true cross-bearers.  I’m afraid that we are keen on alluding to our favorite Bible verses without ever coming to grips with the depth of human experience that lies in each one.  Galatians 2:20 comes to mind, yet we have hardly entered into the substance of what it means to be “crucified with Christ…”  Have we joined him on the cross in our hearts?  Do we know how to “take up your cross and follow Him?”

              Honestly, I find it deeply disappointing that we have come to a place in which we embrace social theories above our embracing the inspired Word of God.  God has shown us how to “love one another.”  He has shown us what it is to “act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”  When we forget what we “know” we are particularly susceptible to living in a self-referenced manner which is simply rebellion against God.

Week of July 6, 2020

Wednesday, July 08, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                In light of the “revolution” that is going on around us, I uncovered a statement from David Bentley Hart that I found very helpful that you may as well:  “Violent, sudden, and calamitous revolutions, are the ones that accomplish the least.  While they may succeed at radically reordering societies, they usually cannot transform cultures.  They may excel at destroying the past, but they are generally impotent to create a future.  The revolutions that genuinely alter human reality at the deepest levels – the only real revolutions, that is to say – are those that first convert minds and wills, that reshape the imagination and reorient desire, that overthrow tyrannies within the soul.”

                The “gradual, subtle, exceedingly small and somewhat inchoate at first – like the revolution of Christianity in its first centuries – slowly introducing its vision of divine, cosmic, and human reality into the culture around it, often by deeds rather than words” is the revolution that lasts.  The task before us is to simply live out the truth of Scripture beginning with the Great Commandment…”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God will all of thy heart, soul, and mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”  Or, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is sufficient to fill the gaps that have been exposed in recent days.

                Our present culture is being held hostage by the false teachers of Critical Race Theory.  It is our challenge to know the truth that will set all men free.  As followers of Jesus may we enter others pain with listening ears and compassionate hearts and grounded in truth…not someone’s theory.

Week of June 29, 2020

Monday, June 29, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                In a world in which some are pushing for systemic change through political influence I keep wondering if it becomes anything different than any other social power movement?  The intrinsic problem of “power over” others is that it is only temporary.  Temporary until the next political movement pushes forward to regain a new foot hold.  The problem is the unredeemed nature of humankind remains the same.  See the consequence of the desert exile of Israel until the previous generation of faithlessness died off – literally.  In time the new generation would become faithless and be destined to be exiled.

                It seems to me that until humankind is changed by experiences of spiritual restoration, most change will remain political in the throes of political power.  Though some righteousness may come out of the present mayhem, I have doubt that it will last unless the source of change changes.  Unless there is a spiritual conversion of the human heart, the seed will grow up only to be strangled by the “thorns and thistles.”

                The seed of change must be sown in the soil of the kingdom of God and his righteousness for it to last.  Yet, I admit according to the revelation of God, that which we have tells me that the progression of the “progressives” will eventually lead to more tribulation.  Hope in any other manmade stripe only leads to disappointment. The ugliness of fallenness will simply raise another “savior” to whom man devotes himself only to be disappointed once again.

Week of June 22, 2020

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
 

Weekly Blog

                The world outside of us is different!  What is the world inside of you like?  The kingdom of heaven that we pray in every day as we pray like Jesus taught us to pray does not depend on what is around us, it is a matter of what is in us.  The kingdom of God is the seed that was planted in us when we “gave our lives to Christ.”  Have we cultivated that seed?  Have we watered that seed?  Has it sprouted and bloomed?

                The weakness that seems to dominate is the weakness of non-germinated seed.  God placed within us the seed that was given to us to change the world for the good not for evil.  What is the condition of your seed?  Have you given any thought to that?  Have you ever asked God to cause the seed to flourish?

                Our “religion” has settled for productivity in life instead of pushing onward to fruitfulness.  The fruit depends on the seed becoming a stalk or trunk, and the trunk producing branches (passions/talents/gifts) and the branches producing fruit.  If there is something to grasp in this it is to always make space to cultivate the “seed” in your life rhythms.  It is meant to be the priority in life.  Don’t forget that!

Week of June 15, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

                We are residing in a unique time in our lifetimes.  We choose to live in reaction or in response to the stressors that are upon us.  It seems that when we look closely at Jesus, we always find Jesus responding from the inside out.  It is in his perfect humanness that he was always ready to respond to what was before him.

            We often simply ascribe his behavior to his divinity, but in fact his responses were rooted in his continual cultivation of his relationship with the Father.  If his work was to show us the Father in flesh and blood, the challenge to embrace the “Jesus Way” stares us in the face.  Do we respond to the world we live in rooted in the Word of God or have we exchanged that Life for the common culture’s way?

            If we embrace the stressors that we are engaged in from the perspective of politics, we have given up the wholeness and holiness that remains certain under the authority of the Trinity.  “Saltiness and Light” are rooted in the personal reality of our relationship with God.  As legitimate followers of Jesus it would seem that Jesus alone ought to direct our steps, because it is in Him alone that salt and light are defined.

Week of June 1, 2020

Monday, June 01, 2020
 

Pinebrooke Weekly Blog

 

            With Pentecost now in the rearview mirror, what do we have in front of us?  This week we keep our sights on the gracious provision that God has made to us in our finite world of time and space.  We have the great mystery of the Holy Trinity set before us.  Though incomprehensible in every way, God has expressed Himself and continues to express Himself for us in intimacy and deference.  The image of the Trinity, though inconceivable is three in One.

            What we are left with is Love.  “We love because He first loved us!”  How and why God would reveal Himself in the sense of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we know not, but what we know is that He has done that to show love in its full dimensions.  He has done that for our sakes!  This is our comprehension of the Incomprehensible.

            So, what then does it matter?  It is for our sense of Mystery and Awe!  Our humanness is incomplete without mystery and awe.  Our inadequate understanding is necessary to come to grips with the truth that we are “nothing” and He is everything.  To be made “a little lower than the angels” includes this humility that sets us apart as “made in His image.”  As we pilgrim on through this week, I encourage you to do so with the spirit of mystery and awe.  Look and listen with amazement!