Saturday, December 27, 2008

Faith or just beliefs?

A living faith takes risks based on beliefs.
A living faith isn't always constrained to our strengths.
Becca Zinn, Vineyard Community Church of West Philly
 
What is God asking of you? 

I'm in this spot that I'm ready to be wild and adventurous. Actually, there's been little time in my life when I wasn't ready for adventure. Recently though, it seems the biggest adventure has been rearranging furniture just to have something different. 

I love listening to messages like the one the quote came from above. I get fired up and ready to do something. Then I just can't figure out what it is I'm supposed to do. So I wait. And that's ok because I do see God doing things. A dream here, a conversation there. Everything that is going on in life seems to have the anticipation of a burning fuse moving toward a very thrilling burst of energy - like a fireworks display.

I don't think I'm unusual though. I think God does this for every person who seeks after him. He invites us to participate in what he is doing. 

Think of the most exciting thing you have seen in action - a professional ball game, a beautiful performance of any kind, anything that you enjoyed and you know that it took lots of talented individuals working together. Now imagine the one in charge of that event inviting you to be involved in making it happen. You say you don't have the skill to help and the coordinator responds with oh, that's no problem. I'll give you the ability to do it. Anything that doesn't turn out just right, I'll fix it.

That's what God offers each of us. It is a big production intended to involve lots and lots of people - all who believe. The big finale is expected to be far greater than any of us could ever ask or imagine. Far greater than any of us could do without each other and without him.

Sound exciting? Want to prove you believe what God is capable of? Saying you believe is easy. Living your faith, well, it's a whole lot more exciting than just believing.

What is God inviting you to do? Still not sure? You are not alone. Find someone you look to as a spiritual mentor. Talk it out and have them pray with you. That's what I'm planning to do. 

Maybe it's just knocking on a neighbors door to introduce yourself. Whatever it is, let's not miss it. Make 2009 the year you go beyond believing and start living your faith. It's worth the risk.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is Faith?

Faith is not choosing to believe. Faith is accepting what God has revealed to you.

Maybe I'll write more on this later. It just seemed very significant to me this morning after waking from an intriguing dream.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dignity and Justice for All

Today is Human Rights Day. For most of us in the US, human rights seems to be an issue of the past. It is not.

You need to know...
  • Human trafficking (slavery) is the second most lucrative crime in the world - $32 billion
  • It is estimated that at least 27 million people are currently enslaved around the world - yes, some are in the USA.
  • Read more at www.love146.org 

You can help bring heaven to earth through prayer, financial support, making others aware, and whatever way God leads as you listen to him while you visit these links.
Change might start with you by simply getting to know a neighbor.



Monday, December 08, 2008

Wonderful Counselor

       For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
       Of the
increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 
~ Isaiah 9:6-7

Counselor - Even though I know this isn't true, there is something instilled in me that really wants to believe that being a Christian makes life trouble-free. That perspective comes out as "Why, Lord?" as if bad stuff isn't supposed to happen to me or to that nice neighbor or that innocent child. However, the fact that the Christ was called "counselor" indicates to me that trouble is expected. 


Increase... from that time on and forever  -  We talk a lot about expanding God's kingdom but until recently, I was under the impression that we were just kind of getting other people on board for when his kingdom comes. 

The phrase "from that time on" messes up that idea. If his kingdom isn't coming until Christ reappears, then it wouldn't need to continue to "increase," would it?

We can't see it clearly but the Kingdom of God is here. It was established when Jesus Christ humbled himself to become a man. The eternal life-giving source of the Holy Spirit was in Christ making all things new - healing, restoring dignity, uniting Jews and Gentiles. 

Jesus never intended for us to keep hanging out, just telling others to be happy until he comes back and cleans up the mess we've made. No, he said we would do even greater things than he had been doing. (John 14:12) He promised we would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes - not when Christ returns.

Go read about what Jesus "had been doing" in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Then cruise through Acts and see what happened after the believers received the Holy Spirit. Now ask yourself, "am I doing even greater things than Jesus did?" 

In today's language, we might also call Jesus our Outstanding Life Coach. Life Coaches are not cheap. It would be foolish to hire a Life Coach and not put into practice what was learned in each session.



Sunday, December 07, 2008

Lord or Concierge?



Please visit www.love146.org.

Would it make a difference if this were your child?

"See, I am doing a new thing!" (Isaiah 43.19)

The Kingdom of God has come. Is Jesus your Lord or is he your vacation concierge?

We are to carry on the work Jesus began. That is to restore the kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit given to us because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the first fruits of the new creation. The work between the first fruits and the final harvest is happening now. Are you participating in making all things new?


Vineyard Church of Columbus is hosting a seminar on human trafficking on January 24, 2009. Watch for more info to come at www.vineyardcolumbus.org 

Monday, December 01, 2008

Every Parent will enjoy "Toy Packaging"

Be sure and click for the free download of Toy Packaging. Then go buy the entire album - there is a good variety of songs beautifully done as only Sara Groves can do.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Power of Words

Last weekend's message at Vineyard Church of Columbus has been replaying in my mind. So I thought I'd share some of the statements that jumped out at me.
The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21
Our words are either building up or tearing down. Stephen Van Dop, Vineyard Church of Columbus (VCC), The Power of Words, November 22, 2008
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19
Our character is revealed as much by what we listen to as what we say. Stephen Van Dop, VCC
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. Proverbs 20:19
Gossip - words spoken with the intention to cast a shadow on the reputation of another person. Stephen Van Dop, VCC
Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 17:28
A wise person thinks before he talks - but he does eventually speak. Stephen Van Dop, VCC
A gentle answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1
A soft, quiet answer helps tone down our own anger and helps the other person tone down the volume of their anger. Stephen Van Dop, VCC
The lips of the wise spread knowledge. Proverbs 15:7
A wise person considers the impact of their words by asking 1) Is it true? 2) Does it add value to the conversation? 3) Is it kind and full of mercy? Stephen Van Dop, VCC
An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25
The entire Proverbs Series, Everything Your Parents Should Have Taught You (But Probably Didn't) has been very good. The series began September 21, 2008 with The One Thing You Need to Succeed in Life. You can listen online or download it to listen in the car.  Go to Online Sermons at www.VineyardColumbus.org.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Here and Now

"...the question of what happens to me after death is not the major, central, framing question that centuries of theological tradition have supposed.... The question ought to be, How will God's new creation come? and then, How will we humans contribute to that renewal of creation and to the fresh projects that the creator God will launch in his new world?" ~ N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

Our individualistic culture has diminished the hope of Christ. It is too easy for us to say, that doesn't affect me personally. The hope of Christ is much bigger than individual concern. If life in Christ is only about what affects me personally, why would any who follow Christ accept suffering?

To experience the hope of Christ we must quit looking at Christianity as a ticket to a plush retirement spot. The hope of Christ is about here and now. 

God did not create us as something to look at like a lifeless piece of art. He created human beings in his image. Think on that for a moment. An artist creating a piece of art that can relate to - interact with - the artist. A piece of art that - with the blessing and through the life source of the artist - can contribute to restoring his masterpiece to perfection. 

Human beings are not the only part of his masterpiece. All of creation is the masterpiece. 

I saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre several years ago. Not being an artist, my purpose was simply to say I've seen the original painting. Some time after my "been there, done that" moment at the Louvre, I learned that one of the significant elements of that painting is that it was "one of the first portraits to depict the sitter before an imaginary landscape." (www.india-crafts.com)

I missed it! I was right there, standing in front of a well protected masterpiece and I missed what the artist wanted me to see.

God is inviting us to see the beginning of something very new and different. Jesus was just the first to be fully transformed from a body that we are familiar with to a body that is like nothing we've yet experienced... but we will someday. 

Don't miss this. If you are just looking to make it to a place you've heard of as heaven, you're missing the significance of why it is seems so greatly protected. God's kingdom is here now for those who know what to look for. 

It's real and it's as physical as Jesus eating fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after his resurrection. His form may not be familiar to you but his kingdom is here. He is with us. And we have exciting work to do here and now.
Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. Luke 24:39

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cultural war and child-raising

Many Parents have become numb to the culture because they are over-saturated by it. ~ Lorie Kaufman-Rees
Rees has some good thoughts on her blog that go along with child-raising. Read the Colla Voce post titled "sitting on the couch while the cultural war rages on: why parents do not engage."

The Goal of Child-Raising

"The goal [of child-raising] is not primarily to protect our kids."
Rich Nathan, Vineyard Church of Columbus, spoke this weekend on Raising Wise Children in a Foolish World. The series, Everything Your Parents Should Have Taught You (But Probably Didn't) has been insightful and challenging. You can listen to the messages online at www.VineyardColumbus.org. This series began September 21, 2008.

Being a mother and spending a lot of time volunteering with a child-focused prayer ministry, this weeks message was particularly encouraging. Here are a few points from the message:
  • Parents are responsible for impressing God's Word on the heart's of their children - not Awana, not Upward sports, not every VBS you can get them to, not even the children's ministry at your church. These other things are good but only if they are reinforcing what is being taught at home. The parents have the primary responsibility to disciple their children - and that doesn't mean seeing that someone else does it. (Deuteronomy 6.6-7)

  • The goal of child-raising is not primarily to protect our kids. The goal is discipling and developing children who are wise. Too many of us live the Christian life in the defensive mode - wanting to protect our children and ourselves from "the world". This isn't what Jesus did. His work was to bring the kingdom of God everywhere he went. We are to carry on his work. We can't extend the kingdom if we hide from the world. We need to put on the armor and get out in the world in the name of Jesus. And, we need to be training our children to do the same. (Matthew 28.19-20)

  • Discipline is more than spanking (or any other punishment).
  •  
  • Discipline confirms love (Proverbs 3.11-12). 

  • Discipline is a two-way street. We can't force our child to learn from the discipline. The child is responsible to accept discipline.

  • Discipline begins when they are young.

  • Discipline must be individually tailored. Don't expect everything you hear or read in a popular book to work for your child. You can't even expect the discipline that works with one of your children to always work with another one of your children.
Have you ever wished there were a child-raising handbook? Well, there is. Look at Proverbs 1.4. The book was written to give "knowledge and discretion to the young." You will find in the opening of chapters two through seven and scattered throughout the entire book that Solomon is speaking these words of wisdom to his son.

Do you want to protect your child or teach them to be wise so that they can stand up to the foolishness in the world? Christian programs can give your children knowledge but only the parent or a caring one-on-one mentor can foster wisdom.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hope for Reconciliation

Follow the below link for an excellent post regarding hope and the results of the presidential election.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

a laugh and a prayer

I have a coffee mug that says "Start each day with a laugh and a prayer." My prayer wasn't going so well so I went in search of a laugh. God provided.
A magazine article said that the way to achieve inner peace is to FINISH things I have started. -- Today I finished four bags of potato chips, a cherry pie, and a small box of chocolate candy. I feel better already! Laughter from Heaven by Barbara Johnson


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Twitter

Ok, I did it. I couldn't imagine it being a good thing but I did it. It's actually kind of fun. It's like Facebook except you don't have to go to Facebook to see what everyone is up to if you use twhirl. It is also a motivator for me because I'm following someone I consider I mentor. Uh, I've never met this person but his website, blog, posts to writers groups and now his tweets have motivated me for nearly four years. 

Terry Whalin and other productive people posting on tweeter motivates me to be productive so that I can tweet about what I'm doing.

Follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/LisaBiggsCrum

Does anyone remember an old network site by the name of MySpace??? :) I'll probably close down my MySpace soon. Haven't added to it in a long time. Seems somewhat boring now. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to be a Great Cell Group Coach by Joel Comiskey

When the pastoral coordinator offered this book, I thought it was just another book on how to lead a small group. No, this one is for those who Coach or oversee small groups. Great little sidebar tips, insights, and strategies. Very practical.

Strategies include "How to Encourage Cell Leaders" and "Reasons to Ask Questions" which both give not only guide in what to do but point out the intent of each task.

The first part of the book addresses the "habits" of the Coach - things you do for the group leaders. The last part of the book looks at the issues of being a coach - authority, diagnosing problems, visiting the groups, coaching meetings, and, my favorite, the coaching stages.

I've already applied the concepts from this book as I prepared a training session for leaders in my care in a para-church organization. I'll give it a 4 1/2 out of 5 star rating and recommend it for those new to coaching or in the middle level of supervising ministry.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yippee! The Election is Over

For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted. ~ Romans 13:1-2
Throughout the campaign, I encouraged people to consider character over issues, race, or gender. This morning I read the reactions of several black Americans regarding their perspective of Obama's win and I saw something new.

As much as I don't want to admit it, Obama's race was an issue. Although I did not vote for Obama, I see the potential for his presidency to influence future generations for great good. Maybe in political issues, maybe not. More so in unifying our country. 

This campaign has opened my eyes to the racial and gender prejudices that I - as a white suburban female - was able to live without seeing. 

A friend told me recently that a white man would not allow her to draw his blood in the hospital because she was black. Another was pulled over in a white suburban neighborhood because he was black. I'd heard of stuff like that but didn't realize it was happening to friends of mine. My heart is broken not just because these things happen but because I have ignored these prejudices because they didn't seem to affect me personally.

The slams on Palin have also revealed our continued stereotyping of women.

It all comes down to this, we have to look at the Creator or whatever your perspective of how we all got here. Whether through intelligent design or a big bang, the human race is in this together. We all live and breathe and communicate with words. We all have the ability to love.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:5

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Janine Turner

Listen to the comments of this woman. Great stuff. Lots of wisdom for everyone.

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."

"America is like an Eagle. We need a right wing and a left wing to fly."

"Partisanship is poisoning America."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Political Wisdom for All Parties

Don't pervert justice.
Don't show favoritism to either the poor or the great.
Judge on the basis of what is right.
~ Leviticus 19:15

Monday, October 27, 2008

More than an abortion issue

Listen to this video with the thought of all issues these potential presidents will be facing.

"If they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." Barack Obama

Do you view having a baby as punishment? Ok, maybe sometimes it feels that way but praise God he has conceived this crazy idea of giving life so that every person can participate in His Divine Nature.

Now, let's consider say... a death of someone you love by a teenage drunk driver. The kid was just a teenager. He made a mistake. Let's not punish him for his mistake, let's just bury your loved one and act like it never happened. Oh, yes, he was underage but he was a teenage, it was a mistake. He didn't mean to get drunk. He knew it might be risky driving after being at that party. But he had to get home, he loved his parents.

Ok, foreign policy... the terrorist just have different beliefs than us. It's not their fault they were raised to believe killing thousands of people is what Allah wanted them to do.

Economy... the no money down loan was too good to pass up. The couple was trusting the loan company who said they could afford it. It's not the couple's fault. It's the loan company. The couple just made the mistake of not being realistic about what could happen when the rate went up. We can't hold them accountable. Can't blame the loan company either they were just trying to help the folks who couldn't afford to buy a house. Let's just bail everyone out with the funds of those who were wise enough to stay out of those types of transactions.

Education... so, they made the mistake of goofing off during school. Let's not punish them by withholding a high school degree.

You fill in the scenario for the issues important to you.

What character traits do you want leading our country?

I believe John McCain has the experience to get things done and the heart to seek the good for all people. He has chosen a running mate who agrees with his views and has the courage to push him in the right direction when his life in politics pushes him away from his views of doing what is right for all people.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Getting Political - Go Sarah!

I am not promoting Sarah Palin because she is a woman. I'm promoting Sarah Palin because I believe she is a leader who can take this country in the direction it needs to go.



Visit www.teamsarah.org. View the videos regarding who she is. Watch some truths that have come out because of "Joe the Plumber".

Also watch Janine Turner interview on Fox.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brenda Salter McNeil

Powerful message by a dynamic woman.

Monday, October 20, 2008

By Him and For Him


       Rejoice.
Rejoice not so much in victories as in the fact that I am leading.
       Praise Me.
Not so much for My blessings as for My love that prompts them.
       Serve Me with gladness,
not for the ultimate nor present reward,
       but for the thrill of knowing that we labor together;
that I stand beside you in every enterprise, however trivial.
~ Frances J. Roberts Come Away My Beloved
This is where I’m trying to get to. In this thought is the "everything" that God asks of me. In this thought is the “nothing” that God requires of me for the thrill of participating with him.

Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. 2 Peter 1:3 (The Message)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Financial Crisis?

Today's post is inspired by Julia Pickerill's blog, Adventures of the Pickerill Family.

Take a quick visit to this site http://www.globalrichlist.com/ plug in your income. If you're retired or unemployed, plug in what you are living on right now. Then ask yourself how bad off are you really.
You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both. ~ Matthew 6:24 (MSG)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Master Plan of Evangelism

"Evangelism is not an optional accessory to our life. It is the heartbeat of all that we are called to be and do. ...With this purpose clearly in focus, everything which is done and said has glorious fulfillment of God's redemptive purpose...." ~ Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism

The Master Plan of Evangelism has been an interesting book. At first, I was skeptical because the author seems to say "Jesus came only to show his disciples how to evangelize. That's all there is to it and there is no other way of seeing it." I don't generally continue reading books written in that tone. However, the book was a class assignment. So I read on.

It took five chapters before I began to let down my guard and see that Coleman has some good points. Although I'm not convinced that his perspective of this being the only intention of Jesus, the concepts for growing others through mentoring relationships are appropriate whether you are training someone for ministry, marketplace, or your favorite hobby.

The difference is summed up in the above quote. For the Christ follower, passing along our experience is not an option.

The class facilitator offered this encouragement, we don't have to know a lot, we need only pass on what we do know. That knowledge comes from spending time in the presence of God. Passing it on happens by intentionally being involved in the life of the one(s) being "trained."

I would recommend this book for a leader who struggles with the important task of preparing someone to step into her role. Also for the Christ follower who needs guidance in the command of Christ to "go and make disciples." You can skip the three pages of "Words of Commendation", the "Forward," "Introduction," and "Preface." They seem to be a bit boastful which didn't help my skepticism.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Good News of Jesus Christ

It’s heartbreaking that the Good News of Jesus Christ is so often reduced to answering a question about where we’d go if we died today. Our Lord was resurrected from the dead! He is about life, not death.
~ Colin J. Tuggle Living in His Grip

The above quote is taken from an article posted under Empowered Life Testimonies at the Vineyard Church of Columbus website . I encourage you to read it. If you don't have time for all of it, skim the entire article paying closer attention to page 5 "A Community Experience" and page 10 "Living in the Present Reality of God’s Kingdom."

If the links above don't work, copy and paste this URL into your browers address bar:
http://www.vineyardcolumbus.org/resources/sermons/Living_in_His_Grip_the_Healing_of_Lisa_Tuggle.pdf

Monday, October 06, 2008

Prayer Request?

request |ri╦łkwest|(noun) an act of asking politely or formally for something

When you ask a friend for something, do you get upset or offended if they say “no”? My kids have heard me say many times, if you aren’t willing to accept a “no”, then you aren’t really asking, you’re demanding and that is disrespectful.

Maybe you are the type who has a hard time saying “no”. If so, you most likely have a hard time understanding why anyone else would say “no” to your request... including God.

Evelyn Christenson in What Happens When Women Pray offers this advice to those putting together prayer requests for a group, “When they ask you to pray that such and such will happen, tell them kindly, ‘We do not pray answers, we pray requests.’”

Somehow are western Christian culture has made prayer something like a government social services office. We think we have to fill out all the right forms for what we want then we just wait to see if it gets approved. If it doesn’t then we blame the system.

Our God is a caring Father. There are no forms, no please take a number, no red tape. Prayer is simply a conversation with a loving daddy who always wants what is absolutely best for us. And, contrary to the way some pray, he is able and willing to do far more than we can even ask or imagine because his ways are higher than our ways. He sees more than we see. He knows more than we know.

When my kids ask something of me, I want to give them what’s best for them. Sometimes I have a different perspective and can meet their needs and even their seemingly selfish desires in ways that they would never have thought of. This is much easier to do when they come to me with the desire of their heart and then allow me to share my heart for them regarding that desire. If they come to me demanding their request be met only as they see it, they are very likely to be disappointed.

Our requests to God offer the same opportunity. When you are making a request of God, remember that he sees the bigger picture. The boss that irritates you, the financial situation you are in, the illness you’ve struggled with for years, God is fully aware of all of it and he truly cares. He wants to share his heart on the subject.

Instead of offering God the solution to your problems, seek his heart. I guarantee you will find a peace that is beyond explanation when your prayers are focused more on his heart’s desire than yours.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Suffering with Christ

The values of the Prayer of Suffering are legion. To begin with, it saves us from a superficial triumphalism. Perhaps you have had the experience of hearing someone talk about faith and confidence and victory. In one sense all the words are right, and the stories certainly sound good, but somehow something does not ring quite true. The problem is that you are listening to someone who is living on the fluff side of faith, someone who has not been baptized into the sacrament of suffering. (Richard Foster, Prayer - Finding the Heart's True Home)
In his article, Rummaging for God (America, May 14, 1994) Dennis Hamm proposes a way of practicing St. Ignatius' Examen of Conscience which puts emphasis on feelings rather than our actions. This perspective leads the way to the Prayer of Suffering.

Hamm suggests that we pay attention to feelings that surface as we review the day in the Examen of Conscience. Then pray from one of those feelings - positive or negative. When we pray from our feelings, we will begin to better understand the suffering of Christ. 

Consider Christ's plea in the Garden the night before his crucifixion. As we look at the joy of God's provision we can begin to understand Christ's plea in the Garden to let the cup pass. Was that "cup" physical suffering or was it being separated from the presence of God? Either way, Jesus knew the pleasantness of the Father's love and he desired to obey regardless of the suffering for the glory of the Father.

In joy filled times or in the painful times, Jesus knew that the Father's plan was not just for him. Jesus knew that the Creator was in full control of his creation and therefore could be trusted with every detail. Faith? Confidence? Victory? Absolutely, but Jesus also knew that victory comes after a battle.

Our battles are not just about us and certainly not about us being comfortable. That would be as sensible as my kids getting hurt in the midst of fighting over a comfortable chair. The victory in our suffering is far greater than personal comfort.

Cry out to God from your feelings and you will discover an intimacy with God that will take you beyond the fluff of Christianity our western culture has so mistakenly presented to the world.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. Philippians 3:10
 

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Shepherd Looks Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller


The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character?
Does He have adequate credentials
to be my Shepherd—my manager—my owner?
~ W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23


Every person who claims to know the 23rd Psalm should read this 173 book. Find out what it really means for a sheep to lie down in green pastures. Discover what the “table” in the presence of enemies refers to for the shepherd.

Never again will I speak a phrase of the 23rd Psalm without thinking of the pictures planted in my mind by this little book. It has given me a feeling of truly being loved and cared for by the Lord, my Shepherd, in the midst of his flock.

Learn the depth of meaning of this so often quoted Psalm from the experience of a shepherd.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leadership's Pure Joy

Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.

~ James 1:4 (Context James 1:2-8)


God seemed to have set the stage. I was the only one who could attend the meeting with the women’s ministry pastor. This is good, I thought. This will make it easier to explain my situation.

My heart was thumping boldly in my chest, my palms a little clammy and my breathing a bit shaky. After an exchange of greetings and small talk, I took a deep breath and forged ahead, “I need some wise counsel.” She smiled, raised an eyebrow and sat back with a little chuckle at her own joke. As she quietly listened, I shared my irritations fully expecting her to agree that our church should not promote an organization that does such things.

Instead, there was silence. Time seemed to stand still. Then, with that same gentle smile, she spoke. I felt the prick of what I knew was intended to be discipline and encouragement. With the patience of a mom guiding a toddler’s steps, she related the importance of perseverance and working together for the common good even when we don’t fully agree on every issue. Knowing my passion, she asked a few simple questions. “Do you still agree with the vision and mission of the ministry? Do the differences out weigh God’s purpose? Does this issue make it impossible for you to work with other leaders in the ministry?” She knew my answers.

Shifting in my seat and looking for another way out, I waded in further with “maybe I just need to step out of leadership for awhile.” That’s really what I was looking for. I was tired and feeling overwhelmed. My aggravations were simply providing the scapegoat.

An even bigger smile came on her face. For the next few moments I listened as she explained God’s work does not include a vacation plan. He may at times guide us to different areas of ministry but there is no scripture that indicates quitting as an option. Perseverance, she reminded me, is the choice of the one who has given all of their life to Christ.

I left her office with only a half-grin on my face, hanging my head, not sure whether I was defeated or inspired. “I’ll pray about it,” I promised as I exited the privacy of her generally cozy office. By the time I walked a few steps down the narrow isle between rows of cubicles, I knew she was speaking God’s truth to me and for me. I didn’t know how I would resume my role, but I knew perseverance was the route to go.

It’s been just a few months since that day and I am realizing that perseverance is not easy. And, it is very humbling when I have impudently voiced my opinions to the overseers of my work. At nearly 44 years old, I feel like a teenager who is learning a great deal from her discipline.

Bailing out would have been the easier path. And, I had good reason to do so, I thought. But my faith is not in the ministry leaders at a headquarters far away. My faith is in God who is right here with me. It is his work. I have gained wisdom and a few steps toward maturity because I am persevering. I’m not winning any disagreements. I’ve actually quieted down in my work. I’m learning perseverance is easier and the work more glorifying to God without a lot of noise from me.

Here's a few questions to help you determine who your faith is in.
  • Are you one who bails out or perseveres at the trials of ministry?

  • Do you spend time trying to convince other leaders that you are right and others are wrong?

  • Is your perspective as important to God as it is to you?

Now the big question. Are you willing quit running away and give up the fight for the sake of His purposes?

Perseverance is not comfortable but it is the only way to maturity in Christ and for that reason, you can consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.

Lord Jesus, you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Thank you for giving wisdom generously, without finding fault. In those times of trials and testing, with our eyes fully on you, may we never doubt your guidance. Perfect our faith, O Lord, for the sake of your name.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Abortion, Freedom, and the Justice System

This post is a response to a Facebook forum discussion titled "Pro-Choice doesn't necessarily mean Pro-Abortion". You can read the posts at http://apps.new.facebook.com/blognetworks/.

After stating her personal conviction against abortion, the initial post stated, "I also believe in the sacrosanct right of Choice that the Good Lord has give each one of us when He gave us FREE WILL."

I agree that "pro-life" and "pro-choice" have become labels placing people on different sides of politics that may not be complete opposites. But freedom of choice from God is not political.

According to her argument, we should have the choice to drive in any way we desire, murder anyone we want, live absolutely self-absorbed lives without consequences from a system of government. God certainly gives us that kind of freedom of choice. And, I believe based on my personal experience and understanding of scripture, his justice system determines consequences now and for eternity at a level untouchable by human law.

The argument at hand is whether abortion should be legal. In much the same way as running a traffic light brings legal consequences, the question is whether we believe doctors should have no stop light in their practice of life and death.

The blogger states, "Freedom of choice is what gives us dignity and the possibility of earning merit as human beings. However, if there is nothing to choose on the plate, what good is power of choice for? We end up being like a bunch of sheep, each blindly following the tail of the one ahead! We become like mindless robots."

Interesting choice of words. I'm not going to be too rough on her because I know I have certainly made statements that sounded much different than I intended. But I will respond to these statements as they are worded.

Dignity does not come from having the freedom of choice. Dignity comes from what we do with that freedom. We do not earn merit as human beings, we are of great value and worth simply because we are human beings created by God out of his desire and love. My guess is that the blogger would agree with me if we were able to sit and discuss our statements in length.

Her indication that taking away the legal right to choose abortion is taking away our freedom of choice is a bit of a stretch. We obviously have choice in everything we do. I tell my kids I cannot make them do anything but I can provide the consequences for the action. This is the same for our legal system. Our prisons are full because people have a choice.

Her reference to sheep made me smile. That's really what it all comes down to. Who is our shepherd? I'll save that tangent for another blog. But for now, it's important to remember that our government is not our shepherd.

Whatever you believe on issues of abortion, war, health care, etc., our government should follow the desires of the people. That's democracy. That's the freedom our military men and women have fought for. Our government should never dictate the law based only on the louder voice nor on the government leaders' conscience of right and wrong. That is not democracy.

Our responsibility as citizens is to steer our governing representatives toward a life that is beneficial to all. United we stand, divided we fall. With reason and compassion for the common goal of unity, we should get to know our neighbors. Seeking first to listen, then be understood (I forget who said that) so that we bring about an existence that is best for everyone rather than preferred by some for a term of four years.

Those who want the best for all are spread throughout the political gamut and every segment of religious thought but we have to listen to each other far deeper than political "issues."

Our countries civil war should have destroyed all labels. Unfortunately, it seems we get rid of one set of labels only to move to another set which continues to divide and weaken rather than strengthening as unity would.

Imagine the country, the world, the life, we would have if everyone considered others better than themselves; if we quit trying to be equal to God and made ourselves nothing; if we woke up every morning with the desire to serve our neighbor, our co-worker, and even the strangers in our path. With that mindset, we do not become doormats. We become united in faith creating a world that is best for all of us. We extend the boundaries of heaven implementing His will on earth even as it is in heaven.

Let's get rid of labels and seek to be recognized as one nation where we act on our belief that all men (and women) are created equal. Whoever is elected, let's be united for the good of all. Instead of voicing complaints, voice solutions to your most available government leader along with discussing those solutions with your neighbors out of appreciation for the democracy we are blessed to have. Amazing things happen when we work together for the common good even at the most unseen levels of community.

You do have a choice regardless of any man-made laws. Labels, political parties, none of that really matters. The question is whose justice system do rely on for life?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Prayer Makes a Difference!

Prayer is not a monologue. Prayer is not a wish list. Prayer is a conversation with the Creator, seeking His heart. When we agree with his heart, he releases his power for us to experience tangibly.

Learn to pray effectively for your children. Visit www.MomsinTouch.org

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mercy and Goodness

"The only real, practical measure for the goodness and mercy of God to me is the extent to which I am, in turn, prepared to show goodness and mercy to others.... It is this lack of love among Christians which today makes the church an insipid, lukewarm institution.... But men and women who know firsthand about the goodness and mercy of God in their own lives will be warm and affectionate with goodness and mercy to others. This is to be a benefit to them, but equally important, it is to be a blessing to God.... Nothing pleased me more than to see my flock flourish and prosper.... It was a reward for my efforts and energy.... Most of us forget that our Shepherd is looking for some satisfaction as well." (W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, pp 162-163)

Some time ago, I sensed God was telling me to be more vulnerable; to open up and share more about me with others. I took that idea and rammed my way through many opportunities.

When my attempt to be open and vulnerable was met with rejection, I chose to bolt. I thought I was "shaking the dust off my feet" (Matthew 10:14). Seems God is clarifying his instructions these days.

It's neither my weaknesses nor my knowledge he's asking me to share. It is his goodness and mercy. Not just in word, but more significantly by passing it on the way I've experienced it from him.

I've said and done some stupid things but God has always shown mercy to me. I have seldom shown mercy to those who have said or done things that hurt or discouraged me.

The place I have seen mercy lived out most is in the prison. Through Kairos Prison Ministry, God introduced me to women who recognize the goodness and mercy of God in their own lives. They are warm and affectionate, offering goodness and mercy to others in a very hostile environment. Seeing that warmth and affection in a 30 year old woman imprisoned since age 16 for multiple murders, causes me to question my response to God's mercy and goodness.

I continue to be amazed at His patience with me. There are many scriptures I can quote and even teach passionately. Today, I'm reminded it is more important to put into practice the knowledge he has given me out of his mercy and goodness. I'd save myself a lot of embarrassment and frustration, not to mention the satisfying smile I could bring to my Shepherd's face.

The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. ~Luke 6:49

God of wonders big and small, I am sorry for not showing my appreciation for your goodness and mercy. Please forgive me. Give me opportunities today to show goodness and mercy to those I encounter - whether it be a reckless motorist, a whiny child, or an intentionally hurtful acquaintance. You are my Shepherd. You calm me, care for me, and provide everything I need. May I look to you when I'm attacked by another sheep or from an outside predator. Your rod and your staff are my protection. I will trust in you.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prayer - Who's Talking?

Richard Foster in Prayer, Finding the Heart's True Home writes:

"Prayer takes place in the middle voice," writes Eugene Peterson. In grammar the active voice is when we take action, and the passive voice is when we receive the action of another, but in the middle voice we both act and are acted upon. We participate in the formation of the action and reap the benefits of it. "We neither manipulate God (active voice) or are manipulated by God (passive voice). We are involved in the action and participate in its results but do not control or define it (middle voice)."

Prayer fascinates me. We, the created, are able to communicate with the Creator! The significance of that is rarely considered when we enter into prayer with a group.

Here’s another quote from Foster’s chapter on The Prayer of Rest.

P. T. Forsyth writes, “When we speak to God it is really the God who lives in us speaking through us to himself… The dialogue of grace is really the monologue of the diving nature in self-communing love.” How incredible!

I agree – how incredible!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sweetness of Knowledge

Knowledge without love is like cocoa without sugar.

If knowledge is intended to be a medicine for healing and correcting,
a spoonful of love helps the medicine go down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love Like God

Love teaches us to reorder our desire to that which gives life
and away from that which brings death. ~ Don Sizemore, LCSW Interweave


God calls us to love others but we don't have to like them. Have you heard that statement? I’ve never really understood it.

If I don't like someone, it's very hard – if not impossible - to love that person. Did God create people and say, Oh man, I don't like him but I'll love him enough to send my son to die for him?

The like or dislike I have for someone or something has a lot to do with my personal desires. I want people to act or respond in a way that is desirable to me. If they don’t, I don’t like being around them. God’s love is not like that. Some of you are reading this and saying another one of my pet peeve phrases: love the sinner, hate the sin.

If I truly love "the sinner," and I sincerely believe the wages of sin is death, what am I doing for that person to give him life? If my sin ("everything that does not come from faith is sin" ~ Romans 14:23) were hated by someone who loved me, what would I expect them to do to keep me from receiving the wages I've earned?

Genesis mentions two trees in the Garden of Eden. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other was the tree of Life. Love is teaching me to be quick to listen and slow to speak because the sweetness of life is a lot more desirable than cold, hard knowledge.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:22-24

Sunday, July 20, 2008

God Likes Me and You

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Psalm 18:19
de·light (noun) - to have great pleasure

Think of someone who gives you a sense of delight. That's how God feels about you! Isn't that cool?

My daughter asked me recently if I would rather have children or not have children. This was a good day so I think it was out of her contemplating whether she wanted to be a parent - not out of "mommy, do you wish I weren't here."

I easily and quickly responded I would rather have children. There is a love and a delight in being a parent that far outweighs the frustrations and the grief. I don't enjoy having to discipline them when they have willfully disobeyed. But I do enjoy watching them learn and grow and develop into the person God desires them to be.

The greatest delight is when my children are enjoying each others friendship. Hmm, I wonder if that is God's greatest delight too.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Name Sake and Fire Insurance

For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Psalm 25:11

Maybe it was just my self-centered perspective, but I'm pretty sure I was led to believe that I needed God's forgiveness for my sake. You know, the fire insurance that keeps me from going to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The problem with that, my sake is not much of a sake to live for. Meaningful life, life to get excited about, must have a sake beyond me. Otherwise, it would not have mattered if I never came into existence.

In seeking God’s forgiveness for my sake, I don’t recognize how my sin – the self-guided actions against God’s intentions for me – affects the one who created me and all the world around me.

For the past 19 years I’ve been enjoying a personal relationship with Christ. When my self-centeredness kicks in, I’ve found it’s much easier to live in relationship with Christ than to live with fire insurance.

With insurance I have to make sure my policy is up to date. I have to follow all the details to be sure I receive the benefits when I need them. Living with Christ, I don’t need insurance. I have his assurance that he is with me always. He’s not an agent who shows up to settle a claim on a policy covering the things I own.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24: 1-2

I don’t own anything – not even myself. I’m a dependent on Jesus' plan.

When I seek forgiveness for my sake, I tend to just dump all the “bad” stuff I’ve done in one bucket asking God to get rid of it like a bag of garbage. Oh sure, I say “I’m sorry” but what I really mean is “ok, take this stuff away so my insurance will be effective.”

When I seek forgiveness for his sake, the experience is far different. Over the past few months God and I have been sorting through those bags of garbage. Yes, he took them from me for my sake but he’s been holding them for his sake.

I’m seeing now how my sins affected him more than me. I’m no longer sorry because of the risk of going to Hell. I'm sorry because I sense the pain of hurting one who loves me. I also experience a true restoration in a relationship with the one who desires to give me all the benefits of life right now for the sake of his name.

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. Philippians 2:9

My name may be engraved on a tombstone some day. His name lives on forever. I like living for the sake of his name, not mine.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hope

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. ~Psalm 62:5(NRSV)

I am convinced more and more that faith, hope, and love are not things we can produce within us. As the Psalm above says "hope is from him."

As much as I would like to spend hours upon hours trying to figure out the mysteries of life so that I may find, possess, and explain hope, I cannot.

"The message of hope..." writes Thomas Merton, "is not that you need to find your way through the jungle of language and problems that today surround God: but that...God loves you, is present in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you, and offers you an understanding and light which are like nothing you ever found in books or heard in sermons." (Richard Foster, Prayer, p 160)

It is freeing to recognize that hope cannot be found in books or words of the greatest preachers. I can give the reason for my hope, but I cannot give you hope. Hope is an experience far greater than an intellectual conclusion reasoned out by facts.

Look again at the "message of hope" in the quote above. What joy, peace, and comfort to know that whatever is going on in my life, God the Creator of everything loves me. He is present in me. I am his place of residence. He, the Creator of everything, speaks to me! He keeps me for himself - he doesn't toss me aside as meaningless. I am a valuable piece in his collection. He offers me understanding that is beyond my ability to give to anyone else. He requires nothing of me to make this hope exist. And the experience comes simply from being open to him.

Hope is not about what God does for me now or in the future. Nor is it about what I must do to acquire peace or the treasures of life. It's all about who he is - the relationship he initiates and desires to have in me.

He alone fills me with hope right now. His hope sustains me throughout the day.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. ~Psalm 37:7

Oh Lord, you are my everything. May the experience of hope you give me motivate my thoughts, actions, and words today.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Night and Day

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

Formless and empty.

I held out my hand to try to imagine "nothing". That which was in my empty hand had no form.

Yet there was darkness - nothingness - and there was also the Spirit of God in the midst of that darkness and emptiness.

Indistinguishable?

And God said, Let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good and he separated that light from darkness. God called the light day and the darkness he called night." Genesis 1:3-5

And here God provided the way for us to see him - before man existed, before the sun and moon were placed in the sky.

The Spirit of God was now distinguishable from emptiness - as clear as night and day.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thoughts and Beliefs


We must assess our thoughts and beliefs
and reckon whether they are moving us closer to conformity to Christ
or farther away from it.
~ John Ortberg


Do you believe what you think you believe? Seems that I argue about what I want to believe. I live out naturally, with love, what I sincerely believe. Funny how love keeps me from intentionally offending or becoming defensive.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Everything and Nothing


Lord, what do you want from me?

Have you ever asked God a question not really expecting an answer - at least not right away? My question was sincere. I ask it quite often and generally expect God to reveal things to me in a very slow process, one step at a time. This day was different.

Everything and nothing, was the response I heard. Everything and nothing? What does that mean?

I don’t have a complete understanding yet. But here’s where I’m at so far.

Everything
complete surrender and submission,
full and consistent dependence with every breath;
body, mind, and spirit given to God for his good purposes

Nothing
none of what I do will be by my own human strength;
it’s not my efforts if I’m dependent completely on God’s divine power.


To be fully human and one with God – this is the gift God offers. Jesus provided the way and showed us how to give everything and nothing.


Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who… made himself nothing. ~ Philippians 2:5-7


Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. ~ John 5:19



Monday, July 07, 2008

Changing the Face of Hunger by Tony Hall

“Thousands of severely malnourished Ethiopians had made their way to Alamata and surrounded the compound, hoping for food and medical treatment…. ‘I have to pick six or seven kids that we can save…' Most of the rest of the starving would die within days.”

The reality of this picture will either cause you to read on or give you the desire to set the book aside and ignore the truth of what is happening outside of your comfortable life.

Tony Hall, a political leader and man of faith, describes his experiences with the poor and hungry around the world. He also offers hope and encouragement of how we can all work together regardless of differences in politics and faith to feed the hungry.

Hall also shares his successes of finding common ground with enemies of the US to get food into their countries and over borders to those starving. “Jesus teaches us to feed hungry people – even our enemies.” Hall says, “I believe that’s also good foreign policy.” Many bags of food are stamped in the local language with “Donated by the people of the United States.” This impacts hungry children and parents who have been taught that the US is an evil enemy.

While in Calcutta, Hall commented on the problems of the world being so vast and asked Mother Teresa how we could possibly hope to solve them all. To which she responded “You do the thing that’s in front of you.” This lesson carries throughout the book and made a big impact on me.

The experiences shared are not only in foreign countries. Hall reveals that poverty and hunger – although not usually to the point of starvation – is very much an issue in the US. The encouragement comes from his perspective of American’s response to New Orleans after Katrina.

Hall points out that the poor are often unseen in our cities. “…to see children falling asleep in class because they don’t eat well, to see parents and children living on the street, you have to go look for them.” But when they are discovered, as in the aftermath of Katrina, American’s respond with compassion. “When you … connect with them and educate them and they see the problems themselves – they don’t turn their backs… We are a compassionate people, a giving people.”

After sharing two decades of experiences around the world, Hall reminds us that none of us has to solve every problem. We just have to do the thing that’s in front of us. “That’s all we have to do to wage an effective fight against hunger and poverty and oppression around the world – do what’s in front of us.”

This is not just a book to open your eyes. It is a call to action. The Appendix offers a brief summary and contact information for two dozen national and international organizations fighting poverty and hunger. Whether it is responding to a friend or neighbor in need, contributing financially to one of these organizations or packing up and working with an organization away from home, together we can change the world.

Some 11.1 million people in the USA, including 430 thousand children, live in homes which experience hunger. Every day, almost 16,000 children die around the world from hunger-related causes—that’s one child every five seconds. (http://www.bread.org/)

What will you do to Change the Face of Hunger?


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Community in Christ


“My brother is rather that other person who has been redeemed by Christ, delivered from his sin, and called to faith and eternal life. Not what a man is in himself as a Christian, his spirituality and piety, constitutes the basis of our community. What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 25)


May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Suffering

Question and scripture references from The Way of Agape by Chuck & Nancy Missler p.33

Why does God allow trials in our lives?
Read: Deuteronomy 8:2-3; Psalm 107:25-28; Acts 14:19-22

If the Kingdom of God is not here and active now, Paul’s statement “we must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” would not make a lot of sense. If “salvation” means believing Christ died then sitting comfortably waiting for the transit system to the Kingdom, then hardships and suffering would be a cruel punishment. God is not cruel.

There are two kingdoms present and active. The kingdom of Satan is fighting to keep the Kingdom of God from being built up.

Sometimes God leads us into a desert to make us hungry for him. Sometimes God afflicts us to remind us we are not strong enough in ourselves to live without him.

Sometimes Satan sends the attacks against us as part of the war of the kingdoms. He will always fight our efforts which are intended to benefit others and build up the Kingdom of God. Therefore, our source of strength and our battle plans must be from the stronger power – God.

God does not leave us at these times. He is with us offering his peace, comfort, and strength to get back up when we’ve been wounded in the war of the kingdoms.

I’ve experienced all three of these examples of suffering. Sometimes I’ve turned away from God in anger. Sometimes I’ve been so weak in my hungry for truth, I’ve almost given up searching for him. God has always been faithful. He has comforted me in my times of grief and shown me that He is all I need. He has opened my eyes to my attempts to be judge and ruler over my life. And he has strengthened me when I’ve been wounded in the battle.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rejection

If you’re not rejected at least three times a week, you’re not really trying.

I have the above quote tacked on a cork board in my office. It came from something intended to encourage writers. It caught my eye recently as I was sitting with God pondering the unusual amount of rejection I’ve encountered regarding my perspective of life and God.

Writing is basically sharing what we see, either as witness to facts or our imagination. According to Acts 1:8, after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be witnesses of Jesus.

We know not everyone is going to want to hear our ideas of Jesus. Scripture is clear that we will be persecuted and rejected. For most of us in the western culture, we assume that means those in foreign countries who are not free to worship as we do. Or maybe it refers to the minor blows to our ego or finances that occur in this country.

The rejection I’ve encountered over the past 2 ½ years has come from Christian leaders. It drives me to deeper questions of what it means to be a Christian and more specifically, a Christian leader.

I love William Young’s dialogue between God and the main character in The Shack. I don’t remember which person of the Trinity Mack was talking to but God basically says “Jesus is not a Christian.” It seems many who claim to have a Christian faith are trying to be “Christian” more than submitting to Christ. I’ve been guilty of this myself.

Looking back at the interesting confrontations of the past couple years, I’ve discovered that my attempts to be fully submitted to Christ causes friction with some Christians – or should I say “religious leaders.” Funny, that’s who gave Jesus the most trouble too.

In John 15:7, Jesus says “if they persectued me, they will persecute you.” So, as a follower of Christ, if I’m not rejected by religious leaders regularly, I’m not really trying. Well now, that makes rejection sound quite positive!

This post is intended to encourage those experiencing rejection from well meaning Christian leaders. It is not meant to condemn those doing the rejecting. Those who have rejected my ideas have not questioned my relationship with Christ. None of us fully understand yet and I just happen to be one that likes to explore the unknown. Therefore, being a Christian is not defined by what I do, it is defined by who is in me. Romans 8:9 “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Whether you are rejecting others ideas or being rejected, remember this:

The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Shack by William Young

This was one of the most thought provoking novels I’ve read. It did not give me new concepts of God as much as it put words to the concepts I have so often tried to express. Now I see why I am so quickly misunderstood.

I’d love to do my own in-depth review but since there is enough out there, I’ll just comment on a few reviews I read.

One online reviewer stated, “There are other teachings about the Trinity that concerned me. For example, Papa says ‘I am truly human, in Jesus.’ This simply cannot be true… this is not taught in the Bible. Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity.

I strongly disagree. I believe this perspective is visible in the Bible. However, I would agree that it is not taught in most western churches.

These same churches will tell you that God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is One and we worship only One God. Therefore, why would it be incorrect to state that God (the Father) is truly human in Jesus? If they are distinctly separate, then we worship three gods.

The reviewer also disagreed with Young’s perspective of submission which I discussed with my husband shortly after reading the book. The Greek term translated as submission refers to "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

Our western culture prefers to apply the military slant which is "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". Interestingly, this is where the Jewish leaders parted ways with Jesus. They wanted the Messiah to bring military submission. Jesus instead brought an attitude of giving in (considering others better than yourself), cooperating (being one Body), assuming responsibility (different workings for the common good) and carrying a burden (Jesus carried our burden and also the burden of God).

Jesus prayed in John 17 that those who believe in Him will be one as He and the Father are one. The only way to accomplish this is through all believers submitting with the attitude of Christ found in Philippians 2. Jesus is in very nature God – but he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Why? I think there is a lot more to that statement than Jesus didn’t fight God’s will.

From my perspective, it has more to do with relationship. Jesus knew that as God in very nature, he didn’t have to prove himself. He chose to limit himself to human nature. He chose to rely on God the Father. And, God the Father equally relied on Jesus to do what only he could do in the flesh. The Holy Spirit was the significant link between the two. William Young does an outstanding job of picturing this relationship. I love his portrayal of the Holy Spirit and the mystery with that character.

My challenge to you is to read this book with a sense of adventure. Be willing to look at truth from a different perspective. I’m not asking you to change your perspective or turn from truth. Simply suggesting you allow the gift of fiction writing to broaden your perspective of a God who is far too big for any of us to fully understand.

If you are one who has a negative response to The Shack, I challenge you to use the same measure of judgment on your own perspective of truth. Do you believe what you believe because the Holy Spirit taught you or because a fully human person with a Christian label influenced your thinking? Scripture is God’s Word. The Holy Spirit is to be our counselor of that Word.

Here are a couple of good posts on The Shack:

Crosswalk - A Gentle Balance to the "Shack Attack" by David Burchett

LifeStream blog - Is THE SHACK Heresy? by Wayne Jacobson

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 


Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
Email LisaCrum@Grow2Sow.org for reprint permission