Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Energized   Leave a comment

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Have you participated in an event which causes you to feel energized by the end?  Recently I have been attending worship at a local church where this feeling occurs every time.  I enjoy the worship experience and find a great connection with the Spirit each time I attend.  There is a genuine sense of love and a high level of energy.  People of all ages gather and truly worship because they feel a connection.  The focus is on worshiping the Lord.

Another truly wonderful aspect is that I look forward to going to worship.  I know that no matter how challenging my week has been, I have an opportunity to focus on my faith and find fellowship.  The people whom I am with provide energy for me.  They share with one another and support one another in an uplifting manner.

Unfortunately, I am sure all of us have been in situations within the church where the opposite occurs.  I have attended worship in some churches where I walk away feeling drained.  The atmosphere, the worship style, and the people’s attitude extracts energy.  This has nothing to do with the style of music, the volume of music, the pastor’s style, or how liturgical the worship.  It is all about the feeling and attitude of those who are worshiping.

My hope for all of you are that you have the opportunity to participate in an event that provides energy to you.  I know that I am grateful to find this church and this worship experience.

A Safe Place   1 comment

safeplaceOne of the most difficult things to create in today’s world is a safe place for people.  This would be a place where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or attack.  This would be a place where acceptance of the individual would be paramount in spite of disagreements of philosophies and opinions.  This would be a place where discussion and learning could take place without devaluing the person.  This place seems so opposite of the polarizing nature of the world around us.

The world around us is convinced that sides must be taken and labels must be applied to everyone in every situation.  There is very little space for any moderate approach to life.  Everyone is forced into one camp or the opposite camp and with those camps come all the assumptions and stereotypes.  This approach creates a world where conflicts are the norm and judgments of others is the rule.  You are either Republican or Democrat.  You are either liberal or conservative.  You are either pro-life or pro-choice.  You are either anti-gun or pro-gun.  You are either anti-gay or pro-gay.  The either/or dynamic is the only option provided in society.

What if there was a place where labels did not matter?  What if there was a place where differing views could calmly co-exist?  What if there was a place where there was neither liberal or conservative?  What if there was a place where there was neither pro- or anti-?  What if there was a place where there is neither Greek or Jew?  What if there was a place where there was neither slave or free?  What if there was a place where there was neither man or woman?  What if there was a place where difference in people’s views or opinions did not separate them as a people?  Wait a minute……. sounds like what the Church was intended to be.

Not An Island   Leave a comment

Yesterday was filled with the unexpected.  I had no idea when I awoke in the morning that I would receive a phone call from the care facility where my Dad lives which led to him being taken to the emergency room of the local hospital.  This would lead to multiple conversations with my sister and an eventual trip up to the hospital where Dad would be transferred.  A day of sitting around the hospital with much concern would lead to a return trip home with the assurance that all is well for now.  Of course, none of this would have gone as well as it did without the love, support, and prayers of friends, family, and colleagues.  Knowing that there were many saying prayers and offering words of hope and encouragement was the rock upon which I stood.  Having my best friend from high school sit with us at the hospital added even more support.

Yesterday reminded me once again of the familiar line found in the poem entitled Meditation XVII by John Donne, an English poet, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;“.  I am very grateful that I am not an island.  Having others to whom I am connected is what brings stability to my life.  I need the love, support, and prayers of other people not only during crisis situations but through the everyday situations of life.  There is great value in our connectedness.  Often, we just have to remember to reach out to others and make them aware of what we are dealing with in our lives.  Then we need to be willing to accept the support which they offer.

Thank you to all who are my support!

Shades of Grey   Leave a comment

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I had a conversation yesterday afternoon with a colleague.  We were discussing different theologians and I made the comment that I did not think John Calvin liked grey but preferred everything to be black and white.  I do not think that Calvin is alone in this trait.  In fact, I would say that the trait is not limited to theologians.  Many individuals prefer black and white to grey any day.

One of the reasons that I think people prefer life to be black and white is because when there is solid definition it is easier to know where you stand.  A person may not always like the rules that exist in black and white life but there is some sense of security.  Grey contains too many unknowns, too many variables.  A child needs black and white because of the limits of their experience and their limits of reasoning through situations.  However, as a person matures, the grey should be somewhat manageable.  The truth is that life has a lot more grey than black and white whether an individual wishes to admit that or not.

As I look at life around me, I believe that grey is the norm.  The clear delineations of previous times no longer exist.  As we have become more mobile and more connected, it has become more difficult to draw lines.  The times of making long-range plans is slipping away.  Everything is moving quickly.  So in this “grey world”, flexibility and adaptability are the key.  The visioning for the future needs to be shorter in scope.  Visioning can still occur but it needs to be more around base concepts and/or values rather than detailed plans.  This also will require a higher level of trust; trust in other people, trust in God, and trust in the community.

So while black and white is an easier life to live, the reality is that we as individuals and organizations are living in shades of grey.

Simple vs. Complex   Leave a comment

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I am sometimes amazed how individuals can make some situations so complex when they do not need to be.  It is true that when you are dealing with people who come to situations from different angles, there can be an increasing complexion which develops.  However, not all situations have to be that complicated.

I was part of a discussion recently that brought this to light for me.  The discussion centered around faith and what is expected of followers of Jesus Christ.  It became clear that way too often, we have a tendency to create a long list of expectations for believers.  However, when you study the whole of Scripture, it becomes very clear to me that there is only one choice that is demanded of followers of Christ…..  Choosing to believe in Jesus Christ.  All other choices and actions are in a response to what Jesus has done for us but does not have a bearing on whether we will spend eternity in the presence of God or in the absence of God.

While this discussion centered around faith, I think that the important lesson that was clear to me is applicable in almost every aspect of our lives.  We need to truly examine a situation and determine if it is really as complex as initially thought or is there a simple choice/decision that needs to be made which will handle the situation.  Leaders need to assist the groups that they led with reducing the complexity where possible and deal with the real issue at hand.

So the next time that I encounter something which I find to be very complex, I am going to strive to take a step back to determine if I am creating a complexity or if there may be just a simple aspect with which I need to deal.

Ash Wednesday   Leave a comment

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Today is the day in the Christian calendar when we pause to take inventory of our lives.  As people, we often seem to run from our mortality and often try to run from our sin.  This day is a day when we acknowledge both.  Throughout the world, Christians will attend a worship service where ashes are placed on their foreheads and they are reminded of both of these facts.

Some view this day as a day of sadness.  I would agree that it truly could be a day of sadness if it were not for the reality of the cross.  If we believed that at death everything ended and our existence was gone forever, then sadness definitely would fill us when we think of our mortality.  If we believed that our sin is every with us and there is no way to have it removed, then sadness would fill us.

However, we do not believe those things.  We believe that through the actions of Jesus Christ, both of these concerns are removed.  First, through his death on the cross, we have been given forgiveness for any and all of our sin.  Second, through his resurrection on Easter, we are given eternal life beyond the grave.  So this does not need to be a day of sadness.

Instead, today is a day that reminds us of why Good Friday and Easter are so very important.  We are reminded of our sin and the resulting death.  Yet, we are also reminded of our forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life.

A Place to Belong   1 comment

Everyone seems to have an internal craving to have a place where she/he belongs.  This was made evident to me in the popularity of a television show that was extremely popular a few years back.  Maybe this intro will bring back those thoughts:

What would happen if the church became a place where anyone felt they belong?  We give a lot of lip service to the concept but I do not see that it is how we live in the church.  We have so many barriers.  We have so many rules and limitations.  These are items that humans have applied.  These are not given to us by the Lord.

I dream of a time when the church truly was a place to belong.