Archive for the ‘Christ’ Tag

Seeing Beyond Self   1 comment


Image provided by jgbsocial.com

Image provided by jgbsocial.com

During my morning devotions today, I explored the question of how I can be blind to Christ?  The discovery that occurred was that the most frequent way to be blind to Christ is by being inward focus.  I know that this is a problem which I have from time to time (probably more frequently than I care to admit).  I would venture a guess that others struggle with this problem.  I would say without any uncertainty that this problem prevails in the Church.

There are many reasons which lead to an inward focus.  Besides the obvious view that “if I don’t look out for myself, no one else will,” there is the reality of greed and self-centeredness.  I find it very easy to isolate myself as a mode of survival.  My view of the world and others becomes very narrow.  I exist in a small area of awareness with me in the middle.  Anyone or anything that attempts to invade that space or to pull me out of that space meets violent resistance. I might lob an attempt of a kind gesture out of my box of existence but that is more to make me feel good about myself than it is about making someone else a little better.

Whenever I behave in a manner of inward focus, I cannot be looking at Christ.  I am blind to Christ because it becomes all about me.  Christ set an example of an outward focus.  He often sacrificed his own physical health to meet the demands of the people around him.  He called upon his disciples to follow this example and to see beyond themselves.  Christ continues to call us to do the same in many different circumstances and many different ways.

How are you looking beyond yourself?  You will be surprised when you do so, you will see Christ.

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Reconnecting   Leave a comment


Image provided by jansushibar.com

Image provided by jansushibar.com

One of the great aspects of this time of year is that we are given an opportunity to reconnect with people.  Through Christmas cards and the letters included in them, we are able to share about our lives and hear about the lives of others with whom we may not have regular contact.  It is always a great joy for me to go to the mailbox and see who has sent a card each day.  (By the way, mine is in process this week.)

Yesterday, as I worked on Christmas cards, I was thinking about the importance of reconnecting.  Not only is it important to reconnect with friends and family this time of year, but it is also important for us to take time to reconnect with the cause for celebration this time of year.  In the celebration of the incarnation of Christ, we remember that God truly became one of us.  We remember about Christ’s life and ministry.  Of course we remember the ultimate purpose of his arrival, the providing us a way back to God by the removing of the stain of our sins.  Christ brought the ultimate opportunity of re-connection.

The other significant celebration is the welcoming of a new year.  As a believer, I am reminded that just as the Lord was present in my life over the past year, the Lord will be present in this new year.  I have no idea what the new year will bring but the Lord does.  No matter what each day of the new year holds in store for me, the Lord is right there beside me.  I have this connection with the Lord that will not be severed on the Lord’s part.

So I encourage you to not only celebrate the joy of reconnecting with family and friends this time of year but to also reconnect with the significance of your relationship with the Lord.  Reconnect with the reality of what the Lord has done and is doing for you.

 

True Power   Leave a comment


Image by heartfeltworkforce.com

Image by heartfeltworkforce.com

As a believer in Christ, I am so thankful that God can take difficult situations and develop good out of them.  I need to first state that I do not believe that God is some manipulative being who creates difficult situations or tragedies to set up something victorious in the end.  However, when difficulties or tragedies occur, God is able to bring about good things for the benefit of those who God has created and loves.  For me that is true power!

As I think about that power this morning, these are some random thoughts that come into my head:

  • True power is doing something to benefit someone else.
  • A difference between God and humans is that humans can only see the moment and situation in which they are living, God can see beyond those boundaries.
  • The love which God has for us is so large that God is constantly working to create good in our lives, even when we are experiencing the exact opposite.
  • In the darkest of moments, God is the spark of light.

I am brought to an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I think about this true power of God.  I am grateful to know, love, and serve such an amazing Lord!

Tragedy   1 comment


Tear Drop

Tear Drop (Photo credit: Brave Heart)

Sometimes I think that life around us is so full of tragic events that we tend to become numb to them.  We see stories in the evening news, we read about murders and accidents, we are made aware of violence and unrest in nations around the world, we hear of devastating natural events.  I cannot recall a day in the last year that there has not been some form of tragedy that has been shown to me or told to me.  Recently, our community has been filled with tragedy.  We have seen the deaths of some very young people in our community.  Between accidents and suicides, there have been some young lives that have been cut too short.

So how do we deal with tragedy?  How do I deal with tragedy?  This is one challenge that causes me to be so extremely grateful for my faith and that which I believe.  My faith tells me that although I have a lot of questions and I struggle to find answers, there is someone who sees and understands completely.  My faith tells me that the life which I experience on this earth is not the only life that exists.  My faith tells me that there is hope even in the darkest of times.  I believe in the resurrection of those who believe in Christ.  I believe in the forgiveness of even the worst action.  I believe in life after an earthly life.  These are the elements of faith which allow me to trust in something greater than myself or anyone around me.

As a leader, the other question that comes to my mind is, how do I lead people through tragic situations?  This actually can seem more daunting to me than the previous questions that I listed above.  The important aspects to keep in mind are these:

  1. Remember that you are working with people.  The key here is to recognize each individual as a person.
  2. Remember that each person deals with tragedy in their own manner.  This means that there is no “cookie cutter” approach that works.
  3. Remember to listen.  Don’t make assumptions that you know how the person is feeling or thinking.  Let them tell you.
  4. Remember to help them list the positive memories they have or the little surprises that have occurred even in the midst of tragedy.
  5. Remember to be present.  You must be available even if you think they are not going to come to you.  This is not a waste of your time but is one of the most important uses of your time.
  6. Remember to provide hope.  Do not use lofty words or great philosophical truths but instead help them to engage in activity (life continues) and looking forward (life will continue into the future).

There is nothing easy about tragedy.  If it were easy, we wouldn’t call it tragedy.  There is nothing easy about being a leader at tragic times.  But we are not alone.  We can rely on our faith and our beliefs.  We can be present and walk together.

 

Limits   2 comments


Fence

Fence (Photo credit: Mariia Kravtsova I EamArt)

What limits me?  Today, this is a question that is rattling around in my mind.  I have been looking at a passage from the Bible this week that talks about our freedom in Christ.  (See Colossians 2:6-15)  This has caused me to consider what I have allowed to limit my freedom.  Another way of considering this might be, what holds me back?

I think lots of times societal pressures, peer pressure, and religious pressure limit us from becoming who we have the potential to be. Perceptions and understandings have a huge impact on shaping who a person becomes and how the individual lives life.  Sometimes those perceptions and understandings are placed upon the person by others, i.e., society, friends, colleagues, family, religious leaders, and sometimes those are placed upon the person by him or herself.

The stumbling block in all this, as I see it, is that perceptions and understandings can be wrong.  We are all born with a very basic understanding of right and wrong which is the basis for our interpretation of life.  People can usually agree that murder is wrong. People often concur that stealing is wrong.  However, when we get beyond the basic right and wrongs of life, all the rest depends on interpretation and understandings.  The challenge is that those interpretations and understandings change over time.

So all of this brings me back to the question of what limits am I placing on myself or allowing others to place upon me.  Limits are a necessary part of life because they help me to stay within reasonable bounds.  However, if the limits that are in my life are based on outdated or inaccurate perceptions and understandings, then I need to be very clear about whether I should retain those limits in my life.

My question for you today is what is limiting you?  Should you continue you to allow it to limit you?  These are questions I know I will wrestle with as well.

A Month of Thanks   Leave a comment


Calendar, November

Calendar, November (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This is my first blog post since the start of a new month.  So following the discipline that I started last month, I want to pause and reflect on the month that just concluded.  What were the meaningful aspects of the month of November?

 

November was definitely a month of activity.  One of the most significant events to me was that I took on a new leadership role within the church.  I was elected to serve as moderator of our regional body.  I view this role not as one of prestige (although I am deeply honored to be asked to serve in this role) but more one of servant leadership.   I intend to treat this role as one in which I serve my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ.  I have no idea how that will play out but I am eager to serve.

 

Of course the week of Thanksgiving is always meaningful.  I was able to pick up my father on Wednesday and enjoyed spending the holiday with him in our home.  The car ride always allows us opportunity to talk in deeper ways than just over the phone once a week.  Whenever I am able to spend time with my dad, memories seem to flood into my mind.  I recall many holidays spent with him, my mother, my sisters, and our extended family.  It was always a great time that I looked forward to.

 

I also had a wonderful meeting with colleagues at the end of the month.  Together, we discussed ways to encourage and transform the structure of our organization.  We planned a retreat for next month.  We affirmed and supported some transforming work happening in a specific location.  We always look at creative ways to continue to move forward and that always challenges me to continue to be creatively transformed.

 

So reflecting on the month that we set aside a day to give thanks, I am thankful for these meaningful experiences in my life.

 

Reflections   Leave a comment


Washington, DC National MallThis morning while sitting in my office, I noticed a flash of light outside my window.  Naturally, I immediately turned towards the window to determine the source of the light.  Upon my examination, I realized that what caused the flash was the sun reflecting off a car and into a window of a nearby home.  That was how a light flash seemed to occur outside.  This caused me to ponder for a moment the significance of reflections.  The window of the house and the window of the car reflected the light of the sun.  What is it that I reflect?

I decided that the one thing that I wanted to reflect more than anything else is the light of the “Son.”  By this, I mean that I want to reflect the light of Christ.  The church focuses a lot on the light of Christ.  Especially during the seasons of Advent and Christmas, there is a lot of talk about Jesus being the “light to the world.”  At the start of the worship service in my church, we have individuals carry a flame into the worship space and declare that it is the light of Christ coming into our gathering.  At the end of that same worship service, we have an individual carry the light out of the worship space declaring that Christ’s light goes out into the world and that we are to carry that light out with us.

So I want to reflect that light in my life.  I want others to see Christ’s light in me and radiating out from me.  I want to strive to be the best reflection of Jesus that I can be.  Hopefully, I will be that flash of light that causes people to stop what they are doing and investigate the source of light just like I did in my office this morning.