Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Tag

The Rainbow   Leave a comment


Drawing by Kevin Daniel

Drawing by Kevin Daniel

I have a picture that hangs on one of the walls of my office.  I look at it frequently because it is on the wall opposite my desk.  Sometimes I do not even notice it.  Today was not one of those days.  Today I looked up and saw the picture hanging on the wall.  Today I was drawn to a detail in the picture.

I chose the picture because I have a great love for bald eagles.  In fact, I have quiet a collection of pictures and statues of bald eagles.  This particular picture includes two bald eagles in flight along a shoreline with a lighthouse, clouds, the waves, the rocks, and a rainbow.  It was the rainbow that caught my eye this morning.  I believe I was drawn to it because in my faith, a rainbow is a sign of hope.  I would say it is even a sign of the promise of tomorrow.

Sometimes in life, we have days when there have been highs and lows.  I find that if I go to sleep after an event or series of events that I would classify as low, I wake up in the morning and have a bit of a struggle.  This morning was one of those mornings.  But when I sat down at my desk and looked at the rainbow in the picture, I sensed that I was being given a message.  For me this message was a reminder of the hope that continues to exist.  The message was one of assurance that there is tomorrow and in tomorrow is a brighter day.  This movement toward tomorrow can lift my mood today because I find hope in the promise.

As a Christian, I believe in the hope of something greater than I can imagine.  I believe that this hope is rooted in the promise of my Lord.  The story of the rainbow in Scripture speaks of God’s promise to never destroy creation.  It is a promise of many tomorrows.  In the story of what Jesus has done, there is an even greater promise of tomorrows because Jesus destroyed death that ends the tomorrows.  True, the tomorrows will be somewhere other than where we are today but the tomorrows will continue for us.

So today, the rainbow reminds me of tomorrow and the promise contained in tomorrow.  Like the bright and beautiful colors of the rainbow, I will see the bright and beautiful colors of tomorrow even if there is a little grey in today

 

Advertisements

Be Still   1 comment


Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds (Photo credit: mcdett)

Today is one of those days when I recall this passage from the Bible:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, NIV)

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD

Yesterday contained some very unexpected turns and twists for me.  I went through a large range of emotions because of a lot of events of the day.  In truth, I am a bit emotionally and spiritually exhausted this morning.  Yet what I experienced is minor compared to the experience of a dear and close friend who was directly impacted by events.

As the dark clouds and storms roll in once again today outside, I need to hear the words of the psalm writer.  I need to hear God’s voice in the thunder.  I need to be still.  I need to remember that God is God.  I need to know that God is God.

Today, I rest in the knowledge of these words and strive to be still and experience them.

Today, I remind my dear friend and her family to remember the words in this psalm.

Something Big Enough   Leave a comment


Big Tree with Red Sky in the Winter Night

(Photo credit: epSos.de)

Today I was reminded why I sometimes fail to achieve that for which I hope.  Today I was reminded that too often I rely solely on my own power and skills.  There are definitely times when I have the power and/or the skills to achieve whatever is before me.  However, there are also times, usually when what I need to achieve is big or may seem impossible, that I need to rely on something outside myself.  These are the times when I should, but often forget, to engage in prayer.  I need to turn to a power that is greater than myself alone.

When I am either forced to, or by some small stroke of intelligence, go to the Lord and seek the Lord’s power, I find a higher rate of success in my endeavors.  The Lord at times will send me individuals that have the skills and power to assist me in that success.  There are times that the Lord helps me by adjusting circumstances or opening my eyes to see different possibilities.  At other times, the Lord provides the voices of others that redirect me and make it clear that what I am trying to achieve may not be in the best interest of me and/or other people.

The key for me today is to remember that in those challenging situations, there is something big enough to handle the situation.  There is something big enough that can make the impossible possible.  That something that is big enough is the One I believe in, the Lord.  Prayer is the way I tap into that power.

What Is Grace   Leave a comment


forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

Grace is giving without cause or merit.  Most often we associate grace with forgiveness.  While they are closely linked they are not necessarily the same.  Forgiveness is to grant pardon and no longer feel resentment towards someone who we have determined has wronged us.  We often assume that to offer forgiveness has a requirement of the other person admitting wrong and seeking to be forgiven. Grace says that the requirement is null and void.

I think that I am pretty good at the forgiveness component most of the time.  Where I run into a struggle is in the grace department.  Yet I expect to receive grace.  I also believe that the concept of grace is key to my belief in the Lord, Jesus Christ.  For Christ demonstrated grace and if I profess to be a follower of Christ I am to strive to emulate his characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors.  Therefore, I believe that the learning ground for grace is the church, the community of believers.

Unfortunately, I feel that the church often fails to be this learning ground.  Too often the community of believers fail to demonstrate grace.  We become all about following prescribed rules and seeking to punish the rule breakers.  Yes, there must be accountability.  Yes, there must be an agreed upon set of understandings.  However, this accountability and set of understandings must be in the context of relationships.  We must be about building relationships and in the midst of that determining how we are going to live together in those relationships.  This is where grace plays a key role.  Grace must be prominent in relationships among believers and between believers and those who are outside the community of faith.  This is a key element of what makes relationships of believers different from relationships as defined by society – grace.  As people of Christian faith, we need to learn how to practice this grace so we should be provided opportunity to practice it within the church walls so that we can live it outside the church walls.

What an amazing reality could exist if grace abounded more than punishment in the community of believers.  What an amazing reality could exist if believers demonstrated this new way of living in relationship to the rest of the world.

Right Choice   Leave a comment


English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the significant news items of this week so far has been the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI.  Internet has been buzzing for over 24 hours  with thoughts and reactions to this announcement.  Since this has not occurred for approximately 600 years, no one is totally sure what it means and exactly what all the details related to this action might be.  I am not interested in this post to debate the details of his actions or the impact it may have on the Roman Catholic Church or the Christian community.  What I am interested in is seeing an important example in his actions.

Arguably, the Pope is one of the world leaders that attracts much attention.  His statements, his actions, and his decisions are scrutinized and discussed both inside and outside of the Christian faith.  So when he makes the decision to resign, it is something which should draw our attention.  I have definitely not been a supporter of many of his decisions as a leader during the last eight years but I must applaud his example in this decision.  He has shown leaders that there is more about leadership than themselves.

Pause a moment and consider the significance of the decision that he has announced this week.  This man has dedicated all of his life to the  Roman Catholic Church and his Christian faith.  On April 19, 2005, he was elevated to the highest office of the Roman Catholic Church which at the end of 2011 claimed a membership of 1.196 billion people internationally.  He has the ultimate power and authority over the organization and his decisions/actions can not be questioned or reversed during his time as Pope.  Not many individuals or leaders would ever want to relinquish that power and authority even if they retain it for altruistic reasons.  Yet, this man has made that decisions.

I think sometimes leaders lose sight of the reason they are called to lead.  A leader brings gifts and talents that are intended to be used to move the organization forward in a positive direction.  Yes, there may be bumps along the way and set backs will occur but ultimately a leader is to lead forward.  When a person’s ability to lead forward and fulfill the expectations of her/his office falters, a leader should examine if his/her tenure in the office should come to an end.  According, to Pope Benedict’s statement, he believes that his health has reduced his ability to effectively lead so he will resign on February 28, 2013.  Instead of remaining in office and limping along, he has decided to move aside and allow a new leader to be chosen.

What an amazing example.  All leaders should take a lesson from Pope Benedict about true leadership.

Poll the Audience   Leave a comment


IMG_0671

IMG_0671 (Photo credit: ptcaweb)

Recently I have been reading the book Open Source Church:  Making Room for the Wisdom of All by Landon Whitsitt.  I admit that I am greatly intrigued by the ideas which Whitsitt puts forth in the book.  A statement that he made in one of the chapters I was reading made me start to think a bit.  He said, “stop hunting for an expert and ask the crowd for solutions instead, because it probably knows.”  I think that this statement should cause believers to stop and think about their understanding of “church.”

The model for the church which most of us are familiar with and which has been around for close to a hundred years is one where the leader has attended special classes and therefore is viewed as an “expert” in all aspects of the Christian faith.  The members of a given congregation, turn to the leader for advice on matters regarding faith and clear interpretations of Scripture.  Often, that leader is also expected to guide the administrative functions of the congregation, the mission activities of the congregation, the personnel matters of the congregation, and the list continues.

What Whitsitt proposes is that we change the model of church so that we are not lifting up an “expert” to do all the work and make all the decisions.  As I read his ideas, it made me think of the TV game show, “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.”  One of the lifelines that was available for the contestants as they try to answer questions was to poll the audience.  More often than not, the majority of the audience came up with the right answer.  It seems collective wisdom is better than individual wisdom.

I think there is something to this idea.  In my particular flavor of being the church, we have actual procedures and guidelines in our constitution that requires a balance between clergy and laity.  Decisions are made by a group of individuals versus a single person.  The group cannot act without the clergy’s involvement but the clergy cannot act, in most cases, without the groups involvement.  This was designed because of a fundamental belief that the Spirit speaks through the voices of a group of Christians more often than through the voice of one.  I think also that much like the game show, the collective wisdom is always better than the individual wisdom.  Each person is limited by their perspective, experience, and gifts.  A combining of individuals brings together multiple perspectives, experiences, and gifts so that the group as a whole is greater than an individual alone.

This is not a new concept.  There are many examples in which this approach is taken and with great outcomes.  However, the concept is not always understood and followed within the church.  I think it is time that we lift this up much more as the model instead of the exception.

I also realize that there are times and circumstances when leaders, as individuals, are called upon to make decisions without group involvement.  However, I feel these decisions should be limited and used cautiously.  This also does not eliminate the need for a leader to cast a vision, provide direction on the agreed upon path, or stand up in the midst of crisis.

Trust Risk   2 comments


Trust (Low album)

Trust  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The writer of the Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus walking through a crowd and a woman who had spent years suffering from hemorrhages touched the edge of Jesus’ robe.  Upon touching his robe, the hemorrhaging stopped and Jesus noticed. (See Luke 8:40-48)  After a brief conversation with the woman, Jesus made a statement that resonated with me this morning.  In Eugene Peterson‘s translation of the Bible Jesus’ words are:  “Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, and now you’re healed and whole.  Live well, live blessed!”

I was struck with the idea of taking a risk to trust Jesus.  At first, I wondered what was the risk in trusting Jesus.  I could talk about the cultural risk that the woman took but that was not where I was being led in my thoughts.  I began thinking about the times that I tend not to trust the Lord.  Why don’t I trust during those times?  The reason is that in order to trust, I have to be willing to relinquish some of my control and I have to be dependent on the Lord.  Since my life, like many of yours, has had plenty of experiences when trusting in someone or something has turned out to be a huge mistake, relinquishing control and being dependent is not an easy step.  It truly does involve taking a risk.  Stepping out in faith to believe that by relying on the Lord, I will not have a catastrophic fall.

In the story of the woman, Jesus’ words spoke to me.  He invites me to take the risk.  The reason for taking that risk is because when I trust in the Lord, I will find healing and wholeness.  While it may take a little time and I may struggle to see how it is possible, Jesus makes the promise that it is possible.  Jesus reminds me in the words he shares with the woman which is his desire for me is to live well and to live blessed.

Making the commitment to trust in the Lord and take that risk has to happen on a daily basis.  Some days it has to happen for me multiple times.  So today, I renew my commitment to take the risk of trusting in the Lord.  I do this because I believe in the promise that Jesus makes which is, if I trust in the Lord, I will find healing and wholeness.