Wednesday, August 20, 2014

RED HERRING CONFESSIONS


I have to confess—after nearly 30 years of pastoring, I can still be misled by the smell of red herring. I am easily convinced to value and prioritize lesser truths and follow them to disappointing conclusions.


I have to confess-- If it were not for the Holy Spirit’s redirection, I would blindly lead the blind into a ditch. I would make mountains out of molehills. I am the guy who would throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I have to confess-- It is not enough to pay sharp attention to the study of God’s Word. I need the Holy Spirit to guide me to the right destination.

I have to confess—it’s not enough to be a do-gooder in the church and community. You can do that in darkness and not live in light.

I have to confess-- It is easy to believe my press reports and congratulate myself on a job well done, but not so easy to remain intimate with God.

In confessing these things, my soul is healed.

It is a joyful thing to be Abba’s child. In the Father’s Presence, I return to a childlike state where the riddles get answered. God help me to stay willing to be led.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

WHAT GENIUSES CANNOT FIGURE OUT


My dad loves riddles and tests that to solve will require you to think another way. 






For example, a storekeeper gives you change of 30 cents on your purchase. He gives you 2 coins and one of them is not a quarter. What are the 2 coins that make up the 30 cents change? Do you know?

The 2 coins are a quarter and a nickel. I only said that one of them is not a quarter.

And the grandkids groan at how smart Grandpa is…

What we discover in the Kingdom of God is that the mysteries of God cannot be understood by refining your logic, studying the right books and teachers or by having a higher IQ than everyone else. You do not arrive at God’s truth by simply reframing the questions.

When the 72 disciples returned to Jesus after their mission, they were amazed that demons submitted in the Name of the Lord. Jesus made a passing reference to seeing Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

What did Jesus mean by that? He was very familiar with Satan. This same evil genius had plotted against his birth, tempted him 40 days in the wilderness and brought confusion and bondage to many people.

The arrival of God’s Kingdom marks the defeat of the Kingdom of darkness and chaos. These untrained, somewhat simpleminded disciples are witnessing a shift in the Universe and entering into a new kind of relationship with God. They are coming to God’s Table to enjoy the same fellowship that the Father, Son and Spirit have in the Godhead.


Luke 10:
21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
22 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
23 Then he turned to his disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”


This is the stuff that geniuses miss. God only shows some things to the children. The others do not get the answer to the riddles. Experts fall short and the worldly-wise are stumped.

Many great saints of the old era did not get to experience the blessing, but Jesus' disciples are blessed to be a part of this new era… Sometimes we think how great it would have been to see Moses perform miracles before Pharaoh or watch Elijah defeat the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Jesus says that the situation is in fact the exact reverse—they long to see what we experience, because to know God and life through Jesus is what they had wished to experience all along. In effect, Jesus says, "Count your blessings, for they are many and have been desired for centuries."[i]








[i] The IVP New Testament Commentary Series

Thursday, August 14, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: GENEROUS SPACIOUSNESS

Responding to Gay Christians in the Church...

At its worst, theology can be a field of ice that hardens as it cools. It becomes rigid and lifeless. Wendy has the ministry of an icebreaker. She slowly presses into the dogma knowing that a passage must be opened. To get from here to there requires an open sea. 



I do not think anyone can read this book without the temptation to retreat. It is easier to stay with your own convictions, theology and prejudices than to look for a more generous way. 


If you are LGBT or heterosexual, Wendy Vander Wal-Gritter will not leave anyone alone in examining what it means to be a faithful disciple of Jesus. She calls for a way through the difficult discussion of what reconciliation looks like within the Christian community. Though she herself is straight, she has developed deep empathy and understanding of those who do not self-identify in that way.


Asked in an interview to define what she means by generous spaciousness, Wendy said:


I’ve developed the concept of generous spaciousness from the belief that the Holy Spirit can be trusted to work in people’s lives and to lead them where they need to be.  That means that we, as human beings, can offer the gift of space to those who are wrestling with deep questions, uncertainty, and doubt.  On the question of how the Christian faith is worked out in the life of a gay person, this space is essential.  When people are expected to conform to a standard of orthodoxy without having the freedom to really question, wrestle with, and own their beliefs and convictions, the typical result is a shallow, works-based faith that cannot sustain the storms of life.  So many gay people who do have an open heart to Jesus have walked away from the Christian faith because there was no room for them to really wrestle with God, Scripture, and the tradition of the church.  Additionally, many Christians with gay friends are also struggling to clarify what they believe and why—and they need a safe place to continue to process and work through these questions.  Generous spaciousness challenges the church to offer that kind of room, with the conviction that God is pleased with a fully engaged mind and heart, that God will lead and guide people.  We don’t need to try to control what people believe, because when spiritual exploration and discernment are encouraged a much more robust and owned faith emerges.  http://prismmagazine.org/generous-spacious-wendy-gritter/ )


I believe that Wendy's ministry with New Direction of Canada is essentially pastoral to sexual minorities. That pastoral heart is reflected in her writing and capable handling of theological perspectives.


Recommended reading if you're willing to listen.





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"Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications and Brazos Press in exchange for an honest review."

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