Recently I started a twitter account and every couple of days I go looking for a good quote to tweet. This morning, I stumbled upon this quote:
There is definitely something in these words that resonates with me. I wonder how much cheer and merry making I have missed out on because I have been hoarding the wrong kinds of things. How much of my life has been over complicated by hoarding things I have no need of when when I could have found more joy in some of life’s simpler treasures like food, family and friends, and song? One of the things I think about often is finding a way to simplify life, and yet, in reality I am attempting to find new places to hide away all the junk that get collected and is seldom used. Perhaps if we valued the more simple things that keep us connected to one another, we would be less likely to fill our lives full of junk that has no place.
- “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” J. R. R. Tolkien
New Clip from the upcoming season of Doctor Who that first aired on the Jonathon Ross Show.
I’m super excited for the new season airing on April 17th at 9:00 on BBC America.
I was reading a blog last week that I have just started following by Steve Liscum. Check out his blog here at http://steveliscum.wordpress.com/. In one of his recent blogs he asked the question, “can someone tell me why we try to earn God’s grace?” Its a pretty challenging question, and one I think the church should spend some time trying to find some answers to. Anyhow, I spent some time this week thinking about this question and I came across this passage in Bonhoeffer’s Life Together:
The root of all sin is pride, superbia (the Latin word for pride). I want to be my own law, I have a right to myself, my hatred and my desires, my life and my death. The mind and flesh of man are set on fire by pride; for it is precisely in his wickedness that man wants to be as God.
I think Bonhoeffer’s words make some sense in considering this question. If it is true that we want to be as God as Bonhoeffer asserts…and as I would assert as well, because of our sin/pride then the reason we try to earn grace is because we think we can give grace to ourselves by working hard enough to be good to earn God’s favor. Our culture teaches us that all we need to do is work hard and we will achieve whatever dreams we have. If our culture teaches this, it is no wonder this mind set has seeped into our churches. Our pride tells us that if we work hard at this thing called Christianity God will reward us with His grace, but the scandal of the Gospel and of Jesus is that no amount of work will earn us that grace. It is freely given. What a serious blow to our pride that is. That means that anyone can have that grace, despite their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or bank account size. That means that we are all on equal footing before the LORD. Most people’s pride won’t allow for that so we continue to create for a system that allows us to earn grace, because that means certain people will be kept out while others who did all the right things will be in.
Pride is a dangerous thing. Let us all humble ourselves before God and each other and grab hold of the Good News of Jesus Christ which tells us that we are all sinners in need of saving and reconciliation to our God. That grace offered in and through Jesus Christ is free to all and requires no work from us.
The message of Christ is not Christianity. The message of Christ is Christ. – Gary Amirault
I ran across this quote this morning during my sermon preparation and it got me to thinking. How often do we try to convince people to come to church, become a member, serve the church and the community, but never really preach Jesus to them? I know many church members that I have encountered over the years who were nothing more than Christians in name. I have known many who refuse to become members of a church and follow after Jesus with more passion than most people who sit in the pews on Sunday morning. I just wonder if we as the church do a great disservice to people when we try to assimilate them into our churches without ever really showing them what it means to follow after Jesus. This is more food for thought than anything I guess.
What is our message…is it come be apart of this thing called Christianity (where more often than not its a particular groups brand of Christianity), or is our message come and follow after Jesus?
I would like to hear from you all. In your experiences do churches preach the message of Christianity…or do they preach Jesus…is there even a difference?
I first came across this video at annual conference this past June (for those of you who are not United Methodists a yearly gathering for us United Methodists in Grove City). For whatever reason, this video has stuck with me. I am not sure if it is the music, the dancing, the feeling of global community, or the beautiful backgrounds. Take a look and enjoy.
I guess when I see this video I am reminded of David who danced before the Lord with all his might:
14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might
I can’t remember the last thing I did with all my might…especially in regards to the LORD. How often do we allow others perceptions from hindering us doing something with all of our might, even when others will undoubtedly think it is silly? May we will all be willing to dance for our LORD and look a little silly and do it with all of our might so that He might be glorified. Maybe dancing isn’t your cup of tea (it is certainly not mine), but a little risk in some area of each of our lives for Jesus is a good thing, especially when it brings us all together.
My daughter Moira has been very sick since late last week. She has had a fever ranging from 101 -104 since that time and late Sunday night her fever spiked 105.7. It was pretty scary because she was shaking as well as hallucinating. She saw bugs, aliens, and even Hello Kitty. At the emergency room they cooled her off but they were unable to break the fever completely. We finally thought progress had been made last night, but when she woke up this morning her fever spike back up to near 105 again. My wife is with her at the hospital again while I wait to hear some news.
Through all of this I have been thinking a great deal about control. As a parents, my wife and I go to great links to make sure that the kids are taken care. We pray for them. We feed them and clothe them. We make sure they learn and play. We discipline when necessary. We love our children and do whatever we can to make sure they are safe. But…life seems to throw moments like these at us from time to time and we realize how little control we have. For all of our good intentions, there are just some things that we have no control over. We can keep her comfortable and make sure she has medicine…we can even hold her so she can fall, asleep and get the rest she needs, but for all the love we have for her, we can’t make her better. Its frustrating to know that we have no control. And I know as she gets older, we will have less control in her life. That is a pretty sobering thought…and I think I would like to add scary to that as well.
I guess in the end, we must all realize whether we are parents or we are struggling with some other issue, there will be moments in life that are completely out of our hands. As much as that sucks, I find comfort in the fact that my faith does not rest in my ability to fix anything, but it rests in the hands of the Creator who knows what is best. In all honesty, that is a pretty difficult thing for me to buy into sometimes, but deep down I know that God is at work and that I can place my trust in Him no matter the circumstance.
Confession is not only good for the soul, it is also good for the community. Bonhoeffer explains the value of confession to the community in Life Together.
In Confession, the break through to community takes place. Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown.
To be in community is to be known to some degree and our sin rages against this. Our sin isolates us from those we would be in community because it want us to create walls and build barriers to keep who we really our secret and in so doing keeps us from every having to change our behavior. The Gospel demands something entirely from us. It seeks confession and full disclosure. It shuns the idea of hiding, preferring instead vulnerability and authenticity. The Gospel provides us with a choice: to continue to live in sin and therefore isolation or to choose full disclosure and community. Our natural inclination is to fear confession and vulnerability. Its frightening to imagine placing our trust in another, but in order to build a stronger life together, we must find the courage to confess to the Father in and through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. We must also find the courage to confess to one another so that we remove ourselves from isolation and into relationship and accountability. No easy task for any of us, but nothing Jesus asks of us is ever easy…its just right.