Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Little Less Dogma - A Lot More Wonder

Have we lost our capacity to wonder?
If we have, what can we do to reclaim it?

I think that in our quest for knowledge, we've squeezed out quite a bit of the wonder God intended to have us embrace.  It's not that knowledge is a bad thing, mind you.  Learning and growing are an essential part of the whole Christian maturity process.  But I'm still left thinking that we've let the wonder dim and replaced it with a lot of knowledge that rings far too hollow ... far to pedestrian for the God we claim to pursue.

So what if so much of our dogma is just for the sake of itself?  What if it so many of the things we hold so dear aren't essentials after all?  What would happen if we began to lay that aside and turned our focus to the wonder that is the Gospel instead?

I was chatting this morning with my pastor along these lines.  He and happen to think a lot alike in these areas.  I take comfort in that because I've seen the man he is and what it took to get him there.  I also know my own struggles over the years and the journey my own Crooked Path has taken.  And it make me want to wonder more and spout less dogma.

How about you?  Are you ready to wonder again?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Praying for Blessings in a Different Way

"'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops, what if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights
are what it takes to know You're near? What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"


I think Laura Story is on to something in her song "Blessings" with those lyrics I note above.  Feel free to listen to her sing this beautiful song here.

I heard this on the radio on our drive to church this morning.  It set me thinking about some of the errant ways I've thought in the past - much of it learned in churches and camps and evangelistic meetings.  Those those teaching it may never admit to a works theology, yet their "cause and effect" teaching is no less anti-Biblical than the people in the encounter who asked Jesus "Who sinned and caused this man's blindness?"  It's sad to me now, and it causes me to wonder why so many - especially those who should know better - cling to this way of thought.  In doing this, they make God smaller (at least to them) and they minimize the relationship he wishes to have.

As I pulled into the parking lot, still thinking these thoughts, my friend Tom and his wife were leaving the first service and headed to their car.  Tom's about my age, but he's certainly not living life the way he had it planned. As I called out a greeting to them, Tom directed Karen to where the voice originated.  She smiled - still a glowing smile despite her advanced stage of a neurological disorder.  Tom gently held her arm, supporting her as they shuffled to the car.

My humanity asks, "Where's the blessing in that downpour, God?  And while were on the subject, when am I going to get a permanent job with benefits again and exit this 3-year journey in the desert?"  I think my studies of C.S. Lewis and John Eldridge should speak just a little louder to me when those questions strike.

Simply put, God doesn't owe me a direct answer ... none of us get that privilege.  And it isn't because I've done something wrong or haven't lived up to some perfect standard.  It's because he is God and I'm not.  It's because the call is for me to trust him because he is always good.

Yes ... good ... even when Tom helps his wife to the car, my current job situation continues (or changes) and he headlines scream disaster.  I need to adjust my view of blessings and listen to this song a few more times.  Maybe it will sink in and I'll pray for blessings in an entirely different way.  The path is, after all, a crooked one.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Dad

No high-rez pictures of him ... just some grainy scanned images from some three decades ago.  Today is my 27th Fathers Day without my Dad, Tom Moore.  Still, his influence lives on in me and the myriad of lives he touched.  He left this world far too soon and he is missed.


But today, I pause to think of what he did give me - both the good and the bad.  I can say that because Dad was a passionate, loving man with flaws.  In fact, perhaps his biggest flaw was also his biggest strength.  Dad loved people.  He loved them so much that, over the course of his life, he poured himself into them rather than take care of himself to a great degree.  In the end, I have to believe that all played a part in his early departure from this Earth.

If you were to ask my wife, you would get a different perspective on Dad.  She only knew him for 1-1/2 years and saw a far different man than I had known for the previous 20+.  He had mellowed and wasn't quite as stressed as he had been.  Still, his love for people and his willingness to invest in them continues.

As I look back on it all, I know that Dad invested his heart in me as well.  I can imagine the talks we'd have today were he around - far different than we did nearly 30 years ago and yet the same.  Dad showed me the Better Story and I, in turn, can now show that to my daughters.  I've come to believe that is the role of a father.  Story - the Better Story God offers - is what we need and what we need to offer to those who come after us.

I love you Dad ... and I miss you as much today as I did the first Father's Day without you.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

In the Mean Time

Today is June 1st.  It's also Ascension Sunday and it happened to be Communion Sunday as well.  I was given the privilege to serve today, which often sets me thinking about things a little more deeply than I might were I just sitting back with my wife and receiving.



I thought about the change in seasons (I still think June 1st ought to mark the start of Summer) and about the journey I've been on for the past few years.  I thought about a lot of things, but mostly my thoughts ran to the words of our Lord - "Do this until I come back."  What a powerful image he gave his friends that night.

So what about me?  Some 2,000 years later what do I make of his challenge to "do this" in the mean time?  Perhaps that's what I need to think about this week.  I know I have a lot on my plate, but maybe this June 1st is meant to put a stake in the ground for me personally.  Perhaps I need to take a long look at what I'm doing and how I'm approaching and embracing life.

We've come through the Easter season where we were reminded of the redemption once and for all.  We walked through an empty tomb which sealed the whole plan conceived before we even existed.  We've been left in the care of the Comforter so we can prepare of Christ's return.  

So, in the mean time ... 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Et Lux Perpetua

If you aren't familiar with Latin, it means (loosely) "perpetual light".  It's an old liturgical term, most often associated with remembering someone after they have died and asking that their light shine on for eternity.  But today, I had a different thought about the phrase.  It came while we were discussion the John Eldridge Book, Waking the Dead and discussing how C.S. Lewis noted we all bear the image of God in our souls ... and we are eternal beings right here, right now.

So you mean that homeless man I pass on the corner has "perpetual light" burning within him?  Well, to be frank - yes, that's what I mean.  We all bear that original mark, the design imprint of God's original plan and that means we all have this light in our soul.  Some may have buried it deep in the recesses of themselves - but it is still there.  It's still calling out to a lost person, saying that God is seeking, knocking, whatever image you want to use.  It says none of us is beyond redemption.

Jesus told us he came to give life - an abundant kind of life we had never experienced and could never find on our own.  Jesus planted this light within us to point us to himself as Light of the World.  He says we are worth redemption because of who he is, not because of anything we've done.  He says he will fan that light into a flame that will burn brightly for him if only we will ask.

You see, that tiny speck of Lux Perpetual is the prevenient grace of God that constantly calls out to a soul so desperately in need of rescue.  It's the remnant of a God who created us for his own glory and pleasure - it's the eternal soul that will live on somewhere.  The question is, what are you going to do about it both in yourself and the next time you see it in the person next to you?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Love is the Foundation

heart drawn in the sand being washed away by a waveMany of us have been told how all of God's attributes are present equally at all times and in all ways.  Yet if we look way back, the emphasis was always on Love first.  The songs like "Jesus Loves Me" and so many others echoed that theme.  The first verse many of us learned (John 3:16) is built on the idea that God, in his Love, did something miraculous, redemptive and enduring.  Yet as we "matured" we moved on to more emphasis on holiness, omnipotence and the rest.  So I have a question ... when did we lose the wonder we had as children that had us focus on Love first?

I think it's time to come back to Love as the very foundation.  It's time to remember all those songs we sang as children and that verse we all have come to blithely rattle off - the one that says God loved us so much that he laid aside all other aspects and standards he held dear and me his standards by himself on our behalf.  That's what I mean when I say Love is the foundation.

I've come to a point where I think I'm seeing this more clearly again.  Love really is the highest order - the most prevalent of God's attributes.  Everything else flows from it, is built on it.  He does nothing outside of the immense provision of his own Love.  He calls himself Love so we can get a glimmer of why he does what he does.  And that's a marvelous thing to consider.

The Crooked Path will bend and turn, rise and fall, grow smooth and rocky at different times.  Through all of that, the one thing I can rely on over anything else is the Love of God.  It is truly boundless as time itself.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Can It Be That Simple?

"The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them."  Mark 10:13-15, The Message

After over a year with C.S. Lewis (Screwtape and Mere Christianity) my brain was pretty much overwhelmed.  In addition, my pastor has been bringing us some great stuff as the walked us through the Lord's Prayer and several other topics.  But it was in my small home group that the thought struck me last week.  Have we over-complicated things to such a degree that we miss the simplicity of who God is, what he does and how he reveals himself to us?  In our quest to build theologies and codify answers and such ... is it really far more simple than any of us could (or perhaps want to) believe?  I had to answer myself with a resounding "yes".  And that drove me back to this simple recording of how Jesus viewed children.  

It's found in three Gospel accounts, but the one here in Mark really stood out.  Across multiple translations, the tone of Jesus' response comes out clearly.  He is not pleased at the bums' rush his crew is giving the children these mothers have brought for a blessing.  And he uses this moment to offer what ought to be some of the most profound doctrine any of us should ever consider.  Yet it's so simple that we gloss over it and leave it for the children's Sunday School class instead.  And in doing so, I think we miss the true heart of God.

The Creator of everything is rebuking his disciples for their failure to understand the inherent worth of children and their approach to life.  They aren't living in the past and they aren't fretting over the future.  They are content with the "now" and that particular now meant seeing Rabbi Jesus and, perhaps, sitting on his lap.  If I envision God this way, I have to wonder how impressed he really is with all my knowledge and posturing as opposed to me coming to him with the wonder of a child.  How much does God really want me to "vision cast" instead of resting secure in the knowledge that he provides my daily bread?  I'm thinking he longs for us to come as children - and that's exactly what this passage means.

As I travel the Crooked Path, I need to open my eyes, mind and heart to the wonder of "now" and embrace freely the God who gives it.  I need to trust in the present (Peter has something to say about that) and stop trying to figure it all out.  I need to come and jump into the lap of the Almighty - knowing full well that it will make him laugh and he will embrace me with his massive, redemptive arms of love.  I need to quit worrying about the complex and get back to the simple.