Sunday, July 31, 2011

Notes To the Lord :Running Away and Running Toward

2 Timothy 2
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Lord Jesus--Paul’s wisdom is to point Timothy toward righteousness, faith, love and a pure heart. Which implies that he is pushing away from the evil desires of youth...are all desires of youth evil? No, but there needs to be close evaluation.

So what are you doing with me Lord Jesus? Where are you pointing me toward, Lord? The place where I am at currently is painful, and leaves me empty and looking for more of you.

Where is the next step? I am feeling stretched which may not be a bad thing. I am listening but late as usual...always more interested in a meander than in a forced march. Paul aimed Timothy toward the light...toward righteousness, faith, love and a pure heart. Facing the right direction is always good...when facing the light the shadow falls behind me.

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

Lord Jesus--The journey is toward the light and away from arguments to a place where I own my stuff with grace. The journey is not an easy is really traveled with you alone but intersected with others of “like precious faith.” The best I can do for anyone else is to point them toward the light and to be aware of their shadow cast away from the light.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Growing Edges:Dark Powers and Angels of Light

C.S. Lewis on the church in enemy territory:

“One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe – a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.”

“Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening to the secret wireless from our friends; that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.” (from Mere Christianity)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Pressing On

2 Timothy 2

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Lord Jesus--I am glad that Our Father’s house is a big one. It is big and varied with dimensions that astound with nooks and crannies abounding. Paul’s point here is that I need to let the gospel have it’s full effect: a change of essence. The difference between wood and clay verses gold and silver are not differences of degree but differences in kind.

Paul also point to functionality being determined by essence. Is that a process that we complete? Is it the same process that Paul is talking about in Philippians?

Philippians 3:10-13

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Lord Jesus--It is an endurance race that is taking place. You want me to allow you to continue to change and mold me to be more and more like you. Paul was pointing to participating with, or allowing that process to continue in Timothy’s life and in the life of the church that he was leading.

I have to admit Lord, sometimes that situations that come at me seem to be random and just chance. But as I read your word and I allow you to work with the circumstance, there is an order that develops, a movement toward a goal that is not at first visible. It is your goal to transmute, wood and clay into silver and gold by your work in my life. It is a process that begins with salvation and that requires my acceptance and participation in the process.

In the day that awaits Lord continue that process of molding and of shaping me into the person that you have in mind. Help me co-operate with that process instead of meandering along aimlessly. This is a day to press on toward the light.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Something to Talk About

2 Timothy 2

16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

Lord Jesus--Somethings don’t need to be talked about. Or a better way to put it, not all spiritual talk is productive or helpful. False teaching is just that: false teaching. There were those who Timothy was dealing with that wanted to take the gospel and throw it into the mix of religious soup that surround the early church.

The central themes of the gospel are clear and don’t need me to spice them up with a bit of new age, or even psycho-babble. The message, the old, old story of mercy, grace, and love lived out in accountability, has not changed.

19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Lord Jesus--Entrance into the Kingdom is so simple. I hear echos of Romans 10:9-10.

Romans 10:9-10 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

But here Paul includes accountability...there has to be changed lives that result for the gospels impact. That is the essence of it, isn’t Lord? You want to see changed lives, no more circles. There needs to be movement in a focused and consistent direction...toward the light, toward hope, toward purity of life and mind.

Forgive me for the times when I have Attention Deficit Disorder of the soul. In this day that will grab a hold on me in just a few minutes, guide me in your ways. May your Spirit direct me toward the goals that really matter.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Note to the Lord:The Adirondacks and Beyond.

Email, Facebook, church website, social media and anti-social an age of connection when we are increasingly disconnected.

Living Springs is a little church on the edge of the Adirondacks that in a way is living out the direction of Johnny Wesley for our own day. The World is my Parish, so said Johnny. I can’t say that I have called on everyone who is on my friend list lately. But I can say that I have prayed with many of them and for many of them in all of the above mentioned genres. We are across the street from a Navy base. Service men and families that are my friends are many places that I still have contact with years after they have moved on to another base, another church another set of friends.

Living Springs Community Church is a church of a Sunday morning attendance of around 40, but we have more than our share of techie types among us. About 4 years ago we put together our first website. Three years ago we started a pastor’s blog. All in an effort to connect. During most of this time we have encouraged people to engage in social media, many of our people are using Facebook. In short, much of my life is on line either in a podcast of the sermon, or on the blog on the website or on Facebook, for better or worse.

Does that create interesting interactions? Absolutely. This is most clearly the case with a good friend of a more liberal outlook on the gospel. Is his positions on many of the hot-button issues of our day different than mine? Absolutely. Do I correct him? Or argue with him? Never. There is no need for arguments. Logic will not change his mind. I try to show grace, love and acceptance when it is appropriate. I affirm what I can affirm and keep my keyboard quiet when I have nothing positive and engaging to say. I will trust the Holy Spirit to do His work as He sees fit in my good friend’s life.

It is not my place to judge him or to correct his view of scripture, marriage or sexual orientation. I am not his judge, I am his friend. A friend who has watched his courage in the face of loss and personal suffering. Facebook has given me a place to connect with this friend of years past and to be a part of his life.

I think of the ”Arab Spring” and the role of social media to confront the oppression of wicked power hungry men. I wonder if there is a way that I can use this tool to see a “Jesus Spring” in the Adirondacks and beyond.

Jesus--Work in all the ways that I, frankly, may never know about, as I seek to connect in this age of disconnection and dislocation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NOtes to the Lord:Work and Word

2 Timothy 2

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed
and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Lord Jesus--This morning as the sun rises, I think about the past and the process that has lead me to this place, this day, this situation that you have brought me to. From time to time I see your finger prints on the windows of my soul.

Here Paul was reminded the young Timothy that life is not all about fun, and happiness, but there is work involved in following you and there is accountability that is called for. Remind me of my accountability to “correctly” handle the word of truth.

Handling the word of truth...I think about the simple ways that Sunday School teacher used to talk
with me about the Bible...”treat it with respect like the United States flag.” That idea kind of works to a point. But I have a feeling that you want your word to be more than hanging on a wall somewhere or standing in a corner gathering dust. I also have the feeling that the flag and what it stands for should be more than a piece of cloth hanging from a stick on the wall.

Handling the word of truth...starts with you in conversation. Lord let the words come alive in my soul as you speak the words into my heart. Words with power come as I wait for you to tell me of grace, hope and love that surrounds me. Today push me in the direction of “correctly handles the word of truth.”

Your word when I let it work within me, changes me from the inside out...gently, quietly without a lot loud fanfare. Do the mechanics of study matter? Absolutely! I need to understand the context, the words, the setting that surrounded your word in the first place. But more important than anything I must not miss the message: grace, hope, love, accountability.

Today I open myself to your direction, Lord Jesus...lead through your word and work in this heart of mine. Lead me Lord is your day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Endurance

2 Timothy 2:12-14

12 if we endure, we will also reign with him.

Lord Jesus--Endurance, most of the time, is not a pretty thing. It is wrapped up in sweat and energy expended. I know that there are times when I hold on with both hands for all that I have and have the facial expression that goes with it. Grimace, facial contortion...all can sum up endurance at times.

Yet, Thank you, that I am held in place by a tether that is not always visible but just as real. Where does that endurance come from? Paul says in it comes from the simple fact that...

Romans 5

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

My hope is not only sweat drenched but it has your blood tied up in it, Lord Jesus. Thank you for endurance, it is your gift to those who see with the eyes of faith what is not yet visible to the unaided eye.

If we disown him, he will also disown us;

Lord Jesus--Right now, around me there are those who are not willing to look at the hard places and the warnings that you leave in your word. Remind me of the goal again today...

There is heaven to journey toward and a hell to fear. Balance in seeing both the blessing and the possibility of curse is needed in my walk with you. In fact blessing has little meaning without the possibility of consequence if I fail.

13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

In the middle of a fickle, changeable remain faithful and true, teach me the hard lessons of faithfulness in the middle of all that confronts and confounds me. Sometimes, endurance is just moving in your direction, toward the light...with the shadows cast in back of me. Lord Jesus, keep me facing the light.

14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

So often I think that following you is about words...but really you want to change thoughts, feelings and actions...not just words. Transformation of heart and mind.

In this day that is starting all around me, coffee and sun light are at my elbow, let me endure and prosper in your grace.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Growing Edges

Here is another quote that reminds me that I am a witness to the light everywhere I go...or I am a distraction from the light.

The Lamb calls us to follow him wherever he goes; into the dark places of the world, the dark places of our own hearts, the places where tears blot out the sunlight, the places where tyrants pave the grass with concrete; and he bids us shine his morning light into the darkness, and share his ministry of wiping away the tears.

Shared on June 15th, 2011 from Kindle

Today Lord, is a day when I seek to follow you in the light and to reflect your grace. Help me to catch some rays that matter today.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Growing Edges

Couple of great quotes from books well worth the time and money to read...

And this is the point where believing in the resurrection of Jesus suddenly ceases to be a matter of inquiring about an odd event in the first century and becomes a matter of rediscovering hope in the twenty-first century. Hope is what you get when you suddenly realize that a different worldview is possible, a worldview in which the rich, the powerful, and the unscrupulous do not after all have the last word. The same worldview shift that is demanded by the resurrection of Jesus is the shift that will enable us to transform the world.

Wright, N. T. (2009). Surprised by Hope (p. 75). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

The fact that Jesus rose from the grave changes everything. It changes the way I look at life, death, relationships, power, and that very essential word:hope.

What I am saying is that the message of the gospel, the message that the true God is the God who raises the dead, can and does go that deep; and that wherever you may be, and whenever you may hit that rock-bottom sense of despair, the gospel can reach you there too. Indeed, that is where it specializes in reaching people. It is when we are weak that we can be strong. When our strength comes to an end, that is when the life-giving wind of God starts to blow with new force.

Wright N T . Following Jesus (p. 71). Kindle Edition.

Thank you Jesus, that it isn't over even when those around me may think it is. Your good news goes as deep as my weakest weakness. That is a powerful truth.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Notes to the Lord:Life and Death

2 Timothy 2

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;

Lord Jesus--There is the message of the cross again. Where there is the cross there is soon the empty tomb. Death to self? Death to my expectations? A new take on self discipline? What death is there to be experienced today, Lord in my walk with you?

I have abandoned any thoughts of coincidence when I come to your word. What do you have to teach me today of dieing with you? I have no desire to let know me well. I am one that you have to pry my hands off of everything with a crowbar and a chisel.

The only reason to endure the process of dieing is that you are the one who breathes new life into the very things that I think are dead and gone, without hope. You are the one whom the grave could not hold. You are the one that brings grace with each encounter.

Work as you see fit in this day. It is after all only change.

So whatever has to die...let it die quickly. The light through the pines this morning reminds me that your blessings are new every morning.

Come quickly Lord Jesus into this day, into this heart of mine and into this world that surrounds me.