Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fish Lips and Faith

Matthew 17:24-27
24 After they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Your teacher pays the double drachma tax, doesn’t he?” 

This is a little vignette of irony that just jumps off the page at me…

Lord Jesus--You are the son of God, your father owns the temple and here this temple tax collector is asking for the temple tax.  I wonder if this person put it together after the resurrection…I   wonder if this person was ever a believer.  This little incident would be something to remember and say…I can’t believe that I ever did that.

25 He said, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect tolls or taxes—from their sons or from foreigners?”26 After he said, “From foreigners,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.

Lord Jesus-You picked up on the irony of the situation.  They were calling you’re a foreigner in your own father’s house. I wonder if there was a slight sardonic smirk that crossed your face.

 27 But so that we don’t offend them, go to the lake and throw out a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth, you will find a four-drachma coin. Take that and give it to them for me and you.”

Lord Jesus-You know where the money is coming from that we need. You know if it is by usual means or by your active intervention.  You are engaged in the process that supplies the needs of your people.   It is your intervention that has allowed us the skills that we have and the level of successes that your people have experienced.  We participate in that blessing  and you continue to lead and guide.   It is not ours to hold to in fact the more we hold on to stuff the less we can trust in the giver of every good gift that comes our way.  The provision that evidences comes from your hand not matter who's name is on the signature line of the check.

Remind us of the fish story and what it means…stewardship is trust that the fish will be there when they are needed. Our job is to keep fishing in all of the ways that are available to us in all of the places where we can, in all the ways that we can, for as long as we can.  

Maybe the problem at times is we just don’t go fishing enough in the right place and look enough fish in the mouth.   

James 1:17
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Road Runs Through Me

I could have anticipated that the road is more than a metaphor in my life...the journey has in so many ways come to define my life.  Life is traveling around sometimes over the same itinerary again and again. It is a part of the job but beyond that it has become a part of my life.  The car, the open road  with tunes playing in the background and a goal in mind for the day.

The travel is not the point it is a part of the process to resolve the issue, to problem solve and to be able to move on.  So much of life is like that...process that leads to resolution that results in outcomes that require more resolution.  Problem solving that in it's self creates reactions that were not anticipated.  That in turn needs fine tuning that leads to further needed action...points me toward the spiritual.  The reality is: that process continues in my heart not just my head.  There are issues, problems which lead to resolution which leads to the challenge of an new set of changes that are called for.  And the road goes on right straight though my heart.

Lord Jesus--When you called me to follow you, I never realize that it would be a dynamic process over time, space and a life time of change.  Why did I get this picture at the beginning that one decision and the matter was settled? I chose to follow you and that has lead to a million decisions that rested on that first choice. It has been a more of a adventure. The road to kingdom come runs straight and true even when from my end all I see is asphalt.

The connection between process and product is not always direct.  The connection between journey and destination sometimes is a twisted blindsided highway.  That does not mean that I have somehow gone off track if I end up places that I didn't anticipate.  It just means I have to trust the One who led me and that He will continue to lead.

The road is about process and movement toward an end that is known from the start of the trip.  It is occasioned by all sorts of things...but the end result is that there is the need for relationship building.  One way or another that is always a part of my travels.  That is the direct connection to my Jesus walk daily...

Amos 3:3
Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?
If there is any fundamental lesson that I learned in this walk with Jesus it is that all of life is about relationship building.  This picture of Sweet and myself is one of my favorite.  First, it is at a place that we love to go.  The sand and the sea of the Outer Banks is my favorite.  I am not sure why I like this picutre so much.  I guess it is that we are headed in the same direction and the sun is is late fall and we remain together.  How much better does it get?

Does the road run through me? Yes, and it is the highway of the King.

A Step or Two Beyond A Lewis Quote

"If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown."
C. S. Lewis ~ Mere Christianity

This quote got me thinking. Clearly, Lewis has in mind that a Christ follower has something occur that is a fundamental difference in kind from what they were before. The difference between grass and wheat.

Most of the time in the church we look for differences in degree. Better attendance, better giving, more baptisms, professions of faith. The church in Saratoga Sunday attendance is...

Numbers in general are counting out differences in degree. It was 83 yesterday. John Doe hasn't missed a Sunday all year, or has brought 15 of his friends to church...or has read his Bible through every year for the last 15 years. All are good things, but not the best thing.

What Lewis is pointing to clearly is if we are looking for something that numbers can never indicate. He is pointing to a difference in kind. Grass and wheat are both plants but one is ground cover and one is a source of food. One looks nice and one is productive. One according to Jesus is burnt up and the other is gathered into barns for safekeeping.

Here is the thing...I am clear that a fundamental difference occurs at conversion. It is written across the gospels in love and in large print letters. But that change is on going and points toward a harvest that occurs repeatedly. The harvest itself creating the seeds for the next years harvest. So difference in kind leads to ongoing organic growth that is not forced or stilted but instead the natural thing that wheat does. It requires ploughing and sowing and reaping. It is a field,  a life and an organic process that continues to be tended.

Lord Jesus--So where are the places that ploughing is required? Where are the places where planting is taking place? Where in my life do I sense without any doubt the blessing and fruitful harvest of the Holy Spirits work?  Thank you for the Holy Spirit's ongoing tending in my life.