Month: March 2004

Victory today, not just tomorrow …

Jason’s sermon yesterday led me to consider a hymn we sing from time to time, “Victory In Jesus.” We sing lightly on the first two verses but bust it out singing the third. Yet, the hymn holds some important theology for us to consider. If Jesus won for us the victory, what did he win the victory over? We sing about the “mansion He has built for us in glory” as though that is what the victory did for us – solely give us a home in a place called heaven.

Yet, the theology of the Apostle Paul clearly points out that Jesus won the victory over sin and death – see 1 Corinthians 15. We should be banging out the first two verses for they remind us that the victory Christ won for us is not reserved for some future event but for today. The realization of the reality of this victory leads us to consider our need for radical renovation of the heart and an awareness that we go from life to life, not life to death to life. We experience life after life not life after death. What a victory we have in Jesus!

Friends …

Over the past year I have made an e-friend who has become a “phone friend”, who one day I hope to meet. Jim lives in Seattle. He is co-founcer of Off-the-Map. My first encounter with Jim and his website came last May. In a conference call he shared some fascinating insights on evangelism; especially significant coming from Seattle. I have heard another pastor there claim that Seattle to be one of the most “pagan” or “post-Christian” environments. If you get the time to go to his website, take a look at some of the streaming video clips. For example, “An Interview with 3 Lost People.”

An interesting development Jim is finding is more and more, people do not consider themselves “lost.” They even find it offensive to be considered “lost.” The question then becomes how do we share about the Kingdom of God and the victory of Christ? Do we have to find ways to help them “understand their lostness?” Or are there other elements of the Kingdom way of life that would be used by the Spirit of God to bring them to a place of repentance, confession and following Jesus, the Christ?

I suspect Jim has one way to raise curiosity and stir conversation leading to an authentic interest in someone coming to faith. He calls them “Ordinary Attempts.”

My best friend …

Twenty-one years ago this evening, I married my best friend. We sense today what we felt then, blessed God honored our lives with a deep friendship. What we thought was deep then seems only a shallow stream after sharing life for these years. Add to twenty-one the four years we spent “dating” and we have shared 25 years – a quarter of a century!

You never know who your are nor who you will become until living in the “furnace” of relationship. Don Miller in Blue Like Jazz underscores a life drowned in “my own personal” thing. I use “furnace” as a metaphor for a number of reasons. The fire incinerates detrimental relational elements. Fire purifies and hardens quality metals providing strength in the face of stress and strain. Fire provides warmth from the cold. Fire invites.

We look forward to more of life with each other – best friends. In the process we know in the next twenty-one years we do not know what we will be nor become but trust God will always be at work to “sharpen” us as we share life.

I love you Patty – Happy Anniversary!

. . . won’t see this …

I walked through the building this morning and took a picture of the supply line for our “fire sprinkler” system.

Once the building is up and completed, you won’t see this water source. The ceiling will offer indications we have a “sprinkler” system, but you will not readily see the source.

We ought to give off evidences of our interior connections with Jesus – there should be signs. These exterior indicators will point to our “hidden life in Christ.”

We might not want to lose the further image that we may be opened up to reveal the “living water” of Jesus, the Christ.

Love your neighbor as yourself …

More from Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.

Then she did it; she decided we didn’t need to be in touch anymore. She broke it off. She sent me a letter saying that I didn’t love myself and could not receive love from her. There was nothing she could do about it, and it was killing her. I wandered around the house for an hour just looking at the blank walls, . . . I was scrubbing the toilet when the voices began. I’d listened to them so often before, but on this day they were shouting. They were telling me that I was as disgusting as the urine on the wall around the toilet.

And then the sentiment occurred. I am certain it was the voice of God because it was accompanied by such a strong epiphany like a movement in a symphony or something. The sentiment was simple: Love your neighbor as yourslef.

And I thought about that for a second and wondered why God would put that phrase so strongly in my mind. I thought about our neighbor Mark, who is tall and skinny and gay, and I wondered whether God was telling me I was gay, which was odd because I had never felt gay, but then it hit me that God was not telling me I was gay. He was saying I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself. It was as if God had put me in a plane and flown me over myself so I could see how I was connected, all the neighborhoods that were falling apart because I would not let myself receive love from myself, from others, or from God. . . . So I stopped. And I mean that. I stopped hating myself. It no longer felt right. It wasn’t healthy, and I cut it out. (p.230-231)