"A real Christian is an odd number anyway. He feels supreme love for one whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest; and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passes knowledge. The man who has met God is not looking for anything; he has found it. He is not searching for light, for upon him the light has already shined. His certainty may seem bigoted, but his assurance is that of one who knows by experience his religion is not hearsay. He is not a copy, not a facsimile. He is an original from the hand of the Holy Spirit.”
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
As far as I'm concerned, I have pretty much always approached life with the sense that the best was yet to come. I still believe that. With that mindset, at the moment I'm really caught up in launching a brand new ministry in our church, a ministry designed for those 55+.
To that end, I've been reading lots of books that deal with the subject of life in the "2nd half." If you haven't figured it out yet, you can toss about everything you have ever known about aging out the window. We are in a new space, with increased life expectancy, a much longer time to need resources, and options that never existed before. Instead of entering into the "golden years of retirement," we find folks at that stage of life launching entirely new careers, some finding themselves more productive than ever. At the very least, people are thinking fresh, new thoughts, considering options that have lain dormant for years.
As I have been pouring over material having to do with this subject, I came across the work of G. Stanley Hall, the gentleman who coined the term "adolescence," and in fact helped our society to understand that stage in life in the early 20th century. But what most don't know about him is that he did the same thing with the 55+ years, a period of life he called "senescence." Disagreeing with the common wisdom about those growing older, namely that they had little to do but wait comfortably for their demise, he stated something that rang so very true to me. This quote is from his book, "Senescence," published in 1922. He's speaking about how differently "older" people (chose your own age here) feel about the way they see life versus the way younger people assume they feel:
"How little there is in common between what we feel about it and the way we find it regarded by our juniors; and how hard it is to conform to their expectations of us! They think we have glided into a peaceful harbor and have only to cast anchor and be at rest. We feel that we have made landfall on a new continent where we must not only disembark but explore and make new departures and institutions and give a better interpretation to human life. Instead of descending toward a deep, dark valley we stand, in fact, before a delectable mountain, from the summit of which, if we can only reach it, we can view the world in a clearer light and in truer perspective."
Man, do I resonate with that! That is exactly where I am in my life, and in relationship to this new ministry. I see a whole new world out there filled with folks plus or minus my age who desire a whole lot more out of their lives. They just don't know what that might be. What a spot to be in - I get to help them understand not only what will bring them joy now, but forever! And along the way, I get to encourage them to develop all those things in their lives that have been lying dormant for years.
To that end, I'm reminded of G.B. Shaw's words, written when he was 65:
"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"
I firmly believe the best is yet to come, and I couldn't be more excited to see what God has in store!
Thursday, August 4, 2011
How do you experience peace when it seems to be in such short supply? Indeed, it seems like the deck is stacked against having any peace in our hearts at all. If you dare to watch the daily news, it's little more than a police blotter and reasons for despair. As if living in a land of tightening our belts ever more daily wasn't enough, we're informed over, and over, and over, and over, and over again just how bad things are. If your job doesn't get you, then the tumbling of the stock market will. If the spoiled turkey doesn't upset your stomach, then the latest child kidnapping will. How does a person hope to sleep at night?
Believe it or not, it isn't all that difficult. It boils down to a simple trust in the Lord. When he was just hours away from his crucifixion, Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you that in me you might have peace; in the world you will have tribulation, but cheer up, I have overcome the world." (John 16.33) Wow!
People can debate putting their faith in Jesus til the cows come home, but I've got to tell you this: I'd much rather find peace in him personally then have one more debate over who he really is. He said he was God, then he proved it in more ways that can be counted. So if he says if we put our faith in him, we will find peace (and life, joy, comfort, and a boatload of other good things), I believe him. I take him at his word.
The deal about a simple faith in Jesus is this. Either what he says is true, or it isn't. Either we can find peace, or we can't. There's no door #3. For me, I choose to believe him. So even when I find myself navigating the white waters of life, I know that if I just rest in him, his power, promises, and presence, I will find peace. I hope you'll join me in that decision, and find peace, no matter what's going on around you!
Monday, February 7, 2011
British theologian Alister McGrath has some very helpful things to say about the Kingdom of God. He writes,
"The dominant theme in the preaching of Jesus is the coming of the kingdom of God. This phrase is rare in contemporary Jewish writings, and is widely regarded as one of the most distinctive aspects of the preaching of Jesus. This term, or closely related ideas, occurs some 70 times in the Synoptic Gospels. The use of the word "kingdom in this context is potentially misleading. Although this English word has been used regularly since the sixteenth century to translate the Greek term basileia, the term "kingship" is more appropriate. The term "kingdom" suggests a definite geographical region which is being ruled, whereas the Greek term refers primarily to the act of ruling itself. In New Testament scholarship, the term "the kingly rule of God" has often been used to make this point clear."
I find this to be an extremely helpful statement, especially in light of Jesus' many teaching on the Kingdom, and his statements like, "the Kingdom of God is within you." Clearly he was talking about his leadership in the lives of his people, not some destination or location.
I love the idea that Jesus wants to have an active role in leading my life, i.e. intends to be my King, my leader. Yet it struck me today, as I was listening to more of the conversation about the debacle in Egypt, that none of us is really comfortable with a King, with anyone who can tell us what to do. To be sure, in many cases, the political leaders being replaced today are tyrants, individuals who have used their people for personal aggrandizement. But I think all of us still wrestle with anyone having the right to tell us what to do. We want to reserve that right for ourselves, and even though our own decision making hasn't yielded the best results across the years, we still would rather trust ourselves than anyone else, God included.
So what does the kingly rule of God look like in your life? How are you seeing that reality worked out day by day?