Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Weakness of a super-hero

Dec 12 (599 words)
How do you feel when God opens up things about your life that show that you aren’t as mature as you thought?  What does a revelation of your weakness make you do?  When you see your failings… when you fail – how do you respond?  When you get knocked down – do you get up again?

I often want to hide!  There is something unpleasant about walking in weakness… for some situations this will be an understatement.  Think of occasions when people walk in weakness.  This might be because of a broken bone, a failing heart, a lack of breath.  It becomes immediately obvious for all the world.  You need a crutch or cane.  You are slower than the rest.  When you cross a street, the waiting cars get impatient.  You might be leaning on someone.  
Perhaps I’m speaking for myself, but human nature doesn’t like the attention given to weakness.  People who are weak get the wrong kind of attention- the unwanted kind.

How do I know?  The story of Jesus is one indication.  His humble weak birth, was shrouded in the shame of a pregnancy outside of marriage.  His life was normal enough that when he took up his calling – preaching the Kingdom of God – people who knew him were shocked.  “This is Jesus – the one we know – the one we bought tables and chairs from…”  In the Gospel stories you don’t get any testimony in the adult life of Jesus that said: “I knew all along that you were destined for greatness.”

Instead of a conquering, super-hero messiah we get a contradiction in terms – a crucified messiah – pinned up on a cross to demonstrate the ultimate superiority of the Roman Empire.  Jesus submitted to something the Jews thought was an anti-messiah situation. 

This is all because it is in the weakness of love that God conquers.  It is in the vulnerability of humble serving that God rules.  It is in Jesus – the baby born in a poopy manger – the man nailed naked to a tree – that we find our supreme example.  Do your guts twist inside you with those word-combinations?

Western culture gravitates to Norse pagan mythologies – where we are bred for battle and heaven involves waiting for the biggest blood battle of them all! 
Instead, the way of Jesus is more about love than power (Faith, hope and love – the greatest being love… even with faith to move mountains – powerful faith – if you are without love, you are nothing (1 Cor 13)). 

It is through the weakness of the cross that God’s true power is revealed: 1 Cor 1:18-25 “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”  Where is the one who is wise?  Where is the scribe?  Where is the debater of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the follow of what we preach to save those who believe.  For Jews demand [powerful] signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Story junk-mail

Dec 6th (513 words)
We are living in a society that has a glut of stories.  How does that phrase strike you – “A glut of stories”?  Do you think of a huge library – with story books and novels?  Do you think of a shelf of dvd’s?  Do you think of online movie carriers – Itunes, Netflix, Youtube?  Do you think of the Cinema?  We have all the above today.  Someone invented the phrase: videovore.  This is someone who devours stories without end.  There is also the expression: binge watch.  Junk mail crowds out our mailbox and it is hard to separate the garbage that wants to take your time and money from the important stuff.

Stories are powerful!  They shape our image of right and wrong, beautiful and ugly.  They present us with life-goals and dangers to avoid.  They trace out for us a picture of what if…
These orient us in our actions, what we think, what we feel in our heart.

Can a little story do all this?  Yes – and more!  Stories inspire the imagination – a key tool in orienting our life-metaphors.  Stories develop our root metaphors – the bottom line, inner core reality of our lives.  [A root metaphor is the most fundamental assumption you take for granted.]
                Some examples of root metaphors include: Love conquers all, Blood is thicker than water, all is one, this is all there is, God is good, Jesus loves me. 

This is why the stories of Jesus are so essential to my being.  He is the root metaphor of the whole Bible – all of history – I believe.  God’s word was made flesh and dwelt among us to bring us to him and him to us.  He is the true superhero! (John 1)  Imagine him coming against all the other super-villains – all he has to do is unmake them – or throw them in hell (did you see how I am trying to translate Jesus into the story-images of our culture?) .

So what?

Pay attention to the stories you put in.  Filter them, don’t just take them in.  Some stories you should just keep out of your mind because of how they distort the good and beautiful – making bad look good and good look bad… making ugly look beautiful and beautiful look ugly.  Other stories you can confront and attack – revealing the story for what it is.  Still other stories you can judge and critique taking pieces for yourself (I like this… but I don’t agree with that…).  Sometimes you come across a great story that can inspire your pursuit of truth and life abundance.

What are the great stories of humanity?

What are your great stories?

Where do you put the Bible? 
On a dusty shelf – next to the dictionary and encyclopedia – boring resource tools that you never use?
I would say that the Bible is the meta-story – the main story that all other good stories borrow from and are measured by.
It doesn’t need to be a boring book – it’s life-changing.  Invest your life in it – because it opens a more abundant relationship with God!

Happy reading!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Painting with a broken brush

Nov 30th (394 words)
What is life without faith?  What is life without God?  What is life without faith in God?  What does life look like if you are living it without actively, daily including God in it?

“Bla bla bla…” you may say sarcastically.  “That’s your job David – to talk about God and faith and all that stuff.”  But I speak out of the convictions of my heart – not because it is my job.

I sometimes get discouraged with the brokenness all around me – as well as the brokenness of my own life.  These moments of discouragement are largely because I am looking around me – living without faith – hung up on the depressing state of the world.

A life of faith in God is able to find its encouragement in who God is.  He isn’t broken.  He has us in this broken world for a short season – as we look by faith to a perfect future he is painting.  How is God painting a perfect future in heaven?  With us.  With you and me – all of us broken paint brushes.

Ever seen a paintbrush so broken that only a few bristles are left?  Ever seen a paintbrush so broken that it no longer has a handle – and the painter needs to take hold of it higher up if it is to be used?

God delights in us.  He delights in using us to get eternity ready.  He delights in us because he has delighted in Jesus, his Son – so God the Father delights in us through God the Son. 

Imagine a painter painting with a brush that only has a few bristles… it takes longer – applying less paint with every application, but the finished masterpiece will be exactly what the painter wants.
Even in the sorrow we might feel because of the brokenness of the world be encouraged by the words of Isaiah:  “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Do you know the Beatles' song: "I want to hold your hand"

Nov 8th  (342 words)
I want to hold your hand” (x3).  It’s a Beatles song that makes me think of two teenagers who have a happy-sort-of-like for one another.  We sang it in a nursing home for one of the people there.  It fit in well with our goal of singing familiar songs that bring a little light and happiness to the place. 

This image is also a mental picture I use often in my imagination with God.  I heard a teacher once talk about walking in dependence on God – and teaching that it is like a little child holding the hand of their parent – letting their father lead them and provide for them and protect them.  This is a powerful image when facing uncertain days!

Uncertainty can be a debilitating condition… caught between two possibilities – frozen in the headlights and not knowing whether to go to the right or the left.  And reality rumbles on toward you… threatening and loud.

But we hold the hand of our father who leads us.  This morning God gave me Isaiah 41:13: “For I, the LORD your God hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’”

We don’t need to fearfully ignore tragedy around us (burying our head in the sand).  I’m not sure how many people in our society can actually do this.
We don’t need to try to find our own salvation – saying: “God helps those who help themselves.”  This can easily be an excuse for independent individuality.
We don’t need to stay stuck in our situation saying: “There is nothing else to do…”  This is another form of independent individuality – where we walk with blinders on, limiting our vision.

Instead, we can walk hand-in-hand with God as he leads us.  This image is good for the mega decisions as well as the mini situations we face every day.

Thanks God.  "I want to hold your ha -  -  - nd" (3x).  Take us by the hand.  Your hands are warm and inviting.