Restore to me the sense of wonder

This week we’ve received the news of the transition of Eugene Peterson. I have been deeply impacted by his life and work and continue to feel his impact that will last long past his time on this earth.

I’m also working my way through a biography of Dallas Willard, another spiritual giant in my life who continues his walk with Christ in the very presence of the Savior as well. Continue reading “Restore to me the sense of wonder”

The JOY of preaching the Word of God

One of my great joys came when I got up from a chair to walk to the podium and the Lord said to me, “Now remember, it’s what I do with the word between your lips and their hearts that matters.” That is a tremendous lesson. If you do not trust God to do that, then will let you do what you’re going to do, and it’s not going to come to much. But once you turn it loose and recognize we are always inadequate but our inadequacy is not the issue, you are able to lay that burden down. Then the satisfaction you have in Christ spills over into everything you do. — Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind

 

Our massive cultural failure

Today, equality is not actually regarded as a matter of human dignity and value. That is very hard to defend. Rather, it is regarded as a doorway to freedom. Freedom itself is not regarded in terms of the inherent dignity and value of human beings, but rather as opportunity. Opportunity is not regarded as opportunity to do what is good and right, but to get what you want. We talk a lot about them, but the basic values of our society are not equality and freedom — they are pleasure and “happiness.” And these are interpreted in sensualistic terms. Our society is a society of feeling… Feeling is our master. That’s why we have so many issues about abuse of one kind or another: abuse comes out of frustration over feeling. That is why we are such an addictive society. Also, watch your commercials for automobiles and so forth, and see how many of them are predicated upon feeling. Feeling furs our society. It also runs our massively failing education system. It is the only acknowledge ultimate value. That explains why we do so badly in areas of learning that require sustained discipline — which doesn’t “feel good.” — Dallas Willard, Renewing the Christian Mind 

Continue reading “Our massive cultural failure”

The very reason for this blog

As I have tried to limit my Facebook exposure over the last day or so, I’ve read the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding the Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage in all 50 states.

To those who did a lot of hand wringing waiting for this decision and are now decrying the “fall of America” or something akin to it, I can only say, “You haven’t been paying much attention lately, have you?”

To those who have followed this blog for very long, and really the whole reason for setting it up and writing so much on spiritual formation, it is honestly no surprise. Not today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow.

The impetus for this blog didn’t come out of a Supreme Court ruling. It came out of 9/11. It actually began to form in prayer before 9/11. Then, when the attack happened, I realized what the Lord was saying to me. (I’m a slow learner.)

The need for the Church in America is to understand we’ve lived for centuries as “Americans who happen to be Christians.” We now need to turn to the firm belief that we are “Christians who happen to be Americans.” (That was over 13 years ago, not just yesterday.)

After 9/11, I preached through the Sermon on the Mount for months, then invited people into an intentional spiritual formation group that lasted a year. Everyone who started on day one had to commit to an entire year. Almost everyone did!

The best way I can describe the journey since that point is this: Our biggest models for living out the power of the Kingdom needs to come from the Old Testament witness of Joseph, Daniel, and Esther. We learn to live with deep conviction as to who we are in Christ and then BLESS the culture in which we find ourselves. That is how I have attempted to model my life for these past few years. I’ve done okay at times, not so okay at others.

So, today, I am not alarmed. I am not wringing my hands. I am not doing a funeral dirge for America. (I confess I did something of a dirge for the American CHURCH after 9/11, then again after Katrina, but that’s another story.)

Today, I am as in love with Jesus as I was the day before. Okay… I’m not. I’m MORE in love with Jesus today than I was the day before.

Today, I am in love with people. All people. Whether they love me or not, quite frankly. That is my command from my Savior, and I take it seriously.

Today, I am desiring to bless my culture and bring the goodness of the Kingdom of God into the life of my culture in any way possible.

That didn’t change by any ruling of the Supreme Court yesterday… or ever. It doesn’t change with old laws or new laws. None of that touches the allegiance I have for the Kingdom of God.

Today, I will not curse my culture or my nation. I love where I live. People love me with my deep flaws. I love people with their deep flaws. And the Kingdom of God comes.

Whatever comes moving forward may surprise me, though I’m not sure it is possible any more. But even if it surprise me… it hasn’t taken God unawares. I can rest in that.

The very reason for this blog has now come to fulfillment. It is about living in a place that may not care about my opinion any more. But that didn’t happen just yesterday. That happened quite awhile back. And I still thrive. I still bless. I still love and bless and give. That was yesterday. That will be today. And, with God’s grace, that will be tomorrow.

It doesn’t mean “agreement.” But it does mean LOVE.

Love God.
Love people.

Let’s go.

The so-called wall of separation between church and state

Dallas Willard crushes the “wall of separation” argument when it comes to the First Amendment.

The First Amendment is about something Congress (and, as interpreted by the the Supreme Court and state governments) cannot do. It is not about what Christian should not do. We now live under the influence of a gigantic myth about a “wall of separation” between “church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution. It is a metaphor that describes one theory of the First Amendment… The phrase may have some value in its suggestion of an institutional separation of church and state, but (my emphasis follows) it is positively demonic when it is interpreted to require separation between religious morality and the state

Think of a world without the incredible work of William Wilberforce, who ended slavery in Great Britain without a war, or the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Think of the United States, even in our mixed up views of racism now, without the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. What if these people had been forced to separate their Christian morality from their demands on the state?

…the crucial importance of Christlike leadership is found in the blessed lives of those citizens who provide knowledge, insight, and guidance, by God’s grace and for his purposes and ends in our world.

Quotes are taken from The Divine Conspiracy Continued, p. 194

What is Freedom?

I am working my way through The Diving Conspiracy Continued by Dallas Willard and Gary Black, Jr. It is a continuation of Willard’s work, but moving into the realm of society.

He has a chapter called “Economics and Politics” and describes the difficulty of even defining the word “freedom.”

1. I am “free” only if no one is telling me what to do or preventing me from doing what I want. 

2. I am “free” only if I am actually able to achieve what I want to achieve.

3. I am “free” only if I am able to achieve what is good,  and that which is most conducive to the fullness of my life or the realization of my potential toward the highest and best result.

Personally, I think Americans are infatuated with #1.