Saturday, July 31, 2004
How many of us have heard the smoldering sermons on hell. In an old country song Dolly Parton sang that her daddy was an old time preacher man who could preach hell so hot you could feel the flames (he wasn't, but it made for a good song). Have you ever had the nightmares of the leaping flames, screaming torment, and eternal darkness? (Or were you wondering how there would be flames and darkness?) Maybe in the beginning steps of our journey we were held in place by the fear of going to hell because of that little insignificant sin that just never did quite get forgiven. But when's the last time you restrained yourself because you didn't want to go to hell? If anything all the talk about grace today has virtually eliminated hell from the vocabulary of Christians. I'm not sure that anyone knows what they are saved from! So, we've gone from feeling the flames on Sundays, to feeling comfortably numb. Was fear ever enough to keep our sights in the right place? I don't think so - and I don't think it was ever meant to. Anyways ... just some thoughts after watching THE VILLAGE this afternoon.
Friday, July 30, 2004
Yes, There Really Is A Joel
I did not make it up .... the fact that Joel and I were to post on this blog together. He's got a really busy weekend ... but maybe he'll be able to post before long.
Who Are You?
A viewing of The Manchurian Candidate this afternoon leaves me pondering over our own identities and the voices that call us to action. (I will not be giving any of the movie, so don't worry!) One way of defining ourselves is to look inward and observe which voices that call out to us actually move us to action. Motives are difficult to discern at times. Sometimes we are in denial of our true motives because we do not want to admit their impurity. Most of the time when we are motivated to do something good, there is a payoff in it. There are very few totally selfless deeds. Letting Jesus become the key voice of our conscience is a matter of both discipleship and Holy Spirit power. What voices are we listening to in our lives? We live in a virtual atmosphere of gods, each with his or her alluring call ... and we are attracted to them all. We reject idolatry while indulging our habitual sins. In doing so we are even fake to ourselves. The decision to follow Jesus is not a matter of getting to worship services, as much as it is a matter of living a worshipful life. The Holy Spirit empowers us for dynamic faithful living ... but we cannot both resist and embrace the Spirit. Maybe there's more I need to write about this ... would love to hear your thoughts.
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Driving In New Orleans
On my trip to New Orleans today I was reminded about one of the characteristics of this city: people drive ruthlessly. Drivers were pulling across in front of me for no reason! They were tailgating me! There were some driving too slow...most too fast. In fact, I was the only one driving just right. Well...I was the closest! Truthfully, it was making me mad when people were driving so carelessly around me. I wanted to shake my fist at them and call them names ... and drive just like them to show them that I could. Jesus' prayer on the cross, "Father forgive them" is haunting. We should never let our minds wander far from the cross. As disciples of Jesus Christ, should it be our decision to become like those who hurt us ... or is it our path to become like the One who hurt for us? Should I become a reckless driver like those around me? Should I become a reckless talker like those around me? Should I become a reckless critic like those around me? We are called to become something different. We are called to become like Jesus in all areas of life... not just when it seems convenient or easy. In fact, if we cannot become like Him when it is difficult ... does it matter that we are like him when it is easy? Maybe we're not much like Him at all. Next time someone pulls in front of me in traffic, I need to re-think my reaction ... but I also need to be reminded that Jesus calls me to be like him when it is a struggle to do so. The journey demands it.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Clawing Out or Being Lifted
Joel's message at THE GATHERING tonight really came from the heart. One of the teen girls told me on her way out that he really spoke to her and helped her. There is a big difference in clawing your way out of a difficult situation ... and allowing yourself to be lifted. It takes much trust, patience, faith to allow God to lift you from the pit in His own way. It is self-centered and faithless to rely on our own efforts to claw out of heartache and disapointment. The Elms have a cool song called Here's My Hand: We all want to get our way sometimes. We’re all born then choose to give up our lives. You hooked me when You promised the Way, So from now until forever I say… Here’s my hand, here’s my hand. You told me I was good enough to stand. Here’s my hand. Too often I've not been willing to give Him my hand ... I really have to be reminded of his promises...and because of them I can choose to be lifted in His strength.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Joel and I have been talking about establishing a blog for a long time now. There might be a variety of reasons we have wanted to do so. Perhaps it is a blazing fascination with ourselves. Or maybe it is because we enjoy discussing various subjects so much and thought others would be fascinated with our exchanges and want to join it. Maybe it is just plain old wanting to jump on the bandwagon of blogation that has swept the world. I don't know exactly. But I do know that we deliberated for many weeks over the name of our blog. "Out Here Hope Remains" was a name we came back to time and again. I believe it came from a Caedmon's Call lyric. I think at one point we were ready to settle on "Jumbo Inflate Monkey" but it was one of those inside jokes that we would have to explain - and we all know how funny those are. We deliberated over two or three dozen possibilities. And what for? It's so much easier to deliberate over the name of a blog than it is to create one and actually post something on it. Until we decide, it's still just an open idea floating around in the air, right? I wonder how many of us are deliberating about our life in the Kingdom ... after all ... as long as we are undecided we can't be expected to do much. Let's break out of deliberations and break into deliverance.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Welcome to A Continued Journey
It's not a new journey at all ... as the walls in John's office can testify. You have joined us mid-stream ... and we invite you to plunge in with us. Welcome to our new blog ... a place where John and Joel will reflect on the thoughts that wander through their minds. John is the pragmatic (sometimes cynical) rationalist who longs to cling to the mystical. Joel is the experiential mystic free spirit who ought to be more pragmatic, in John's opinion. It ought to be fun.