A New Season

We’re on the cusp of a new season.

It’s taken a long time this year for fall to arrive. In fact, the temperatures of autumn are not settling in until tomorrow. 

Most of the leaves are still green. A few are red or yellow. When the cold air finally hits, the colors should become vibrant and plentiful–unless we get wind and rain from the hurricanes.

If that happens, most leaves will just fall off in their green state. We may be moving from the balmy temperatures of summer to the grayness of winter without the beauty in between.

As cooler weather settles upon us, my husband will achieve his final day of employment before he retires to a small business venture. So it’s more like he’s switching jobs than finishing his career. 

Yet, it’s a new season. One we expect to hold shorter commutes, less travel, and more sleep. Certainly, it’s a season of change.

Sometimes change is scary. Sometimes it lacks color. Sometimes the colors are beyond our remembering. Always the God who turns our paths walks with us whatever the new way may bring. 

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Restoring the Shattered: Illustrating Christ’s Love Through the Church in One Accord now available in e-version on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The Cross of Waiting

“It’s the waiting, the not knowing, that’s driving me crazy.”

“The waiting is the cross,” [Mother] answered.” Colleen Carroll Campbell from My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir~

Sometimes it feels like we’ve been waiting for something all our lives. I remember as a teen waiting for my father to pick me up from school and wondering how many hours I’d spent waiting for him in my life. But he always came. I always knew he would, and he did.

Having to wait through the unknown is its own cross–sometimes the heaviest. The test or surgery results, the diagnosis. We dwell on the outcome. The thing that will determine how the rest of our lives plays out.

Colleen Carroll Campbell waited for God to send her a child. She endured the agony of the wait, medical treatments and the monthly realization of yet another failure to conceive.

What weighed most heavily on her was not knowing whether she would ever be a mother.

She and her husband asked God again and again to send them a baby. Yet years of striving and never achieving had convinced her that her dream would never materialize. And in one way it never did. (Spoiler ahead!)

(Spoiler ahead!)

He didn’t send them a baby. He sent them two.

But they had to wait. And in the time of waiting, they grew closer to God and closer to each other.

God says, rest. Wait. Trust me.

We sense we are standing still in that time. But we are not. And God is not still either. He works through our times of waiting. He works in us. 

Rest. Wait. Trust. And watch for the outcome. 

It will be worth the wait.

Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NASB~

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Beyond a Path of Suffering

“God’s ways are at times like heavy wagon tracks that cut deep into our souls, yet all of them are merciful.” ― Charles Haddon SpurgeonGrace God’s Unmerited Favor*


Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn. Something bad happens. And the landscape of our story changes completely. We have a new perspective, a new direction. A bad thing works for good that we did not foresee.


I have a friend who worked in an ice cream truck when he was 17 years old. That seems like a job that would have few challenges. But one day, he was robbed and beaten. The event changed the trajectory of his life.


He became a career prosecutor. He devotes his life’s work to pursuing justice for those who are robbed, beaten, cheated, or worse.


A neighbor’s grandchild was born with serious handicaps. He and his parents faced challenges most of us cannot imagine. But two of his aunts found inspiration and, because of him, became therapists.


A former student’s younger sibling was born with a genetic disorder. This student is in medical school studying to become a geneticist. She may change the life trajectory of others who suffer from similar conditions.
 
We Christians love to quote Romans 8:28–“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


But we sometimes neglect the following verse: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We are creations still in the shaping process–being conformed to the image of Christ.


Most of us can look back and clearly see our turning points. We can realize now that we found our path because life changed one day. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Even unpleasant and painful.


But never without purpose.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Finding the Way

He stops me in the hallway at work–my former teacher, now a colleague. He’s been studying Greek because, he says, teachers should always remember how hard it is to learn something difficult.


“Where in the Bible does Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”?


“John 14, I think.”


He is especially interested in the word way, not sure if the English translation comes from methodos or hodos. The conversation sparks my own investigation. I’m glad the terms I look up are easy to understand (always a plus when dealing with Greek).


Methodos means a way of searching–inquiry. That meaning is secondary, but it’s the one my colleague mentioned. Methodos also means scheming, craftiness, and deceit. Strong’s Concordance finds it twice in Ephesians (4:14 and 6:11). Scriptures that warn us first of the cunning craftiness of men, then to beware the wiles of the devil.


But Jesus does not use methodos in John 14:6. He uses hodos.

Like methodoshodos has different connotations. “It can mean not only a road, a path, but also a practice.” So it is not only the way to go, the direction we take, it is also how we walk, how we encounter God and others through our lives.


Jesus is not a means of inquiry. He is the way to God. And He gives direction for our lives.


Before His followers were called Christians (Act 11:26), they were called the people of the Way. In Acts 9:2, the people “belonging to the Way”–hodos–were those Saul hoped to persecute as he made his way along the road to Damascus. Being called a follower of the Way was descriptive. Being called a Christian was an insult.


They stood out among the crowd. Some didn’t like that.


My colleague also wondered about the root of the word Methodism. Methodism’s founder John Wesley was well versed in Greek. Had Wesley intended to associate his view of the Christian life with methodos–a way of inquiry?


We were both surprised by what he discovered.


The name Methodism came in derision–just as the name Christian had in the early Church. John and Charles Wesley’s fellow students at Oxford called them Methodists because they were methodical in their spiritual discipline and their ministry efforts.


They stood out among the crowd.


John Wesley once said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”


Wesley knew that to follow the Way was not the easy way

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Wesley, like Luther before him, did not set out to establish a new church. Luther wanted to reform Catholicism. Wesley wanted to reform the Church of England. In fact, Methodism did not even become its own denomination until it arrived in America.


In England and America, Methodism planted churches and encouraged moral living, literacy, and philanthropy. Wesley encouraged William Wilberforce in the fight against slavery. Wesley advocated prison reform. He urged Christians not to simply collect and send goods to relieve the misery of the poor, but to go to the poor individually, each Christian engaging in personal ministry.
 
When He walked this earth, Jesus invited people to follow him. Wesley didn’t invite people to follow Methodism. He invited people to follow Christ.


Strong’s Concordance renders truth (aletheia) in John 14:6 as reality. It renders life (zoe) as life that includes both the “physical (present) and . . . spiritual (particularly future) existence.”


The Way, Truth, and Life invites us to a path that leads to reality for eternity.


And there is no other hodos.


Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Revised and reposed from April 2016

Tilling Good Ground

As a college junior, she was a latecomer to my freshman English class. The subject of our discussion was the 2001 book Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Filled with allusions to the Bible, historic events, and Zane Grey westerns, the book has plenty of fodder for discussion in a college-level class.

What caught this particular student’s eye was a line that repeats throughout the text as the narrator/main character, an 11 year old boy, advises the reader to “make of it what you will.” The it he refers to is Christian faith, faith in the miraculous works that come only from God. The narrator isn’t pushy about faith. He simply unfolds the miracles and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.

My student found that very appealing. She explained that she had rejected faith because it had always been a source of contention in her home. Her father had come from one denomination, her mother from another. They had never been able to find the peace that Christ offers and Enger depicts.

My experience growing up as the product of a ‘mixed marriage’ was quite different. Continue reading “Tilling Good Ground”

Transfiguring Grace

Paradox:

To see my own sin—my own failings and imperfections—

To overlook yours.

Joy:

To have His grace wash over me and splash onto you,

To have His grace soak us both through,

And stain us forever with His love.

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Excerpted from Restoring the Shattered, Coming to Amazon in October

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

For Us, For Him

Broken, unleavened bread,
Crushed grapes.
The bread and wine that He was,
Flesh and blood, a sacrifice of agony,
For us.

The prayer,
Asking His Father
To take away the cup.
Then His will set aside,
For us.

The arrest,
A voluntary prisoner whose “I am He”
Knocked them down.
Then He went with them,
For us.

It was cold.
They taunted and beat Him.
They drove nails into Him,
And He let them,
For us.

Today, we follow,
For Him,
A meager offering compared to His,
For us.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Previously posted: March 2016

A Gay Man Living Christ in the Church

Some of us would say he struggles with same-sex attraction. It’s our way of avoiding the word “gay”.

But Greg Coles doesn’t avoid the word; he embraces it.

His book–Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity–is beautifully written and raw.

When he realized–as an adolescent–that he was not attracted to girls, he prayed to God to make him straight. He continued to pray. Over the years, he dated girls.

He did not become straight. Continue reading “A Gay Man Living Christ in the Church”

Porn as a Drug to Conceal Truth

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
“Remember, all I’m offering is the truth, nothing more.” The Matrix, 1999
Morpheus offers Neo the truth. It’s a key scene in the movie, a crucial moment. Do we want to know the truth–or would we rather just go on believing “whatever you want to believe”?
Recent, secular recognition that pornography is bad for us is evidence that some Americans see the truth about the harm porn causes. But does that mean we will act on this truth–or will we choose to look away?
The Kansas City Royals are trying to discourage porn usage among the team members. A recent seminar for players featured speakers from a “non-religious” organization called “Fight the New Drug,” a group that invites participants to make an “informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness of its harmful effects using only science, facts, and personal accounts.” Continue reading “Porn as a Drug to Conceal Truth”