Pain Given Dignity

I believe this is true.

“When we stay bitter, we don’t grow, and we don’t help the people around us. What God wants to do with our pain is turn it into ministry, into an empathy that will heal others. Some of the darkest seasons in your life may turn into a gift for somebody else. And if we are willing to allow our pain and hardship to be used to help others, our pain is given dignity.”

Donald Miller said it.

Do you believe it?

How To Read The Bible

Read a great post today by Kem Meyer. She lists her suggestions for the top five places to start reading the Bible.

~Acts … to learn about the Church
~James … essential wisdom for daily living
~Ecclesiastes … an expose of the arrogant and ignorant expectations we fall victim to
~Proverbs … practical quotes, sayings and images for the here and now

I thought it was great, concise advice. What do you think?

Read Kem’s entire post here.

This Is Why We Do It

These 50+ people went to the river today to be bapitzed and publicly declare that they were following Jesus. They waded into the water to stand beside one of our pastors. When asked, “What is your testimony?”, they replied, “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus is my Savior”.


Then they dipped back into the water and came up drenched.

Some of these folks I know well. Some of them have shared their stories with me.

Some of them are acquaintances only; we worship together each week.

But we share the same community. We are brothers and sisters. And today, we celebrated together in the most amazing bonus I could ask for.

Glen Titus came up out of the water with a fishing hook stuck to his sandal. The line and a weight trailed out into the water. He unwrapped them and declared, “I’m keeping this! It’s a sign! Fishers of men!”

Jesus is Lord. There is no greater thing.


All Of My Life, In Every Season

What a weekend.

I’m sitting in an unusual pile of repressed emotions.  So much going on, so many life events and circumstances triggering varying emotional responses…I need a good cry, but I despair of having the time for that luxury.
My eldest child graduates.
My mom hosts the entire family – ex’s included – for a lunch, gracefully offering hospitality and a huge dollop of forgiveness.
One of my dearest friends and favorite musical partner ever moves out of our arena and into his own; we sang together today for what might be the last time this side of heaven.
My emotional reserves are spent, with lots of social activities and interactions.  The introvert in me is huddled in a corner of my soul, hands over her head, shaking and pleading, “No more….please, no more…”

My hormones are raging in unfamiliar ways.  Something uncontrollable seems to be happening to my body.  All the internal, physical and emotional issues aside, the primary problem is that my clothes don’t fit.  I hate it.
My life feels very cluttered and out of control right now.  I am longing for some quiet organization, some calm.
And yet – I could not ask for better circumstances.  
Isn’t it interesting how we humans can become so absorbed in the little glitches of life, missing all the level-headed joy springing up all around us? John Ortberg once said, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap.” I’m hoping that might clear out the clutter in my soul.  And I’m hoping that a little perspective will do the same.  The greatest truth I can find is in the undeniable existence of God.  Firm on His promise, I’ll stand.

This is my prayer in the desert when all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger and need
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire, in weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me, Lord, through the flames

I will bring praise, I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain
I will rejoice, I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle, when triumph is still on it’s way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I’ll stand

All of my life, in every season
You are still God, I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be empited again
The seed I’ve received I will sow


Apologetics With Mike Licona

Live blogging from the Innovative Church Network meeting at Atlee Community Church. The speaker today is Mike Licona, an apologist – that is, somebody is “concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.” It’s absolutely fascinating to hear from somebody whose primary focus in life is to help establish formative foundational evidence for faith in Jesus. There’s a great resource here as well

Some of those most powerful take-aways from today’s talk:

You can make up for being average when you have a strong desire and passion for something.

An ignorant culture will be slaughtered by their ignorance outside of the church bubble.

We have to defend our faith firmly and confidently, but with gentleness and respect.

Early biographies of Mohammed indicate that Islam and it’s earliest followers used force and violence.

Historical evidence points to Jesus’ resurrection and is therfore a good basis for the truth of Christianity.

Licona debated Bart Ehrman regarding the veracity of the claims of Christ in an attempt to expose the idiosyncratic view of history held by this extremely influential individual. He prepared for 5 1/2 months, 50 hours a week for the first debate. Licona acknowledges that apologetics is not just an intellectual effort but a spiritual battle.

Historians can establish with certainty that Peter, James and John were martyred for their faith due to reliable historical sources.

In starting dialogue with someone about faith issues:
With an atheist, establish if it’s an evidenciary issue or one of the will. “What would it take to convince you?” Looking at the resurrection of Jesus is a defining issue for truth; there is excellent historical evidence for this event.

With the problem of evil (probably the strongest argument against Christianity) and the sheer volume of senseless evil, look at Plantinga’s Free Will Defense: God cannot do logically contradictory things. He cannot create a square circle, or a married bachelor, or do the square root of blue. These are logically incoherent. Thus, God cannot create a world of free beings, all of whom choose to do right, all of the time. Free will necessitates choice, and at least some will choose sin. His only other option would be to create a world without free will, which would be inconsistent with the true nature of love.

If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
If objective moral values do not exist, there is no basis to call something ‘evil’.
If there is no basis to call something evil, the entire basis of the existence of evil disproving the existence of God is worthless.

Personal interaction with atheists often indicate, rather than disbelief, an intense anger or injury regarding the church or Christians.

Starting the conversation with someone who has been disappointed by God requires listening. Christians are “knuckleheads” more than they should be, and often cause problems that lead others towards a form of atheism.

You can’t judge a philosophy by its abuse. Stalin was an atheist – but that doesn’t stop atheists from identifying with him. In an atheistic reality, there are no rules, so Stalin and other dictators did not break any rules. However, Christian leaders HAVE “broken the rules”.

Merely Irritating

My foot hurt this morning.  While still in bed, I realized that I kept waking up because of a recurring pain. 

Straining to wake up, it seemed like there was something on the inside flesh of my foot that hurt just enough to be annoying.
I ignored it and fell back asleep.  But every time I moved, brushed my foot against the mattress or my leg, the pain returned.
I got up, decided to ignore the issue – it was minor – and got the house going for another school day.  But every few minutes I’d bump something or brush up against something, and I’d notice the pain.  Never enough to cause me to stop, I just kept on.
I did this for a few hours, while everybody got off to school.  But when it came time to get serious about the day, the minor issue became more of a problem.  
So, I stopped what I was doing and headed for the bathroom.  Dug up a pair of tweezers.  Poked around until I found a miniscule sliver of something and removed it.
The problem was gone.
I couldn’t help but consider the personal spiritual implications.  They’re there.  Suffice it to say that there are things – tiny things that seem almost irrelevant – that I ignore until they really complicate my life.  Merely taking a few minutes to address the issue relieves the problem. Small, it’s merely irritating.  Ignored, it grows into something more potent and often dangerous.
But so often, I just can’t be bothered, or I put it off, or I just say, “Later.”
I suppose I’m not the only one who does this.  And I suppose I’m not the only one who suffers the consequences.

Honesty

So much is going on in our community this week.

But I was particularly struck by something powerful in small group last night.  In a conversation that wound its way from Biblical parables to sin, grace, tithing, alcohol and everything in between, at one point somebody sucked it up and got really vulnerable.
They simply said, “Hey, I wanna be absolutely honest with you guys about something.”
And they clarified a statement, explaining the entire truth about something they’d shared earlier.  
They told the last 10%.
They gave it all up, risking vulnerability and absolute honesty.
It was a small thing, really; nothing huge in the grand scheme of life.
But it was honest.  It was the truth.

Is there something you need to be honest about?  Is there some area of life where you’re skirting full disclosure?  Are you holding back just enough to matter?