Monday, September 25, 2017

What Are We Gonna Do?

There seems to be a lot of dissention, conflict and protest going on these days. Riots and protest are common on the streets of St Louis. Athletes and others are taking a knee or displaying some type of disobedience during the National Anthem. Relationships are severed over political views. It just seems than division and conflict has infiltrated our daily lives. Even our churches are not immune. It is in our human nature to be right. We all want to win. We all want to be right. We all want things the way we want them and we will go to various lengths to convince others to join us. Sometimes we try to discredit the truth so it fits our agenda. Sometimes we withhold money, affection, or care because the other person is not on the same side of the issue than us. Sometimes we can't help ourselves and get dragged in.  In our society, publically we can just delete, unfriend, unfollow, and sever all relationship with someone if we fail to get them to see our view point. We easily disguise our need for control under the banner of longevity, loyalty, and entitlement. In the end, we usually end up hurting the one thing we confess our love for the most. 
   So what do we do and where can we go? When we take a position of protest we only have two options: to attack or defend. When conflicts arise we are forced to attack the opposition and defend our own stance. When we are constantly on offence or defense there is no room for resolution or reconciliation. So we first must listen. We must listen for understanding, compassion, and insight. Most of us listen to respond, rebuttal, or to find loopholes to prove our point. So we need to be aware of our motive and ability to truly listen.
   Conflict most importantly is a spiritual problem. Conflict is a love issue. We all can love and still disagree. We all will have different of opinions, tastes, and preferences. That is the beauty of love and diversity. To each is their own, with no pretense or jealousy, which enriches both sides but diminishes neither.  Paul warns us in Colossians 3:13-14 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on LOVE, which binds us all together in perfect unity. When we feed into conflict we forget that God has forgiven us. We damage the Body of Christ known as the church. We tarnish what we confess to love so dearly. We allow the one thing that attracts us to one another be the thing that attacks us.
   One thing we can all agree on is no one really likes conflict. It is exhausting and comprises our character. As a faith community we can all do better. As a nation we can do better. As a community, we can do better. As followers of Christ we can do better. We all must be willing to listen for reconciliation, exhibit compassion, and humble ourselves so that pride can allow forgiveness to heal. We can fight to be right but be all alone at the end of the day. We can fight to protect and destroy what we cherish. We can forsake all others and never experience diversity. We can protest and miss opportunities to grow, learn, and understand each other. We can nurture conflict but never experience the fullness of God’s love blossom in unity. What is attractive to all people? A faith community where people listen to one another, where conflict is resolved respectfully, where everyone is valued and cherished, and where love and unity wins out. That place is the church. If we strive on conflict, we just might lose the one thing or one person we love the most.
Take Care of Yourself and Love One Another:

Monday, January 9, 2017

Into this Crisis

In my opinion, the word “crisis” is one of the most overused words in our society.  One doesn’t have to look far to hear about the economic crisis, immigration crisis, Russian cyber hacking crisis, Healthcare crisis, fake news crisis, employment crisis, and even weather crisis. I am not trying to make light of serious issues that need to be addressed, only that every situation is not at crisis level. We have overused the word publicly so frequently it has lost it power.  Crisis literally means a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger, a time when a difficult or important decision must be made, or the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death. When we look closely at the definition, we have all faced a point of crises in our life.  We have all lived through a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. We all have felt scared, uncertain, and fearful about something that was going on in our life. We all faced a time when a difficult or important decision had to be made.  Even some of us have faced that critical point in a disease when the illness went one of two ways.  Regardless of a definition, crises are personal, intimate, and downright petrifying when we are in the middle of our own crisis. So in times of crises, many of us naturally, honestly and humbling turn to God.  We seek God’s word and God’s people for words of hope, reassurance, and confidence that things will be better.  And if God shows up in a huge way, we are grateful, humbled, and renewed. God doesn’t get stuck in the tidy resolutions to our crises that we think end the story. We often believe that if things turn out okay, the story or crisis is over. If we have a few cents in our account at the end of the month, we tend to say, “Whew, that you Jesus that was close!” If we get through a health scare, we are tremendously humbled and grateful.  Yet God is not done. These so called endings are really beginnings, each with a new horizon of possibility. Not for us alone, but for the world God loves as well. Restoration of individuals, faith communities, or even entire families, is never only about that. God’s healing work moves outward, always expanding towards eschatological fulfillment.  Eschatological fulfillment in its simplest form means, that my salvation from my crisis may reach the end of the earth as it is now intertwined in God’s story. God’s story’s is always bigger than ours, holding our stories within God’s life and weaving them into a wide open future. So what does this all mean? Maybe it means when the next crisis hits us, we invite, ask and offer God our crisis. We understand that not only is it about us but also about God’s story to the world. God’s restoration, God’s healing and God’s sovereignty during our crisis is a vital part of God’s presence in our world. Because it’s it true that in our most critical defining moments in our life, God was there working all for good. Even in times we were too sacred to notice.
Peace, Love and Happiness: