Monthly Archives: April 2005

Needing to mend fences

I am deleting some posts and editing a couple others.  I am not doing this because of being flamed in the comments.  I think I am guilty of crossing over into sensitive territory and in so doing I hurt my daughter.  She has always known about my blog but has never read it; has never had an interest in reading it.  But now she has.  We talked about it a long time tonight and she said don’t bother to delete them.  But I will-at least some.  The last thing I want to do is hurt her.  I guess I let the expression of my own pain take precedence over hers.  And I said things that, though honest expressions of how I felt, were critical of her. 

So, writing is one of the ways I deal with my pain, she knows that now.  But in dealing with mine, I have no right to cause pain to her.  So, if I write about her again, it will be with her knowledge and agreement, except to just mention more mundane stuff in passing.  She is OK with that.

And I guess that if you want to write to me about this and aren’t sure if the comment would be hurtful, there is a place to contact me on this page.  I will delete comments that I feel may be misread. 

 

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Filed under Dealing with stuff

It is coming!

Yesterday was a gorgeous spring day.  Most of the snow that covered the riverbank a week ago is gone.  Everyday there are more geese on the stretch of open water on the still frozen river.  And the pussy willows in the wild bit of park next to my office are beginning to fluff out.  Spring is coming!

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An unexpected gift

Today I received a gift.  It was totally unexpected,  thoughtful, and wonderful.  A bouquet of flowers to top off a day that held all the promise of spring. 

Thank you, thank you.  To think that Christians as far away as New Hampshire, England and who knows where else are praying for us.  And friends right here as well, praying and supporting us in so many ways.  It is one thing to connect via the internet but that bouquet of flowers was physical evidence that you are real people out there.  I may never meet you this side of heaven but your love and concern are real to me now. 

Thank you for blessing me – another touch of God on my life.  And as you have extended your circle to include me in your prayers, be assured that mine are also with you.

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More Ready Than You Realize by Brian McLaren

Brian McLaren seems to stir up controversy in conservative evangelical circles.  I have never thought of myself as being particularly “liberal” in my theology.  However, since my teens, I have never felt comfortable holding strong and inflexible opinions on matters theological; at least those that fall outside of the group of truths that I considered essential to my faith in Jesus Christ.  Among these was the essential belief that Jesus was the Son of God and because of his sacrificial love for me, my only hope for restoration of a relationship with God. 

I am not a trained theologian so I guess that might account for some of my reticence to hold strong opinions on theological issues too.

When I come across criticism of McLaren’s books, I realize that I am probably not half as conservative as I thought.  Most of what I have read of them rings true in my experience and is consistent with what I have come to believe. 

I have just finished reading More Ready Than You Realize and I like what he says in this book about evangelism.  Spiritual friendships are the ways God will use us to introduce others to Christ and help them along the way.  McLaren also believes that it is in the context of a Christian community that people we have befriended will come to experience the fullness of a relationship with Jesus.  And so we need to make room for new comers, new seekers, for those part way along the road to faith.  What they see us modeling should be the motivation for them desiring to belong to Christ and to the community of faith.

 Sometimes belonging must precede believing…
 
Motivation by exclusion says something like this: We’re on the inside but you’re on the outside.  We’re right, and you’re wrong.  If you want to come inside, then you need to be right.  So, just believe right, think right, speak right, and act right, and we’ll let you in.. 

we need to move beyond motivation by exclusion.  Our motivation by acceptance will say something like this: We are a community bound together and energized by faith, love, and commitment to Jesus Christ Even though you don’t yet share that faith, love, and commitment, you are most welcome to be with us, to belong here, to experience what we are about.  Then, if you are attracted and persuaded by what you see, you’ll want to set down roots here long term.  And even if you don’t, you’ll always be a friend.

     This approach is more in sync with Jesus’ own example.  He was criticized for being a “friend of sinner” – in other words he welcomed and accepted people who did not yet “believe right, think right, speak right, and act right.”  But he knew something we need to know:  if people can belong long enough to observe how God is alive among us, if they can belong long enough to see whatever good exists in our lives as individuals and as a community, they can come to believe.”(p84, 85)

It used to worry me that there had to be some definite point of conversion or it wasn’t genuine somehow.  Experience has taught me otherwise.  I think there are both gradual and sudden forms of recognition that Christ is real, is alive and is God.  Both are valid.  It is pretty rare to meet someone who has had a conversion experience outside of the nurturing of a Christian friend or community.  And I think that is what this book is all about – opening our eyes to the fact that we need to cultivate these spiritual friendships that will bring others into Christ’s kingdom and encouraging us to get out there and start doing it.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Books and Articles

Pretending or real?

Real Live Preacher has taken a vacation it seems.  But he has an article in The Christian Century that talks about protecting our personal space as part of the way we pretend in church.  He calls that Disneyland Christianity.  In contrast there is another kind of Christianity that calls for a radical intimate communion with Christ and our fellow believers.

On Wednesday night I kind of fell apart.  This is not like me.  I am strong, you know, keeping my emotions well under control.  But Wednesday night we were reading the chapter on love in Blue Like Jazz; the chapter where Donald Miller talks about coming to the realization that God loves us and how we need to accept this fact in order to love others and ourselves.  Anyway, I was asked about my experience showing love in cases where it is not returned.  My children have taught me much about this.  Wednesday had been a real bad day.  I could not shake the voices in my head that wanted to drag me down.  So being asked this question just kind of broke the dam, so to speak. 

Now, if I had kept on pretending that all was well, that I was handling the immediate problem of Grace’s pregnancy well, I would not have experienced the love of my friends that night.  Maybe falling apart was the best thing for me to do at the time.  It let me take the love they gave me that night and do some healing.  If I did not have friends around me, I would be one of the most lonely people right now.  I have survived loneliness through other family issues.  I do not ever want to go back to that self protective false front – not with my friends; not with my church.

It’s kind of crazy this kind of love that God offers us.  It is so free and so good.  There is so little benefit in hiding behind a false front of fake goodness and peace.  Letting my church (ie, my friends) help me carry my present burdens is letting them be extensions of God’s love to me. 

I hope I can do this for others in my turn.  I hope they can learn like me that real Christianity is radically intimate as God’s love flows through us to meet each others needs and the needs of our communities. 

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