Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Being Alone…

Meeting and knowing God is His desire for me.
I often seek to know Him in deep intellectual discussions of Scripture or I ‘hide’ in the loud, hand waving, praise team led, choruses on Sunday morning. But the ‘knowing’ that God desires is not found in knowledge alone, or in corporate ‘praise choruses.’
Am I guilty of receiving knowledge without appreciation, receiving Biblical facts without ecstasy, emotion, eagerness, and exhilaration? Yes, I am guilty, but (as Brenan Manning avers), there is an inevitable time when ‘a moment of truth’ arrives and I am alone…what then?

Plaintively I hear the poet whisper:

Once I stood in the night with my head bowed low
In the darkness as black as the sea
And my heart was afraid and I cried,
Oh Lord, don't hide your face from me.

Hold my hand all the way, every hour, every day
From here to the great unknown
Take my hand, let me stand
Where no one stands alone. (M. Lister)

There, there in my aloneness is the moment of truth…I am alone with Him…
And when the night is bad and nerves are shattered God speaks…God speaks to me through Jesus and tells me the depth of His feelings for me…for me…His love flashes into my soul…pierces the dark corners of fear and doubt…drives out the shadows…and I am over taken by the Mystery that He loves me. He loves me! Not because I am lovable nor in spite of my unloveableness…but He loves me simply because He chooses to and I am His son! That is the saving moment of my existence! Do I dare attempt to escape His love by running into deep intellectual exercises or allow cynicism to ‘bring me back to my senses’? No, a thousand times no, I give myself (once again) to the truth that He loves me as He loves His One and Only! And in that moment, I am ‘found’ and I discover once more that life is worth living!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You Are Gonna Kick Yourself When You Read This...

Brian McLaren said in an interview that the Cross (Christ’s vicarious sacrifice for our sins) and Hell were distractions from the real truth of the Gospel. This naturally put me on edge. What is he thinking? I thought to myself. He went on to say that when God told us to simply forgive. He did not tell us to push the punishment onto another but instead just forgive and forget. This is true! God never told us to transfer the punishment when forgiving. He did not tell us to forgive our wife and then kick the dog! He told us to forgive and nothing more. But is that all there is to forgiveness? Is it truly a simple act with no transaction of punishment?

When someone cuts in front of you at the movies your mind screams for your personal justice. You wish the Batman of movie ticket lines will come down and say in his growly voice, “Where’s Harvey Dent?!” (I don’t know why he will say that…probably because that is the only quote I can think of right now…). Thus, he freaks out the person who cut and runs them off with terror and justice! An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth! You do deserve justice and it would be morally right for Batman to come to your aid (you probably should have just got your movie tickets online…). If I leave the seat up on the toilet, my wife has the right to enact justice by “accidentally” turning off my video game before I save my progress. MARIOOOOOO!!! Vengeance, whether from the letter of the governmental law or from personal vendettas, is a natural and just act. The Old Testament says that if a person ACCIDENTLY kills one of your family members; you are allowed to KILL them! Crazy stuff, right!? What if somebody owes money to their friend, boss, or bank? They HAVE to repay! This is justice.

In all the situations above, what if each person wronged forgave the offender? You forgive the person who cut in line, my wife forgives me, the banker forgives the debtor, and the family member forgives the accidental killing. Does the justice simply disappear? I would say…wait for it…nope! (Yea Psych reference!) It IS transferred. Not to a dog but back onto the person who forgives. You lose your place in line, my wife swallows her pride, the banker loses money, and the family member loses justice for the death of a loved one.

What Brian McLaren forgets is that Christ IS God. God is not kicking some dog when He is transferring justice. He is reflecting the punishment onto Himself. That is what the person who forgives always does: they swallow the justice and do not give the person that wronged them their “just desserts.” God brought the payment of death, which was rightfully ours, upon Christ. We wrong God when we mock His holiness by our sin and He “simply” (does not seem like the right word anymore…) forgives us.

Published by Benjamin Trent
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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Casting a Long Shadow

The last week of January (2010) I conducted the funeral of one Florence Young. She was 99 years of age when she died and one of the several sisters of Sara King (who is 106 and whose funeral I will have the honor of doing some day). Florence was one of the earliest Rosie the Riveters who worked on air plane assembly out at Maxwell Air Force Base (in Montgomery, AL). One measure of her influence is seen in her family. She had FOUR children (three preceded her), 19 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, 61 great-great-grandchildren, and 3 great, great, great-grandchildren!

Ah, but read about the dear Jewish lady (93 at death) and her influence. God said multiply and did she ever!! Maybe 2000 descendants. She did not want her children to collect photographs of her and, often said “Just keep me in your heart, If you leave a child or grandchild, you live forever.”

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Good Enough Mom Lets Her Children Fail!

There are two overarching principals of effective parenting. The first is parents must love their child(ren) unconditionally! And the second principal is equally important, namely that effective parents allow their children to fail. It is this second principal that I touch on today. I knew a mother of an 18 year old man/child. This dear wonderful loving mother was so frustrated with herself and as I talked with her she revealed that she is angry that her son won't brush his teeth. She stated with great emotion and exasperation, "He gets made at me every day when I ask him, 'Have you brushed your teeth?' I don't know what to do, he just won't brush his teeth!"

Now, if you are like me, you laugh and wonder, how did this situation get so desperate but many of us run to rescue the child from some failure/hurt/rejection etc. So remember this, parents who take on the responsibility of the child by reminding or doing for him or her, encourage the child to be irresponsible. Parents must learn to “mind their own business” and let the child learn from the logical consequences of her/his own behavior. Bon Voyage! and ¡Buen viaje! Enjoy the ride...it always gets better!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Open Up! And Live!!

I was raised in a very closed and narrow world. Religious straight jackets were handed out and you either conformed or were excommunicated! If you conformed you belonged...if you (horror of horrors!!) did not conform you were seen/labeled as a rebel and were told in no uncertain terms that 'rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft!' With that pronouncement, out you go into 'not belonging' and it is no wonder that so many of my child hood friends are still searching for a place to belong!

I have learned that people who are truly alive and well are NOT closed and narrow but open and flexible! Flexible people allow for the reality of doubt and uncertainty! Rigid people cannot live with with doubt and they seek to complete their picture of life quickly using as few pieces as possible. The pieces of their life fit in a very small and tight pattern and these few pieces are all they need. More pieces would confuse them and they cannot allow any confusion! If you talk to rigid people you might think they are truly certain about life but you later realize they are only certain about their 14 small pieces they call life!

Rigid people are like the suspicious detective who takes the first bits of evidence and makes it fit his preconceived idea and comes to an unshakable and 'definite' conclusion about the mystery of life! If there is any new evidence uncovered, they quickly bend it and mold it to fit into the shape of their premature conclusion. They live a static, fixed life with no dynamic living and in a world that is so small that they can handle it. Now they will not admit to this, but they are afraid to try any more...to attempt anything anymore...to be open to reality would freeze up their internal processor...the computer would crash!

But, to the one who allows life and accepts life...they have true serenity amidst the turmoil of doubt and questions. Maybe that is what Jesus intended when He said, "I give peace to you, MY peace I give to you, NOT as the world gives peace! Don't let your heart be trouble! Take MY peace!"

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