Ill adjusted

…..And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Roms 12:2

This text in Romans many times is followed by a volley of do’s and don’ts. I read this text today( yes I understand the historical context and audience) and my mind was taken on a different tangent. Paul is writing a message of progression over stagnation. His audience is not pagans but Christians.

Luther comments on this passage and says that is a movement from good to betterIt is a call to never be satisfied with where we are as Christians.

I think one way that comes out in living relevant and deeply Christian lives is how we deal with ill. I don’t mean blowing your nose, but I mean ill thoughts, ideas, practices. How about this one for size – I am black and you are white, we can work together in the same office because society is desegregated but we will go to church in segregated conferences and churches. If we are well-adjusted to ill-fitting beliefs that permeate societal thinking we are in trouble. The problem is doubly compounded when it is within our own gates.

To quote Luther on Romans 12:2 again :

“As soon as you do not desire to become better, then you have ceased to be good.”  It does not help a tree to have green leaves and flowers if it does not bear fruit besides its flowers. For this reason many perish in their flowering.

I have been thinking and praying about the startlingly well-adjusted attitude that we have to this ill-fitting belief of separate but equal. Mine was not active promotion of the belief, I was convicted I was stagnating which according to Luther is tantamount to progression. I want to pick up my hammer and help bring down this wall, a shard, a chip or chunk at a time.

My friend puts it this way “we go to separate churches in the same town, and say – peace, ill see you in heaven”. Is my friend off his rocker? I don’t think so, in fact I whole heartily agree with his commentary on this ill.

How do we as a body deal with this difficult issue of racial segregation within our own walls? This isn’t a rhetorical question, I welcome your contributions!

The day I (almost) plagiarized

One lesson that I have not taken since being in the seminary, is the class on telling awesome children’s stories. For one that class is not offered, and if it were I would probably have thought I didn’t need it. Lately however I have been exposed to some amazing story tellers. I will rank my top three for you

1. Dwight K Nelson

2. Roy Castelbuono

3. Jose Bourget

These guys are all maestro’s at keeping the attention of kids and pulling them right into their children’s story. Its amazing to watching.
On Sabbath my wife was preaching the church we attend is small so the preacher does everything, the whole nine. Welcome, Opening Prayer, Children’s Story, Benediction. So she asked me to do the Children’s story, and that would have been fine, except she told me at 10.00am on Sabbath. So I grabbed some granola, sat on the sofa and started to brainstorm. I went online and racked my mind for good stories. I decided on a story that had been told by 1# Story teller and went over it a few times and decided that was the story that I would tell. We go to church and sit down, and lo and behold who walks in and sits behind us? Yup, you guessed it. Dwight. I was like “nooooo” are you kidding me. (I was going to shamelessly plagiarize his story for these little kids, lol)

The service ticked along and eventually my turn came. I got up and went to the front, and did what any sane person in my position would do. I  confessed my dastardly plan to the whole church, (they were in rolling in stitches, and the kids just looked bemused) footnoting Dwight as the source for the story. Word on the street is that looking for me after the service, loool, but I know he wasn’t mad. When the author is acknowledged it changes the dynamic.

Jesus as the author of our salvation and our life, should have his name foot noted to all our stories, our successes, our joys. It is disingenuous as Christians, to live our lives as if we authored if even one sentence of it by ourselves. It is spiritual plagiarizm. Footnotes serve to allow readers to find the original source of the information used . When God blesses us, we must always give him all the glory and the honor. We must footnote HIM, not because he is narcissistic, but because it will serve as an arrow to point others to him.

A Fishy Dilemma

Face drenched. Heart Pounding. Conscience seared. In between mouthfuls of salty sea water, he must have wondered how in the world he ended up between the gruff hands of weather beaten sailors. As the icy water crashed into his quivering body Jonah had learnt that this was the only option for amelioration.

Someone said that dilema’s aren’t supposed to be “fixed”. All problems aren’t meant to be “smoothed”. The solutions we see sometimes come from living through them. It’s rough of course. We find ourselves in situations that to all purposes we have spun ourselves, and God does not always give us a “get out of jail free card”.  Even if we can escape the situation we’ve created (temporarily), but we can’t escape ourselves. We can never escape ourselves.

In the sodden belly of a huge fish, Jonah could not escape himself.

-Jonah 2: 1 [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God.

When find ourselves in dark places, facing innumerable dilemmas, we would do well to follow Jonah’s example and lift our voice in heartfelt prayer. God did not forget stubborn Jonah, and he will not forget any of his blood bought children.

State of your Union

Two nights ago Obama delivered the State of the Union address. Hearing the speech was novel for me as a Non-American, but I was  captivated by the oratory of Obama. After his speech Indiana Republican Governor Mitch Daniels responded on behalf of the GOP.

He accused Obama of having a serious lack of political integration.Obama was in essence saying that America was a mesomorphic stud, and Daniels said that the country was in fact an endomorphic slob. Who is right? I am not sure, but like David Asscherick says “there is my story, their story and then there is the truth”. Time will tell.

We all struggle with having a lack of integration between who we are, and who we desire to be. Its like the fun house mirrors that distort our image and make us look like something that we are not. I have found that there is always a cost associated with going forward, with transformation. Progress and personal growth always have an associated cost. It may cost cherished beliefs, friends, family, or sacred cows in our lives. It may even cost us the “personhood” that we have held onto as being our ultimate goal.

A lack of spiritual integration because of pie-in the sky thinking can lead us to pie-in the face experiences. I pray that God helps us to see our true condition, because only in having a brutally honest view of ourselves will we find the right solution.

Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

5 Non-negogtiables. The Results

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Relationship Results

Thank you all for voting!

It seems that those who voted are looking for someone who is, the same denomination, honest and ambitious. This is wonderful! What I find very interesting though is that finding someone attractive is 4th on people’s list of non-negotiables. I was certainly not expecting that! The joint fifth most popular were financial stability and liking children.

Of course this little exercise was far from scientific, but it confirms to me that those who are looking for a relationship are not interested in shallow or superficial traits. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to finding someone that fulfils your 5 non-negotiables is impatience. Like Easu who sold his birthright for a pot of lentils. Impatience can cause us to sacrifice future blessing for temporary gratification. If you are with someone or considering being with someone that only fulfils 1 or 2 of your non-negotiables then you should really reconsider if the benefit of temporary loneliness, outweighs longterm misery. I submit that it’s not.

Habakkuk 2:3 (CEV)

3At the time I have decided,  my words will come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting–   it will happen!

Relationships: 5 Non Negotiable’s

Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not. But I’ve had quite a few conversations since the turn of the year concerning relationships. It seems to me that if you don’t know what you’re looking for then you leave yourself wide open to a lot of junk. I think it’s important to spend time thinking about what really matters to you. 3 years ago I was asked a question, and I want to throw it out to you, and get your opinion. Here is the question: In choosing a partner, what are your 5 non negotiable’s?

Feel free to leave comments below or add additional categories.

Este ou Aquele

I had wonderful Sabbath yesterday. I went to PMC and Dwight Nelson preached a very challenging message, you can check it our here:  “Of Perfume and Tears and Grumpy Old Men”.

Afterwards I went to a Brazilian potluck with my wife. We lined up, and right at the end of the table was some kind of pie, and I asked the server if I could have some. She said “este ou aquele.” I stared at her blankly. The she said in English  “You came to a Brazilian potluck so you must speak Portugese – “este ou aquele.” My wife eventually came to my rescue and explained what she was asking: (this or that?)

It reminded me of a trip I took to Cedar Point Theme park in the middle of a sweltering Ohio summer. We had been there for a few hours and my lips were sewn together from thirst, I was desperate for water.  I went to a concession stand to find water. The person who came to serve me was a didn’t look any older than 16. He reminded me of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, skinny, nonchalant and totally clueless. This was our conversation (my English accent, his American):

Me: “Can I have some warter please?”

Boy: “huh”

Me: “Can I have some warter please?”

Boy: “huh? you want what?”

Me: “Warter”

Boy: “You want fries?”

– at this point I am starting to wonder about this kids mental capacity. The lights are on but nobody is home…

Me: “No, I just want warter” ( desperate I turn our conversation into Pictionary and start signing for the kid)

Boy: “You want Coke?”

– Now I am thinking, good grief! Am I going to die of thirst in an American Theme park? Where is my American cousin when I need him?

Then the light bulb came on in my head, and I understood I had the answer to my own dilema. I thought to myself “this kid has probably never left Ohio and so my accent is throwing him off,  so let me meet him where he is.”

Me: ” Can I have some WARDER please”

Boy: “Ohh, warder, sure!”

I always think about this story with a smile, but it forever holds an important lesson for me. That is this – I sometimes miss opportunities in life because I don’t take the time to understand other people, but get frustrated that they don’t understand me.

In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to help him to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication and opens the way for a plethora of opportunities!

iphone 4, interruption.

My cousin Yasmina sent me a message and I have edited it slightly but I thought it was worth sharing, enjoy!

So my iphone just decided to turn off and just wouldn’t turn on. I tried plugging it in, I tried connecting it to my computer, holding the on/off button down. Nothing. I started to panic. Tomorrow is my first day of class. I teach at 8am and there is NO way I will wake up on time if I don’t have my phone alarm. I don’t know anyone around here that could help me. It’s freaking 6pm on Martin Luther King so all the stores by my place are closed. I panicked big time as I realized how much I need my phone. SO I shot up a prayer half believing God could fix technology, half worrying about what I was going to do. You know what, it turned on. I know this sounds dumb but it made me think.
Why don’t I feel the same way about God as I do about my phone?  I mean seriously, I would be Lost without it– LITERALLY- it gets me places. It wakes me up, It holds all my photos, contact numbers, emails.We’re in synch. Losing it would be like losing a limb.

I never imagined I would ever be so dependent on technology, in fact I used to hate people like me.

I also thought about how much that phone cost me. I mean yeah I got an upgrade an all but I’ m BROKE. I cant afford another one!! Got me thinking: If only I felt the same way about my salvation and God’s gift on the cross to me as I did about my phone. My life would be totally different. My choices and decisions would be completely different. If only I realized, I mean REALIZED, what that cost.

——

Wow! Isn’t that powerful? The truth of the cross hit her right between the eyes. Christ’s death should interrupt our lives. It should cause us to think differently.

Phil 3:8
What is more, I continue to consider all these things as a loss for the sake of the what is far more valuable, knowing the Messiah Jesus, my Lord. It is because of him that I have experienced the loss of all those things. Indeed, I consider them rubbish in order to gain the Messiah (ISV)