Tag Archives: no my dear you ARE the first joke

set in stone? really?

22 Mar

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted the following question as a status update on Facebook:

“As someone who has done mission work, would you say that it is important to figure out ahead of time those doctrinal matters that are not open for multiple interpretations? I’ve been struggling with this idea that there are certain things that are universal, gospel truth, and other things that are simply products of our culture, and how do we tell the difference as we take the message of Christ to other cultures?”

For those who don’t know, my husband Ed and I worked full-time with a small church in Chemnitz, Germany, from 2001-2007. Our primary function was to “surface contacts” for the church and then have one-on-one Bible studies with those who were interested in delving beneath the surface. I could write an entire book on this work and on all the other things we did during our time in Chemnitz, but for now, let’s make do with the short version, what say? ; )

With that to give a little bit of background, here is the response I gave to my friend’s question:

I’ve been pondering such things since “leaving” the mission field four years ago. (I don’t really like using the terms “leaving” and “mission field,” but they keep things simple.)

The only thing I know for sure is that if I were entering the same work today, I would (1) see my own role much differently, (2) approach relationships differently, (3) teach some things that I didn’t understand 10 years ago…

…and (4), in regard to this question, *not* teach several things that I once believed were “universal, gospel truth.”

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I do believe that there are universal truths in/of the gospel (defining gospel as the Good News of Jesus). But an interesting thing I’ve found about living life by an indwelling Christ: The more deeply rooted I’ve become in Christ, the more I’ve realized that I misunderstood a great many things and held fast to certain “doctrines” that, as it turns out, aren’t nearly as set-in-stone as they once seemed.

The result, unfortunately, is that I can look back over the course of my full-time ministry and see quite a few places where I totally screwed up.

(For the record, I don’t beat myself up about this; I believe that God can and does [and did] work powerfully through a flawed tool and will continue to do so [seeing as how the tool is still flawed!].)

I might go so far as to say that it’s dangerous to “figure out ahead of time those doctrinal matters that are not open for multiple interpretations”; I say this because of my own experience in realizing that the indwelling life of Christ allows us a whole lot more freedom than I ever suspected.

On the other hand, nor do I advocate entering the “mission field” with any kind of there-is-no-absolute-truth attitude. Maybe it’s about “everything in moderation”: finding a balance between the two. Maybe it’s not about balance but about accepting the season of Christian life one finds oneself in and going forward in faith that God will guide as he sees fit — and humbly accepting his correction along the way.

All I know for certain is that Christ is in the business of “making all things new” — and that includes our understanding of doctrine, if we let him.

behold! (when i say look, i mean *look*)

13 Mar

Have you ever tried simply to behold Christ?

I’m not talking about a prayer of thankfulness. I’m not talking about a prayer on someone else’s behalf. I’m not even talking about a prayer in which you praise Christ for all his many amazing qualities.

Nor am I talking about reading scripture and meditating on it. Nor do I even mean reading inspirational/devotional literature and pondering how to apply it.

What I’m talking about is taking a few moments simply to be with Jesus and behold the magnificent Christ that he is.

Over the last few weeks, Milt has challenged our group to spend the first five waking minutes of our day in the simple beholding of our Lord. Before we get up or switch on the light, we’re to take five minutes — not for prayer! but for beholding Christ, the Lamb of God. Nothing more, nothing less.

When a New Testament writer uses the word “behold,” it means more than just “pay attention” or “hey, look over here.” A few years back, my Greek teacher told our class that “behold” is the equivalent of shining a bright spotlight on something and blacking out everything else. He left me with the image of someone grabbing me by the scruff of the neck, propelling me toward The Something in question, and shoving my face up to it until The Something is the only thing I can focus on.

The Something, ladies and gents, is supposed to be Christ.

So. Beholding. First five waking minutes of every day.

Slightly easier typed than done.

I feel particularly challenged in this because of pregnancy. Yay for constricted bladder and frequent (but no longer constant, halle-LEW-jer) nausea. The first thing I have to do upon waking is run for the bathroom. It can’t wait five minutes, otherwise the hydraulic pressure in the abdominal region will trigger nausea. (Not to mention that there’s no way I can do any beholding of Christ when all I can think of is my full bladder.)

Secondly, when I first wake up, I have to eat. If I don’t eat, the gagging starts. Huzzah.

As you might imagine, chowing down on string cheese in the dark is not conducive to beholding Christ with any sort of focus.

Once I get these physical necessities out of the way, I can finally settle into focusing on The Something. My body’s (and baby’s) needs are temporarily sated; beholding should now be no problem, right?

Ha.

To show you how not-easy this is, I’m going to give you a run-down of the thoughts that trickled through my mind the first three days I tried to do this. Feel free to laugh. I’ve been rolling my eyes at myself for a week now.

Beholding: Day One

Behold…
Behold Christ, the Lamb of God…
…Behold! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
…John the Immerser said that about Jesus…
…At Jesus’s immersion, God called him “beloved Son…”
…hot, gooey chocolate brownies straight from the oven–

*

Beholding: Day Two

Behold…
Behold Christ, the Lamb of God…
…takes away the sins of the world…
…Lamb of God…
…sleepy…
…Lamb of G…
…zzzzz….

Beholding: Day Three

Behold…
Behold Christ, the Lamb of God…
“Lamb” really does embody so much of what he is…
…innocence, newness, vulnerability, gentleness…
…but with so much unimaginable power in his blood…
Crap, I’m still hungry.

To be honest, Day Three is the most “success” I’ve had in this so far. I’d say that “everything in the universe aligns against me!” the moment I start trying to behold him — except that it’s not everything in the universe! All it takes to distract me from Christ is a single demand of my body or a single stray thought floating at the edge of my consciousness. And, like a distractable kitten, I’m off chasing whatever it is and forgetting everything I was about not ten seconds before.

I’m a writer. I’m quite used to focusing on one thing for a significant period of time.

Dang it, my attention span is supposed to be better than this!

That was a little tongue-in-cheek. I’m not truly that frustrated. ; )

This beholding thing? It’s new. And the good news is that my Lord deals in newness. He’ll fill me up in this, the same way he fills me up in anything and everything else I need. Behold, he is making everything new.

Even me.

the first pondering

18 Oct

So, I have lots of thoughts about life, the universe, and everything. A lot of these thoughts have undergone some crazy changes over the past few years. A lot of this insanity these new thoughts concern my core beliefs on God, church, purpose, blah de blah. You know — just the kind of ponderings humanity has been pondering since we had our first cranial spark of pondering.

I thought it might help my mental overload if I record some of my ponderings here. The first few will be short, because it’s 1 o’clock in the morning, and I’m tired.

So.

This is the first pondering (I feel like the jackdaw asking if it made the first joke):

There’s nothing so endearing or encouraging as observing a Creation–be it plant, animal, or human–doing exactly what it was created to do.