A place for random thoughts from the life of a follower of Jesus.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Where does church fit in my life?

Church. When people hear that word, they have different reactions. Some grow cold and shudder. Others recall warm memories, while still others relate their current experiences. Whatever the response, we can be guaranteed some kind of response.
For some people, church is about familiar rituals. These rituals evoke feelings of worship, fond memories or familiarity, sometimes all at once. Church is boring to some who have been part of it in the past - and to some who are presently involved! To some people, church is a foreign word. They're never quite sure what goes on behind those doors.
It seems to me that we have got it all wrong. There's no right or wrong way to do church. Who says that church is about some songs and a sermon? What is wrong is when Christians will not be the church. Church is about becoming real with one another, whether Christians or not. You can't limit this to a two hour time period on Sunday morning, or any other time period, for that matter. As followers of Jesus, we are to be the church - always. That means that when you invite another family in for dinner or a social time, you are having church.
Let's open up church to be what God intended it to be. Let's throw off the constraints that we too often put on ourselves. Certainly, be a committed part of a church, but be the church at all times and in all places.

Will you join me?
I'd like to hear your experiences and thoughts on this.
P.S.: Here's a book for you to read: Emerging Churches, written by Eddie Gibbs & Ryan Bolger. I've just begun reading it and have found it challenging and stimulating.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I sat in on a funeral today. It was an interesting experience. It certainly wasn't the first funeral I've ever attended, nor will it be the last. However, it gave me pause for thought. It brought to mind a verse from the Bible. It's from Ecclesiastes 7:2. Here is how The Message translates it: "You learn more at a funeral than at a feast - after all, that's where we'll end up. We might discover something from it." A funeral reminds us that death is where we will all end up.
I sat and listened to those left behind talk about their mother and grandmother. I had only met this woman once, for a brief moment. But in the hour plus that we heard about her, I felt that I got to know her, at least a little bit.
This thought came to me: how will others speak of me when it comes time for my funeral? I know that funerals are a time for fond memories and often, looking through rose-coloured glasses. But when it really comes down to it, what will people have to say?
Will it be:
I'm glad it's over - life was miserable with him!
He loved God and it showed in how he treated everyone - family, friends, strangers. I'm going to miss him!

I know what I'd like prefer it to be. Now that I've figured that out, I guess I have lots of work to do.
Lord, I'm going to need your help - lots of it!


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Getting Messages...

We all get messages of one kind or another. Sometimes they are clear but often we cannot understand what is being said or communicated, or even who the message is from. Then there is the problem of someone else taking a messagge for you. My mother-in-law has a magnet on her fridge that has a picture of a teenaged boy with the line, "mom, somebody called for you from somewhere and wants you to call them back." Messages have a way of not being very clear, expecially when they come second-hand. To try to solve at least part of this problem, we just had voicemail installed at the office. It's given us something to play around with abd get used to. Already we're getting positive feedback about it - things like, "it's about time!"
Getting a message across is very important. The way in which it is presented is also important. If someone in your family comes to you and says, 'we need to talk,' it usually indicates something serious.
In 1967 Marshall McLuhan wrote a book called The Medium is the Massage. "Massage" was really supposed to be "message," but somebody at the publisher goofed, and McLuhan apparently wanted it left as is. He believed that how the message is communicated is as important as the message itself, hence his title. This is my book of the week. I just finished reading it, and couldn't get over how profound and apt it is for today! Other than some older vocabulary, you would think he was talking about the situation today.
Well, McLuhan is right in many respects. How we communicate is as important as what we communicate. I find it interesting to apply McLuhan's thought to Jesus. Jesus is both the medium (he became a human) AND the message (a demonstration of God's love for all of humanity and creation).
But the message doesn't stop there. All who are followers of Jesus are to carry the message of God's love and grace to everyone around them. Paul said this: "Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God's living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it." This is found in 2 Corinthians 3:3, from The Message. Here's a link: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%203%20;&version=65;
Those who call themselves Christians are often accused of being hypocrites, because what's written on their lives does not match what comes out of their mouths. I guess I'm often guilty as charged.
I have to continually ask myself (many times a day!), what message am I sending?
Well, how about you?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Has it really been that long?!? I just checked and realized my last post was on December 12. That was three weeks ago! Not that there are too many of you waiting with bated breath to see what witticisms and such I might post here. I'm sorry to disappoint, but I'm not that witty. Of course, that's no surprise to those who know me!
Christmas is over and done with, unless you are Orthodox, which means your celebration is coming shortly. It doesn't matter the date. What matters is the attitude of your heart. The external celebrations are nice, but sometimes they only detract from the reality of Christmas. In fact, as my nephew Jeff said so well, these things serve (or should, at least) to remind of the real reason for and significance of Christmas. In case you don't know, the real reason for Christmas is presents. One present, to be exact. That present was and is Jesus, the Son of God, who came as a human being to bring the message of God's love to the world, and ultimately, to die and rise again for the sins of the world. There's no way you can celebrate and realize all the significance of that one great Gift in just one day, or even a whole season, of celebration. The reality of Christmas should be foremost in the thoughts and attitudes and lives of all Christians all year long! Too few people live that way. The reality of Jesus is relegated to one day or even a few weeks of Christmas. The rest of the year, life goes on as usual, with God being pushed off to the side.
We all struggle with finding time, with putting God and His demands on our lives in the proper place and perspective. Sometimes life gets busy and other concerns push in and take over, demanding all of our time and attention. How do we maintain a balance? How do we find time for a personal time with God, a time for prayer and reading the Bible? It comes down to making time. Yes, we are all busy and have so many things to do. But don't we find the time for those things we really want to do? We stay up later to work on a project or report because we wanted to spend time visiting with friends or family in the evening. We get up early to get in a little exercise time before we get ready for work. We eat lunch at our desks because we are facing a deadline and need to squeeze in extra time to get it done. My point? We always find the time for what is really important to us. Sometimes we decide that something really important is not so important when something comes along that we'd like to do more. So, how do we make time for God and the Bible? A specific time each day can be helpful. From what I remember reading, you have to do something 21 times before it becomes a habit. So, pick a time that will work for you (Be honest with yourself - if you're not a morning person, don't determine to get up at 4:30 in the morning, because in all likelihood, you won't stick with it) and do it for at least three weeks. Hopefully by that time it will have become a habit. Besides that, living as a Christian is about living in the moment with God. Be conscious of what God might be saying to you at all times. Offer short prayers of thanks and/or petitions throughout your day. Developing this God-consciousness can only help us grow as Christians.
Does this mean that I have it all worked out, that I'm faithful in prayer and Bible-reading all the time? No, no, NO! But I hope that this can be a time of new beginnings for each of us as we begin this new year.
Have you made your New Year's Resolutions? I'd be happy to hear from you!
P. S. A quick update on one book: In a previous post I mentioned Anne Rice's Christ the Lord. I had not read it at that point. I've just finished reading it, and recommend it highly. Take time to read the Author's Note at the end of the book. In approximately 20 pages, Anne traces her spiritual journey and the research she has put into the book. It's very informative and encouraging reading!