Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Friday, September 4, 2015
2 Timothy 4:9-22 (NIV)
9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.
16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.
22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.
Today, this was/is the “word of the LORD” for me. Ominous that it was paired with a reading from Jeremiah 33:6–34:7.
This summer I have been reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer written by EricMetaxas. It’s an incredibly accessible read that I highly recommend. Reading Bonhoeffer’s story I was drawn in by a specific element of his devotional practice, namely the daily reading of Die Losungen (An introduction – in English – to the Daily Texts of the Moravian Church can be found here). Adding to my curiosity, these are the daily texts I/we have been engaging in the ReLearning Community project with MCEC and 3dm.
So, long story made short…for the past few months these daily texts have become my companion. In beginning this daily devotional practice I have felt the profound presence of the Holy Spirit bringing the Word alive in new ways for me. Daily I have been both invited and challenged by the Word…no commentary, no interpretation…just sitting with Word and inviting God to speak.
In a season of challenge, what am I hearing?
This is the question I have returned to repeatedly as I have read my way through Jeremiah, Thessalonians and Timothy this summer. Why these Words? Why now?
I have a great love for the church and yet so often the church makes me want to yell, scream, sometimes even curse a blue streak…
Name your “ism” and it feels like it’s reared its ugly head in this season of challenge…
Trivialism…if that’s even a word? If not it should be! Here’s my definition…
1. the quality or state of being trivial, as in behavior or attitude.
2. a movement in the post-modern church bent on tearing the church apart through trivial argument and debate.
I am thankful that I have several conversation partners with whom to process what I am hearing. At the same time it feels like a problem/challenge/struggle without resolution…
Is it because we are missing the basic fabric of trust?
Trust in the person(s) sitting next to us in worship?
Trust in the person(s) we share life with most intimately?
Trust in God?
If it is trust that’s missing…it explains the fear of conflict and the inability to risk a radical faith that invites God to shake us to the foundation…
When the LORD comes to Jeremiah, the “Word of the LORD” isn’t easy to swallow. God tells the king, I’m going to let your enemies wipe you out – they’ll burn the city to the ground. Don’t worry Zedekiah, you’ll live through it – you’ll even get to meet the king of Babylon face to face (as if that’s a consolation!). You’ll die an old man in Babylon…but Jerusalem will be burned to the ground.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m not asking God to burn the church to the ground…but sometimes that’s what ministry feels like.
And I wonder if this is what Paul feels like at the end of 2 Timothy – Demas left because the world seemed more fun than the church (I’ve heard that one before!)…and then Crescens and Titus leave…
It happened to Jesus too. John 6:66-67 records: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.”
I’m not Jesus or Paul, but God how long will you let Christendom crumble before we’re finished crumbling? I’ll admit I wonder what it would be like to plant a church in a secular context with people who really want to be there…no obligation, no guilt, no trivialism…now I’m sounding like I’m dreaming of some non-existent utopia…or?
But I think God is doing something new…something that will shake the foundations of the church in North America (in the West as a whole) to the core. The part that I hate about this plan is that Christendom still has a lot of tough crumbling and even burning to the ground to do, before we get there…
Die Losungen have become a meaningful connecting point for me…a path into the Word that doesn’t need to have a sermon come out at the other end. So I’ll keep listening, pondering…what is the “word of the LORD” for me/us today?
Friday, August 7, 2015
· “One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is invaluable.”
· “One who understands our silence.”
· “A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.”
· “A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down.”
· The winning definition read, "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”
In many ways, these little blurbs of wisdom are similar to the short sentences of wisdom we find in the book of Proverbs. For example in Proverbs 22:24 we read: “Make no friends with those given to anger, and do not associate with hotheads.” I know a few people like this, and I find that I’m constantly on pins and needles when I interact with them.
A true friend would be the reverse of what Proverbs is warning us of. A friend would be someone we’re comfortable with – emotionally and physically. It is extremely difficult to build a friendship with or even just to agree with someone who is quick tempered. Whereas with a true friend agreement seems to come naturally – perhaps not on every topic or in every situation, but there is a mutual understanding and respect between friends.
Proverbs 22:25 further warns that our association with hotheads and those easily angered, could lead to where, “you may learn their ways and entangle yourself in a snare.” All of us are influenced in some way or another by the situations we place ourselves in or the situations we face in our daily lives. As we interact with other people the wisdom of Proverbs encourages us to be wary of whom we allow to influence us as we travel the journey of life because we are affected by the people we associate with.
Proverbs 18:24b wisely offers that “a true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.” This is true friendship. There is a catch phrase that suggests, “Blood is thicker than water” or that family ties are stronger than the bonds of any friendship. This may or may not be the case depending on the relationship you have with your family. However, there is one relationship which the writer of Proverbs refers to which transcends even the bonds of family – the friendship we have with our Saviour Jesus Christ.
When we allow ourselves to be influenced by Jesus; when we grow in him and obey his commandments; Jesus says in John 15:14 that we are his friends. As we are influenced by this true friend and come to an understanding that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was for us. Then our friendship with Jesus becomes one which transcends all others.
May you be encouraged in your faith, that you have a friend in Jesus who will never leave; who will walk with you on your most difficult days; and rejoice with you on your most joyous occasions. This is the true friendship we have in Jesus.
(a slightly shorter version of this post will appear in the Listowel Banner in the week of August 19, 2015)