Friday, February 26, 2016

Dancing in the Arms of the Trinity

Did you have your quiet time today? This is a question that we ask each other from time to time. It also can be a question that haunts us as we fall exhausted into bed after another busy day in which we did not have that quiet time.
The Scriptures remind us that we were made for communion with God. Adele Calhoun puts it this way: 
There is nothing more valuable, nothing more desirable, nothing more worthwhile and nothing more wondrous than the divine life of the Holy Three. From the beginning we were designed to be part of their divine community. We are not soul freelancers but beings created to dance in the arms of the Trinity. 
Of course, that fellowship was broken through the Fall and our “old man” still does not sit easy in that communion, even fighting against it. But restoring that communion is what the life, death and resurrection of Christ was all about! United to Him by faith we are again welcomed into the dance of the Trinity, welcomed in love, welcomed because we belong.
But therein lies our struggle. We struggle to believe that we do belong. We struggle to believe that we are loved. As a result our quiet times become less relational and more transactional. In other words we end up seeing our “quiet time” as a duty to be performed or a way to ensure that our day goes well and we get good stuff from God.
Bryan Chappell has a very helpful 5 minute clip here reminding us that prayer, scripture reading and other means of grace are just that -- means of grace, not means to grace. May the Holy Spirit help us all in receiving them as so.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Giving up Ourselves

As you know we are over a week into the Lenten season. Lent is traditionally a time leading up to the celebration of Easter for Christians to reflect upon the cost of redemption. Often this is done through the giving up of something treasured during the period of Lent; things like soda, meat, sweets, shopping, TV, etc…. I once gave up following sports for Lent, though I didn’t really think that through very well with the opening of Spring Training and March Madness! But perhaps my favorite Lenten sacrifice came by way of a tweet from a person who said they were “giving up themselves” for Lent. 
While pithy, there is truth at its core that’s worth some reflection. The biggest question is, “Who is the ‘self’ in view?”  When the Bible talks about dying to self, it does not have in mind all the good and wonderful qualities that make you, you. It is not thinking of that God-given Imago Dei that each of us is stamped with at birth. Rather, in view is what is often called the “old self,” i.e. that sinful nature that wants to corrupt and destroy the good creation that we are. It is this “self” that tugs at the corners of our minds and extrudes into our day to day existence. It is this “self” we want to see wither and die. 
Which brings us back to Lent. Can we that easily give up ourselves? Remember Lent is about the “cost of redemption.” In this case the price to be paid in order for that “old self” to die a complete and exhaustive death is nothing less than the death of the righteous Son of God. His willing embrace of our sinful nature allowed for the deliverance that we long for. His death accomplished what we could never do on our own, and has opened the way of healing for you and me. To put it in a tweet-worthy form, “Jesus died to self so that we can live as our true selves!” And while it is true that we still struggle with the “old self,” we know substantial healing now and will know that complete healing in the Kingdom to come!

Friday, February 5, 2016


“Awkwardness is an invitation to be found. It’s an invitation to vulnerability, and vulnerability is where intimacy and connection are born. It’s also an invitation to throw yourself on the grace that makes vulnerability possible at all. At the end of the day, awkward people are the only kind of people God loves; because awkward people are the only kind of people there are.” - Sammy Rhodes
I love the above quote from one of our RUF campus ministers, Sammy Rhodes (University of South Carolina). I love it because it is so true! (Remember: bad books lie, good books always tell the truth, especially about the human condition”- Walker Percy). I have had so many moments in my life where awkwardness reigned. There have been the what’s-that-smell awkward moments. There have been the walk-up-on-a private conversation awkward moments. There was that moment just this week where my voice carried a bit too much regarding an officiating blunder at my daughter’s 12U basketball game. Awkward! Someday we might actually find it cathartic to share our stories of awkwardness with one another; if for no other reason than to prick the balloon and say, “Yeah, me too!”
But beyond the (awkward) truth about humanity that is highlighted, is the (awesome) Gospel hope that is hinted at. For in the end God loves awkward people! This is the astonishing, mind-blowing, upside down, nature of the Gospel … For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:25). Paul goes on to say … “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29) It sure sounds like God does love the awkward people to me!
So don’t waste your awkwardness. Embrace it! “It may be the very place you learn to be vulnerable and thus experience the grace of God” (Rhodes), from the foyer, to the basketball court, to our dinner tables, and even in our own hearts before the Lord!