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Archive for August, 2012

I listened to the two young men talk about the events of the previous week. The lines of support versus the lines of protest that had formed outside of the Chick-fil-A restaurants across our nation. I knew one of the young men well. “Brent” is a good Christian man having just turned twenty and is working his way through college. The other one “Nick” a recent college grad about twenty-two, a new employee at my physical therapist’s. I have only met Nick a couple of times, but he also seems like a very nice, intelligent young man as well, and both of them have a great work ethic. 

A television on the wall was cued to the news, where they were still doing stories on the event that had begun as a challenge by the Arkansas governor to garner support for the company and it’s owner to believe as he wishes. As they both gazed at the television, the young newcomer Nick said “All of those Christians have no problem going out to buy chicken in support of this, but you sure don’t see them all at the homeless shelters in those numbers do you? I mean think about it, if all those Christians around the nation came out at once to help the homeless, and did it every day, there would be no homeless.”

I was enraged inside, I wanted to point my finger at him and tell him to stop judging the followers of Christ of the world, and where did he even get that just because those people were all in line, they were even all Christians? Are Christians the only ones who enjoy the food at Chick-fil-A? I think not. I wanted to refute him in every way I could, counting off the reasons why he was wrong to make such a statement, but in the end, I said nothing. I said nothing because I knew that what he said was right. Many of those in line “were” my brothers and sisters in Christ, and they were merely trying to support another brother in Christ who had made a bold statement in a politically correct world, and come under fire for it.

But I must also stop and consider the way I look at people who are in high positions, celebrities, politicians, Etc. who use their positions of authority as moxie to make a point. I don’t like it when celebrities use their status and considerable wealth to influence politicians by whispering in their ears, the Sarandon’s and Streisand’s, Turner’s and Trump’s. Therefore how can I say it is okay for someone on the Christian right to do one thing that I think is wrong for someone on the opposite to do. I think that if someone is good at being an actress, they should act, or an actor, the same. If someone is a great real estate investor, then that is what they should stick with, as well as a Christian brother who sells chicken. Am I saying that someone should not be bold when expressing ones beliefs? Not at all, I have no problem with what he said, I admire his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, but in doing so, flak is just something to be expected.

The thing that bothered me the most about what this young man Nick said was that I knew he spoke the truth. It made me wonder why he would think such things about us as Christians, had he been around people who were more talk than action? Had he been interested in becoming a Christian and been turned off by our hipocrisy? I knew deep down that what he said was correct though, we are eager to stand up and “tell” everyone what we believe. But haven’t we been doing that since the beginning of time, isn’t it time that we begin to “show” people what we believe by our actions instead?

I cannot speak for anyone else, only for myself. And although I actually like the chicken there (not a huge fan of the waffle fries though), I did not go out and buy chicken that day in support, I was working all day. I am also not much of a bandwagon guy either, preferring not to jump in and swim with the rest of the salmon just because it seems like the thing to do, every time I have done that I always seem to be eating a heaping helping of humble pie afterwards for one reason or other. But I “do” know that I could spend more time giving to those who have a need, and I do know that we as followers of Christ could make a “HUGE” impact on our world if we were to offer up time and money to those in need in the same way that we did in standing by the owner of this company and his right to express his belief in the biblical model for marriage.

There will always be controversy, there will always be platforms, and there will always be the poor as Jesus has said (Matthew 26:11). But our ministry is not one where we will win souls to Christ by standing on a street corner and preaching to those who pass us by, those days are mostly gone. Our ministry will best be seen by our love, kindness and generosity to those who are struggling through life. Nick, the young and idealistic man who recently began working with my physical therapist convicted me. He gave me a view of the Christian conglomerate through the eyes of the undecided, or possibly those who have even already rejected our way because of our willingness to wear our faith as a badge of “pride”, rather than to greet those in need with a washbasin and a towell (John 13:1-17).

So, does this convict you in the way that it does me? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with anyone who went out and supported this brother, but it shouldn’t be the foundation from which the world sees us as Christ followers. When they think of us, the lines at the Chick-fil-A should not represent what we stand for to them, but rather as servants of Jesus and those He referred to as “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).

As always, may God bless and keep you!

JFT

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Hello friends, I’ve missed you. School’s out, well for a few weeks at least. This latest class was the hardest yet, I have been pulling 20 hour days between work and school over the past two weeks. I turned my last assignment in last night, two days late, (only so many hours in a day).

I cannot begin to express to you how much I learned though, and as much as my mind felt like mush last night when I emailed in my reading logs, I can’t believe I am already wanting to contemplate it, to mull over and even share what I have learned, but I am. The last week-finals week was horrible, my final paper was 10 pages, but in addition to that, I had to turn in a weekly paper, but it was pretty subjective, and actually employed a process called “Lectio Devina” or “praying the scriptures”. I am going to post that paper here, because it turned into a wonderful experience, and I hope that if you are not familiar with the process, you will try it. God Bless

Instructions:  Exercise F: Read Matthew 28:16-20 contemplatively. How does God’s word speak to you in this mode? In 2-3 pages share how this text touches you.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teachingthem to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This passage is so powerful, it is actually just nice to take the words simply as they are without performing an exegesis on them and allowing them to settle into my heart. I read this passage several times, probably five, and listened to it in the soothing voice of the audio bible at least four times, quietly with my eyes closed, picturing the events as they were unfolding. I used the method of Lectio Devina.

I saw the disciples all wearing woven robes, many carrying walking sticks for support as they went up the mountain trail to the place that their Messiah had told them they should go. I see them coming to a place where the mountain begins to open up and the walking gets easier again, and they sit and rest, waiting for the miraculous appearance. Some of them begin to complain that they had better things to do than waste a day sitting on a mountain waiting for Him to come back. He wasn’t coming back, He was gone for good

Jesus hovered behind an outcropping of rocks not far away, listening to the voices of His disciples whine as the day wears on, so He decides to make them wait a little longer, and the outcome is predictable. Several of them get up and begin to pace, looking at the sun getting far in the sky, knowing it is lame, but using the excuse that the day is getting away, they should head back. Peter stands up hotly and says “sit down now”, and the disciples know better than to mess with him, so they do as they were told. Jesus chuckles to Himself behind the rock, “Oh Peter, some things never change, I never thought I would say it, but I am going to miss that hothead”, He thinks.

Knowing that enough time has past, He decides to show Himself, so He stands and begins to walk toward them, His sandals flapping quietly against His heels. Peter hears it first and glances His way, then Jumps to his feet and says “Master”, then falls to his knees before Him. The others look up too, but two of the ones who wanted to leave early say ”that isn’t Him” and refuse to even stand, as the others leap first to their feet and then fall to their knees. It isn’t until Jesus walks right up to them and places one hand on each mans shoulder that they realize who it is and fall to their knees too.

Jesus looks down at these men before him and loves them, He remembers washing their feet to teach them about true servant leadership. He asks them to rise, and then to come and sit with Him

He explains that all authority everywhere is His, with the wave of his hand, or merely a fleeting thought, He could extinguish the sun. I have all authority over the Heavens and the earth, and you walked with me, you were with Me when I had a headache, you were with Me, when I walked out to the ship in the middle of the night that night. You were with me when I slept in the stern of the boat and the waves and the wind howled, until I calmed them. You were with me when I did everything that I did, you know that I was God, who came to live amongst you and to die for your sin.

So, I want you to go far and wide, to every nation, city, town and village telling the story of the things that you have seen. I want you to make new disciples in all of these new places, just like yourselves, and I want you to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Teach them all the things I have taught you, and teach them to obey all of the commandments that I taught you to obey. And I want you to know this, I am with you, I am with you always, forever, into eternity. I will never leave you.

I wondered how someone could see Jesus and not know Him, or doubt that it was Him, and how that must have hurt His feelings inside, but then I remembered that He understands us better than we will ever understand ourselves.

I thought about the great commission, and its relevance to us today, and strangely another passage came to mind, and even in a different context than the passage was originally intended, but when contemplating scripture, God is driving so I defer to Him.

In Matthew 8:1-3, we read the accounting of the leper asking if Jesus is willing to heal him of his affliction, to which Jesus replies, “I am willing”. Here are the passages for reference.  When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before himand said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,”. I think about the great commission that we all as Christ followers have been charged with. It began on the mountain two thousand years ago and continues today, with the same challenge, “Go and make disciples of all nations”. Then I stop and wonder while I wasn’t tearing it up to spread His word far and wide all of my life, and I think of that scripture in Matthew that I quoted above, only we aren’t asking Jesus if He is willing, He is asking us if we are willing? Are you willing to be my disciples and to fulfill this great commission? Do you love me that much? Do you love your family that much? Do you love your fellow man that much, that you would deliver the life saving news of salvation? Are you willing?

Jim,

I didn’t want to ruin my experience of reading this excellent story by stopping throughout and writing comments! You have transported me, your reader, into your own thoughts and allowed me to be touched by the same things in this passage that touched you. This was an excellent example of a contemplative reading of Scripture and was very moving to me personally! Excellent work!

                                                                        70/70


 [TS1]Yes. And I hope that you still see the value for this in your life. Allowing Scripture to touch you is still a very valid way of God speaking to us. We just have to be careful to not make major theological treatises out of these moments!

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