Out of this World: Throwback Thursday

What kind of a King is Christ? Pilate asked Jesus this question, “Are you the King of the Jews?” In other words, “Do you consider yourself a political leader?” If so, Pilate could charge Jesus with sedition, plotting to over throw the Roman government.

Jesus gives Pilate one of his famous non-responses, reflecting the question back, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me? Pilate is flustered “Am I a Jew?” He had tried to intimidate Jesus with a probing question, but Jesus stood firm and put Pilate off guard. Catching a second wind, Pilate adds an open-ended question to Jesus “What have you done?”

Jesus says, “My Kingship is not of this world.” If I were a political leader, I could have led a revolution. The people would fight for me, not turn me into the authorities.

Pilate responds, “So, you are a King.”

Jesus says, “You say this. All I say is I was born to reveal the truth. All who hear the truth, hear me.”

Jesus was not a political revolutionary. If he were, he would have helped his people Israel over throw the Roman government. He had stirred up their emotions, then pride.   Most importantly, he had helped them discover the Spirit of God within and among them. If Jesus were a political revolutionary he would have restored Israel to power. But he didn’t.

Instead, Jesus says, “My Kingship is not of this world.” The power of God in Christ is different than the power we often find in the world. It is not the sort of power that intimidates others into submission. It is not the sort of power that pushes people around, abuses privileges, establishes itself and then feeds off others. The power of God in Christ is the power to serve, to inspire, to love. This power builds us up. It is empowering. It helps us do things we could not have done on our own.

Those of us in positions of authority do well to notice how Christ exercises his authority. He does not lord it over others. He does not make a big show of it. He does not wallow in its privileges or use it as a vehicle to abuse those who trust him. Instead, he uses it to better serve, to share with more people the good news of God’s love.

Clarence Jordan was a Baptist preacher and Bible scholar in the 1930’s who left a seminar teaching position to start a farm in South Georgia. It became known as Koinonia, the Greek word for “fellowship.” At Koinonia, everyone was treated equally, no matter the color of their skin. Jordan created a scandal by paying black farm hands a decent wage. He even had the audacity to share lunch with them at the same table.

One evening, a group of white men in dark suits knocked on his door. He answered it. Mr. Jordan, One man spoke, “We’ll get right to the point. We’re part of the Citizens Council, and we’re here to tell you we don’t let the sun go down of a man who eats with a nigger.”

Jordan looked down. His face lost all expression. When he looked up again, he was smiling.

He shook the man’s hand and said,

“My name is Clarence Jordan. I’m a Southern Baptist preacher and I always wanted to meet the man who had power over the sun.”

Jordan kept on living and working with people of all colors. He didn’t let the power of intimidation rule, but the power of love. The power of God in Christ.

This power is ours.

The power of love is out of this world, but it also lives in us when when we are in Christ.

The Faith of Hannah : Throwback Thursday

The following reflection is taken from a sermon entitled, “The Faith of Hannah,” based on 1 Samuel 1.4-20, first delivered on November 13, 1994 at Cochranton Presbyterian Church.

The faith of Hannah inspires us to give back to God from what God has given us.

One of the most painful experiences women (and men) can face is their inability to have children. It is a great mystery to me why some couples who would be loving parents are unable to conceive, while each year thousands of children are born, unwanted by their birth parents.   I don’t know why.

In the days of Hannah, women who were barren were ignored, ridiculed, often cast aside. They were considered cursed by God for some secret sin. Hannah was made to feel less than human, unloved by God.

Hannah knew God loved her. Still, she struggles. She prays for a child. Nothing happens. Her husband, Elkanah, pays a double offering at the temple. Nothing happens. Hannah endures the taunts and jeers of other women. Nothing happens. In her struggle, she becomes terribly sad. She finds it difficult to eat or sleep.

In desperation, Hannah goes to the temple and calls on the God she knows as loving and powerful, able to do great things. She pours out her heart,

“O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, remember me…and I will remember you. I will dedicate my child to your service.”

The Bible tells us that God hears her prayer and answers it. Hannah conceives and gives birth to a son, Samuel. Can you imagine her joy?

When Alice and I discovered we were expecting our first child, we felt incredibly blessed. Those 9 months of waiting seemed like an eternity. The week of our due date, Alice and I had been “power walking” 3 times a day at the mall, trying to induce labor. We were quite a sight – barreling past the senior citizens – one very pregnant woman and one over-eager husband, clocking each contraction with a stopwatch.

Sarah was born (3 days late, according to my stopwatch) and our blessing was multiplied, beyond belief. Sarah.

Can you imagine how Hannah must have felt? To be blessed with a child after such a long wait, all her tears, all her pain, her desperate prayers become one bouncing bundle of joy. Samuel.

Then, her joy, her blessedness is tested. Remember her promise to God? “If you give me a son, Lord, I will dedicate him to your service, as a priest.” In those days, priests were raised within the temple walls, separated from their parents. How on earth, after all that she has been through, after such a long wait, could Hannah give up her child?

We don’t know how she does it, but she does. She follows through on her promise to God. She says to her husband, “as soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever.” And she does just that.

Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us how old Samuel was when he was weaned.   A thought flashed in my mind this week that Samuel might have been the first child in history to be weaned and graduate from college on the same day. Maybe Hannah should become the patron saint for La Leche League.

No, the Bible does say that Samuel was young. He is still a child when Hannah offers him to God, saying, “…as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.”

Let’s pray…

Lord God, you’ve given us so much. In Jesus Christ, you gave us your own Son, that we might enjoy life, abundant and eternal. Inspire us with your Spirit of giving, Lord, as you inspired Hannah. Help us to share with you the joy of giving, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Inconsistency: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

Oh, that my ways were steadfast

in obeying your decrees! (Psalm 119:5)

One of my greatest frustrations living with bipolar disorder is how difficult it is to be consistent. This has caused me much anxiety and put tremendous strain on my relationships – particularly within my family. When I’ve felt up to it, I’ve made big plans to do things with the family, but then I crash and fail to follow through with them. When I’ve been depressed, I’ve let Alice make nearly all parenting decisions. Yet when I came back around, I’ve tried to assert my authority and made a mess of things.

At key moments I’ve been practically cruel in my inconsistency. One example was when we adopted our youngest child, Hannah. Alice wanted to provide her the nutritional and emotional benefits of nursing. Yet, I insisted this was selfish, that I should be included in the bonding experience of feeding her. Much to her dismay, Alice relented to my strong will. True to form, I didn’t step up to the plate, and Alice wound up feeding Hannah from a bottle herself (with some help from our oldest daughters and grandparents).

Consistency is one of God’s great character traits. When we become more like the LORD, we are bound to become more steadfast – particularly in our love. The ups and downs of our mood disorders don’t go away, but they no longer command so much of our attention.

I like how we call what we do with faith, “practicing,” The implication is we never fully perform it or perfect it in this life. The more we practice true faith, however, the more we consistently obey God’s Word and Way.

I still have a long way to go when it comes to consistency. I’m still practicing what I believe is best, yet so often I fall short. When I do, I pray for forgiveness and pick up the next day and try again.

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. For a signed copy, directly from the author, write to me — tony@awaywithwordsforyou.com .

Opening Up, Failing, Psychiatric Hospitals, Invisibility, Fear: Mental Health Monday

Just When Is It Okay to Open Up????”  (The Jet Life Chronicles)

Over the past three months I’ve gotten a lot of offers from people out there who said if I need to talk, then they are there. Let me tell you as someone who is always living in recovery, this is extremely, and very difficult. The main reason, I feel like, is that as someone with a serious mental illness and who struggles with it very often, you have to decipher what is a character problem, and what is a problem that has to do with the symptoms of your diagnosis. This is a hidden thing that a lot of people don’t get from those who actually suffer and are prisoners of their symptoms, even those that are the family members, spouses, friends, or coworkers would not see, and even those in the medical model won’t even pay attention to on many occasions. There are a lot of instances where you just don’t know what you are feeling at the moment. Not to mention, that situations in where your flaws as a person are exploited can even trigger symptoms.

Life in the Ana Phase: Living with Anorexia/EDNOS” (Some People Live More in 20 Years…)

Shut up, you tell yourself vehemently as you shove your plate away. You go upstairs. You shut the door and walk to the mirror.

You didn’t eat. You had to and you didn’t. Every inch of your failures pile up inside you, bursting at the seams of your body. You are not pounds. You are not sizes. You are a measurement of failure, and you just gained some more.

My Weekend in a Psychiatric Hospital for Research” (Dessa J)

Last Friday I went to my local hospital emergency room and told the nurse that I was contemplating suicide and felt in was a danger to myself. That was all it took for her to admit me. The nurse did not physically examine me except for taking my temperature and blood pressure. For 6 hours I was kept waiting. I had to wait for them to see if the psychiatric facility next door would accept me. At 12 am they finally did.

I was wheeled over to a building with barbed wires and was escorted by a police officer with a lot of keys. Eventually after going through three security gates I was taken to a building, which looked like an old classroom turned into a hospital ward.

I was wheeled into a tiny room where my belongings were taken and looked through. I was bombarded with paperwork after paperwork with questions asking about my mood.

This process was a little bit difficult because my nurses and care givers had heavy accents and didn’t speak English too clearly. I managed and after the paperwork I was escorted to my room.

The Invisible Girl, searchlights and conflicts” (The Time Puddle)

When I was nine years old – still raw from the trauma I had suffered only two years before – I was sent to boarding school. It was not a pleasant experience, and the emotional concrete began to be laid inside me almost as soon as I had unpacked.

Girls are mean creatures – cold and unforgiving and utterly merciless. Although the greatest crimes against me have all been committed by men, I am more inclined to forgive their gender. I can appreciate the diversity among them far easier than I would apply the same gentle eye to that supposed gentler sex.

I remember the poor diplomacy I would stutter in my attempt to make friends with the other girls. I had been forged in fear, and as a result I burned every contact to ashes.

I could not understand the complex body language they used so effortlessly to mark the safe zones around them. I could not understand why something said on one day was funny, and the next day was not. Most of all, I could not understand how to react when they turned on me. I could not understand the question, let alone create an answer that would make them – please – leave me alone.

What do you fear, my lady?”  (Random Thoughts from the Road Less Traveled)

When I look back at myself from June of 2003 to September of 2007, it is clear that my decisions were all made with desperate calculation to escape the cage that was closing in on me.  I was searching frantically for something that would save me from the force within my mind that was hunting me down, wearing away at my defenses, and driving me into captivity and darkness.

I had spent four years from the time I returned home from war working hard to appear as though everything was normal.  It was a strange sort of double life.  I was terrified of anyone finding out the reality of what was going on in my mind, so I put on an amazing show of normalcy and productivity by keeping as busy as possible.   I was working full time as a nurse and also a full time student majoring in Secondary Education.  While I was occupied, it was easier to suppress the dragon that stalked my thoughts.  However, it was mentally, emotionally and physically draining, and I was headed for a breakdown.

Top Story Songs for 2014: “Raised by Wolves” — U2

 I’ve been listening to U2 since I was knee-high to a leprechaun. I vividly recall my first exposure — marching along with my dorm buddies to the cries of “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”  While I haven’t followed them closely through their mega-stardom, I remain intrigued by their work and was quite delighted to welcome the release of their new album, “Songs of Innocence.”

I was particularly pleased with the deep spiritual thirst and longing expressed in many of the songs. The best example of this, I believe, is the song “Raised by Wolves.” The depiction of the desperate state of human depravity, the crisis of faith, and the longing to disappear are vividly presented in passionate poetry with a harsh back-beat setting the tone.

“Raised by Wolves” is a great example of what gifted rockers at any age can do when inspired well.

Face down on a broken street
There’s a man in the corner in a pool of misery
I’m in a white van as a red sea covers the ground
Metal crash I can’t tell what it is
But I take a look and now I’m sorry I did.
5:30 on a Friday night 33 good people cut downI don’t believe anymore
I don’t believe anymore

Face down on a pillow of shame
There are some girls with a needle trying to spell my name
My body’s not a canvas
My body’s now a toilet wall

I don’t believe anymore
I don’t believe anymore

Raised by wolves
Stronger than fear
Raised by wolves
We were raised by wolves
Raised by wolves
Stronger than fear
If I open my eyes,
You disappear

I don’t believe anymore
I don’t believe anymore

Boy sees his father crushed under the weight
Of a cross in a passion where the passion is hate.
Blue mink Ford, I’m gonna detonate and you’re dead
Blood in the house,
Blood on the street
The worst things in the world are justified by belief
Registration 1385-WZ

I don’t believe anymore
I don’t believe anymore

Raised by wolves
Stronger than fear
Raised by wolves
We were raised by wolves
Raised by wolves
Stronger than fear
If I open my eyes,
You disappear

The Courage of Ruth: Throwback Thursday

The following reflection is taken from a sermon entitled “The Courage of Ruth” based on Ruth 3:1-5, 4:13-17 first delivered November 06, 1994 at Cochranton Presbyterian Church.

Ruth is a woman with great courage. When faced with a challenge, she doesn’t run and hide. She stands up for herself and for her family.

At an early age, Ruth suffers the loss of her husband. She is faced with a decision. The logical choice would be to go back to her family home, if they would have her. She is still young; she might hope to marry again one day.

Instead, Ruth decides to stay with her mother-in-law, Naomi, She expresses great love and loyalty, saying, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

Having chosen to remain with Naomi, Ruth is faced with the hard truth that life has little to offer two widows. Being a widow in Ruth’s day meant being extremely vulnerable, unable to work, unable to collect insurance, at the mercy of others.

Again, Ruth shows great courage. When faced with limited options, she doesn’t grumble, but works hard with the hand she’s dealt. Ruth goes into the fields and gathers the remains of the harvest.

When she tells Naomi what she has done, Naomi tells her the owner of the fields is a relative, Boaz. In the tradition of the day, when a woman was widowed, often the nearest relative of her husband offered to marry her and provide for her needs. Naomi advises Ruth to visit Boaz, to see if he might be willing to fulfill this obligation.

Ruth does just this. At night, she gets dressed up and goes to visit Boaz at the threshing floor. Doing this, she risks a social scandal, even death by stoning. Women were expected not to take such bold steps with a man, to be so assertive. They were to sit back, hide their faces and let the man take the first move. Ruth ignores this social etiquette and goes. Providing for her family is more important to her than her reputation.

Boaz is startled when he finds her there. “Who are you?” He asks. Ruth tells him her story.

Rather than being put off by Ruth’s assertiveness, Boaz is impressed by the loyalty she has demonstrated in her friendship with Naomi. This loyalty, this courage attracts Boaz and prompts him to agree with her plan. He tells her to return to Naomi while he makes the necessary arrangements for marriage.

Thanks to the loyalty of Ruth, thanks to her willingness to take risks, both her needs and the needs of Naomi are met.

The courage of Ruth inspires us today to take risks. Women of faith have often been discouraged from putting their God-given talents to use. You have been told that men are to be the leaders, the heads of household. You are to sit back, let the men take the initiative and, if need be, you can mop up his mess when he’s finished.

In some cases, this works. In many others, it doesn’t. By narrowly defining roles within a marriage, we can lose sight of the “sacred partnership” God intends for us. We drift away from each other, failing to work together for the good of the family. Husbands can become violent tyrants; wives can become paralyzed with passivity.

Social expectations impact our sinful nature. For men, the root sin becomes “hubris,” or pride. We can become arrogant blow-hards who bark commands, who brag about our prowess, who talk a big talk. We can overestimate our talent, over-commit ourselves and need someone, often a woman, to come along and bail us out, while we take the credit.

For women, however, the root sin becomes, “hiding.” You are taught to hide your talent, work behind the scenes, and not take credit for what you’ve achieved. Follow along, never taking the lead, never letting your God-given talents find expression.

In some cases, this sin of hiding filters into relationships. While I was doing pastoral training at a women’s prison, I was surprised to find that almost 1/2 of the women were in prison for crimes of complicity. In other words, their crime was to assist someone else, usually a boyfriend or husband, commit a crime. They would drive, or help hide, or cover-up evidence. Some of these women were very intelligent, with a lot to offer, but early on, they fell into their allotted social roles of connecting with a man and letting him take charge.

Ruth demonstrates how to come out of hiding. She doesn’t seem concerned by what people might think. Though she is a victim of tragedy, she doesn’t think of herself in this way. She does not become overwhelmed by her grief, but shows the strength and courage to move on.

Ruth is a survivor, who remains true to her commitments, even when she has plenty of reason to let go. The story of Ruth can inspire women and men of faith today. Recognize the strength available in the spirit of Christ to care for yourself and your family. Let the Spirit move you to share your talents for your own good and for the good of the community of faith. Don’t sit back until someone else takes the lead, until someone else invites you to follow along where you may not be meant to go. Take the lead, show the courage of Ruth to go where the Spirit leads you, on your own path, following no one but God.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ruth and Boaz

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ruth and Boaz

Knit Together in Love: A Wednesday Blog Hop Story

“Let’s take a walk.”

“Should we invite Grandma?”

“I think she’s going down for a short nap.”

“Okay, let me grab  a sweater.”

Debra pulled her auburn hair through the brown knit sweater her Grandma Taylor had knit for her last Christmas.

“Oh, Grandma, I love it.”

“Do you think you’ll get any use of it?”

“Of course. It’s perfect. Thank you so much.”

She gave her a hug and noticed that Grandma Taylor held on tight, longer than usual. She thought nothing of it. Until today.

sunrise0610

“Debra, look at the geese. Winter is just around the corner.”

“I love this beach. Remember when we would bury Grandpa in the sand?”

“He would always yell. But he loved it. He could be gruff, but he had a good heart.”

“He sure did.”

They each took a breath and stared at the sinking sun.

“Debra, I want to tell you something about Grandma.”

“Okay. Go ahead.”

“I don’t know how to say this, but she’s having health problems. She’s losing track of things. Leaving burners on. Leaving the car runing and losing the keys. She’s, I don’t know, weary…”

“Mom, what are you saying?”

“We think she needs more assistance.”

“She can move in with me and Tom. It will be great. The baby could grow up knowing her.”

“She’s made it clear she doesn’t want to burden anyone in the family. Debra, she wants to move into a care facility.”

“But Mom,” she was tearing up, “we can’t let her.”

“Oh Debra, we can’t stop her.”

They held each other on the sinking stand and stared into the unclear distance.

Over an hour had passed when they returned. Debra yelled out, “Grandma. We’re back.”

“Oh my, you’ve got to close your eyes and let your mother lead you to the sewing room. I have something I want you to see.”

Debra looked at her mom and giggled, “Do you know what this is about?”

“Just go along.”

They made their way back to the sewing room.

“Okay, you can open your eyes now.”

She looked and saw the most gorgeous patchwork quilt trimmed in pink.

“Do you think this will work for a girl?”

“Absolutely. Hannah Grace will cherish it as she grows up. It will remind her of her Great Grandma Taylor.”

“Oh, and her Grandma Schreher. Your mom did most the work. I just helped with the stitching. In fact, Debra take a picture of your mom holding it up.”

“Okay, but you’re next.”.12941_1255214745978_8013524_n-debb-displaying-her-new-quilt.jpg

Grandma Taylor did not protest.

To hop along this week, see our hostess Debb at Stanton Sunshine.

To  read more prompted submissions, click on the blue frog below:

Genetic Predisposition: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;

may your mercy come quickly to meet us,

for we are in desperate need. (Psalm 79:8)

While there may well be points of dispute in various areas, the Bible and modern science agree on one thing for sure. We inherit aspects of our being from our ancestors. Whether we call these things “iniquities” or “genetic markings,” the point of the matter is, our mothers and fathers and those who make up our biological family in the past shape who we are in the present and influence who we become in the future.

As I’ve sought treatment for mental illness, I’ve come to discover I share the affliction with various ancestors and relatives. I try to put this knowledge in perspective and not let it drag me into the terrible trap of genetic determinism. Yes, I have a serious mental illness like other family members. But no, my life doesn’t have to progress (or tragically end) as theirs did.

The prayer of this Psalmist is mine as I look back at my ancestry and look forward to the lives of my children. I pray the compassion of God would come speedily and lift me up when I am brought low reflecting on what has gone wrong in the past or what could go wrong in the future.

I pray the sin that has come to me from “the third and fourth generation” would be redeemed by Christ such that righteousness might reign in my children and my children’s children “for a thousand generations to come.” This may not mean their mental illness DNA is magically removed, but with better understanding, careful treatment, and intensive prayer, they would receive a degree of healing and recovery even beyond what I have experienced – without sinking into the dangerous depths or swinging to the deceptive highs that have marked my life.

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Jesus Cried: Throwback Thursday

The following reflection is taken from a sermon entitled “Jesus Cried” based on John 11.32-44, delivered on October 30, 1994 at Cochranton Presbyterian.

Our faith lives on the conviction that in Jesus Christ, God enters human life, transforming it forever. The spirit of God inhabits human flesh. Jesus Christ: fully human, fully God.

Our faith has struggled when we have failed to affirm these two truths. Some lean too heavily on the human side of Jesus, claiming he was a great moral teacher, a model for our lives, a human example for us to follow. They fail to respect the power of God in him. Some lean too heavily on the divine side of Christ, pointing to his miracles, his healing touch, his victory over sin and death. They overlook his pain, his joy, his laughter and his tears.

Our Gospel lesson provides a wonderful illustration of Jesus Christ as fully human, fully divine.

First, Jesus is sent a message that his friend, Lazarus, has died. At first he denies it, and goes about his business. Finally, he arrives at Bethany. He discovers the truth. Lazarus is dead. His sister, Martha goes to meet Jesus and, with the rage of grief, yells at him.

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Still, she has faith, “even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha professes her faith in Jesus, her absolute trust that the power of God in him can conquer anything, even death.

Jesus continues towards the village. Mary greets him with the same words as her sister, only with more sad disappointment than rage, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus sees her crying, along with others. Our text reads, “He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.”

“Greatly disturbed” is a loose translation for a word that appears only two other times in reference to Jesus. On both occasions, it is used as a verb to describe what Jesus does to prevent word about his healing touch from spreading. Barclay translates this as “straightly charged.” It is “giving a stern command.” It is a verb which connotes anger.

But why would Jesus be angry?

This anger, I think, is an expression of the grief Jesus feels over the death of his friend. Grief has a way of moving us through a wide range of emotions. First we try to deny it, then we become angry. Jesus, fully human, struggles through these stages of grief, just as we do.

“Where have you laid him?” Jesus asks. They show him. The sight of the open cave with the body of his friend laid out was too much for him. His stern expression melted and he cried.

For some, these tears were an expression of care, the compassion Jesus felt for a friend. For others, they were an expression of weakness which confused them. How could this powerful healer be overcome with emotion?

Here is the place where the human and the divine meet. The human Jesus is overcome with sorrow over the loss of a friend. The divine Christ enters the cave and restores life to Lazarus.

This miracle poses two great challenges for believers today. First, there is the challenge of belief. We don’t understand how this happens. The Gospels record three resurrections God performs through Jesus. The two others happen immediately after death. Given the way ancient people viewed life and death, these could have been resuscitation rather than resurrections. But the raising of Lazarus leaves no doubt. Lazarus was certainly dead. Jesus entered the cave of his dead friend and restored his life.

This is a hard truth to accept. It is even more difficult to explain, in a “Culture of Disbelief.” No scientific or historical explanation is possible. We simply present the mystery of the resurrection, knowing that God’s ways are not our ways. God is not limited to the laws of nature. God lies beyond our capacity to understand. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

A deeper challenge, I think, is the challenge of a faithful response. I have said to some of you that I think the church, in practice, often fails to believe in the resurrection.

If we believe in the resurrection, we would not feel the need to maintain programs long after they’ve ceased to be useful. We could let them die, confident that God brings new life.

If we believed in the resurrection, we could let go of brothers and sisters in faith who have left and found a new church home, confident that God brings new life to them, and us.

If we believed in the resurrection, we could give up our hopes of bringing back glory days and look forward to God doing a new thing in our midst.

When we cling to our past, when being keepers of tradition gets in the way of doing mission, we fail to believe in the resurrection.

Jesus Raising Lazarus

Dawn: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

Light shines on the righteous

and joy on the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:11)

In spite of dark moods I have felt from of depression, glimpses of light have flashed to help me see I am on the right track, in right relationships, making the right decisions. These moments have been accompanied with joy knowing I am not alone, and that my suffering is not in vain.

One such period of joy came when I first met Alice – the woman who would become my wife. I had been through a rough stretch and endured some painful relationships. I had nearly given up on finding a life companion. Lost in the darkness, I wrestled with the decision of whether to pursue an internship and devote myself solely to my pastoral career or continue working in group therapy on some pivotal issues that were hindering me from experiencing intimacy in relationships.

In the midst of darkness, a ray of light shone, and it dawned on me it would be best to stay and work through my relationship issues. That week, I met Alice and we began our life together. I cannot imagine I would have survived, much less thrived at times, in this journey without her.

Light dawns on us when we least expect it, when we most need it. It comes not just because we’ve done something right. Light shines because Jesus Christ has made things right through his sacrifice on the cross. The Righteous One directs his light on our darkness, brings clarity that speaks to our confusion and offers joy that brings laughter to our despair.

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.