Thursday, October 26, 2006

Love Your Enemies--Mt. 5 (Part 2)

How do we love our enemies?

Before we assume we understand how to love, we need to think about love itself. I was convicted this week about my inadequate understanding of love. In meditating on hatred, it was shown to me that indifference is a form of hatred. No caring, not having an opinion for the wellbeing of a fellow human being is also hatred. This broadly widens both "who" is our enemy and how it is that we may hate.

Prior to this insight, I would have said, "I don't have a hate problem. I have a loving people problem." I see now how foolish that distinction is.

Therefore, now as we look to Mt 5:43-48, we are better equipped to move from hate to love. In particular, we see that love is (1) aggressive and (2)indiscriminate.

First, notice v. 47 suggests that we should greet our enemies on the street. In other words, WE are to take the initiative. WE are to do something extraordinarily humiliating. How humbling to suck up our anger, indifference, or whatever in order to pursue the good of those who might spit on us if provoked enough. This requires our losing any sense of self. This is counter to every instinct we have. They may reject our loving advance, but was not the cross the foremost act of love, yet humiliating and rejected again and again by people daily?

Second, vv.46-47 rejects selectively loving people based on criteria preferable to us. We tend to only accept people when they are enough like us or when they can benefit us. We don't "accept" people when we withhold our affection, a place in our heart for them, unless they meet some criteria we set up. We don't have to approve of their sin, but should we not have each person we meet in our heart. What criteria do you and I set up? Being rich, being smart, being parents, being from one place of another, being well-mannered, being....?

Book Review of Osteen's "Your Best Life Now"

Check it out an excellent critique of Joel's book

Monday, October 23, 2006

Arbitrary Parent Rules: Dinnertime

So there are so many rules that we establish as parents that apart from the moment are pretty darn funny.

Arbitrary Parent Rule #1: You can't eat just ketchup for dinner.

Arbitrary Parent Rule #2: Everyone must have underwear on before we eat.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Majesty among the Mundane

As I was driving with my kids and doing errands the other day, I decided to throw my camera in the car. These are some pictures I stopped and took as we drove to the library, past baseball fields gas stations and neighborhoods. These beautiful colors framed very ordinary things, gloriously displaying His goodness as God. A very mundane morning of taking care of business. But among the morning of busyness, God reminded me that He displays Himself vividly in the details of our day, it only we are willing to look for them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Love Your Enemies--Mt. 5 (Part 1)

In our house, we've been thinking over Mt. 5:43-48 a lot--the command to love your enemies, perhaps the most cited verse about Christian living in church history.
We wanted to share some of our thoughts as a confession of our falling short and as a reminder to us all as to how important it is.

Who are our enemies?

Those who persecute us (5:44), those who hate us (Luke 6:27), those who are blatantly unjust or are God's enemies (5:45), those who cheat us or seem traitorous (5:46), those who are national or social threats or outsiders (5:47), those who aren't even hurting us (5:46) now;

We can't love our enemies until we're honest enough to name them.

Next--"In what way are we to love them?"
Part 3--"How is it possible?"

A Great Sin--No Rest

While there are many heinous sins in the world, some sins are symptomatic of others. A person doesn't start with murder. He usually works his way "up" to that one.

I'm just wondering if the lack of Sabbath is one of those "first" sins. After all, when there is no rest, one is tired more often (from which many sins come from), one never takes time to think about life, one does not invest in relationships (love your neighbor...), one does not dedicate time for sacred devotional practices....

It's just a thought, but I find that the lack of rest arises because I think I'm too important or capable that God really needs me to keep working. I forget that believing that God is sovereign and good requires some sort of tangible expression--that means rest, for one thing.

"Sabbath" is the first act of God to which we are then called to imitate (unless you count the procreation thing, but those don't have to oppose each other either). These are just thoughts. I'd love to hear yours.

Kennedy Presidential library

We took the day off of school and life and went into "Big Boston" to see the John F. Kennedy library. It was really interesting. It was actually much more personal than we were expecting. There were several Sopranos-esqe characters outside and we reminded ourselves that the Kennedy's are still very connected. The back of the library looks over Boston harbor and the skyline.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Living in this World

As I read books from the perspective of Eastern peoples or from ancient times, I am struck with how this worldly they are. Today, for most Christians, this sounds like an insult. When you read the Bible, however, it is incredibly this worldly focused.

Our God is not like the gods of Greek mythology, battling invisible powers far removed from this world; instead, he became a man and died. In the Old Testament, he did not threaten hell, he threatened plague and exile; In the New Testament, when Jesus ascended, the angel said, why are you looking up, go....This echoes the last words of Jesus, "go into the world..."

The great hope of the New Testament is not heaven, in fact, as we typically understand it. It's the resurrection of our bodies! See this emphatic emphasis in 1 Cor. 15.

How is it then that we get so otherworldly that we become useless and irrelevant to this world now?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Theology of Oppression

Can Christian theology be written within a sphere of comfort and ease? We've been wondering this lately as we consider the destructive effects on Christianity within the wealthy West? The Bible was almost entirely written by people in them midst of struggle and frequently marginalized. The Church today is flourishing around the world in oppression while the laxity of the West slowly strangles Christendom?

Just a question.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Psalms of Prayer

Many people, including myself, have look for guidance in prayer. One of the obvious answers that easily gets overlooked in the Psalms. They capture every emotion, thought, and circumstance. When we pray the Psalms (as has been universally done by the church through history), we join the Church in prayer to God with the words he gave us.

As Bonhoeffer, the martyred German pastor, wrote, "If we prayed out of the poverty of our heart, we might pray for only what we want to pray; but God wants our prayers to be much fuller, encompassing not only our needs but the life of the whole community of God's people...the book of Psalms is teaching about how we are to come before God in the proper way." (from "The Prayer Book on the Psalms" (1940))

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Profiling Spinach

Isn't it funny that we take greater precautions against spinach lettuce than we do terrorists?

Think about it: in the recent spinach outbreak, not all spinach has e-coli, but all the e-coli outbreaks came from spinach; therefore, we took precautions to guard and check all spinach bags? We didn't check apples, cucumbers, or carrots. Why? Because all the sources of danger we knew of had been spinach. (Catching my direction yet...?)

What about terrorism and racial profiling? Not all people of middle eastern decent are terrorists! I absolutely reject any sort of generalization like that; however, would it not make sense to profile to some degree the only known source of terrorism that remains as the greatest ongoing threat today...radical Islam?

So it is that we'll protect against the microscopic forces that be, while not lifting our heads to see obvious, the real world as it is. This all seems like common sense to me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Killer Carrot

I just read about 4 woman who are sick and possibly paralyzed from Organic Carrot Juice. This month we've also been hard-pressed to find spinach because of the e-coli outbreak from a farm in California. Spinach and organic carrot juice...these are two things that we're told are supposed to give you healthy skin, teeth, muscles, bones, good grades, great friends and maybe even lower gas prices. But there are a hand full of families in this country that are hitting McDonald's this weekend because these "healthy" foods have left their families sick and changed forever.

It's reminded me of as a Christian, how we should define 'safe.' These people ate these foods becuase they are good for you and are a part of a diet that will give you a wonderful life full of bliss. These foods were 'safe.' Are we as believers supposed to want safety? And if not, than what are we to want? Why has safety become such a mandate in this country? It's funny because as we've worked with people from around the world, we have found the people not striving for safety are often times desperate for Christ. Their safety is not guarenteed nor even desired, because they realize that with safety comes complacency and indifference.

We live in a very safe country. Therefore, we must find ways to become desperate for salvation from ourselves. No more self-help and psychological pats on the back, but Christ. A Christ that promises us heaven and the holy spirit and not a lot more in concern to this world. We need to be with the desperate and remove the distractions we have from becoming desperate ourselves.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rest time from Martha Stewart

Harry Connick Jr. playing, New England fall blowing through our windows, homemade apple pie in the oven. 30 minutes of Martha Stewart-esque rest time and I'm good for the week. Among the chaos, sometimes time stops and we can catch our breath, even if it's just for a second.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Big 30

So today I'm 30. People have asked me if I feel older and I tell them that when I remind myself that I have 3 kids, than I feel older. Our family went to Russell Orchard and picked apples, ate apple cider donuts, had a hayride and played together. It was really fantastic. Brad is getting ready to take me to dinner, but I wanted to get some pictures posted before I forgot.
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