Monday, May 23, 2011

Following Jesus the "Celtic" way . . .

PSALM 145:3-7 GENESIS 22:14-l8 ROMANS I2:l6-l8


Bede speaks of Bishop Colman and his predecessors Aidan and Finan:

The sole concern of the teachers of those days was to serve God, not the world, and to feed the soul, not the belly. The religious habit, therefore, was held in great respect at that time, so that whenever a cleric or monk appeared he was welcomed gladly by everyone as a servant of God. Even if one was discovered passing on the roads they would run up to him and bow their heads, and were glad to be signed with the cross by his hand or blessed by his lips; and they paid close heed to such men's exhortations. On the Lord's Day they gathered eagerly in the church or monasteries, not to get food for their bodies but to listen to the word of God; and if a priest came by chance to their village the people at once came together, eager to receive from him the word of life. The priests and clerics themselves visited the villages for no other reason than to preach, baptize, visit the sick and, in sum, to care for their souls; and so free were they from any taint or avarice that none accepted grants of land and estates for building monasteries unless compelled by the secular rulers!


Aidan, dining one Easter with King Oswald, was himself ill at ease with the feast set before them. Just then a servant arrived to say that many poor people had arrived at the castle asking for alms. Oswald with a wave of his arm ordered their own meal to be taken away and fed to the people outside, and the silver plate broken and distributed between them. Aidan was so overcome that he exclaimed, 'May the hand that did this never perish.'
Any society or 'civilization' may best be judged by the way it treats its weakest members.

Lord, daily order my steps that I might be transformed into your likeness; imperfect as I am, make me a mirror that reflects your uncompromising love. Holy Spirit rule in and over me.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Family update - Wow!

A brief update on our family's "adventures:

Patti has accepted a six month OT rotation in Hilo, Hi. Pat is hoping to do three months with her doing volunteer work?
Kyle enters his second year teaching grad and undergrad physics at Creighton, while wife Laura starts second year residency at U. Nebraska Omaha, their current home.
Cody is finishing up work on Maui at the Bird Conservation Center there before returning home to pursue his Masters in Environmental Biology at Pat's alma mater, CSU Sacramento.
Karly continues her own studies in Sociology while raising our grandson Anthony with his Daddy Phil.

More to come later . . . Oh, and I continue to seek God's guidance for His plans in this season for me personally.

Yes, only by Grace

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Renovation of the Church

The book by the same name (authored by two pastors; Kent Carlson and Mike Leuken), really hit "home" for me on several fronts, not the least of which is my former church and our family there. During my tenure as an Elder (sitting) on Session, we engaged in not just one, but two expensive and extensive evaluation processes to identify where we needed to improve as a church. Ironically (Godincidentally?), both processes identified the same primary issue or weakness in our church. While they used different terms for this weakness, the focus was a lack of discipleship (sic. spiritual formation, passionate spirituality, spiritual development, etc.) Sadly, we didn't really respond to either of these processes in intentional or successful ways. And, we didn't engage in another (third) process to remind us where we needed help. It's been ten (10) years since that time, but the book really brought things back to the surface for me. And, I began to realize that the identified weakness the processes identified continues to be an issue for my former church and our beloved family there. During those ten years we "tried" to engage in spiritual formation, but never more than about 30 or so people (out of an enrollment of over 1,000) participated. Program, events, etc. seem to "headline" each week at my former church and many others. But, intimate discipleship groups (two or three gathered together) continue to be scant or absent.

Change is always difficult, and never something we tend to embrace positively. But, change is inevitable and if we embrace positive changes as God leads we will avoid painful changes down the road. The church in the western world in general is struggling with recapturing the vision and commands of Jesus . . . make disciples! We have become an entertainment producer catering to our consumer base and it's wants and desires. Discipleship (spiritual formation and transformation into likenesses of Christ) has suffered or disappeared altogether! But, there are people, faithful disciples who are taking up the "call" once again within their churches, who are leading the charge back into discipleship and spiritual formation, AND often in spite of a lack of leadership and support from denominations and individual church leadership and structures. That's the way revival always happens anyway . . . among the people with the Spirit leading the way.

So, I'm hopeful . . . for discipleship and for Jesus' Church!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead . . .

The Vatican response which we agree with:

"Osama bin Laden, as we all know, bore the most serious responsibility for spreading divisions and hatred among populations, causing the deaths of innumerable people, and manipulating religions for this purpose.

In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred."