Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Love First

I listened to a podcast today that helped me quite a bit in sorting things out that I have been thinking about regarding my faith. The God Journey podcast is one of the few podcast that I listen to and it has been okay, but today it really spoke to me. I was listening to one titled "Kindness and Severity". I know that there are those out there who would criticize Wayne Jacobson and Brad Cummings as having a love only view of God and I have been wrestling with how that works with what I read in the bible. In this podcast they did a good job of explaining that they do believe in a God of judgment and "severity" but the point they had was that we need to start with God's love because that is where the severity of God comes from. I think the point they were making is that if we KNOW that God LOVES and live in that LOVE then the severity comes from love. I don't feel like I am doing it justice, but it is similar to the book I am reading by Brennan Manning titled The Furious Longing of God where contradictory terms are used to describe God. It seems like we want to separate who God is when in fact He is love first and love always even though that includes love with judgment, love with fury, love with... I have found myself in the past wanting God to be the mean God of judgment with people I had already judged rather than loving them as God loves me. The bible says "God is Love" so everything He does is motivated by love. Unless I am mistaken I don't think the bible ever says "God is Judgement", "God is wrath" etc. He is love, His very being is love and I may never completely understand how God's love and wrath go together, but there is no question that they both describe God. I think maybe it helps me to just know that God is Love and everything he does comes from this crazy about me love...even when it doesn't make sense or it even hurts.
I hope this whole post doesn't sound too convoluted.

Kali Kiger

I talked to Ky today, he said last night and today were the first good days they have had. They have been unable to take Kali off medications to allow her kidneys to remove fluid and swelling due to inaccurate readings regarding her blood pressure and some other vitals. They get those readings from a probe in a blood vessel and they can’t find a vessel that will hold and give them a good reading. Kali has been “fighting” the Docs so they have sedated her to the point of paralysis so she won’t move and pull things out etc. Tonight they are going to try to put the probe for her vitals in her brain (not sure how that works). If that doesn’t work I am not sure what is next. They sure need our prayers. I think Theresa is doing okay and Ky sounded better today than he has since the baby was born. I could tell because he was asking me about my family and how we were doing.
Keep praying for them,

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Good Friends

If you have seen my facebook page you know that I have been using my status to ask for prayers for Ky and Theresa Kiger. I spoke to Ky yesterday and have gotten some more information. Kali is so swollen from the surgeries and she cannot handle any more surgeries so if she has any more complications with her heart or if the swelling would affect her brain there is little the Doctor's could do to help. They are going to begin to test her kidneys as they move her off medications to see if she can remove the fluid from the swelling herself. The next 48 hours are fairly critical. If the surgery is successful she has life expectancy of 8 years or so. After that they can do a heart transplant which will give her another 10 to 12 years. Theresa has been taking it hard understandably so. She and Ky both really need our prayers for strength through all of this. Please continue to pray.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Keep My Commands - In Context

Reading today from John 14 - 15 somewhere in there. John 14:15 in context looks very different than I have heard it used. That verse is the classic "If you love me you will keep my commandments.." and from there the question is what are the commandments Jesus wants us to keep. Often I have seen those commands listed as all sorts of things, mostly external IE - tithe, be baptized, don't use profanity, don't drink, don't smoke, don't chew, be in church every time the doors are open, hand out tracts, evangelize, serve in the church, etc. But after reading the verses (chapters even) before and after that verse I didn't find any of those in there.

I found this in John 13:34-35 "Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I love you, love one another..."

I found this in John 15:11-15 "...This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends..."

I admit that I am just as prone to make a list of commands because it is easier than learning to live loved and learning to live a life of love. I guess more than anything I am excited to finally figure out what the commands are and I am grateful to Jesus for keeping it simple for people like me and for giving us the perfect example.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Is Confusing

Had a nice talk with my 4 year old:
Gunner - "Dad what's Easter"
Me - "It's when we celebrate Jesus coming back from the dead."
G - "How did he do that?"
Me - "He is God"
G - "How is He God?"
Me - "That is how He was created to come to earth."
G - "So does He bring all the eggs?"

Darn Easter Bunny
Gunner comes to me with some candy he found in an Easter egg - an atomic fireball jawbreaker. I told him it was hot but he was determined to eat it so I let him. He puts it in his mouth and in a matter of seconds covers his mouth with his hand. Then after a few more seconds he spits it out..."Dad my tongue needs some water"

LOL! Love my kids they bring me so much joy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Performance-based Christianity

I was at this small group meeting last night of a sort of random group of people. Amy and I enjoy it and thought that last night was the best discussion that we have had. We were talking about Jesus and his first role is salvation. As we discussed what this looks like I asked the group (Amy and I are the youngest so there is a lot of wisdom) how! How do you live this life in Christ? The life in Christ that Jesus talks about where we are one like Jesus and the Father are one and we are intertwined...John 13 - 15? There was some good discussion and I got a few things out of it. Someone said that spending time reading the bible and praying is not necessarily for God, He doesn't need it, I need it. I need to give it some more thought, but it is true that I need that to help me with this walk. Although the bible does say that God inhabits the praise of His people. I was grateful to NOT get the usual stuff that is said about when you don't have that daily time with God your day goes bad (performance based love and grace from God on your day), but your day may seem better because your attitude is better by starting the day off in reading the bible and praying.

The other significant conclusion that I came to has really helped me. Our society is very performance based. If you do good work you get promoted, if you do well in school you get college paid for, if you are good in sports you get a scholarship and the list goes on. I am not saying that is bad, but it is the reality of where we live. As such whether I applied this same performance based attitude and applied it to my faith or whether churches in the West have helped create this doesn't matter. What does matter is that where I am in my faith right now is on a journey out of performance-based faith. Performance-based anything is so conditional. God is not going to love me any more or any less based on what I do. This doesn't give me license to go sin (just ask Paul) rather it helps me know that God loves me period! I can't earn more of His love than you and God isn't going to withhold His love for me. This kind of love draws me into Him more and more, I want to read, I want to pray I want to get close. It is a challenge to break this performance based thought pattern. I will also say this is pretty fresh material for me so I have some more processing and don't mind some help so I you want to talk about it or make a comment I would love to hear from you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Last Words

Lately I have been helping coach a middle school wrestling club. We are just getting started and haven't wrestled any tournaments, but I have been thinking about what is said before the match. What do the college basketball coaches say to their team right before they go on the court? After reading a little in Brennan Mannings new book "The Furious Longing of God" he mentions John 13 and then it clicked...the last instructions before you go on the mat or court or field are typically the boiled down version of everything you have been working on in practice. So if I want to "get" what Jesus time with the disciples was about I can look at what he told them before he went to the cross. So I think I am going to spend some time reading John 13 - 15 as I prepare to celebrate what Christ did for me. One thing that I just realized this morning is that it is here that Jesus says if we love Him we will keep his commands and in this same chapter he commands us to love Him. This was quite a revelation for me because I always have thought I can't keep all the commands of Jesus, which ones exactly should I keep? Ten Commandments, all of the law, how about the sermon on the mount...don't look on a woman with lust that is the same as adultery etc, wow that doesn't help because the sermon on the mount only makes the Ten Commandments look easy. I think Jesus came to ask us, command us to love as he has loved us..."the greatest of these is love, love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself." I am truly seeking to love as Jesus loved us.

Can't wait to see what else I find in the "pre-game meal" Jesus had with His disciples.