It’s Time: Don’t Veil Your Glory

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I wrote the above to myself in response to a challenge. If you’re like me, you’re afraid to launch into that next thing. It’s good that you’re afraid, because it tells you something: you’re onto something. If it weren’t important, there would be no fear–nothing to be afraid of.

But there are no gains without risks. That next thing you do might well fall flat. Yet you can’t know that.

It might well soar!

The only thing you have to do is try. And failure isn’t failure if you’ve learned something from it.

I’ll leave you today with a paraphrase of something I heard John Eldredge say:

Don’t veil your glory anymore. Let people feel the full weight of who you are, and let them deal with it.

Now, go! Blaze that trail!

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

'The Good Samaritan' photo (c) 2011, Ted - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/My wife and I sat down yesterday to study the Bible together. It’s something we don’t do nearly often enough. (Chalk that to busy lives, etc.). In any case, I’ve been reading the Bible for twenty-five years now. Yet, sometimes that’s all I do: just read it (Leviticus, I’m looking at you).

On rare occasions, like yesterday, do I dive in to that wellspring more deeply. But when I do, I’m usually blown away.

Yesterday morning was one of those occasions where Jesus well and truly messed with my head.

What do I mean?

Consider the Parable of the Good Samaritan:

“But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.  He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:29-37 ESV).

What stood out to me, which I’ve honestly never considered before, is what Jesus doesn’t say. Now I know the historical, and cultural context–how there was bad blood between the Jews and Samaritans. Just using a Samaritan as an example would very much have offended the sensibilities of Jesus’ audience.

But what He doesn’t say–what He doesn’t rebuke them for is there belief. Presumably, the lawyer (he who had posed the question), the priest, and the Levite (exemplars of the law all) all believed the right things.

They held right doctrine.

Yet, unless I miss Jesus’ point, this isn’t enough. They believed the right things, but that belief didn’t lead to a corresponding action. So Jesus doesn’t here rebuke their lack of faith; rather it’s their lack of action He excoriates.

Or as James says, “Faith without works is dead.”

Lest I be accused of misunderstanding, or worse misapplying Scripture, let’s consider the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ( Matthew 25:31-46 ESV).

Here again neither the sheep, nor the goats, are anywhere rebuked for their faith, or lack thereof. Presumably, they all believed the same things. And just as the reward of the sheep seems to come as a surprise so, too, does the punishment of the goats.

All had the same faith, yet only some allowed faith to give birth to action. And it’s not that their works saved them; rather, those works were borne out of a transformative faith. My speculation is that the crux of the matter is humility–humility, and gratitude.

One group did what came naturally because they didn’t believe they were worthy of the gift of salvation. Mercy and grace weren’t just for them.

They other group, for whatever reason, merely believed the right things. But didn’t put it into practice. The mercy and grace they were shown was never shared. Which to me displays an abject lack of gratitude.

And is something, if I’m honest, that I’m all too often guilty of. I get so busy working, dreaming, promoting me, playing on the Internet, that I forget Whose I am.

I want to a sheep, but am all too often a goat. God help me. “Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

How about you? What is your primary motivation? What gets you up in the morning? Are you a sheep or a goat?

Time, Wounds, & Healing

'India - Chennai - Inspirational wall slogans 06' photo (c) 2009, McKay Savage - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

There is an adage which states “time heals all wounds.” Problem is, it’s simply not true. The mere passage of time itself does nothing to heal hurts. Cuts and scrapes scab over, crust, and fade into scars.

But time did nothing to heal. Time is simply the yardstick by which we measure the progress of the healing abilities built by God into our magnificent bodies. Our bodies, once wounded, did what they are supposed to do: heal.

Would that it were the same for wounds of the soul. For the hurts that are mental, emotional, and spiritual in nature. Unfortunately, these wounds do nothing to heal themselves. Like the body, when it is too injured to heal itself, something more is required. For a wound which is too deep or penetrating for the natural healing abilities to go  work on, this may mean surgery.

A wound made for the express purpose of healing another hurt.

In the case of hurts not physical in nature, this means emotional, mental, or spiritual surgery under the guidance of God through skilled practitioner of those fields. What it takes is courage. Courage, and vulnerability, to plunge into those wounded placed in our souls.
We often don’t want to go there, back into those wounded places, those tender spots. Yet we wonder why the healing we desperately crave isn’t forthcoming. It’s because, through sheer avoidance, we hold onto those hurts, nursing them.

Using them as walls around our hearts.

Thing is, if we are His, He will find ways to take us back to those places. Because God is faithful parent, He loves is enough to not leave us as we are. We just have to willing, and vulnerable, enough to do the work.

It isn’t time, though it may possibly bring the perspective of distance, that heals. In fact, wounds left untreated often fester. And it is these wounds which we hide, hold onto, or otherwise deny that do fester. Not into boils, sores, or pustules, but rather the gangrene of the soul: bitterness, unforgiveness, and other toxic maladies… leaving us with a kind of Leprosy of of the heart: callous, unfeeling, rotten, and cold.

It is time+work+willingness to confront the unpleasantness which lies within which=healing. Like our bodies sometimes need surgery, even more often do our souls.

What do you think? Share in the comments below.

Funeral Thoughts

'Coffin rest' photo (c) 2010, Tim Green - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

My work day today began with a funeral. It was for a man both well-loved, and well-respected in our community. Numerous nice things were said of him, photos and memories were shared. Though I didn’t know him well, it was touching.

Of all that was said, the one thing which stood head and shoulders above the rest was the statement that “death comes for us all.” We can’t bargain with it, cheat it, get out of it.

We don’t know when it’s coming. Only that it is.

Which was why, while I was supposed to be there memorializing the deceased, I thought of me. When my time comes, will people remember me fondly? Will I be likewise known as a man who loved well, and gave his all?

Will you? Will you be remembered as a man, or woman, who loved, who worked, who invested your life in others? We don’t know the number of our days, how long, or short, our lives will be. What matters–the only thing that matters–is what we do with what we’ve got.

Of the man who passed on, it was said that rather than being someone who found fault, he was a man of “remedies.”
This reminds me of greater man, One Who once walked the sands of Israel. Who said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.” He was not just a man of remedies, solving the problems (as necessary as that is) which crossed his desk, but rather He Himself was the remedy for our sin-sick hearts.

How can we, by how we live, go and do likewise? No matter our vocation, we are each of us called to be His hands and feet.

Today.

I leave you with the words of an old hymn of the church:

“Only one life, twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Three-Ring Circus: a Post About Politics & Religion

A wise man once said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That’s absolutely true.

It’s how we’ve gotten where we’re at today, with the American federal government shutdown. With one kind of health plan for the common man, and another for his congressman. Where a private business, in a building leased from the federal government, is forced to shutdown (despite not employing any government workers), but the congressional gym stays open.

This is not the America I know and love; rather, it smacks more of Orwell’s Animal Farm, where “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

The hogs slurp from their troughs in D.C., while the rest of us bear the brunt, and the cost, of their poor governance. Yet, I’m not sure who’re the bigger fools here: the politicians, who above all else-despite eloquent words to the contrary–seek only to hold onto power.

Or the numbskulls who keep electing them.

It’s said that stupidity, and insanity, bear the same definition:

Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. In other words, meet the new boss (Obama), same as the old boss. You didn’t really believe him when he crested that wave called “Hope” and “Change,” did you? Sucker.

That’s like the folks who voted for Nixon in ’68, when he campaigned on the promise of getting us out of Vietnam. Hah! (News flash: we weren’t out until the fall of Saigon).

In more recent times, there was President Bush (the first) with his (in)famous “Read my lips, no new
taxes,” and the equally obnoxious declaration by then-president Clinton, “I did not have sexual relations with this woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

The point is that politicians on both sides of the aisle are well-practiced in telling us what we want to hear (read: lying). Both sides espouse the respective virtues that their reputed constituencies hold dear. While the only real agenda is, in the words of the old song, “everybody wants to rule the world.” They say (whatever) to stay (where they are).

The real skill in Washington is appearing to be all things to all people so they can keep their cushy jobs. (In other quarters this is known as hypocrisy).

And this what our forefathers fought and died for? What Lincoln termed “government of the people, for the people, by the people?” Abe is probably turning over in his grave.

Yes, the country is in a grave state. Which is why my hope is not in politics  or politicians, but rather in Jesus. Although I used to consider myself a Republican, I no longer claim so. Nor am I a Democrat. I am a Christian, and that is horse of an entirely different color.

While I will render unto Caesar insofar as Caesar’s dictates do not violate God’s law, my kingdom is not of this world. I am seated in the heavenlies in Christ, my name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

Where does your hope come from? The three-ring circus in D.C., or somewhere higher.

Choose you this day.

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