Thursday, April 29, 2010


Frustration is a part of life for all of us.  Its not a matter of if we get frustrated, but what we do when we get frustrated.  I often have an internal battle with myself as to whether or not the frustration I feel is legitimate and necessary, or if its unreasonable and ridiculous.  Also, I often wonder if the frustration I feel is a result of some fault of my own, or a fault of someone else.

Obviously, this is not a "how to" post.  Because I'm not sure what to do with both the questions.  Simply put, the questions I struggle with are:  1)is the frustration valid? and 2)what's the source of the frustration?

I think what I do with the frustration is determined by the answer to those two questions.  I hate cliche's, so to simply say all you have to do is hand it over to God is not helpful.  I'm not even sure what that means (I've said that to people in counseling...its easy to say but what does it mean?)

Anyway, here's my off-the-cuff prayer for when I'm frustrated: "Lord, if I'm the source of the frustration forgive me and help me change.  If someone else is the source of my frustration, give me mercy and understanding toward that person.  If the frustration is valid, help me use it to change myself or speak truth in love to the person whose the cause of it.  Jesus, frustration sucks and you know it, so give me a spirit of peace and remind me to turn to you for the rest I need when I'm frustrated.  Amen."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Eternal Judgment

Man, those words carry a ton of weight.  They evoke emotions.  They divide religious groups.  They create passionate debates.  They challenge us theologically.  I consider myself evangelical and I struggle with their meaning. 

I have a few thoughts that I hope will change our natural inclination to think negatively about eternal judgment::

1. Why do our minds automatically go to the negative side of eternal judgment.  I mean, a judgment is just a pronouncement and for those of us "in Christ" our pronouncement is "not guilty."  So if you're mind automatically conjures up eternal separation from God, shouldn't it also conjure up the eternal presence of God?

2. Like me, so many of you believe the Bible teaches us to strive for global justice in the world even though we know perfect justice will never actually happen in this life.  Which means, perfect justice will not come until God chooses to make all things new again at the second coming of Jesus.  Logically, there can be no eternal justice if there were no eternal judgment.  Justice demands judgment, its just the way it is. 

3. Judgment means there's a judge.  We can trust that Jesus is a fair, forgiving and merciful judge.  Jesus who died a horrendous death to prove his love for us offers us grace for this life and the next.  Will he execute justice? Absolutely!  Will he do it with perfect grace?  Of course, no one is more qualified!  We have to trust that God's grace and mercy will prevail and that He is even more full of it than we give him credit for (full of grace and mercy that is!)

So, I hope that helps you have a more positive idea of eternal judgment, I know writing it helped me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Young Clergy Retreat

I recently attended a young clergy retreat for United Methodist pastors.  I have to be honest, my initial reason for attending was to get some face time with the bishop.  For those of you who may not know, the bishop has the most power of any human being over my career.  So the decision to attend was selfish and strategic.

I'm so glad that the reasons for my attendance amounted to more than just my own selfishness and strategy.  Some great connections were made, laughter was had and stories were shared.  I even had a sleeping incident of battling a bat which woke up a few of the guys in the cabin at 2am.  I felt like the start of some pretty important relationships took place and found more hope in my own insecurities over an uncertain future.   

While I did get some good facetime with the bishop (which I can't deny is a good thing), I enjoyed the fellowship and camaraderie among my peers more than anything else.  I'm glad I attended.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Circumstantial Faith

Circumstantial faith is like a toddler with an egg...eventually its going to break and make a mess.  Circumstantial faith is the idea that our belief system is based on events and experiences in our lives.  Whether you adhere to a religion or a philosophy of life, this idea of basing what you believe, and consequently how you live your life, on what happens to you is dangerous.  Why?

Three reasons: 1. We're not good at interpreting the events in our lives; 2. Our timeframe is too short; 3. We don't interpret the voice of God very well.

So often, a person may grow up believing in the Christian faith and its okay as long as things go their way.  Then, eventually, the randomness and inconsistency of life kicks in and it challenges what they believe because they have adhered to circumstantial faith.  Or maybe its the pleasures of life cause our beliefs to become inconvenient, so we adjust our beliefs to make the pleasures fit our convictions.

Its easy to do and to some extent we all do it.  The important thing is to realize that the foundation of Christianity is not an experience.  The foundation is the culmination of God's great rescue mission through the life, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ and the continual work of the Spirit on this earth and through His people.

So, what does your faith rely on?  If its an experience or an event, its circumstantial and its fragile.  If its foundation is God the father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit, its unchanging and consistent and strong.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Back in Town

I was out of town for a week on vacation at Myrtle Beach.  I'm just getting back into the swing of things.  This vacation was actually gifted to us.  Two years ago someone in our church offered our family a vacation and we took it in '08.  This same person offered another for Spring break this year, it was such a huge blessing.  I saw her at church when we returned and she asked if it was relaxing, I said "no, but it was a lot of fun and very nice to get away."  It is hard to relax when the kids want to play and run and don't sleep as well because they're in a strange place.  My daughters are 5 and 2 so they demand a lot of our time.  We love it and its fun, but the only time to relax is in the evenings when they've gone to bed. 

It is so important to make memories for children.  When I think about some of the best and most poignant memories with my family, many of them are from times of vacationing.  So I'm glad the children have another trip of stored memories.  When's the last time you made a memory with your family?  Why not do something soon, you will be glad you did years from now!