Hearing it wrong

February 19, 2013

In our time in southern Illinois we worked within an independent Christian Church. Waylon was hired a year out to Seminary so we took our dogs and moved to the deep southern region of Illinois.

We served in a church with a battered past and a bleak future. The leaders were tired and weary, and the congregation was dismayed.

As we served within this community I started to believe in this hopeless negative gospel that surrounded me.  I was immersed within this community that negativity seeped into my soul and stuck itself there and started weighing me down.

A friend of ours used the metaphor of barnacles on a ship to explain what I was going through. These negative mental and emotional barnacles within the church started to grow onto my life.

In other words I started believing in a Gospel that wasn’t good news.

As I have been reading for Lent I stumbled into Galatians 1 where Paul is reprimanding the church, because they have lost sight of the Gospel they heard and knew when they first became Christians.

Paul is speaking to the false teachers who have come in to “twist the truth concerning Christ”. These false teachers who come in the church are more interested in self gain, power, manipulation, and the need to control the freedom that Christ gives us.

They are barnacles that grow and spread within the church and weigh it down.

Like a boat tending to sea the barnacles weigh the boat down. When the barnacles finally get knocked off the boat they tear away the hull coating. This gives rot the opportunity to crawl in which deteriorates the body. Not only do the barnacles slow the boat down but they cause additional damage when they are finally knocked off!

These false teachers taught a false Gospel and when the church finally did something about it, their was a huge amount of damage done.

This false Gospel rots the soul.

While in southern Illinois I had barnacles growing around my soul and when those barnacles got knocked off I still had interior damage to deal with.

When we moved up to the suburbs my interior life had become quite a mess. I preferred to be isolated, I was weary of relationships, and bitterness started to rot my soul.

Instead of continuing on this path of destruction I took advantage of my home community. I caught up with good friends who helped me talk through this damage. Waylon and I meet weekly with another family to have a meal and some fellowship. I am even meeting new friends.

Through a new community the damage that had been done is starting to heal.

The key to this healing process is accepting the real, true, good Gospel.

This Gospel is the catalyst for freedom and life transformation.

This Gospel aids the poor, the sick, the widowed, and the orphans, along with everyone else.

This Gospel gives us a chance to feel what love looks like in community.

This Gospel takes away pain and offers healing.

This Gospel is good news to everyone who is broken and lost and hurt.

This true Gospel can be found within scripture, this history of the church, and our other sacraments.

As we live within the Church we get the opportunity to see this Gospel come to life. We get the opportunity to get on the boat and sail around the world. To see the life that God the Father so desperately wants us to experience. When we are within a local church, and we see this false Gospel creeping in, to attach itself to our free lives we must call it sin and root it out! Otherwise the damage might be detrimental.

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Roots

February 17, 2013

I love trees. My favorite kind of trees are weeping willows. They give such an expressive impression to this world with there shrugs and sorrow. I would LOVE to go see the red woods out in California! Ilike trees because they demonstrate a history while still remaining within the present. They are a powerful understatement within Creation.

With the start of Lent I started reading some scripture and stumbled into Psalm 1. I have read it many times before but was caught by the image it presents of a tree that is rooted within The Lord. A tree that is “planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.”

What a powerful image as we enter into Lent. We have the ability to be planted within the word in such a way that we grow, and produce life! The Lord is life and when we are planted firmly in his word, his church, and his history we prosper and offer beautiful life to the world around us.

As Waylon and I make our journey into the Anglican tradition I reflect on something I heard from an Anglican podcast. The priest was talking about his experience with scripture and how as he grew in his faith, and had fellowship with other believers he realized that scripture is life changing.

Scripture can bring life, and transform, and breath. It can change hearts and lives and whole people. Scripture is a sacrament. It is a grace bestowed to us, so that we will be fruitful and experience this ever growing life.

The challenge is rooting ourselves in this sacrament and experiencing “delight in the law of The Lord”

As we enter into Lent, and we study scripture we may have read before, instead of skimming over it let that scripture invade our lives.

Let us be rooted within The Lord. We get the opportunity to be rooted within the history of Creation, while being present within our own world. While cars go zooming by, while we drink coffee, while our hearts are dismayed or filled with joy, while we invest in relationships and struggle with our purpose we get to be rooted within the history of Creation and the Creator.

As we become rooted within the presence of this sacrament, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the life that is happening all around you through the work of The Lord.