Monday, November 29, 2010

Contact Lenses

Recently I learned a new thing about contact lenses. The lenses are not always the same. Having sight in one eye all of my life I have a hard time understanding the two-eyed world sometimes. I learned that you can actually have one contact lens is for far-sightedness and the other for near-sightedness. How the eyes work together is a marvel.

During the season of Advent I think we need to have two different lenses in our spirit. One lens sees the current reality of the coming of Christ in this holy season of 2010. With this lens we ponder our personal walk with Christ and how we can prepare our hearts in such a way that we “bear fruit that is worthy of repentance.” (Luke 3:8) These actions are the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians s5:22). When we truly repent of the works of the flesh we engage in the fruits of the Spirit in new and ever improving ways.

The other contact lens that sees far is the one that reminds us of the second coming of Christ when all things will be judged and evil and enmity will be put away forever. With this far-sighted view we develop a long-suffering attitude, knowing that in the end God is going to make all things right. We want to live in such a way, through faith in Christ that we are worthy to attain life everlasting.

Martin Luther once said that he lived for two days: today and THAT day. That day is the day of the final coming of Christ. May we keep both lenses firmly in place as we experience this Advent Season.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Abolition Sunday

What does the United Methodist Church believe about capital punishment? According to the Book of Discipline, Paragraph 164G: “The death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all human beings. We believe all human life is sacred and created by God and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable.” The Book of Ezekiel 33:11 says “As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.”

Many Christian churches are working together to repeal death penalty laws across the country. They do so by contacting lawmakers and holding community events for dialog and information sharing. There are many excellent resource people who are willing to speak at your churches. Your church can host an “Abolition Sunday” in which the theme of the worship service revolves around this issue. More information is available at the Equal Justice web site at

As with many of our social issues people of good will are of different minds. It is good to prayerfully seek God’s guidance on your response to this issue.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Sign of the Spirit

I am thrilled to see the General Board of Church and Society and the Confessing Movement working together on a project for the whole church. They are calling us to an “International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church” on November 14, 2010. All over the world Christians are being imprisoned and martyred for the faith. This is not a first century phenomena, it is happening today and there has been persecution since the church began 2000 years ago.

GBCS and the Confessing Movement are calling us to “prayerfully and publically stand with members of the Body of Christ who are suffering.” Christians are economically and politically marginalized all over the world but especially in Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan, Viet Nam, Burma and Iran.

It is a sign of the Holy Spirit when two movements of the church are working together for a common cause…the cause of Christ. Many times the theological left and right are at odds with one another and stand on different sides of the road and wave flags and signs. How refreshing! How delightfully wonderful to see both sides working together on this issue of the persecuted church. I believe that there are more things that the left and the right agree on than disagree on. It is a ploy of the enemy to have us always quarreling among ourselves so the important work of the gospel is left undone. The spirit unites, religion divides.

Let’s stop “othering” and persecuting the theological side we disagree with and advance the gospel. Mark your calendar for November 14th for a day of prayer! May this be a day of new beginnings for the United Methodist Church as well. May we finally find a way to work together theologically.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spiritual Direction

Living a life of Christian discipleship is a journey. When we travel to a new place in our car it helps to have a road map, a GPS, or someone in the passenger seat who knows where you are going. Once I was preaching at a three point circuit and the pastor of the church led me to each church. This car in front of me did not just show me the way, it was the way. In a spiritual journey it helps to have a guide. The art of Spiritual Direction can provide useful resources, feedback and training that will assist you as you engage in spiritual disciplines. Spiritual direction has been around for centuries and many of the great saints of the faith have engaged in some form of direction. The Apostle Paul served as the spiritual director of Timothy, his son in the faith. John Wesley’s ministry benefited from the spiritual direction of Peter Boehler. Peter taught John that he needed to have a relationship with Christ and not just live by a code of conduct. He encouraged Wesley to “preach faith” until he had it.

There are many spiritual directors in our area. There is an international website that has a directory of directors from all over the world. The website is:

I have a spiritual director and I find the time I spend doing this to be a great blessing.