your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (NIV)
Seth Godin had a recent blog where he spoke of the apprentice sushi chef spending months if not years first learning to make the sushi rice correctly. Having watched this process, I have seen that it is an art that must be mastered. You don't get to the big time sushi making until you have mastered the rice.
Jesus turned loose a bunch of rabbinical school drop outs to do his work. They had a few lectures, saw him at work a number of times, and seemed to have flunked the tests when he posed questions to them. The disciples had to grow into their faith through trial and error. One does not master the baptized life. One lives it. Power is manifested and forgiveness needed.
Christ must master us, the wayward, in order to mature in the faith. The baptized life is not marked by mastery. It is marked by surrender. Faith is practiced but never mastered.
Have you surrendered today? The "big time" awaits you.
Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.
Psalm 26:1-3 ESV
One definition of the word vindicate is "to set free." Most of us are guilty of stuff and need forgiveness. But what about when we do right? Someone once said, "No good deed goes unpunished." What about the times we suffer for doing what's right. Other people's opinions or judgment can be a prison. God will liberate us from that. Ask. Trust.
Today, play to an audience of one: God. If the opportunity presents itself, free another person who has done right at great cost with your support. You are God's liberating proxy.
The October 3rd issue of The New Yorker has an article by John Colapinto entitled Famous Names. Colapinto explores what makes a great name for a product and then goes on to the creative process of how to generate names. We can be seduced or repulsed by a name.
Naming has power. The Bible says so. God gave us power to name things. When God renews people, he renames them. God withholds his/her name from us so we do not have power over God. Jesus tells us that name-calling can be akin to murder.
We can lie or at least avoid the truth with names – Peace Keeper Missiles, passed away, pre-owned cars, etc. We can reduce real, live people to less-than-sexy categories with names; fat, poor, sick, unemployed. Categories don't make us feel bad. Real people in pain can make us nervous. Labeled a failure, people and projects fail. Beloved fills one with life. Names have power. For good or ill.
You have power today. Name faithfully. Name in love.
This month is Pastor Appreciation Month with the second Sunday in October Pastor Appreciation Day. I want to thank some pastors who have meant a lot to me.
Father Alfred – for talking to a mixed up, love struck 16 year old and understanding (and your Imperial convertible was cool)
Father Marshall – for helping two 19 year olds get and stay married
Father Buc –for walking me through the ordination process
Father Rick – for showing me how little you needed to have an awesome church
Father Jim – for trusting a seminarian with your parish
Father Mike – for showing me that a mind and a heart can work together to achieve far more than I could ask or imagine
Father David – for always being there
Father John – for showing a newly minted priest the ropes so painstakingly
Pastor Rick – for renewing my faith
Pastor Bill – for challenging me to lead
Pastor Andy – for making scripture come alive and for guiding me to my preaching sweet spot
What a cloud of witnesses!
This past weekend, I went to see the movie Courageous with 6 other men. I found it uplifting. I am sure there will be comments on the "theology" of the movie. There were some statements I didn't agree with. But there was too much good going on. I was interested more in the overall message.
The message (my words) is – the world needs men to step up and be fully involved in families, both their own and those of others, especially where fathers are absent. For me, this says nothing about negative about single moms, same sex couples raising children, grandparents-raising-kids, single people or blended families (did I forget any other group?) What it did say to me and what it addressed that I see all too often is that men have a valuable role in society, especially as it affects families of all sorts. And they are sorely needed. Society is lacking when men do not take up their spiritual assignment.
I am inspired to be a better father, husband, citizen and mentor. We are not bumbling, lying sitcom fathers or men. We noble creatures who God calls to take the lead.
I am inspired by men who take responsibility for their actions, take compassionate ownership of hopeless lives, who love people more than their work, and who strive to hold each other accountable. I was honored to be in the company of the other six men.
I want to be courageous.