Friday, July 5, 2013


It’s a word I often use, but every time I type it, the spell checker adds a squiggly red underline indicating that it is not a valid word in the English language.  Years ago I learned the word “Promptings,” as a description of how the Holy Spirit prompts or nudges us to do God’s work and will, and my spirituality professor taught us that the goal of the faith is to listen for and respond to God’s promptings all the time.  In doing so, our faith grows, we share Christ, and God is revealed.
As a father, there are multiple times in a day when I prompt my children and pets to act on or follow through with something.  The prompt is sometimes for the good of my child or pet, but often the prompting is shared as a means of teaching them how to live in community or simply navigate the world.  Sometimes those prompts are received with little to no resistance, but there are other times when it seems I might as well have told them to jump off a bridge into ice cold water.  They act as if I’ve personally attacked them, and they insist on their own way.  And then there are those times when the prompt is seemingly “not heard”...
As one can expect, it can get frustrating at times, because if they would just listen and respond, just be open to seeing and doing things from a different perspective, then everyone might be better for it.  But as such thoughts come to mind, there are times when I am reminded by a voice in my head that I can be just as closed off and resistant to the promptings around me.
Whether it is from my wife, from folks in the Church, or from the Holy Spirit itself, it is so easy to keep the blinders on, resist listening and looking, and if an urge hits, to rationalize that it’s not from God or not important, but if I am open and honest enough, if I dig down under the surface, I can often realized that indeed, it was a prompting.
This morning I felt a prompting.  I came out of breakfast, and there was a man sitting beside the road.  I was nudged to go to him and see if he needed anything.  At first I shrugged it off.  It came again, and I realized I had to meet someone at the office, and so I drove away.  In the midst of the interaction at the office the man’s face and demeanor stuck in my head, and I heard the voice, “Go back after you are done talking.”
I listened to that voice, and drove back to the restaurant, only to find that the man was no longer there.  I drove around a bit to see if I could find him, but he was gone in the 20 minutes since I’d left.
It is bothersome to confess this, especially since our congregation is being intentional in praying, “God helps us to see what YOU need us to see,” then respond as we feel prompted to do so.  And yet at the same time, when I prayed and thought about it, I heard God say, “Yes, you should have responded, but in responding with acknowledgment of not following, you are better equipped to listen and respond in the future.”

In the 15th chapter of the book of Romans, Paul writes, “We...ought to bear our failings, not to please ourselves...but for the good of those around us and to build them up...May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
As I read these words, I am reminded that this is not the first or last prompting I will neglect to respond to, and I am also reminded that there will be many times when those for whom I care will neglect to respond to my prompts as well.  But because of grace, God doesn’t give up on me and will continue to invite me to participate in the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, just as I will continue to instruct and urge my family to live into a life and way that seeks wholeness and health.

How well are you seeking to live into God’s will?  Where are you missing God’s promptings?  Are you resisting promptings which might transform others and/or you?  These are hard questions, but in asking them, God can change, not just you, but the world.

Holy Spirit, help us to seek Your voice, to tune into Your promptings, and then follow faithfully, trusting in Your will, and Your ways, so that we might be changed, and Your Great Commission lived out through us.  In Your name we pray.  Amen.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Exploring is a Way of Life...

     As of last Friday afternoon, we have become foster parents.  Last week we adopted a Lab/Border Collie mix from “Angels of Assissi,” and now the formerly named “Adeline” is formally named “Summit.”  Technically we are “fostering” the dog until she is spayed, but for all intents and purposes (and we have not intention of giving her back), she is our newest addition to the family.
    Summit has turned out to be a wonderful dog. At eleven weeks she is a joy to play with, and my eight year old daughter has been especially blessed by her enthusiasm and energy.  Both she and the dog are able to work off energy, which has made things a lot easier for all of us.  The boys have enjoyed having her around, and my wife and I are having fun being attentive to sniffing and training, so that she learns the parameters for living together as community.
    This week the kids have been finishing up the school year and my wife at work, so I’ve brought Summit with me to the office every day.  She quickly learned where my office is, and while I work she lays down beside my chair and sleeps, which amazes me.  However, after sleeping most of the day and adding the energy of the kids to the mix, when she gets home the puppy comes out in her.
    The energy level goes up and she’s gets hyper.  The chewing starts up, and we spend hours throwing balls and toys so she can chase them and bring them back to us.  There are things we have to get done, so we will leave her alone with her stuff.  Though she hasn’t destroyed anything (yet), we will often find her roaming the house exploring.    If there is a door open, she is looking behind it.  When walking by the recycling bin, she peers in, looking for something to drag out.  And she is constantly checking under the sofa for something new to examine.
    Overall, she has been amazingly calm for an 11 week old puppy, and she has not gotten into trouble, but in observing her I have been reminded that exploration is how she learns about the world.  Just like a crawler or toddler, when one is young there is no fear nor inhibition toward seeking out the unknown and trying to learn more about the world. 
    Yes, there can be danger involved when one goes out exploring, but there is also always an adventure in store.  The mindset is that there is stuff to learn in the world, and the more they learn, the better they will be.  For a young child and puppies, exploration is a way of life, and it is the way they learn about life.
    As a pastor but also as a Christian, one of the most important things I/we can do is reflect upon the things that are before us all the time.  At the church, one of the things we are trying to instill in the culture is to pray every day, “Lord, help me to see what YOU need me to see,” then be open to seeing and responding as led.
    As a pastor and Christian, I also think often of how easy it is to “stay in our lane,” as a friend likes to say, and simply do what we’ve always done, see the world as it always has been seen, and live as we always have.  In a word, it’s easy to stop exploring, and when we stop exploring we can make THAT a way of life, rather than being adventurous.  And yet if we examine scripture, God’s people have always been explorers who trust in God.

    God came to Abram and said, “pick up everything and follow me.  If you do I will make you descendants as numerable as the starts.”  God spoke to Moses in a burning bush and said, “I need you to tell Pharoah that it’s time for my people to be freed from slavery.”  Though he tried to get out of it, Moses followed and God led the people to freedom.  David was small of stature, and yet he stood up the Goliath and defeated the Giant.  And the Prophets, over and over again risked life and limb, and yet God made a way for them to be blessed and a blessing.
    When Jesus recruited the disciples, they had livelihoods.  Their lives were set, but Jesus gave an invitation, “Follow me,” and they did.  Their lives were changed and so was the world.  And throughout the span of time, God’s disciples and followers have been led to places where the unexpected, and even undesired, resulted in glory for the follower and God.   

     As a people of The Book, the example that is set is for those who follow Christ to be in a mode of
following God’s lead, and when one follows God’s lead, one must take on the mentality of an “explorer”.  We set our minds that we want to do God’s will, and then we seek to see what God wants us to see and be willing to follow.  As we do, we will be led to explore, and if we explore we will see the world differently.

    Sometimes that exploration is self-exploration where we examine ourselves and adjust our lives accordingly.  Sometimes the invitation is to explore neighborhoods, people, or situations where we don’t feel comfortable.  Sometimes the invitation is to explore how we, individually and communally, fall short of God’s desire for our lives.  Whatever the case, God’s call for us to follow with a mind set that places “exploring as a way of life.”
    To do so may feel scary and bring about feelings of uncertainty, but if and when we do, God can open up a whole new world for us.  When we do, like a small child or puppy, we actually learn about the world that’s around us, expanding our horizons, and recognizing that all of it is God’s world...God’s gift to us.

How much of your life is tainted by an “explorer’s” mentality?  How does your Trust and Faith in God, determine who you are and how you live?

Friday, May 24, 2013


    In the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” one of the funnier plot lines is that the father of the bride squirts Windex on everything.  If a plant needs to grow, if someone gets a cut, if something needs a little elbow grease, he pulls out a bottle and begins squirting, and in a thick Greek accent says, “Windex, Windex.  It takes care of everything.”  Well in a similar way, I grew up in a household where 3-in-One oil flowed like water.
    My dad kept a can in the garage, and whenever we had to fix something he’d have it right beside
him.  When we were repairing an appliance or sharpening the hatched to make kindling or to take care of a squeaky hinge, we always used a little 3-in-One oil, and in my memory, it always worked.
    George W. Cole invented this general purpose household oil in 1894, and he called it “3-in-One” because it had the ability to “clean, lubricate, and protect.”  It became one of the first household oils ever on the market, and proof of it’s staying power is that it is still produced and widely used, even after almost 120 years.

    This Sunday is the celebration of the “Trinity Sunday,” where we remember and celebrate the Trinitarian God...God the 3 in One.  There are many who resist the day because the whole concept of God being Father, Son, AND Holy Spirit is too much for the human mind to fathom, and yet at the same time for me there is a lot of solace in the fact that God knows far more than we do.  We’d be in big trouble if that was NOT the case!
    It was while I was reflecting upon The Trinity that I remember 3-in One oil.  At first I thought it
was just a funny (or should I say punny) connection to be made, but then when I read a bit more about the history of the oil, it’s actually not too far off.
    After all, both are always available and useful in just about every situation where there is a need for application.  I have the oil on a shelf at home, and I’m surrounded by God everywhere.  Second, both are here to stay.  Neither are going anywhere, because they is so useful, and I’d expect the oil to be around at least another 120 years and God for eternity.  Finally, the naming of the oil is quite fitting in describing the abilities of our God – “the purpose is to clean, lubricate, and protect.”
    Central to the Christian understanding of life and faith is that we begin as those who need to be cleansed of Original Sin.  I’m not going to define that term too deeply, but there is an innate tendency that we focus on ourselves.  And when we do, we can easily lose sight of God, get caught up in self, and before we know it, we can find ourselves in some sticky situations.
    Through baptism, then community, confession, study, fellowship, worship, and communion, the Holy Spirit places life in perspective AND walks with us.  As this happens, we are cleansed and guided to live into, receive, and share God’s gracious love.
    As this process continues our faith grows, and a kind of lubrication takes place.  We can find ourselves a bit more pliable when we are faced with stress and tragedy.  When we are stuck or frozen, then God can touch us and begin to loosen things up so we truly live.  When we just can’t get going,
God is able to use just the right tools to bring us what we need.
    Finally, but a part of every step, God protects.  With God’s presence, love, and care, God makes a way for us to be protected by Grace.  The Psalmist describes this as us residing “Under the shadow of God’s wing.”  Like a mother whose love never ends and who will go to all means to save...even to death...God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit protects us.

    In the book of Romans, St. Paul writes about what happens when God the Three-in-One is with us.  He writes:
    “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. [Romans 5: 1-5]
    This God of ours is an all-purpose God who especially in the midst of suffering, provides the very thing we need, just as we need it.

    This Truth rings true for those grieving the loss of a loved one, struggling in relationship, trying to wrap one’s mind around a bombing or a tornado, dealing with a grave diagnosis, or just handling the day to day stress of life.  God the 3-in-One is there to cleanse, lubricate, and protect, and God’s staying power is forever.

Where do you need God to touch your life?  Are you stuck?  Feel lost?  Need to be cleansed?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Injustice Sucks...and God Knew It

Whether you are a news junkie or not, there is a good chance you have seen and connected to the events of this week – multiple bombings at the Boston Marathon, an explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant, and this morning a city locked down and on edge.  Such events have an impact.  Appropriately, they move us reflect upon life, spur conversations about the rapture, and prompt us to hold onto our children, friends, and family a little more tightly.
I played football for 10 years, and one of the rules of the game is that, once the whistle blows, you’re not allowed to “pile on.”  You can't jump on those vulnerable to attack after the play is over.  Just about every time episodes of destruction and terror hit, it feels a bit like a “pile on.”
Tragically we live in a world where we have seen and experienced far too much pain, heartache, death and devastation.  Our ancestors could not have imagined planes flying into buildings, neighborhoods being bombed, and sink holes engulfing homes and cars.  It leads us to personally live our lives in “elevated Terror-alert”, wondering when that “elevated” will need to be raised to “high” or “severe.”  We ask questions like, “Why?”  And we think about what might cause a person to do the things that they do or how our creations can turn into (or be turned into) instruments of terror.  Ultimately for many, it begs the question, “Why does God let this stuff happen?”
That last question is called “Theodicy,” and when I Googled “when bad things happen to good people,” it brought up more than 378,000,000 hits.  There are all kinds of ways to explain it and many angles to approach it, but if we were to narrow it down to a common statement it would be that those “bad things” are injustices.  And injustice sucks.  Plain and simple.
There seems to be no reason for such pain, and we beat our heads trying to come up with some meaningful answer, which never satisfactorily comes.  Our responses vary, for there are some who are ready to take up arms and act, while others pull back in fear.  Others pray and pray and pray, while others give up on prayer.  And all of us do two things: 1) ask the question, and 2) acknowledge to our core that injustice sucks.
        And yet, God knows it.

In the Gospel story of Christ’s trial, we see blaring injustice, and in fact, the authors themselves, even the villain Pilate, names that Jesus was innocent.  And yet it did not matter.  They still beat him, humiliated him, and killed him.  And that injustice sucked.
More personally to Jesus, at the table Jesus predicted that Peter would betray Him.  Peter, of course, denies it, but when the are standing outside the meeting of the Sanhedran, warming their hands by the fire, three folks accuse Peter of being one of Jesus’ disciples.  Three times he denies it.  For Jesus, for Peter, for those of us who can see ourselves denying Jesus in our own lives, that’s injustice.  And injustice sucks.
Even after He has told them that He was going to beat this thing called death, and He DOES, they still have a hard time believing it.  In multiple accounts, He has to convince them that what He said was true, and in a way that is an injustice.  Injustice sucks.
And yet Jesus knew it.

The great Good News and a comfort to us as we live in these days where injustice seems to run rampant, control is gone, and our alerts are heightened, is that Jesus knows the injustice and in fact is in the middle of those injustices bringing comfort, hope, healing and goodness.  Jesus is the One who transforms death into life, pain into healing, and despair into hope!  Jesus is the One who knew from the very beginning that things had to go the way they did.  That injustice would kill Him, BUT that injustice and death would not have the last word.  Instead, Jesus took the world’s injustice and planted into this world God’s Justice, from that day on to forever.

We live in painful times where injustice can seek to lay a pall over everything, but if you lift the corner of that pall, if you look into the death and the pain, you’ll see that the One who withstood the greatest injustice brings justice, life, hope, and healing. You'll see evidence in those who turned toward the violence rather than ran away, in those who care for the injured, and in those who seek peace rather than violence.  He brings light in the darkness, and for those who follow the Christ, our call is to live as He did and do what He did – bring that same hope and life, especially where justice is needed.
The reality is that injustice sucks, but God knew.  Injustice sucks, and God knows.  And because God knows, there is hope.

Where do you see God at work in the midst of the injustices in our world?  In your community?  In your life?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Holy Week We-eve

        For those of us associated with the Church, we are on the cusp of the most sacred and powerful week of the year, Holy Week.  It begins on Sunday with Palm/Passion Sunday, where in worship we begin with a celebration of Christ’s entrance into the city of Jerusalem.  Palms wave, songs sung, and children joyfully celebrate that the King has come.  But on the turn of a dime, the mood changes. 
The tables are turned in the temple, a final meal is shared, and Jesus reveals the servant way by washing feet.  He prays to avoid the inevitable in the Garden, but the answer comes through the betrayal of a kiss.  Led to a sham of a trial, tortured, beaten, mocked, and crucified, he dies on what we call “Good Friday.”  On Palm/Passion Sunday the celebration turns into a death watch that pushes us toward Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
This week has been a busy week for me, which in itself has been interesting, because often the busy weeks are the ones that are most distracting.  But this week, though distracted by some things, I’ve actually found myself more focused on the Lenten Journey, and when I think more specifically about what that means, I realize that I’m more focused on what is on the horizon...what we will experience next week.
In a way, just as we celebrate “Christmas Eve,” this week could be categorized as “Holy Week ‘Weeve’.”  That is this is the week before Holy Week, and it is the last shot to get ourselves prepared for the stark reality that comes in just a few short days.
As I have gone through this Holy Week Weeve, I’ve realized that I have not been quite as focused this Lent.  I’ve been less deliberate and not nearly as disciplined as I had hoped, and yet despite myself the relationship with God and others has been solidified more deeply.  In many ways, I think this is the point of the season.

Though I won’t recount the whole Passion story, when we go back and examine it, we see that Jesus’ prep for Holy Week was about relationships as well. [John 12-19] The relationship to the People of God is solidified in His Triumphal Entry.  His relationships with His disciples is deepened as they experienced the Passover Feast and struggle in the Garden.  His relationships with the World are cemented for eternity in His death.  
Step after step, Jesus stepped deeper and deeper into relations with others and the world, and as He did, God’s relationship with the world for eternity was forever solidified, so that all might be saved by the grace of God.

In just a couple of days we will gather to hear and relive the story of God’s love for us.  It is a story of relationship.  It is a story of grace.  It is Christ’s story.  It is our story.  Will you be prepared to hear it?
Now is the time, it is Holy Week We-eve.

What are the last minute preparations you need to make for the Holy Week to come?

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Non-Snow Day

    They had been calling for a wintry mix, and all bets were that school would be cancelled for the day.  Sure enough, when I woke up this morning and checked the news, Roanoke County Schools were closed.
    At the time of my awakening I could hear sleet pinging off of the siding and onto the sidewalk, then when I went downstairs to check on the conditions, it began to rain.  Not freezing rain, just rain.  With these non-impending conditions in place, I got up and started my day.  Within an hour the rain had stopped, and but for moisture lingering in the cold air, all is well – A Non-Snow Day.
    It reminds me of when I was in school in Durham, NC, and there was a chance that we were going to receive an inch and a half of snow the next day.  By 6PM the kids had already been informed that there would be no school but to stock up at the grocery store.  We woke up to no snow, not even rain.  Instead, we enjoyed a beautiful 55 degree, sunny day.
    Now I don’t mean to get the school superintendents upset, as I know there are multiple factors that go into making the hard decision of calling a snow day, nor would I desire to be the one making the decision.  Add to that the fact that this particular county has mountains and hollers which cause for different weather activities in different communities, and it makes it tricky, but it is an interesting thing for the kids to be out for a snow day with no snow.
    I guess if we were to look at the two extremes of the situation, we could remember the phrases “better safe than sorry” and “leave caution to the wind.”  One leans toward the strong possibility of danger and interruption, while the other simply takes no precautions but hopes nothing bad will happen.  And yet, so often in life, in fact I would say MOST often in life, we land somewhere in the middle.

    I invite you sometime to pick up your Bible and turn to the twelfth chapter of Luke’s Gospel.  It’s a rather odd chapter.  It begins with warnings against hypocrisy and an encouragement to the disciples to keep the faith, then Jesus tells a story of a Rich Man who just keeps building so he’ll have room for all his “stuff,” then He turns it back on them (us) saying, “do not worry about anything.”  Then it shifts to a whole conversation about being watchful and prepared, but THEN Jesus throws out that He’s going to cause strife and division between family members.  THEN He says, “watch the clouds, read the weather, because you’ll know what’s coming if you do.”
    There are some passages where one reads them and wonders, “Was Jesus having a bad day?  Was his mind simply racing from one thing to the next?  What’s his point?”  This is one of those.  He seems to be pinging all over the place, and yet underneath it all, there is one simply message.  Inserted into the pockets of emotions and feeling is subject matter centering around how to navigate life, mainly that the invitation is given for us to focus on and trust in God.  That if we do, all will be well.
    That is, if we focus on God and strive to follow, then hypocrisy flies out the window and we live in faith.  If we keep our eye on the prize, then we don’t need all the stuff, and we won’t worry...or at least worry as much.  That when we seek Christ’s Kingdom, then we align ourselves with the right priorities, despite what family and friends think, and it even means that we are able to predict the “weather” around us and navigate the peaks and valleys more effectively.

    On this “Non-Snow Day” I can’t help but think about how often we get things wrong.  How we make the wrong predictions, or read the signs around us incorrectly, then how easy it is to get lost.  We can get lost in despair, lost in ourselves, lost from the realities of life, lost in fear, lost from security...the list goes on, but the lostness is real.
    However, the message that we have heard over and over again, and even experienced, is that the lost get found.  That the Non-Snow Day, and even the snow days...and perfect days...come and go, but God is always with us.  The key is to turn to Him, to trust, to follow, to journey with the One who already took the path for us.  When we do, God makes a way.
    This is a comforting message at any time, but it is even more assuring during the season of Lent, when we are invited to look toward the aspects of our lives where we don’t trust, where we don’t see, where we don’t follow, then ask God to lead and change us.
    In a way, this season is a "schooling season".  Despite our desire for a snow, or even a “non-snow” day, God's hope is that we'll allow ourselves to be schooled by Christ.  And yes, it takes work.  It requires effort, but the result and blessing is that when we trust and allow ourselves to be schooled by God, the weather of our lives really doesn’t matter.  Instead, we realize WHAT matters, and we are blessed by and through such faithful living.

What are the snow day/non-snow day aspects of your faith walk?  How are you being invited to trust more?  What Lenten disciplines have you included in your life which will shape and bless you, so that you might be a blessing to the world?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Positioning Ourselves for Perspective

     I have a confession to make.  I have a new addiction, and it is called “Plague, Inc.”  I ran across it while browsing through “Staff App Picks” section of the “Google Play” store.  It looked both disturbing and intriguing, so I clicked the icon to read up on what the game was all about, which subsequently moved me to download it and eventually spend the $1.00 to purchase the full version of the game.
    The concept is simple.  The player creates a basic plague – a virus, bacterial, or fungus, then a map of the world is revealed and the player taps on a country to start the plague.  One get’s DNA points as the sickness spreads, and you can use those points to “purchase” ways of transmitting the disease, the symptoms of the disease, or the resistance of the disease to cures.  The player manipulates these factors, but as the disease is discovered, scientists and nations come up with a cure.  The goal: kill off humanity before a cure is found and distributed, but note, everyone has to die.  If you just take out 99% and the hosts die taking the disease with them, you lose and the survivors repopulate.  (BTW, Madagascar and/or Greenland are tough to infect!  Very little air or water traffic coming in and out.)
    Yes, I know.  I’ve already been told by my wife and daughter that it sounds terrible, and my sons, who by the way are now playing it on their iTouchs, get a bit of a chuckle at their Pastor father playing a game with the goal of annihilation, but if you think about it, most of the things that compel us have a dark side.
    Though I haven’t been playing Plague too long, I have found myself fascinated with what happens when I play.  I take on the perspective of one whose goal is to take over the world, not as a scientist manipulating a disease, from I become the disease and try to figure out how best to conquer the world.  As this happens there is a desire for control, a need to win, and a mentality that gets anxious when good begins to prevail.  I get caught up in survival at all cost.
    As I have recognized this I’ve begun to think about the parallels between playing the game and playing the game of life.  After all, we have an innate desire to be in control, and we live in a that teaches us that the strongest and most powerful will win and that willing is the point of life.  The goal is to have the most things, to gain power, and spread that power across our sphere’s of influence.  We’ve all seen how such power can spread like a plague.

    I heard a sermon recently where the preacher described “the wilderness” (his biblical reference being both the Israelites and Jesus’ temptation story) as that place where we are taken to discover our true selves.  He talked about how the Israelites were forced to rely on God because they had nothing else, and the same happened with Jesus in His battle.  And God’s invitation was for them to position themselves in the wilderness to look to the one constant, the one thing that was reliable and trustworthy, God.
    A modern day example of one in the wilderness given was Lance Armstrong.  He’s stepped into his wilderness.  Imagine how he feels.  He came clean with a deep lie.  He doesn’t know where this will all end up, and he has nothing and no one to turn to.  His battle with cancer may have taken him to a place where he faced his true self and resolve, and the same could be said about winning
7 Tours, but the focus of those was victory.  It was winning at all costs.  Not so in this wilderness.
    He does not face a battle, he faces surrender.  He doesn’t face the external demons and competitors but he faces himself.  He is not striving to win OVER anyone, instead he’s just trying to survive, and he has to so so under a different set of rules.  I’d venture to say that this is a different game, different sporting for him right now, and the way he will emerge alive will be to position himself from the right perspective.

    One of the things I have always said is that “faith is about perspective,” for in order to have faith we are invited to position our lives from the perspective of faith, look for God at work, and be willing to trust in God.  This is not a position of power but it is a position of surrender and even servitude.  It is a positioning that places us in opposition to the world’s plaguely ways, but we position ourselves in places where we risk the wilderness...risk discovering our true selves...risk everything for God and others.
    This is one of the main reasons it is necessary for Christ followers to be a part of a community of faith.  On our own and left to our own devices, it’s easy to create our own faith stories, even create situations where we come out on top, but when we turn toward others and ask  the hard questions about who they see us as, or how they see God wanting to use us, we find our control threatened.  We can no longer rely on ourselves, but there is a community that relies on us.  Even harder, we realize that we need the insights of others on our own lives, in order to be positioned to see the world from the right perspective and truly live.
    Are there any “plagues” in your life?  Is there a wilderness time on the horizon, and if so will you dare to listen for what you can learn through it?  How might you position yourself to keep perspective and allow God to use you?