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God the Holy Spirit – 38

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God the Holy Spirit – 38
The Holy Spirit of God is the blessed Spirit of gentleness

Galatians 5:23 The Fruit of the Spirit is: …gentleness
II Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all,
able to teach, patient
Only strong people can be gentle. All others have to be unkind.
Gentleness is the true test of humility and greatness.

O Father,
Your gentleness is clothed in power and greatness. Your power and greatness are clothed in gentleness. Thank you for being gentle with us. Thank you for revealing your gentleness to your children. Thank you for that gift in our lives. We strive to reveal you to those around us by showing your gentleness to them. Give us the strength and the care for others to be genuinely gentle with everyone.
Amen

God the Holy Spirit – 37

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God the Holy Spirit – 37
The Holy Spirit of God is the blessed Spirit of power within yourself

Galatians 5:23 The fruit of the Spirit is …. self-control.
What will control you? Something will control you. The Holy Spirit of God wants to control you. The Holy Spirit of God will control you but not if you are determined to control yourself. You can live ‘with-power’ as the Spirit of God lives in you and empowers you to live a life of Godly purity and Spiritual productivity and holiness. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can control the pride of the human condition that wills to control you.

O, Holy Spirit,
We so desperately need your strength to control our lives. Only you can be the power of God in us to make and direct us how and when and where you want us. Your power is the power of the wind, the breath of God, filling our sails and driving us your way. We trust you and raise our sails to catch your breath and feel your power at our back and your fresh air in our faces as we are controlled by your power.
Amen

Kevin Mark – 2017

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Kevin Mark – 2017

Comfort from the Scripture
John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away- blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

 

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

The Shack – Part IV

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The Shack – Part IV

Jesus’ answer to seeing “sheep without a shepherd was to teach them many things.” His answer to the chaos of life was to bring truth to the people. Jesus was a teacher – a master Mark 6:34.

Teaching truth empowers people. They then have the tools to make accurate judgments and discernment about life. The task of the Church is to teach, baptize and teach again Matthew 28:19-20.

The bible is a book of balance. Paul confronted Peter to the face “because he was to be blamed.” Paul also called the Galatians “my little children because he loved them so much. Paul told the Philippians, “I have you in my heart.” It is possible to be correct and caring – It is possible to be truthful and also loving. Not just possible – essential

The Bible is a book of balance Proverbs 3:3. Sometimes it about extreme balance Romans 11:22. God is extravagant goodness and extreme severity.

Humans are typically out of balance – they tend towards all love or all truth. That is not the Bible. That is not God of the Bible. ‘By mercy and truth iniquity is purged’ Proverbs 16:6.  Jesus fulfilled that scripture – He was ‘full of grace and truth’ John 1:14.

The emerging/emergent movement is an attempt to restore balance in Christendom by emphasizing factors that have been ignored for so long. Doctrine and beliefs have been emphasized to the lack of love and grace and mercy and worship. The emerging system is attempting to restore those concepts.

The Shack is an attempt to restore balance by emphasizing aspects of God that have been ignored for so long. The emphases are similar to those of the emerging approach. The primary weakness of both of these approaches is their willingness to relinquish a firm grasp on truth.

Balance is of the essence.
On one side is: grace, mercy, and love.
On the other side is: truth, righteousness and judgment.
Over emphasis on either side of the discussion is not God’s plan. Balance, as in Jesus Christ, is God’s plan for His children and His Church.

The Shack – Part III

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The Shack – Part III

Whether this book is accurate or not, it has given voice to many hurting hearts. Maybe, just maybe, those hearts, now awakened will find the source and the depth for the longings that they experience. Maybe this is the needed wake-up call.

Maybe this book will open human hearts to seek and find the truth and the Truth and a new day will dawn when and where we become the Body of Christ in the ways God intended.

Idolatry takes many shapes. Idols of the heart are the current gods of choice. We make our idols after our own image. We make them to serve us and forget that we are not serving God, but we are serving our selves. Compliance and relevance have replaced obedience and holiness.

Today there is a counselor or a pill for all suffering and pain. Christ did not imbibe the sour wine that could have taken the edge off of His suffering. Opiates are becoming a most pressing factor in human behavior. Let us take care that we bring health and love to all of life’s domains without demanding immediate relief from its difficulties.

Not only pills, but touch screens and false religions are current opiate options. Only freeing ourselves from them will allow us to see God in our pain, not just as the relief from it.

Do not be content with chaos. The shack rightly brings the unconditional love of God to life. But also needed is the God of order; not just the god of our conception of acceptance. Do not get used to chaos. Do not think of chaos as acceptable. Jesus spoke to the storm. God condemned Lucifer for his disobedience. Paul spoke truth about Alexander the coppersmith. Jesus called the Pharisees to account for their sins.

It is in chaos that God appears. He brings order to it. He does not condone it. He does not consider it normal as it is in post modernism. He brings it to order and brings order to it. Creation and nature are our constant reminders and proof of that. Love produces that order. Beauty emerges from that order. We are to be examples of that order, even in our pain.

The Shack has highlighted a neglected domain: the emotive center of human existence. Needed, but not at the loss of God-aided reason. Emotions but, not at the loss of truth.

The message of The Shack is understandable and needed but also inadequate. It is a flight to the opposite side of the road – a corrective which has, once again, gone too far and taken many with it.

The Shack – part II

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The Shack – part II

Thanks to all of you who commented on The Shack essay. It was not an attempt to add to the hype but to bring a somewhat different view of the situation.

The book is clearly not in keeping with historic Christendom. But, it is a current attempt to make God real to those who, otherwise, may never encounter God.

The book “hooks” the reader immediately. The gripping story of the sad death of an innocent little girl is enough to soften even the hardest sensibilities. From there the author writes about his own life in allegorical form. His difficult childhood as a missionary-kid and pastor’s-kid are worked out through the developing story. Just as the protagonist tries to make sense out of impossible developments of life, the author is vicariously doing the same in this book.

That debilitating level of pain and distress resonates with so many people, both in and out of the church, today. Hence, the popularity of this tome. More than 20 million copies have been sold since 2007. Now the movie is making its debut.

What are some observations? Jesus was not soft on sin, but, He was not soft on the Pharisees either. He had compassion on those who knew that they were wrong, but, He had little compassion on those who knew that they were right. The book calls to those who have been hurt by that type of religion.

We may have erred on the side of doctrine. Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism, caught the eye of the Anabaptists. It was an easy step to move from Anabaptist to Fundamentalist. Fundamentalism provided a vocabulary to express our deepest concerns and understandings. The price was high. We accepted without discernment and without adequate research into our own heritage. It was easy to adopt the easy, organized approach to their doctrines of the Bible and create our own. Finally, we could do theology with the best of them.

The Mennonites rewrote their confession in 1921. The Brethren rewrote their ‘Brethren Card’ in 1923. Both reflected the new vocabulary. More recently, Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism has experienced its own realignment in the emerging/emergent movement. And, once again, our people are drawn into the Protestant approach to church.

Emerging/emergent church is now charting a course which is, to a greater or lesser degree, divorced from doctrine. Focus on spirit, worship, grace, mercy, love and other subjects has overshadowed, or even replaced historic theology. The new approach attempts to address the whole person, not just the mental faculty.

Part III Tomorrow

The Shack

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The Shack 

I read The Shack. I did not watch The Shack. The Christian community, not to mention much of the North American community, has been greatly impacted by The Shack.

Why all the reaction to this book? The conservative Christian community seems intent on building a case against it.

My reaction to the reading was to be jarred by its divergence from any theological training and exposure I had received. At the same time, the author introduced concepts that were novel and somewhat refreshing. A story fueled by the love and quest of a parent and devoid of salacious content is cause for some recognition.

Why are so many conservative Anabaptists reading and impressed by this novel? What does it hold for them? That is the question I am asking to myself.

After 20 years of teaching in conservative circles, questions arise. My conservative upbringing and training have led me to trust the Scripture and find in it my security and the answers to the searching of my heart and mind. Coupled with the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, the scripture has been both source and stability for me.

Not so for all. Many of my counterparts in the Anabaptist community have reacted negatively to our culture and religion. For them The shack was a breath of fresh air. They met God in His many facets and in His Mother form and have felt His acceptance and care. They read and heard love in its unconditional form. They were introduced to unqualified care and have felt it at its deepest levels.

So, attempting to discredit the book on its theological errors will fall mostly on deaf ears and unreceptive hearts and minds.

One challenge of current, emerging Christendom is that theological accuracy will never make up for Spiritual negligence. What ever you may think of that charge, it is acquiring adherents in the Anabaptist world. Granted, that is not how we should make decisions, but, is there really a reason to sacrifice one for the other? This rising generation feels damaged and jaded by their upbringing. Many of them feel intense pain and feel starved for the love of God. They are looking and they are finding. Can we make a safe place for them so they can stay home and trust and find God here?

Is there really some reason that we cannot bring the blessings of the love of God into our church groups? Is there some reason that we cannot produce a volume that exalts the love and grace of God? Is there a reason that we continue to force compliance by rules and laws when our history clearly recognizes “Two Kinds of Obedience?”

If we can begin to answer these kinds of questions then, maybe we will be able to begin to understand our people and who they are and who we made them to be and maybe we will be able to bring into our theology the love and care of a God who is personal in His love to us. Maybe.

Instead of building a case against this book, maybe we could build a case for The Book – a case for the loving God whose kindness calls us to Himself.

Is God speaking to us through message of The Shack? Quite possibly.
Is God speaking to us through the hearts of our people? Quite certainly.