Monday, September 20, 2010

Uneasy Rider

No pain, no gain. It’s true at the gym, and it’s a tenet of the Christian faith. John Grayston, writing for Scripture Union, puts it bluntly:

We cannot expect universal approval or an easy ride…suffering is part of our calling as servants of God (1 Peter 2:21). The love which we pour out will not always be returned. Pain is caused not only by those whom we would expect to be our opponents, but also by those whom we might expect to stand with us.

Effective ministry will always be conducted from a position of weakness. There is no other way, for this was Christ's way and it is his example that we follow. Our ministry, like his, is always service. We look, in the words of Ignatius Loyola, for "no reward, save that of knowing that we do Thy will."

This goes against human nature and the spirit of our age. It is hard.


I grumble about hostility toward the things of faith in our country, but it doesn’t begin to compare to this stat: 200 million Christians in thirty-five countries are persecuted.

And I experience some Biblical whiplash reading 2nd Corinthians. Paul is not one to sugarcoat the faithful life:

…as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way…in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.
(from 2nd Corinthians 6:4-5)

Lord Christ, my ride is pretty smooth. For that I am thankful, but I probably spend too much time on the path of least resistance. That is not your way.

When I encounter turbulence inspire my response with your example and the words of St. Paul. Despite his candor, the glass is better than half full:

In your Holy Spirit, even in sorrow, we will find rejoicing…and purity, understanding, patience and kindness…sincere love…the power of God. (from 2nd Corinthians 6:6-10)


Monday, September 13, 2010

Christ, Conquest & Church

Lord Christ,

Let us be clear about your declaration to the Jewish authorities.

They asked:
Are you God’s anointed one?

And you answered:
I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven. (Mark 14:61-62)

It’s a declaration you made to the church, not to the government.

Maybe we are misguided to mark history solely by political movements and governments, by conquerors and conquests.

Because across history, the Church (however imperfect it may be) is your chosen instrument of global redemption.

Jesus, you conquered sin and death, and your conquest across generations is the human heart.

Include me, Lord Christ, in that great movement. How can I serve your church today? Amen.

Photo credit

Monday, September 6, 2010

Propelled by the Spirit


It isn’t lost on me that Acts of the Apostles commences with your Spirit. I note the significance.

The Holy Spirit: Hard to define. Difficult to pin down. But like the wind, we can hear it. We can feel it.

Whatever the Biblical image or metaphor - wind, fire, water, dove - I pray for a full measure of the Holy Spirit…infusing every aspect of my life, propelling my faith and faithful witness.

Lord Christ, let me hear it. Allow me to feel it…that I may act. Dare I ask, that I might act as an Apostle! Amen.

Maybe this is a glimpse of the Holy Spirit:
A Cook pine ablaze in the Kapalua sunset on Maui, Hawaii