Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Octane, Mission, and Ordination

I so look forward to tonight’s gathering of the Atlanta Cohort. Two excerpts are offered to "prime the pump" of consideration and discussion:

Making doxology to God, Paul asks that we present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God by not being conformed to this world but by being transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). All of this is resurrection talk, the sort of tensive [sic] situation of those who find their lives still in an old, dying world, yet who are also conscious of a new world being born. Our lives are eschatologically stretched between the sneak preview of the new world being born among us in the church and the old world where the principalities and powers are reluctant to give way. In the meantime, which is the only time the church has ever known, we live as those who know something about the fate of the world that the world does not yet know. Calling and Character, 128. -William Willimon
If pastors become accomplices in treating every child as a problem to be figured out, every spouse as a problem to be dealt with, every clash of wills in choir or committee as a problem to be adjudicated, we abdicate our most important work, which is directing worship in the traffic, discovering the presence of the cross in the paradoxes and chaos between Sundays, calling attention to the splendor in the ordinary, and most of all, teaching a life of prayer to our friends and companions in the pilgrimage. -Eugene Peterson The Contemplative Pastor, 65

Yes- I look forward to the dialogue; however, the chance to connect across difference traditions and local communities – all under the reign of Christ in the context of mission- is what I look forward to the most.

It’s been a tough few weeks pastorally. The chance to pause – even for a couple of hours- over coffee and conversation seems like a real prize in the midst of the sometime tough process of spiritual formation.If you’re in the Atlanta area- joins us at Octane from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Reminded of the Process

This weekend was quite telling for Pam, my beloved, and me as we watched the shadow of an approaching empty nest, if God wills, looming towards us whilst we move along in this life. In some ways it seems like a two-sided emotional blade.

Our eldest son, after a very brief visit home (mostly to do laundry and say hi), returned to his post as a senior camp counselor for the next eight weeks. Additionally, we received a good report on our middle son who is three weeks into his seven week stint on the staff of another camp whilst my wife and I, at home with our youngest but very much maturing son, are watching our children grow older.

On the one hand, I long to have more time to hold my beloved and enjoy her, and her me, without feeling that grabbing a date together or stealing away for a cup of coffee or glass of vino is a really good thing that may somehow be at odds with engaged and present parenting. More time... this is good.

On the other hand, however, we already feel some of the pangs of grieving as our relationship to our boys, increasingly now young men, is changing and will change to a state dominated by absence rather than presence. This season of life is also good (healthy) but clearly tainted with sadness, too.

In some ways, we pushed this boat of this subject out from shore last year (Click here for context). However, this weekend I’m reminded that emotional and spiritual progress – in the context of real life- is more often a process – not an event.

Emotions are complex and the human soul is deep. What I make peace with today can surface again as I purpose to grow in and surrender to the will and way of Christ. In fact, am convinced that the process of surfacing, submitting, re-surfacing, and submitting again is absolutely necessary if I am going to grow within the kingdom of God.

Dallas Willard once said, “The organ or instrument of spiritual knowledge is obedience”. This merits unpacking in the context (Click here to stream or download 29 May mp3) of his talk; however, it is fair to say that obedience demonstrates faith and is irremovable to the growing in Christ. And, in my experience, continual submission is a process that involves my will, as well as, the work of God the Holy Spirit “who is at work in you (plural yet includes the individual) both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”(Phil 2:13, NASB)

So, the mixed bag of happiness/sadness, joy/grief, and future hope/progressive loss is welcomed but the sadness and joy are felt and move me to pray for the continued grace to embrace the process, grow in Christ, love my wife, and see our “three young men” continue becoming men who love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and demonstrate that love in the context of Christ’s kingdom.

In closing, here are two parting passages. I’m certain you can add more.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21, NIV)

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