It’s Monday February 24

Throughout the season we have been using Trevor Hudson’s book, Discovering our Spiritual Identity, as a guide for our worship and learning.  The theme we focused on this weekend was “Speaking Words of Life and Power.”   

In searching words like gossip, slander, or false witness throughout the scriptures, hundreds of references popped up.  Here are a few of those texts:

Matthew 12: 36  On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they spoke.

Proverbs 10:18  Whoever utters slander is a fool.

James 4:11  Do not speak evil against one another.

Exodus 20:16 Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest person spreads strife and a whisperer separates close friends.

Proverbs 18:21  Death and life are in the power of the tongue

Remember that phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”  It might be a quaint cultural maxim, an effective tool in a parent’s arsenal.  But, it’s not biblical.  

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  

So where does that lead us?  Consider these three truths:

  1. Inward strife becomes outward life, so take care of your heart.  

Jesus said it this way, “The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks”  (Luke 6:45).

Take care of your own heart.  If you don’t take care of what is within, it will surely make its way out. In my own life, I know these things to be true:  My anger toward others mirrors my anger with myself.  My anxiety toward others is a reflection of the anxiety within.  My disappointment with others often masks my disappointment with myself.  That’s not always the case, but often it is.  So, take care of your own heart.

       2. Silence, the unspoken word, can be as destructive as the spoken word.  

I call this one the “sideline conversation,” though it can take place at the water cooler, around the coffee pot, or, yes, on the sideline of many an athletic field.  These are the conversations that stir up the anxiety of the participants but never get to the source of the concern.  So we complain, back-stab, or call into question our coach or boss or pastor but we never say anything to them.  So, nothing changes.  

Silence, the unspoken word, can be as destructive as the spoken word.  

One more point in regard to this issue:  Though how we deal with conversations on the sidelines and around coffee pots is important, the implications for silence on a mass scale can have catastrophic consequences.  Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust, reminds us that the horrors of Nazi Germany happened for two reasons–the violence of the perpetrators and the silence of the bystanders. 

Silence, the unspoken word, can be as destructive as the spoken word.  

     3.  You will fail.  So learn to receive forgiveness and forgive.

In spite of our best intentions, we speak out of turn, we speak harshly, we avoid, we gossip, we trash-talk.  The capacity to receive forgiveness and forgive breaks open the possibility of new life.  

It’s Monday.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue.  Today you can choose to extend blessing in each of your interactions.  Peace. Kai

 

It’s Monday February 10

Some people asked me to document the three faith transitions I talked about in my sermon yesterday.  Each was a pivotal transition in my growth of faith.

Grace as gift, not earned.  You’d think Lutherans would have this down but we don’t, I don’t. Mostly, because it’s a radical departure from the rest of our world of evaluation. Olympic athletes spend a lifetime training, 3-4 minutes performing, and their Olympic (and life?) legacy is dependent on the scoring of a set of judges.  Get a 6.8–nobody remembers you were there!

The same is true for much of our lives.  Job review. Student grades. Sideways glances for what we are wearing or how we present ourselves.  All evaluation.

God’s grace says 10.0 whether you hit the triple toe loop or not!  Grace as gift, not something we earn.

Salvation as a process of living, not just a destination after dying.  What does it mean to be saved?  In many corners of the Christian world, it means we have confessed Jesus as Lord and had our tickets punched to heaven. Biblically, salvation is far more expansive.  The original biblical words for salvation mean deliverance from an affliction, healing, wholeness, or the capacity to do well.  Paul captures this connection in Ephesians 2:   “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith… created in Christ Jesus to do good things.  God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.”  Salvation is a process of living, not just a destination after dying.

This leads us to…

“Spiritual” life is a way of life, not a list of activities.  For many years I bought into the heresy that separated our spirituality from the rest of life.  Spiritual life/real life. Sunday/Monday.  I could convince myself I had done my “God” thing by showing up for worship or a bible study or giving or serving.  Check.  God-thing complete.

But, a bifurcated life is a disordered life.  We are one thing here another there.  We say one thing in one place and act another way in other places.

Author G.K Chesterton gives us a picture of an integrated journey where all of life is God’s life. “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”   Spiritual life is a way of life, not a list of activities.

As I examined my own transitions, I was reminded of essential truths: 1) Our life in Jesus is a life-long journey. 2) Whenever I think I’ve figured it out, I limit who God is and what God desires.  3) Grace begins the journey, sustains the journey, re-starts the journey each day, and is the destination we journey toward.

It’s Monday.  How do you respond to the transitions I have navigated on my journey?  Where are you on yours?  Peace. Kai