Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Without Wax.

So today I want to tell you about this experience I once had while working at a week long summer retreat for middle schoolers called Junior Youth Program (JYP).  JYP takes place once a year during Youth Week at Kanuga Conference Center and is by far one of my favorite places to go visit. 

A few years back, I remember we did this thing called an “Affirmation Circle”.  This was my first time doing this, it was a little awkward, a little silly, but the end result of this is by far one of the coolest things I have ever experienced. 

Imagine this, you are going about you day, just living your life.  Near the end of the day one of your friends comes up to and says that they need to tell you something, something important. 

“I see God in you.”

Whoa… How do you respond to that?!

Now sometimes you may hear someone joke about something along these lines but imagine that your friend said this to you in a very genuine serious tone, makes eye contact with you and tells you, “I see God in you.”

Would you believe it?

So in this affirmation circle, you took turns going around the circle, you make eye contact with each person, and you tell each person that you see God in each one of them.  For many people, this was the easy part of the circle.  The telling part.

Then the other part was not so easy, the listening part.  Every person in the circle will also take turns making eye contact with you and telling you, that they see God in YOU.

Many times you can easily see the discomfort in people as they stand there and listen to someone tell them that they are God like.

Why is it that we can easily see the good and kindness in others yet we struggle so hard to see it and accept when it is noticed in ourselves. 

One thing that I remember that I heard in high school that has stuck with me over the years is that you are like a slab of marble and God is the artist.

Every thing that happens slowly shapes you and forms you.  As you continue to grow, you begin to take shape but you are always shaped at the hands of the artist. 

Now, there is a story that has become rather popular.  This story is used in movies and literature such as Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress.  The story goes that when an artist would be carving a sculpture, they would make a mistake, or chip off too much, or drill out the hair wrong.  When the sculpture would mess up, they would fill it with melted wax, which would then harden and be shaped to look like they had not made a mistake.  But some artists had such a steady hand and were so talented that they could carve an entire statue without any flaws, no mistakes, perfect.  When they did this, the artist would sign the sculpture as “without wax”.

While this story is now mostly regarded as folklore, the story is still a very nice one and to be honest it just works really well with my story.

So tonight when you get home from school or from work or from whatever practice you had tonight…look in the mirror.

And tell yourself…“In all places…At all time.  I see God in you.”

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

We are created in the image of God.  If we are made in God’s image, how can you not see God in that.

You are a wonderful, special, one-of-a-kind sculpture.  That is constantly begin carved and shaped by the hands of the Creator God. 

Made in God’s image.


Without wax.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Be still...

So, it is no secret…these past few weeks have been busy.  Sometimes it has felt that it is just one thing after another…over and over and over…
I am sure that at some point or another we have all felt this way.  One thing that I can say about having been through these times is that we tend to get so caught up in everything that we have to do.  We stress ourselves out with everything we have to get done and make to do lists out-lining what we have to get done. 

Many times I use these entries as a way to think through something that I am going through personally or just to help remind myself of a lesson that I have learned in the past.

Many times I have spoken about taking time for yourself.  How that before you can be well and take care of others you must take care of yourself. 

I normally would now go on to tell of a personal story or talk more about this concept and tie it into scripture.

Well today I am going to do something new.

Instead of just speaking of it…I am going to live…

So today my challenge is to do something for yourself.

Slow down.  Stop doing whatever you are doing.

I want you to know spend the next 5 minutes in silence.

Clear your mind…dont think of all the things you have to do…

Just let them all go.

“Be still and now that I am God”

            -Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What is right vs. What is good

Many times in our lives I feel that find ourselves forced to make difficult decisions.  Sometimes these decisions are easier to decide than others. 

I read this question posed in an article about ethics that I was reading and it really made me think, I now pose this question to you.

Suppose you are living in Holland during World War II and Germany has invaded your country.  When this happens a Jewish family comes to you and asks for your help, so you allow them to hide in your house.  The Nazis come looking for them and ask if you are harboring any fugitives.  You now have two ethical principles in conflict.  Shall you protect the Jewish family or tell the truth?

Do you do what is good or what is right?

Before we go on I think I should clarify what I mean when I say “good” and “right”. 

Good refers to the ethical decision made dealing with benefits.  What is good for the decision maker of for the good of someone else.  These decisions are made looking ahead and asking what the hoped for are anticipated benefits are of the decision. 

The right is also known as the rules-based approach.  Doing what one’s duty is based on the moral code. 

Now sometimes we may find ourselves faced with a  problem that brings this very principal to light. 

What do we do, what is right or what is good?

To be honest, I can not simply answer that question.  I do not think it is a concrete solid answer every single time. 

Because I am curious as to what the Bible has to say about this, naturally I open straight to Romans 13.  I am sure we all know exactly what I am referring too.

If you want a refresher on Romans 13, here is a summary of it from the one and only, shmoop.com…

  • Paul's spree of advice continues.
  • Everyone should obey people in positions of authority. After all, all authority comes from God, so all the authority figures running around out there must have been hand-picked by God. Makes sense… sort of.
  • That means if you go against someone in a position of authority, then you're really going against God. Remember that next time you throw paper airplanes at your Spanish teacher.
  • Basically, Paul says, if you just keep walking the straight and narrow and don't step out of line you should be fine. If you do, don't forget, those authority figures have swords and they're not afraid to wield them.
  • (Ironic historical footnote: about 10 years after writing this, Paul was executed by the Roman authorities. Wonder if that might make him revise his thoughts in this section just a little?)
  • Same thing goes for paying taxes. Sorry, Tea Party and Henry David Thoreau—you've got to pay them. If you owe money to the government, fork it over. And if you owe respect and honor to people in positions of power, then start practicing your groveling now. Yup.
  • Don't walk around owing anyone anything. Period. Oh, except love. You should owe everyone love all the time. And pay it as often as possible. That's the essence of all of Jewish law anyway—love.
  • Paul thinks the Ten Commandments can pretty much be boiled down to "Love your neighbor as yourself." It's really pretty simple, guys.
  • Besides, Paul tells the Romans, they know what time it is. 
  • No…
  • The hour is at hand. Salvation is coming soon to a theater near you. Any minute now, Jesus is gonna come down from Heaven again and make some non-believers feel pretty darn foolish. Yup. He's talking about the second coming, folks.
  • So let's all just be good little boys and girls so we can always be prepared for this. Basically just keep focused on Christ and do what's good all the time. Easy, right?

It is definitely not the easiest chapter to follow.  In the chapter though, Paul says that it is an obligation to love others.  Who should we love?  Well, Christians naturally but who else does Paul say that we should love?  The neighbor and the enemy. 


But, what happens when our moral obligation to follow the rules and our call to love others conflict in our decision making?

While things may not always turn out the way you want and feel that you do not have any control over the matter at hand, sometimes you just get stuck in the dilemma.

One piece of advice that I was told when thinking over these types of problems…

Follow your heart.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

-Proverbs 3:5