Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Have you ever noticed that it's easier to extend grace when you have already received grace?
The more we understand: John 8:4, 7 They said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery." He straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.", the less we are inclined to throw stones.
Matthew 10:8 “Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
Luke 7:47 “Impressive, isn't it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.
It's not that some of us haven't received very much grace, but perhaps we aren't as aware of how much we have already been forgiven.
It's the 'sinners' among us that better realize how much love and forgiveness mean to us. It's easier to be patient with someone in an area that I know I need patience with.
Mark 5:19, 20 But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
Thinking that we have already arrived, and have need of nothing can be a very detrimental thing. Luke 18:24 Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom?"
So don't be embarrassed about realizing how great God's forgiveness has been in your life. Let it be a catalyst to energize you to extend that forgiveness to others.
And if you tend to find it difficult to see how God could forgive someone for ________ (fill in the blank with whatever sin you think God can't or shouldn't forgive), then seek to better understand how gracious God has already been to you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The gap

One of my regularly read blogs was part of a 'synchroblog' a few days ago. A blog devoted to “conversations on befriending our gay neighbours” organized over 60 bloggers to write something on the same day on “how we can best reach across the divides that often separate Christians and LGBT individuals.” The blog is called “Bridging the Gap”, and they have also produced a DVD resource as “a catalyst for courageous conversations and fearless, love-based relational engagement with gay neighbours.”

I read a number of the various blog posts, and was struck by a few things.
I recognize that there is indeed a vast chasm between some Christians and the gay community. Perhaps even many Christians and the gay community. However, I think the first thing to overcome in desiring to get rid of personal prejudice in any form is to choose to lose the 'us and them' mentality. You may decide you are going to treat people from another culture and background as fellow human beings, as equals. But if you still refer to them as 'those First Nations people', or 'those Chinese', you are still exhibiting racism. Keeping the 'us and them' references means you aren't considering them the same as yourself. Keeping the 'us and them' tags means you will always have a great divide that will always need to be bridged. The same is just as true for people who are gay, or homeless, or Buddhist. I think it is imperative that we learn to treat everyone around us as ordinary, normal, conventional, standard, common, usual, unremarkable. Yes people have their unique qualities, but treating someone in a distinctive, peculiar or special way means you aren't seeing them as an equal. Consider this: do we set left-handed people apart, and treat them in some special way? Or people with blue eyes, or people who can't swim? Do we talk about the need to 'bridge the gap' between us? No, because we still consider them as equals, even though they have some unique qualities. We need to move into the same realm regarding sexual identity.
Another thing that struck me in reading these posts was the number of people who had a conservative Christian upbringing, came to a point in their life that they acknowledged they were gay, and then felt it necessary to leave their conservative church setting. They haven't left their faith in God, they just feel very uncomfortable/unwanted/unaccepted/unloved in the church setting of their earlier years. I think that sadly demonstrates that we in the conservative evangelical branch of the church haven't done a very good job of loving and affirming God's love for some people. That is worse than sad, it is unconscionable. In effect, we created the gap that we now need to bridge.
As I read the comments posted by other readers of these blog posts, I discovered a large number of people approached the subject with grace and generosity. There was lots of dialogue on various ideas being raised, and for the most part, people were ready to listen to the points of view brought forth. But there were a few people who appeared to miss the point of the topic: “How can we befriend our gay neighbours” and used the forums as a place to state their theology that homosexuality is a sin, end of discussion. That attitude hurts. It hurts me, it hurts the church, and most sadly, it hurts many people who first need a place to be heard and loved, not to be attacked, squelched, and shut down. It also is a contemptible way to explore and discover truth. The fact is, we don't have all the facts. We still have more to learn, on just about everything. Devoutly affirming something as 'biblical' doesn't guarantee that it accurately reflects the original heart of the author. And it doesn't provide a safe place for someone to explore and discuss questions they may have. I believe the biggest problem with this kind of 'I already know the answer and you are completely wrong' kind of attitude is that it isn't what Christ calls us to.
John 13:34, 35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples--when they see the love you have for each other.”
John 15:12-14 “This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you.”

Lest you accuse me of also missing the point of “How can we befriend our gay neighbours”, let me reiterate.
--treat your neighbours as good people—whether they are Chinese, gay, lawyers or computer geeks. Treat them like people. Talk about stuff—the weather, the economy, local issues, relationships, sports, food, whatever. The less you single out one aspect of who they are, the more you will be able to relate to them as whole individuals. Appreciate their distinct personality traits and interests, but don't major on just one facet.
--listen to them. Care about the things they care about, their hopes and aspirations. Prove that you aren't there to preach at them. Establish trust. Be ready to demonstrate God's love. Share your heart, your questions, your desires. If they bring up issues of sexuality, be honest and open.
--be ready to change your mind about things. Have discussions, not debates. Be more willing to learn than to teach. Explore things together.
If you haven't noticed, the preceding ideas are just as valid with befriending someone who is of another race, faith, or political persuasion. And, if you have forgotten, your neighbout isn't just the guy who lives next door.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I have this dark, pessimistic theory:
When someone starts promoting 'unity', they really mean "Why can't everybody else see things my way?"
When someone says "Why can't we all just get along?", what they are really saying is "If you saw things the way I do, we wouldn't have any reason to fight."

While the basic logic of those statements could well be true, that doesn't mean the world would actually be a better place.
If I say that 2 times 2 equals 5, and everyone else decides to follow suit, we wouldn't be on the right track--even though we would be in unity.

Globally, I could promote a particular system of government, say democratic capitalism (Hmmm sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?). Having the rest of the world switch to the same system and philosophy of life wouldn't necessarily make the world a better place.
Nationally, I could promote unity by telling everyone to become a Liberal (or Conservative, NDP or Green) supporter. We might have unity, but I doubt if we would have utopia.
Religiously, it is even worse. Within Christianity (let alone other faiths) we have people and isms of every stripe claiming to be biblical. Their dream of unity is probably for everyone else to interpret the Bible the way they do.
Dangerous idea, actually. It can, and has, so easily lead to arrogance, pomposity, and even violence. We have an incredible amount of disunity as people write their books, preach from their pulpits and TV screens, and march against all manner of things, just because that is how they understand the Bible. Meanwhile, the little guy gets swallowed up in the politics of the system. Variety and creativity are stifled as being 'unbiblical'. Honest questions are quashed, and discussion and learning are replaced by bombast and brainwashing.
I admit, it's pretty easy to believe I am right, and everyone else needs to see things like I see them. Even this bit of musing about unity is trying to persuade you to see it like I do.
But I can guarantee you: I am out to lunch on some things (If only I knew which ones!), and on other things, there is definitely more than one way to look at the question at hand.
I don't think unity means being a bunch of clones of one particular leader. And don't try to tell me that trying to be the same as Jesus is the whole answer. That is what so many of us are indeed trying to do, but we are seeing different parts of His character, and none of us has come even close to seeing the whole picture.
That brings me back to my theory--it's way too easy to pretend that 'My way is the right way', and that unity will only come if you become like me.
I believe unity is the desire to walk together, even though we walk differently. It is a willingness to see the strengths in the other guy's position, and being ready to change your own position if appropriate. But sometimes, it is just as right to have different ideas of what 'truth' is, and to walk together anyway.
I think that is what true unity is.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Me three

Check this out:

What insight!
I'm not thinking business so much here, but the whole idea of new ideas.
Lots of people have good, new ideas.
Some people are the visionaries with the grandiose schemes. They seem to always be running around with something new to promote. They don't seem to care if anyone agrees with them or is willing to work with them. They act like they have no inhibitions, and will do whatever comes into their mind to do.
Sometimes someone else sees one of these ideas and recognizes its value. Quite possibly they had been thinking the same thing, but didn't have the nerve to try it on their own. But they are now willing to risk the possible embarrassment and join the first guy.
Then comes the all important 3rd guy in. He too is on the cutting edge. He has been watching carefully. He may not have had the initial idea, but he totally recognizes it as something of value. He knows it is powerful and needs to help it catch on. He knows his support will help add momentum. He knows people will begin to pay attention if he comes on board. He knows if he takes the plunge, others will find it easier to join in.
Guy #3 is probably the critical mass.
Guy #3 doesn't have to come up with the good idea.
He doesn't have to suffer the embarrassment of being the 'token' supporter of #1.
Guy #3 casts the deciding vote. Once he is in, it is incredibly easier for many more to come onside and be the "me-too's".
I want to be a guy #3.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I had an awesome chat with a young man a few nights ago. He was filling in as cashier at the local gas bar/convenience store. He was all excited about working on his pickup—he's already spent thousands on a pretty deadly sounding engine, and thousands more to go on body work, paint job, etc.
And he has all this money because he doesn't drink or do drugs.
Oh, he's tried pretty much everything, he said, but moved on.
I just had to commend him for his wisdom (having seen so many people who spend a bunch on that kind of stuff).
It was one of those connections that I'd really like to be able to continue. To be able to keep affirming him, to encourage him, to make sure he knows he is making some smart decisions, to see his truck as he works on it.
But sometimes those connections aren't to be.
I hope I see him again, but it might not happen.
Sometimes the only opportunity we have to say or do something is this opportunity. All we can be sure of is right now. We can't count on having another chance to say what we really want to say.

So, make the most of today.
Be positive and uplifting in your conversations.
Give compliments.
Buy someone coffee.
Smile lots.

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