Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sometimes life sucks

Sometimes my life is good, but since a friend is struggling with something, then life still sucks, just not my life.

And then, sometimes it seems that life is really quite OK. Things kinda fall into place. The things that matter to you also matter to other people, and together you can git er done.


CARTS Victoria is a local street outreach that I have been a part of for about 4 years. It’s been around for over 7. CARTS stands for Christian Actions Reflecting The Spirit. And it also stands for the green four-wheeled wagons that we pull around the streets of Victoria once a week bringing food, clothes, and love to our street family.

CARTS was started by two wonderful ladies. Sisters. As one person put it, ‘They aren’t nuns, but they are saints.’ For over 7 years most of what CARTS is has operated out of their home, their garage, a shed in their back yard, their kitchen, their car, their time, their energy. You get the picture. Sure, others of us help, but it was still them doing most of the work.

A few weeks ago we heard from the company that operates the downtown parking lot where we gathered every week (before heading out on the streets) that we were no longer welcome in their lot. They had their reasons, and that is fine, but it nudged us to a place where we had several decisions to make.

Today we had a meeting of many of our volunteers (about 25 or so). We needed, among other things, to relieve the load that these 2 dear ladies had carried for these 7+ years.

And together, we figured out a new scenario that looks like it is going to work well for everyone.

The two ladies still will have an opportunity for their passion and compassion to reach out to the streets, but more of us will share the load.

I knew we could figure it out, but I didn’t know if we had the people power to take up the slack. I really didn’t know if we would still be CARTS, or if things would need to be scaled back so much that we would kinda fizzle.

But, we were of a mind to git er done! New ideas, sorting out of who we really are, and a willingness to take responsibility.

We still have more decisions to be made, but we made some great strides today.
Sometimes life sucks.

But not today.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wheat and weeds

So, if we aren't supposed to be making enemies (For or against), what does Jesus tell us about dealing with things/people we may not think are correct?

Well, another of his stories comes to mind. And this one has always seemed a little strange to me as well.
Here it is: Matthew 13:24-30.
He told another story. "God's kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.
That night, while his hired men were asleep, his enemy sowed thistles all through the wheat and slipped away before dawn.
When the first green shoots appeared and the grain began to form, the thistles showed up, too.
"The farmhands came to the farmer and said, 'Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these thistles come from?'
"He answered, 'Some enemy did this.' "The farmhands asked, 'Should we weed out the thistles?'
"He said, 'No, if you weed the thistles, you'll pull up the wheat, too.
Let them grow together until harvest time. Then I'll instruct the harvesters to pull up the thistles and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.'" (The Message)

However you understand the weeds (ideas, sins, people), the fact remains. Jesus said we are to leave the weeding up to him.

But what about....?
I don't know. I just see here that Jesus is more worried about the life of the wheat than the death of the weeds.

By the way, I see a similarity with 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 where Paul talks about “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble”, where God will identify what is good and what isn't.

Yes, he definitely wants us to be of value, to be legitimate and 'rightly divide the word of truth'. But I've seen an awful lot of un-Christlike attitudes and actions masquerading as an obsession with truth.

And my hope that people learn to get along (last post) means that both you and I will have to be less concerned about fault finding, and more concerned about encouraging each other—even if we don't agree. That's easy for me to encourage you to do, but not nearly so easy to encourage myself to do.

Friday, August 6, 2010

For or against

I find it so easy to worry about someone else's orthodoxy. To see their theology as being wrong, their philosophy as wrong, their style as being wrong. If not wrong, then at least as less valuable or right than mine, and in need of being changed.

As I find my own understanding of things being adjusted, I want to see everyone else see things the same way I do. I have seen the light, so should you.

And if you don't (or won't), I shouldn't have anything to do with you. Since you aren't in complete agreement with me, I should consider you as an enemy, an outcast. How can my light have fellowship with your darkness?

I know this isn't the right way to look at such things, and I'm working on it. I really try to emphasize relationships over orthodoxy, friendships over 'truth'.

But somehow it still seems skewed and twisted. Shouldn't I be standing up for correct doctrine, making sure truth prevails? Isn't it my responsibility to keep the faith pure?

Well, no. At least not to that extent.

The church is already divided. Very divided. There are around 38,000 (or more) Christian denominations. Every one probably claiming to be more correct than everyone else. Every one probably claiming to have God and the Bible on their side.

But today I was reminded of Jesus' words in Luke 9: 49 and 50.
And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid [him] not: for he that is not against us is for us. (KJV)

John spoke up, "Master, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't of our group." Jesus said, "Don't stop him. If he's not an enemy, he's an ally." (The Message)

The parallel passage in Mark 9:38-40 (The Message):
John spoke up, "Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group."
Jesus wasn't pleased. "Don't stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down.
If he's not an enemy, he's an ally.

I've wondered about these verses before. Is Jesus really telling us that we can be friends, even if we disagree? Yes.
Is he suggesting that it is more important to dialog than to debate? You betcha.
Is he encouraging us to look for similarities instead of differences? Absolutely.
Is he telling us that being right isn't the most important thing? That's the way it looks to me.

It's long past time to drop the arrogance, to stop crying “Foul” every time someone has a different take on something than we do.
It's time to get down off our soapboxes and start shaking hands.
It's time to look for friends instead of enemies, those who are with us, not against us.

Sure, God probably has a list of absolutes, those things that determine whether someone is 'in' or 'out', whether they are with us or not.
But I'm sure that list isn't based on the criteria that many Christians would like to use. It's not as nit-picky as we tend to be.

Our responsibility is to love each other. We can leave the sorting out up to God.

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