Category Archives: Faith

Pick a fight

Media_httpordinarycom_egaii

“I’m going to pick a fight”  – from the movie Braveheart

Steven:  Fine speech. Now what do we do?William Wallace: Just be yourselves.Hamish: Where are you going?William Wallace: I’m going to pick a fight.Hamish: Well, we didn’t get dressed up for nothing.

 Tonight’s topic for class is in direct contrast to last week’s topic on suffering and the problem of evil.  Tonight’s topic is, “now what”?  So the world is full of pain, suffering and hate.   The waves crashing on our shore are both systemic and personified evil.  So what, what is our response?  Should we give up?  Should we shut the windows and lock the doors?  Should we lie on the canvas and wait to be counted out?  Perhaps we should do what the Christian bookstore new release titles tell us, hunker down and wait for Jesus to come back.  Dream of escapism and waith for glory in the by and by.  I mean its all just too hard, right?  Sit in fear and tremble in a dark corner?   . . . this is rubbish

John 20:1, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdelene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”

What do we do?  We frickin’ get up.  We get up off the canvas.  We rise to the darkness of the early morning.  If our enemy is riding out to meet us, then we give him the pleasure of our company.  Why?  Not because of us, but because of the One we follow is the Resurrection.  When things are hard, when times are dark, we have a nasty habit of RISING again! I encourage you to pick a fight.  Pick a fight with the cause that is written on your soul.  Whatever it is, whoever you are, for the sake of Christ, pick a fight.  Love and Hope is our rebellion.  Scream it into the places that seem lost, rage against the systems that are dehumanizing, resist the tyranny of inequality.   I’m choosing to get up today, I’m choosing to pick a fight.peace,marshall

A Spirituality of Waiting

Media_httpordinarycom_ubjgh

Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Waiting

“Waiting is not popular. In fact, most people consider waiting a waste of time. Perhaps this is because the culture in which we live is basically saying, “Get going! Do something! Show you are able to make a difference! Don’t just sit there and wait!” For many People, waiting is an awful desert between where they are and where they want to go. And people do not like such a place.” “But there is none of this passivity in Scripture. Those who are waiting are waiting very actively. They know that what they are waiting for is growing from the ground on which they are standing. That’s the secret. The secret of waiting is the faith that the seed has been planted, that something has begun. Active waiting means to be present fully to the moment, in the conviction that something is happening. A waiting person is a patient person. The word “patience” means the willingness to stay where we are and life the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there.” “To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our own imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wit actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.” 

This is not where I am at right now, but this is where I want to go. peace,Marshall

on waiting

Media_httpordinarycom_bojgj

5-6 I pray to God—my life a prayer—      and wait for what he’ll say and do.   My life’s on the line before God, my Lord,      waiting and watching till morning,      waiting and watching till morning.

Are you, like me, a terrible waiter?  By waiter, I mean one who is waiting.  It’s really neither an art nor a science, it’s a spiritual discipline and one that does not come natural to most of us.  Of course the culture is all about instant gratification and the promises for satsifaction that it sells, but it’s fools gold.  The best things in life are aged and vintage, not rapidly produced.  Quality and wisdom take time.   Shoddy craftsmanship and foolishness can be cranked out in a instance. 

I know that waiting is good, I know that waiting is godly, but it runs counter to my temperament.  The very process tells me that I’m not in control, there’s nothing I can do and no amount of productivity on my part will bring the results.  The results will come only in the waiting.

There was a time in my life, over a decade ago, that my journal was filled with this line:  “God, if you don’t come through, there will be no coming through.”  And I find myself there again.  My heart has copied and pasted those words to my mind today.  It seems, I thought I left this place in the woods, but through a series of twists and turns, I find myself here again.  Wishing, wondering, waiting . . . ultimately I”m hoping. 

If you are out there today, and you are waiting on something that is weighing on your soul, I’m in solidarity with you.  And as you wait, know that somehow it is yet good. 

 

peace,

marshall

Seasonless

 

Media_httpordinarycom_ayjdb

Celtic Daily Prayer, April 22, Aidan Reading:

“We are all very subject to seasons; yet these seasons are there to make us eventually seasonless.  There is only one way you are ever going to learn to triumph over all seasons, and that is to go through each and every season . . . many times.  When you can reckon the sound of abundant rain and the hot blowing of a dry spell exactly the same, then you will be nearing the land of maturity.”

To make us eventually seasonless . . . wow.  I like that.  That doesn’t come natural to this empassioned irishman, but I sure see the wisdom in it.  Typically, our approach in life is to avoid pain, suffering and all sorts of unpleasantries so that we can experience status quo or increased pleasure.  Rarely do we ground our experiences in the context of ongoing maturity.  That makes everything a teachable lesson and not something to rush through or avoid for personal safety. Ultimately, I follow Jesus because I believe his ways and his Kingdom are leading me back to the place I was always meant to be.  It is a pursuit of becoming more fully human, becoming the human I was always meant to be.  To do that, involves a process of “becoming mature” or “complete” as the apostle Paul put it.  this doesn’t happen overnight, this is my life’s work in all seasons.  That there come a day where my reaction and response to abundance and dry times is the same, all who know me will assuredly say that it’s not Chris, but Christ. peace,marshall

What is Truth?

Media_httpordinarycom_qxfzv


John 18:33-39:  (The Message)33Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”  34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?” 35Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?” 36“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.” 37Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”   Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.” 38-39Pilate said, “What is truth?”

What is truth?  Is there a bigger question in our lifetime?  I really don’t think so.  Your sense of truth is what undergirds your worldview.  Your worldview is your lens for your beliefs and your actions.  We all have them, we just might not know where they come from. I am personally enthralled with the search for truth.  I look for it under the stars on a clear night, I look for it in simple conversations with my kids, I look for it in the affection of my wife, I look for it in the deep conversations with friends around a fire, I look for it in every new experience life brings.  What I wouldn’t give to have been an aid to Pilate on that day.  I find the truth of Jesus to be utterly compelling, would have loved to have heard it from the inflection in his human voice.  To hear veritas (truth in greek) from one spoken with such conviction as he was completey separate from this world, his identity rooted in the Kingdom that is unseen.  I couldn’t be there that day, but I can be here today.  And today has similar revelations of veritas.  That I be open, mindful, expectant and thirsty for his kind of truth. On this holy week, my friends . . . . Seek the truth, and don’t accept counterfeits. peace,Marshall

Work as Sacrament

Media_httpordinarycom_zmthx

Today’s Aidan reading from Celtic Daily Prayer re: St. Columba’s residence in Iona Community:

“The days were filled with prayer, study and manual labor . . . In dairy, granary, or in the fields, each worshipped God in his appointed task, and made his toil a sacramental thing . . . The secret of the early Celts lay in this, that they linked sacrament with service, altar with hearth, worship with work.”  – F. M. McNeil/Troup 

 Wow, I’m a fan of this kind of thinking.  I am as guilty as the next person of having a bad attitude re: work.  I worked in vocational forms of ministry for about 10 years before somewhat firing myself for a life of being bi-vocational in ministry.  I just couldn’t stomach the focus on $ for church buildings and staff salaries when the needs were so great in the larger community around us.  I struggled for years with this shift internally, feeling that I had lost a huge part of my identity, of who I was.  Now I see all and any kind of work somewhat wholistically.  No separation of sacred and secular.  All work can be sacrament, that is sacred, holy, meaningful and done unto our Creator.  We may struggle with work structures, culture, organizational management, pressures, over-bearing coworkers, lack of respect, sense of being dehumanized etc.  But no matter the context, the desire to make work sacramenet I think is up to us.  I have longed believed that hard work is good for the soul.   I was in a meeting this week with a room full of life coaches, corportate speakers, HR consultants, inspirational cheerleaders, job seeking gurus etc.  It was all about them wanting to work with my clients to help them find fulfillment in their work etc.  There is some merit to this kind of coaching, but I really struggle with the premise.  I do not believe you look to work to find meaning, meaning is found within.  You have a life for meaning, you work to work .  Meaning is in relationships, work is for provision.  I believe the curse to man going back to the Garden of Eden that he will toil the land all his days is still a part of this broken world.  Women face pain in childbirth as a part of this curse and anyone (male or female) who are working to provide, will find work hard.  Work is supposed to feel like work and the sweat of our brow can be a holy thing. Work as sacrament, sacred and holy, it’s what we choose to make it. peace,marshall

a future already prepared?

 

Media_httpordinarycom_acfbw

I daily use Celtic Daily Prayer from Northumbria Community.  It is a monastic community on the north shore of England bordering Scotland.  I stayed there on a personal retreat a few years ago and it continues to have a hold on my thinking and my living.  They organized a prayer book and I’m a pretty big fan.  I have long been interested in Celtic Christianity and the legacy of St. Patrick.  I would say St. Patrick has influenced my spirituality as much as the Apostles.  It must be the Irish in me. I read this in Celtic Daily Prayer from today’s Aidan reading and it hit me between the eyes:

“I know the plans I have for  you, says the Lord, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)  God can take events of the past and weave them so skillfully inot a new plan for us that not only do we find there is a future for us after all, but it is as if there have been no wasted years.”Christ Before MeHe forever goes before us to prepare a place for us.  He is on the road we tread.  Where life is leading us, He has gone before.  Perhaps we have no clue about what lies ahead; we know who is ahead of us, so the future is not quite unknown.  – David Adam, The Edge of Glory

peace to your future,marshall

an honest complaint

Media_httpordinarycom_inhwn


“These are the times that try man’s soul.”  – Thomas Paine

7 O LORD, you deceived [b] me, and I was deceived [c] ;       you overpowered me and prevailed.       I am ridiculed all day long;       everyone mocks me.  8 Whenever I speak, I cry out       proclaiming violence and destruction.       So the word of the LORD has brought me       insult and reproach all day long. 9 But if I say, “I will not mention him       or speak any more in his name,”       his word is in my heart like a fire,       a fire shut up in my bones.       I am weary of holding it in;       indeed, I cannot.  12 O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous       and probe the heart and mind,       let me see your vengeance upon them,       for to you I have committed my cause.

Sometimes, this is just how you feel.

 peace,marshall

Are you not entertained?

Media_httpordinarycom_xsgru

“Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”  – Maximus in Gladiator

 Fans think twice about hero worship?  I’ll believe it when I see it.  Hero worship for our sportsmen and now women as well is thousands of years old.  We love our spectacle, we love our circus shows.  We want our neighboring mammals from the ocean to spend their lifetime in a bathtub leaving their context to amuse us for a price.  We love to be entertained and our appetites seemingly have no limits.  We shutter at an orca whale who turned on its trainer, but I myself have paid more than a few times to see it perform in the past and now it seems shameful.  Tiger Woods was the can’t miss marketing icon, clean and perfect like the Gillette shaver he promoted, until he wasn’t.  I am in no way pointing a finger at Tiger, the man is human and clearly had a lifestyle he now deeply regrets and the consequences are heavy.  My issue is the pedastal to begin with.  Perhaps Tiger believed his own hype, my beef is with the hype itself. None of this is new.  The Roman gladiator shows with animals also mauling their trainers.  They were mostly slaves, hoping to win their freedom, and if not, at least to taste some glory.  They were idolized as Rock Stars, sex objects and archaeologists have even found children’s dolls/playtoys in the shape/form of their favorite gladiator.  Babylon, Persia, Egypt and as far back as the Sumerians as we can tell, had some form of sport (usually violent) and hero worship.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sports, always have.  I love competition and respect and have a sense of awe about the talent of others.  But they are human beings and that’s all I’m looking for. What is it in us that wants to idolize?  Are there deep insecurities?  Is fantasy and escape more normative for us than reality?  Why are we so thirsty for amusement?  Why are we so bored with our own selves?  It seems to me to be an issue of meaning.  If we have no real meaning ourselves, if we are not living out our own grand story, then we are looking to latch onto someone else’s.  If we can’t live our own dream, we try and ride the glamorous coat-tails of someone else who seemingly is living theirs.  (although in the end we find it is often no dream for them either)  We live in a culture full of hype, hyperbole and consumer driven marketing.  You HAVE to see this, recognize it and get some appropriate distance from it or those seeking your $$ on TV will be the ones to dictate to you what your story is.  What you should feel, what you should care about, how you should vote, what you should buy, how you should live . . . etc.  Why do we let someone else, who does not have our interest in mind dictate our story?  This is why I ceased watching the news years ago, tired of them dictating to me what to care about with hype and hyperpole for ratings.  (that’s a rant for another day).Here’s the thing, you have all the power and resources within you to be a hero or heroine.  Let me say that again, YOU do, not someone else.  You can parent in such a way to leave a legacy of love and blessing.  You can neighbor in such a way that spurs a culture of generosity.  You can work in such a way that brings to life more than just your company’s mission statement.  You can teach in such a way that inspires introspective learning for life.  You can friend in such a way that you literally become someone else’s answered prayer.  You can spouse in such a way that the experience of Oneness breeds a daily deep affirmation of who you truly are and who you belong to.  You can have a life with meaning and purpose that everything you touch, say, do, feel, think, express and attempt is heroic.  Not someone else, you.  You just need to decided to do so, and decide that everyday.  Then it will be your story that is told for years to come.

“What we do in life echoes in eternity. ”  – Maximus in Gladiator 

That could be your life.  Don’t seek entertainment, seek personal meaning.peace,marshall

Psalm 143

I read this Psalm this morning and I felt a deeper connection to the thoughts from yesterday in Rejection and Resurrection.

Psalm 143  (The Message)

A David Psalm

 1-2 Listen to this prayer of mine, God; pay attention to what I’m asking.   Answer me—you’re famous for your answers!      Do what’s right for me.   But don’t, please don’t, haul me into court;      not a person alive would be acquitted there. 3-6 The enemy hunted me down;      he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life.   He put me in a black hole,      buried me like a corpse in that dungeon.   I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away,      my heart heavy, like lead.   I remembered the old days,      went over all you’ve done, pondered the ways you’ve worked,   Stretched out my hands to you,      as thirsty for you as a desert thirsty for rain. 7-10 Hurry with your answer, God!      I’m nearly at the end of my rope.   Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me!      That would be certain death.   If you wake me each morning with the sound of your loving voice,      I’ll go to sleep each night trusting in you.   Point out the road I must travel;      I’m all ears, all eyes before you.   Save me from my enemies, God—      you’re my only hope!   Teach me how to live to please you,      because you’re my God.   Lead me by your blessed Spirit      into cleared and level pastureland. 11-12 Keep up your reputation, God—give me life!      In your justice, get me out of this trouble!   In your great love, vanquish my enemies;      make a clean sweep of those who harass me.   And why? Because I’m your servant.

peace,marshall