“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
Isaiah 40:21-26 (The Message)
21-24Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening?Haven’t you heard these stories all your life? Don’t you understand the foundation of all things?God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants.He stretches out the skies like a canvas— yes, like a tent canvas to live under.He ignores what all the princes say and do. The rulers of the earth count for nothing.Princes and rulers don’t amount to much. Like seeds barely rooted, just sprouted,They shrivel when God blows on them. Like flecks of chaff, they’re gone with the wind. 25-26“So—who is like me? Who holds a candle to me?” says The Holy.Look at the night skies: Who do you think made all this?Who marches this army of stars out each night, counts them off, calls each by name—so magnificent! so powerful!— and never overlooks a single one?
I mostly sit back and just watch the political climate of America. I vote, I can give my opinion on matters of practicality, economic trends and my preferences, but that’s about it. Most fundamentally, “my kingdom is not of this world”. I don’t expect it to be, I don’t want it to be. My identity is set in a world that has come and a world that is yet coming. Deep rooted in my beliefs is that the King is coming back with a new heaven and a new earth, that is where my hope lies. I cannot buy into the church’s affiliation with political power systems, it is the worship of a foreign idol. Be it Republican, Democrat or Tea parties . . . they do not make the sun rise nor the seas roll. The One who does brings perspective. The manic pursuit of foreign idols is a life of being tossed back and forth by the wind with no center, nothing that gives gravity to one’s life. Root yourself in the one who doesn’t change. Root yourself in the one who is King of all reality, not just the land you happen to live in at this point in time. Root yourself in the One who gave you being, not the one who wants your vote and your treasures. Worship the one true God and you find living water that your soul thirsts for. Worship a foreign idol and you drink dry sand. I guess my heeding is be careful where you put your ultimate hope. God has reigned over the universe before America, and God will reign over the universe after America. We are but chapters to a greater story. With what little time we have, let’s not live it with all the wrong dreams. I swear singular allegiance to the the King. peace,marshall
I’m preparing a teaching reflection for the 2nd week of Lent and it has led me to the story of Joseph in Genesis. I have long found the narrative of Joseph’s life to be quite compelling. Can you imagine a more dysfunctional family? The Father clearly favors one son over the others, the son overplays his arrogance card, the brothers act out in defiance and sell their brother into slavery while bold-face lying to Dad. This is the stuff of FOX reality TV. In fact, the Jewish Scriptures are full of them. They were as we still are, they are us. Is there anything more painful than the experience of rejection? It has the power to be fatal to our personhood. Joseph has a concrete representation of his worth to his brothers, they sell him into slavery. Now, forever, if he chooses, he can buy into the lie that he is worthless and have a pretty good story to back up that accusation. When he finds himself in prison in Pharaoh’s kingdom, I can only imagine he had dark nights of the soul where he would rue his very existence. It is in these deep place of depression where we cannot see the big picture, our perspective is obliterated. Somehow, Joseph just made a decision to keep hoping about a future. Regardless of emotion and experience, he yet dreamed for something new about his future. And that day came.You can’t read Gen. 38 and the horror of Joseph’s rejection from his brothers without taking that in context with Gen. 45 and Joseph reconciling with them. In short, he deemed the situation, “what you meant for evil, God meant for good.” It was God who assigned Joseph to a different future in the kingdom. It was his leadershp at a high position that saved the kingdom from famine. It was his leadership that was carved out of a history of horrid rejection, dark nights of the soul and the turning away of the negative voices in his head. He fought for a different future and experienced a kind of resurrection. Hard times have the power to carve a good leader. It was also his choice to reconcile with his brothers. He could have cursed them and chose resentment, but he knew that was a poison to his soul. The Kingdom way is to bless, not to curse and in it you find a fountain of new life. In this time of Lent, search your heart for those who have wronged you. Choose to not listen to the false voices that want to dictate to you your worth. Fight for the thoughts about a new future, a resurrection. Choose to bless those who curse you and find your worth in the One who made you. I pray that new life springs up within your very soul. peace,marshall
Job 42:1-6 (The Message)
I Babbled On About Things Far Beyond Me
1-6 Job answered God: “I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans.You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head.You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
I find this a great reflection on this first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. The saying goes, “a wise man says there is a God, and I’m not him.” Knowing your place in the cosmos is both a humbling realization as well as a taste of true freedom. To know that ultimately we are not in control is both scary and exhilirating. I’m a type A personality, I like to be in control, making things happen and getting stuff done. But what also comes with that is the delusion that everything and everybody is your responsibility. That kind of thinking is folly and recipe for personal disaster. I had a graduate school professor who said with this kind of thinking, “you are a train wreck waiting to happen”. I’ve learend he was right. So on this Ash Wednesday, recognize your limits and surrender that sense of control. Ask yourself this question: Did you bring yourself into being? If not, then stop taking yourself so seriously and relax a bit. It’s not about you. The question is, if you let go, are the arms of the One who will hold you sufficient? That is the question of faith. And today, by faith, I’m letting go.peace,Marshall