1 Corinthinans 13…Remixed For Today


sevennotesofgrace

Thanks go to the folks at Blazing Center for this insightful application of 1 Corinthians 13:

If I status update with such insight, hilarity, godliness, or profundity, that I get a thousand retweets and likes, yet have not love, I’m a cellphone that won’t stop ringing, or a car alarm at 2 AM.

If I understand every nuance of every complicated doctrine, including eschatology and predestination, and am a constant defender of orthodoxy, and if I am renowned for my ability to communicate truth with passion, but have not love, I’m nothing more than a first grader in the kingdom of God.

If I am a fantastic worship leader, able to lead hundreds of people in passionate worship of God, yet have not love, my skills are worth jack.

If I am a blog warrior, constantly on the attack against those who would distort the faith, yet have not love…

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The Unadulterated Truth


There are some who absolutely declare that all religious roads lead to the same end. For these people the celebration of God comes in many ways and many forms. These conclusions are despite the fact that Christian foundations are quite different than the founding of other organizations and thoughts. However the difference in these sects is more than obvious especially when you consider the way that many of the organizations were started. For instance cultic organizations such as Buddhism and Islam were started by individuals said to have matured to the level of deity while in Christianity its founder is part of the Triune Godhead.

John 3:16 clearly shows that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not parish, but have everlasting life.” Academically and theologically terms such as “hypostatic union” can be used to show the relationship between God and His Son. The idea of “kenosis” can also be employed to show how Christ emptied somewhat of His attributes in order to walk with man. However the point of this essay is to call attention to the clear truth that there are stark differences between the God of love which is the Christian God and the purported god of peace which is the Islamic god. You see the God of love seeks only to reconcile man by way of acts of love such as the love Christ showed as he laid aside some of His attributes in order to live as man lives. Herein begins the juxtaposing of Christianity and Islam.

Love is the founding factor of Christianity. God loved and so He sent His Son. Christ so loved the world that He was in full agreement with the Father (I John 5:7) to the extent that He humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross. This was not out of hatred or disdain for mankind rather love became the hallmark of the ministry of Christ not to condemn the world but rather that the world through Him might be saved. This is not the case with the founder of Islam. Islam (by many accounts) was born out of its founder’s disdain for Christianity. This disdain was a great reason for the Crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries wherein it could be argued that Islam sought to overtake the world by ridding it of Christianity. It is doubtful that the Crusades were born out of love.

The practice of Christianity is to love fellow man. It is not to harm him rather the practice of Christianity is to embrace individuals while hating the sin. With this in mind compassion coupled with love creates for the Christian a life of showing the love of the Father by expressing love even to those that reject Christ. On the other hand millions have had blood spilled because of Islam and those that purport that terrorism is the act of a “religion of peace.” Love did not crash into the World Trade Center more than a decade ago. Love had nothing to do with imprisoning a pastor only because he was a pastor. Love was not shown when three men were beheaded only because they were not Islamic. Additionally acts of love do not seek to force submission rather love allows choices such as Christians choose to serve the One and only God.

The truth of the matter is that many Muslims seek to force their view on “infidels” or they will suffer dire consequences. Christians seek to compel through the Love of Christ. Herein is the difference between Christendom and Islam; the former prefers love while the latter seeks conformity by force and even death. There are no true Christians that seek harm of anyone; not even Muslims. Yet there are some Muslims who cling to the idea that the only good Christian is a dead Christian. In this is the unadulterated truth concerning those that choose Christ and those that prefer Islam; the one works with the idea of love bringing forth reconciliation while the other prefers destruction in the hopes of gaining seventy-two virgins. So, the question must be asked; who will you serve? The One true and living God or the god of this world? I must say as the prophet of old once declared and say that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.

Week Ten of the CPE Journey: The Audacity of Completion


August 22, 2014 is a day that will not soon be forgotten by me. It was the last day of my training as required by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). The four hundred hours of clinical and academic work was among the most intense four hundred hours of work of I have had in quite some time. The intensity was met with me being honoured to present the last worship service of the unit. As I began to prepare the homily I found it difficult to put on paper words that would adequately present the intensity of completion that was accomplished not by me alone but also my peers as we all traveled the CPE journey.

Despite my inability to properly pen proper words for the homily on that last day of CPE I could not help but think of Paul when he was winding up his ministry as he sought to encourage Timothy. In his charge to Timothy in II Timothy chapter four Paul says in part that he fought a good fight and kept the faith. This is to say that Paul endured many things during his ministry. He had to lay aside some of his own views in order to be effective in preaching the Gospel. This led him to journey down difficult roads which included Paul being shipwrecked, snake-bitten, imprisoned and other difficulties. Interestingly none of these things deterred Paul from meeting the task at hand. Paul completed what was required of him so that he could confidently declare that he had fought a good fight.

My peers and I have also endured a number of things in order to accomplish the mission at hand. While we were not shipwrecked or snake-bitten the trouble we endured was not for the faint of heart. We had the temerity to set our sights on completing CPE and would not relent despite the troubles that came our way. There were obstacles to be met both within and without the program. Some of us disclosed some of the trouble and yet there were many obstacles that were not mentioned but either me or my peers. Yet there was an absolute necessity to complete the task at hand. And so we labored tirelessly as we journeyed through the challenge of Clinical Pastoral Education.

I certainly can speak with no authority as to the totality of the obstacles of my peers yet I can say that looking over my life some might have counted me out many years ago. You see I was told my entire childhood that I was no good that that I would amount to nothing. I was the one in school that had few friends and was often the brunt of many jokes and the skinny kid that was the natural target of not just being bullied but also being beat up on multiple occasions. Certainly people such as my first grade teacher saw much good in me yet very few took time out to aid in positively molding this stuttering, quiet kid that just did not fit in any crowd. Even so it would seem that a tenacious attitude was being built for many years in the young loner that I was.

One might not have thought that a young skinny kid would do well in the United States Marine Corps. Unexpectedly this strong-willed young man became a strong young Marine and there was certainly no stopping from this point on. No, it was not easy even in the military but then there was no promise of an easy life. There was no suggestion that being a Marine would put to rest all of the worlds ills. In fact the contrary was the case as I was being molded not just to a Marine but also a man of character; a man of destiny and a man of audacity. I did not and would quit in boot camp and could not and would not quit on whatever else life had to offer. No, quitting was not an option and neither was holding to the idea that the quiet young boy would amount to nothing but nothingness.

There is no intent here to discuss my biography. That would take much more than an essay of around a thousand words. The intent here is to show that audacity is a necessary tool used to bring the best from all of us. You see there were some that said that I was not chaplain material. That would not stop me from walking toward that pull of ministry that is deeply imbedded in me. Yes, there were some that encouraged me to move forward but as in my childhood the idea of not pursuing was the drumbeat of others. There was even one peer who told me at least twice that I did not belong in the CPE program. Nonetheless my tenacious audacity would not allow me to march away from that which I knew was part of the work I had been working toward for a number of years. No, I could not listen to the dissenters rather I had to heed the call which is so much part of my life.

In heeding the call I walked through certain aspects of academia. More importantly my CPE journey led me to many people; some in beds and others sitting in chairs. I have talked with staffers including doctors, nurses and housekeepers. I have been on the bedsides of the dying and the crying. Some of those with whom I have ministered have been hurt physically while others were in emotional turmoil. Some just needed someone to talk to and others just needed the feeling of belonging. I have had the opportunity to minister to many while some have ministered to me. It has been a journey and a journey well worth taking.

No journey comes without bumps in the road. This is perhaps a point that Paul was making to Timothy. Undoubtedly Paul endured obstacles which may have seemed insurmountable. It is certain that many sought to discourage as well as ridicule Paul as he journeyed the road of pointing men to the Saviour. The tenacity of Paul serves as an example of all that have a need to persevere despite certain opposition. Giving up was an option Paul could not enjoy and I am certain that it is an option that the children of God cannot entertain. Determination is sometimes confused for stubbornness yet without determined audacity nothing will ever be accomplished.

No worthwhile journey comes with ease. Nothing is accomplished without some blood, sweat and tears. Yes there are sweet victories along the road of success and there are also bitter failures. Yet the failures are not reason enough to end a journey rather the failures make successes all the more sweet. So, as I have said in times past do not quit and don’t give in. Let God complete the work He has begun in you as you use that deep-seated audacity of completion to do the unique work that is for you and you alone.