Thursday, October 19, 2006

Walk with me

I enjoy very much my walks with my dog after a long day of teaching. He is so excited to see me when I get home, whining and following me around the house until I'm changed and ready to go. Sometimes I play or run with him, but usually he's content to just walk and mostly do his own thing as long as I'm not too far away. If I change direction during the walk, I give him a quick signal and he jumps to obey, running ahead on the new path.
Is that something like how youth would act if we really spent time with them in relationships? Is that how I should respond to the direction that God is giving me from His Word? Of course this is a loose illustration, but what if I could learn something from this?
Talking with the Spanish teacher the other day, he noted that his students made critiques on an assigned reading but never actually read the whole thing. They would make a note from the first sentence of a paragraph, thinking that the author would continue in one direction, but because they never bothered to finish, they didn't know that he went another direction entirely. Do students want to learn or are they just doing the minimum amount to complete the assignment?
Monitoring a study hall today, I see that some students are working on a study of the book of Acts. Their interest is much more centered on what they will be wearing to the next social event or on the scores of yesterday's soccer matches. Is there any application to the events of the 1st Century A.D. in our appearance or our daily activities? Should we be getting clues as to how to behave and what to think about from somewhere or Someone?

Excuse me for a few minutes - I think I hear Someone calling me for my daily walk...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Thoughts on Freedom

I was watching "King Arthur" a while back, with Richard Gere and Sean Connery and was again impressed by the misconception of what "freedom" means and how the falacy is consistently taught by the media. When I think of freedom, I think of the ability to interact with people and inpact each other's lives because there are commonalities in our language and personal experiences. These "limits" enable us to communicate effectively. Without a code for behavior and meaningful communication we lose the potential to interact "freely" in society. I want the freedom to communicate honor, integrity and value to my friends, neighbors, and even those I don't know. I want to be free to daily reaffirm my humanity and the relationship I have with each person as a part of God's creation. When I act "independantly" without respect for consequences or without a desire to be understood or understand, or without respect for the value of others and their perspectives, then I am not free, but rather enslaved to my ego and disconnected from everything of value.

Watching Gueneviere struggle with her feelings between the great King Arthur and the handsome, brave Lancelot, I can only feel pity for her conflicting desires. She wants to be a great queen and honor a noble King (who she apparently loves) on one hand and, on the other, feels a passion which she is unable to control. Am I not often in the same situation? I want my passions to be subject to my heart! I want my heart to be a slave to a noble calling! I want to live in a freedom that connects my life to something of eternal value and consequence! I want freedom to prosper in a community of those who value life and meaningful communication.

Our Journey (looking back)

Paul went to Spain in 1998 and, because I was single, I used the title “Paul’s Journeys” for my newsletters. I liked it a lot because it made a reference in my mind to the great apostle Paul and his famous missionary journeys described in the book of Acts. That Paul also had a dream of going to Spain (see Romans 15:22-24) and may have gotten there; although, we can’t be sure. So, if he was not able to go in the 1st Century A.D., at least I was. Then, when I was blessed with a wonderful wife, I could no longer use “Paul’s Journeys”. That meant that I needed a new title for OUR newsletters that could be a little more inclusive and describe well who we are and what we are doing.
Ellie and I love to travel; and we meet many people while we travel. I have some good friends who I met while bicycling in Ireland in the summer of 1997. A couple years later I went to visit them in northern Germany and met a brother who has visited us in Spain a few times. This kind of thing happens more frequently these days until it seems that most of the people I know I have met on the way to somewhere else!
That is how God brings people into our lives. It doesn’t mean that we should wander aimlessly through life expecting God to fill it with purpose or letting chance control our relationships and activities. It does mean that God loves to surprise us with good things and that He uses opportune moments and meetings to teach and sometimes redirect us. If we do not have a destination, how will we ever arrive anywhere?
My mom often quotes from Genesis 24:27: And he said, "Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master’s brethren."
So, where is our journey taking us next? We plan to make a difference in our world and expect God to bring those people into our life that He chooses to help us, challenge us, and teach us. Where are you hoping to go today?

What is a journey?

What is a journey?
It's more than a destination, this is an enjoyment of the process of moving from one place to another over a long period of time and the revelations and decisions along the way. It's having a goal in mind and being surprised, furious, perplexed, and
delighted at various stages. It's coming to a new understanding of yourself, your world and eternal purposes with each new step. Sometimes it's a radical change in direction or big detours or roadblocks. Sometimes it is joyful rememberance of past victories or tearful reminders that we didn't learn the lesson well enough. Sometimes it hurts to keep going. Sometimes we want to stay at this spot forever with joy and beauty all around us. Let me tell you a story of two men a long time ago at one stage of their journey to help illustrate:
As the story goes, there were two men walking home one day and they were very confused about the events they had seen over the weekend. Suddenly, somone came alongside to walk with them. They really didn't know who it was, but the words he said made an incredible impact in their hearts. Well, since it was getting late, they invited him to stay the night. Then, as they were eating together, the truth of the things he told them finally clicked with the reality of who this man was. All their previous expectations had been shattered and their sorrow as well in one glorious moment. They thought they were going in one direction for a particular reason, but it was actually for a different purpose altogether! Look up Luke 24:32 to see their reaction and what they decided to do afterward.

What do you think? How would you have reacted? Do you have a story of how this man has impacted you with the truth? That is a real "journey of joy"! Ellie and I will be sharing our journey of joy with you through these postings. We welcome your interaction, questions and comments.