Hearing the Music

Heat, Health, and Hearing

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A few random strains of thought for you this week. On the top of my list is Heat (and escaping the heat). It has been quite a string of 90 degree days for us Michiganders. Lisa and I are getting ready to head out camping for a couple of weeks and are looking forward for a break from the heat along the lakeshore. I am grateful for the rhythms of rest, including vacations, that are built into the life of humanity, and we are looking forward to our time to disconnect.

Second thought is Health. Some of you know that our daughter Lydia has sort of a complicated health history. Mostly she is fine; a fully functioning, delightful young adult, but underlying this somewhere at the metabolic level things are not 100%. This foundational metabolic code, which most of us rarely think about, can trigger some scary episodes for her. We had another different sort of episode this week as she passed out unexpectedly and was unresponsive for close to 3 hours. We have appreciated your thoughts, prayers and expressions of love as we seek to help her navigate these challenges. As I sit in the hospital with her and think about these things I am struck by how spiritually we can be on an underlying level not 100%. All can look well on the surface, but deep down we experience imbalances that can cause us to crash. Sometimes these are triggered by events on the surface (i.e. loss or conflict), and other times our crashes seem to come out of the blue. Either way, it is a reminder that we all have this spiritual level that, though we do not always think about it, gives shape to our lives. 

Finally, a thought about Hearing. As we think about the kind of nutrition that our spiritual metabolism is in need of, we come to the Word of the Lord. Romans 10:14reminds us of the connection that exists between the kind of metabolic, Gospel belief we need and our hearing the Word of God. It is only as we hear, read, and feed on the Word of God that the nutrients we need for life are transferred. I think of this as we come to our passage for this Sunday, 2 Kings 4, and the picture of the remnant community that we see in it. Various people, with various needs, who all ultimately find their answers through the Word. I also think of the importance of hearing the Word in connection with our new ministry partners, Campus Outreach (CO). If you have not heard much about our new partnership with CO, I invite you to take a listen to this podcast. This is a group that is passionate about sharing the good news with folks that have not heard. Much more is to come on CO!

It is great to walk this journey with you. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday, but also looking forward to a couple of weeks away. 

Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

Free to Love

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While the celebrations will be a bit different this year, many of us will spend time this weekend celebrating with friends and family the independence of our country. We will spend time thanking God for the freedoms that we enjoy, especially the opportunity to worship our Creator without fear of persecution. It is a wonderful thing to live in a country that supports such freedoms, especially as we see so many other places in the world where the picture is much different. Thank You Lord for our Freedoms.

But with these freedoms comes great responsibility. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Galatians, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14). Here the Lord, through Paul, rightly reminds us that freedom is not the absence of constraint whereby we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. But rather freedom is the opportunity to be the people that God has created us to be, and called us to be in Christ, operating within the parameters that He has laid within us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it like this:

In the language of the Bible, freedom is not something man has for himself, but something he has for others… it is not a possession, a presence, an object… but a relationship and nothing else. In truth, freedom is a relationship between two persons. Being free means “ being free for the other,” because the other has bound me to him. Only in relationship with the other am I free. (Creation and Fall, Temptation p.37)

I am sure that you see how this Biblical notion of freedom challenges both the right (free to acquire all the wealth I can) and the left (free to use my body any way I want) of our present cultural moment. Rather than a freedom from restraints, our freedom has bound us to Christ (Romans 6:18). It is in following His path that brings life, peace and a heart free from condemnation (Romans 8:1-6). As we lean into this truth, every day becomes Independence Day!

I look forward to seeing many of you Sunday or to being seen by you through video. We will be looking at a relatively little known passage in 2 Kings 3 in which Israel’s kings go to war against Moab. And while we see the mixed hearts of the human actors in the story, God once again shows up to remind us that only as we seek Him will we experience true blessing!


Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Happy Anniversary

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Whose anniversary are we celebrating? Why, ours, of course! That’s right, 6 years ago this coming Sunday I was installed as minister of Christ Church. It is hard to believe that 6 yrs have elapsed. Since we have been here we have had 4 kids graduate from high school. We have fostered about a dozen kids and the Lord has added Moses to our family. We have been in your homes, you have been in ours. We have seen God work in our church community; in exciting ways and in ways that have stretched us. We have met each other on mountaintops and in valleys. We have been the source of one another’s delight and we have been the occasion of each other’s discouragement. These are the realities of life together. By God’s grace we will have many more years to search out the scriptures for the deep things of grace and have the opportunity to practice them together in our community.

While these occasions do not always call for outward celebration or even recognition, I do try to use them as an opportunity for reflection. Right now the thing I feel the most weight of is the calling to serve God’s people. I have been an ordained minister for over 20 years now and I can honestly say I have never experienced a season like this one. The disruption and uncertainty brought about by the pandemic and the various responses to it, the divisions that exists politically in our country AND in our churches over proper response to cultural issues, the pain being expressed as these divided groups hurt one another, the frailty and fallenness on display amongst my fellow brothers in the ministry; each of these points to a desperate need for divine intervention. With Isaiah I say “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Is. 6:5). With Paul I cry out, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:16)

But here is the hope, “thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). We look at our selves and we see feet of clay and hearts of wax. But, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, our covenant making and covenant keeping Lord, there is always hope. Remember, the light has shone in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it (John 1:5)! It is this Light that guides us. It is this Light that sustains and shines through us. So let us together keep seeking the Light. Let us keep short accounts with one another that we may be long on grace. And may it be that God would spread through us the fragrance of the Gospel.

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