Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Planted, Nourished and Sustained

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:9–12

Jesus described the relationship between him and those who choose to follow him as being like a vine and a branch – he the vine, the root, we the branches, we emerging from him, the source of our existence, growing and receiving our sustenance from him, our vine. Jesus’ words are beautiful and poetic, but they are so much more. They are, in fact, the key to everything; contentment and well-being in every areas of our lives; our marriages, our kids, our friendships, our ministry, our work, our faith, our life and our death – everything.

The reality of the human condition is that each of us looks to things other than Jesus for the source of our happiness, contentment, well-being and sustenance, we ask them to play a role they were never intended to play and in the process distort them even as we ourselves become distorted.

I love my wife; she is my best friend. But if I look to her to be the source of my well-being and contentment, I will either control her so that she will be the person I want her to be, or I will avoid conflict -- even necessary conflict – for fear that my well-being will be threatened. In either event, I will end up looking for her to provide something for me that she was never intended to provide and rather than who she really is, thus burying things that need the cleansing air and light of discussion. If, on the other hand, I look to Jesus for sustenance, to Jesus as the source of well-being, that well-being will not be jeopardized by conflict, and any conflict that there is, will be infused with the peace of God’s never-wavering acceptance and love.

Jesus says, “Remain in me.” Rest, come back when you get disconnected, return, seek, sit in my presence, rest in me, listen, abide. Only then will you will be free to love; free to be the husband, child, friend, minister, teammate, employer, boss . . . that I created and called you to be; freed from the things that claim to be sources of well-being but that in the end cause you to chase, worry and strive; free, because you are connected to me, the source of love and life itself.

It starts and ends with abiding in the vine, abiding in Christ. We move toward abiding by seeking ways that connect us to Jesus; reading the Bible, prayer, silence, giving, singing, fasting, and more (all with an idea of entering the presence of God). It is not a list of how to be a better Christian; rather, it is learning to abide in Jesus, our only hope for contentment, and a worry-free (not problem-free) life. This life is not just possible for every single person, but promised by Jesus himself as we abide in him.

- How’s that going for you today?
- Do you believe that is possible?
- Do you believe that promise?
- Are you connected to God, to the vine? - If not, why not?
- Be honest, do you believe Jesus’ promises in John 15 and elsewhere?
- What could you do to learn to abide in Jesus?
- How have you connected with God in the past?
- How can we, or others, help you do so now.

Let me know your thoughts, share your thoughts with others – we need to share our stories of success and failures so that we can grow together.

Peace, hope and love


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Living Legacy

I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. - 2 Timothy 1:3–6

The passage above talks about the legacy of faith passed to Timothy from his grandmother and his mother, a gift of God, handed down to a young man by two very important people in his life, and resulting in thankfulness for a man, Paul, awaiting execution in prison; a very powerful legacy.

When was the last time you thought about your legacy? Have you ever done so? When I say, “legacy,” I am referring to the impact you have on others, which goes beyond you; past your control, perhaps past your ability to observe or even know about, maybe even past your life. What is your legacy?

Legacy is not an optional thing, which only some people have. It is something that everybody has, something that is always being created and extended. Within each of us exist pieces of other’s legacy even as we creating pieces that reside in others. And yet, we rarely think about it. Let’s change that. Let’s think about our legacy and be intentional about living into our responsibility toward others and toward our world.

Legacy is a responsibility, both individually and collectively.

- What is your legacy?
- Who is your legacy?
- What is our legacy?
- Who is our legacy?