Journey with Me

Journey with me through lives,
brimming with faith and fear.
Discover with me where God dwells,
encountering terror and tears.
Walk with me among ancient ruins,
echoing voices dreaded and dear.
Lean with me over an edge,
beckoning us to come ever so near.

The Risk of Fear

O Man of flesh and bone, dread and cares,
Where can thy mind flee in despair?
O Lord of hope and life, love and tears,
What perils Thy heart surely bears.
O Demons of terror and night, loss and fears,
With our failing faith in your lair.
O Spirit of fire and wind, mystery so near,
In Thee my anxious soul repairs.

We encounter risks everyday.  Risks such as crossing the street, lighting a stove, traveling by plane, and eating food are just part of life, and thus, we rarely give a second thought to the dangers of these acts.  These risks are routine and even though the possibilities of accidents, explosions, crashes and food poisoning are certainly real, we take these risks without anxiety or dread.  We have to go to work, cook, travel, and eat, so we press on without much thought of the risks involved.  If we did not accept these risks and move on, we would find ourselves in a continual neurotic state, unable to carry out the functions of a normal life.  But there is another kind of risk that frightens us to the core. Continue reading

Adrift at Sea

For many reasons, a good number of people around and close to me have lost hope. Hopelessness can be seen on their faces, heard in their voices. The weight of loss sits on their slumped shoulders and is seen in their sad eyes. A variety of weighty matters fuel their loss – bad economic news, dismal job prospects, family conflict, deteriorating health, broken relationships, and failed dreams. The people, places, and prospects that once filled their lives and gave them purpose have collapsed beneath them. These friends now drift on a sea of hopelessness, not sure of where they are going or what is beyond the horizon. Their loss of hope is more than a funk or a phase. It is a deep malaise that engulfs and rules.

Continue reading

Fear this, not that

The Church should fear God and not fear the world.  But only if and as it fears God need it cease to fear the world.  If it does not fear God, then it is not helped at all but genuinely endangered if it fears the world, listens to its oppositions, considers its attitude, and accepts all kinds of responsibilities toward it, no matter how necessary and justified may be the criticism it receives from this quarter. CD, I/1, pp. 73-74

Fear, the most basic and pervasive of human emotions, operates in two modes.  Fear of the first order manifests itself as a strong, unpleasant emotion caused by realized or anticipated danger or dread.  Whether rational or irrational, founded or unfounded, fear in this form is a terror, horror, or panic that captures us and puts everything into question. Continue reading

Which Mission? Whose Mission?

The world as we know it is rapidly changing.  Current economic, demographic, technological, and political changes can cause our heads to spin.  Yet, one change that may not be as obvious is that the American context is becoming less and less Christian, especially in the way Christianity has been traditionally understood and followed.  People are asking such questions as “Why bother with church?”  “What has the Christian faith to do with the real problems of life?”  In some quarters, the questions are not as benign.  These people aggressively ask, “Why are Christians so bigoted, narrow-minded, and anti-everything?”  Studies show that while there is a growing interest in matters spiritual, Christianity and the church are increasingly viewed as irrelevant or passé, especially when it comes to our collective lives as Americans.

So, how are Christians to respond to this new reality?  Continue reading

The Will to Control

The will to control … is it good or bad, necessary or excessive?

Being in control is good, isn’t it?
-When I am in control, I am able to make sure that what is best actually happens.
-When I am in control, I am able to effect the most beneficial outcomes.
-When I am in control, I am responsible and productive.
-When I am in control, I am able to effectively lead others.
-When I am in control, I able to prepare and execute plans.

Being out of control is not good, is it?
-When I am out of control, I cannot predict or anticipate what will happen next.
-When I am out of control, the outcomes are not always the best.
-When I am out of control, I look irresponsible and lazy.
-When I am out of control, others do not benefit from my leadership.
-When I am out of control, my plans come undone.

Most everything is beyond my control, isn’t it?
-When things around me fall apart, I realize I really do not control what happens.
-When my controlled outcomes hurt others, I see that I don’t always know what is best.
-When I fear looking irresponsible and unproductive, I am overly concerned with image.
-When I have to control others in order to lead, I am manipulative and scheming.
-When my plans come undone, unintended and uncontrolled forces take over. Continue reading

Violent Roots

Church history recounts too many acts of violence carried out in the name of Christianity.  Self-identifying Christians throughout the ages have employed threats, coercion, censure, shunning, imprisonment, and even torture and murder to force conversions, to enforce particular brands of orthodoxy, and to persecute non-believers.  Those who should have known better did not do better.  Instead, they behaved in ways worst than most non-believers and thus betrayed the cause of Christ. Continue reading

No Partiality!

A culture of abuse and slander swirls around us and seeks to poison our view of the world. Via the internet, television, printed materials – from politicians, talk show hosts, good ole boys, and even well-meaning people – we are told that Muslims, Democrats, homosexuals, illegal aliens, and others are less than human, represent the dregs of society, and are not worthy to live. In shrill tones, these voices shout – Fear! Protect! Attack! Continue reading