fitting in

One ongoing struggle in my life has been the problem of not fitting in. I am thinking in terms largely of thought from which practice or life formation can come. So I have ended up gravitating to churches which while taking a particular stance, the least being adherence to Christian orthodoxy, gave room to think within that commitment.

I am more than a bit wary of the idea that one can find a church tradition or even another person with whom they’ll see eye to eye with on everything. Such expectation is not only unrealistic but unhealthy as well. What is promoted is some sort of cookie cutter mentality. One can’t think or become settled into a faith of their own and therefore may have little or no faith whatsoever.

A crucial balance to this is to avoid the notion that what others think and believe doesn’t matter or is of little worth. When we become aware of differences that do seem significant what is then needed is some kind of discourse, ongoing conversation, talking it through. In the course of that there may be some change or modification of one’s thinking, perhaps a consensus reached with the other. But again how the church especially at large has read the Bible should never be dismissed. It at least should be respected even if it is not followed to the letter.

In the end finding our place in fitting into the whole is important.  Maybe we would be content enough to remain where we’re at, but for some reason we can’t settle in. Perhaps the Lord is seeking to nudge us in a different direction.

In this life I not only doubt that there can be perfect agreement on everything, but again I see such a hope as doomed to frustration. But by God’s grace in Jesus by the Spirit we can find our place to be planted where we can grow and bear much fruit with others. As the Lord’s church in and for the world to the glory of God.

 

doing well where we’re planted

Years ago I heard a preacher say that if the Lord would have called them to be a dairy farmer (or something of the like), they would have wanted to be the best dairy farmer they could possibly be, to the glory of the God. That has stuck with me over the years. I don’t do what I really want to do in life, and that’s been true for a long time. I did not get Bachelor and Master degrees to be working in a factory. I am a reader, love to teach, and actually love to pastor, and am a bit of klutz when it comes to using my hands, unless it is a job I have to do day in and day out. Then the degree of athleticism I have helps, and added on to that my parents’ ethic of hard work from sun up to sun down so to speak.

I hope I don’t share this to toot my own horn. Actually at work we are a team, and we mesh together pretty well I think, with all our strengths and weaknesses. The point I’m wanting to make is that in Jesus we are called to bloom where we’re planted. I think this is a big part of the work of the Spirit of God in our lives. Whatever we do we’re to do to the glory of God.

Many of us don’t do what we had really hoped to do. The question becomes: Are we learning to do well the task at hand? And another pertinent, and in fact important question: Are we learning to do what pleases the Lord? And related: Do we know what he has called us specifically to do? Our work and our lives should have the mark of Jesus on them. Everything should be a witness of our faith, how we live, with all the tussles that come with that.

Is there a time to move on and do well elsewhere? Of course there is, though the younger generations seem much more accustomed and acclimated to that than does my generation. We need to work hard, “with all our hearts,” in whatever we’re called to do, And thoughtfully, as those serving our Lord.

And so we want to be the best we can be in whatever we do, in God’s eyes. Together in Jesus in this for the world.

finding one’s niche

I remember years back a lady telling me that I was a late bloomer. She was right, although I still really hadn’t found where I fitted, my niche. One can do well in this or that, in a good number of things, yet still not really find both their gift and calling. I am thinking particularly of God’s people in Jesus. When I say gift, I don’t mean that the gift one has or is from God won’t include more than one gift or gifting. I would think that most every follower of Jesus would be gifted from God in at least a couple of ways. When I say gift, I am referring to a gift by the Holy Spirit, no less than supernatural, something which hits home from God. This doesn’t mean God can’t bless our works in other areas apart from our gifting, but it does mean that God is particularly in the work we do in our gifting.

I don’t think God makes it hard to find our gift. We can ask ourselves what we really like to do, what we find joy in doing. I also think we need to be in community with others, so that they might see in us something we may not notice ourselves. The right influence, guidance and encouragement early on could make a world of difference. It is possible for one to miss their gift by not having the needed input and not developing it, partly often because it is seen as nothing special. I believe this is in part what happened to me over decades, though I’m not sure how to look at or assess all of that.

In the end we in Jesus are all in this together. We work together, our gifts to help each other, as well as to help others. Together in Jesus for the world.

 

 

needing rest

Lately I have felt quite tired physically. And rather down. Though I’m blessed to work for and with a Christian ministry, and have a good job, the factory work takes its toll. We have our daughter and granddaughter with us now. And I am kind of having my last mid-life crisis at an older age for sure. Ha.

I have kept the blog going day after day, and actually much enjoy trying to write out of the goal of sharing my heart and mind with reference to the faith. So actually I hope to keep this up, the Lord willing.

At the same time I know that I don’t have any special expertise nor degree other than the Master of Divinity I have from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Theology from Prairie Bible Institute. I wanted to be a pastor at one time, still like to do pastoral things, I do a meeting most every week at an area nursing home. I like to teach. And love to read, especially to dwell on scripture itself.

There is quite the theological swirl going on nowadays to the point that it is hard to keep up, in fact I don’t even try anymore. I have my niche hopefully, small as it is, but we each have our work to do.

I would like to find my place into some work and ministry in which I could have a regular part. I have teaching in me, and it must come out. So I’d appreciate any prayers.

And we all need to pray and wait on God, seeking to live and move by his leading in and through Jesus by the power of the Spirit, together for the world.

let it come

Then the Lord said to [Moses], “What is that in your hand?”

There are special things for us to do, something good to accomplish, if we only have our eyes open, the eyes of our heart.

Of course this presupposes a call from God, which we all have in Christ. In the case of Moses it was a call which was ultimately missional, as well as communal.  Today it is in terms of the church and the church’s mission from God to live out, witness to, and proclaim the gospel of King Jesus.

We each have our special part to do to contribute to the whole of this. We need to let it come in the sense of not pressing the matter, and yet being ready to be obedient in faith to the calling, often given to us as an urging of something we actually want to do. Mixed with that is the realization that in and of ourselves, we can’t do it. That can make us reticent to do it. Case in point: Moses (click link above to see the passage).

Our part is to humbly move in faith. God will lead and help us. As we find our place and part together with others in Jesus for the world.

finding life in what one does

My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.

I know this might go against the grain, though I hope when I’m finished it actually does not. The other day I was struggling inside. I suppose on the outside everything looked fine, but on the inside I felt like I was falling apart, or simply was not together enough to carry on well. I turned to “writing” in the simple way I do in anticipation of an extra post in blogging. And it seemed that I came to life and all seemed well. It seems I had met God, or God had met me as I was doing that work, or what I might sometimes call play.

What brings you to life, or what do you do in which God seems to be present?

Now of course it is not our work or what we do which gives us significance. That comes from God by creation and God in Christ by new creation (not that Christ isn’t just as much involved in creation, because he indeed was). No, we don’t find our significance there. However we do find God again by pulling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty, so to speak, in the work into which we’re called.

Our general calling is with things we have in common with all others in Jesus, such as praying together, loving each other as Jesus loved us, serving others, etc. Our specific calling is in line with the gift God has given us. Some are multi-gifted, and it could well be, I think likely is, that we all have more than one gift. But we each do have a special gift from God for the good of others. What gift we have lines up with our calling.

The danger here is that we can fall into the error of supposing that it is what we do that is significant, and gives us significance.  If we’ve fallen into that, we do well to stop, step back, and simply rest awhile. We need to live and work out of the rest we have in Jesus. Our significance comes in relationship, not in the nuts and bolts of work. And yet our work can be, indeed should be an aspect of that relationship, motivated by love for God and for our neighbor.

And so let us humbly find what we’re to do and do it. Our hand in Jesus’ hand, yoked together with him, together in this in Jesus for the world.

the sense of calling

Sometime back someone asked me why I blog. But I’ll add to that, why I go to work day after day, why I attend church gathering on Sunday, why I go to the nursing home on Sunday afternoons, why I try to be a faithful husband, father, and grandfather, why I seek to follow Jesus in all of life with others in Jesus.

I hope it is because of the sense of a calling from God. Our Pastor Jack was mentioning the importance of calling at the beginning of his message yesterday. The sense of being called and having a calling from God should drive our entire existence. Of course part of that calling is to rest, and even do some things out of sheer fun and enjoyment. But much of what we do we have to do, there is a sense of responsibility, indeed a sense of being called by God to do so.

To provide for my family, to be present for them and for friends, to be a witness to the world of the good news of King Jesus, this should all be a part of fulfilling our calling from God.

A calling is in the older understanding a vocation, or what one does to make a living, or provide for one’s family. Extended to that understanding is the idea of using one’s gifts from God in a responsible manner as a steward, out of love for God and for one’s neighbor.

Calling in scripture also extends to one’s salvation in and through Jesus. It is a call into blessing both to one’s self, and in scripture usually to one’s entire family, and to the blessing of others. We are blessed to be a blessing as part of the called in Jesus.

This is what keeps me going and doing what I do. Whether it’s blogging, or whatever else. I can think of blogging right now, because that is precisely what I’m doing. I’ll be doing a good number of things today all either a part of, or related to my calling.

Without that sense of coherence in a calling which brings all of life in the world under the lordship of King Jesus, meaning can be up for grabs. There will be a sense that all is meaningless under the sun, since it all comes and goes without any underlying purpose. Although the sense of calling seems built in us humans as part of our being made in the image of God. Indeed part and parcel of that calling in the beginning was to be rulers and priests of God to and for the world of creation. In Jesus that call awaits fulfillment when the children of God are revealed in a resurrection in which all of creation will share in the new creation through Jesus. But what we do now can anticipate and somehow be taken up into that change which is to come. Even as we seek to point human beings back to God’s story and how this story will at long at last be fulfilled in and through Jesus.

And so I go on, seeking to fulfill my calling from God for today. And wanting to grow in my understanding of that calling, together with others in Jesus for the world.

falling short

Blogging for me has the nature of thinking out loud sometimes, and testing words. Most likely we all change in some ways over time in how we express things as we hopefully gain a more full and mature understanding of life and of truth. The thought here today I am especially aware of fitting into this category.

When one looks at the characters of scripture, as a rule it seems that over and over again they fall short of what they could have been. David is a classic point in case. Of course there are notable exceptions to the rule. Though little is said of Enoch, he would seem to stand as such an exception. Then of course there is Paul. God went to great lengths to keep him from becoming conceited, though Paul had a calling in which such was necessary for him. And perhaps the Lord was honoring Paul’s commitment. In the end all is a gift, and as Paul himself exclaimed, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” But are we faithful stewards of God’s gift to us?

Israel fell short, even into sin and captivity. Jesus comes and fulfills all Israel was called to be. He is the one for sure that never fell short for a moment, even if he did fall short time and time again in the eyes of the people. Expectations that are out of line with God’s will are common. We have this and that in mind as the ideal, and if people don’t measure up, they let us down, we think. But our ideal is almost certainly not God’s. And only God knows the ideal inside and out.

I don’t believe in sinless perfection, or even in a Wesleyan version of that, which I think can come much closer to the truth. We will sin, we do sin. Therefore because of that alone, we all fall short of God’s will. Yet as we walk in the light as God is in the light, we experience cleansing through Christ’s blood, and ongoing repentance in our lives as we confess our sins to God.

Jesus is the one who did not fall short. And as we continue in him individually and together, we too will be carried as well as protected, blessed to be a blessing to all. Yes, we do fall short. It is not us, but Jesus who we point others to. As we tell his story, and seek to live in his ongoing story, one that helps sinners like you and I go on and grow together in and through Jesus.