Archive for the ‘responsibilty’ Category

I heard a fiery sermon this morning. The preacher was good. Made some excellent points. The crowd laughed, and clapped. At the end speaker shouting. I got a feeling people were duly impressed.

Me, I just felt guilt. The text was Philippians 4:12-13.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Great text. I’ve memorized it. It’s in my most recent journal. The point of the message given by the pastor was that it if you aren’t content and full of joy in hard times, in the storm, then you’re not an authentic Christian. You’re a fair weather Christian. If you’re only content in good times, prosperous times, times when you have nice stuff, times when things are going well, then you aren’t for real.

He ended shouting “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”

The whole thing made me feel somehow in adequate. I think it was because it felt like the pressure was all on me to do something to be more authentic. I know that in Corinthian’s Paul spoke of dispairing of “even life itself.” Nobody is up, positive, content all the time. That’s just not reality. 

I wanted to know more. I was left with questions?

I don’t tend to feel content in storms. How do I draw on that strength that comes from Jesus? Is there something I have to do? My efforts to be content in Jesus during storms don’t seem to work that well. On the other hand, I know I try to he authentic in my faith.

Thoughts: Looks like Paul’s strength was from Jesus, not from himself. Paul’s secret was that it was Christ strengthening him. Paul wasn’t strong. Jesus was. This distinction is important. Paul was quick to know his weakness in other places in Scripture. So what we make of all this?

Being content isn’t something we do, but something Christ does in us when he gives us strength. Paul learned that the strength wasn’t from him. He learned that we can’t make ourselves more content in hard times. Christ is the one who makes us content to suffer through the storm.

I suppose you could assert that we have to have the faith, but the Bible says even faith is a gift of God.

I think what helps me here is to see that this text is more about God being authentic than Paul or me. I’m pretty dodgy. Paul himself didn’t always have it together. But Jesus, he’s authentic, and he can do what we can’t do.

His strength that he brings to me by his initiative is what can get me through the storm.

So my, our, humble, broken Philippians 4 prayer might be, “God we seem to lack the power to do the very thing we want to do, be content with hardship. So it’s up to you. Christ be strength! Christ be the one who gives us even the faith that your strength is there for us. Jesus, it is you, not me, so be you in me.”

So in a sense I’m off the authentic making hook. Jesus is on the hook for me. He’s the one that is going to come through.

Thank God for that!

“I’m open. Christ be my contentment, Christ be strength in me.”

Someone told me last week that because of a decision I made, I would have immediate grief. I didn’t. Maybe they did, but it didn’t much involve them.

They said I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I slept fine. I had made an excellent decision and it had good results.

Sometimes we need to hear something about ourselves, sometimes we need to disagree with what we are told about our selves.

Someone told me recently that they didn’t feel good about how they looked. They look fine. I told them so. Then they agreed. We had a good talk about accepting our wonderful but imperfect bodies.

Sometimes we need to not listen to ourselves. We are wrong. We need to listen to someone else.

Life is constant process of discernment.

But how do we know what is right? When do we trust our own thoughts, when others? Experience, gut, context, speaker, time, education, mental health, intent, sincerity, history — so many factors weigh in.

One thing comes to mind to help. Are the remarks shaming, judgmental, condemning? Then they are very often not to be trusted.

Do the words or thoughts point to solutions, to wise processes, to helpful insights, to understanding, to a positive future. Then often they are good.

Discern; learn.

We have control; we do not.

Evidence abounds.

On 12 November 2014, ESA’s Rosetta mission — which was launched all the way back in 2004 — soft-landed its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It is the first time in history that such an extraordinary feat has been achieved.

The images and information Rosetta is producing — stunning!

Such control — the math, the calculations concerning speed, distance, gravity, the guiding of the craft for ten years, the landing on a comet traveling up to 135,000 kilometres per hour — extraordinary!

And equally extraordinary — all the things we can’t control — this comet’s destiny, or our own emotions, our family members’ choices, disease, the economy, death.

What to do?

I’m stuck lately with the need to apply wisdom to control.

I’m currently thinking: Control what you can; ride out what you can’t.

It’s common sense, but the trick involves discerning when to push or pull and when to ride the wind, wave or fastly flying comet.

I can’t control the interest rate on mortgages and credit cards; I can control my spending. I can’t control other people’s lack of integrity; I can control my own. I can’t control other people’s thoughts or behaviors; I can control my reactions to them. I can’t control God: I can love him and ask him to guide me.  I can jump on and ride the fast, joyful, flying comet of what he is doing.

 We have not taken control of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by finding it, naming it, and landing on it, but we have taken a giant first step — once thought impossible — toward understanding it and perhaps understanding something about our origins as well. And we have exhibited our vast and amazing power to exercise control.

So, here is the deal the best I can see it.

Calculate life, fly Rosetta missions of your own, ride comets, decipher the past, take charge of stuff, especially yourself — and stay humble.

Sometimes you are in the saddle and have the reins, and sometimes you are just along for the terrifying, joyful, fateful ride!