Musings on life and death of Senator Edward Kennedy

 Senator Edward Kennedy passed on this week.  Now there are lots of posts, commentary, and articles praising and vilifying the man.  The man clearly showed care and compassion for others. He went out of his way to help those in need regardless of political affiliation.  Senator Edward Kennedy also is well known for his role at the Chappaquiddick death of Mary Jo Kopechne.  Now several accounts have pointed out that Senator Kennedy seemed a changed man later in life and heard of his friendship with Jerry Falwell.  Yet, neither his villainy, care for others, or apparent change of behavior will impact the place of his soul.  No, it is not about what he did, but about what he did with Jesus.  God only knows the truth. Now having pointed out that only God knows the true state of Senator Edward Kennedy’s heart there are things to examine further. 

In Senator Kennedy’s attempts at helping others, it is always about political power.  It is using the power he had obtained to impact others. It was about exercising the authority of the political position.  The fact is political answers and solutions have limits. Power and influence can help people and hurt people. It can be used for good and bad. Clearly Senator Kennedy has stood for both good and bad.  The fact is though we do look for political solutions.  We want equality, justice, freedom, pursuit of happiness; and so on in this life and assign the government to provide us the means and structure by which it will be accomplished.  Fact is any political answer is limited and temporary in nature.  The people in power change and what was once meant for good can be turned into evil all in the name of political perspectives.  So Senator Kennedy used his position of power well, but he did so by serving his agenda and being assured of his own importance within the political structure.  

So in thinking about this man and his so-called legacy, all that really exists is but temporary. It has no eternal value. It certainly had value in the lives he impacted for the good, just as his evil impacted the lives he touched as well.  Each of us in our own spheres of influence or power does impact people for the good and bad.  We engage in helping others, we engage in self-protection, we engage in assorted ways of self.  The fact is this life is but temporary. The good, the bad, the pain, the conflicts are but short. Yet, we focus on this life and the assorted ways to get our best life here and seek freedom from suffering for self and others.  God’s way is really not about freedom from suffering but rather freedom from the root cause of all suffering.  This freedom is only found in the work of Jesus the Messiah. It is only found in moving from the kingdom of self in its various sundry for forms and turning to the Kingdom of God which comes from self-surrender. It comes by taking any authority and power and influence I have and turn it over to Jesus. There are always two paths. One that seems right and a focus on temporary solutions to the assorted elements of the tyranny of suffering and the narrow way which involves turning to self and give power to stand and be content regardless of situation. It is the ability to have true love and joy in the midst of the travails of life.  So choose this day your path, not all paths lead to the same place. The broader path leads to destruction, the path of life is found only on the narrow path that touches lives not out of duty or obligation or a personal need of redemption but rather flows from the love that comes by surrender to the King of Kings.

Question of Week August 26: How do you pray?

This question for me is one that is key.  How do you pray?  Do you take the approach of giving God a laundry list?  Do you just do a quick hi, how is it, goodbye drive by prayer? Do you treat prayer as trying to get God to do for you? Is it something you feel you have to do?  Or do you treat prayer as relating to God including taking time to listen?

Prayer I find is something misused, mistreated, and ignored.  Do you realize that prayer is something common in world religions?  So it really comes down to your focus and who you communicate with.  So stop and think about how you pray and examine how you can alter your approach. Take time to study the Lord’s prayer and learn what it shows us about approaching and relating to God in prayer.

Musings on the illustration of physical pains and the body of Christ.

Recently been thinking about comparisons between our physical body and the body of Christ. The thinking started related to the ongoing pain my wife is going through with back and neck pain. She has some chronic misalignment stemming initially from past accidents. She had a severe car accident in 1996 impacting her neck. She had a work related fall in around 2001, where she fell on lower back. Lately she has been working on getting appropriate Chiropractic care and getting things back into alignment. She has been having chronic pain and now when trying to get things set right, her body is fighting it and getting increased pain. Thinking about such facts as well as general ways the body deals with pain can gives us spiritual lessons regarding the body of Christ. God had Paul use that imagery for meaning and purpose.

There are three key elements that came to mind in reflecting about in relations to my wife’s suffering and how it relates to the church. The first thought is that when any part of the body of Christ is out of proper alignment it brings pain. Some of the pain is inflicted by our own choices; sometimes the pain comes from circumstances, sometimes other people’s choices. Regardless of the reason for the misalignment, it is a source of great pain.

It is important to realize that the pain that is cause is not isolated and impacts the whole body. The lies, sins, and selfishness in one part of the body of Christ impacts the whole. What happens is not in isolation. When the body of Christ operates connected fully to the head in proper alignment, things go well. Yet, the assorted causes of misalignment always bring pain. Now just as in a physical body, the closer one is to the sources of pain, the more impact; the same in the body of Christ. What happens in related parts of the body impact first the parts that are more closely related.

Now it is important to note that turning from self, sin, and deception involves work that can bring greater pain initially while the work is done to get things right. The increase in pain simply shows how much misalignment existed. Sometimes the process for healing and correct alignment goes smoothly and quickly but other times it takes a lot of pain and work. It is because of the increased pain that resistance occurs. It can seem much easier to accept the pain that Is known and adjusted rather than do the work for proper realignment in accordance with God’s will and design. Also because of the increased pain, resistance from other parts of the body can occur. The resistant occurs because the body has trained to react in certain ways. It will occur. It is how the body operates. So when getting more aligned with God’s word, truth, and will there may be reactions from self or others resistant.

So what does this mean practically? Well, these thoughts encourage me to first turn to Jesus and ask for my areas of misalignment that bring pain to the body to come to my awareness. It is being aware that what I say and do does not happen in isolation and even that done in private and secret brings pain to the body. There is clear evidence of need to assess on an ongoing basis my alignment before God. Am I walking as He guides and directs and surrendering to His will, or have I deviated with failure to recognize that infliction of pain. The thoughts drive me to examine my own areas of resistance and examine what I need to turn away from and bring in surrender to God’s will. When not within the center of what God desires has in store it results in bringing pain, when walking in the center of what God desires, it enriches and builds up the body.

So in thinking through these images it brings into clear focus the need for ongoing evaluation of whether I am acting in God’s lead and love or living for my own ideas. One option builds up and enriches others. The other brings pain and tears down. Above all we have impact on others both in our words and actions. Our choices matter for good or bad. Each of us needs to continually examine if we demonstrate love for God with our entire self and if we are truly exhibiting love for one another. Failure to do so brings pain and returning to God’s way can meet resistance. Ultimately, we all stumble and falter and need get our alignment back. Waking up to misalignments brings temporary pain but ultimately walking in God’s peace and joy through being properly aligned results in God’s best. And ultimately in this world filled with suffering and ill choices, we all need the pain of transformative peace as we align within God’s will and desire over our own. It hurts for a little while but when things are aligned right, the pain will subside.

Cultural Commentary: Favre signing with Vikings- Symbolic of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

Symbol of Hope and Conciliation

This writer enjoys watching the sport of football. I live in the Twin Cities and the team I root for as a fan is the Minnesota Vikings. The ongoing saga of whether Brett Favre would or wouldn’t sign with the Vikings was a drawn out soap opera with the fans hope that if he signs, perhaps he can guide the team to the promised land of the Super Bowl and a long desired and lacked Championship. His finally signing with the Vikings generated two things among Vikings fans, Hope and Ambivalence. As already stated, the hope is a competent and Hall of Fame Quarterback is the only piece missing for a championship run. The ambivalence comes from the fact that Brett Favre was a member of the enemy for sixteen years. He was the focal point of the team Vikings fans hate the most and care more about whether we win or lose. It is hard to root for one who was once considered the enemy.

The reader may respond with a thought such as “That is well and good and pretty straight forward. So what.” Or “Since this is a blog focusing on Christianity, Life, and Culture what on earth does Favre to do with anything other than drawing hits.” Well, football in general is a game that is rich with symbolism that can be used to illustrate matters of success, faith, and development. The latest result of the saga that is Brett Favre’s career is no different. Clearly there is the nature of hope. We want to hope, we desire hope, we want to feel good. We affiliate with a team for reasons such as proximity and the results impact our mood and culture. Brett Favre brings hope to a community that there is a chance for better. A chance that the desire for the team we cheer for to achieve ultimate success. Yet, there is much more to success than Brett Favre being a successful, healthy Quarterback. Yet, the hope is strong.

A rather harder concept to grasp is that of conciliation. There are fans that do not embrace the hope because of the fact they still consider Brett Favre the enemy. He won the Superbowl and had much success with the Green Bay Packers. Success that is both envied and disdained. Yet, now their past key star player is now a member of the Minnesota Viking. Yet, there is something within us that will struggle to accept the one who was an enemy now being a key part of the team. It does not sit well emotionally, leading to ambivalence.

Now the truth is the hope represented in Brett Favre is fleeting and temporary. The Minnesota Vikings may succeed, they may fail, and they may be mediocre. The hope may be well founded or prove to be false. Brett Favre after all is a human with limitations and it takes more the Brett Favre to achieve success. As a Christian though, I know that hope that does not disappoint exists. This hope is found in the person of Jesus the Messiah. This hope is found in the message of the Gospel that it is not about being “good enough” to be in relationship with the Creator of the Universe, but rather accepting the gift of redemption and turning from self. The true hope rests in that which lasts for eternity, not for a fleeting moment such as winning a championship. I hope Brett Favre and the Vikings win it all, yet their success or lack of success will have nothing to do with my eternal prospects. It will not impact my source of peace or joy, unless I focus on self and not on the certainty of Jesus.

The harder concept to grasp is the concept of conciliation. It is difficult to accept that Brett Favre is no longer considered an enemy. It is difficult to cheer for one that used to jeer. It actually is rather surreal to see Brett Favre in the purple and gold. Yet, each one of us at one point or another was an enemy of God. Each of us had to make a choice to sign on, and to turn from our past enmity. Now for some people the choice comes easily. It is a decision simply known to be right. Other people may hem and haw and have difficulty turning from self and joining God’s team. Many simply reject the offer to join the team TJ Houshmandzadeh. Now some people readily rejoice over Brett Favre joining the Vikings, others simply have stronger reactions. In thinking about the conciliation Vikings fans face with Brett Favre, my mind goes to the Apostle Paul. He was a man who was clearly an enemy to the Church. He killed many, many people. Yet, God transformed this man from a murderous zealot to a key Apostle who served to spread the Gospel and was used to write the majority of the New Testament text. So when I think of Brett Favre as a Minnesota Viking, it serves as a picture of each of our coming to peace with God once we accept the offer of salvation through Jesus the Messiah and turn from our way, to God’s way.

Hopefully you find these thoughts to be helpful and challenging. In order to reach conciliation from God it is never too late. The Hope of that does not fail that is found in what Jesus did to remove the enmity and establish peace with God. I am grateful I am able to join God’s team. On God’s team there is no fleeting reward but eternal. The hope is sure and sound. So if you are not yet signed up to be in God’s team and kingdom, please consider the possibility.

August 19th, 2009 Question of Week: Do you follow Jesus?

This question is related to last weeks question.  Last weeks question encouraged you to examine the importance of Jesus in your life.  Does your life and choice reflect the importance?  This weeks question is related.  Do you follow Jesus?  Now this may seem a simple question but there are all sorts of things we can follow that appear to be about Jesus but is really another agenda.   In thinking about the question consider the people in your life, in your Church fellowship, in your community?  Are you simply following their lead and the ways of man or are you walking the steps and the path as Jesus leads?   A related aspect of this question is are you trying to lead Jesus and tell Him where you are to go?   The reality of this question is whose will is important.  Do you follow your will, do you follow the will of someone else, or do you follow the will of God?  Now with the question being asked, the purpose of these questions is not to give you an answer, but to encourage reflection and perchance possible discussion as God leads.  So the question this week is Do you follow Jesus?

Again feel free to leave comments or engage in dicussion here: http://www.peacebringer.net/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1937&start=0

Prophetic Vision: A Vision of Crown given to Kris Blake

So time ago, I don’t recall when, my mother received this vision from God.

Vision of Crowns……… 

I was outside my house, just before the sun rise and my eyes were drawn to the most spectacular array of light and color I’ve ever seen. As the sun erupted over the horizon, the colors became even brighter and more beautiful.   

Suddenly I noticed some peaks of gold, and to my amazement they began to rise. I saw they were crowns of gold filled with precious gems.    Each one was different, and had been uniquely and intricately designed. There were so many of them they reminded me of balloons rising in the sky. 

As the sun kept rising, I noticed there were also areas of shadows and darkness. In the shadows a man had built a thrown, and was sitting on it. The light over the throne was artificial light, and dull compared to the light of the son.  

When the man saw the crowns, he wanted them for himself. Even though he called all the armies in the world, and exerted everything at his disposal, he could not have the crowns. These crowns belong to the sons and daughters of the Living King.

Cultural Commentary: John and Kate Gosselin and state of marriage in America

Recently the fceractured marriage of John and Kate Gosselin has been in the news.  The pair became famous after establishing a reality television show chronicling their attempts to parent their eight children.  The couple has one pair of twins and sextuplets.   However, in April the couple on air for a season finale announced their separation and pending divorce. It was the highest rated episode of the show ever.  The marriage reached a failure point connected at a minimum to Kate’s  chasing fame, and John chasing other women.  Yet, the roots to the marriage failure were there well before those elements surfaced.  They reached their goals of children, felt the other didn’t satisfy wants or expectations, and went after the paths that attracted them, leading to the marriage destruction.

There is no shortage of rumors regarding the difficulties of this couples marriage. Any signs of fight or conflit make assorted news providers and blogs around the Internet.     According to Associated Press, Kate Gosselin made a recent appearance on Regis and Kelly and Regis suggested that the marriage still has hope of being repaired.  Kate responded with, “I can’t say that I think you’re right, at all.”  The end of this marriage is sad, yet it is a common result of marriage in the United States.  According to varied sources the divorce rate is at 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. John and Kate simply reflect what transpires in the culture at large.

Unfortunately according to George Barna research Christians are not indistinguishable from anyone else regarding divorce rate according to a Christian Post article. So the question is why do marriages so frequently end in divorce? Why is there no difference between Christians and other people? The prime reason in general is because people take a self-focused approach to marriage.  The focus is on what the partner is doing to display love or meet the interpersonal needs for the other.  It can easily become about what is lacking versus focusing on building each other up.

In general, couples have a hard time doing the work to keep the relationship together.  The Bible gives clear directives on the need to focus on each other in a marriage. The husband is to love his wife as Jesus loves the truth. Think about that for a minute. Jesus stands by and loves us when we are unfaithful or even directly turning our back on Him.  Such love is very difficult, because it in essence but the needs and cares of the wife first.  Now the wife is simply submit and respect the husband, just as we believers are to do with Jesus.  If we had this other focus, marriages would be much healthier and divorce rates much lower.  Now, admittedly this author is far from this standard of relationship in marriage. Yet, it is these essential principles that are a core to marital health.

The fact is divorce, while painful and destructive to all those involved, is a ready out. It is seen as an escape when there is significant damage to self.  Many folks even point to the stated Biblical standards where divorce is appropriate.   When there is the betrayal of adultery in a marriage, the idea of divorce comes too readily.   Yet, if we are to have the mind of Jesus and given the Biblical directives for relationships, divorce should be the last course.

Sadly, separation does not come at times when it should. When a spouse not only fails to interact with Biblical love, but engages in direct, specific harm to a spouse through assorted forms of abuse, then the way of love is to separate and pray for repentance.  Reconciliation should come with significant evidence of repentance and change.

Marriage takes work. There are several sound Christian resources on the Internet that can help with the assorted struggles a couple can encounter in marriage.  Here are a few:

There are certainly other resources out there. If you are in a marriage is struggling or seems to be coming to an end, please look into any of the linked resources.  Besides those resources, please consider seeking sound biblical based marriage counseling. At a minimum, seek support and prayer from any around you willing to stand by you.  If you lack support, at a minimum spend time praying daily for your spouse and work to display love.