Holy Week Musing: The waiting in-between of the Garden

Today thoughts go to the garden of Gethsemane.  It is the place where time was spent after the Last Supper and before the events of the crucifixion.  It is the place of Jesus sweating blood, of the disciples falling asleep, of Judas’s betrayal, and of impulse action of cutting off an ear.  It is in essence an in-between time.  A time of anticipation and waiting, for events are about to transpire. Jesus knew full well the weight and importance of what was to come. He maintained surrender through all the emotional intensity that could have held him back.  The disciples meant well but could endure.  Judas submitted to his greed and the darkness, Peter acted impulsively not grasping what was to come.  The in-between times are tough. God gave us this picture of this in-between time as an encouragement. For God is faithful.  The thing is we cannot rush the waiting, we can make things happen any quicker than they are supposed to.  Each time anyone has tried to rush the in-between waiting, the results are not good. The waiting always seems beyond endurance.  Yet, Jesus endured.  He resisted going off on his own way or doing his own thing in place of God’s plan. He submitted.  We though can be much like Judas and do our own thing out of greed.  We can be like the disciples and mean well but shut down.  We can act on impulse and move in directions that are God’s way, thinking we know the plan.  It is in these in-between times that faith is tested. It is in between times that the twists of the heart and areas of needed change become apparent.  The waiting tests and reveals what is there and what is lacking.  The in-between time is always temporary and although it seems to go on and on and will never end, the duration is limited.

Right now, in essence each of us are at such an in-between time.  We are waiting for the return of the King of Kings. We are following whatever path God sets before us and waiting for the results.  Yet, it is this time that is key. It is our response that is critical.  We need to learn our weaknesses and submit. We need to grow in faith. We need to be awake, alert, and sober minded.  We are to endure whatever intensity of difficulty we are in.  For this time is but temporary for Jesus is coming, He is coming soon.  Yes, we wait but in the waiting we are given directions to walk in truth in love, to be sober minded and alert, and to make disciples.  However that looks, God has intent to be glorified through us in whatever way He puts before us.  So as we go through this in-between time we need to keep   focus, love, and endure. This is what God asks and requires for the ways of self, betrayal, and impulse are always lurking promising short cuts and a way out of the in-between time. But this time is always for a reason, for God’s love and patience is great and His desire is for all who will come, to come.

Musing on the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim)

Recently on this blog there was some reflection on The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) which has also been commented on in two previous articles one in 2008, the other in 2009. There has been little commentary on this blog regarding the days following Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur. This year this writer is being stirred to comment on these as well. Starting with Rosh Hashanah and ending with Yom Kippur are ten days known as the ‘Days of Awe’ (Yamim Noraim) also known as the ‘Days of Repentance.’ Part of the reason these days have not been addressed is because of the perspective of doing something to get right with God to assure being in good standing and possibly reversing God’s judgment. The views is that the actions taken on the Days of Awe can alter what God had written on “The Feast of Trumpets” with the final judgment being cast on the day of Judgment. The viewpoint is that during this time a person can engage in one of three actions: “teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah,” repentance, prayer, good deeds. There is also the focus on reconciling with those who you have done wrong as Jewish though based on the Talmud suggested that the Yom Kippur sacrifice does not atone for what you have done wrong to others. So,w hile the ten day focus on repentance and getting right with God is honorable, it is coming from a missing perspective.

As a Christian, the perspective of repentance is different, as we do not focus on whether or not we have to “earn God’s favor.” Nothing that we do makes us right before God, as we have been redeemed, covered by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Yet, if you take some time to examine and consider there is a Christian perspective on these days and it is certainly worthwhile to take time to engage in extended reflection on our relationship with God and others. Note, that these days start with the “trumpet blasts” of the Feast of Trumpets. The blasts are a wake-up call stating the time is now and time is left before the coming day of Atonement, the great day of judgment. The period between the “wake-up” alarm and the serious day of atonement may well be reflective of the tribulation period. God does nothing without meaning and what he established is a shadow of what is to come. So it is worthwhile to take these days seriously and reflect on repentance. On this blog up until Yom Kippur the article focus will be on various aspects of repentance. From a Christian perspective this is examining both what have done wrong and what am doing right. It is seeking God to know and learn what area of life he is refining toward change. It is a time to look at the things that have been left undone. It is a time to allow the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts and move through the ongoing sanctification. It is also worthwhile to consider or relationship with others and reconcile with those we have wronged and forgive those who have wronged us.

It is also important to be aware that for each of us this process should be a daily process. As being a member of the Kingdom of God and being made clean by the blood of the Lamb of God, every day is really a day of Awe. Every day is a day to consider our relationship with God: where we are missing the mark due to action or inaction. Daily we need to forgive and be forgiven. Daily we need to make right what we have done wrong. Yet, there is the time of the calendar between God’s established days that we can learn from. The majority of the Christian church has lost awareness of these days. Some parts of the church have taken the concept and used it for other extended periods of reflection such as Lent. Yet, God has set some days for His purpose and being aware and remembering what God has done and is doing is important. It is worthwhile to reflect on what God has done, what he is doing, and what is yet to come. As a believer in Messiah, God has made me clean and redeemed me. I am currently in an ongoing process of being cleaned known as sanctification where that which is unclean is being refined and done away with. There is a coming and future point where as a part of the body of Christ, we will be presented as clean before Jesus as the “bride of Christ.” For those who accept Jesus as Messiah, each has no fear of the day of Judgment for the position before God has been established. We await the great and future day of true great Awe and wonder as we await Jesus who will straighten out all of which has been made crooked and twisted and all shall be brought into proper account. So take time, reflect. Repent. Pray. Act in love toward others. These are actions of people in the Kingdom of God, not because they put us in right position with God, but because he loved us and we desire to serve and grow into a greater reflection of Jesus the Messiah. It is a day by day, step by step process.

Cultural Analysis: Timberwolve’s 2008 Draft and Trade

Well this post will be different then the other posts on this blog but I intend that most every post on this site will shed light and reflect on something related to human nature and sin and ultimately point to Jesus Christ the Messiah.  So what is there in the recent Timberwolves actions that can be examined in that light?  Well it shows the effects of a lack of cohesion and an abundance of pride.  It also points to the problems of a lack of accountability.  But first let’s review the facts.

            The Timberwolves are a team that rebuilding.  They are in essence starting over.  They received the third slot in the draft.  They selected a projected NBA superstar in OJ Mayo who reportedly wowed many Timberwolves officials. Fred Hoiberg and Randy Wittman both spoke as if they expected OJ Mayo to remain a Wolf. Fred Hoiberg in fact said “This means we’re keeping him.” (www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/21828189.html?location_refer=Homepage:highlightModules:6) Instead, in a deal after midnight, Kevin McHale traded OJ Mayo and some bad contracts for Kevin Love, Mike Miller and a couple of bit players to match contracts to the surprise of many.  However, given the history of Kevin McHale’s management of the Timberwolve’s is should be as no surprise.

         Kevin McHale has made similar deals twice before.  The first incident was the trade of Ray Allen for Stephan Marbury. It was hailed at the time as a good move and done for “chemistry” reasons.  It initially seemed a wise deal and Garnett, Gugliotta, and Marbury were seen as cornerstone players that would lead the Timberwolves to much greatness.  Well the chemistry wasn’t there and the trade is now seen as disaster and Kevin Garnett has won a championship with Ray Allen as a teammate. 

            The second trade was two years ago with the Brandon Roy and Randy Foye swap.  Right now on paper it look to be a huge mistake with a blossoming star player traded for a serviceable player.

            And now we have this trade.  NBA pundits have proclaimed OJ Mayo to have the potential of an NBA superstar.  The same has not been said for Kevin Love.  The primary description of Kevin Love as a basketball player is that he has a high basketball IQ and sees the game well.  It is said his high basketball IQ makes up for shortcomings such as his speed.  So why did Kevin McHale trade for this player.  Simple, it is because he sees himself in Kevin Love.  Kevin told Mr. McHale that he has patterned his game after Mr. McHale. 

            In reflecting upon these actions it comes down to a matter of pride. Mr. McHale it seems appears to think he knows better.  He had the authority to make the move and chose to over-ride his coach and his potential future replacement.  Clearly he has made such moves in past that cost the team dearly.  He is able to make such a move because he has no real accountability. The team owner, Glen Taylor simply will not fire Mr. McHale. He can do as he pleases.  It shows that there is no real cohesion in management.  Mr. McHale simply does what he wants, regardless of input from others. Mr. McHale even displayed a lack of communication. It strikes me as prideful, selfish, and arrogant.

           Granted, Mr. McHale may end up proving right in terms of the benefit of the team but his track record says differently.  It seems to me he traded a superstar for a three point shooter and a McHale wannabe.   Mr. McHale does what is right in his own eyes.

            In applying this to life, how often in make choices and decision do we simply do what we think is right in our own eyes.  How often do we ignore the advice of others?  How often do we do exactly what Mr. McHale has done with this trade? I would argue frequently. 

We all at some level try and build our own kingdoms and do what is right in our own eyes. We ignore what we don’t want to hear and do what we think is best.  We are all prideful and arrogant and selfish.  We all need Jesus Christ to break us free us from ourselves. We need to all accept Jesus as Messiah and take the gift of his payment for our own selfish choices.

One other aspect worth noting is that part of how the Timberwolves got into there situation is two fold: Trying to take a short-cut, and accommodation. 

The Timberwolves took a short cut in skirting league rules with the Joe Smith contract.  The attempt backfired and cost them multiple draft picks.  Joe Smith is not even a brilliant player. He is serviceable. He had a good relationship with Kevin Garnett however, and so Glen Taylor and Kevin McHale tried to take a short cut. 

We can learn from this that it doesn’t pay to take short cuts.  When we do, we do so at future risk. The bible is filled with the examples of people taking short cuts and doing great harm that last generations.

Then I want to add in the danger of accommodation.  Mr. McHale displays a firm belief in accommodating his star player requests.  Marbury, Joe Smith, and many other mistakes were all made to accommodate Kevin Garnett. Accommodation always comes at a cost and usually the cost ultimately leads to destruction.  We can think accommodation is peace or leads to peace. We can think it will lead to cohesion, but accommodation is but illusion.

What are your thoughts on this matter? I would appreciate any comments you have regarding my commentary. And examine yourself, where are you making choices based on your own prideful assessments Is there any way you are engaging in short-cuts?  Where and what  are you accommodating in your life?