Friday, October 28, 2011

The Roughriders and Life With God

Last week the Roughriders were (mercifully) eliminated from the playoffs.  The inevitable finally became a reality--they just weren't good enough this year.  Ahh, but there is always next year. . . .

Anyway, as I was thinking about the Riders' demise my thought wandered to the question of what a "full life" with God might look like.  I read a passage from Romans 8 this morning that talked about us living as "more than conquerors" and I wondered how all this fits together.

It seems to me that we live with this "tension" between having our eyes fixed on Jesus, living and receiving the fullness of life He wants to give us and living in this world with all its desires.  I find myself wanting my cake and eating it too.  I want everything God offers and everything the world offers too!  Something has to give.

It's just like the Riders:  when they still had a chance of getting into the playoffs, but were losing horribly, I found myself somewhat frustrated that the possibility was there but the present circumstance brought futility.  When the last loss put them out of the playoff picture it was as though a sense of relief came--no more struggle, no more tension.  It seemed better.

The same is true spiritually:  when we try to live in both worlds, the seeming possibilities of getting fed fully from both remain but we live in a state of frustration--something is wrong.  It's not until we die to ourselves and our desires to have everything the world offers that we begin to see more clearly what God is offering, and we can receive much more easily. 

Life with God, the full life that is talked about, relates to being more than conquerors:  God says that He is at work in all our circumstances doing good for those He loves--He loves His children very much!  But He is calling us to have Him be our number one and sole priority in life so that we don't live in the frustration of "trying to make the playoffs but failing miserably".

Maybe you are living in that tension of two worlds.  It's not a comfortable place to be, especially if it seems that there is no way out.  Let me tell you there is a way, but it is not one that is very attractive at first glance--after all, who wants to experience death?  We must die, we must be led through our dying, there are things in us that must perish in order for us to have eyes to see what life with God is really about.  You nor I can get there on our own--there is simply too much to overcome--too much to conquer.  But thankfully, we can trust God to be working on our behalf (Romans 8:28) to get us there.

The only real question that He is asking us is this:  "are you willing?"


Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Devil We Are Most Familiar With

The other day I asked a group of friends this question:  "Are we so turned off by the 'prosperity gospel' that we are unable to accept what the Bible says regarding His provision for us as a whole?'"  The ones who responded indicated a thoughtful 'yes'.

I have taught many years on worldviews, how they are formed, how intrinsic they are in how we perceive and live our lives.  It is absolutely impossible to live separate from our worldviews--they are the lenses through which we see and interpret everything in our known existence.  Everything. 

So when it comes to the Lord's provision I need to ask myself this question:  "what is my understanding of the prosperity gospel that creates in me so much fear that I am unable to receive what the Bible teaches about God's provision?"

In my understanding, the prosperity gospel teaches that it is God's heart that every Christian believer should expect to receive financial wealth to the point that the word 'rich' comes to mind.  Along with that are myriad stories where if someone did not receive that wealth then it was a matter of their faith being insufficient and blame and condemnation was heaped upon the "failed" believer.

I could be off on my interpretation, but that's my point--it's my interpretation that drives my worldview, and I don't think I'm alone in understanding this teaching in this way.

So what does God say?  Dt 28:10-11, "Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will fear you.  The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity--in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground--in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you."

This is only one of literally dozens of passages that indicate that God is concerned about providing material goods to His people.  But I wonder if we are guilty of keeping the area of finance firmly in our 'secualar' world--the world where we work, spend and save, and make sure that that part of our lives remains separate from the spiritual world where the laws of God's Kingdom rule.

I leave you with a question today:  do we allow God to remove our fears--fear of wrong and perverted systems of understanding God's provision, in order for that fear to be replaced with love which is the absence of all fear and is the necessary element that brings us close to God and allows us to really hear Him?  And the second thing is this:  Can we allow God's word to speak through our prejudice and worldviews to such a degree that we are willing to say "yes" to what He wants to provide?

Fear can cause us to reject something like the prosperity gospel, but because it is fear that is our motivation, we are then unable to reject the 'devil we are most familiar with' and in this case it is our acceptance that finance, in some significant ways, is not an area that God wants to bless His children. 

Fear will always cause us to reject God because




I offer no final answers here.  I am on a journey to understand what is good and true and finaces are part of my world and the world that is described in God's Word.

Lord help us to really hear and say 'yes' to You--there is no other way. 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taking the Bull By the Horns

Today I came across a story that I thought was so succinct and powerful that I needed to share it with you.

In Tom Davis' book Confessions of a Good Christian Guy:  The Secrets Men Keep and the Grace that Saves Them there is a great story about how God has ordered life in ways that really work.  Here is the brief anecdote:
"I heard recently about a herd of elephants in Africa.  Because of a regional drought, all of the older male bull elephants in this particular herd had died.  Young male elephants ran everything.  It didn't take long before these young elephants were totally out of control.  They started ripping up trees, destroying villages, and killing people.  Nobody knew what to do.  Some zoologists were called in to study the elephants.  They determined that there was only one thing to be done.  They found some older bull elephants from another herd and transported them into this group via helicopters.  The zoologists reported that the older elephants stood around a few minutes to assess the situation.  They saw how out of control the younger bull elephants were.  Then they acted swiftly, immediately pinning the younger elephants to the ground with their heads.  Try as they might, the younger elephants couldn't get up because the older elephants held them to the ground.  This went on for hours.  The older elephants were showing the younger elephants who the bosses were.  In a sense, the older elephants were fathering the younger ones."

This is such a vivid story that reveals the importance of leaders and of fathers.  Many of you have probably heard about the movie Courageous that is currently in theatres.  This show is touted by many as a powerful expression of fatherhood and fathers' irreplaceable role in families.  I think our culture has done a great job of reducing men and their roles as leaders to the point that many men don't even know how to "stand" without offending someone.

Maybe we could take a lesson from the elder elephants that weren't willing take the "bull" that they saw happening around them.  I was so impressed with how they were able to assess the situation, and did so with clarity and then acted decisively to overcome the problems. 

I hope for that same kind of clarity that men could understand their God-given roles and the strength that God gives them to live it out loud!

Heavenly Father bless fathers everywhere today with your heart, your strength, your understanding, your ability, and your humility to stand as your men.  Thank you that you have ordered life in such a way that makes sense--help us all to see it.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This summer I had the privilege of speaking at a Bible camp in northern Saskatchewan.  The environment was breathtaking and the people were great.  At the beginning of the week I sensed that God was telling me that there were "lions" in people's lives that needed to have their mouths closed because their roaring was creating so much fear in them that they were struggling in their walks with Jesus.  And so I prayed with them.

I asked Jesus to shut the roaring lions' mouths, that their attempt to strike fear would be overcome with the love of God and people's heart would be freed from that bondage.  The response was wonderful!

It's true that God is the beginning and the end when it comes to our spiritual walk.  He is always the source of our strength and the means by which we overcome the enemy and our own sin.  But we also can't forget that He has desires for us to stand--to take our stand as sons and daughters of God and realize the power we live in.

Ephesians 6 says we should "be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."  He has provided us with all we need to overcome the roar of the lions in our lives--His expectation is that we can not only survive, but thrive spiritually.  "Take your stand against the devil's schemes," the chapter contines to say.  God has given us armor in order to accomplish the tasks at hand.  "Stand firm then". . . .another reminder that we do not need to listen to the voices of the lions roaring in our ears, making us think we are helpless and afraid.

No matter what the lions are roaring; no matter how close they seem; no matter how intimidating or convincing are their attempts to accuse you that you are a failure, or that you are condemed because of the last sin you committed--remember this:  Jesus did not come to you to condemn you but to save you again and again and again.

The truth is, you can stand.  Believe it and live it, and give thanks to the One who makes it possible!


Monday, October 24, 2011


Have you ever experienced listening to a song where the band is playing the chords and their progressions so perfectly; where the dynamics and nuances of the instruments, vocals and even their hearts are so in tune that it creates something that transcends the moment? And without you even knowing it you have been transported to another place even though you haven't moved an inch?

It doesn't happen too often, because it is incredibly hard to do, but when it does it is really something special.

I was reading in Ephesians today and here God tells me that I have been 'transported' to another place as well even though I am still here. Chapter 2, verse 6 says "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.". This sounds to me like I am really there even though I'm still here! Pretty hard to wrap you head around that one!

What is so amazing is that to God, He has already assured my place with His Son--the very best place I could ever be. Nothing compares--not even a song that is so perfect it transports me somewhere else.

If you read a bit more in Eph 2 you will find that God did this for me and all who follow Jesus because of 'His great love for us'.

I know that it can sometimes seem like life is hard--some days maybe it even sucks. But God reminds us that we are not only here, we have been 'transported' to a much better place and we can take hope today knowing that we will actually see and experience the reality of that.

I hope the angels are in tune when I first get there.....


Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Little Slice of Heaven

Today I saw a little slice of heaven.

These kind of things just sneak up on you.  It's unfortunate to have to admit it, but I don't always expect to see God show up the way He did today at Rock of Ages.  In many ways it was your typical Sunday morning service--on the surface it looked pretty much the way it normally does:  lots of smiles, many conversations, interesting discussions in class, plenty of smiling faces during the service, healthy worship and prayer--even the message was reasonable good!!

But something was different. . .

I felt like God was doing something deep this morning, like He was helping us to take an important step toward an unseen goal that only He really understands.  I can only describe what I experienced and I can say that I felt the tangible presence of God through the Holy Spirit speaking out a message that resonated so deeply in my heart that it was hard to hold in.  He spoke a message of freedom, love and hope in a way that it began to make sense--and I mean real sense--that His Kingdom will advance, and lives will change and that He not only wants us to be involved but that it will happen.

It's been many years that I've had lingering doubts about whether I would see God move mightily among His people and even more so that I would see the love of Jesus Christ manifest in the world around me as the sons and daughters of God take to the streets with hearts transformed in love.  But today, I stood in the presence of the Living God and just knew in my bones that something is going to happen that I haven't seen before.  In fact, in a small but very significant way, I experienced the reality of God not only inviting us into this new reality but that He was actually making changes in people's heart to believe they could trust Jesus enough to live their faith in a new and very visible way in the world.

The presence of the Holy Spirit brought bucket loads of hope--and that is powerful stuff.

I'm sure that there will be days coming soon when struggles will arise and there will be tough slogging, but today was a milestone day in my mind--a day worth marking when God took the people of ROA to a place they hadn't gone before together.

If anyone from Rock is reading this I hope that you are incredibly encouraged because I saw our Heavenly Father bless us, and He will not stop until He accomplishes what is in His heart for us.

Jesus, take what was planted today and tend it as only you can.  Nuture the Truth, life and hope that You provided so abundantly.  Protect everyone that is under your care from the Evil One, and bring us all to a place where our hearts are so filled with your amazing love that we simply can't help but to declare You to all we encounter.

You are truly worthy of our praise!


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Conversations are interesting things if you think about them.  You could find yourself in a place where you might be struggling with some challenges in your life and someone comes along and speaks a few words to you and all-of-a-sudden you just feel better.

Just words, breath forming sounds really, that's all words are.  And yet they have the power to genuinely change your persepctive on things; they have the power to bring hope to your soul where there once was little.  But it must be said that it is not only words that make the difference, because a "conversation" is not just about words.  To truly have a conversation is to be sharing words with someone who is speaking with a sincerity and concern about you.  When you are in a conversation, you are exchanging ideas, care, love: there is a sense of being in the presence of someone who is really listening to you not just what you are saying.  A conversation goes deeper than just words.

I was blessed the other day to have a conversation.  I wasn't expecting it but after it was over my heart had changed.  I didn't realize it but there were some things that had put barriers around my heart and after I hung up the phone I felt freedom where I didn't before.  I could tell that something had let go in my spirit because I was able to receive all kinds of fresh thoughts and ideas from God.  It felt so good!  I was blessed.

Words can have impact for sure, but it seems to me that a conversation invites you to go to places of redemption and healing that words alone cannot accomplish.

It is probably not an exaggeration to say that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is one of the most transformational presentations out there.  It is a powerful explanation of God's heart.  But in Matthew 5:1 there is something else that caught my eye, and it has to do with having a conversation.  If you read it says that "he [Jesus] went up on a mountainside and sat down."  Jesus' disciples came to him there and he began to teach them, but only after Jesus had sat down.  This is important: Jesus took the time to stop and really give of himself.  He not only wanted to communicate words, because he knew that having a conversation required more--he needed to sit and let them know that He was committed.

I think the impact of Jesus' conversation with his disciples is pretty clear.  Jesus has said to us in John 13:15 that he has set an example for us and we should imitate what he has done.  It's time we "sat down" with others and had conversations with them, listening to them and speaking truth in love. 

Lord, I ask that today we would be reminded by your Holy Spirit to take the time needed to sit and have a conversation with someone in need.  May you change our hearts to imitate Jesus and may your Kingdom come in power as we do so.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can You Imagine?

I went to church the other day and something happened that absolutely blew my mind!

It happened that there was a speaker there who was talking with an authority that caused my heart to quake inside my chest.  This guy had quite a reputation and people were flocking to hear what he had to say.  It was so crowded that it was standing room only and people were actually lined up outside just to get a glimpse of this man.  It was rumored that through his ministry in the previous days, he had prayed for people with serious diseases and they were healed!  There was no explanation for it--the facts just seemed to speak for themselves.

The place was electric--everyone was wondering what would or could happen.  It was as though the words that came from this man's mouth cut to the core of those who were listening.  His ideas either brought about impossible hope for those who believed him or abject despair and anger for those who couldn't accept his message.  This was not a man who seemed too concerned about people's opinions.

But, in the midst of all this energy, the din of the crowd and the palpable anticipation, something else happened:  right in the middle of the sermon, bits of the ceiling started to fall down into the crowd.  It was small at first but then bigger chunks started to break away!  I didn't really know what was going on, so I looked up and I doubted what I was seeing, but as I strained my eyes I could see hands poking through the roof!  These were obviously not just curious hands, there was purpose in their movements.  They were there to do a job and nothing was going to stop them from accomplishing their task.  So the hole grew bigger and bigger until it was quite large--large enough that a full-grown man could fit through.  Then, and my eyes were not deceiving me, a man was lowered through the hole--right above the Speaker giving his sermon!  Right in the middle of the service!!

Can you imagine?

I thought everyone was going to be angry, especially the man on stage, but as the guy being lowered down from the roof came into view it was obvious that he was not in good shape.  Just by the way he laid on the stretcher you could tell that he couldn't walk, maybe hadn't walked for many years.  The thought went through my mind: I really can't believe this is happening!  I mean these guys had just destroyed the roof of the church and had disrupted what was going on in the service.  What would happen next?

And then it happened!  The Speaker saw this helpless man, and the effort that his friends had exerted to try and get him there, and he was moved.  You could see it on his face: his heart was touched by this show of care and love, and he was going to do something about it.  But what could he do?

He looked at the man suspended by ropes in front him, in front of the whole crowd and said two words "get up".  I couldn't believe that he would say that when it was so obvious that this man was crippled--but he did and what happened next is simply astounding--against all reason, the man stood.  He stood up right in front of us all.  There was no doubting what just happened.  The Speaker said two words and the man who couldn't walk all of a sudden could.  Just like that.

There was a hush that fell over the crowd.  What they had just experienced had stunned them to the point that they couldn't utter a single sound.  The newly healed man on the stage was looking at his newly strengthened legs with shock and awe in his eyes; the Speaker had a grin on his face that was almost comical in its childlike joy.  And then I heard a sound--it was faint, almost like it was coming from outside.  I turned my head to try and pinpoint the source and it sounded like it was above me so I turned my head upward and I could see men jumping up and down on the roof shouting at the top of their lungs with joy that just couldn't be contained.  Their friend could walk!  Their friend could walk!  It worked!

Can you imagine?

By now you have probably caught on that this is a story recorded in Scripture.  Although I have taken some creative license, the essence of it remains true.  But I want to ask you a question:  can you really imagine something like this happening in your church?  Where the Kingdom of God is there is freedom--radical freedom, roof shattering freedom, leg healing freedom, gloom-busting freedom, joy-proclaiming freedom!

I long for Jesus to take center stage where His Kingdom captures my heart, my mind and my imagination, because I want to imagine that what happens in this story in the Bible is something that the King loves to do for his children.  I don't think there is a magic formula that is available to us that we can use to create this kind of "Kingdom moment".  But I do know that the longing in my heart is kindled when I read about Jesus doing this kind of thing and then saying to us: 'Oh and by the way, you will do even more'.  More?  Really?  Is that the kind of God you are?  The kind that loves to heal and bless and restore and rejoice among those that are in your presence?

Lord Jesus, great and mighty God; lover of lepers and parapelegics.  Create in me a pure heart that can have the faith to imagine you doing what good Kings do--and the faith to believe that you really will do them now.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

We love secrets. 

When we are let in on a secret it makes us feel as though we are the "in" crowd.  It doesn't seem to really matter if the secret is important, or even if the people that are telling us the secret care about us or not, it's just the power of the secret itself saying to us "somebody doesn't know this, so I am 'in' and they are 'out'."

If you think about it, secrets can be brutal things--a form of elitism pandering to shallow egos.  And yet, we seem to gather around them like moths to a flame.

When we deal in secrets we always seem to hurt somebody by not allowing others to join, after all, if everyone knew it then it wouldn't be a secret any more would it!  But, as per usual, God does things differently than we do.  When He is working in the world of secrets He actually does want everyone to know, and eagerly invites all people to be "in".

In Colossians 2:2 Paul explains what this secret looks like:  "I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.  My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

There is a mystery that many do not know:  it is a secret that has been hidden from people for ages and still is hidden even though it has been proclaimed for centuries.  Even people who profess to know this secret sometimes don't really know it.  This secret is knowable but to fully define it escapes the keenest mind; you can be introduced to this secret but knowing it requires humility and time to even begin to grasp it; this secret has the power to open up or withhold blessing in your future.  It is the most enduring mystery of all time.

The thing that makes this secret so unique is that it is not a "thing" at all, but a person--the person of Jesus!  The whole of humanity is being invited to be the 'in' crowd by getting to know this man who is the mystery of the ages.  I love that even when we know him, he retains the right to remain somewhat mysterious.  This is true of any real-life mystery, it is three dimensional, it has width, and length and depth.  At any time, what is being presented to me for my knowing has a back that is hidden from my view.  Just like a person whose front is seen, and whose back is unseen at the same time--real truth is known and unknown simultaneously.

Hope is found in the mystery of Jesus who presents himself to us as the answer we have been looking for--for everything.  This is true because we are told that "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are found in him and him alone.  All humanity is being invited to know this secret, to know this man who can change everything. 

Do you want to know a secret?


Monday, October 10, 2011

The Center of One

Its easy to lose sight of who you are as you live in this world. If you have no monument to point to--no significant evidence of the work of your hands--so that when someone asks you about yourself, you just point and say "see, look there and you will get a good idea of who I am".
Sometimes it can be overwhelming to live in a world where it seems that everyone else has found their niche--their "center of gravity" that their lives revolve around, but you are still searching, still trying to understand who you, all the while hiding from everyone else that you are really struggling to make it because your "center" is still a mystery to you.

Then I look at Jesus.

He left no monuments. He didn't build immense physical structures that he could point to and say "if you want to get an idea of who I am then just look over there at what I built and you will get a good understanding." No. In fact the only thing that Jesus left behind was an idea--the thought that tells people that what you see is not really the fullest expression of what is really real. The notion that life as you now know it is really a twisted version of what it could be--of what it will be once again.

He says: "it might be hard to believe but I promise you that it's coming--it really is."

The thing that blows me away is that Jesus' center of gravity was found in nothing else but what he found inside himself--he was so at peace in knowing that his entire identity was found in his relationship with his heavenly Father that he didn't feel the need to point to anything outside himself in order to identify himself to others.

Jesus was the center of one.

"I am the way,the truth, and the life.". How can anyone say that and not have such a deep awareness of who they are? Not once do we see a picture of Jesus clamouring after other people in a desperate attempt to woo them for the sake of His ego!

What a man--what a God.

My Jesus--today, look upon us with compassion and mercy as we try to find who we are. We look in all the wrong places. We strive and hide and build and at the end of the day we are empty and lost, with no sincere and deep peace. Would you please reveal to us who we are in YOU, and nothing else. May this transform us and change us from the inside out.

Jesus, be our center...

Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


It's peaceful here.

I'm sitting by the shores of the river as I write this. My thoughts wander from the long list of things I need to get done at work to the long list of things in my heart that clamour for my attention. It seems so easy for me to get lost in all the confusion--my expectations, other peoples struggles and expectations.
The lists can get pretty long....and the questions can lead to a lot of uncertainty.
But the river reminds me that my world- the world of lists and responsibilities- is not everything.

There is more.

I see God's fingerprints here: the flickering lights of the city reflecting off the mirrored water tells me that my God has taken great care in instilling His creativity in the hearts of humanity. The never-ending flow of the river lets me get a glimpse of God's immensity and grand design.

It brings me peace. Why? Because here I am told that God is much bigger than my lists--He is much stronger than my weakness--and He loves me.

It's hard to hear His love-song for us sometimes and we need to find ourselves in places where our hearts are able to commune with His. He tells me that when He looks upon me He is filled with joy with what He has made.

Do you know that He feels the same way about you?

In Genesis God had this amazing plan to create something that would reflect His image in this world--so He decided to make YOU! You are a wonder to behold! You hold the gifts of the World-creating God within you and the possibilities of how He would bless the world through you are as endless as He is.

What a peaceful thought to know that God has plans to prosper us and give us a good future. No matter how muddled our souls can get we find our foundation in Him.

May peace like a river attend your way.....

Brian M Tysdal
Lead Pastor
Rock of Ages Church
Saskatoon Sask.
374-1707 (Church)
291-3308 (Cel)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Humility and Taste Buds

Luke 14:7-11
"When he [Jesus] noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable:  'When somone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, 'Give this man your seat.'  Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, 'Friend, move up to a better place.'  Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.'"

I love that Jesus uses a wedding feast to describe what real humility looks like.  Feasts are where you find the choicest foods--the thought of the tender-loins and steamed vegatables, succulent sauces gently washed by the smoothest of wines, cause my taste-buds to quiver!  The imagery is so appropriately associated with humility, as there are few character traits that are so attractive to me, and so valued by God.

To live humbly is to exhibit one of the most courageous human activities.  It is the personification of openness and care.  Humility is the active "invitation" to all those around you, because you are clearly telling them they are important and they are welcome.  To be humble is to live as the incarnation of the fragrance of God--it is so appealing and beautiful.

No wonder Jesus was the epitome of humility.

There has been a bit of tempest in my spirit recently as I think about the Church and the things we spend so much time clarifying and defending.  Sometimes, it seems to me, that we are motivated more by fear than humility: fear in that we worry that if we somehow "get it wrong" then we will slide off track, so we re-double our efforts to clarify "what we believe".  Humility strikes me more as a position of trust where we are more able to receive and in so doing express a childlike ability to say "I don't know everything, but I know Who does and He loves me."

There's something so tasty about humility!

Humility before God has this indescribable ability to keep us on track.  And I received a good example of this just today:
There is a group of "dissidents" that are part of a movement called "solid ground" that are taking their stand against the ELCIC institutional church body.  The reason for this is that the ELCIC has lost its ability to humbly trust God's Word.  Out of a 5 page document by the dissidents one particular passage struck me:

"The human mind has a great way of messing things up.  Humans can rationalize anything.  Luther knew that and cautioned about 'die Hure des Verstandes,' the whore of reason.  Unfortunately many of our brothers and sisters in our ELCIC have decided to follow the wisdom of the world.  God is not an object that can be studied objectively.  Theology must approach the Word of God with humility and respect and stand under the Word and not over it.  The wisdom of this world must not take control of Holy Scriptures. . . . .We are totally dependant upon Holy Scriptures to know anything about God."

We must approach ourselves, the world, and God with great humility in order that we might stay on track.  But that means that we must sometimes say "I don't know--and that's OK."

Preparing a great feast is much like living humbly: it's not the exact precision of the amount of each ingredient that matters most, it is how everything comes together as a whole that really counts.

Are we courageous enough to find our identity in Jesus and allow everything else to be second?

Oh, what tasty bunch we will become. . . . .


Sunday, October 2, 2011


We will all face a time, maybe a number of times, when the answers we had grown used to will no longer be sufficient to bring the peace they once provided.  The world that we live in, and by this I mean that which is normal in our everyday lives, will be challenged by a new idea, or a new circumstance, that forces us to re-evaluate what once made everything make sense to us.  When these times come, we are brought to a place of decision:  "will I choose to maintain what was because it is familiar or will I be willing to forge a new direction that will open the door to life?" 

These are times when a great fog can set in.  Old and familiar landmarks cease to bring the sense of peace that we are used to.  What once was seems no longer able to satisfy a deep longing for protection.  Fog sets in and we become fearful of making any steps in any direction because there are no longer any "maps" available to guide.

In 1929 a young girl by the name of Anne Frank was born.  She was a Jew who would soon feel first-hand the brutality of having the world that once made sense to her snatched away in a heartbeat.  In an attempt to escape the oppression of the Nazi Germans, Anne and her family lived in a few small rooms joined to her father's business.  They never left these rooms for two years.  That is until they were discovered and brought to the concentration camps where they died before the Allies could liberate them. 

Anne was 15 when she finally stopped living in the fog.

Anne left us a searingly honest account of her experiences in her diary that she kept faithfully all through her time in hiding.  We are allowed to see her despair, but we are also invited into something much more beautiful, much deeper, more powerful, than anything despair could conjure. What we hear is the power of faith, hope and love, coming from such a powerless source--the irony is so compelling that it is impossible to deny the truth that there is something more--much more than the fog that wanted to envelop and paralyze.

Anne writes:  "It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death.  I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too.  I feel the suffering of millions.  And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more."

Anne Frank was a prophet in every sense of the term.  She was fully aware that her desperate circumstances were not the whole story.  She knew, with great clarity, that she was experiencing a dark gathering of doom that would claim many, but she knew also that there was hope.

We must not find our hope in anything other than Jesus Christ!  We cannot find it in our families, or our bank accounts.  We cannot put our hope in finely constructed theologies that so often do little more than separate "us" from "them".  There has been so much fragmentation that has been wrought throughout the ages between denominations, and this justified in our minds because we think the only way toward "truth" is to define it based on our best efforts and understandings, instead of based on a humble belief that Jesus is the way, and Jesus is enough. 

Much like Anne, we need to look up

Psalm 121:1-2 "I lift my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

I don't know if Anne Frank knew Jesus personally, but I see His fingerprints all over her thoughts.  And I thank the Lord for people like her--people who were living in the fog, but found a ray of light shining in their lives because they had the courage to look up, and to their amazement the fog lifted.

Will you look up?