Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Faith in who?

As more and more we hear of church splits, people "losing their faith", groups folding and falling apart, and teenagers walking away from 'church', I find myself asking - what is our faith in?

Think about marriage for a minute.  What's your faith in, in regards to your spouse?  Is it in that person, their soul, their very being, who history tells you they really are, or is your faith propped up on who they are treating you in this instant?  If it's the latter, then you should already be perusing the yellow pages for a good divorce lawyer.  If you are married, you know that marriage is not now, has not been, will not ever be, Can Not ever be based on "feelings" and present emotion.  If we only stayed married when it felt good, none of us would make it past the first year.

Transition that same line of thought to the church (the CHURCH - not that brick building with crosses that you go into on Sunday mornings - the PEOPLE the body of believers who are joined together by the 1 overlying all consuming truth that Jesus Christ is LORD, the Son of God, the Savior of the world).  What's your faith in there?  Is it, like marriage should be, based on the promises of your bride/groom (through better or worse, richer or poorer, till death), which is Christ himself, is it held up upon what history tells you about God and his enduring faithfulness as proven and repeated line after line of the 66 books in our Bible?  
Or... is it based on the faith of the failing marriages?  The faith in the present, the emotion, the "feeling"?  
If your "faith" is held up by the assurance that your preacher will never preach a sermon that you will disagree with or that will stomp on your toes, you're in trouble (as an aside - if your preacher never preaches a sermon that stomps on your toes then you need to find a new preacher because they're not doing their job).  If your faith is propped up on that building, it will crumble, if it's supported solely by your Edlers then it will fall, if it's held up solely on the premise of your ministers never faltering moral compass, then you will be disappointed,  if your faith is based only on me, then you will be devastated.  

True "faith" can be grounded ONLY on The Rock, God, the Great I AM, He who was, is, and forever will be, and HIS promises.  Not your preacher's promises, not your pastor's promises, not your steering committee's promises, not your elder's promises, Certainly not my promises - Only God's promises.

And if your faith is held up on Christ alone, then when your preacher fails you, when your church abandons you, when I fall flat, when your Elder's crumble, then you stand.  You stand firm on the Rock which you were planted on, because that Rock didn't crumble, though others around you may have (and they will).

People are devastated, churches split, people walk away, faith is lost only when that faith was propped up on the wrong thing - anything or anyone other than Christ the King.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

and............ we're back

Good morning everyone!  What a summer!
As my first summer in youth ministry I learned a lot, for 1 thing, I learned how (not) to plan things, and how planning a 12 weeks back to back might take a toll...  It was a complete Blast, but we freely admit that it's nice to see the summer come to a close, see the kids back in school, and look forward to new exciting ventures for the fall.
Also, as previously discussed, with the crazy summer being just that, I knew I would take the summer off from this blog out of necessity, and I appreciate everyone's patience with that and I am now excited to get it kicked back up again.
That said, let's get the questions and topic ideas back flowing and I'll be glad, as always, to use your input, ideas, and insights to direct the posts.

Today, I want to share some thoughts on 9/11 +10.

We all know where we were on that day.  Erin and I had been married 1 month.  She was working at Sander's Market (the gas station hang out for the thriving metropolis of Linden, TN) and I was at the Post Office in Linden.  At the Post Office, people would come in talking about a plane accident in disjointed confused stories that lacked any realism, and with no TV or radio in said Post Office, that was about all the facts one could glean.  I left the post office, went home, turned on the TV and couldn't believe what I was watching:  'how in the world could a plane get so messed up that it crashed straight into the World Trade Center... that's the worst luck I've ever heard of...' and then it happened.  Standing there pondering the odds of a plane failing and crashing exactly into the tower, the second plane hit.  I literally sank to the floor with the weight of the realization that had just struck the millions of other people watching this same sight and for the rest of the day I sat.  I sat right there in floor of our house in Linden watching the images with tear filled eyes and disbelief.
Who, how, why, HERE!?  All those people... with the risk of sounding cliche... the Humanity of it was simply overwhelming.

On that day, September 11, 2001, our world changed.  We saw pain and devastation that our generation had never witnessed outside of the pages of a history book, we saw "terror" (a word reserved for uncivilized third world countries who weren't "one nation under God" and who weren't the untouchable military power of the world) played out in our own backyards, we saw courage that could the greatest authors could not contain with ink and page, we saw life, we saw death, and we truly saw the end of our reality as we knew it.

As we mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the terrible loss of life that came with that day, my mind goes largely to September 12, 2001.
If 9/11 was our darkest hour, then 9/12 was the dawn.  9/12 brought forth life.  9/12 brought forth a day of stories - of survival, of courage, of faith, of LOVE.  9/12 brought a day where as NYC lay (physically) in shambles, the people of NYC, surrounded by the people of this great nation, rose up and reignited the flame under that melting pot and once again created "one nation".  9/12 brought a day where from NYC, to L.A., to Linden, TN, you could not find an American flag in any store - they were all hanging in lawns, strapped to cars and trucks, and hanging from fire engine ladders across the country.  9/12 brought a day where we met our neighbors for the first time (even those we may have lived next door to for 30 years).  9/12 brought a day of Love.  We, as a nation, even for just a moment in time, recognized that our selfishness, our vanity, we saw our lives for what they were: consumed in frivolity.  And. We. Turned.  We turned to our country, we turned to our neighbors, we turned to those we didn't know, to those we had neglected, to those we didn't like just 24 hours before, and we loved on each other as if we really were "under God, indivisible".

on 9/12, this nation and all its inhabitants seized life with a fervor lost and clung to it as if to never lose it again.

Let us remember that day as well.