Thursday, March 26, 2015

Snake Handling Baptist

Not sure what part of the ministerial job description this is, but today I was asked to remove a snake from the church property. The facilities manager, who is even less fond of snakes than I, was my wildlife relocation assistant.

I normally would have said, "no" to the request to handle a reptilian varmint, however preschoolers from our Child Development Center were in close proximity to this ovoviviparous slithery creature. The child care workers said all the kids were looking at a "new cable" in the grass next to the playground, THEN IT MOVED!

Initially, we couldn't find this "moving cable," but my calm assistant decided to lift a garbage bin. All I saw was a salamander and then the ancient fear jumped into my throat as I saw the snake near the corner of the bin in the mud. I was trying to stay calm and not arouse fear in the preschoolers while my heart pounded in my head. I walked quickly to get a bucket and then it was time for a snake round up. I laid down the bucket and pushed the snake in with a broom handle, then covered it with a towel to keep him calm like I had seen the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin do on the TV.

We released him into the woods a little ways from the church, but only after we attempted to show him to some petrified secretaries who locked themselves in the office a the first mention of the word "snake" and first glimpse of the bucket that held it.  Oh and did I mention he was just an 10 inch Garter snake?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Whole Shebang!

The whole shebang, the whole enchilada, the whole nine yards... the whole thing.  That's what God wants of us.  He wants the whole of us. He wants ALL of you and me.

"Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind and with ALL your strength.'" Mark 12:30 (NIV)

I have tried the "you can have almost all of me" thing.  And it doesn't work.  If I hang on to one part of me that I want to keep for myself, it ends up corrupting the whole rest of my relationship with God. Jesus says, a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. If I hold one part back, then I begin to do things like point to how "good" I am in my "good" areas.  I begin to be self righteous about my good behaviors and pretty lenient on myself on the parts in which I want be my own god. It just doesn't work.  My relationship with God becomes a percentage thing... I'm 60-40 good-bad.  It doesn't work like that.  It's all or nothing.

Like the song of Ado Annie in Oklahoma - "with me its all er nothin'... it can't be in between... it can't be now and then... no half and half romance will do.  The King of Kings and Lord or Lords deserves our all in all.  I am painfully becoming more aware each day of the parts I hold back from Him. He is redemptive of those parts, but He's not afraid to discipline me to let go of them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

When Biblical Community Gets Even Better

What is Biblical Community? It's all the " another" verses being lived out together (see them below). It is the expression of Jesus command to love one another like He loves us. It's not just the Sunday morning connection of pew sitting believers,  it's more than that. It's the hanging out and praying together when the alcoholic spouse is AWOL on a binge. It's standing around a hospital bed with a family as the mother is going under the knife to remove cancer, uncertain of the outcome. It's weeping with a young mother who will never see her son again after a tragic accident.

Oh there are some times when community hangs out at the pot luck dinner to share some food and fun and maybe a devotional thought. But Biblical Community gets more real when we connect with hearts that have been ripped out by great disappointment; and when we lock eyes with eyes that are fiery red from regretful weeping about pain inflicted carelessly on loved ones; and when we have sympathy stomach pains, post-kick, because someone we love is doubled over at the shocking news of betrayal.

I like the way Joy Jordan Lake describes community in her book Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous
“Christian community, taken seriously, means suddenly you’re shouldering the tragedies, the abandonment, the grief of the people around you, just as they are shouldering yours.  Community means sharing each other’s joy and hope and healing. In a thousand ways, taking Jesus seriously makes life harder, tougher, uglier. 

And richer. Finer. Finally worth living.” 

(Kindle Location 368 from Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous by Joy Jordan Lake, Paraclete Press. Brewster, Mass)
So, enjoy the body of Christ when it's fun and full of laughter, but also embrace it when it is painful and risky to do so.  You will engage in something so much bigger than yourself... something eternal...something Good... something satisfying.

Here's a list I found of the "one another" verses. Try these in your Biblical community.

 (credit North Wake Church)