Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Power of Authenticity

I'm reading the book Search and Rescue by Neil Cole. It's a great one, I highly recommend it. I ran across the following quote which really resonated with me, and wanted to share it. I can often fall into the trap of thinking that I have to have it all together or else people will think badly of me.

"Confessing sin regularly will make others more receptive to the message we bring. Often we think that if we confess our inner secrets to others, we will lose credibility in their eyes. Many have found, however, that the opposite is true. When we have the courage to confess our inadequacies, we often gain credibility in the eyes of others because we demonstrate humility, honesty, courage, and a willingness to take sin and righteousness seriously. We are seen as authentic, brave, and most of all human. This will tend to raise us in stature, not tear us down. It is important to make our confessions in a safe place where confidentiality is a value, but often our fears of exposure are unwarranted. On the other hand, when there is not confession, often there is suspicion and hypocrisy. People know that humans are fallible. When we pretend not to have faults, it raises suspicion not credibility."
(Search and Rescue by Neil Cole, pp 108.)
I think Neil Cole is on to something here. James 5:16 says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." Cole, I think correctly, urges some caution, that confession be done "in a safe place where confidentiality is a value", but that can easily become an excuse to hide behind. What if we began to pray for the Lord to give us such a safe place, a group of like-minded people? What if we began to act like He answers those prayers and began to try to initiate these types of relationship? We could unleash the power of authenticity, confession, and prayer in our own lives. May the Lord give us the courage to do so.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Glimpses of Redemption at Penn State Last Saturday

Much has been written and talked about concerning the sexual abuse scandal which has enveloped Penn State University and its storied head football coach, Joe Paterno, in the past week. It seems that Paterno had knowledge of one of his assistant coaches molesting boys on the premises of the Penn State. Instead of immediately calling the police, he told his superiors at Penn State. For not being more proactive, Paterno, the winningest coach in college football, was fired a week ago Wednesday. With this in the background, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers took the field Saturday, November 12 at Beaver Stadium.

I am a Cornhusker fan, so I tuned in and what I saw at the beginning of the game was one of the most profound moments I've ever experienced as a fan of college football. After both teams took the field, they left their respective sidelines and met at the fifty yard-line. They knelt and prayed together in a show of solidarity about what was truly important that day, that this awful situation would be redeemed by the power of Christ. In the center leading the prayer was Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown. As he prayed, the stadium of over 100,000 fans grew quiet and then responded as one as the gravity of the moment sank in. I had chills up and down my spine and a mist in my eyes, and as the cameras panned the crowd I knew I was not alone.

What an amazing picture of the grace and power of God coming to redeem and to help heal a tragic situation. There is certainly much more that needs to be done, but this seemed like a starting point for going forward. In the days leading up to the game, Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini contemplated if they should play the game for concern for his players. Nebraska fans were warned not to wear red for fear of violence from Penn State fans, but it seems that this moment changed the entire environment. Reports are that instead of responding violently, Penn State fans cheered both teams as they left the field that day. I believe that we witnessed, on national television, the power of God unleashed in the stadium last Saturday.

Coach Brown quoted John 1:14 in his prayer, the passage reads...
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (NIV)
Jesus Christ was and is the full expression of grace and truth. In this broken world you and I can never live this out perfectly. But, I pray along with coach Brown that His power continues to be unleashed so that boys everywhere will grow up to true manhood. May we live lives that reflect the Lord Jesus to those who are watching us. May we live lives that are more and more full of grace and truth like the Lord Jesus.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A New Glimpse of the Fatherhood of God

We are celebrating the birth of our first child, Annabelle!  This has, for obvious reasons, got me thinking more and more about being a dad.  Before she came I wondered what she would be like.  I imagined how she would act, look, and smile.  How would it feel to hold her?  Would she like me?  Now that she's here,  I ponder what she will do when she wakes up each day.  What will our moments together be like?  How will she melt my heart with a smile or a look? That's my heart for my little girl.

And then I think that my heart for her is not that different from my Heavenly Father's heart for me.  I wonder if when I wake in the morning if He has a heart full of joyful expectation for what I will do that day.  Of course, He knows everything so I can't surprise Him, but does He look down on me with the anticipation that I look forward to with Annabelle?  Does He take great joy in the things that I do? I think He does when the things I do honor Him.

There are many passages of Scripture that demonstrate the Lord's care of His children.  Psalm 146:8 describes how God feels towards his children, "the Lord loves the righteous". 2 Chronicles 16:9 speaks of the Lord's ever-present watch over his child, "the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Job 1:8 shows us that God is very aware, even watching, the lives of his people.  Psalm 121 speaks of the Lord's care and concern for His people. Over and over again I find that God's eye is turned towards His child.

As I meditate and think of God's love and care for me it gives a whole new meaning to the words of the  Lord's Prayer. It starts "Our Father".  He is my Father.  And I believe He looks down on me with all (and more) the fatherly emotion that I have for  our sweet Annabelle.  But He's not just an earthly Father, He is the Almighty Creator of everything that is, so the line continues "in heaven". He is able to do anything because of His position as Lord over the universe. This should bring great comfort and hope to His child, especially when life is hard.

"Hallowed be your name".  May You be glorified in my life today Lord.  When I glorify Him it brings Him such joy!  So He looks on me with joyful expectation, like I look upon my newborn daughter.  "Your kingdom come".  May the actions of my life reveal Your coming kingdom and bring You glory!  Not only this, but my heart longs for the coming of Your kingdom to earth.  This is the prayer of the child who longs to be closer to his or her father.

"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". May You be establishing Your kingdom through my life today and may it give You great joy as You watch me live it with Your help.  "Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." As my Father, please provide for all my needs today: for my physical needs and for my spiritual needs. Please keep me from falling into temptation so that I do something that will grieve your heart. Amen.

Fatherhood is helping me to better understand and appreciate God's heart towards me, what a blessing in so many ways!