Giving Up vs. Giving In

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I have recently witnessed the term “giving up” as a reference to medical choices.

An elderly woman in her 90’s has pneumonia and a mass on her lung.  There are choices to be made in this situation. Pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics.  The mass could be seen better with a CT scan, then maybe even biopsied, with other choices from there.

So, what do you do?

Everything possible?

Nothing?

Some use of pharmaceutical options and nothing invasive?

Do we know what the woman wants?

Does not doing anything or just doing some of the non-invasive choices mean that you are giving up on the woman?  If someone does see this as “giving up” it would appear, to me, that they are seeing this as some sort of a guilt issue.  “I don’t want to feel guilty, so let’s do everything possible to keep her alive, no matter the costs.”  Is this about the elderly woman or the person grasping for straws?

I think that “giving in” can be an active, grace filled means of love.  Sometimes not doing everything possible allows people to die with great dignity, even a sense of control.  Giving in is not losing.  Giving in is removing our own egos and emotional baggage in order to allow life to be a process, a transformation.

I’d love to hear you comments.

No Longer Nameless

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Yesterday I spoke about a slave girl who is nameless in Acts 16.  She announces that Paul and Silas are “slaves to the Most High God.”  Eventually Paul gets her to shut-up.  For some reason he does not appreciate the fact that the girl is announcing his beliefs and his teachings about Jesus.

I am still fixated on the namelessness of the girl in Acts, as I hold it next to the school girls in Nigeria who are being held captive by the Boko Haram.  In looking at pictures, videos and following the story I come to realize that this is much bigger than a “story.”  This is life for 276 girls who have names, have parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.  From so far away, what can we do?

How will we respond?  As people of faith what is our obligation to these girls?  How do we share their names and lives?  How do we engage?  How do we help make these girls be “no longer nameless?”

The first step is to tweet #Bring Back Our Girls

Pro-Active not Cleaning Up

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Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, wrote, “Whatever I had read as a child about the saints had thrilled me. I could see the nobility of giving one’s life for the sick, the maimed, the leper. But there was another question in my mind. Why was so much done in remedying the evil instead of avoiding it in the first place? Where were the saints to try to change the social order, not just to minister to the slaves, but to do away with slavery?”

It seems that Christian people have been on the sidelines, “cleaning up” the pieces after problems have occurred. It is time to be pro-active in our faith and confront “evil” in our world. Perhaps then and only then Christianity (the practice – not the religion) will both embody truth and earn the trust of the rightfully skeptical in our society.

Zig-Zag Peace

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These baskets are from Rwanda and I love both of them. I particularly like the one on the left because of its meaning.

The zig-zag pattern depicts two people walking arm in arm out of chaos, turbulence, and fighting, into peace, love and reconciliation.

I don’t know, but can imagine that there is a zig-zag pattern because in order to live in harmony it takes give and take from both people involved. Arm in arm reflects that we are intimately connected, and cannot bring about peace and reconciliation by our own power – it takes at least two.

The fact is that we live in a world where we separate ourselves from one another, and want to live with autonomy when we were created to live in community.  When community is destroyed, so is the peace that we are invited to live in.

Where do you see the splintering of community?

How can we better learn to walk together, arm in arm?

What could a future look like if we chose community over individualism?

Interpreting the Bible

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I’m stuck with the issue of interpreting the Bible. In seminary I learned Hebrew and Greek so that I could “translate” from the more original text. But translate has little to do with interpret. It seems to me that interpreting involves engaging the text with a particular context. So, when people say to me, “The Bible isn’t relevant to my life, much less this day and age.”  I pretty much have to agree. Any attempt to convince, show interpretation, explain biblical history is bound to blow up.

I’ve been thinking lately that the role of the church is not to interpret the Bible for people, but to interpret Jesus. Jesus was all about love, forgiveness, grace, and the presentness of the kingdom of God. What I’m going to try to do is “read” day to day living. My expectation is to see grace and love lived out. To listen to and engage in active forgiveness. And experience the kingdom of God as truly present. I believe that when Jesus invites us to be his students and followers, he not only invites us to be like him, but to be him in the world. This will take interpretation, passion, patience – you are invited to join me in this practice.

I’d love to hear of your experiences, your God-sightings, the way that you have seen grace, love, forgiveness, and the kingdom being lived out.

Stuffin’ It

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I continue to reflect on a recent post titled “I’m … and I’m a Mess.” I keep coming to the things that we are a mess about, and where we put those things. Hence, “Stuffin’ It.”

Stuffin’ It is a very spiritual matter. Stuffin’ It for one makes an idol out of whatever “it” is. All of our focus goes there. We don’t want to let “it” out. We use all that we can to hold “it” back or hide the impact of “it” on our lives. I’ve noticed that we mask the “its” in our lives with alcohol, drugs, extra work, surface relationships, gaming – changing yourself on the computer, disassociating from friends that get too close.  The name of the game is isolation, in whatever form possible.

Scripture indicates that we don’t have to “stuff it” and can trust in other Christians – although from experience this is not always the case.

I do believe that “stuffin’ it” is a very spiritual problem, and that we need to find ways to share ourselves to release this burden, the quesiton is how.

I’m … and I’m a mess!

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In a book titled “Messy Spirituality,” the late Mike Yaconelli writes, “Messy spirituality unveils the myth of flawlessness and calls Christians everywhere to come out of hiding and stop pretending.”

“Messy Spirituality has the audacity to suggest that messiness is the workshop of authentic spirituality, the greenhouse of faith, the place where the real Jesus meet the real us.” ~ p. 15

I find a great deal of hope in these two sentences. I’m a mess, God finds me in my mess and helps me to grow. People often think that “regular church goers” have everything under control, that their lives are smooth sailing, and that they don’t have any issues in their lives. (You may think I’m wrong in this, just take your head out of the sand and listen to people, and their impressions of Christians.)

I see that the “real” Jesus and the real us do meet in a very authentic way when we acknowledge our messiness. It’s when we try to keep the messiness all to ourselves, piled higher and deeper that we begin to burn. Ever see a garden that has been spread with too much manure in one place…the plants actually burn. But when the manure (mess) is spread, acknowledged, the plant actually grow better in richer soil. Soil that has engaged with the messiness and is ready to move forward.

Are you working on your mess? Or ignoring it and piling it higher and deeper? Where do you find safety in sharing the real you and can you say, “I’m…and I’m a mess!”

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