QUESTIONS AREN’T THE BOGEY MAN (FEAR NOT!)

The Doubt of St. Thomas

The Doubt of St. Thomas

By Lisa Huddleston

What is it about questions that gets usually good people so worked up? You know, questions like why is gluttony the one sin no one wants to condemn? Or why do people often turn into self-righteous jerks when they become “believers”? Or why do we (afore mentioned believers) follow some “rules” of the Old Testament and not all? Oh, there are many more, but I’m sure you get the picture by now.

I have a young friend who has been asking these and other very good questions, and in return for her certainty that God is big enough to answer any questions she, or anyone else for that matter, may ask has been condemned and accused of being a non-believer. It makes me weep.

And so I have a few questions of my own. In what or whom are we believing? Is it in the “historical church”? Is it in the “foundational truths of our denomination”? Is it in tradition or safety or the status quo? Is it in anything that doesn’t require us to change what we know we know? Are we afraid that if we change just one of our beliefs that the whole system just may unravel like a pull in an old sweater?

God is big enough! Big enough for questions and new ideas and mistakes and half-truths that lead to whole ones and doubters and even (though it pains me to write this) arrogant know-it-alls. God is big enough for us all!

Baruch haShem.

LEARNING TO BE

By Lisa Huddleston

“Then He went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him.  He also appointed 12–He also named them apostles–to be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons”  (Mark 3:13-14, HCSB).

My pastor has been leading our congregation through the book of Mark for the past several weeks.  As always Pastor Jim’s verse-by-verse teaching leaves me with plenty to think about between Sunday sermons; but, this week in particular God has summoned me to come nearer, to look and to listen closer, and then, I am sure, to respond.

When he taught the verses above, Pastor Jim noted an interesting progression:  Jesus called those he wanted to join him to be with him before he sent them out.  Being before doing.  It may just be a sign of our busy times, but that really resonated with me.  Even though this is far from the first time I have heard this concept, it is still an illusive idea.  I find it difficult simply to be.  Don’t you?  Isn’t it easier to do than to be?

I have two friends who are currently involved in what I see as “radical” missions.  One is already on the continent of Africa.  The other will soon leave for Borneo.  Their trips are purely for the sake of evangelism.  I don’t think there are buildings to construct or water purifiers to donate or medical procedures to execute or even Vacation Bible Schools to perform.  They are simply going out as ambassadors of Christ.  They are representatives of his being alive in them.  And that sort of freaks me out.

Don’t get me wrong.  I strongly believe in the doing of faith as well the being of it.  The book of James makes it pretty clear that faith leads to works, and the rest of scripture concurs that God cares greatly about the welfare of people.  We Christians should do good work!  No doubt.  But we should first of all be with him, be in him.  And that being is what we should be sharing–even when we are working.

And that is my struggle.  The being.  In this morning’s reading, John Stott declares, “Nothing keeps people out of the kingdom of God more effectively than pride or self-sufficiency” (Through the Bible, Through the Year).  So I wonder which one it is today–pride or self-sufficiency? Both? And isn’t one just another name for the other?

Is doing taking the place of being in my life?  Am I too proud to accept grace?  Am I still trying to earn God’s or man’s approval?  Is that why I don’t see demons being driven out around me?  Has doing without being led to cynicism and at times even despair?  Perhaps so.  But God never quits.  He reminds me that miracles still happen, and he sends me firsthand accounts through people I know (even though my logical heart tries its best to reject those reports).  He keeps me from settling into complacency with a holy discontent that never lets me rest too long.  And he never lets me go.  When all else fails–even my faith–he is faithful to be who he is.  I Am Who I Am.  The King of Being.

How do I respond?  Do I follow the apostles’ lead and go up the mountain to be with Christ?  And what does that even look like today? I’m not sure–but I am looking and listening now and throughout the day.  And perhaps that is the best response I could have.

SPRING PROMISE

By Lisa Huddleston

 

Frog songs in soggy bogs

spot the road from the city to

my country home

 

Spring is coming and

daffodil exclamation points

dot the cow fields with yellow

shouts of joy

 

I see and hear the signs with

anticipation that

borders on pain

 

The last few weeks of

winter grey loom large

and threaten to blind my eyes

and stop my ears

 

Don’t look

Don’t listen

Never see nor hear

 

Yet spring is coming and

hope is not hopeless

 

The signs are not in vain

Burning bushes

Pillars of both fire and cloud

Manger-tucked babes with

stars in dark skies

 

My eyes will yet see

My ears will yet hear

the whisper as well as the thunder

of God

REVELATION: I AM NOT GOD

By Lisa Huddleston

Like most of the hip Christians in Nashville, I have gotten myself a chronological Bible to study.  Oddly (or not), I have had it for some time and have not bothered to read it so this week I jumped right into the New Testament.  Ah–good place to start.  Balm for the soul in the Gospels.  But this morning the balm stung just a little.

Today’s reading included Peter’s declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus’ prediction of his death, and the Transfiguration.  I happily read noting the similarities in the accounts as well as the literary differences.  I underlined and commented in the margins thoroughly enjoying my time in the Word and my familiarity with the stories.

Then I read, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s … put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:33-34).  Wow!  That was just what my last post was about!  I get it, God.  And there it was again in Matthew 16 and Luke 9.  Okay, okay.  I repent of my selfish ambition.  Of all my self stuff.  I hear you, Lord. And I sort of patted myself on the back for being so in synch with the word.

Then I moved on to the Transfiguration accounts.  God said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7).  And, “This is my Son, my Chosen One.  Listen to him” (Luke 9:35).  And, “This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.  Listen to him” (Matt. 17:5).  Oh, yes, Lord.  I hear you loud and clear!  Help me to lay aside my selfishness and let me fully please you.

Listen to him.  He is my Chosen One.  I am fully pleased with him.  Lisa–I am fully pleased with HIM!

Yeah, I so missed the point.  I cannot fully please God and that is why he sent his Son.  Jesus can do what I never could on my own.  Epiphany!  He is God and I am not.  I am just as much a bumbler as poor old Peter was offering to build some shelters for the three shining figures on the mountain top!  And at least, Pete recognized the Messiah when he saw him!

Jesus is the Son of the living God, the Messiah sent from God, the beloved Son, and the Chosen One.  And I am not.