Essays

    Disentangling Faith From Party Politics

    a political map of the United States showing red and blue states representing Republicans and Democrats

    Over the last number of years in the United States of America Christianity and politics have become so intertwined that in some places they are almost indistinguishable. The rise of the “Moral Majority” and the “Religious Right” have turned Christians into a voting bloc to be used. Now, the political left is even getting in on the act. Christianity bought into a bill of goods that argued that if there was support for a certain political agenda then Christianity would have greater cultural influence.

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    Why Them?

    Psalm 25:1-10; Psalm 32; Matthew 9:2-13

    Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?”

    This story about what happened after the calling of Matthew resonates so deeply with me. I just love everything about it. First, the fact that Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to join him as a disciple makes me smile. Tax Collectors were (and are) some of the most despised people in Palestine. He was considered a traitor to his people. Matthew was probably skimming and probably taxing the people a bit more than he ought to line his own pockets. Matthew was not a guy that anyone in Jesus' merry band would have chosen to associate with.

    But, then it gets better.

    Matthew throws Jesus a party and all kinds of disreputable characters show up. The Pharisees are nearly apoplectic.

    Over the course of my years in ministry I have found myself associating less and less with church people. I find myself standing on the outside looking in at Christian subculture. My people are the ones at the pubs and cafes.

    It’s pretty funny to receive the scorn of the modern day Pharisees.

    I imagine Jesus just smirking and shaking his head as he responded to their critique, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”

    Too many of us are way too worried about being “above reproach” and not worried enough about loving well.

    It’s just too easy to get focused on coddling insiders than it is to invite outsiders. For pastors, in particular, the insiders are our “customers.” We forget that our primary responsibility is not to the 99 but to the 1. What’s just as sad is that the 99 forget that they were at one time the 1.

    This morning I’m pondering the reality that as a pastor I have this dual calling. The call to care for the insiders and those on the outside. How do I orient myself to this dual calling? How do I consistently hold a posture of loving well?

    One Who Receives Grace

    Psalm 25:1-10; Daniel 9:1-14; 1 John 1:3-10

    I love that passage from 1 John that almost feels contradictory.

    On the one hand, if we claim to be in the light but still bounce around in darkness we are liars. One the other hand, if we claim to be without sin then we are also liars.

    It almost seems hopeless, doesn't it?

    How can someone be in the light and still be struggling with sin? Aren't we supposed to be perfect and holy? Aren't we supposed to be free from the darkness?

    This to me is the beauty of the Way of Christ. There is a standard that we are called to, a standard of holiness in the light. Yet, there is a reality that we will not be perfect and we will struggle with things. The Way of Christ simply says, “Own it. Embrace the reality that you need grace, forgiveness, and mercy.”

    To be in the light is not to be perfect. To be in the light is to be honest. To live with integrity. To be one who acknowledges one's own imperfection.

    To be one who receives grace.

    What an overwhelming thought! To be in the way of Christ is to be one who receives grace. To be in the way of Christ is not to be perfect, it is not to have it all together, it is recognize that I don't have it all together and nobody else does either.

    So, grace abounds!

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    Push Comes to Shove

    Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

    Photo by Annika Gordon on Unsplash

    Today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent. For the next 40 days Christians around the world will fast in various ways to prepare for the coming of Resurrection Sunday. This is the high holy day where we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. It was this moment that sets Jesus apart from all other would-be messiahs. The empty tomb is the key moment of our faith.

    Ash Wednesday is the stark reminder that get to the resurrection Christ first had to go to the cross.

    Many will wear ashes on their foreheads today to remind them of their mortality. The ashes signify that from dust we came, to dust we return. Just as Christ died, so too will we die.

    The passages for today's readings point us in the direction of why there was a cross. There was a cross because we through our hypocrisy had separated ourselves from God.

    Even though we might act like we honor God, in our hearts there is something else going on.

    What is it? What else is going on?

    It is this desire to honor ourselves. It is humanity playing out the temptations in the wilderness between Jesus and The Accuser in each of our own lives. Sadly, if we're honest, many times when push comes to shove we fail the test. When we do, we create separation between us and God.

    In our humanity we are frail. In our humanity we are often given to the path of least resistance, whatever is easiest or makes us “happy” in the moment. In our humanity we often care more about looking the part than being the part.

    We are reminded on this Ash Wednesday that though there was separation there is no more. Resurrection is coming. Death has been defeated. Reconciliation is ours because of the victory won on the cross and displayed in the resurrection.

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    The Mystery of Following

    Psalm 110:1-4; Job 19:23-27; 1 Timothy 3:14-16

    Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash

    I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this >letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this >God-alive church, bastion of truth. This Christian life is a great >mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear >enough: *He appeared in a human body, *was proved right by the invisible Spirit, *was seen by angels. *He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, *believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory.

    I am always and consistently struck by the both-and of Jesus. Both a human and taken up to glory.

    As I consider again this great reality of the dual nature of Christ, fully man and fully God, I am left in awe.

    What leaves in even greater awe is what the author of 1 Timothy says right before the creedal statement, “some things are clear enough.”

    The nature of Christ is clear enough. I think it's because it is grounded in the humanity of Jesus. We don't consider the humanity of Jesus well enough. The reality of him being alive and living in this world is something that we just don't let our minds and hearts consider. We are so deeply caught up in the cosmic Christ, this divine being that does all the miracles and conquered death.

    But, the humanity of Jesus is what grounds him in reality. He gets hungry, tired, annoyed, angry, has conflict with family, is accused of being a drunk and a glutton. He has friends who he teases. He gets betrayed.

    This Jesus of history and time is the Jesus that I can look at and say to myself, “Yep, I know what he's going through.”

    Isn't it interesting that the mystery is the life of following Jesus. The mystery is not Jesus himself.

    This makes so much sense if we take the Christian life seriously. If we actually try to live the things of the Sermon on the Mount, we are left wondering if this even possible.

    This way of Jesus is a great mystery. There is grace upon grace. The rules are left under the auspices of love. This often leaves us wondering, “what do I do now?” The way of Jesus responds, “what is the way of love? of grace? of mercy?”

    So, we are left to ponder afresh the Jesus of time and history and to wade into the mystery of how to follow him.

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    New note by Daniel Rose

    @ozzy what do you mean? 😂 I’m missing something. 😂 @dan@social.danielmrose.com

    New note by Daniel Rose

    @ozzy from micro blog. I can cross post from @dan@social.danielmrose.com to sharkey which is nifty

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    The sunsets here in Panama City Beach are just something else!

    New note by Daniel Rose

    I’m reading: The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey, and it is so good. I read it ages ago, but the timeliness of it remarkable.

    I think I will start sharing some quotes and brief thoughts from it and other books.

    📚 micro.blog/books/978…

    New note by Daniel Rose

    @ozzy I am guessing it’s on Sharkey’s end because follows work everywhere else.

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    @ozzy this was cross posted from micro! So, even though micro can’t be followed from here I will finally be active. 😂

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    I feel like the combination of micro.blog and write.as is going to be a match made in fediverse-heaven.

    New note by Daniel Rose

    We had quite the feast for Super Bowl Sunday yesterday. The best part? Leftover chicken nuggies from Chik-Fil-A for lunch today!

    Dead End Drift

    Psalm 110:1-4; Exodus 19:7-25; Hebrews 2:1-4

    Photo by Everett Bartels on Unsplash

    It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.

    In high school there as a class that I took called, Math Analysis. It was pre-Calculus. The teacher taught us through projects. We did a project with satellites and orbits that was super hard and really interesting.

    I couldn't tell you any of the math. I don't even really remember much beyond what I've told already.

    What I do remember is that if our calculations were off by even a fraction of a percent then our satellite would crash. You see, when you drift off course, even slightly, over thousands of miles the results are a significant deviation.

    We experience this on a lesser scale all the time, don't we? I mean, how many banners have you made in your life where your kerning was off just a bit and you ran out of room? Oh, just about every single one? Me too!

    The author of Hebrews reminds us that the same thing can happen with the gospel. We can begin to drift off and lose our way. We can end up down a dead end that leaves us confused and lost.

    I'm reading The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey right now. He wrote this, “Goodness cannot be imposed externally, from the top down; it must grow internally, from the bottom up.”

    As I look around our world today it seems that we Christians have perhaps lost the grip on the message of the Gospel. We clamor for a top down, externally imposed goodness. This loss has left us graceless, merciless, compassionless, and simply unkind.

    I am reminded this morning that I must hold tight to the gospel message lest I drift. The drift though small can leave me lost in a dead end.

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    Dead End Drift

    Psalm 110:1-4; Exodus 19:7-25; Hebrews 2:1-4

    Photo by Everett Bartels on Unsplash

    It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off.

    In high school there as a class that I took called, Math Analysis. It was pre-Calculus. The teacher taught us through projects. We did a project with satellites and orbits that was super hard and really interesting.

    I couldn't tell you any of the math. I don't even really remember much beyond what I've told already.

    What I do remember is that if our calculations were off by even a fraction of a percent then our satellite would crash. You see, when you drift off course, even slightly, over thousands of miles the results are a significant deviation.

    We experience this on a lesser scale all the time, don't we? I mean, how many banners have you made in your life where your kerning was off just a bit and you ran out of room? Oh, just about every single one? Me too!

    The author of Hebrews reminds us that the same thing can happen with the gospel. We can begin to drift off and lose our way. We can end up down a dead end that leaves us confused and lost.

    I'm reading The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey right now. He wrote this, “Goodness cannot be imposed externally, from the top down; it must grow internally, from the bottom up.”

    As I look around our world today it seems that we Christians have perhaps lost the grip on the message of the Gospel. We clamor for a top down, externally imposed goodness. This loss has left us graceless, merciless, compassionless, and simply unkind.

    I am reminded this morning that I must hold tight to the gospel message lest I drift. The drift though small can leave me lost in a dead end.

    Discuss...

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    Disentangling Faith from Tribalism

    knotted up ropes

    2016 was a watershed moment for the Evangelical movement in the United States of America. It was a moment that had been building for decades. It did not come out of nowhere. Kristin Kobes Du Mez outlines the rise of this moment in her excellent work Jesus and John Wayne, I would recommend reading it if you would like the historical background. The Evangelical movement had to make a decision about a singular question and that question was whether it would embrace a tribalistic identity or if it would choose an identity that transcends tribalism. It unequivocally chose the former.

    I want to let you in on a little secret, the clamor for tribalism is nothing new.

    Humanity loves to divide and separate along tribal lines. There is safety in knowing who the “them” is. If we are going to be safe we need to know who our enemies are. Who are the people that are “out to get us?” Who are the dangerous people that are trying to destroy the very things that we hold dear?

    One of the most popular television shows over the last number of years is Yellowstone. It's a drama set in Montana around the largest private ranch in the state and the never ending quest of people to steal it away from the Dutton family. The whole show is centered on the need to identify who the newest enemy is and how protect “mine” from the enemy. I think what makes this show very attractive to so many is that it taps into the innate need to know who our tribe is.

    Us vs Them. In vs Out. Me vs You.

    According to the Cambridge Dictionary the popular usage of the term “tribalism” could be understood this way, “a very strong feeling of loyalty to a political or social group, so that you support them whatever they do.”

    In our world today we are seeing more and more people walk away from faith because of many in the church who care more about protecting the institution or the “tribe” than about truth. In the 70s and 80s we saw people leave the Catholic Church in droves because of the priest sexual abuse scandals. The crime perpetrated by the priests was evil all on its own, but what drove people away was the cover up. In the 2000s we are seeing the same kind of thing happening in the Protestant church, particularly in Evangelicalism. The institutions have been exposed to be covering for the awful things that are done by many in positions of leadership.

    When a faith tradition decides that protecting those in power and the institutions they represent is more important than the people they are called to care for should we be surprised that there is a walking away?

    I'd say there should be an expectation of it.

    Why is this happening? Why is there such a protection of the institution and its leaders?

    It is because we have decided that we are in a war with “those people.” When you're in a war you need rally around “our people.”

    When we Christian-wash the failures of these movements and try to pretend that they aren't happening or we try to minimize them, we do great harm to the cause of the gospel. When we acknowledge them and bring them into the light then there is some hope in disentangling ourselves from the tribalism that is inherent in the hiding.

    The deepest problem with tribalism though is that it is antithetical to the way of Christ.

    Jesus in one of my favorite stories from the Gospels is talking with a Samaritan woman and he has just proven himself to her as something of a prophet and she says,

    Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

    “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

    “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

    Do you see how Jesus challenges the entire underpinning of tribalism? He dismantles the “us vs them” by saying, “But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.” All that matters is the worshiping in spirit and truth.

    The Apostle Paul makes it more explicit in his letter to the Galatians, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    We have to disentangle ourselves from the various tribes that we find ourselves in. I imagine that if Paul were writing this today he might have put it in political terms, “In Christ's famil there can be division into Republican and Democrat, socialist and capitalist, male and female. Among us you are equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    The beauty of the way of Jesus is that it transcends the various tribalistic aspects of any particular culture.

    If you've grown up in the church and you're looking around at the tribalism that you see, know that it isn't the way of Jesus. It is right and good to disentangle yourself from the political tribes and even religious tribes that claim to be the “Jesus way.”

    Remember, ”...the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.”

    The way of Jesus transcends the tribes.

    Evangelicalism is not the Jesus Way. Progressivism is not the Jesus Way. Liberalism is not the Jesus Way. Conservatism is the not the Jesus Way. Fundamentalism is not the Jesus Way.

    From each of these (and more) there are aspects of truth and we include them in our journey but then we transcend them to worship God in spirit and truth.

    The process of disentangling ourselves from our tribes is hard and it is painful. It will leave us lonely for a season. It my break our hearts. We will likely lose relationships. But, at the end of the day moving from “us vs them” to a “Cosmic We” is so worth it.

    When we disentangle from the tribe we can find the path toward loving neighbor, loving enemy, and loving God with all of who we are.

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    Two Ditches

    Psalm 50:1-6; 1 Kings 14:1-18; 1 Timothy 1:12-20

    a road between ditches

    I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were violence and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.

    For some of us pastors this is something we need to be reminded of regularly. I know I do.

    There are two ditches that I find on either side of me as I consider my calling. On the one side is whining. Often, when I meet with colleagues there is a corporate time of whining about our calling and congregations. It's like Mr. Costanza's Festivus comes to church. There is a temptation to fall into a bit of despondency because our callings are related to people. People are never finished and people are always messy. When you never have closure you can get frustrated. This is part of the reason that Eugene Peterson would read The Brothers Karamazov every year. He needed a reminder that people's lives are fascinating.

    The other ditch is one of arrogant power. We pastors can develop a bit of a god-complex. There is this sense that we speak for God to God's people and therefore the people ought to obey us. This, unchecked, will of course lead us to a place of spiritual abuse. We often hold our authority over people. When this happens it is ugly and causes serious harm.

    Paul had the answer to staying between these two ditches. That is, in a word, gratitude.

    Pastors, in my opinion, have the greatest job in the world. We get the opportunity to be part of the life of people. There is a presence we get to have as they learn to live the life of faith. We walk alongside them during the overwhelming joys of weddings and births. We also get to hold people's hands and put our arms around their shoulders during the painful times of their lives. We are always there in the background of their lives.

    A simple presence during the good, the bad, and the mundane.

    This is a beautiful thing that we are called to.

    This calling is all grace.

    None of us deserve it.

    Each of us called to serve as ministers of the gospel do so by the gracious working of God through Christ.

    What an honor! What a responsibility! What an absolute joy!

    All by grace.

    Oh, that I would consistently see my calling through the lens of gratitude. I need to continue learn this valuable lesson that Paul teaches Timothy here.

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    @Joe woof. That isn’t cool.

    Do You Stink?

    Psalm 50:1-6; 1 Kings 11:26-40; 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

    Photo by Casey Murphy on Unsplash

    Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. >Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is >recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with >life.

    I often wonder if this is true of me.

    There are few things in this life that I desperately want. When I die, oh how I would love it to be said of me that because of Christ I gave off “an aroma redolent with life.”

    So often I find myself staring into the mirror seeing my shortcomings and failings to love well. The lack of love is so easily apparent. Thankfully, there is a grace that knows no bounds that has been offered to me through this Christ whom I seek to follow.

    This little passage is such a good reminder that words matter. How we live matters.

    It's also a reminder that when we seek to live this way there will be people who won't respond well. They will see the pursuit of love and will find is distasteful, a stench.

    But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.

    How can I be sure that I'm speaking life? How can I know that the words and way I live are honoring and pleasing to Christ?

    This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No—but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.

    It's that last little bit that jumps at me, “say it as honestly as we can.”

    There's no “but” tagged onto the words of Jesus. There's no attempt to package him or mitigate him for our comfort. No, when we are speaking the truth in love it is not going to be a cheap, watered down, Christ. It is going to be the message of the cross and resurrection that is laden with grace, mercy, compassion, empathy, and love.

    I suppose this is the means by which I can evaluate myself. Is the way I live and the words I speak bookended with grace and love?

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    A Vending Machine or God?

    Psalm 102:12-28; Job 6:1-13; Mark 3:7-12

    Photo by Marc Noorman on Unsplash

    Each morning I share a little morning blessing in my social streams. Nothing big, just a little something that runs through my mind. This morning I shared, “may you choose to be content despite your circumstances.” With this being a Wednesday we can often find ourselves buried by details and tasks. It can be really hard to be content.

    But, there's also a bigger picture beyond the small every day stuff. Some of us find ourselves in these difficult situations where it feels like the whole world is closing in on us. Some of it is due to our own decision making and some of it is due to things beyond our control.

    Often times when we find ourselves in these situations we turn to God out of desperation.

    Like Job we wonder why hasn't God done the things we want him to do on our behalf.

    The arrows of God Almighty are in me, poison arrows—and I’m poisoned all through! God has dumped the whole works on me. Donkeys bray and cows moo when they run out of pasture— so don’t expect me to keep quiet in this. Do you see what God has dished out for me? It’s enough to turn anyone’s stomach! Everything in me is repulsed by it— it makes me sick.

    Yet, more often than not I wonder if we are really more like the crowds chasing Jesus around. The people who have experienced God's provision and then demand more.

    He had healed many people, and now everyone who had something >wrong was pushing and shoving to get near and touch him.

    God is not a vending machine that we can drop a quarter into and get something in return. It's just not how things work. No, God relates to us. God engages with us. God is calling and drawing us in deeper beyond our wants and desires.

    There are times when we will walk through difficult things. It's parf of living in this imperfect world amongst imperfect people. There is sickness, mental and physical, there are natural disasters, there are things well out of our control.

    Sometimes we have to face the consequences of our decisions.

    Sometimes we experience the consequences of other people's decisions.

    Sometimes we find immediate healing and relief.

    Sometimes we have to learn contentment in the midst of our circumstances.

    If you're anything like me when I'm facing the hard stuff I want to know why God doesn't answer my fervent prayer to fix it and fix it now. Then, sometime later I see how the plan worked itself out and see God's hand in it.

    As C.S. Lews writes about Aslan in the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,

    “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “ Ooh” said Susan. “I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall >feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”... “Safe?” said Mr Beaver ...“Who said anything about safe? 'Course he >isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”

    I love this picture of Aslan. He isn't safe but he is good. In our home we talk often of God being sovereign and good. We can trust God because God is in control and is good. This helps us find contentment in the midst of circumstances.

    No, God is not a vending machine. God works in God's ways on God's own timing. I'm learning to be content with that.

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    New note by Daniel Rose

    @cstross@wandering.shop what in yhe Jurassic Park is going on here? 😂😂😂

    New note by Daniel Rose

    That Time They Fought

    Psalm 102:12-28; 2 Kings 8:1-6; Acts 15:36-41

    What do you do when conflict arises? This little passage in Acts 15 is always fascinating to me because it gives us a snapshot of the less than perfect leaders in the early church. It turns out that they were as human and normal as we are. They had disagreements and tempers and personalities. (Side note, I’m thankful that the Bible preserves the imperfections because it helps us know and understand these people were just like us.)

    Paul and Barnabas disagreed on taking young Mark along on the journey. So, they parted ways. Their disagreement on this man lead them to breaking off their partnership. This doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that the writer of two thirds of the New Testament should do, does it? This was a guy who had visions of the risen Christ. He was a guy who would go on to write, possibly, the greatest passage on love in human history. Yet, here he is unable to continue in relationship with someone who was his mentor and friend over a disagreement.

    There’s no moral judgment in the passage about the argument. There’s just a statement of the facts of the matter.

    I think one of the things that comes out of this brief story is that it’s OK to agree to disagree. Some times we come to a place where we simply have to say, “We aren’t going to see eye to eye and for the greater good we ought to part ways.”

    It also brings to mind a conversation that I’ve a number of times about the nature of forgiveness. I think that when we talk about forgiveness we need to distinguish between forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Forgiveness is a one way street. It’s what the offended person does so as to not develop bitterness in their own soul. Reconciliation is a two way street when the two people can be present with one another. This is a two way street where the offender acknowledges their hurtful action and the offended is willing to remain in relationship. Restoration is when the hurt has been moved past and the relationship has been returned to a previous or deeper state.

    I imagine that Paul and Barnabas forgave one another. Perhaps in their separating there was even reconciliation in that they were not estranged from one another. We see later in the book of Acts a restoration when Mark joins Paul on the journey.

    When we enter into conflict the minimum outcome we hope for is forgiveness from our own point of view. When it comes to reconciliation and restoration, that is something that requires two people to move towards one another. We don’t really control the reconciliation and restoration aspect. And sometimes, those are not healthy outcomes (particularly in cases of abuse, restoration is not something that we need to pursue).

    This morning I am processing whom I may need to forgive or whom I need to ask forgiveness of.

    New note by Daniel Rose

    Gotta say, I’m really enjoying Lincoln Lawyer.

    New note by Daniel Rose

    Hey FUNsters! Check out the new “bubble” feed in your toolbar. It highlights a few particular public timelines.

    That Time They Fought

    Psalm 102:12-28; 2 Kings 8:1-6; Acts 15:36-41

    Photo by Obie Fernandez on Unsplash

    What do you do when conflict arises? This little passage in Acts 15 is always fascinating to me because it gives us a snapshot of the less than perfect leaders in the early church. It turns out that they were as human and normal as we are. They had disagreements and tempers and personalities. (Side note, I'm thankful that the Bible preserves the imperfections because it helps us know and understand these people were just like us.)

    Paul and Barnabas disagreed on taking young Mark along on the journey. So, they parted ways. Their disagreement on this man lead them to breaking off their partnership. This doesn't sound like the kind of thing that the writer of two thirds of the New Testament should do, does it? This was a guy who had visions of the risen Christ. He was a guy who would go on to write, possibly, the greatest passage on love in human history. Yet, here he is unable to continue in relationship with someone who was his mentor and friend over a disagreement.

    There's no moral judgment in the passage about the argument. There's just a statement of the facts of the matter.

    I think one of the things that comes out of this brief story is that it's OK to agree to disagree. Some times we come to a place where we simply have to say, “We aren't going to see eye to eye and for the greater good we ought to part ways.”

    It also brings to mind a conversation that I've a number of times about the nature of forgiveness. I think that when we talk about forgiveness we need to distinguish between forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Forgiveness is a one way street. It's what the offended person does so as to not develop bitterness in their own soul. Reconciliation is a two way street when the two people can be present with one another. This is a two way street where the offender acknowledges their hurtful action and the offended is willing to remain in relationship. Restoration is when the hurt has been moved past and the relationship has been returned to a previous or deeper state.

    I imagine that Paul and Barnabas forgave one another. Perhaps in their separating there was even reconciliation in that they were not estranged from one another. We see later in the book of Acts a restoration when Mark joins Paul on the journey.

    When we enter into conflict the minimum outcome we hope for is forgiveness from our own point of view. When it comes to reconciliation and restoration, that is something that requires two people to move towards one another. We don't really control the reconciliation and restoration aspect. And sometimes, those are not healthy outcomes (particularly in cases of abuse, restoration is not something that we need to pursue).

    This morning I am processing whom I may need to forgive or whom I need to ask forgiveness of.

    Discuss...

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