Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pharisee Tendencies

I lean toward being a Pharisee - and that's not fair-you-see!!

My tendency is to believe that I am worthy of God's love and acceptance by what I do or don't do, or by how good or bad of a man I am for Him.

This manifests itself in a number of ways in my life. When I feel like I have done something well - helped someone in need, or provided wise counsel to someone - then I am more loved by God because I have done a good job. Of course, that also means the opposite is true for me too - if I mess up or make a choice that I know is not honoring to God - I am in jeopardy of losing His love.

I recently finished the book, Love Wins, by Rob Bell. This book asks lots of questions about heaven and hell, and many of those questions are very profound. But the most powerful part of the book for me was the chapter on the Prodigal Son (The Good News Is Better Than That). In a nutshell, Rob talks about how there are actually three stories at work here: the story of the prodigal who believes he is not worthy of his father's love because of the poor choices he has made; the story of the older son, who believes he deserves his father's love because of what he has done; and the story of the father, who freely offers his love to both sons, regardless of either of their choices.

Sometimes I gravitate toward the younger son - beating myself up for poor choices, for not living up to the standards of the father. Sometimes I am the older son - proud of myself for all the good I have done and ready to receive the accolades I deserve.

Either way, I am a pharisee.

My prayer for Lent (and beyond!) is that I would be willing to truly trust and believe my Father's version of the story!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I have been thinking this morning about influence. Because of the way I have been wired and created, I tend to view things from a pretty large perspective. I think about the big pictures of life, and all of the ways the world around me needs to be changed. I want to make a huge impact for the Kingdom. The problem is, I am a pretty small rock. I have not been given a very large platform from which to function. Some of that has to do with my personality, but much of it simply has to do with the circumstances of life into which I have been delivered.

All of this means I have a choice to make. Am I going to focus and worry and agonize over all of those larger issues I see that need to be changed, fixed, modified, stopped?! Or am I going to make a decision to do what I can, where I can, with every ounce of energy I have? Am I willing to take the small rock that I am, and make the biggest splash I can, in the arena into which I have been placed, and then let my small influence ripple out as far as it possibly can go?

Will I be faithful with what I have been given right in front of me - no matter how big or small it may be?

As the writers of Scripture would say....


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Incurvitas in se

Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. It's been almost a year since my last post.....

Incurvitas in se - this is a new phrase I learned this past week. It is a phrase which may have been coined by Augustine, but about which Martin Luther wrote much. The full phrase he actually used was, "homo incurvitas in se ipsem," which means, "man turning in on himself." One of the things I heard about this phrase when I was first learning it was the idea of a curled wood shaving that is turned in on itself, but in the center is actually a hole.

This is what life is like when we function from a perspective of incurvitas in se. Our tendency is to focus so much on ourselves that we actually can miss everything that is happening around us. And when we do that, we end up just being centered around emptiness.

Yesterday I was heading to the office to try and get some concentrated work done in a very limited amount of time. I had high hopes for that time.

On my way, I received a message there was someone at the office who was in need of assistance. Really?! I don't have time for this!

I arrived, listened to the story, offered some assistance, and about 15 minutes later headed back to the church. As I was driving up the street toward the church, there was an elderly woman standing in the street next to a bike, all of her stuff (which may have been all of her possessions) laying on the street next to her. It looked as if she was trying to work on her bike. I had to move to the left in order to avoid her, and the story of the good Samaritan flashed through my mind. Really Lord!?!? Again?

I stopped. We eventually untangled the bungee cord that was wrapped around her axel, and we were both off. Another 10 minutes gone.

I was suffering from incurvitas in se!

By the time I got back to the office, I had effectively lost half an hour. I sat down to make the most of the time I had left, but didn't get finished before I had to leave for the next assignment. I figured I would just have to stay up late that night to get everything done, since the rest of my day was booked until 9 PM. Oh well.

Incurvitas in se!

Much to my surprise, my afternoon appointment that was supposed to go from 1-5, actually ended at 3! Seriously, Lord!?!?!

As I once again headed back to the office with the gift of 2 more hours before my next appointment, God seemed to whisper to me, "Thanks for listening earlier, even if you did it with a poor attitude. Your willingness to work with me in the moment, made a huge difference for those people, and now you get to see that I am still taking care of you too."

While my actions earlier that day had not been inwardly focused, my attitude certainly had been incurvitas in se! And now the Lord was showing me that perhaps the next time I could seek His help and allow my actions and my attitude to line up. And that just might make it possible for me to see those people as people, not a bother to my schedule.

Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I suffer from incurvitas in se!