When You Know

Whenever I read this passage I’m struck by John’s crystal clear understanding:

He understands who he’s not:

Are you the Christ?  No. Are you Elijah?  No.  The Prophet?  No.

He understands who he is:

He’s just a voice testifying about Jesus, whose “sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

And he understands his place in the story.

He understands that he’s part of a long line of faithful people who have looked to God in their search for shalom.

What we don’t get to hear is how John came to the place of clarity.   That must have been a fascinating process.

“Miracles may show me the saint, they do not show me how he became a saint: and that is what I want to see. It is not the completed process that intrigues me: it is the process itself… Tell me what was churning in his soul as he battled his way up from selfishness and the allurements of sin to the great heart of God.”

– M. Raymond, O.C.S.O

May God bless your process of understanding of your identity and your place in this great story.


intuition beats intellection

If we are to have a fighting chance in the struggle of passing-on the faith to the next generation, we need to shift our beliefs about how true formation happens.

We need to believe and embrace that intuition beats intellection. When it comes to religious formation:
meaning our character,
                  our ethics,
                  our beliefs,
                  the things that ultimately form the way we live,        
Intuitive Development matters
far more than intellectual development.
 In other words, you can be taught intellectually,
through formal educational methods:
         lecture, books, etc.,
                  that most snakes are perfectly harmless.

But if you intuitively feel uneasy around snakes –
even little ones with little mouths –
         then what you believe intuitively
                  will beat out what you’ve been taught intellectually.

Or you could hear from a teacher at church that
you should love people because Jesus loved people –
you might hear a story about Jesus loving people,
you might do a craft and
         make a heart and
         write a Bible verse on it “God so loved the world” and
         give it to your mom for the refrigerator door…
          but if what you experience in much of real life
                  is that loving people is risky,
                  if you don’t sense that those in your home
                           treat one another lovingly,
                  if you, intuitively, know that you’re not really
                           loved by those around you,
 what is happening intuitivelybeats out what is happening intellectually.  

Every time.  

John Westerhoff III writes this in his book Will Our Children Have Faith? “…I learned that there are two ways to think and know,
the intellectual and the intuitive. And it is the intuitive,
the pre-rational… that is foundational to religious life.”

We could say it this way:
all of life educates (not just “formal” education).

So here’s my question:
What did you teach your child today when you weren’t even trying to teach them?  

Too Many Needs to Not Help

Sunday I asked our community why, even though we believe in living a life of compassion, we seldom actually engage in helping others in practical ways. 
And the one reason on which I focused was the misunderstanding that in order to help others, you, yourself, need to be all healed up. 
While I think that specific misunderstanding is common, it’s not the reason that most-often holds me back.  No, what usually keeps me from helping my neighbor is the nearly exhausting list of needs represented in my own home. 
I got lost in this daydream a few days ago: I was living in the country and my job was to care for my family.  Just my wife and three kids.  
In the daydream, this little community of 5 feels very manageable.  But then I  remember days and months and years when the needs within my own family were overwhelming. 
And then I start thinking of parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, and, of course, in-laws.  And, for me, this is a group of well-over 100 people.  That’s a whole lot of needs.  
Then, at least for me, there’s the church.  Several dozen families just like mine: full of needs. 
On one hand I think, “This is too much need.  I don’t have room for any more.  I can’t help.”
On the other hand I think, “That’s also a whole lot of support.  More than most will ever know.  How can I not help?”

Help while you’re hurting. Heal while you’re helping.

Last Sunday I asked our community why compassion so often slips off our priority lists. 
It’s an interesting question, especially to a church community like ours, because there’s already such a deep level of buy-in on helping others.  We already believe we should serve this city.  We already want to change the world. 
But, even we – who are already convinced – rarely do anything.
Why is that? 
The reason I focused on Sunday is the misunderstanding that we need to first reach a point of health before helping others.  While in extreme cases this is true, most of us should instead help others while we, ourselves are in the process of healing. 
Waiting to get healed before working to help others is stupid.  People who consistently help others know this.  It’s because you’re never fully healed.  You’re always hurting somewhere.   You’re never at 100%.  There simply aren’t people who have it all together.
If you’re waiting to help because you’re not fully healed, please stop waiting.  Help while you’re hurting.  You’ll be healed as you help others. 
[tomorrow: another reason we rarely serve others: we have enough to take care of in our own homes! ]

Learn to Slow Time this Christmas

There probably isn’t a week in the year that’s more important to make time for God than the week before Christmas.  After all, this is the week we celebrate God coming to “be with us.” 
And yet there probably isn’t a week in the year that’s more difficult to find time for God. 
In her book, One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voscamp puts it this way, “God gives us time.  And who has time for God?  Which makes no sense.”
This Sunday I’ll teach our community how to have more time.  This is not a time management sermon, it’s a spirituality of time sermon.  I’ll talk about the element of time we cannot control (no matter how hard we try) and the one part we can.  I’ll share a Biblical view of the relationship between the significance of time and the significance of things.  And I’ll share several practical ideas for slowing down time in your life this week, one of which we’ll practice together.   
You need to be at Emmaus Church in Lincoln this Sunday.  In fact, you don’t have time to miss it.