Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ

12
May
21

Sharing Sea Bass

Forgive me, blogosphere, for I have sinned.

They make it look so EASY!

Today’s confession: I am not good at sharing. 

Especially when it comes to food.

But don’t take my word for it. Just ask Joan.

Allow me to set the scene: Joan and I are sitting across from one another having a meal at a nice, but not-too-expensive Fort Collins restaurant. We have ordered two different entrees and are both enjoying our selections. At exactly one bite past the halfway point of consuming the Featured Item on my plate, I notice a floating fork in the corner of my field of vision… it is slowly advancing in my direction.

Attached to that floating fork is the right hand of my beloved. 

I look up, warily. There is a smile on her lips and pure charm in her eyes as she bats those lovely eyelashes and demurely asks, “Can I have a bite?”

Whereas most loving spouses would return that smile, lean back in their chair, and say, “Certainly, honey. Go right ahead!” I, instead, balk. In my mind I have calculated the precise number of bites left on my plate and have devised plans for the enjoyment of every one of them. The prospect of losing even one sets my pulse racing.

At war with these basic protective instincts is an aspiration to be seen by my spouse as a “good guy;” read, “One who shares freely of all his possessions.”

So, I end up smiling feebly and muttering a barely audible, “Uh, sure… go ahead… I guess.”

Pretty pathetic, no?

In the first place, it is ridiculous to imagine that giving away ONE SMALL BITE of my food will make the slightest difference in my satiation, my nourishment, or my joy. 

Secondly, what kind of MONSTER chooses to hoard all their gustatorial enjoyment… especially from the one you have covenanted to become “one flesh” with? (Genesis 2:24, and Matthew 19:5, NRSV). 

And thirdly, (but probably not lastly), what does that sort of miserly response on such a MINOR matter say about that person’s general generosity quotient? 

I can sit here and talk all day about the fact that I grew up in a family of five kids where food was scarce and to be guarded with one’s life. But frankly that was a long, long time ago. Those tapes should really not be playing in my 69-year-old head any longer. 

It’s not as if the faith I profess to profess is exactly silent on this topic. Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35, NRSV). The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, listed GENEROSITY as one of his famous “fruits of the spirit”: “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness…” (Galatians 5:22, NRSV). And in making this list, I am sure Paul was probably taking for granted that OF COURSE spouses would demonstrate these “fruits” to one another.

So, what’s my problem, anyway?

It may be that I suffer from the disease of ENTITLEMENT… the sense that the world and those around me OWE ME something.

It may be that I somehow see life as a “zero sum” equation… that is, you gaining something necessarily means me losing something. 

Or it may just mean that I really, REALLY love steamed sea bass. 

Whatever the final verdict, I pray that my character flaw might be instructive to you in your journey.

As it turns out, Jesus was right after all… it really is more blessed to give than to receive.

Abundant blessings;

07
May
21

Listening to The Voice

“I love you,” she said.

dv428085

She paused. And then added, “Always have… always will.”

And although he’d heard those words from her thousands of times during the 24 years of their relationship, it was different this time.

That word – aimed squarely at HIM – set off little vibrations at the center of his spine… Vibrations that rippled up, down, and out through his toes and his fingertips. 

It was like he was hearing it fresh and new… in a way he had never heard it before. 

It jolted him.

It excited him.

And frankly, it also scared him a little.

He raised his chin. Her eyes met his. And stayed there. Unwavering… Soft… Steady.

He walked through the door she had opened and tumbled headfirst into something wild and holy and fresh.

In that moment, she welcomed him into a place of DEVOTION. 

In her eyes he saw COMMITMENT. 

In her demeanor he felt the full weight of UNCONDITIONALITY.

As he gazed, frozen and utterly moonstruck, fear melted… purpose congealed… doubt dissolved.

“THIS!” he whispered. “This.”

His arms stopped flailing. His legs churned no more. His feet landed on bedrock and stuck.

Homesick no longer, he knew he had arrived… nestled finally in the place where he had always belonged.

As he looked around, The Voice spoke. It came from inside and outside at the same time. It enveloped and caressed him and said, “This is all for you, yes. Every bit of it. But you need to know you did nothing to earn it. True, it is your birthright. But it is also the birthright of every person who has ever lived.”

The Voice continued; “As you stand there, soaking in the reassurance of a love that will not let you go, please know this: the buttery soft blanket you now feel wrapped around your shoulders is also the very foundation of the world. It is the substratum of life itself. It is the Petri dish from which All of Creation grew.”

“When you love, we connect. When you fail or refuse to love, you summon the Void.”

“I thought that my dying for you would add enough emphasis to my message that it would prove the point [see, for example, The Gospel According to John, chapter 3, verse 16]. 

“Clearly, it didn’t.”

“So now the task is yours. Go forth and give. Give love. Give life. Stand on the foundation I’ve provided and don’t expect anything in return.” 

“Do this, my son, ‘… And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’” (Philippians 4:7 NRSV).

Abundant blessings;

28
Apr
21

An Idle Mind

Idle hands are not a problem for me.

Most of the time, I am either doing something or reveling in the fact that I am NOT doing anything.

An idle mind though? That’s another story entirely.

It happened to me just the other day.

Most of the time, I guard against Idle Brain Syndrome pretty well. I’ve read Proverbs 19:15 where it warns, “Laziness brings on deep sleep; an idle person will suffer hunger.” Lord knows I’d do almost anything to avoid hunger.

So, when I am in the middle of a monotonous or repetitive activity (like exercising or working in the yard), I am pretty good at finding ways to keep my brain engaged. I will go ahead and offer the spiritual answer right off the bat and tell you that I regularly use that idle time to talk with God. 

But not always. 

[Honestly, I sometimes wonder if God gets a little tired of me and my nonsense. God is too polite to come right out and say it, but I’m sure he wants to interrupt me right at the beginning and say something like, “Again, Russell? You know, we’ve been over this territory AT LEAST six thousand times already! Can you come back later when you’ve got some fresh material?”]

Sometimes I listen to music during my tedious stretches.

At other times I listen to podcasts through my Bluetooth device (… some of my favorites include TED Talks, Hidden Brain, The Next Right Thing, Maybe God, Unlocking Us, and Revisionist History). 

But yesterday, while I toiled away at the wearisome task of putting a brick border around one of our front flower beds, I had NOTHING. No music. No podcasts. No prayers.

Just a dull job and an idle mind. 

And now I know why God seems to be such a non-fan of idle brains. 

That’s because they can go anywhere, y’all! They can latch onto an insipid song lyric and wear it smooth. They can invent entire conversations out of whole cloth and orchestrate them so that I ALWAYS come out on top! They can rehash events from the past that should be left well enough alone. They can start imagining things that might/could/should/ possibly happen at some unspecified time in the future and turn them into a nightmare apocalyptic scenario. 

Or they can just descend into meaningless gibberish. 

And once again I am reminded of the incredible width and breadth of possibilities we possess as human beings. The same brain that can become inescapably fixated on the Baby Shark song is also capable of creating art that stirs hearts and souls, or devising words to soothe a grieving friend, or naming all the states of the U.S. in order alphabetically. 

James, the half-brother of Jesus, once wrote, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs?” (James 3:11-12, NRSV). 

No. But the human brain can perform an amazing array of complex and even contradictory tasks, all without breaking a sweat. 

And ALL of that is a gift from the God who loves and trusts us.

Is that cool or what?

Abundant blessings;

26
Apr
21

Your Real Name

As Juliet once famously asked, looking heavenward from her balcony, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”

Juliet’s ambivalence on the topic of names is understandable; if her lover Romeo hadn’t been cursed with the surname “Montague,” their affair would have been totally copasetic. 

For the rest of us though, names seem to matter… a LOT!

They connect us to a family history, for one thing. They provide the good folks at Ancestry.com with a healthy revenue stream for another. They give us clues about identities or qualities our parents hoped to instill in us, or perhaps detected in the first hours of our lives. 

Take Hunter, for example. Or Rex (Latin for “king”). Or Linda (Spanish for “beautiful”), or any name with blatant biblical origins such as Ruth, or Deborah, or Paul, or any one of the 12 disciples.

On a personal note, I have been engaged in a lifelong tug-of-war with my feelings about my name. My grandfather’s name was George Clifford Brown. My father’s name was George Clifford Brown, Jr. And for reasons I was never privy to, I got the name George RUSSELL Brown. I guess my dad SORT OF wanted to carry on the family lineage but didn’t want me to be burdened by carrying that oh-so-pretentious “III” through life. 

As a very young guy I decided GEORGE sounded “too adult,” so I went with a shortened version of my middle name. That is why, to all my friends and family thereafter I was RUSTY

That name, however, caused me to become the butt of a Sunday school teacher’s cruel joke. I thought it was a little strange that day when she called on me read a passage from the lesson. The subject of the lesson was the Dead Sea Scrolls and as I read aloud, I read that the author described the scrolls as having, “… a rusty brown color.”

Hardy har har, Mrs. Crompton. At least the rest of the class enjoyed your little stunt.

When my family moved from Ohio to the suburbs of Seattle just before my senior year of high school, I decided it was high time for a rite of passage. That was when I dropped RUSTY and went with RUSSELL.

Then, ten years later, I got my next name surprise. When applying for my first passport, that I discovered I had been misspelling my own name. There, in black and white, on my birth certificate, on the space marked, “Middle Name,” it read: RUSSEL. 

One “L”. Not two. 

Now, thanks to the website, “Behind the Name.com,” (https://www.behindthename.com), I have discovered that the name GEORGE comes from the Greek and means “farmer or earthworker,” while Russell (two “Ls”) is derived from French meaning “little red one.” 

How’s THAT for auspicious? 

Here’s the thing though; at this ripe and maturing age, I am finally at peace with my name. As the jokester once said, “I don’t care what you call me, just don’t call me late for dinner.”

I have also come to learn that there two other names that mean a lot more to me… much more than “Rusty,” or “Russell,” (or “Russel,”) or “George.”

As John the Evangelist tells me in the book of 1 John, I have been given the name CHILD OF GOD; “See what great love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God!”

(1 John 3:1, NRSV). 

And Jesus himself called me the best name of all. He has called me “friend.” He was really talking to his original group of disciples when he said this, but I hear Jesus speaking directly to me in John’s gospel when he says, “… but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” (John 15:15, NRSV).

And you know what? YOU have also received those two awesome names!

How cool is THAT!!

Abundant blessings;

23
Apr
21

Fanboy Nerves

Have you ever met a celebrity?

Growing up, my best friend’s father was the weatherman on the Channel Six Nightly News. I always thought it was pretty cool to go over to Kirk’s house and see Nick Thompson – the guy who told thousands of people in the Columbus, Ohio metro area whether to expect rain, snow, sleet, or sun – sitting in his BarcaLounger in a T-shirt, smoking a cigarette, and reading the newspaper. 

Many years later my friend and I bumped into all five members of the Grateful Dead walking up the alleyway behind Seattle’s Paramount Theater. It was an hour before concert time and they were heading into the stage door, getting ready to play. In that stunned, star-struck moment, the only words I could coax from my mouth were, “Play good!”

What an IDIOT!

To that I can add meeting and posing for a picture with ABC TV’s George Stephanopolous [Trust me, there really IS a picture. I know it’s somewhere around here…] and bumping into Bo Jackson as he dropped off his clothes at a Kansas City dry cleaner.

Compared with some people I know, my list of close encounters of the celebrity kind is very short. The fact is, being in the vicinity of famous and/or accomplished people makes me feel awkward, unimportant, and small. I fear if I had more encounters to report, they would all include awkward, blubbering fanboy moments like the one I had with Jerry Garcia and friends. 

But here is the truly amazing thing for me to stop and realize; every day I bump into arguably the most famous, the most earth-shaking, most significant human being the world has ever seen! And instead of tensing up and stuttering, I come away overflowing with trust, confidence, and deep peace.

I am sure you know I’m talking about Jesus, right?

No, he didn’t make multiple platinum selling records, or interview Princess Diana, or set NFL rushing records, or walk on the moon.

All Jesus did was make the deaf hear, the lame walk, the blind see, and the dead live again. He only drew the dividing line between B.C. and A.D. on our calendars and got up from the grave three days after offering his earthly life as a sacrifice for you and me. 

Jesus merely set into motion a world-wide movement that has transformed the hearts of billions of men, women, and children and has survived every attempt to wipe it out. 

And yet… this awesome world-changer reaches out to you and to me every day, smiles, and says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NRSV). 

And you know what? 

He doesn’t make me even a little bit nervous.

Abundant blessings;

19
Apr
21

Watch Your Eyes!

Today, for the first time in a jillion years, I got new glasses.

Not just new lenses. New frames, too. 

And if I do say so myself, they are pretty danged snazzy. 

All of which made me pause and think about the importance of my eyes.

Somewhere in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offered his listeners this important observation: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eyeis unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (Matthew 6:22-23, NRSV).

Which prompts me to ask: How is your eye… or rather, how are your EYES today?

No question; eyes and their use have always been important to us. Not only do they help us navigate through our surroundings, but they also serve as a critical instrument of self-expression. 

Here in the time of the global pandemic, however, their importance seems to have skyrocketed exponentially. 

Think of it. When we find ourselves in a time – as we do today – where masks hide the lower half of everyone’s face, the entire weight of emotional expression falls on the eyes. We have to learn to “SMIZE” (or “smile with your eyes,” TM, Tyra Banks), express pleasure, fear, concern, angst, boredom, surprise, disgust, horror, love, and 85 other emotions ENTIRELY with our eyes.

That seems like a mighty heavy burden to lay on those two little jelly-filled balls.

This is certainly a time for us to take good care of the health of these critters, for sure. It is also a good time to remember to be a little extra cautious about how we are using our eyes. For example, are we…

… rolling our eyes?

… averting our eyes?

… leering with them?

… looking covetously with them?

… staring with them?

… registering embarrassment or shame with them?

Your eyes disclose your heart. They have the power to hearten or to discourage everyone you meet. 

Our eyes serve as our ambassadors… going out ahead of us to tell others who we are and what we are about. They don’t lie… even when we ask them to.

So, please… take good care of your eyes…

… and watch them carefully.

Abundant blessings;

07
Apr
21

No Secret Cobbler

Way back in the W.Y. (“Working Years,” for the uninitiated), I went out to lunch with my pastor buddy Steven. We dined at a local burger place and discussed a few of the many mysteries of the pastoring life. 

I don’t remember everything we talked about that day, but I am sure that among the things we discussed were such esoteric, theological topics as, “So where do you go to get a really good drummer for the praise band?” and, “Are there really no circumstances in which it is OK to strike a parishioner?”

[Just joshing on that last one…]

I recall that I finished my burger and fries and – since we were still deep in conversation – I went back and ordered the special blackberry cobbler ala mode they were featuring on the menu that day. 

It was DELICIOUS!

When I got home that night, Joan asked me, “So… who did you have lunch with today?”

I said, “Steven,” thinking it was a little odd that she knew I had lunch with anyone at all.

She then followed up with, “So I guess you went back and had a little dessert, too!”

I said, “Now hang on a minute! How do you know that? Have you hired a private detective to follow me around all day? I mean, OK… I’m sorry I didn’t bring you any blackberry cobbler, but honestly honey, you’re freaking me out a little here.”

Joan then reminded me that our bank sends her a little “BING!” alert whenever there is a transaction on our jointly held debit card. She saw one swipe for the burger and fries and then a few minutes later, a second, lesser charge. 

So then, using her considerable powers of deduction, she was able to piece together the exact steps of my lunchtime behavior.

But I’m not going to lie; the whole thing was a tad unsettling. I mean, I didn’t particularly mind that my wife was alerted every time I used our debit card. After all, I had nothing to hide. The whole thing just sent out a “Big Brother Is Watching!” kind of vibe. 

So, in response to her financial vigilance, I resolved to become devious. I decided that every time I wanted to buy something goofy or frivolous, I would use cash, thereby subverting the whole family surveillance system. 

OK, here we go!” I bellowed to the sky. “Blackberry cobbler, morning, noon, and NIGHT!!”

It didn’t take me long for me to realize the futility of the path I had embarked upon. First of all, here I was… actively scheming to deceive my spouse. You know, the one I exchanged sacred vows with 20 years ago. The one with whom I had “become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NRSV). The one I had promised to “love, honor, and cherish.”

There is also the small matter that whatever I do… whatever I think… every word I say… is already known anyway. I may be able to hide a blackberry cobbler dessert from Joan by using cash or toss a soft-drink cup onto the road when no one is looking or keep that $5.00 bill that the cashier gave me by mistake, but none of that is secret.

All of that – and so much more – is utterly and completely known.

I am known, head to toe, inside and out, front to back, by The One Who Created Me.

So are you.

And while this revelation might sound like anything BUT good news, it is actually gloriously, ridiculously awesome news. 

Because that One who knows us better than we can possibly know ourselves also LOVES us gloriously and ridiculously and unconditionally.

And if that news isn’t worth celebrating with a slice of blackberry cobbler ala mode, I don’t know what is. 

Abundant blessings;

27
Mar
21

Getting Uncomfortable

Germany, Young man lying in hammock and reading a magazine

Before Word #1 appears on this page, I have to settle in at my desk and get nice and comfortable.

Before my car’s engine roars (politely) to life, I make sure I am quite comfortable there in the driver’s seat.

TV viewing in the evening for me is always preceded by strict attention to the comfort of my position on the couch. 

And then, at the end of the day, when it comes to that most essential human activity, SLEEPING!, I devote a great deal of attention to seeking out a position of maximum possible personal comfort. 

In fact, I would be willing to wager that if someone showed me a scientific study of the amount of energy I devote daily to comfort-seeking, that number would make my eyes bug right out of my head. 

And what about you, friend? Are you likewise afflicted with CCSS (Compulsive Comfort Seeking Syndrome)?

I think we can all agree that no one will win a Nobel Prize in sociology for announcing the discovery that, “Comfort-seeking seems to be a universal human pursuit.” Cave people didn’t come up with the idea of fire just so they’d have a way to cook their brontosaurus burgers, you know.  

But I wonder… despite its ubiquitousness, is it possible we can get a little too carried away with this urge toward comfort seeking? Is the Dr. Scholl’s Company really telling us the truth when they contend that “Comfort is EVERYTHING!*”

In fact, I think there is a good case to be made that runaway, unexamined, “comfort seeking” is at the root of a whole host of human maladies. To wit:

  • Avoiding the difficulty and discomfort of hard, physical work usually leads to flawed, “squishy” solutions. 
  • People who don’t feel “comfortable” in the presence of people of different races, ethnicities, religions, or sexual orientations can very quickly become dangerous bigots. 
  • My aversion to the discomfort of re-examining my core beliefs can keep me permanently locked on to a set of toxic assumptions about the world.

When Jesus talked to the folks gathered around and said, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free,” (John 8:32, NRSV), he didn’t add, “And I promise; knowing the truth will be painless and easy-peasy.”

As essential as it seems to be to life on this planet, I am not sure I will EVER be comfortable with discomfort… whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. I have to face the fact that I will continue to be “that guy” who grabs for the footrest and the extra couch pillow to put behind my back. 

I think I can only pray that God will regularly grant me the strength to shove personal comfort aside in favor of some much-needed growth. 

Whew! I’m glad I got that off my chest. 

Now to go find a nice shady spot in the yard where I can lay down, sip an iced tea, and stare at the sky for a while.

Abundant blessings;

  • Not the actual slogan of the Dr. Scholl’s Company, by the way.
23
Mar
21

The God Who Gets It

By now, my response cycle has become a well-practiced routine.

I hear news reports of a mass shooting. I shake my head and sigh, “Not again.” I await the slow trickle of further details, incrementally ratcheting up my shock and outrage as numbers and circumstances are revealed.

Three dead… four dead… ten dead… lone gunman… “unclear about any motive…”, “eyewitnesses report…”, “scores of unanswered questions…”, “awaiting notifications of next of kin…”

The officials speak. The bystanders speak. Sometimes the family speaks. And through it all I shake my head in utter bewilderment and sorrow…

… until I reach for the remote and change the channel to see what else is going on in the world.

But this time it is different. This time the tragedy struck frighteningly close to home. 

That is because the grocery store in Boulder, Colorado where a gunman killed 10 people yesterday – including a Boulder police officer – is located two blocks from my stepson’s apartment. It is his King Soopers. In fact, he was in that exact store yesterday morning, shopping for a few essentials, not long before all hell broke loose there.

This time I saw the terror in the eyes of the survivors a little more clearly.

This time the stabbing pain of family members whose loved ones will never return from their trip to the store penetrates my soul more profoundly. 

This time my sense of outrage and confusion about people randomly killing other people using outrageous weapons that were never meant to exist outside of a military setting is much more unshakable. 

This time I find myself dwelling… not moving on as quickly as I did before. 

Because this time it feels close… personal… tangible.

It also reminds me why I consider the idea of God’s INCARNATION to be such a vital part of the faith I profess. In the light of these newly exposed nerve endings of mine, the biblical phrase, “… the Word became flesh and lived among us…” (John 1:14 NRSV) suddenly takes on a searing new urgency. 

It tells me that God is not remote and abstract.

It tells me that when we suffer, God suffers. 

It tells me that human pain and sorrow and tragedy and heartbreak are even more real to God than they are to me.

It also assures me that I could not be more off base than during those times when I am tempted to sink down in sorrow, wring my hands, and cry out, “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH!!”

It brings Psalm 34:18 to mind where we read the timeless truth that says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”

It will take me a long time to shake this one off and move on. I am equally sure that new outrages loom on the horizon as we begin to emerge from our cocoons and gather in large groups again. 

In the aftermath of this most recent horror, I feel a compulsion to DO SOMETHING instead of just sitting and sorrowing… but for the life of me I have no idea what that SOMETHING might be.

For now, I am going to pray that the families of all those affected by yesterday’s horror in Boulder might feel the arms of Jesus wrapped tightly around them, offering comfort and understanding…

… and give thanks for a God who “gets it.”

Abundant blessings;

18
Mar
21

Going First

Going first comes naturally to me.

Going first doesn’t always mean finishing first, just FYI.

It all started when I volunteered to be the first of five children born to Lyn and George Brown, some [mumble, mumble] years ago.

That meant I got to be the first guinea pig for them to test all of their new parenting theories on. I was the first to walk… the first to ride a bike… the first to fall down and skin my elbow… the first to go to school… first to get my driver’s license… and the first to see exactly what the consequences were for violating the family rulebook.

Each time the stork delivered a new bundle of joy to the Brown house, mom and dad were able to tweak their parenting skills a little more, so that by the time #5 came along, they were absolute paragons of parenting perfection. 

You’re welcome, siblings!

Going first soon became a way of life for me. Naturally when neighbor Marc Downer and I were standing on top of the flat-roofed garage behind our house on Norwich Street with bedsheets [excuse me… I mean PARACHUTES], tied to our waists, I was the first one to jump off and test our theory of aerodynamics. 

NEWS FLASH: It didn’t work.

Even though the resulting twisted ankle and bruised head would have taught most people a lesson, I nevertheless persisted. Well into early adulthood I continued to push myself to the head of the line at home, in the classroom, and on the playground. 

In fact, many, many years later when I was one of an army of associate pastors in the largest United Methodist Church in the country, I raised my hand and offered to lead their maiden attempt to develop a “satellite” campus in a suburban location.

Now some of you hearing this narrative might be quick to point me to Jesus’ words from Matthew 19:30 wherein he admonishes Peter and some of the other eager beaver disciples by saying, “But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Matthew 19:30, NRSV). You might even double up your scripturally-based finger wagging with this gem from Proverbs: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, NRSV). 

To which I would probably reply: “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to YOU!”

No… I’m sorry. As tempted as I might be, I would not say that. Yes, I would THINK it, but those exact words would probably stay bottled up inside me.

Mostly, though, I would have to agree with you.

One of the biggest things I discovered through my years of going first is that it is usually a very humbling experience. When you stick your toe into waters no one has ventured into before, you end up making a lot of mistakes. You are doing everything for the first time without the benefit of being able to look at the “teachable moments” from a predecessor. 

Just ask some of the people who had the misfortune of being members of my staff in that first satellite campus church. 

For me, a more relevant scripture passage than those above is this one from First Corinthians. In it we hear Paul explaining some of the fundamentals of church leadership to a skeptical audience: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, NRSV). 

Perhaps this is “wishful hearing” on my part, but I think Paul is saying, “Look… somebody has to go first. Somebody has to get out there and whack down the weeds and underbrush to clear the trail. Somebody has to blunder out and make all the initial mistakes. But whether you are firstsecond, or somewhere toward the end of the line, the only thing that matters is getting God’s work done.”

And so, if I can make someone else’s road a little less bumpy by jumping to the front of the line and becoming a cautionary tale for God’s greater glory, I’m good with that…

… as long as I also get to go first in the cafeteria. 

Abundant blessings;




Russellings Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow Russellings of the Spirit on WordPress.com

My Pastoral Ponderings

Pondering my way through God's beloved world

All The Shoes I Wear

Writing Down The Bones

Just Being Me

My life and faith - without a mask.

La Tour Abolie

An eclectic mixture of personal essays, stuff about writing, stuff about books and far out philosophy from an old baggage in a book-tower.

Eden in Babylon

a topical new musical and other progressive, creative works

_biblio.bing_

A law student and an avid reader. Along with your desired book reviews you're gonna get great book suggestions. Books of all genre with detailed review. Thank you, Visit Again ❤️

Humanitarian Explorer

Traveling the world to discover and meet needs

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Steadfast Pictures

Visual Media for God's Glory!

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

yadadarcyyada

Vague Meanderings of the Broke and Obscure

Pics and Posts

Goodies from my mailbox and camera

My Spirals

• Hugs and Infinities

Shreya Vikram

Blurring the lines between poetry and prose

LUCID BEING

Astral Lucid Music - Philosophy On Life, The Universe And Everything...

%d bloggers like this: