On Mountains…

September 30, 2008

Funny thing about mountains…  there are no native signs pointing the way to the top, no loud speakers blaring “climb me”, nor does the persistent climber find herself rewarded at the top with a little medal.  And yet we are compelled, pulled, drawn to the challenge… to climb to the top.  To reach the apex, arms extended in the air in victory, not victory over another competitor, victory over our own internal struggles.

Yet we cannot live on the mountaintop, no protection from the elements, no place to grow food, no room to move and breathe.  We must live in the valley, knowing the mountain rests in the distance.  

So what of that journey up and down?  What to make of the stumbles along the way?  What to make of the moments when we fear we are lost?  What to make of the worry that we have not the stamina or have not carefully packed for the journey?  What to make of the amazing flowers that thrive close to the summit? Where does that exhilaration come from?  That extreme and powerful sense of happiness, no happiness is not the right word, connection with something.  Is it the stupendous view?  Is it the sense of standing on top of the world?  Is it the sense of accomplishment, success, discovery?  What of the tears at the top, tears of joy, tears of relief that the stumble along the way did not land in a steep and potentially deadly fall?

And what do we bring down?  How does life in the valley change?  Recently Erwin McManus criticized the Promise Keepers events (events that he participated in).  He appauded the experinece that was created, but criticized the events since the “men need more than an annual experience.  They need a process to help them become the kind of people they want to become” (WIE Aug-Oct 2008 p 68).  Perhaps his assessment of Promise Keepers is correct.  But do we need a 10-step program to retain what was gleaned on that mountain top?

Maybe the process isn’t a process, but a way of living.  Maybe we don’t seek the mountain top for the sake of the experience.  Maybe the external experience is simply a confirmation of the internal.  A reminder that we have learned to negotiate the rocky field.  That we stopped to think carefully about how to cross the river.  That we listened to our bodies and stopped to rest and drink water.  That we persisted to reach the top and not just that plateau that looked like the top.  That we sought advice from others on the best path to follow.  Maybe that rocky mountain high is simply confirmation that we carefully considered the options, picked the wise path, and persistently followed to it’s conclusion.  Perhaps that sense of serenity, contentment, and relief, is just the confirmation of choosing the right path.  And in choosing that right path, finding that we have changed, and changed permanently, and changed for the better.


The Doctrine Dance

February 2, 2007

To doctrine or not to doctrine, that is the question. Does doctrine divide? If one does not learn about various doctrines of the Christian faith does that entail that she holds no doctrine what so ever?  Is there such as thing as neutral doctrine or do our words thoughts and actions betray a doctrine even if it is unconscious or unacknowledged?

Is seems to me that pondering doctrine from time to time is a good thing.  For the moment, I’ll refrain from making bombastic pronouncements over who’s doctrine is correct.  That is not the issue of this post.  Rather, I think we and I live a more impoverished Christian life when we neglect that which Paul admonished Timothy to be mindful of – our doctrine. (Yes, Paul also mentioned watching one’s life, but that seems to be trendy right now and not neglected like doctrine is).  By thinking through what the Bible says about who God is and working through how others have interpreted the Scripture I do not become one of the elite, educated Christians who is now closer to God because of my vast knowledge.  Nor does this engagement of the intellect qualify me for roles of authority in the church (For I might have developed much information while at the same time I cheat others in business and show disdain for family and neighbors).  Rather thinking about doctrine and recognizing that these truths, however imprecise and imperfectly articulated due to our lack of omniscience, make universal claims on my life and the entire world brings one into a direct contact with the reality of “I AM.”  I, we can’t walk away from those ponderings and switch, unchanged to another daily activity, like shoveling the snow or doing the dishes.  Encountering the “I AM,” even if the encounter begins with thoughts about our Creator is itself a transformational process.

Peace at last!

January 19, 2007

Finally, after 6-18 months of wrangling and wrestling, worrying, deliberating, debating, praying, pouring over scripture…finally peace and wonder at the landscape before us. Yes the door behind is closed, but it’s not closed on a sad and ugly place, but on a place that also holds the wonder and beauty of the Lord at work. I have to agree with Susan “It is amazing the clarity when the decision is made to doggone do what Jesus told you to do in the first place.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Stay tuned for more on this developing storm…”

January 9, 2007

Okay folks, I recently saw the above words right before blizzard #2 and blizzard (or rather very large snow storm) #3. And this is the wisdom we are now getting from local weather forecasters, or should I say weather warlocks? (Interestingly, the MS Word 2003 thesaurus includes “forecast” as a synonym for “divination” 🙂 ). I’m convinced that next to the computers that model these storms in the meteorological center is a dark closet with a Ouija board. Anyhow, time to stock up on a few essentials at the grocery store. So Becky, tell AV to sludge 40 feet (not miles) across the street to grab a loaf of bread, some yummy cheese and settle down with an engaging book or flick. Seems that I have one more good running day (I run MWF and Sat or Sun) before the yuck hits again. Seriously I doubt I’ll see the grass in my yard until March, at the earliest. Read the rest of this entry »

More snow, no school, more ponderings on church…is it love or is it niceness? (Cherry-Picking Part 2)

January 5, 2007

Once again, I’m at my window watching the beautiful snow fall – probably another foot this time. School is closed so I’m still in my robe and warm comfy slippers that arrived before blizzard #2. I was planning to go shovel my sidewalk (and the sidewalks of both neighbors) but others beat me to it! First, the 2nd grader down the street shoveled and then my next door neigbor broke out the snow blower. I’ll get a chance to return the favor in a few hours.

So, I kinda poured my heart out in a second comment on Susan’s post about cherry picking churches. (Note: I wrote my recent post on this topic after the first comment I made on Susan’s blog). Read the rest of this entry »

The Gospel? By all means…it goes without saying. (Cherry Picking – Part 1)

January 4, 2007

It’s always fun for me when Susan posts provokatively (okay…all her post provoking – even if they just provoke a hunger for cinnamon buns) and she hits on a topic that is also on Becky‘s mind and my mind (Becky – glad you are back from NYC and blogging away).

So today the topic is leap-froggin from church to church and Susan rightly emphasizes that in our consumerist mentality we tend to shop for the church that is cherry picked just for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Twelve Delights of Christmas…

December 24, 2006

1.  Sitting at my desk, writing this on Christmas Eve and watching the flakes come down in an already beautiful winter wonderland.

3.  Getting my minivan (Santa can I please have some new tires) stuck in front of my house twice in two days.  (Yippee I had an excuse for being late for Sunday School – which was packed on Christmas Eve day!!!).

4.  Enjoying a fresh cup of coffee (with half-n-half which is real treat with empty dairy shelves at the store) on a cold, windy day. Read the rest of this entry »