Mooned…

I looked out the window the other night and was surprised by what I saw.  The tree in the front yard had two shadows!  Normally, the tree casts one huge shadow on the lawn and house.  It is created by the light on the utility pole across the street.  The other night, though, the normal shadow was there along with a second shadow stretching in another direction.  I stepped out the door to take a look.  The air was crisp, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Perched low in the southern sky was a blazing, white, full moon…….the source of the second shadow.  The moon was so bright it eclipsed even the glow of the street light to cause the second shadow!

Light is a powerful metaphor in the Bible.  It usually symbolizes Truth or God’s revelation and self-disclosure or the transcendent nature of God.  Light always comes from the “outside” and not from us.  We see it or discover it, but we do not make it.  Given our broken world and sinful hearts, we desperately need light to shine into our darkness!

We live in a world where there are a myriad of voices claiming to be enlightened or to be the light or to know the path of light.  You know, things like “We’re on the right side of history;” “This is a new day;” “This went viral; its got to be true!” “How can love ever be wrong;” “When I’m elected President, I will…..”  All claims to be light.  For believers, there is one source of light that trumps them all: God!  How He ordered the world, what He has said about the world, and what He has done through His Son are where we start.  Note the Psalmist’s words:”In Your light, we see light.” (Psalm 36:9b)

Friend’s, where do you see and seek light?

 

 

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The Leadership Debate

The presidential race is officially underway. Did you notice? It dawned on me the other night with the first debate among the Republican contenders. Up until the debate, I really hadn’t paid much attention because it seems like someone, somewhere is always campaigning, taking the bully pulpit or trying to raise everybody’s awareness.

The portion of the debate I heard was interesting. It was interesting not because of the promises and policies each candidate articulated, but because of the dialogue each candidate triggered in my mind. As each candidate spoke, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of leader each would be. A uniter of hearts and minds, a dictator, a wheeler/dealer, a smooth operator, a bare-knuckled negotiator, “How would he/she actually lead”, I wondered?

Leadership is at a premium in our culture due to our ever evolving world. The Church, being not of this world, yet being in the world, is not exempt from the need for leadership. In most of society, the ends justifies the means. Therefore, if a leader gets “results,” then the way the results were obtained is secondary at best. How about the Church? It, too, needs leadership, but will any style of leadership due as long as the “results” are forthcoming?

One day, a mother asked Jesus to put her sons into the number two and three spots in His kingdom. She didn’t want to be greedy: not number one, just two and three (read Matthew 20:20-28). Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what you are asking.” Quite often, we don’t know what we are talking about either when we discuss leadership in the Church. Along with the mother and the rest of the world, we often view leadership in the Church as a matter of power, perks, position and preference.

Jesus upended the world’s and our understanding of leadership.  Leadership in the Kingdom is not a “will to power,” as one philosopher put it, but a race to serve.  Leadership everywhere entails authority, power and decision making.  However, in the Church these aspects of leadership are used to lift up others rather than ourselves.  The means do count, for without the necessary leadership orientation of giving and serving for the sake of Christ’s Body, no ends are justified.

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Great View

Its odd;  I know.  Sometimes, I just get in the car and drive to someplace where I can see nature.  That usually takes on the form of driving out toward the Mississinewa Reservoir.

The other evening, I headed toward the reservoir as the sun was setting.  I needed my “hit” of nature after a long day.  As I slowly cruised across the dam, it was obvious the lake water was at a record level.  I continued driving, skirting the DNR property around the lake.   I rounded the gentle bend heading toward Red Bridge, and slowed way down.  There were cars on the bridge……… in both lanes……..three or four of them.  The cars’ hazard flashers were going, and people were milling around on the bridge.  I wasn’t sure what to do, so I slowly inched unto the bridge.  As I carefully moved along steering wide of vehicles and bodies, I felt an intense glow coming from my right, from the west.  I turned and looked……..Oh, my!  I pulled over, turned on my hazard lights, and joined the parking lot and party on the bridge.  The western sky was on fire!  It was hard to see where one color ended and another began, but they were all there.  It was a veritable riot of color: powder blue, yellow, orange, peach, pink, red, lavender, fuschia, violet.  The dark expanse of the surrounding forest, the reflection in the lake and the angle of the sun below the horizon amplified the colors in surreal ways.  I watched in awe and waited until it was all gone.  “Hit” of nature accomplished!

What happened on the bridge the other night was due to vantage point.  Sunsets happen all the time.  On that particular evening, though, the bridge offered the best spot from which to see it. Vantage point.  What is our vantage point as believers?  What is the best place from which  to see ourselves and our world in the midst of a changing culture?  I don’t think rallying behind family values, the American way of life, or conservatism will do.  Neither do I think reconstituting the Moral Majority, the Reagan Revolution, middle America, or Mayberry will suffice.

Friends, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have been given one, and only one, vantage point: the Cross (see 1 Corinthians 1:1-2).  From the Cross, we see: 1) the Creator not standing far off, but engaging with the creation, 2) a sovereign God ruling over His world, 3) a holy God judging sin and rebellion, 4) a merciful God extending forgiveness to sinners by paying the price for their sins Himself in His Son, 5) a loving God seeking out His lost and rebellious children, 6) an opportunity for rebellious children to return to their Father, 7) the impending defeat of the forces of darkness and the Evil One, 8) a picture and model for us of an obedient Son, 9) the beginning of a kingdom which will prevail and never end, etc.

The Cross is our vantage point, the one place where we can truly see everything.  As the culture changes around us, will you stand at the Cross and let it guide, name, value and define what you see?

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