Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ultimate Faith and Spiritual Battle

My available time to blog has been greatly curtailed and thus I am forced into brevity, blogging only snippets instead of essays. Did I just hear shouts of joy out in blog land? Anyway...

A discussion with a fellow Christian at work caused me to recall a quote from C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. This quote is one of the most profound spiritual statements I have ever read--a true favorite of mine. I thought I would share it and hope it raises some discussion.

Do not be deceived. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer understanding but still desiring to do our enemy's will, looks around upon a universe from which every trace of God seems to have vanished, asks why he has been forsaken, yet still obeys God. – Sr. Devil Screwtape in letter to subordinate devil Wormword.

Any relevant scriptures this brings to mind, please provide in your comments.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A View into the Real Mechanics of How Good and Evil Work

My job is keeping me very busy and traveling more which is reducing my blogging.

Instead of an original post today, I would encourage you to read this blog post, Testify, by Purgatory Penman. If you want to read examples of how Satan really works to corrupt and how Christ can truly save, you will find his post valuable.

I realize that I have very few real problems, and for some reason God has protected and blessed me beyond measure. I have lived protected from evil people and been given much love by humans. Why me? God only knows. Why is not important. Using this blessed life to further His kingdom is paramount. Purgatory Penman helps remind me to stay focused on how to serve God and not myself.

Through Christ,


Friday, February 10, 2006

First Memories at Otter Creek's New Location

Several commented on my last post that they looked forwarded to reading about the new events and memories Otter Creek will be creating in our new location. It dawned on me yesterday that I have already been a part of two events that are my first memories at our Franklin Road buidling.

The first is moving into our new building last Saturday. A small army of Otter Creekers arrived at Granny White around 7:00 in the morning and by 9:30 am had all the trucks parked at the new location and ready to move in. Amazing. This was a unique situation because the former occupants, Living Word, were moving into our building. So we had to both move out and in on the same day. When we arrived, Living Word was not quite as far along as we were. So the OC army pitched and began helping Living Word load their trucks. It was truly a testimony to Christ to have wave after wave of Otter Creeker's loading Living Word's trucks and unloading our trucks simultaneously. The fellowship of labor was wonderful.

The second memory is sad but joyous. Christine Ewing, mother to our one of elders, Fred, and wife to fellow Monday men's group member, Bob, passed away on Sunday. The funeral was Wednesday in the sanctuary at our new location. It was joyous to celebrate the life of this Christian woman. I had the honor of serving as a pallbearer. Thanks to Bob's request that his men's group serve as pallbearers, we got to be participants in the first sanctuary service at the Franklin Road location.

I find it interesting that my first real memory at Otter Creek was a death during service (see my last post), and that one of the first memories for me at the new location is a funeral. Both events framed in the celebration of Christian life.

If you don't follow my link to Purgatory Penman regularly, you should. It is always a sobering read, at least for me. I know he appreciates your reading. I found his blog one day when he left a comment on mine. How he found me, I have no idea

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Reflecting on Otter Creek

After reading Phil's post today, I decided to generate this post. I had the honor of writing the cover article to the last Otter Creek church bulletin published in our Granny White home. Below is the content of that article.

Spiritual Formation: Reflecting on Otter Creek

Thirty-three years ago I began a spiritual journey when at the age of ten I came to Otter Creek. I say began because I can pinpoint that time as the beginning of my spiritual formation. The earliest memory I have is one of historical significance to Otter Creek and one that had a deep impact on me. I was ten, sitting in the balcony when Carolyn Rodgers’ father slumped over in a pulpit chair and died after leading a prayer. Buddy led us in prayer and song as several of our doctors tended to Mr. Rodgers. That event is not sad or traumatic for me. The way Otter Creek handled that experience taught me a profound spiritual lesson. A man with a personal relationship with God need not fear death; rather his life will be fulfilled by it. The sentiment was how glorious a reward to be taken in such a manner. Can you imagine a better way to conclude your earthly journey than by saying a prayer at Otter Creek?

Because space is limited, I can only share a few memories: the home-made potlucks that were not meals but feasts punctuated by the heavenly concoction of Ruth Rucker’s sweet rolls. Being put in charge of the sound system at age fifteen—thank you Glen Snoddy. The fun-loving mothering of Sharon Tate to the youth group. The heady adult classes, especially as a teenager crashing in on the offbeat genius of Ed Neely Cullum. Playing basketball every Sunday with Wayne Reed, Johnny Crothers, Jim Butler, and Steve Adams, and others. Hugging Buddy and Bernie every Sunday morning. Watching my daughter sit in Ed Rucker’s lap.

I fear to offend through omission, so I share a few word associations that I hope touch all. John Rucker: rock, OC’s Peter; Ruth Rucker: OC’s Ruth; Carolyn Maddux: Holy Scripture; Wayne Reed: steadfast, our Job; Jim Butler: quiet leadership; Buddy Arnold: Holy Spirit; Bernie Arnold: soul mate; OC singing: heavenly host; Otter Creek: home.

My remembrances of my formative years are that the ministers and teachers were spiritually deep. The women were matriarchs leading through service and faith. Our elders were spiritual leaders when elderships were typically business administrations. The men were strong but not afraid of emotion. The summation of Otter Creek’s influence on my life was the development of an intimate relationship with a living God. This relationship with the Father has saved my life. I thank you Otter Creek.

But this is not the conclusion. With all the new lives being born and brought into our family, we must shed our old wineskin or else this new wine will burst us. We must take on a new skin to ferment this new wine so that it carries the aroma and body of Christ. We must cross the creek and continue to build personal relationships with our Father.

I held it together pretty well during service. I teared up during the Buddy songs, especially O Lord our Lord and The Lord Bless You and Keep You. I even did fine during John Rucker's testimony.But, when I started backing out of my parking space looking up at that building, I lost it. I broke down knowing that was the last time. Maria, my 5-year old daughter, understood. She was so sweet. She said, "Sad, but happy."

I couldn't say it better.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Are We Going in the Right Direction?

This post has nothing to do with my previous post of a similiar title. It is a futhur diaglogue arising from my Don Quixote and the TSA post.

ajmac left this comment:

Tough break there and I'm sorry you ended up in such a pickle. But why are you apologizing for voting for Dubya? Do you disagree with the new TSA policies? Do you even know the difference between pre- and post-9/11 policy? Do you really imagine that you could have skipped the beaurocratic red tape during the Clinton administration?Life definitely is not fair. But aren't these the very occasions on which we are called to demonstrate Christ's grace?You should be proud that you voted for this administration and that you have had a part in freeing millions from the hand of tyranny. I'm sorry that you have borne more than your fair share of the inconveniences, but I fail to see how this is the moral issue you make it out to be.

First, I greatly appreciate ajmac for posting his opinions and questions. They are opposite my thoughts, but valid and not personal.

Second, I think open discussion on these issues is critical for Christians. So I am continuing the dialogue and request that others join in regardless of your stance.

My first response to ajmac is to requote the end of my letter:

We are sacrificing freedom for the disillusion of safety. We tell the world and our soldiers that freedom is worth dying for, but then tell our citizens we must sacrifice freedoms for false security. That is not the America we founded. But it seems to be the America our children will inherit.

My additional response is that we let the terrorists change our country and our way of life (not that we didn't need some adjustment). That was their stated purpose, and they accomplished that purpose. The financial burdern on this country of these changes and of the Iraq war will be staggering. Note that the new systems failed during Katrina. The Homeland Security Act clearly states that this department is responsible for managing the response to any disaster. Despite the failings of state and local agencies during Katrina, clearly the new system failed both in implementation and execution.

I believe we have over-reacted. I also fear that the new systems are based more on making Americans feel safe rather than making adjustments that have real impact on security but that balance the freedoms Americans enjoy. The innocent are being affected more than the guility. We are putting bars on our own windows.

I am not saying we should have done nothing, but have the implemented changes been the right ones? Have they been implemented well? Are they a movement toward greater freedom or limiting existing freedoms? The evidence is mounting to the negative.

I challenge that the Bush administration has led us through fear in the quise of bravado and patriotism intertwined with "Christian duty". I fear Christians have accepted too many of the Bush administration policies without real consideration of their effect because he states he is a Christian. We are almost euphoric in having a Christian in the White House and have given this administration carte blanche through a Republican controlled House and Senate (I was one of the voters who did this). In poll after poll, a majority of Christians support the war and support the administrations handling of post-9/11. The same polls show all other groups overwhelmingly disapprove. Is it good that Christians are the biggest supporters of violent solutions? Is the "ends justifies the means" argument compatable with Chrisitian discipleship?

I really like what Leornard Pitts Jr. said in his Jan. 29 column entitled "Fear the 9/11 Hammer".
"To be an American is to commit a daily act of faith. Or as Colin Powell said, the day after the Sept. 11 attacks, 'We're Americans. We don't walk around terrified.' Too bad his own party is so intent on proving him wrong."

I hope some will weigh in on this discussion. Please don't tee off on anyone, but don't be afraid to state your thoughts if you feel strongly. That is a great freedom we still enjoy and should exercise. Again, I thank ajmac for exercising this freedom to further our discussion.