/*Adopt Ye, One Another, Even as I Have Adopted You: October 2006*/

"Adopt Ye, One Another, Even as I Have Adopted You..."

Not Shaker Theology, not a cult and not any sort of propaganda. An approach, by Heaven's Grace, to the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. Do you want to see it? Do you want to see the Kingdom Of Christ? Say yes.


Hopeless, Pointless, Useless except for the Grace of God

Monday, October 30, 2006

Memorial to a Hero

Out of respect for his family and friends, I will only tell you that his name was 'Cecil'. Cecil lived in the U.S.A in the Carolinas and worked in IT as a manager, a mentor, a guide, a guardian and a friend to many, many people. He was also active in his church and in his community as a volunteer and coach who's focus was more on people than on winning.

Cecil was very happily married and had a loving family at home and a loving family at work. I am a peripheral part of Cecil's work family and I feel very grateful to have been 'adopted' by him and the larger group of which his work group was part. No, I wasn't close to him but he was one of my heroes. He never talked down to me or influenced me to feel 'less than' even though both he and I knew that I could never be on the same level of competence that he brought to the work of our larger group. It just wasn't important to him to look down his nose at people or to belittle people in any way. Cecil was one of those folks who focused on bringing out the best in people and he was good at doing this.

The folks with whom I work are very much like a family. Cecil was foundational to our privilege to have a sense of family in the place where I work. Cecil always had a ready smile and some silly story to share, just as
a way to interact and nourish relationship. Laughter and uplifting people was very important to Cecil. All of us who knew him benefitted from his priorities. All of us who knew him are aleady missing him terribly.

In a sense, Cecil was one of the 'songs' of our work family. He was also a 'singer' of our work family's songs. I know that's a strange way to describe social interaction and relationships but that's just what I feel. There's a kind of music in our work family's relationships. Cecil would never attempt to really sing except to make people laugh but he definitely carried the 'tunes' to our work family's 'songs'. He was a conductor and a leader as well as being a 'harmonizer' and back-up 'singer'. He played many roles and the roles that I think that were most important to him were the roles in which he could give someone else the credit and help someone else look good in their performance. He was a behind the scenes trooper and benefactor to us all.

To this world, Cecil was never important. To his families (at home and at work) he was one of the most important people in history. Cecil was never famous to this world but to all of us who were blessed by him, he was truly a celebrity. We all knew that we loved him but it just never occurred to me that any of us would ever have to be speaking of him in the passed tense. It just seems all so very, very wrong. I allowed myself the indulgence of thinking that he would just always be here.

I won't try to hide it from you. My at work family has been badly wounded. I'm angry and hurt and none of this makes any sense. Yes, I know that we'll get through this. I work with incredible people and as I have told you, we really are like a family. However, an important voice for our 'song' is missing. You might say, one of the 'canaries' has stopped singing. In the mines, they used to know that something was wrong when the birds stopped singing. That's what I'm trying to say. Even in all with which we have been blessed, even though Cecil left us with many, many great memories and friendships I just am having a hard time getting over the fact that something is terribly, terribly wrong.

But the song will continue and we will pick up Cecil's part and train someone else to 'sing' to fill-in for him. We know we won't be able to replace him so some of the rest of us will try to take on some of his roles. It's strange. He helped to provide plans for us for just this sort of situation, so that we could go on when one or more of us is missing or unable to join the song. Even though he's gone, his work, his planning and his provision is still blessing us all.

We all gathered in a memorial service for him last Thursday. We could not all fit into the available space. Cecil would have been embarrassed, I think, that so many people came to say 'We love you' on that day. Even though he's gone, he still was bringing people together in ways that all of us could be uplifted. He would have liked the music, I think and if he had been there in the flesh, he might have made faces while 'singing' to get some of us to laugh.

Cecil and his at home family worshipped God and many of us at work worship God and we know where Cecil is and we look forward to seeing him when we're all living in glorified bodies. In this world, we would not be able to forget him, even if we wanted to and none of us want to.

So, the songs of Cecil's families will continue. From now on, I think that when we get to some of the 'parts' that Cecil used to 'sing', the song will take on some of the attributes of a hymn to the One who blessed us with the privilege of knowing Cecil and Who received him when Cecil's broken body could no longer sustain his precious, beautiful life.

Please pray for Cecil's families and for his good friend, Chris, who was also badly hurt in the accident that took Cecil's life. I think Cecil would want us all to surround his and Chris's family and Chris with prayer. Chris has much recovery to do and while we would love to have him back at work, we all just want Chris safe and well.

Thank you, precious Lord, for giving us Cecil to know and love while he was passing through your world and for giving us families in which to live, love and serve in Jesus Name.


"Adopt ye, one another, even as I have adopted you..."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On NOT Being Discarded

Thanks to Jesus, you and I were not discarded

You and I have not been abandoned by God. We are not spiritual 'orphans'. Why not? Because - by His blood - the Lamb of God has transformed our wretched existences into Life. By His Blood, He has given us a new bloodline. By His blood, we have been adopted from out of our vulnerability into His wholeness family and we have NOT been discarded as we deserved.

Our precious Senior Pastor is relatively new to our church but we fell in love with him pretty quickly. He's doing his best to lead us into Holy habits and Holy living. My sense is that his intention in our living Holy lives and Holy relationships is that we may be more empowered to undertake the monumental tasks before us.

Now, our church is a 'restart' church and so far the restart is working very well. Also, our church is in a unique position in our city. We are surrounded by a residential neighborhood that could go either very well or very sour. What we do in releasing the very real power of The Holy Spirit will very much impact the future of our end of town. The monumental tasks before us include (from my point of view) 'adopting' the entire neighborhood into the family of God - and (again, from my point of view) our church wants to believe that we are God's family, ready to love eveyone that is willing to be loved.

The neighborhood around our church has become very vulnerable and is in danger of being discarded. You know and I know that some massive infusions of cash would help tremendously but what the neighborhood REALLY needs is for the breath of The Holy Spirit to blow through, persistently, for the forseeable future. Part of the issue is that not many of us from the church live in the neigborhood. We're mostly 'outsiders' who come into town for worship and hang around occasionally during the week and then we're gone. Meanwhile, while that whole neighborhood has our prayers, for the most of the week, it is up to the police to try to keep a lid on the situation. They can't be everywhere.

And I'm not talking about just legal problems. There is real spiritual sickness there. The neighborhood is diseased, like a person is diseased who should be adopted by a Christian family.

There is a real need for us to be focused on the situation. However, most of us in the church are trying to live 'normal' lives that are not informed by the concept of adopting vulnerable persons. Not many of us 'get it' just yet. However, I believe that our Senior Pastor and his wonderful pastoral staff are leading us in a direction that will be more informed by 'The Kingdom of God' and less influenced by 'The American Dream'. Holy habits, Holy relationships and Holy living can contribute to Holy communion. I sincerely believe that in Holy communion as the Family of God, we can receive power to break the bondage of fear, ignorance and disease and have the strength - together - to adopt those who are willing to be received into our family.

What's happening here is far larger than just our being a 'restarted' church. This is more that just a congregation that found a new path. Indeed, I believe we have been called out - as a family of God - to surrender all that we are on behalf of all that He wants to give us. God wants to give us the neighborhood around us. God wants us to have our church in the promised land, right there where we are. God wants us to grow our family in Him by adopting the broken, the diseased, the outcast and the vulnerable for His Kingdom, His Wholeness, His Reconciliation and His Reclamation. In communion with Him, anything is possible.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Prepare Your Heart Now, to Love Forever

Very recently I've been asked by a friend if I believe in an afterlife. My response came almost unbidden from deep within me. "When we step out onto God's bright day, we either will or will not know Him". My prayer is that now, during this part of my forever existence, I am learning to know Him. I pray also that I am helping others to know Him for who He is: Love Eternal.

Perhaps He can only receive into Himself that part of me that is Love. I want the part that He can receive to be ALL of me. I want to learn to love the way He loves. I want to learn to see myself and others the way He sees us. I want to let go of my prejudice and my pride. I want to let go of my false hopes. I want to be fully surrendered to His Love and to channel that Love through me to others. I want to become His Love: Alive in this world and bringing the incomparable Love that He has poured out on me to bear on the needs 0f myself and others.

Unlike me, He is not manipulative or judgemental. Unlike me, He does not shrink from people that I find obnoxious. Unlike me, He does not share only a little of Himself. He is perfect and I want to be like Him. All power is His and He is always using that power on behalf of wretches like me. I want to learn how to use all the powers that I have on behalf of other wretches who are ... just like me. He loves them, just as He loves me.

When my heart is so close to despair, He says "You are mine! I am thy God and will STILL give thee aid!" When my rage flares, He helps me to remember to Whom it is that I am bonded... forever. He has never dished out to me the punishment I deserve. Oh, PLEASE let me learn to stop punishing others.... and instead to give them His Love.

My heart must experience a GREAT DEAL of growth to be able to love forever. There is so much to put down... so many idols that I simply don't need. I need no righteousness of my own. I want His righteousness and His faithfulness and His graciousness and I want Him to live in me and through me. Is this surrender?

How long is forever? How do I prepare to live in Eternal Love? No, I have no sense of impending death but I do now, more than ever, want to fully LIVE in His Love for what ever remains of this part of my forever existence. His Love can heal so much and until the wounds are truly healed, there is no truth in a cry of 'Peace'! His Love is the balm for this dying world. Only His Love can heal the people rightly.

So then, prepare now to live in Love forever. Learn to be His Love! Learn to anoint with His Love. Learn to laugh in His Love! Learn to serve in His love! His Love is His very essence, His core, His character, His personality. His Love is His very Name.

Even so, Lord Jesus, Come Quickly