Monday, June 08, 2015

Both/And Faith

A paragraph from Adam Hamilton's book, Revival:
Do you have a "both/and" faith? Do you recognize the importance of both a personal walk with Christ and a gospel that is lived out by good works?  Do you seek to love God with your mind, your heart, and your strength?  Does your faith reflect both sides of the gospel?
Wesley's Methodism started with small groups, meeting together for reasons of sanctification - to grow in Christ.  The work didn't stop there, however.  Wesley visited prisons and the sick, he fed the hungry and advocated for the poor.  There was both a personal gospel side and a social gospel side to his faith.  Do our faith and actions reflect that?  Do we grow in holiness and yet ignore the hungry? Do we visit the sick and yet have no relationship with God?  What is your weaker side?  What is mine?

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Space Walk

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the first American space walk.  At the time, it was seen as a huge step (and it was a huge step); something that had never been done before.  But, on this day, 50 years ago, Ed White stepped out of his spacecraft over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii.  He stayed outside for 23 minutes.  Eventually, the commander of the flight had to convince him to come back into the craft - the experience and the views were so spectacular that I assume White didn't want them to end quite yet.

Now EVA (extra-vehicular activity) is much more common and is absolutely necessary for the work that is done in space.

As I listened to an NPR story this morning, highlighting the anniversary of the first space walk, I was reminded of John Wesley's journal entry that I posted yesterday.  To leave the spacecraft in a pressure suit with a tether must have felt like jumping out of the boat - frightening and maybe an almost impossible task.  And I think that's part of what Wesley felt before he started preaching to crowds in fields.  It was against everything he had learned - everything he knew. 

And yet he did it anyway.  And it became a way of life that changed the world.  It did it so often and with such regularity that as he grew older, and it was harder to do, he would preach from a chair - he had to keep doing it.  

And so it is with us.  What boat do we need to leave to continue the work of God in God's church?


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

A Fruitful Faith

I taught Bible Study on Sunday evening.  The lesson was based on grace. It seems that people can accept that grace is a free gift, but then get stuck in James' writing: "Faith without works is dead."

What does this mean?  Does it mean that we really MUST do good works to earn salvation? Does God really count the "stars in our crowns?" Or are we missing an important link?

There is an apple tree in our backyard.  Each year it does what apple trees must do, by their nature - yield apples.  In years when the apple count is low, my husband will say, "I think the apple tree is dying."  He doesn't mean that without enough apples, the life of the tree will fade; he means that the fruit is evidence of the state of the life of the tree.  Fruit indicates a healthy tree.

I think the same could be said of faith.  Good works are the fruit of a healthy faith.  A healthy faith, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, does what it must do by its nature - yield fruit.  James was not saying that without the fruit, the faith withers.  He was saying that good works are the fruit of a healthy faith.  Without their evidence, one must question the health of the faith.

As we are sanctified by grace, moved closer by God to God's image, the fruit of good works will become the inevitable outcome.

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Monday, June 01, 2015


John Wesley visited George Whitefield in Bristol and witnessed how Whitefield preached to thousands of people in the fields.  According to Adam Hamilton (Revival), Wesley wrote in his journal:
I could scarce reconcile myself at first to this strange way of preaching in fields ... having been all my life (till very lately) so tenacious of every point relating to decency and order that I should have thought that saving of souls almost a sin if it had not been done in a church....At four in the afternoon I submitted to "be more file," and proclaimed in the highways the glad tidings of salvation, speaking from a little eminence in a ground adjoining to the city, to about three thousand people.
I'm amazed that the person who said, "the world is my parish," at first found this it to be almost sinful, not because of scripture, but because of what he had been taught as a priest.

What is there in the way we are taught faith "should be" that we need to let go of so that God can use us more?  I can think of so many "shoulds" that the list would be incredibly long - what we should wear (and what others should wear), what the music should be, what the order of worship should be, where we should have church, how we should worship together, how we should treat others, etc. What do we need to release that isn't a teaching of God so that the teaching of God can be heard by those who need to hear it?

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