Tuesday, May 22, 2007

President Jimmy Carter Revisited

In a post some time back I had posted 2 questions that students had asked former President Jimmy Carter during his visit at the University of Iowa in April. Here are the answers:
  1. Guess what President Carter uses for toothpaste? Crest
  2. What one thing would Pres. Carter have done differently during his presidency? Send in one more helicopter to rescue the hostages in Iran. One helicopter experienced mechanical failure and, according to President Carter, another inexplicably turned back. Other accounts state that two helicopters were caught in a sandstorm during Operation Eagle Claw.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Suspended: The Role of Tension; part 2

Throughout our lives we live in the tension between what was, what is and what is to come. Circumstances present tension, but what about God producing tension? What is the role of tension in the walk of the believer? Does tension produce awareness? Or motivation? Or passion? Or does this tension make us want to walk away?

We need to make sure that the “pull” from the “will be” is greater than the drag from the “once was” and “still is”. How do we add greater weight (pull) to the “will be”?

Buried in the present is the foretaste, the pledge, for what is to come. Seeds of the future reality are imbeded in the believer’s soul.

The suspension between the 3 realities is uncomfortable at best. The sensitive heart cries out for resolution. But no amount of patience resolves the tension. To a greater or lesser degree, the tension is there, straining the soul. Stretching us. Reshaping our identities. Driving us to the realization that who we think we are is not certain or fixed. While struggling, our only certainty is the hope of what will be (1 Peter 1:13).

This is why I am not at home here and now. Indeed we are "aliens" in a foreign land (1Peter 2:10-12).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Suspended: The Role of Tension; part 1

Eschatologically, we are suspended between what was, what is and what is to come.

Inherent in this suspension is tension. What is the nature of this tension? What are its effects on the believer?

This eschatological tension provides a compelling metaphor for the everyday suspense of our journey with Christ. As we walk with Christ we are keenly aware of the constant tug of what we used to be, what we are now, and what we are becoming (our anticipated future).
One way of examining and learning from the stories of the Bible is to observe how people lived while suspended between realities; ethically, morally, physically, politically, economically, etc.

How did the person/people of God handle this tension?

How did their choices provide a clearer foreshadowing of the future reality?

How did they connect/draw upon their past realities?

How did their perception of past and future realities alter their present decisions/attitudes?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Survey Says...

I asked a group of about 20 high school upperclassmen recently, "What brings about spiritual growth in your life?" Here are some of the answers:
  • "I know that everything has a meaning and a purpose. God is taking me through life. Also I am encouraged when I hear others' testimonies of how God has been faithful to them.
  • "When I persevere through trials; and those trials brought lessons.
  • "Being around people and seeing their lifestyles.
  • "When I can't trust others and have tough times with them I know God is with me.
  • "When I'm going through dry times I know that God is always there. I measure my spiritual growth by my actions. Even though I'm dry, I'm growing spiritually.
  • "The reality of spiritual warfare and how to love others better.
  • "My small group; I rely on them.
  • "When I have failed trials.
What are the common themes here? What main things spur spiritual growth in students?
1. Trials.
2. Bonds with other believers.

Questions I ask myself: How can my youth ministry programming better reflect students' processes of spiritual growth in these 2 key areas (of trials and relationships)?

My trusty side-kick Jonathan reminded me that these two components were mentioned in Duffy Robbins classic book , The Ministry of Nurture (first published in 1990!). It just so happens I'll see Duffy today!