Saturday, October 20, 2007

Mail & Miracles

When I collect my mail, I sort it into the "important" pile and the "probably junk" pile. The important stuff gets my attention, while the junk gathers dust until I have time to sort through it, shred it, and trash it.

I've been waiting for a letter from my bank -- I recently asked for a new ATM/Check card. The card was sent a few weeks ago. I was supposed to receive a separate mailing a week or two later with instructions to activate it. So I've been waiting for that second letter...

Thursday night, I decided to sort through my out-of-control junk pile. Guess what? That activation letter I've been waiting for was in the pile! The envelope didn't have my bank's logo or address on it. There was nothing to indicate that the letter was important. In short: it wasn't what I was expecting, so I missed it.

Last night in my small group, we discussed a few more chapters from the Lifestories book. I'm really enjoying this study.

One of the questions asked if we could remember a time when God had done something miraculous in our lives and if we were willing to share it. Immediately, I started thinking about things like instantaneous healings--something overwhelmingly and undeniably supernatural.

That wasn't what everyone else was thinking about. Some shared about the birth of their children. Others talked about the salvation of a friend or relative. Someone else talked about how God was working in their lives through a slow but steady recovery from a medical problem.

It's amazing to me how different the discussion would have been if this was a Pentecostal small group. Same materials -- different conclusions.

If I were reading this book on my own, I might have never considered miracles that didn't fit my narrow definition, which is admittedly a hold over from my Pentecostal days. It made me look at the whole chapter differently. I wonder how many "miracles" I've overlooked because they didn't come in the package that I was expecting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Here I Go Again & Suicide

My small group is going through the Lifestories book from Casting Crowns. Tonight, one of the songs we discussed was Here I Go Again. It talks about sharing our faith with others... or more to the point, what happens when we don't share our faith.

Mark Hall shares the story of a friend that he failed -- twice. Ultimately, this person took his own life. Mark had opportunities to speak to this person, but never said what he felt he should have said.

That was a tough story to read... not just because it's tragic. It was tough for me because there are parallels to my own life. There have been times when I felt like I needed to talk to someone about God and I didn't... and I walked away from the last opportunity I would ever have to share God's love--or anything else, for that matter--with them.

That's a tough lesson to learn.

I've often wondered if my input would have changed those story lines at all. Maybe... maybe not.

We also wound up talking about suicide. A lot of Christians believe that if you commit suicide, you go straight to hell. That's what I was taught, anyhow. Several others in my small group were taught the same thing. Depending on the "flavor" of your upbringing, the idea is that either suicide is such a terrible sin that you lose your salvation over it, or the very act of committing suicide demonstrates that you never knew God in the first place.

I can't accept either of those positions. It's a horrible thing, a sin, and as far as I'm concerned it is never the right choice to make--nothing justifies it. But I refuse to believe that they are automatically condemned to hell. Only God knows what was in their heart.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Blog moved

I just moved the blog from godaddy to blogger... not sure it will impact anything. I couldn't figure out how to "import" the posts, so I just copied them over one at a time. Not that any of this is particularly important to anyone but me!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

God is closer than you think?

I've started reading a book by John Ortberg. The title just caught my attention, even if it is half a page long: God is closer than you think and this could be the greatest moment of your life because this moment is the place where you can meet God.

The title is provocative... but just as interesting (to me at least) is the fact that John Ortberg is a Presbyterian. I'm showing my ignorance of "mainline" denominations here, but I didn't think Presbyterians cared that much about a relationship with God. All of the ones I've met were more consumed with social issues (and often socially progressive ones).

Apparently, Ortberg is also a prolific writer with a bunch of other books whose titles are longer than some of my blog posts. I might have to check them out...