Wednesday, July 2

"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." 2 Timothy 2:20-21

The first thing that greeted me at work this morning when I arrived was my neighbor in the bay next to me, who knows that I'm a Christian (we've had many discussions). He looked at me and simply said, "You know that God of yours? You can tell him for me to kiss my a**. He took my grandmother last night."

I told him, "I can understand your feelings, I recently lost my grandmother. I hope that it was a peaceful passing and I hope that the journey home for your parents is uneventful. As for me telling God, you can honestly do that yourself. I'll pray for your peace and comfort in this trying time." Not exactly what one is taught in the chaplain training, or what usually would've come out of my mouth. "I'm sorry for your loss. I'll pray for you." would've been my standard reply.

Four years ago, the standard response would've been given without any more thought. And, even with the standard sorrow greeting, I would've just thought...'Gee, I've got alot of worse and more immediate problems than that. Your grandmother lived a long time, it happens." A callous response, not totally uncaring, but dismissive all the same.

Involvement in this guy's life isn't one of my top choices; he constantly ridicules my faith, my beliefs, and my God. But God's put me here next to him. For a reason I assume. That is a change from the way I was, but that wasn't the biggest thing that confronted me today.

Faced with a impending loss of my residence because I cannot pay the rent, the lawsuit that will surely follow because of the breaking of the lease agreement, the continued problems with the vehicle that I drive to and from, my daughter's emotional struggles, my son's congitive impairment, the situation with my soon-to-be ex wife and her health issues, the bleak and dismal outlook of my job of five years being laid off because of the automotive market, the beak and equally dismal outlook of me going back to school (a 42,000 price tag), and the beating I'm taking from myself in regards to all of that..........

My first thoughts weren't of myself and the disaster looming over the horizon, but of my coworker's statement, the sorrow and loss, and the grief that wrapped itself around the anger and mistrust of God that this young man has. I wondered how this would be best handled, how Christ would've answered this young man's grief. And I started to pray. For wisdom, for guidance, and to give this young man a glimpse and a bit of heaven's peace.

His grandmother was a believer, he told me. She was in good health, at least appearance wise, and this was definately unexpected. She was travelling Europe, a life long dream, with his parents who were now coming back home with a inert body that once was his grandmother, his mother's mother.

"You can see her again, you know." I told him, before we began our workday that separates us widely despite the physical proximity.

"Yeah," he said as he turned away. "Say some prayers for my parents and me."

"I always do and will continue." I replied. He gave a brief smile and turned away.

A seed planted. I look forward to the possible growth.

And I thanked God for the opportunity to represent Him in this crazy and chaotic world we have to live in......

I've finished Dr. Larry Crabb's book Finding God, and find myself in the unique (well, not so unique in Michigan anymore) position where I am at that crossroad between the actual beginning of the destruction of the fallen structure I have lived with for most of my life and the rebuliding of a godly structure, where I long to set hammer to nail to begin the work before me.

As I cried out in my stress, my grief, and my pain to God, "Where are you?", He answered.

Not by giving me a financial windfall that will answer my bills or shelter needs.

Not by fixing my car of its ailments.

Not by giving me the assurance that everything will be fine with my children.

Not by giving me the glib and quick 'christian' comment to another's sorrow.

And He answered today. "This is what I've called you to do. This and nothing more."

I've been on sabbatical from the chapel ministry. Recently I asked my ministry leader, Chaplain Gotberg, if the offer for ordination was still available even if I didn't return to the chapel on a full-time basis. He said it was. I was going to use the ordination cert to see if that met the Army's qualifications to reenlist and send me to seminary before I serve my obligation of two years for each one of education. But the silence from the recruiting arm of the Army has been ominious in its errie lack of noise.

But it has been on my mind lately to pick up that purpose that I seem to have dropped, to move forward despite the uncertainity, the total lack of confidence, and the ridicule of others that claim the same 'family name' as me. To press on.

It has been a rough, time-consuming, difficult, and personally terrifying trip these last few years as I've fought against the 'floors' of my fallen structure; I doubt God (terror and rage), I need you (demanding dependence), I hate you (interpersonal conflict), I hate me (poor self-image), I will survive (arrogant determination), and Here's how (foolish and self-centered style of relating). All the buried, fallen structure Dr. Crabb says we all have standing in our path of finding God in this broken, sinful, and chaotic world.

I have tried to work at buliding the godly structure, that leads to 'fruitful living', through the slow progression of buliding the floors; I believe God (quietness, trust, worship), I love you (freedom from dependence), I accept you (intimacy), I judge me (repentance and rest), I will obey (humble cooperation and joy), and here's how (wise and other-centered style of relating).

Sometimes the buliding looks like a mottley collection of both structures, intermixed and poorly designed. And other times, I've watched the 'godly structure' fall and began rebuliding the 'fallen one' in its place.

Each time, the godly structure goes up quicker, last longer, and is gaining more preference over the fallen structure when rebuliding is necessary.

"God has a unique call on each one of our lives. Our biggest barriers to true growth in Him comes from our refusal to trust Him to point the way. We are simply often afraid of the unknown so we stop ourselves dead in our own tracks and end up wandering for a season. The amazing grace of God is that even in our wanderings He is guiding us slowly back to the starting gate and then empowering us to bolt free to a future of unlimited possibilities asking only that we stay in His will. Praise Him. He alone is worthy." Carolyn Baker says in her devotional prayer today.

I would have to agree.

I have to trust God because the world seems bent on not having me around, the stack in that place is against me and mine. But, God promises and God delivers, in His way and His time.......but He does.

I will trust God

I will obey God

and I will praise Him in this storm.

side note: I also finished reading The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. Apparently I missed something in the reading, based on the comments by others on my reading list website, and other locations on the worldwide web.

I wrote my blog about the book and the author, agonzing about listing it on my blogpage because I am not too happy with the discussion of 'consciousness' and 'alternative realities'. It may be just my heavy heart about the emergent, universalist, and new age predomination that has hit the christian community and is causing it's fracture. Scholar wise, Brueggemann is a intelligent, and thought-provoking authority.

Spiritually, I think he is more of the 'emergent' bent and it shows. But, if you wish to read that article, you can access it on Look for it under the author name Jim Hutson or under the title "The Prophetic Imagination".
I'd love to get comments from those who read this blog, about either book comment.

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