Posts Tagged ‘FAITH’

 

 

People have different ways of approaching reality. Some are analytical, reasoned, logical, etc. That’s not me. Not that I can’t be analytical, reasoned and logical. But those are deliberate disciplines that I practice; in contrast to my instinctive way of approaching the world which is through my feelings. I’m just a feeling kind of person.

Maybe too much sometimes. When people talk about having certain spiritual gifts I always say I have the spiritual gift of weeping – I cry at weddings and baptisms and movies. I can’t sing Charles Wesley’s And Can It Be without getting choked up. There’s just something about the words, “Amazing love! How can it be, that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” I’m not a very good singer, but I love to belt those words out. And then toward the end of the song when it says, “My chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose, went forth, and followed thee.” I usually have to keep myself from jumping up and down during that verse.

Jumping up and down to Charles Wesley – go figure.

Not surprisingly, I resonate with Scriptures like Paul’s word in Romans 8 that God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children; and with John Wesley’s experience of having his heart “strangely warmed.” That kind of gut oriented experience of the faith is foundational for me.

So one of the most disorienting moments of my ministry happened when I was approached by a young woman toward the end of a weekend of preaching who earnestly asked how she could really know that God loved her if she couldn’t feel it.

This was a Cornerstone Celebration weekend so she had heard me preach three times already and had been involved in my three-hour teaching session on sharing our faith. Now it was about 5 minutes before the last service was to start and she was desperate to know if what I’d been talking about all weekend long was really true.

Was it really true that God loved her enough to become human in Jesus; was it really true that God’s love for her was radical enough to involve passionate sacrifice. She was sure it was true for everyone else since they could feel it; but it couldn’t possibly be true for her because she couldn’t.

You’ve probably already guessed that I was getting all misty as my mind raced, searching for some way to respond. She continued that it wasn’t just about feeling God’s love. She couldn’t feel anything. Things had happened in her past and she had dealt with them by repressing, pushing down and blocking out any and all feeling within her. I have no feelings, she said and as I looked into her eyes, I believed her.

How is it that we come to know God’s love? Is it only when we feel God’s Spirit “bearing witness” with our spirit? Is it only when our hearts are “strangely warmed?” Is there more to it than that? If we’re not a “feeling kind of person,” does God not work in us and through us anyway?

I was really struggling as the woman patiently waited for my response. My heart was breaking and I was petrified that somehow I would compound her pain. That in my bumbling I would somehow contribute to her certainty that God couldn’t possibly love her since she wasn’t able to feel it.

Way back in the mid-400′s Patrick began preaching in Ireland. He traveled from settlement to settlement, staying with the people, loving them and working among them. Through his ministry, monastic communities sprang up. These communities were different from what we normally think of when we think of monastic communities where monks separated themselves from the rest of society for a life of solitude and prayer. These were communities of committed Christ followers who lived and worked together, sharing resources, love and life together. There were men and women, adults and kids; some were single, some were married, some had families – some were priests but most weren’t, and they were all together in community.

One of the things that made these communities so cool was the way they treated outsiders. There was always a gatekeeper – not to keep anybody out – but to be on duty all the time so that anyone who wanted to come in could come in – no matter what time of the day or night it was. If you visited the community the gate keeper would welcome you first and then call everyone to come greet you. The abbot or abbess (head of the community) would immediately come out to make sure you felt at home. It wouldn’t matter what people were doing, they would stop because making guests feel welcome was more important than anything else. Then they’d show you to the guest house – the best accommodations in the whole place. When it was time to eat, you’d eat at the head table with the abbot/abbess. It would be clear that you could stay as long as you wanted, but you were also free to leave at any time. You could eat with the community, work with the community, worship with the community – always welcome to share in everything about the community. If you stayed for a while they’d assign you a ‘soul friend’ to talk to – no agenda – just about whatever was on your mind. Eventually, if you continued to stay they’d talk to you about God’s love and offer you the opportunity to become more than a guest.

It was a slow process of revealing God’s love; a process that started with the concept of belonging and acceptance and moved only gradually toward commitment. It was a process that took time because it was about providing evidence of God’s love. Not evidence in the form of skilled argument or tight logic; not even the evidence of any specific feeling even though that was probably part of it for most people. It was the evidence of action – consistent actions of love, continued day in and day out – actions that made God’s love visible and tangible and real through the welcoming, caring, support and nurture of people. Evidence through action that people have value simply because they are.

The minutes were passing faster than I wanted them to. I could tell the worship leaders were ready to get started but couldn’t since the woman and I were standing front and center in the sanctuary. I asked her why she came to this particular church. She said that the people were kind to her and took her in when she returned to town after a long absence. In the few years since she’d been back, they’d consistently helped her and her children. Over and over they had been there for her even in really difficult times. It was kind of like they had made space – just for her.

That’s how you know.

 

The Christmas season often brings home to me how much larger Truth is than what I can carry or contain….

 

1129

Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind -

 

 

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (John 1:14, The Message)

 

 

Yesterday’s RethinkChurch word for its photo-a-day Advent journey was wisdom (December 8). That reminded me of my Grandma Corie – not necessarily well-educated, but a wise, wise, woman. It also reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago.

 

Her Hands
Kimberly Dunnam Reisman

 

Cora Eliza Dunnam
Grandma Corie
Co-Bell

Wrinkled hands
grasp my own
squeezing her message of love.

So wrinkled,
the skin
standing up like a bridge
when pinched lightly
by a small child
engrossed in the game
that is being played
on the bridges.

But soft, those hands,
not the softness of youth
but the softness of age,
like my favorite shoe
whose leather is pliant
and wraps comfortably
around my foot.

The softness is not weakness,
for the hands are strong,
strengthened by years
of toting water
to the shotgun house
from the spring
at the bottom of the hill.

Hands,
strong enough
to tote the water,
yet tender enough
to cuddle
the tiny, new baby,
born not three hours
after the last buckets
had been brought up
from the spring.

Old hands now,
but still wearing
the ring
given by the young hand
of a beloved shipbuilder.
Old hands,
still loving that shipbuilder,
and five children,
and eleven grandchildren,
and ten great-grandchildren.

Old hands,
yellowed with age
like the pages
of the bible they hold,
smelling of snuff
and kitchen,
gently stroking
the smooth, leather cover,
offering a prayer,
the words wrinkled with use
yet soft and tender,
like the hands.

 

Cora Eliza Malone Dunnam ~ Co-Bell, circa 1980

Cora Eliza Malone Dunnam ~ Co-Bell, circa 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

WA circle logoA Wesleyan Accent is up and running! We launched October 9 and have been posting articles on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We plan to add Mondays starting in November.

Check out today’s sermon by Robert Gorrell. He pastors at United Methodist Church of the Servant in Oklahoma City. This was the sermon he preached in the aftermath of the deadly tornadoes that struck Oklahoma earlier this year. It’s a wonderful message of strength and comfort in the face of tragedy and loss.

I hope you’ll check out A Wesleyan Accent. This new venture is exciting and meaningful and I believe holds great promise as a source of nourishment for spiritual our journey and renewal for our church.

Abingdon Women

Friday, August 9th, 2013 | By Kimberly Reisman
Filed in: Kimberly Reisman

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IMG_0878Check out Abingdon Women for my most recent blog – Keep Your Eye on the Ball. While you’re there, take a look at The Christ-Centered Woman resources. It’s out and available for small group study. I think you’ll like it!

 

Maxie’s Weekly Word

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 | By Maxie Dunnam
Filed in: Maxie Dunnam, Maxie's Weekly Word

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The Alpha and Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8 NIV).

The disciple John is now an old man. Because of his faith and perhaps his opposition to the emperor, he has been exiled to the Isle of Patmus. The church is suffering under persecution.  It was the Lord’s Day and John remembers the fellowship of fellow Christians. The Spirit came to him and he has a vision. It was a vision as bright as the sun breaking through the clouds in the midst of a storm. A voice comes with the thunder of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. The one who is, who was, and who is to come. “

John fell down at the feet of the One who was speaking. Breathless in adoration, John says, When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. (Rev. 1:17-18 NIV)

Jesus, “the Alpha and the Omega”, says, “I AM THE BEGINNING OF LIFE AND I AM THE END OF HISTORY.”

While this Advent and Christmas season we celebrate the coming of Jesus as a Babe in a Manger, we must not miss the fact that he became the man, Jesus. And Jesus is not just another good man, not even the best of all men. Jesus is not just another prophet, not even the greatest of all prophets. Jesus is not just a god in a lineup of gods from whom we might choose. All things were made by him. He is the beginning of the created order, he is       the pre-existent Christ, and he is the cosmic Christ. It is no wonder that John, when he had this vision, fell at Jesus’ feet.

Christ is the beginning of life. He is also the beginning of our new life. Jesus is alive, and we have the promise “because I live, you will live also.”(John 14:19)  With John, we fall down, even before the manger, and worship him.

Get Out of the Way

Madeleine L’Engle writes:

Madeleine L’Engle

When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist; Shakespeare knew how to listen to his work, and so he often wrote better than he could write; Bach composed more deeply, more truly than he knew; Rembrandt’s brush put more of the human spirit on canvas than Rembrandt could comprehend.

When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.

But before he can listen, paradoxically, he must work. Getting out of the way and listening is not something that comes easily, either in art or in prayer.

It’s true in art and in prayer, but also in faith itself – particularly in sharing that faith. When we are ‘servants of the work,’ as L’Engle describes, just as the artist allows the work to take over, so we allow the Holy Spirit, which moves within us and through us, to take over. Just as the artist is enabled to get out of the way – to not interfere – we are enabled to become vehicles of transformation in the lives of others. Not the source of transformation, mind you, but fortunate witnesses of a power deeper that we can comprehend.

Like with the artist’s work, when the Holy Spirit takes over, we must listen – deeply, attentively, openly. Not only to the Spirit, but to the other with whom we share – listening deeply, attentively, openly.

But, as L’Engle says, there is a paradox. Like the artist, before we can get out of the way and listen we must work. To be a ‘servant of the work’ we must launch ourselves into it, trusting that the work is bigger and better than we are. So we make space, build relationships, take risks, share vulnerabilities and allow the Spirit to take over; allow the Spirit to enable us not to interfere, but to be fortunate witnesses of a power deeper than we can comprehend.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

Kingdom Life Healing Ministries Event

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012 | By Next Step Evangelism
Filed in: Events

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Encountering the God Who Heals

 

A Kingdom Life Healing Ministries Event

 

This is a great opportunity to work with a very gifted woman…

 

 

Dr. Bobby Cabot

The Healing School

October 23-27, 2012

Bear Lake Manor

7812 Main Street

Bear Lake, MI 49614

 

 

 

 

The Healing School, led by Rev. Dr. Bobby Cabot,  is a 3 ½ day event which combines cognitive, spiritual and experiential components in order for all participants to learn about healing and experience the Healing Christ themselves.

The Healing School focuses primarily on inner healing.  Sometimes called “healing of emotions,” or “healing of memories,” inner healing is a unique ministry which only Christ can do.  The human facilitator is just that – the one who helps the person receiving prayer come into the presence of Christ for His divine touch.

 

 

              TOPICS TAUGHT IN THE HEALING SCHOOL

◊ The God who Speaks
◊ Distorted Images of God
◊ Structures of Inner Healing
◊ Dysfunctional Behavior
◊ Emotional Upheaval
◊ Lies we believe about God, ourselves and others
◊ Forgiveness

REGISTRATION INFORMATION

First Time Attendee:  $240

Early Bird Special: (Before September 10) $195

Couples:  $375 ($105 savings)

Alumni:  $175

Meals: $48 (3 dinners, 4 lunches – order in advance)

 

For more information contact:   KLHM Registration ~ 12318 Smith Street ~ Bear Lake, MI 49614                 231.557.0166

klhmbobby@yahoo.com

Those coming from out-of-town may make reservations at the motel of your choice. Early registrants may be put up complementary in host homes.

 

 

What’s Your Next Step?

vickersHaving read Jason Vickersbook Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal, I’m continuing to ponder next steps. Here is a second installment of those thoughts. You can read the first installment, A Death Embrace, here.

 

Selfishly, one of the things I appreciated about Jason’s book is that it confirmed my own thoughts. From my perspective, historically the church has not always held together the relationship between the personal and the corporate in a holistic fashion, which (again from my perspective) has in turn undermined evangelism in significant ways. Nicholas Perrin is on target when he say’s that many Christians are conditioned to read Scripture as God’s saving Word to them as individuals rather than God’s saving word to the church. He goes on to say that this kind of understanding has led to ‘a notion that views the church as little more than a loose association of the equivalents of Jesus’ Facebook friends.’*

Over the years, much evangelistic activity has focused on the person as an isolated entity, as though that was the entire focus of Jesus’ message. But that’s somewhat of a distortion. In Christian faith the personal and the communal don’t cancel each other out, they’re bound together, with each reinforcing the other.

That’s why Jason’s critique of the idea of the church as the ‘community of the already saved’ is so important. But it’s not so easy to swallow. Where I grew up, we’d say Jason’s gone to meddlin’.

But I can’t think of a more important word at this juncture. Salvation is not simply a private transaction between an individual and Jesus. Sin is not just about transgressing divine laws. Atonement is not merely the juridical event of pardon. And (thankfully) the church is not a ‘waiting room for heaven’ or ‘a good place to get something to eat and make a few new friends while we wait to be called home to glory,’ or even ‘a good place to come together for civic involvement or…political caucusing.’**

What is at stake, especially for evangelism, is the recognition that salvation is dramatically more far-reaching and comprehensive than a simple private transaction. Sin is deeper and more complex than the breaking of a few commandments. Atonement is far more sweeping and transformative than the receipt of pardon. And (thankfully) the church is instrumental in all of it – the very context of the Holy Spirit’s activity and the chosen vehicle through which God works for radical transformation.

But convincing folks of all that can seem like a really hard sell these days – especially in the United Methodist Church. And it’s not just because many of us think of the church as an afterthought when it comes to salvation.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

One of my seminary professors, George Lindbeck talked about the importance of church doctrine to the formation of communal identity. He said that ‘Church doctrines are communally authoritative teachings regarding beliefs and practices that are considered essential to the identity or welfare of the group in question…they indicate what constitutes faithful adherence to a community.’ Think about the Quakers, for instance. If I’m a Quaker, but I oppose pacifism, I’m not going to be viewed as a good Quaker, because that’s not what a member of the Society of Friends should be. Lindbeck says that if you don’t draw that conclusion, then it’s most likely because ‘the belief has ceased to be communally formative.’*** The belief may still be a formal or official one, but it’s no longer operational.

That’s the heart of our current crisis in the UMC. Not only have we forgotten that the church is instrumental to salvation, it may also very well be that the doctrinal heritage of the UMC is no longer communally formative (at least in the US). If that’s the case, then (sadly) we really aren’t much more than a loose association of Jesus’ Facebook friends.

 

 

*Nicholas Perrin, ‘Jesus Eschatology and Kingdom Ethics: Ever the Twain Shall Meet’, in N. Perrin and R. Hays (eds.), Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N. T. Wright (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011), 100, 102

**Jason Vickers, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011), 83

***George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age [1984], (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009), 60

 

Occasionally things happen in life that call us to pause. If we heed that call and pay attention, we often realize that we’ve been privy to something really special. That kind of thing has happened to me over the last several weeks.

Owl

Murdock the owl

We live in an ordinary suburban setting in West Lafayette, Indiana – nice front yard with neighbors a little over a driveway width away on either side. When we arrived in 1993 our back yard was lovely but our neighbors were in plain sight – no privacy whatsoever. In the years since, we’ve planted wisteria vines and built a pergola and our back yard turned into what our children have come to call the secret garden.

During good weather, we eat many of our meals under the pergola surrounded by wisteria and trumpet vines. A few weeks ago, as we were eating with friends we noticed a bird nestled in the wisteria – not the kind of bird we were used to seeing. It was a young screech-owl, about 12 inches tall, who had apparently been watching us for some time. We watched each other that night, and the next, soon naming him Murdock (after my grandfather who would also watch quietly, occasionally dropping some gem of wisdom or wit) and regularly checking for his whereabouts in the branches of the wisteria. Until one day he was gone.

That was a sad day.

owlet

Oscar the Owlet

But then another evening rolled around and John and I were out enjoying dinner in the shade of the pergola. John looked up and thought he saw Murdock! But no, it wasn’t him. It was a small owlet, so new he (she?) still had his fuzzy just-hatched feathers – and he had been watching us. So we named him Oscar (I’m not sure why) and began watching, checking every day to see where he might be nestled. Oscar lost his fuzzy feathers and fresh new, grown-up feathers took their place. He watched us and we watched him. And then Oscar was gone too. Another sad day.

But that’s when I realized that I had been privy to something special – nothing miraculous mind you, but definitely special.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

An ordinary part of nature – owls – opened my eyes once again to the amazing glory of God’s creation. And it reminded me not to take things for granted, but to pay attention. So I am. Deliberately. Because I don’t want to miss meeting those who share my garden.

 

Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

…Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! 

Genesis 1.20-22, 31