Posts Tagged ‘Reconciliation’

Peace

Peace Camp Uganda

 

Aubrey and Patrick Woodson are two young Peace Corps volunteers I am blessed to call friends. They serve in Uganda and recently Aubrey worked with youth from the Greater North in a weeklong Peace Camp. She posted this on her blog:

We have been fortunate to grow up in an environment where people can argue about politics, the validity of eating at Chik-fil-A, Kony 2012…etc. None of them matter without peace. I know my campers learned a lot this week at Peace Camp but I also learned a lot from them about the power of forgiveness. It was truly inspirational to see the resilience of the youth, who have been through so much, and their willingness to learn about living in peace with themselves and with one another.

She went on to post a poem written by one of the youth:

Peace Peace Peace

Who are you?

Where do you stay?

Where were you born?

Who has ever seen you?

Peaceful Living UgandaSome people say that

you are love and joy.

Others say that you are happiness.

Others describe you as unity and respect.

To those who have read extensively

and widely, they think of you as a situation

or a period of time where there is

no war in a country. Yet others think of you

as a state of living in friendship with somebody.

How special are you?

You are too unique.

You are needed in our world now.

People are suffering and crying because you are not there.

Armies are fighting because you are not there.

Police are deployed where you are absent.

In the Greater North, many people were killed,

burnt, hammered and hung because you were absent.

Our children of this generation don’t know you.

Many people have lost their lives in the process of searching for you.

Many are still in the bush looking for you.

Many weapons were made to bring you back.

Married men and women have separated because you are nowhere to be seen.

Nobody can be comfortable without you.

Aubrey Woodson

Aubrey Woodson – Peace Camp 2012

It seems love is your father.

Happiness is your mother.

Joy, unity, and respect are you relatives.

Confusion and fighting are your greatest enemies.

Killing can chase you out of a country.

We cry, pray, and request

you humbly to stay in the

Greater North of our country

forever and ever.

-Omodo Boniface

 

Yes. Stay…but please, not only in the Greater North…

 

…If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.                                                  2 Chronicles 7.14

 

MLM-splash-3

Making Life Matter

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

 

 

The scene around the corner from my office today…

 

Three crosses

Good Friday, 2012 ~ Lafayette, Indiana

 

Jesus on the Cross

Good Friday, 2012 ~ Lafayette, Indiana

 

 

A FASCINATION WITH SHORTCUTS

 

Matrix Mentor, Maxie D. Dunnam

Maxie D. Dunnam - Kingdom Catalysts

The bulk of the products in our grocery stores were not there ten years ago. The majority of these new goods are in the frozen and instant food departments. We have instant puddings, instant rice, instant coffee. No wonder we are fascinated with shortcuts. We don’t want to know if it will work, but if it will work now…quickly.

There is a severe fallacy in this mindset. Charles Kettering put it memorably: “If you buy a fiddle today, you can’t expect to give a concert in Carnegie Hall tomorrow” Jesus expressed it differently. “Do you pick a bunch of grapes from a thorn bush or figs from a clump of thistles?”

There is no instant wholeness for us as persons…

No instant reconciliation for our divided relationships, cities and nations.

Even Jesus had to walk the entire road to the cross – no instant resurrection, no skipping to Easter.

We need commitment and perseverance, but I promise: God will honor our faithfulness.

This morning I received an email from a friend in Australia who has been on the planning team for World Methodist Evangelism’s International Christian Youth Conference on Evangelism. It was a general update but included a video from the most recent ICYC event in Seoul, South Korea in July 2010.

I watched it & the memories just flooded over me…

Twenty-one years ago, in 1980, I attended the first ICYC in Truro, England. It was an amazing experience – transformative in ways I never could have anticipated at the time.

Peter Storey 1980

Peter Storey - Truro England ICYC 1980

The speakers were tremendous – I particularly remember Peter Story, who’s testimony about what was happening in South Africa during those years absolutely rocked my world.

It’s amazing how much things can change in just a few decades & how much things can stay the same. Apartheid may be history in South Africa, but racism is still haunts the entire planet.

Peter Storey

Peter Storey

In the message we drafted in Truro, we called upon the church to be ‘a family fellowship which will facilitate young people’s visions, which will respect and help young people, and give them a share of responsibility.’ How often do we still hear that challenge?

ICYC Name Tag 1980

1980 ICYC Name Tag - Kim Dunnam

I left Truro energized & that experience provided a foundation for everything I’ve done since. Who knows what kind of impact the young people who were in Seoul in July will have on their churches, communities & world? There’s still so much kingdom work to do…

 

A final thought… The final paragraph of the message drafted at Truro calls upon the World Methodist Council & the churches in the Wesleyan family to ‘set up the necessary administrative machinery to enable young people to offer one year of their lives in full time mission, evangelism and ministry in areas where there is need for such service.’ Hmmmm…..

‘We ask the World Methodist Council to set up a summer school for evangelisim and discipleship.’ Hmmmm…

The needs remain. Will we listen to our youth – even if their voices are just an echo over 21 years?

 

If you have trouble viewing the video, click here.

Selling Guilt

Monday, February 6th, 2006 | By Next Step Evangelism
Filed in: Uncategorized

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I’ve been going through some difficult times in my life recently - personal issues that have been challenging for me spiritually, derailing me at times from the ways in which I believe God desires to use me. One of my philosophies in life has always been to assume that if I’m feeling something, chances are someone else is feeling, or has felt at some time, the same thing, or something similar. We’re all human after all, so I can’t possibly be the only one struggling. In the midst of my difficulty, I’ve been trying to see where the gospel fits in – because it always does. The good news of Jesus Christ has something to say to every life situation, good or bad, tragic or joyful.

 

Because I believe it’s a human thing to struggle and not just a Kim thing, it got me thinking about the overall human condition – that thing we call sin. So much of our efforts to share faith have been based on the idea of sin. If we can just convince the world of sin, then the world will suddenly feel the need for redemption, and for the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It’s as if we believe that if we don’t tell the world about sin, the world will never know about it. And it’s not just sin in general; we feel compelled to tell the world our own stories about the origin of sin – the story of Adam and Eve – the story of Cain and Abel. As if these stories, rather than the Holy Spirit, would lead people to see their need for a relationship with Jesus Christ. As if faith sharing was about selling guilt rather than witnessing to the life transforming love that we experience in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

My own experience tells me that when we build our faith on the foundation of sin rather than on the foundation of God’s love, all we end up with is a deep sense of hopelessness. Focusing so intently on the human condition of sin – on our "depravity" – denies the fact that to be human, regardless of whether or not you’re in relationship with Jesus, is to experience happiness. Some may say it’s not "true" happiness unless we’re connected to God, but I find that hard to believe. Paul says that God is evident to all people in the happiness he gives them. Look at the face of a woman holding her newborn for the first time. Watch people greet their friends and family as they arrive at airports or train stations. Observe the joy of those celebrating a wedding feast. Their happiness is real, regardless of whether they are in relationship with Jesus; it is a sign that God is among them regardless of whether or not they know it. God is there before we ever reach out. God is there before we ever make a connection, form a relationship, or share our faith. God is there before us; it’s simply up to us to bring God out so that others can recognize him. To believe that to do this – to bring God out – we must first convince persons of their sinful natures is to build on the wrong foundation.

 

People don’t need to be convinced of the reality of sin – we may not like to hear about it, but it’s not because we aren’t aware of it. Most of us are all too aware of how much we fall short. Our world isn’t perfect; our lives aren’t perfect; our relationships aren’t perfect. We hurt those we love most with our words and our deeds. We let others down by the things we do and the things we don’t do. Our world is filled with greed and indifference, lust and envy, gluttony, anger, and pride, not because those things exist outside us but because they reside within every human being on the planet.

 

If we don’t need to be convinced of the reality of sin, we do need to experience the reality of forgiveness. That’s one of our most desperate needs. I mentioned a couple of days ago that I just finished reading Vincent Donovan’s Christianity Rediscovered, the story of his work with the Masai tribe in

East Africa. He says that in Masai culture, there are unforgivable sins, and sins that are forgivable, but obtaining forgiveness is so difficult it might as well be impossible. He described the Masai as having to "sweat and strain and suffer to reach forgiveness, even when it was possible." That description fits more than just the Masai. How often do our relationships remain estranged because of the chasm created by unforgiveness? It may be possible to span the gulf through forgiveness, but we have to sweat and strain and suffer in order to get across, if we’re able to cross at all. The Indigo Girls is a favorite band of mine and in A Moment of Forgiveness they sing about the deep need for forgiveness and the sweat and strain we experience in order to reach it:


Well I guess that I was lonely

that’s why I called you on the phone

‘Cause in a moment of forgiveness

I didn’t want to be alone

I guess that I was willin’

more than I ever was before

‘Cause in a moment of forgiveness

I came a knocking at your door

 

Baby I woke up crying last night

just to realize that you were gone

Has it been two long years without you

When are you gonna come home?

 

I guess that I was hoping

that you’d finally understand

And in a moment of forgiveness

you’d reach out and take my hand

 

Now baby I know you’re not one

for bearing witness

And you told me that one wrong move

was going to sell you out

And I see that you kept your word

and made it harder than it had to be

Wish I could save you the trouble baby

give you a little peace of mind

 

Baby I woke up crying last night

just to realize that you were gone

It’s been two long years without you

when are you gonna come home?

 

I guess that I was hoping

that you’d finally understand

And in a moment of forgiveness

you’d reach out and take my hand

And in a moment of forgiveness

you’d reach out and take my hand

It seems that one of our basic experiences as humans is this inner tension between our awareness of sin, however vague it may be, and the mighty struggle and effort to reach forgiveness. If that’s the case, what does the gospel have to say to us? If you look closely at the New Testament, you’ll see something very interesting. Sin is missing. The first faith sharers don’t talk about original sin or how we’re all "fallen creatures" or anything like that. What they do talk about is forgiven sin, which is completely different. And one of the foundations of faith in Jesus Christ is that forgiven sin is the only kind of sin there is in the world. That’s what faith sharing should be based on – spreading the good news that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins has been accomplished – it’s a done deal.

 

That’s really good news! That’s where faith in Jesus Christ diverges from Judaism, and Hinduism and Islam and paganism. Sin has already been conquered. We’re living in a redeemed world. So sharing our faith isn’t about teaching sin, it’s about spreading the good news of the forgiveness of sin.

 

In addressing my own spiritual struggle, it occurred to me that my inner conflict existed on two levels – the mind and the heart. For so many of us, sharing our faith, or coming to have faith in the first place, is seen as a project for our heads. We need to come to some kind of intellectual agreement on truths and doctrines. Or we need to present our arguments in such a way as to make it possible for another to come to that same kind of agreement. My struggle reminds me that faith isn’t just about our heads; it’s about our hearts. In my mind I understand that forgiveness is integral to my connection with God. I know that I’m a redeemed creature through my relationship with Jesus Christ. Yet, there are many times in which my heart has a hard time accepting that reality.

 

The Masai word used for faith offers a bridge between my heart and my head. When we focus only on our heads, faith is like a hunter shooting an animal with a gun from a great distance – only the eyes and fingers take part. But for the Masai, faith is like a lion going after prey. It’s a whole body affair – his nose and eyes and ears are involved in tracking, his legs provide him with speed, all the power of his body is engaged in leaping. After the animal goes down, the lion pulls it to himself and makes it part of himself.

 

Faith must become part of our whole selves, not just part of our heads. Recognizing that all sin is forgiven sin, it’s already been conquered, realizing that our world has already been redeemed, isn’t just about assenting to that truth with our minds. It’s also about experiencing the assurance of that truth in our hearts, making it part of our whole selves in the same way the lion makes his prey a part of himself.

 

But here is an even deeper truth; one that holds even more promise. In my last blog – gods and the High God - I talked about searching for the High God, leaving our land and nation – at least in our thoughts – in order to find the God of the world. We must be like the lion, searching for faith with our whole selves. But the deeper truth is we aren’t really the ones searching, God is the real searcher. God searches and finds us. All the time we think we’re the lion, but in reality, the lion is God. God’s goodness and kindness and holiness and grace and presence and creating power and salvation are all here already. Our task is simply to recognize that God has found us. Our response is to open ourselves to experiencing the assurance that God has taken us completely into God’s self through forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

 

We live in a world filled with pain and sorrow, broken relationships and damaged hearts. A world filled with persons sweating and straining to reach a moment of forgiveness when another reaches out and takes their hand. God has reached out to each of us in the person of Jesus Christ. Will you take that hand? And what will you do once you’ve taken it? What is your next step in making the good news of God’s forgiveness a part of your whole self? What is your next step in making that good news recognizable for others?