I enjoy taking care of our yard. It is good for my soul.
Last fall, I did not have a chance to get in a final raking as the snow fell early and stayed on through most of the winter. This meant that we were left with a mess of wet and matted leaves to take care of this spring. I was outside raking and saw different results. Where there were thick leaves some of the grass had died and in other locations the grass was not as full and thick in coverage. A good raking cleared out the leaves as well as dead grass that had built up. This let air in and more importantly let the grass see the sun.
The grass is like our spiritual life.
There are places in my soul that are covered and matted down and not able to get the sustenance that is needed. These are the areas in my life where there continues to be sin. Confession and reconciliation clears away the sin, some of the effects of sin and more importantly lets my soul see the Son.
This week I was part of a conversation that was encouraging, informative and exciting.
I was part of a conversation with Ben Simpson, Correy Trupp, Darrell Holtz, Dave Robertson, James Bryan Smith and Jimmy Taylor about The Apprentice Series – a discipleship curriculum. I met Jimmy less than a year ago at Board of Ordained Ministry interviews for Kansas West Annual Conference. At that time, he indicated that he was part of a team that was developing a new curriculum that would be released at a conference in the summer of 2009 and would be interested in sharing more about it. Initially it sounded good, but the time didn’t seem to find that conversation.
Subsequently, Ben let me know that he would be attending The Jesus Way: recovering the lost content of discipleship. This is a conference sponsored by Renovare and was the same conference at which the curriculum would be launched. I told Jimmy or Ben or both about the other, but would not be able to go to the conference myself. They met while they were there.
Just over a month ago, Jimmy sent me a message on Facebook indicating that he and James Smith (author of The Apprentice Series) would be in town in a couple weeks and asked if I would be able to meet. I was excited to finally be able to meet them and invited Ben and some of the discipleship staff at Resurrection.
I was encouraged by hearing the story and background to The Apprentice Series and the approach to forming disciples which is put forward.
I hope to have the opportunity to experience the curriculum with a small group this fall.
I hope continue to build relationships with Jim and Jimmy.
I believe that this curriculum may be a part of the puzzle of renewal within The United Methodist Church and spiritual revival in the state of Kansas.
You can find more at http://www.apprenticeofjesus.org/
I mowed the grass last night and it felt great. I was tired by the end, but it was well worth it. Not only were the grass blades, which had been knitting themselves together in a bit of a jungle, trimmed down to a reasonable level but my soul was watered by the experience.
- When I mow the lawn, my brain has to stay engaged in what I am doing, but not so much that it can’t wander if necessary.
- I bring some level of order out of some level of chaos.
- When I am done, I can see the results.
- There are no shortcuts – I have to push that mower across every bit of lawn.
- The physical exercise is good.
Ahh, mowing the lawn…
I had a great breakfast at First Watch with Scott on Tuesday morning. He wanted to talk about an experience in which he felt that a church leader depreciated Christianity in relationship to other religions of the world. The relationship between Christianity and other religions is a topic that I find to be quite complex. Here is some of my response.
Christianity and world religions
Judaism has a distinct relationship with Christianity among all other world religions. The God to whom Jesus prays and speaks to as Father is the God of the Hebrew scriptures. God remains faithful to the covenant that was made with the people of Israel. Paul wrestles with this relationship in several chapters in the book of Romans.
Will persons of other faith traditions be saved? I am not sure. I do believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. I believe that the Christian hope is that all things will be made new in the second coming of Christ. I do not think that anything will remain that is old. I believe that Christ’s incarnation, life, death and resurrection is a part of God’s work for all of creation. What exactly this means for persons of other religions, I do not know.
As a pastor, it is part of my responsibility to be concerned with how it is with others’ souls. I believe that this is the responsibility of all Christians – to watch over one another in love (as Wesley would say). However, I believe that it is more important to first be concerned with the state of my own soul and my journey of discipleship. I believe that one should be more concerned for the state of one’s own soul than with making judgments on the state of others.
Thoughts about conversations with those of other religions
- Do not ever belittle your own religion when confronted with another religion. There is no need to be bashful or reticent about your beliefs. However, at the same time be careful not to belittle another’s religion.
- Focus on invitational conversations. In interfaith conversations there needs to be a readiness to both give and receive.
- I believe that it is more important for Christians to focus on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with non and nominally religious persons than with those who already have a faith.
I recognize that this is a broad topic and that this response does not even come close to touching all areas that would be needed. What would you add to this conversation? How do you understand the relationship between Christianity and other religions? What thoughts do you have about interfaith conversations?