What’s Hidden in Your Block of Marble?

Love blooms...

Love blooms…

It is sometimes said that great pieces of art are not so much created as they are revealed.  The inference being that the music, picture, sculpture and poem are received as creative gifts to individuals who were able to process the divine download.

It’s interesting to observe how variations of this theme run through the lives of many famous individuals.  Inspiration is truly a gift from God  And the wonderful thing about God is that He is incredibly generous.

But I wonder how often we miss the best gifts because we’re unable to peer through marble?  Or see through paper…or understand that the packaging of God often masks the treasure.  That’s just His way.

Who else but the Creator of the Universe would think about showing up in a tiny embryonic earth suit tucked within a teenagers womb?  Or would envision the shameful, painful death on a cross as an arc between man and God?

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul’s attempt to describe the nature of love ends with an apt description…”now, we see through a glass dimly, but then we shall see face to face.”  His descriptions about what Love is are balanced by admonitions of what it is not.  A sort of divine paradox.

Perhaps in this give and take, we can begin to chip away at the marble that obscures the deeper truth.  Yes, love just like faith without words is ultimately dead, but as the opening of the chapter declares…just the works, faith and power aren’t the real deal either.

We’re reminded that LOVE IS.  Love exists even when our earthly vision obscures it.  Love exists within our perplexed and mangled human experience.  God is Love.  God coming to dwell within human flesh as Emmanuel; making His place within us.  Love is revealed through the chisel of life circumstances and the choices we choose to make or avoid.  LOVE IS and there fore LOVE DOES…not the other way around.

Which actually is a very hopeful place.  To know that within this earth suit, the great Sculpture has not finished his work.  But, He does have an end in mind.  It’s the image of Himself, and thus He works with purpose and compassion, knowing that He who began the good work in us will be faithful in his duty to bring it to completion.

www.challengeofexcellence.wordpress.com

*This Blog is an outreach of the Challenge of an Excellent Life Class of First Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, MI.  The class meets on Sunday mornings @ 10:30 a.m. directly after the 9:00 a.m. service.  You’re welcome to Join Us!

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What if Everyday Were Valentines?

chefTry getting a reservation today in just about any fine restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI.  You’re likely to be out of luck unless you’re willing to eat near midnight!

It’s Valentines Day and judging by the reservation lists across the city, it’s one holiday which unlike even Christmas, seems to be recession proof!  It’s a day which is making lots of folks happy, including candy makers and florists who are frantically driving around making deliveries.

Valentines Day was originally a pagan holiday.  According to this entry in Wikepedia, it was later renamed to honor two martyrs and the modern Celebration of the day dates back to this tradition.

Since then, this celebration of eros love has mushroomed into big business making it the 2nd largest card sending holiday second only to Christmas.

Which brings up an interesting point.  In Christmas, the celebration is about the Prince of Peace,  whom the God of Love sent to earth as an infant born to bring about reconciliation and relationship with Himself, the Creator.

Both holidays, Valentines and Christmas have in some meaningful ways been hijacked from the purity of intention which makes them truly extraordinary.  And in a sense, the enormous time and attention placed in making a simple day ‘special’ draws us a way from the most meaningful elements of either celebration.

‘Cause you see, I don’t think Christmas was intended to be about an event, so much as it marks the beginning of a relationship of reconciliation…the love of God restored to mankind through the gift of his son Jesus.  Christmas has a spiritual focus of peace…peace between God and man and peace within the human family.  Gifts were merely symbols…not intended to be the main event.

In a way, Valentines Day is also minimized to a degree when we relegate the celebration of  love between human beings to just a day.  Love is meant to be descriptive of our everyday  interactions.

In 1 Corinthians 13, the text refers to a lot of every day things such as: patience, kindness, not being rude, not seeking our own way all the time, bearing all things, thinking well of each other.  All of these practices go a long way towards making everyday life more enjoyable and desirable.  So…what do you think?  Shouldn’t Valentines really be an everyday Celebration?

 

*The Challenge of an Excellent Life Class is a ministry of The First Evangelical Covenant Church in Grand Rapids, MI for young adults.  Visitors are always welcome.  The class meets at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning  & the church is located across the street from Union Highschool.

Is It About Fruit…or Roots?

green shoot

green shoot

This week we continued our discussion on ‘The Most Excellent Way.”

The class was a little smaller, but we had a couple new folks join us as well.  Here’s a  quick ‘shout out’ to Lindsey & Jeff.  Welcome!

After a brief review of our discussion last week on the most excellent way and how the journey along a road is experienced very differently depending on the mode of travel, we turned our attention to the ground level.

The text was Luke 6:43-45 in which Jesus tells a story about two kinds of trees.  One tree produces healthy fruit and the other tree does not.

In a society in which most of the fruit that finds its way to our grocery stores is in anything BUT a totally natural state, having been picked some time earlier, stored, ripened for market demand and then buffed and polished to shine…well, suffice it to say that our perspective of ‘healthy fruit’ may be somewhat skewed.

As we explored the differences in what creates healthy fruit, naturally…a couple points worth repeating were made:

1.  A healthy tree doesn’t mean the fruit has absolutely no blemishes

2.  The health of the fruit starts at the roots

Which brings us to the story that follows directly after this little discourse on fruits.  Jesus continues with the “Tale of the Wise & Foolish Builder.”  This story, which is all about foundations, demonstrates that the storms of life have a very different effect on a structure if it has a firm foundation.  A firm foundation allows a structure to sustain a lot of pressure.

Some good points out of the discussion:

1.  We don’t always know what our foundation looks like

2.  God allows storms to reveal to us what He already knows

3.  Storms will come, but we don’t have to live in fear.

4.  God is the builder…He knows how to create good foundations in our lives

So, there is a connection between Fruit and Roots.  It’s all in the foundation.  How are you building yours?

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