Author: Allan (Page 1 of 394)

Tranquility, Gentleness, Strength

If we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquility, gentleness, and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything that is based on the loftiness of our religious notions, or fervor of our religious feelings. It is a test that can be applied anywhere and at any time. Tranquility, gentleness, and strength, carrying us through the changes of weather, the ups and downs of the route, the varied surface of the road; the inequalities of family life, emotional and professional disappointments, the sudden intervention of bad fortune or bad health, the rising and falling of our religious temperature. Tranquility, gentleness, and strength are the threefold imprint of the Spirit on the souls surrendered to his great action.

~ The Spiritual Life, Evelyn Underhill

Common Ground

We Christians belong to a self-described God of reconciliation who has given us, in his words, the ministry of reconciliation. We are charged by the nature of our own salvation to be a people who seek common ground, who build bridges, who foster restoration of relationships. So, where is the common ground for conversation in the Pro Choice v. Pro Life standoff?

There is no conversation happening. Both sides of this contentious issue are dug in and refuse to budge. There are no attempts to understand, there are no efforts to empathize with the other side. There are only degrading insults and lightning-fast judgments. So, where is the common ground?

What if both sides of this fight have something valid and vital to defend? Don’t they?

Pro-Choicers are desperate to defend the rights of women. They are compelled to protect the bodies of women, to protect against the exploitation of women, to protect against women being told by men what they can and cannot do without any say in the matter. They want to secure the equal rights of all women medically, socially, and economically. That’s what is driving their position. And isn’t that something we all believe is a vital and valid cause? Aren’t those things to which we all should be committed?

Pro-Lifers are desperate to uphold the intrinsic equal dignity and protect the life of every single human being, born and unborn. The deep, eternal value of every person, regardless of perceived disability or inconvenience to society, is what compels their position. Speaking for and standing alongside the most vulnerable among us. That is a vital and valid cause. Aren’t those things to which we all should be committed?

Isn’t that the common ground Pro-Lifers share with Pro-Choicers? Isn’t there room in that realm for genuine empathy, maybe even a little identity, with the other side? Both sides want to take care of women and children and their families. Both sides want women in our society to enjoy the same rights and privileges of men. Certainly, children of God and followers of Jesus want these things. Aren’t we charged by our Lord to point this out and act on it?

Peace,

Allan

A Word About Roe v. Wade

It is right to rejoice and to praise God for what the Supreme Court of the United States did on Friday. Abortion is a violent evil and an atrocious abomination that has not just been allowed to run rampant in this country, it has become mainstream;  it has not just been allowed to become widespread, it is now celebrated in our culture. And has been for a long time. What happened on Friday is a good thing. God should be thanked. And Christians should rejoice.

But overthrowing Roe v. Wade does not make abortion illegal in the United States – it makes it more complicated. Abortion is not going away. We Christians in this country are in the minority on this matter and it will be a contentious, volatile, and divisive issue until our Lord returns.

In the meantime, may I humbly offer these three suggestions for Christians.

Let us all behave as children of God and disciples of Jesus Christ. Christians do not gloat or boast, we do not taunt or mock, we do not insult anybody or any group. Please be careful to display kindness and love and grace. Practice mercy. Emotions are high right now and the world is quick to judge, quick to condemn, quick to hateful speech and violent threats. Let us not be any part of that. Commit now to only Holy Spirit speech and actions in what you post and re-post, what you say, and how you interact with others.

Secondly, let us show empathy and compassion for those who feel primarily affected. Let us make good faith attempts to understand the desperation women and families feel when they are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. For decades now, our culture has strategically conditioned women to feel like abortion is a right and now it’s being removed. They’ve been taught to assume abortion is the only answer and now they’re being denied that only option. They feel like something is being taken away. They do not understand all that they can be given. It never occurs to them all the blessings of support and aid and resources they can receive. Maybe that’s on us Christians and God’s Church. Maybe we’re partly to blame for that. But let’s try to empathize with these young ladies and their families.

And, along with that, let us offer that support and those resources to help women and families facing unplanned pregnancies. Let us make that a priority now. Let us pledge today to figure this out so we can support these women with medical assistance, financial aid, family support, parenting classes, emotional support, diapers and food and supplies, housing, mentorship – whatever they need, whatever it takes to put our money and our energy behind our message that all life matters to our Lord and it matters to us.

May God be praised for every precious life that is saved as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision. May we reflect his glory as we demonstrate humility and love for those who disagree. And may we generously share God’s mercy and grace as we come alongside and support pregnant women and their unborn children.

Peace,

Allan

 

Kristin and Our Kids

We celebrated a wonderful milestone at GCR Church today by ordaining Kristin Rampton as our new full-time Children’s Minister. It’s a no-brainer: Kristin has been serving excellently as one of our children’s coordinators, she already loves our kids and loves our families, she’s already sold out for the vision and mission here at GCR, and she has the passion for it. And the energy. Kristin will engage our kids and their parents, she has the confidence of our shepherds and ministry team, and we are blessed by God to be able to make this official today.

Congratulations, Kristin! We promise today to love you and support you and Ryan and your sweet children. We will encourage you, serve with you, and be family to you. And we commit to the best of our abilities and by the grace of God to love you like Jesus.

Peace,

Allan

 

 

My God and I

The stars shine over the earth, the stars shine over the sea;
the stars shine down from heaven, the stars shine down on me.
The stars may shine for a million years, a million years and a day;
but God and I will live and love after the stars have passed away.

God’s Not Finished Yet

The little kids’ T-shirt is right: “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet.”

We could/should all wear those shirts. All of us. Everybody. We should repeat the phrase to ourselves and declare it out loud to anyone who is listening. Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet. He’s not. Be patient with your church, God’s not finished with it yet. Be patient with your elders, your preacher, your small group leader, the people in your Bible class – God’s not finished with them yet.

The Bible says we are in a continual process of being transformed. We are being transformed into Christ’s image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord. It’s an on-going act upon us, something being done to us. We are being transformed. And we know this. God is patiently working to transform us into the image-of-God people he saved us and called us to be. So we can afford to be patient with each other because we know we’re not done yet.

I can’t walk into the kitchen and pull Carrie-Anne’s lasagna out of the oven and criticize it because it’s watery or flat if it’s only been cooking for three minutes. How can I criticize it if it’s not done yet? How can I make any judgment? We don’t put baseball players in the Hall of Fame after just one season. A graduate from medical school isn’t doing open heart surgery the next morning. Lance Armstrong didn’t win the Tour de France the first time he rode a bike – he had training wheels!

How can I ever judge you? It’s not like God is finished with you. He’s still very much at work. How can we fuss at each other or get frustrated with people in our churches? God is still changing you. He is still changing me. We are always becoming who we are meant to be. But certainly none of us has arrived.

So, let’s cut each other some slack.

Peace,

Allan

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