Monday, January 28, 2008


I've always considered myself to have pretty good balance. I'm not a gymnast or anything. You would never catch me on a balance beam attempting those maneuvers for fear that I would lose the family jewels - if you know what I mean...I'm sure you do. But, I used to do all kinds of rock climbing and performed numerous stunts growing up and I rarely fell down.

That's what happens when you lose your balance. The laws of gravity take over and you tumble to the ground. Sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's embarrassing, and on occasion it could paralyze you or even kill you. Keeping our balance is an important thing.

The risk of falling often keeps us from going certain places or trying certain things. I've never learned how to do a back flip - even on a trampoline. I can do front flips all day long, but for some reason I can't trust myself to go backward - it is the fear of falling. Of course, none of us would be walking at all if we didn't overcome that fear at some point.

I was assisting an infant in walking around yesterday. He's at the point where he can balance himself and take a few steps on his own, but if he has a finger to hold onto he can get just about anywhere. He won't let go of that finger provides his balance for the walk. Instinctively, he knows that if he lets go he will fall. Already he has a strong desire to experience, but he doesn't want to fall.

Balance is difficult. At times I'm so afraid of falling that I'm paralyzed, motionless, stuck. Then there are times that I take off running on a path full of potholes and it is all I can do to get up after the thirtieth or fortieth fall. It helps to have others to lean against when I start to get out of balance - of course they have to be stable or we're both going to eat dust. Like the time I took out a bunch of middle aged ladies after wiping out on my snowboard - we slid down the mountain a few hundred feet with a mouth full of snow. I apologized, but when you take a really bad wipeout sometimes you can't help knocking others down - you're not in's a balance thing.

The reality is that we're all out of balance. That's why we have such difficulty with balance in this life. We get up, take a few steps and fall down. We grab onto others as we're going down - sometimes they keep us from falling and sometimes they go down with us. Thankfully, our Father knows our situation and reaches down with His Hand to offer us some help. The question is - will you keep wiping out trying to do it on your own under the illusion of control? Or will you reach out and take His Hand offering guidance and direction in your life? I've found that's my only hope for true balance in this world. Until next time - Blessings in Christ ~ RLS

P.S. The whole balance thing is why I haven't posted for a while - obviously I'm still learning to walk and have a long way to go...but I am trying.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Peacemaker's Pledge

A soft blanket of untouched snow is such a peaceful scene. As I mentioned in my last post, I've been thinking about peace a lot these days. I finished Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker this morning and will be exploring some of the biblical and practical insights he shares for developing a culture of peace.

I'd like to begin my reflection with his conclusion. Sande wraps up the book with The Peacemaker's Pledge. It is helpful to have read the rest of the book to further understand what he means by each of these phrases - but I do think the pledge stands on its own. I would encourage you to read and reflect on this pledge - how would our daily lives be different if we truly took it to heart?

The Peacemaker's Pledge

As people reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we believe that we are called to respond to conflict in a way that is remarkably different from the way the world deals with conflict (Matt. 5:9; Luke 6:27-36; Gal. 5:19-26). We also believe that conflict provides opportunities to glorify God, serve other people, and grow to be like Christ (Rom. 8:28-29; 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1; James 1:2-4). Therefore, in response to God's love and in reliance on His grace, we commit ourselves to responding to conflict according to the following principles.

Glorify God

Instead of focusing on our own desires or dwelling on what others may do, we will rejoice in the Lord and bring Him praise by depending on His forgiveness, wisdom, power, and love as we seek to faithfully obey His commands and maintain a loving, merciful, and forgiving attitude (Ps. 37:1-6; Mark 11:25; John 14:15; Rom. 12:17-21; 1 Cor. 10:31; Phil. 4:2-9; Col. 3:1-4; James 3:17-18; 4:1-3; 1 Peter 2:12).

Get the Log Out of Your Own Eye

Instead of blaming others for a conflict or resisting correction, we will trust in God's mercy and take responsibility for our own contribution to conflicts - confessing our sins to those we have wronged, asking God to help us change any attitudes and habits that lead to conflict, and seeking to repair any harm we have caused (Prov. 28:13; Matt. 7:3-5; Luke 19:8; Col. 3:5-14; 1 John 1:8-9).

Gently Restore

Instead of pretending that conflict doesn't exist or talking about others behind their backs, we will overlook minor offenses or we will talk personally and graciously with those whose offenses seem too serious to overlook, seeking to restore them rather than condemn them. When a conflict with a Christian brother or sister cannot be resolved in private, we will ask others in the body of Christ to help us settle the matter in a biblical manner (Prov. 19:11; Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 6:1-8; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:29; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; James 5:9).

Go and Be Reconciled

Instead of accepting premature compromise or allowing relationships to wither, we will actively pursue genuine peace and reconciliation - forgiving others as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us, and seeking just and mutually beneficial solutions to our differences (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:12; 7:12; Eph. 4:1-3, 32; Phil. 2:3-4).

By God's grace, we will apply these principles as a matter of stewardship, realizing that conflict is an opportunity, not an accident. We will remember that success in God's eyes is not a matter of specific results, but of faithful, dependent obedience. And we will pray that our service as peacemakers will bring praise to our Lord and lead others to know His infinite love (Matt. 25:14-21; John 13:34-35; Rom. 12:18; 1 Peter 2:19; 4:19).

If you are currently in a conflict - and even if you're not - I would encourage you to read this pledge for at least 30 days and let me know if it makes a difference. I'm just beginning my journey as an intentional peacemaker. I'll soon find out where that road leads...all I know is that it is the Way. Until next time - Blessings in Christ ~ RLS

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

What does it mean to be a part of the peacable experience offer be a peacemaker? My thoughts and meditations have focused on these questions in recent days for reasons that don't necessarily need to be recounted in a public forum. These unnamed reasons have forced me to further examine what it means to follow the Prince of Peace.

God desires peace for His creation, at least my reading of the biblical witness affirms that God's ultimate desire for the created order is shalom. We have varying understandings of what that means, but Scripture gives us some fairly clear glimpses of what peace might look like in the created order and how peace is achieved in our relational existence.

One of the most glaring hypocrisies in current Christian community is that our way of life does not bear witness to the shalom of God. The disorder, conflict, broken relationships, destructive habits and patterns further reveals the fact that we are not genuinely participating in the Kingdom, which renders us inadequate witnesses of the Gospel. Our inability to embody the peace of Christ within our own community makes us mute to speak to the brokenness in our world.

One of our highest priorities must be to create a culture of peace. It is obvious that this culture naturally flows out of a community that is truly connected to the Head and engaged with the Spirit, but that relational connection doesn't just happen. There are habits and practices that we can develop, which enable us to remain open to the Spirit and the be re-shaped into the imago Dei.

A great practical and biblical resource for developing a culture of peace is Ken Sande's book The Peacemaker. I'm going to be spending a few weeks digesting and outlining some of the principles for conflict transformation that he proposes. Check back over the next few weeks for this series of posts. You can find other resources at the Peacemaker Ministry Website. As always, feel free to share your thoughts or reactions. Until next time - Blessings in Christ ~ RLS

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I don't think that many of us associate the raising of Lazarus with our vocation. When we think of vocation - we tend to think in terms of our occupation or job. The late A. J. Conyers helps us understand that Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is a rich image of the biblical understanding of vocation. We are raised from meaningless death and called to participate in the divine life and mission. He says it so much better than I could - you can read his article here. Until next time - Blessings in Christ ~ RLS

A. J. Conyers was a professor of theology for George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. He died in the summer of 2004 after a battle with cancer.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


I subscribe to a few publications. The Christian Century is one of those. In a recent issue they had an article that closely captured my own sentiment on "styles" or "brands" or "expressions" of Christian worship. You can read the article here. I would be interested in any responses. Blessings in Christ ~ RLS

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'm a little behind in wishing ya'll a Happy New Year! A new year brings with it all kinds of new opportunities. It is a time to reflect on the past and to look toward the future. We review the good and the bad of the previous year and are afforded a fresh start, a clean slate. This is an occasion for some of us to resolve to do things differently this year than we did in the past. What was the best thing and worst thing about 2007? What is your New Year’s resolution? If you are the type of “special” person who doesn’t make resolutions, let us know why?

As we move into a new year it is a great time to remember our identity and mission. The reality is that as Christ-followers “who we are” (identity) and “what we do” (mission) are wrapped up together. Jesus sums it all up in Mark 12:28-34.

28One of the religion scholars came up. Hearing the lively exchanges of question and answer and seeing how sharp Jesus was in his answers, he put in his question: "Which is most important of all the commandments?"

29-31Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

32-33The religion scholar said, "A wonderful answer, Teacher! So lucid and accurate—that God is one and there is no other. And loving him with all passion and intelligence and energy, and loving others as well as you love yourself. Why, that's better than all offerings and sacrifices put together!"

34When Jesus realized how insightful he was, he said, "You're almost there, right on the border of God's kingdom."

After that, no one else dared ask a question.

May we begin 2008 remembering who we are as Christ-followers, with a new resolve to participate in His mission to redeem the world.