Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Graham "Jacob" Baird

Two weeks ago, I joined an online personality survey, spiritual development program called Monvee (by the way, I really, really recommend Monvee, The Monvee computer based program works by having you input personal information about your life and your walk with God into a computer program. Then it processes that information by allowing that information to be synthesized by expert psychologists and pastors, and then it gives you a spiritual diagnostic for you life. Among other helpful tools, it matches you up with a Biblical character that is most similar to your own character.

The character that the Monvee computer program matched me up with is Jacob. And I've got to say, I've really been wrestling with this one...

Jacob was the son of Isaac, who stole his father's inheritance from his brother, who ran away from home, who got lost in the wilderness, who met with God on the banks of the river Jabok (play on words), who wrestled with an angel - "until the angel was overcome" - (Thank you Bono). Jacob was conniving, he was deceptive, he strove for much, and stood for little. Jacob wanted to make alliances in order to further his own selfish ambitions, and when those alliances went south, he continually turned to his own charms and winsomeness to carry him through... that me??????

Of course, Jacob ("the grasper") would also later became Israel ("the one who strives"). Israel became a great blessing to a nation, and a hope for lost souls. Israel was God's chosen path for a nation of people. But it was only after Jacob acquiesced his own goals, ambitions, dreams and desires, and gave them to God, that he became who God wanted him to be.

I'm still wrestling with this one, but I suppose that is in my nature,

All for now,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ashes on the Inside

Highlands Church is hosting it's first Ash Wednesday service tonight at 6:30PM.  Being a fourth generation Presbyterian minister, I have never actually attended an Ash Wednesday service, let alone led one.  At the ripe old age of seven I remember asking my father about why my Catholic friends had, "ashes on their foreheads...have they done something wrong?"  "They have done something wrong, so have we all, and Presbyterians wear their ashes on the inside..."  For weeks afterward, I couldn't erase graphic images of ashes, soot, and old logs, floating around in my stomach.

I actually believe that Ash Wednesday is one of those holidays (holy days) which Evangelical Christ followers should take more seriously.  After the Reformation, our side of Christianity jettisoned many of the unhealthy vestiges of Catholicity and sanctimoniousness Thankfully, this is why I don't own a papal hood, or a cardinals frock.  The down side of this proverbial theological bathwater drainage, has been that many of the healthy outward signs and symbols of faith (anointing, ashes, incense) have been lost.  As a result, people in my own congregation constantly ask, "Why can't I be baptized again...for the fourth time?"  What they want deep down is not baptism, but something tangible to hang their faith on.

Whether we actually put ashes on our foreheads or not, all Christ followers should view Ash Wednesday, and consequently Lent as a time to do four basic things:

1.   We should try to have Lent be a time of getting closure on some of life's painful and hard experiences.  Ashes symbolize this pain; "My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.  Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job. 42:6)
2.  We should have Lent be a time to allow God to work on our ongoing areas of sin.
3.  We should have Lent be a time of being released from the treadmill of perfection.  God told Adam, and he tells us, "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food, then you will return to the ground, since you were taken from it; from dust you were made, and to dust you will return." (Gen. 3:19)  As John Ortberg more recently put it, "At the end of the monopoly game, it all goes back in the box."
4.  Finally, Lent should be a time of preparation for Easter.

All for now....GB

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

God is Doing a New Thing!

Welcome to my new "Blog" site.  I thought about calling this site - "Baird's Blog", but that sounded too much like "Baird's Bog" which, unfortunately is what my front yard looks like when it gets too much sprinkling.  Each week I will update this new site with ruminations I am having, favorite poems, Bible quotes, ideas about the world, and other various and sundry pontifications and reflections...

Here's what I am thinking about this week:

I believe there is a new movement occurring in Christianity.  It doesn't look like anything we have ever seen before.  After a tumultuous and exciting 2,010 years of Christ followers and over 5,000 years of people of the Judaic/Christian faith, I am convinced we are entering a new time.  

The book of Isaiah says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 44:18-19)

Many people have recently been asking been asking me what God's "new church thing" will look like.  The truth is I don't know.  I can say that what God is doing at Highlands Church definitely looks new and that God seems to be making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland where we live.