Conversations that Matter

Teebowing is in the news these days and Brad's a fan. Wayne is a little more concerned about how that kind of in-your-face demonstrations of personal faith alienate some people from the greater reality of the gospel. That leads them into a conversation about how we can find ourselves in conversations with others about their spiritual journeys that can offer insight and encouragement in the spiritual journeys of others. Why is it that our conversations mostly stay in the safe conversations of superficiality at the shallow end of the pool, rather than find real depth of spiritual engagement than can allow people to share the resources of their journeys with each other?

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  1. Yahoo Sports put out a good article about Tebow and his public declarations of faith that (almost inadvertently) does a good job of illustrating the difference between honoring God in what you do every day and turning yourself into the public spectacle.;_ylt=Ap3OiyPbzcBkFZUar.D0DxRDubYF?slug=dw-wetzel_tim_tebow_pastor_faith_121211

    In short, I’m more inclined to believe the media is more to blame than Tebow himself for making it such a big deal as of late. The bowing on the field was more his personal thing that we decided to make a national phenomenon.

  2. Great conversation on conversations! Hey guys, how about a picture of you two “Tebowing” on the Goodies section of the website?

  3. Natural conversations about Jesus, God and even the bible are much easier to have when we approach from the understanding that much of the message is already been deposited in many peoples hearts and minds. For most, it is more a matter of lifting, or just helping them lift, the wreckage of bad teaching off of their hearts. Often it is as simple as allowing them to safely state their frustration without condemnation or comment.

    George MacDonald in his Unspoken Sermons said it well (as slightly paraphrased for clarity by yours truly)

    “I have no desire to change the opinion of man or woman. Let everyone for me hold what he pleases. But I would do my utmost to disable those who think correct opinion is essential to salvation and, I would deter them from laying any other burden on the shoulders of true men and women than the yoke of their Master. And for those who already labor under such burdens, I would gladly lift them.

    Let the Lord himself teach them, I say. A man who does not have the mind of Christ (and no man has the mind of Christ except him who makes it his business to obey him) cannot have correct opinions concerning him. But even if he could have the correct opinions, they wouldn’t be of any value to him, he would be nothing the better, and indeed he would be the worse for having them.
    Our business is not to think correctly, but to live truly; then there will be a possibility of our thinking correctly.

    One chief cause of the amount of unbelief in the world is that those who have seen something of the glory of Christ, set themselves to theorize concerning him rather than to obey him. In teaching men, they have not taught them Christ, but taught them about Christ. More eager after credible theory than after doing the truth, they have speculated from a condition of heart in which it was impossible they should understand. They have presumed to explain a Christ whom years and years of obedience could alone have made them able to comprehend. Their teaching of him, therefore, has been repugnant to the common sense of many who had not half their privileges, but in whom, as in Nathanael, there was no guile. With ease, these teachers, press their theories, generally derived from traditions, upon others, insisting on their thinking about Christ as they themselves think, instead of urging them to go to Christ to be taught by him whatever he chooses to teach them. They do their unintentional worst to stop all growth, all life. From such and their false teaching I would gladly help to deliver the true-hearted. Let the dead bury their dead, but I would do what I may to keep them from burying the living.”

  4. Merry Christmas!
    I am so glad that God has brought me on this journey. I really like your conversations – they are so ADD. I mean that in a good way, because ADD conversations are fun.
    In my prior religious life, relationships were not stressed, or even really important. ‘Bringing others to God’ was. I always felt so inadequate because I am not an evangelical sort of person. The fruit of the spirit meant how many people I could ‘convert.’ I was always worried because I had none and my attempts always fell flat, and I just knew that God was *not* pleased with me.
    God has brought me to understand that it is the relationship that is important. And not just those that ‘feel good,’ but especially the ones that don’t. It’s all about respecting people where they are-like Jesus does with us. I know that I’m all wrong on a lot of things, but Jesus is showing me as I am ready to see them. Little by little. People need to see that you care about them – not just as a feather in your religious cap. And sometimes that means just shutting up and letting them be where they are.
    The most liberating notion in my walk so far is knowing that I cannot, nor was I ever meant to ‘fix’ others. 😀

  5. Thanks Pam for your comments. I agree that learning to live in the freedom of letting ppl be where they are is something that is slowly worked into our hearts. Letting go of our attempts at control happens in a very different timetable than I had in mind. Thanks Alan for that quote from George MacDonald. I have always had an appreciation for him but since being invited on to this journey…I am seeing more deeply some of the things he was saying. It’s good to know that we in the 21st century are not the first ppl to be discovering what freedom means.

  6. I sincerely hope that your honest and true observations that people should be accepted for who and where they are and even your need to let them see that you care, don’t become yet another condition of engaging in the next relationship that presents itself. We have a much greater advocate than principals and truths. Obeying Christ is a lot simpler than it has been made out to be. If I am permitted to allow George MacDonald to comment on his previous encouragement, this is another excerpt (updated from the somewhat difficult Victorian syntax it was written in).

    ‘Troubled soul, you are not bound to feel, but you are bound to arise. God loves you whether you feel it or not. You cannot love when you want, but you are bound to fight the hatred that is in you to the last. Try not to feel good when you are not good, but cry to Him who is good. He changes, not because you change. No, he has a special tenderness of love towards you because you are in the dark and have no light. His heart is glad when you arise and say, “I will go to my Father.” For he sees you through all the gloom through which you cannot see him. Will yourself to be his will. Say to him: “My God, I am very dull and low and hard but you are wise and high and tender, and you are my God. I am your child. Don’t leave me here, alone.” Then fold the arms of your faith, and wait in quietness until light begins to rise in your darkness. Fold the arms of your faith, but not of your action: think of something that you ought to do and go and do it. If it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not feelings: Do your work.’

  7. Thanks Alan…it is easy to begin to look at this journey as a new set of rules and propositions isn’t it? Slowly Jesus is winning me to the recognition that inside the love relationship with Him there is freedom that comes from a focus on Him. So this is no longer about rules but following the “Advocate” as you eloquently called Him. And yes…He is more powerful and this life lived in Him is much more than complex rules. Indeed…following Him is much simpler than we’ve made it out to be. When He calls me to actively engage ..I will and where He calls me to be quiet, sometimes to withdraw to have time alone with Him…I’m learning to do that also. His creativity continues to inspire me to worship Him. He knows that with each individual there are unique needs and communications styles. So we’re back to the freedom that comes from an active engagement with Him. He is a faithful Shepherd.

  8. Are not our feelings also gifts of God? Are not our feelings used by the Spirit as one of the ways to show us truth? Is there not a time for every purpose under heaven….time for feeling, time for thinking, time for doing? Often all these at once….. Did not Mary choose the better thing that was not taken from her as Martha was busy with her doing? Did not Jesus feel deeply for people and tale time for them? So easy it is to once again judge God and pervert the very way He made us.

  9. Nancy,
    Yes. Yes to all of those questions as well as your final conclusion. What right does the human mind have to analyze and judge the value of any human attribute, including feelings? The answer is of course that it has every right however, its capacity to judge correctly is clearly flawed. As the moment requires, it’s certainly useful to acknowledge that we are all awash with unending tides of feelings, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that there is also the shore where we can regain our footing if we are otherwise carried off. There is no use in being told to ignore our feelings. But when we are overtaken by feelings that throw us to the ground and move us to lose our memory of the love that holds us together in Christ, then we do better not to linger long on our hands and knees, but to cry out for our Father to lift us up and give us our confidence back. then stand up, even in the darkness of despair and depression and _do_ the things we can. Certainly, there is light in darkness as well. If it weren’t for the dusk, we wouldn’t see the smaller fireflies of truth at our feet, or the star filled blanket of security that reminds us we aren’t alone, drifting in darkness.

  10. Sue,
    I am right with you on this. I have possibly made about 5% of the journey from learning about Christ to learning Christ. I am addicted to thinking and am fearful of withdrawal. I think that the freedom of being in Christ is one of the top 3 most frightening things that someone like me can experience. Order and sequence have become the well worn trails I hike. Leaving off the familiar trail, guided by sign posts that label everything along the way as either good or bad makes me nervous. It’s easy to compel myself to go off the trail for the benefit of bringing others a taste of the freedom I believe I am beginning to feel, but I am ever so slowly turning to believe that it isn’t me that has the message for them, but rather, the exchange of messages we have for each other. Learning how be comfortable with someone who is beyond my tolerance for awkwardness is a daunting challenge for someone like myself, who only 3 years away from 40 years seeking out those of like mind and similar faith to encourage me. It is a very different thing to be encouraged by Christ alone so I can rejoin the world I abandoned 43 years ago, thinking I was to be saved from it. I think it is the Mike Steele syndrome.

    Thanks again Mike.

  11. Thanks Alan for sharing your thoughts. I agree and understand that feeling of tension b/t Jesus building an actual relationship with us and our God given need to connect with each other. More and more I am seeing how profoundly true it is that none of this can be forced. As an extrovert, I get “energy” from being around ppl and when Jesus has built in “quiet” time…slowly I am learning to bring the pain of that to Him. If He is who He says He is….then He’s big enough to engage us and to give us the companionship and deep friendship we crave. I find that spilling out of Him winning me to trust and know Him more…the way that I relate to others He brings into my life is changing. It’s painfully slow (to me) while to Him the timing is perfect. I also appreciated Mike sharing his story and b/c I am “driven” found that I could relate to it as I’m sure many could.

  12. Hi all,
    Alan, i know what you mean about being addicted to thinking. My bugaboo is more sense and logic than order and sequence. But it’s hard to overcome. I get glimpses of letting go and trusting, but then I take it right back. The hardest thing for me right now -ok *one* of the hardest things – is to just live in this moment right now. Do what is given me to do in just this moment and not worry about tomorrow’s moments, or go back to the moments that are already gone. Because i tend to spin my wheels about what I should have done (and agonize over it) or worry about what’s to come. But, as Sue said, we each have unique needs and Jesus knows how to meet all of them. It just seems so slow sometimes.
    That being said, and with what Sue said about Jesus meeting our unique needs, when I just relax and do what the moment calls for, at some point – maybe not right away – it does make perfect sense. And that’s what I think Jesus is trying to teach me right now. To relax and wait for Him to sbow me the logic. Not to run ahead of Him.

  13. It took a long time for me to be able to just interact normally with people that I couldn’t categorize. My whole life was in compartments, especially relationships. There was a way to act for work, family, ministry, the unsaved, the saved but not in my denomination, those who attended my church, etc. I had no idea who I was because I was always trying to be what I though God wanted me to be. So how could I relate to anyone? How could I have a conversation without a goal and guidelines?
    Father has shown me that I am free. I am continuing to discover him and me. Now I want people to be themselves around me, and I want to be myself. There are no more compartments, just Jesus, just his life, just the freedom to love without fear. He just comes up in conversations because he’s always there.
    My friends call what we are doing detoxing. It gives us the divine ability to be where we are in the moment. I have the peace of knowing I am accepted by God, he is always in me, every moment. I’ve gone from being uptight (I’m dating myself) to flowing in his river most of the time. I love people now. And finally I love me.

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