Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Pattern

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer you bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We were challenged in church today regarding this, the pattern of this world. How often do we conform to this worldly pattern? What is the Normal Christian Life? How does the Normal christian life compare to the Typical christian life? How has our society infiltrated the church. Perhaps better asked, How has the church embraced society?

I look at my typical christian life and see very much the pattern of my world. How many times do we discuss the newest American Idol, quote Clinton and Stacey regarding fashion or use retail therapy to de-stress after a long day? How often do we discuss scripture, quote Christ regarding our struggles or pray together to de-stress after a long day? The scale is not tipped in the right direction.

I do not want this life. I want the Normal Christian life. In "The Overcoming Life" Watchman Nee defines the normal Christian life as the following.
"The Bible shows us that God has ordained for every Christian a life that is filled with joy. This life is completely at peace, has no barriers in its fellowship with God, and is not contrary to His will in any way. The life that God has prepared for a Christian is one that does not thirst after the world. It walks apart from sin and is victorious over sin. It is holy, powerful, and victorious. It knows the will of God and fellowships with God without interruption. This is the life that God has ordained in the Scripture for a Christian."

My culture tells me that I must look a certain way, have a certain boyfriend, achieve certain things in order to have identity, meaning, purpose and community. After a while, the lies start to sink in and I find myself wanting. It is subtle the affect the world has on my relationship with Christ. Truth is the antidote to lies. My spirit struggles to believe what my head knows to be truth.

Romans 8:1-8
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful man is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law , nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sin full nature cannot please God.

May I be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. May my life reflect what is normal for a Christ follower, not merely what is typical. May the World see in me something different, something that will lead them to Christ. For Christ alone can give us an identity that will never change, meaning in a meaningless world, purpose to know Him and a sense of community. I pray that my city will come to see the inadequacy of the band aides and come to know Christ. Kick us out of our comfort zones Lord that you might be glorified.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Day

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I have had a day. Not good, not bad, just a day. Somewhat spiritually draining to be honest. I worked with a psychiatrist this morning (ie MD who does mental health) and a chaplain for Visiting Nurses Hospice program (ie medical care for terminal ill) in the afternoon.

This am was the typical medical perspective on life. Treat the disorder with medicine and have someone else do the counseling. Spiritual issues weren't addressed. I talked to a patient with schizophrenia. He is doing quite well- the voices sound like a low radio in the background and the three people that he sees regularly haven't been too bothersome lately. He knows that if "The Man Who Wants a Gun" gets a gun he (The MAN) will hurt him with it. He has been known to have out of body experiences in the past. As the psychiatrist said, "If I didn't know better I would say he was possessed." And I wondered. It is not politically correct to be "possessed" in the United States. I can not address and issue that does not exist.

The chaplain I worked with does not know Jesus, but she has all the right words. She embraces sin, but acts as a liaison between dying people and God. She assures people that they will go to heaven, that their husband is waiting for them, that they are going home. She quotes the 23rd Psalm and John 3:16. And my spirit cries because she does not know truth. It is not politically correct to tell someone that they might not go to heaven if they die. She sees something in me that is different. I am "interesting". She said I have a "vocation" and prayed for a husband that would complement that. I'm not really sure what to do with that!

And my spirit is drained. I long to speak truth and healing but have been stifled today. Oh Lord, hear my prayer and listen to my cry for mercy. In your righteousness and faithfulness come to my relief. Ps 143... May I have words, boldness and opportunity to speak your truth and healing. May their hearts be willing to hear what you would speak to them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ninaitwa Kenya

The BBC news is my window to the world here in the middle of the US. Typically the headlines are interesting in a non-personal way. In contrast, the events in Kenya in the past few weeks are strangely personal. At times it seems like last week when I was eating chapatis and attempting Swahili, but in reality it was 2 1/2 years. The two short months I lived in Kenya were significant in my development as a doctor, as a Christ follower and as a person. I remember asking my friends, both Kikuyu and Luo, how the different tribes interacted. The general consensus was that "our" generation saw beyond the tribal distinctions. The conflict was behind them, limited to their parents opinions of who they should marry.

I have read some of the blogs by "our" generation in Kenya and I see that they too are dismayed at the actions their peers have taken. What is it that drives people to attack their friends, their neighbors, their colleagues over ethnic identity? This is a question that can not be easily answered. I am quick to say that I can not understand the division. Americans do not speak of Irish, German, English descent as anything more than interesting trivia. Yet, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the stereotypes and discrimination faced by minorities in my country. The disarray and crimes in after hurricane Katrina should warn us that we, as Americans, are not above violence and tragedy in the face of chaos. And I find it is easier to understand.

My city was recently hit by tragedy. 8 people were killed by a suicidal young man. As tragic as it was, it pales in comparison to the violence in Kenya. I think of the people I met, the friends I made and I wonder how they are. Tragedies can be impersonal, particularly when the struggle is on the other side of the globe. This conflict is uniquely personal for me. I ache for my friends, for the country that was so good to me, for the future of a country with so much promise. May the Lord redeem the pain and suffering of Kenya's people, may the violence end as suddenly as it began. May the conflicts of history not be repeated and may forgiveness conquer revenge

(My name is Kenya)