Saturday, February 20, 2010

Evidence of Living faith Out Loud

This weekend I lost a cousin, Linda. A few factors make this an important tie-in for readers spending time with "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian."

First, Linda was anything but a part-time Jesus-follower. Her life was a powerful example of what it means to live a faith-directed life. Additionally, she was my favorite cousin - even though we spent too little time in conversation and even less actually together. Finally, and this may be the most compelling reason behind my decision to fly to England for the funeral, she is the first of this generation (my wife and I have 24 first cousins between us) to pass away.

I'd like you to click on this link "A Life Examined" and read my post from yesterday, Friday February 19.

My prayer is that each one of us will live in such a fashion that others are drawn to know God because of the light that is revealed through the witness of our everyday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

All About Love...

Once in a while I'll be sharing something from a newspaper or magazine that fits with the theme of this site. This is my February column for FOCUS Magazine.

Best - DEREK
Hot Tea and Faithful Love

Earlier this month, my wife Rebekah and I celebrated the thirty-third anniversary of our first date. She first asked me out February 4, 1977 - we were students at Stetson University and went to a basketball game. Believe me - she didn’t have to do the asking ever again!

Valentines Day was significant that year because the only reason she agreed to an evening together was so she could dump me! She tried as hard as she could, but instead of capitulating, I made her a cup of hot tea, listened to everything that was on her mind, and thereby set the tone for one of the foundational principles of how we do love in our house.

I’m talking about the principle of grace – or what I like to call the initiative of tea.

Let me explain. “Apart from its antioxidant, heart fitness, and other amazing health benefits, the real genius of tea resides in its redemptive characteristics. Tea is all about the preparation, the time invested, and the intention for community. Most importantly, the preparation and the sharing of a pot of tea is a deliberate act of grace. Offering tea declares I love you enough to serve you, to spend focused time together and to offer my full attention. It says I want this relationship to work.” (From “GET REAL”, Derek Maul, pp 59-60)

When I made Rebekah tea that first Valentines Day, I was telling her that the way I do love is rooted in giving, not in taking. The biblical principle at play is the idea of mutual submission, Ephesians 5:21- “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”.

When two people relate to one-another in that way, they’re latching onto some powerful relational advice. For us, it turned out to be a great place to start.

Another important way Rebekah and I we go about love is in not waiting for days like February 14 in order to show our feelings. Any day could (and should) be a good day for a mushy card, a bunch of flowers, a lunch date or a box of chocolates.

Don’t misunderstand; I still come through on Valentines Day. Believe me, I learned early on that “taking a counter-cultural stand”, surprising her with flowers two days early, or arranging a romantic dinner on, say, the 15th, in no way exempted me from suitable levels of romance on the day itself.

But it’s the unexpected that keeps things fresh; the serendipity; the “I didn’t see that coming.”

That said, possibly the greatest love secret in our house is in the routine of daily kindness, mutual service, selflessness, attentiveness and – most compelling of all – faithfulness that goes out of its way to be proactive in terms of gratuitous grace. The idea of grace is rooted in unconditional giving; grace always builds up.

It’s like the advice I offer men who are hung up on the idea they should assume a dominant role as husbands. “If you want to be a leader in your home, then follow Jesus,” I say. “Be a servant leader; put your wife’s needs ahead of your own; lead in terms of grace. Try that, then come talk to me about ‘Your rightful place’.”

Rebekah and I find that love works best when it is given, not taken; that respect comes most naturally when it is, first, offered; that we can have exactly what everyone in the world is so desperately looking for every Valentine’s.

So does Valentine’s Day work for you? It can - if only we adopt the Jesus Way of self-giving, self-less, grace-imbued, mutually submissive love.

Love and blessings - DEREK

Friday, February 5, 2010

Must Read for "Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian" readers....

This entry is a little ahead of schedule. But I believe this morning's post in my daily blog, A Life Examined, is specifically pertinent to the ongoing discussion we're having (or I'm having with myself!) here in the "No more part-time Christian" space.

So, if you're visiting, please click on this link to "A Life Examined".

God's rich blessings, today and every day - DEREK

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Well Punctuated Faith!!!!

This morning I had the opportunity to speak at a fairly large prayer breakfast, so I used the occasion to share a couple of stories from "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian". The response was gratifyingly enthusiastic, and I was glad I'd thrown a few copies in my backpack because several people wanted to purchase a book.

I used the Philippians 2 scripture as my text - Paul's encouragement to "Shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the word of life..." Everyone latched on to the idea, because it addresses our imperative to live with a certain luminosity... rather than smashing people over the head with judgement, using the Bible as a blunt bludgeoning instrument when - instead - we could simply live like we mean it.

We talked about being people of meaningful faith, going about our lives as if there is a bold, proud exclamation point at the end of every phrase, paragraph and page; living faith with convincing emphasis.

My friend Lee pointed out in church last week that a lot of us are quite uncomfortable with the exclamation point. He was leading the responsive call to worship and paused to ask the congregation to take a look at the punctuation at the end of the final response:

"I'd like to introduce you to the exclamation point," he said. "Presbyterians are quite familiar with periods, we don't mind the occasional comma, and we're very partial to the semi-colon... But, the exclamation point seems to make us a little uncomfortable."

Then he asked the church to practice the response in question before - formally - leading us into worship. People responded with enthusiasm! The place rocked!

That's a good word for those of us committed to being pilgrims in progress - always thinking about how we might live lives of faithful discipleship with more emphasis and more authentic life - DEREK