Friday December 13, 2013
My friend Phil grew up in a very conservative Christian home. His father was the spiritual leader for their community and his mother served as the primary teacher of the children for about 50 families. They lived in a very strict and closely guarded setting. It was closely guarded to keep others out and tightly controlled to keep their very private theological framework intact.
Phil grew up within this very harsh (almost cult like) setting and discerned that he was being called to serve as a pastor for his people. He left the structure and limitations of his home to attend college. He enrolled in a school that was approved by his father. It would continue to be a womb that would hold him in tight theological arms. I met Phil as a seminary student. He was faithful to the Lord, diligent in his studies, and rigid in his lifestyle.
His life experience began to expand when Sue and I took him to his very first movie. We saw the movie Gandhi but the experience did not sit well with Phil. He felt that he had let down his guard and given into the ways of the world. Guilt prevailed in his life.
The door bell rang late one evening at our home. It was Phil. He wanted to talk. How could he be obedient to the will of God while finding some relief from the rigid structures that haunted him? We talked into the night. Today, Phil is a professor at a major Christian University. He is doing great.
Phil’s situation is extreme, but it is not unusual to find various types of faith and behavior in the world today. People come from all walks of life and every statement of faith. Some of them are clear while others are distorted.
Our reading today is about people who continued to depend on a ridged system of faith that included a series of hard and fast rules. But one of the reasons Jesus came into the world was to shift our thinking on this matter. He came as a gift of grace, not as a set of rules that must be obeyed without fail. He came as grace to be received and shared.
It is Friday; I invite you to pray for our community, pray for our church, pray for yourself…to the end that you invite the simple grace of Jesus into your heart. It is the best way possible to get ready for Sunday worship!
Memory Verse Of The Week:
Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
Missional Prayer Focus For Today:
Please pray for the life-saving mission of our denomination as we seek to save children from the impact of malaria. Please lift the ministry of Imagine No Malaria to the Lord today.
Be sure to join us in worship on Sunday. Come early, stay late! Be a part of what God is doing at The Parker United Methodist Church