Tag Archives: learning

I go through these seasons

I go through these seasons where I just take in all I can about a subject that I know God is having me to explore: to better grasp His heart about it, to better understand how it relates to His Word, how it is universally viewed and how it has been viewed over time. Before I talk ( discuss, share insights with other people seeking to understand better) I like to do what I can to have some basic knowledge if not wisdom. SO, I am reading, watching documentary, listening, considering, even remembering things holy and otherwise that God has paraded before me and me through.

I don’t have much to say right now about anything. There is a time to speak and a time to refrain from speaking. This is the latter. The time to speak will come. It will come.

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lifelong learning

We are all lifelong learners in a sense. That is, we are signed up for the course. Whether we pay attention enough to discern the offering of such course is up to us.

I like people who like to learn. Whether they like learning through books, or tv, or movies, or even real life – learners – people who notice new things, share them, apply the knowledge and understanding that they gain, those who rejoice in change for the better are just invigorating to be around.

People who enjoy the status quo and stagnancy are about as attractive as a drink of  brackish water. That’s what my favorite verse, Jeremiah 48:11, is all about. “Moab has been on his lees from his youth, he has not been tipped over from vessel to vessel.” It is the picture of stagnancy – the build-up of crud that after a time becomes unnoticeable to the palate, even familiar and in such, desirable.

It is the picture of one for whom familiar crud is better than examining, straining, adding, mixing.

Mrs.Pickett, my principal, is a learner. Everyday she asks me about something new. Did you see this on the news? Did you read about that? Did you notice the relationship between? She challenges and inspires and motivates me everyday to see more, understand more, live more open to gain. I am losing her to the Peace Corps in the Philippines this summer. I hope they learn a lot. Her loss in my life is huge. My learner leaders are few.

Learning is fun and makes life interesting. Too many students groan when I ask them to look into something, like learning is some curse of the fall, complete with thorns and thistles. But I argue it is the antithesis of such. It is the joy of discovery, adventure, and curiosity yet alive in man, that proves us made in God’s image.

I love to learn.

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quest

College was about quest, more than anything else. I spent most of my time, energy and  money  pursuing more of what I did not know. A little of that occurred in classrooms. Most occurred along the way: on the bus, in the lounge, on the steps, in organized group discussions, in church, at the park, as we read things together and responded, as we sat silent and listened and responded.

The people I spent most of my time with loved God. We came to love Him in very different ways, through very different experiences, in very different venues. That was a huge blessing. The people I spent some of my time with likewise differed from me in all those things. What we had in common, in a somewhat hostile climate of students, professors, administrators and city culture, was a genuine and proven love for God.

Growing up in Athens was the greatest blessing. The non-Christianess of the place helped me appreciate my brothers and sisters, to respect them and, therefore, believe them when they offered an understanding congruent or contrary to mine. I began to see that God is not static or boxable, that Jesus, a person, was Truth, and that Spirit, not law, was God’s chosen way of relating to man.

We used to sit around and discuss, not to find the answer to a question, but to find better questions to ask. We sat around everywhere, all the time talking about who God had shown, was showing Himself to be to us and hearing others’ accounts. We enjoyed the happy tension that brings about balance, the both/and of God if you will. We all sat around and pulled hard our way – we shared with passion what revelation we had been given and listened equally intently for our brothers’. It was not an exercise or even a game. It was a life style. A lifestyle that held us all in the faith through tragedy, trial and triumph. It is a lifestyle which helps us to lead in the Church in all arenas and understandings, all over the world, today. God gave me and mine a gift –  a huge gift.

I was cradled in Methodism, reared by the nuns, trained by the PCA’ers, filled anew with Wesley’s finest, inspired by artist Anglicans, cheered by the Church of God gang, and directed by Dominion doctrine. I am now at an Assembly of God church, who trains its leaders with contemplation and candor. I’ve been everywhere, though I am not a church hopper. But I have had seasons of exposure and seasons of study in most major perspectives. I am more, not less for it. What I have found is that the pursuit of answer is a trap. The pursuit of Jesus brings joy and peace.

I will go on record at this moment saying I am experiencing cabin fever (makes me think of the muppet movie). I need  quest in my life, deeper, wilder, more wonderful quest. I am out of the fuel those hours 25 years ago gave me, the fumes as well. I must move on in search of more – Jesus. I cannot, I will not sit stoically and die.

Upon encountering the disciples, Jesus said, “Come,  follow Me.”  It is safe to follow and totally unsafe to linger. And I trust those who follow after as well, as brothers.

I’m up for quest. How about you?

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recaulking

(THE INTRO)

I’m changing out the old, pretty gross caulk in the bathroom today. It’s not my favorite job, but there is some satisfaction in getting it done. It’s tough to pry that old stuff out, you cut and pry and pull and then do it some more. It’s incredible how well that stuff stays put.

Many a builder has told me that the main thing holding most new homes together is caulk. It fills in all the mistakes, the gaps, the mis-measurements and bad cuts, etc. Caulk is what we use to make up for what is not there, but should be. Hmm. Got me thinking a bit. My ceramic, stainless steel, and marble does not mildew, it wipes clean easily, doesn’t let those infectious spores have much chance. But that caulk, that “bacteria resistant, walter repellent ” caulk, let’s lots by in time. It looks like it’s airtight and water tight, but we all know given time, it’s not.

So, what’s the caulk in our lives, our belief systems , our theologies and our doctrinal understandings; what are the answers we routinely offer for the gaps, that mask well, but aren’t really going to hold, aren’t really immune to growing scum and spore alike. I can think of many offered daily that I have long realized are blooming and well, are perhaps the undiagnosed repository of my sickness about some things.

It’s paradigm tipping, re-caulkng, time again in my life. I try to do it often enough to keep down on the mold: the smell, that though it signals death, just gets familiar, and after a while smells like home. (Jer 48:11)

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A harvest of righteousness

Matthew 5:9

9“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.”

I want to discover my place in God’s family. I want to find that way to relate to everyone in love and respect and with the hope of honest, fruitful exchange. Maybe that’s a pipe dream…and maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s mainly about me dropping my defenses and the handles I hide my ignorance and ineptitude and selfishness behind.

I had a really informative, solution searching/building discussion on Easter Sunday. We were talking about the convoluted critter that is the United States Health Care system. Many at the table worked in that system and knew something of its troubles and strengths. We all had a tremendous opportunity to be defensive – We came from really different places and perspectives. And we almost let that happen – but we chose to respect everyone there and their opinion and their unique perspectives and insights. There was a moment where respect seemed to be fluttering to the ground like a leaf – but a wind of hope, of love and trust that Jesus was at work in us all, lifted it back upon a current of fresh, flowing air.  And we talked and shared and did not use stupid incendiary language. We asked questions to gain more information, more insight. We sought help from one another and grew together in our desire to see a just and righteous way come forth.

I think a little humility…my admitting up front what all I don’t know, need more clarity about, my asking another for their angle of sight, my encouraging others to share with me from their experience, make conversation possible. In humility,we converse. We share ideas and words and find new ideas, more excellent ideas coming forth through the process-like they did when we talked about God the other night at Edge. We listened and considered and God adjusted things for the better in our understanding and then we spoke out of what He showed us and the process just kept going and everyone gained and hopefully we all moved closer in our understanding.`

Why is this conversing so bad, so scary, so wrong? Why is it discouraged so vehemently by many would be leaders? How poor and weak and invalid must our ideas be that we would dare not share them in humility… or maybe they are not ours at all, maybe all we have in our minds and hearts are the words and experiences of others…or worse some catchy slogan that “sums up what I need to know.”

James 3:18

18″Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

God, I want to be a peacemaker. Show me the path of peace.

Step one seems to be humility. Remind me of all I don’t know less I too quickly seek out step two.

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I am reading…reading…reading.

Sometimes I do not let myself read…because it becomes all that I want to do. I stop eating, I stop sleeping – of course I stop doing laundry and other necessary things. So I only allow it for a day or two at a time.

At one time, before the kids, I did research for a ministry – I pretty much read things that others did not have the desire, nor will, nor stomach to read. I read and summarized and drew comparisons and developed corollaries.  I’m pretty good at it. Maybe when I am older, or better, when my children are, I can again do more of that work.

I do not like the culture of ignorance. The attitude that it is better to not know, to not seek out truth, but to just decide some position in order to have an identity or a sense of belonging. I have never been so aware of this stagnancy, this static orientation of truth in our culture. I am most concerned.

I am tired of those who position themselves and try to make others do so – for ratings or dollars or ego. I am tired of people no longer discussing things to find solution, but rather to be heard. I am truly tired of it.

Sometimes I want to scream  when people make arrogant, asinine comments about subjects they couldn’t spell much less explain. Some unknowingly bait me…looking for my unquestioned agreement as a believer…I have to walk away… I do not trust my words nor my (pharisaical) training to slay fiercely and quickly unprepared challengers…So great is my anger…I fear my flesh.  So I walk away and let God cool my mind, slow my heart…and ask. “What, LOrd, is mine to do here?”

I have perhaps unfairly, almost altogether given up on my generation. So I look to the precious, still tender hearts and minds that come behind. I do not waste what God has mercifully offered my sincere heart to understand. I do not pour it out in vain to be trampled upon. I store, ration and bottle and then try to put into the hands of  the next generation the questions of the man who would find God and walk in His ways.

It’s all I know to do. It’s all that keeps me sane.

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Me too, Jacob…me, too.

I did something last night that I haven’t wanted to do. I looked up the fb sites of my old sorority sisters. There is a master site for people who were in my sorority at UGA. It’s pretty amazing how much you can envision through a few pictures and tiny bits of information. Only a few of the girls were my friends back then, or I theirs. But I lived with all of them, ate with all of them, wore the same clothes as they did.

As I said, about all I had to clue me in was a picture and the things that they included on their profiles…it’s funny how that little information, perhaps inaccurately discerned, painted a whole picture of what their last twenty years had been in my mind.

Most didn’t share much with non-friends, and I still didn’t want to befriend, God’s working on me in that. But as I read their pages and labels God shook me.

“What do those things, those shallow, ridiculous identifiers do to your desire to know those people, even the ones who might choose similar id’s to you? Do they make you want to pursue the person? Do they make you want to talk with them about life and growing up and what really matters in it all?”

“No, sir.”

The id’s make me want to give up hope for anything real being in them or between us…anything that might want to connect with me, love me.  I do want to hear their stories and hearts, their victories and failings. Those things don’t scare me, nor do their mistakes nor their rants nor their hurts. I really understand those things. I wouldn’t mind an ear sometimes myself, someone  who has walked through some things that I have. It’s those labels…that make me throw my hands  up in hopelessness and despair. The labels scream at me, “You are not one of us. We don’t care about you.”

See, in that sorority, I am now the outsider. I am  the one who left, who quit them, walked away. Most of my  reasons were good, but beyond the understanding of many. But it was never about any of those girls. God has been pushing me to make contact anew with some, to just love them.

But those labels scare me. No matter how much silliness may have accompanied their selection, they intimidate me, the one seeking relationship and reconciliation.

I think that might be how those outside of Christ see us –  the faithful sisters and  brothers.

Those little silly labels, especially in this information age – where flesh and blood contact is so very rare – may be huge walls of partition. To those outside THEY ARE SCARY. Not many people will scale a huge, often razor wired wall, to check out how great the people on the inside might actually be.

SO who are the labels for ? What comfort or sense of acceptance or solidarity to they actually provide us? Very little. But we are sending huge signals to people who come across us or are maybe seeking us out.

In person would we introduce ourselves so?  Hello. I am Kim Sullivan: Democrat or  Republican or Independent; conservative or liberal, denomination, pro-life or pro-choice, pro-immigration or anti- immigration, etc. You get the picture. And yet I think that there may be people scoping us out on FB, hoping for a snippet of our story, that we might be someone who could understand and listen and maybe…just maybe, love them.

I have looked up hundreds of people…just looked and tried to see if they were okay…and sometimes just looked for someone who might be able to help me a little, too.

As followers of Christ, we heed Him and His ways, but we are to build bridges not walls with man. Paul said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all means I might save some.” That’s not about plurality…it’s about kindness and respect and genuine desire to know and care for them.

I am guilty of this myself. The hiding, the insulating, the being less.

Let’s think for a moment. What we would feel if we were searching, we were outside and someone we thought might really care, (re) introduced themselves to us with “I hate everything and everyone you associate yourself with, I think your views are all wrong and I am right.” Fabulous place to start dialogue – relationship, right?  That my friend is a 100 foot razor wire wall!

Somebody tell me what is remotely evangelical about that?

I thought evangelism was about demonstrating the love of Christ and the open way He has made for us all.

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