Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored

4Nov/150

Living with a Sense of Awe – John 1 (pg 222)

“Those living in darkness have seen a great light.”

Today is a day when I am struck by the sheer amazing fact that God chose to dwell among us. That He was willing to spend 33 years, even years as a helpless, defenseless child with us.

If I could live more in the awe that those thoughts encompass everyday, I am certain my attitude, choices, and actions would be radically different.

I need to be like John the Baptist in the first chapter of John’s gospel. He didn’t see himself as anyone special, even though he had great crowds following him and had attracted a lot of attention from the religious leaders. He didn’t claim to be a prophet, just a voice in the wilderness.

And he was in awe of Jesus. He said that he wasn’t even worthy to tie his sandal.

That’s true of me too. And yet, Jesus allows us to do so much more than tie his sandal. We are messengers of His arrival. We are workers in His ministry to the world. And we are called God’s sons and daughters.

Whew! That will leave you in awe…and I hope you can stay in that mindset.

17Oct/150

Failure, Pain, and Anger

Lately I have made some foolish decisions--not decisions I knew were dumb, but uninformed decisions that I thought were adequate at the time. Unfortunately my decisions put others in danger. It cost one of my animals their life, a devastating blow. By God's grace the other dangers only created a little property damage. I'm a big learner and try to study everything I am into, but sometimes a crucial piece of info gets missed. In the most recent events, I've made amends and even strengthened some relationships in the process, but it's hard to deal with situations like these because you can "what if" yourself to death. I've spent hours wondering if I am to blame for some of it...was it really me, or my fault? Were there extreme circumstances that I would not have been able to predict? And in the process of trying to resolve the issues, asking: What if they send me to jail? What if the offended party tries to retaliate? What if they don't believe that I really didn't mean to harm anyone?

When your heart is in the right place, but you can't communicate it, that's a hard set of circumstances. Some people live do this because they don't try to learn how to express love well. But I try really hard to love with wisdom and all my mind as well as my heart...and still sometimes I fail.

I can only trust that God will make up the difference, happily filling in the gaps when my best efforts fail. And I must give 100 percent to continuing to get more and more wisdom so that I avoid as many mistakes as possible.

8Sep/150

My Time with God: Enemies (pg 156-159)

There comes a time when we experience attacks, not for things we have done wrong, but for things we are doing right. Our enemies are so angry toward us in general that they are blind to the benefits our actions are having on the world around us. Jesus was healing people, taking away suffering and curing diseases that would have ended the lives or caused long term suffering in the lives of hundreds of people...and still the Pharisees wanted to get rid of Him.

The wicked make evil plans
against good people
they grind their teeth at them
in anger. ~ Psalm 37:12

It's a good thing that Jesus goes on to tell us that we should love our enemies, and that He lives this out in His own life. Otherwise we might make the mistake of fighting back and stopping the good work that we should stay focused on.

It's hard to keep your spirit up when you are being treated like an enemy or criminal. You desperately want to defend yourself, and you suffer the pain of public opinion: whatever side of the story people hear first, they believe. You simply have to hold up under the attack until time and your good work prove your character, and you have to live with the fact that you will have enemies. You simply cannot allow them to distract you or discourage you from what God has called you to do.

Luke 5:36-6:45

28Aug/150

John the Baptist, pg 140

what must it have been like as the parents of john the baptist, jesus, or sampson? Knowing your child is born for some great task, yet seeing them grow toward it from infancy. God does not often reveal the future with such detail because we tend to be foolish when we have a guarantee of His blessing.

Foolish, yet courageous. God's promises and loyal love are what give us courage for the days ahead. As lamentations says in today's reading, "i have hope when i think of this, the Lords love never ends"

I have a weak will and make plenty of mistakes, and this promise gives me courage amidst my failings. Gods love never ends. His mercies are new every morning.

Father help me to love with great courage knowing that you won't abandon me in my failings. thank you that although i don't have many promises regarding the future, i have this one.

lamentations 3:21-26

3Aug/151

What You Really Need to Do About Planned Parenthood

You can’t escape the news related to planned parenthood. It’s plastered all over the web on news sites and social media, it comes up in every news discussion on the radio and the television. And I won’t reiterate the videos or comment on the emotional and political impact they are making here, because what you and I really need, it to see the call to action that we desperately need to follow if the problem is truly going to be fixed.

When all is said and done, Planned Parenthood is going to lose a lot of support and funding. It will forever have trust issues based on the publicity it has received. You don’t need to express your outrage or share any more news articles about it, in fact, you REALLY need to stop sharing your feelings about all of it. At this point, you are not tearing down Planned Parenthood as much as you are tearing down your own reputation and opportunity to connect with other people. Too much sharing and people will come to see you at hateful and judgmental. They will distance themselves from you out of fear that you’d attack them with the same ferocity as the posts you share contain if you really knew them. And chances are, they are hurting and need someone who can be understanding. In fact, chances are quite a few of the people you know have some shame related to how they got pregnant or an abortion they had…and you are killing your opportunity to be the one that leads them through it to healing.

The truth is, the church has been and should always be the BEST place for people to run for answers and support in a moment of crisis. And if we had been or provided a better place for millions of mothers over the past few decades, Planned Parenthood would not have had as much of an audience. The popularity of their services is partly due to our lack of popularity in serving those same hurting people. Now that they have lost funding and trust, the best thing YOU and the other faithful believers can do it put more money, resources, and volunteer hours behind good pregnancy ministries and services. The church has the opportunity to step up and fill a gap—saving BOTH ADULT and children’s lives in the process. I pray hard that we will step up to the challenge. I pray that you will care more about saving lives: physical and emotional lives, more than you care about seeing the demise of Planned Parenthood.

Lastly, the news and attacks of Planned Parenthood have caused pregnancy and abortion to be on everyone’s mind. If someone has lost a child or aborted one, you can bet that they have had to revisit those emotions as they process these events. Others are currently pregnant, and overwhelmed with physical change, fear, and not knowing where to turn. They should be able to turn to you. I BEG you…let them know that they will be met with compassion, understanding, and prayer, regardless of what they have done or what they believe. Remind yourself that Jesus healed, fed, and talked with people who didn’t agree with Him. He knew that they needed to know Him before they could follow Him. The same is true today. People need to know the heart and kindness of Jesus through you before the specifics of morality make sense. Relationship before rules.

As a good friend and colleague of mine said quite controversially a few weeks ago:

“God will never call you to hate someone.”

Jesus called us to love our enemies.

 

Christian – you need to step up!
Now is not the time for you to spread hate. Now is the time for you to fill the gap that is left and invite people to come close to you and the church for healing. Support the church and pregnancy ministries. Rally around women who need support, regardless of how they arrived in their situation. Make this opportunity a redeeming one, not a repelling one.

I pray that we can shine in this moment, not screw it up.