How to Eat an Elephant? We’ve Come this Far

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Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: holiness!

It’s a journey. It’s a mystery. It’s a God thing that seems to have nothing to do with us.

For the last few weeks, we have been discussing holiness in our current sermon series. In week one, we recognized that we broke God’s trust when we sinned against him. We failed. All of us. And the first step in repairing our relationship with him is to admit that we failed.

During our second week of exploring this journey toward holiness, we talked about the past and the future. We recognize that we have spent too much time, an unhealthy amount of time, lamenting the past. The best way to eat this elephant called holiness is to break from the past. We cast our anchor into the future and secure it to Jesus who draws us forward. We are no longer sinners saved by grace. We are children of God being transformed by grace.

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In week three, we were confronted with holiness beaconing us to be different.

Holiness is terrifying, overwhelming, and incomprehensible which is why we do our best to ignore it. God’s grace has given us freedom. And, while everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial. Yet, when we talk about holiness, we are not talking about preference or gray matters. God is calling us to be different; godly, holy.

St. Paul tells St. Timothy that in the last days…

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

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Paul is not talking about the world or non-Christians. He’s talking about the Church.

We [the Church in the U.S.] spend all of our time talking about those things that are “permissible, but not necessarily beneficial”. And we should be spending our time cleaning our house. Until we are walking in holiness, we have no authority with the world to comment on things permissible, but not beneficial.

Last week we left the discussion with unresolved tension. And it’s exactly where we need to be. We need to allow ourselves to feel the tension so that it can do its work in us.

On Sunday, we will work to resolve the tension. We will talk about bicycles, butterflies, and how to eat an elephant! We will work to answer the questions: what does it look like and how do we get there?

Sunday at 11AM 

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More Than Words

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We sat in the booth waiting for our pizza and talking about what we were reading. I had been wanting to expand my genres. My children, now young adults, made suggestions and shared about the books they were enjoying.

My son shared a story of how he had attempted to check out a particular book when he was in elementary school. Both of my children have always been good readers. My son, in particular, read two school grades ahead of his peers. And he tested in the 98th percentile for vocabulary and reading comprehension. So, in third grade, when his friends were reading Captian Underpants, he was reading the Redwall Series.

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It was a small school library. Michael had read almost every book for his reading level. He decided to graduate himself to the next level which included Star Wars. Michael took the book to the check-out counter, but the librarian questioned his selection. Apparently, she didn’t believe he had the ability to comprehend his book choice. The librarian challenged him and Michael assured her that he was capable. But, in disbelief, she asked him to read a random page aloud.

His reading was fluid and concise until he stumbled over a word near the bottom of the page. He knew the word and its proper meaning but had never heard it pronounced before. And, just like that…his request was denied.

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I tried to recall him telling me this story before. It was a vague recollection. He did read the series so I must have taken him to the public library to get a copy. Yet, I sat there flabbergasted.

What was that librarian thinking? A student was challenging himself to expand his reading ability. He obviously had command of his vocabulary. Was it a matter of control? Did she not have time to more fully assess the situation? Was it his precocious spirit that irritated her or provoked jealousy?

My son laughed about it with us. He certainly had not been deterred in his reading. In 6th grade, he went on to read the complete works of Sherlock Holmes. I haven’t even read Sherlock Holmes.

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There are so many times in life when we are faced with moments of discouragement. Sometimes we push against the opposition to become stronger, faster, better. Other times, we lay down and quit. My son chose to push against the opposition.

You have probably stood at similar crossroads a few times in the last year. When did you flourish because of it? When did you flounder? Can you identify why you held strong and why you gave in?

Michael loved to read. It was his why. It was the reason he wasn’t deterred. What about you? Why are you willing to press on? Why are you being deterred? It’s moments like this when we should assess the why as well as the what. If we can identify why we flourished or floundered, then we can prepare ourselves for the what.

Here’s to living wide awake in 2017! Press on and upward to become stronger, faster, better. Then encourage someone else around you.

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