Reflections on Faith

Dear friends,

In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.

Andrew S. Odom
Pastor


 

09/17/2018 8:24 PM

Every Now and Again

09/17/2018 8:24 PM
09/17/2018 8:24 PM
The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
 
Last night my daughter and I were on our way home from a dance booster club meeting, which, if you ever want to experience something that makes you wish for better alternatives like poking needles in your eyes or lying down in a bed of snakes, go to a dance booster club meeting. Anyway, we were on our way home. It was twilight, you know, that perfect set of mere minutes when the sun is dipping below the horizon and the clouds are reflecting the light in such a way that, for a split second, the world seems right and good and hopeful. It was perfect.
 
I will admit that too often I race along, barely noticing what the sky looks like or even what time it is, too busy to pay attention to anything except where I am expected next or how many things I have left on my list before I can call it quits for the day. But last night, at least in that one window of time, the beauty of the horizon grabbed my soul and set me down on planet earth. It was as if God had tailor made that moment just for me.
 
“Wow!” my daughter blurted out. “Let me get a picture!” But a picture can never really capture a moment like that. A picture is two dimensional, and this was way more than that. It had sounds and smells and feel attached to it. It held its own unique reservation in time that passed on like a holy flitter, just as quickly as it had come to be.

Every now and again everything merges into one, and light rolls over the edge of it. Cherish those moments when you are given them, for they are speaking to you.

09/11/2018 8:42 AM

A Day to Remember

09/11/2018 8:42 AM
09/11/2018 8:42 AM
I lift up my eyes to the hills- from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
 
I woke up that morning and was headed down the stairs of the apartment my wife and I were living in at the time in Indianapolis. “Someone crashed into one of the buildings in New York,” she said. Soon after, like everyone else, we realized what was actually happening. The entire day was quiet, filled with disbelief.
 
My childhood friend started his normal routine that morning, taking the subway to the twin tower station and grabbing a cup of coffee at Starbucks. This particular morning, though, he decided not to read the paper and headed to his office early instead. Had he not done that, he would no longer be with us. He ended up hiding in a fire exit while the buildings collapsed, thinking these were his final moments. Disoriented, struggling to breathe, and covered in soot, he wandered out of the smoke and ash and stink to wherever he could go. He made it. After months of counseling and personal work, he managed to process the horrors of that day, though it has left its mark on him. Every year on this day, he stays away from the internet and leaves the television off.
 
That evening the church I served in Indianapolis put together a prayer service for the city. People from all over came. I remember a lady walking up to me and falling into my arms with tears in her eyes. “What is happening to the world?” she said. I also remember the days that followed and the feel of a country that was unified. People talked about how this may be the thing that finally unites us. It turned out to be a fleeting reality.
 
Today, I ask you to spend a moment in silence. Offer a prayer for the people who lost their lives and those who ran in to save them on September 11, 2001. Pray for those who were so misguided as to think committing evil is the answer to anything. Then, take up the mantle of love, the kind of love that has the power to change the world.
09/03/2018 7:23 PM

Eager Worship

09/03/2018 7:23 PM
09/03/2018 7:23 PM
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122:1)
 
I have always loved this line from Psalm 122. I read it and picture someone jumping out of bed with the kind of expression one has when they just won the lottery. They throw on their clothes and, without so much as a nod to anyone they pass, sprint down the street to the church, bursting in just as worship is about to begin. Joy fills the sanctuary with people eager to be there, like their life depended on it.
 
We come to church for many reasons. Some come because their mom or dad made them. Others come because they feel as if they are missing something in their life. Still others because, even though they may not be able to fully explain it, they have some sense of what worship is really about. We bring a wide variety of things into worship when we come, most of us not even realizing that we are doing it.
 
When I look out on the people of Canyon Creek, I see eager faces. Oh, it’s not always of the caliber of Psalm 122, but it is there. I see it every Sunday. Sometimes I see it in the form of a child giddily raising their hand during children’s time. At other times it is during a prayer. Or it may be during a silent moment when I am preaching and I know you are listening (which is both comforting and discomforting at the same time). It's as if you can't wait to see how God is going to show up, and it is almost always palpable.
 
I can’t think of a single Sunday when I have not experienced a moment of gratitude for this wonderful worshiping congregation. You are a great church, and I am honored to be your pastor.
08/28/2018 8:34 AM

A Deadly Cycle

08/28/2018 8:34 AM
08/28/2018 8:34 AM

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12-13)

In light of our conversation Sunday on the role blame plays in our families and in society, I thought I would simply share with you a fable written by Rabbi Edwin Friedman:

---Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed a “family workup” done by one of the ministering angels about 20 years after creation. It is translated here from the original.

This is a family of four: mother, father, and two sons, fairly close in age. The sons have been quarreling a great deal, and both mother and father appear quite helpless to do anything about it. Most of the focus is on the older brother, who broods a lot, and is very jealous of his far more successful younger brother. The younger is not aware of his advantage and thus never tries to hide his success, or the rewards of his prosperity. The older seems totally unable to understand why fortune does not smile alike on him.

At the beginning of their marriage, both husband and wife seemed to have lived in a very blissful state, naïve, it appears, about what was happening all around them. Something changed that, and things have never been the same since. The husband growls continuously about why life has to be so difficult, and the wife never fails to remind him of how much pain she went through to bear him sons. Neither husband nor wife seems capable of accepting responsibility for their own destiny. Both are always claiming that their lives would be far different were it not for how the other behaved. The man tends to blame his wife, and the wife tends to blame the environment. They thus each give their partner great power to guilt the other.

As long as this attitude persists in the parents, we can hardly expect the boys to act more pleasantly toward each other. This situation will certainly leave a “mark” on one of them. In a family like this, with no one able to tolerate their own solitariness, or, for that matter, anyone else’s, I feel the weakness in the children will never be corrected. Actually, it may be worse than that. If the current inability each parent manifests to deal with his or her own pain continues, I fear that Cain’s view of life will never truly focus on himself, and, perceiving the source of all his problems in his brother, he may one day up and kill him.---

This is such a great fable. It makes one wonder if the first act of original sin wasn’t the eating from the tree of knowledge, but blame.

08/20/2018 9:44 PM

Avoiding Conflict

08/20/2018 9:44 PM
08/20/2018 9:44 PM
It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always. (Philippians 1:20)
 
On Sunday we continued with the series on being a purple church, the kind of faith community who understands we do not always see things the same way and is willing to be in relationship with one another just the same. One of the goals is to help us learn how to not allow others to have so much emotional power over us, that it is in fact possible to remain yourself and stay connected.
 
We focused on the importance of stepping out of our comfort zones, that there will be times when we are the only ones in a group with the opinion we have. I went so far as to say that we should even seek this out. The problem is that most of us struggle with it. After all, we don’t want to have a confrontation, and we would simply rather avoid conflict altogether. But here’s the thing. You can’t avoid it. Conflict is part of life. If you don’t have conflict, you’re probably not doing much.
 
So what do you do when you find yourself in a conversation about a subject you feel strongly about? Here are a few thoughts:
  1. Some say speak loud and clear; let the other person know you mean business. I say speak humbly and clearly with respect for the other person’s dignity.
  2. Some say present your case with all certainty and conviction, even if you’re not quite sure. I say be completely honest in sharing that you don’t know everything and that you, like all of us, are still learning.
  3. Some say when things get emotionally heated, stick to your guns no matter what. I say when things get emotionally heated, be the mature voice and suggest taking a break to collect yourselves.
  4. Some say it’s about winning the argument. I say it’s about building the relationship, so try your best to respect the other person’s opinion.
These are just a few suggestions I have. Entering a conversation where there will be disagreement is not easy. It takes courage. It also takes the faith that God is in the midst of it, something I believe to be true.

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