Romans 4: God’s Covenant with Abraham

Here is Romans Chapter 4 in its entirety. I’ve been thinking about it:

What shall we say, then? Have we found Abraham to be our ancestor in a human, fleshly sense? After all, if Abraham was reckoned ‘in the right’ on the basis of works, he has grounds to boast – but not in God’s presence!

So what does the Bible say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was calculated in his favour, putting him in the right.’ Now when someone ‘works’, the ‘reward’ they get is not calculated on the basis of generosity, but on the basis of what they are owed. But if someone doesn’t ‘work’, but simply believes in the one who declares the ungodly to be in the right, that person’s faith is calculated in their favour, putting them in the right.

We see the same thing when David speaks of the blessing that comes to someone whom God calculates to be in the right apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawbreaking is forgiven
and whose sins have been covered over;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not calculate sin.

How to have a difficult conversation: 3 practices

I thought a lot about this article by Mac McCarthy about having difficult conversations with people. I’ve tried a little to put it into practice, but I’ve still got a little way to go.

You can find the article on Gravity Leadership‘s website here.

Name and blame

A few years ago, my plan would have been simple and straightforward: name and blame.

I would have leveraged my positional power as his boss to apply pressure toward the desired outcome. I would have sat him down, named the problem, provided evidence for the problem, demanded that the problem be rectified, and attached a deadline to ensure a timely fix.

Here’s the problem. Here’s why this is a problem. You need to fix this problem. This is how much time you have to do it. Oh, and is there anything I can to do help you fix this in time?

The conversation would have taken no more than 15 minutes, I would get my point across, and the onus would be on him to improve things…or else!

But what I’ve been learning is that this approach doesn’t work well for anyone involved. Continue reading “How to have a difficult conversation: 3 practices”

Mark 5: Don’t yield to fear

And before he had finished speaking, people arrived from Jairus’ house and pushed through the crowd to give Jairus the news: “There’s no need to trouble the master any longer—your daughter has died.” But Jesus refused to listen to what they were told and said to the Jewish official, “Don’t yield to fear. All you need to do is to keep on believing.” So they left for his home, but Jesus didn’t allow anyone to go with them except Peter and the two brothers, Jacob and John.

When they arrived at the home of the synagogue ruler, they encountered a noisy uproar among the people, for they were all weeping and wailing. Upon entering the home, Jesus said to them, “Why all this grief and weeping? Don’t you know the girl is not dead but merely asleep?” Then everyone began to ridicule and make fun of him. But he threw them all outside.

Then he took the child’s father and mother and his three disciples and went into the room where the girl was lying. He tenderly clasped the child’s hand in his and said to her in Aramaic, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, wake up from the sleep of death.” Instantly the twelve-year-old girl sat up, stood to her feet, and started walking around the room! Everyone was overcome with astonishment in seeing this miracle! Jesus had them bring her something to eat. And he repeatedly cautioned them that they were to tell no one about what had happened.

Mark 5:35-43, The Passion Translation

Tomorrow at Explore: A New Beginning with Witnessing

God loves to use us seven days a week wherever our everyday lives take us. Most of us spend our time surrounded by people who don’t know what it’s like to follow Jesus. Tomorrow at ExploreColin helps us reflect on the places we meet and interact with people:  A New Beginning with Witnessing.  11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.

1 John 4: Love never brings fear

Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.

1 John 4:18, The Passion Translation

Rosa Parks

Today is the birthday of Rosa Parks.

On the 1st of December 1955, Rosa Parks’ polite refusal to give up her bus seat sparked a protest movement that changed the United States of America.

Rosa’s journey that Thursday began like many others. She finished work, boarded a bus home, and sat just behind the seating reserved for Caucasian passengers. After a few stops, the bus began to fill up. When the driver saw a white man standing, he told Rosa, and three other African Americans, to give up their seats.

Rosa refused.

The police arrived and told Mrs Parks that if she didn’t move, she would be arrested. Rosa defied cultural, legal and social pressure by responding, ‘You may do that.’

Inspired by Rosa’s arrest, the Montgomery bus boycott began and lasted more than a year. This simple act of non-violent protest attracted national attention and set into motion a change in the law of the land.

Sharing her memories of that famous day to the Academy of Achievement’s 1995 gathering in Virginia, USA, Rosa Parks said, ‘As I look back on those days, it’s just like a dream and the only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest, and to let it be known that wherever we go, all of us should be free and equal and should have all opportunities that others should have.’

Rosa was influenced by her mother, a school teacher, who passionately believed in the equal value of all people. She was also close to her grandparents, who were born before slavery was abolished in the US. So when faced with her own decision to comply with what was legal but deeply morally wrong, or to defy authority and stand up (or in this case, stay seated) for what was just and right, the answer seemed inevitable.

Rosa, with the history and passions of generations behind her, chose justice for herself, and for all African Americans.

What is the legacy of my family? Lord, please show me what compassion, respect and justice I can take forward from generations past, as well as what injustices or prejudices I can break away from.

What people groups are oppressed in my nation today? Who does not experience the same freedom, respect or opportunities as others? Lord, I ask You to fight for them. Show me how to pray and act to improve their lives.

The author Parker J. Palmer wrote: ‘You and I may not have Rosa Park’s particular battle to fight… But if the Rosa Parks story is to help us discern our own vocations, we must see her as the ordinary person she is. That will be difficult to do because we have made her into super-woman – and we have done it to protect ourselves. If we can keep Rosa Parks in a museum as an untouchable icon of truth, we will remain untouchable as well: we can put her up on a pedestal and praise her, world without end, never finding ourselves challenged by her life.’

These are challenging words. Many issues of injustice seem too big for me to tackle. What difference can little old me make to human trafficking, the exploitation of factory workers in developing countries, or the fatal effects of climate change in some nations? Some injustices are so overwhelming that I do nothing, because I can’t do everything.

When Rosa Parks made the brave decision to stay seated, I doubt she knew the domino effect it would have. She made the choice in front of her – she made the stand she could. God used that decision to bring the civil rights movement to the attention of her nation.

Lord, I confess that I sometimes allow the enormity of injustice to paralyse me. Today, Holy Spirit, show me the choices that have the power to make a difference – no matter how seemingly small. Guide me as I read, shop, pray, work and more. Show me the battle You want me to fight to see Your kingdom come and Your will be done for all people.

Carla Harding, Lectio 365.

Continue reading “Rosa Parks”