Imagine sitting in a doctor’s office by yourself waiting for someone to walk through the door and tell you the results of the MRI scan. Imagine you’re practically waiting at the mailbox in hopes of receiving the check you need to make this month’s bills. Imagine yourself lost in an unfamiliar city as the sun is setting, while you’re looking for a familiar road sign or landmark to guide you back to where you’ll spend the night. These and countless thousand other scenarios happen to all of us anytime as we are in a position of fear, anxiety or aimlessness in search of some good news; hoping for something or someone to relieve our angst. This is the role Jesus plays, this is what Jesus does when he arrives on earth and begins his ministry. His purpose is to bring Good News right to the intersection of fear, anxiety or aimlessness.
While reading the prophet Isaiah in his home church Jesus defines his ministry when he says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4.18)
This Good News goes deep. It might provide physical healing or spiritual assurance, but it’s Good News either way. It might provide the resources you need or the ability to be sustained without them, but it’s Good News either way. Jesus’ Good News is that life has focus and purpose so you have value and meaning. The Good News Jesus brings, the Good News Jesus embodies not only goes deep – it goes beyond our fears, anxieties and aimlessness to provide calm, confidence and belonging. Here’s the last bit of Good News – it’s all for you! For more information, visit me at KarlGalik.com
Children in every culture practice it. Adults in most cultures seem to lose their ability to practice it over time. People who work too hard have often forgotten about it. Couples who date and begin to form attachments for each other often describe themselves as “serious” for the other person – and sometimes forget the delight which brought them together in the first place. And, parents who overstress about discipline sometimes ignore it. It’s play.
It’s great to have “play dates” but even better when it spontaneously erupts on the living room floor with bellies exposed to noisy raspberries eliciting deep giggles. It’s great to have little leagues that play ball, but even better when a pickup game pops up in the backyard on a summer day; when first base is the oak tree and home base is the discarded pizza box.
Author Keith Johnstone has called adults “atrophied children” to help define and explain what he understands to be our true nature – lost to the responsibilities and pursuits of adulthood. Indeed, when Jesus holds up examples of faith, he doesn’t instruct us to be like pastors or seminary professors or responsible parents. No…he says be like children! When the prophet Zechariah speaks of God’s restoration of Jerusalem; when he describes what God’s rule will be like, the Word of the Lord says girls and boys will once again be playing in the streets. (8.5) It describes safety, security, delight and laughter. Playfullness, play, playing is a part of the Kingdom of God and why it is the Good Word for the Day!
Travel with me through time for a quick review of how important and how valuable is the love of a friend.
Let’s start thousands of years ago in the book of Proverbs. “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17.17)
The powerful love of a friend is with you through thick and thin; highs and lows, ups and downs; whether you’re in regular conversation or haven’t spoken in a long time – the love of a friend is there at all times.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18.24)
The powerful love of a friend can surpass the bonds of family. The depth of connection and the bond of trust can make the love of a friend feel closer than a brother, or a sister. It seems that on occasion, water is thicker than blood.
“His mouth is most sweet and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend…” (Song of Songs 5.16)
The Song of Songs is poem of romantic love and deep longing for one another. Interestingly enough, the powerful love of a friend is a part of the romantic love and deep longing lovers share with one another. Romantic love is a wonderful gift from God, yet the love of a beloved who is also a friend draws together with even greater desire. Yet, there is one even greater love. Listen to the words of our Lord defining his love for his disciples; for you and me.
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15.15)
When Jesus wants to illustrate his love and connection to his disciples to us, he attaches his mission – to reveal the depth of the Father’s love – from servants to friends. Through the gift of Jesus, God now identifies us as his friend. Can there be a greater gift than a friend?
For more information, visit me at KarlGalik.com
There’s guilt and then there’s shame. There is recognition of your act of wrongdoing and then there is shame. There is confrontation of sin and then there is shaming. “Shame” is a painful emotion experienced more intensely than guilt. It can be incapacitating and is sometimes the birthplace of addictions that are futile attempts to dull the shame. The original shame came from the story of Genesis chapter 3. Specifically verse 7 says that after they ate the “forbidden fruit” and broke their promise to God “the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew they were naked…” It’s something like a bad dream where you see yourself naked standing in front of a fully dressed crowd. Shame is that feeling of combined embarrassment, exposure, and humiliation. Sometimes it’s real from something we’ve actually done. Sometimes it is an emotion that manipulative people try to foist upon us to control us. In either case God’s plan in Jesus is to take away our shame and cover us with the “perfect-ness” that has been won by Jesus.
Paul says “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10.11)
If you were exposed to a crowd and someone appeared and dressed you the finest clothes, your shame would evaporate and you would receive admiration in its place. This is the spiritual gift of Jesus. This is what God does. When our shame is real, the forgiveness and grace of God cover us and the shame is evaporated. When our shame comes from others attempting to manipulate us, we have the confidence to display God’s promise of being covered in the finest clothes – the grace of God. Hey, you look good in grace and there’s no shame in that!
For more information visit me at KarlGalik.com
Have you ever noticed that from toddler years on up that disagreement quickly escalates into dispute? Did you ever consider that this escalation happens without any training or encouragement? No parent that I know has ever sat down with their child and coached them like this. “No Billy, Henry is coming over to play. I want you to be prepared when he takes your toy fire truck and begins to play with it without your permission. I want you to quickly waddle over to him, crawl if necessary and yank the fire truck away. And if he resists, swat him, hold the toy close to your chest and say,’Mine!’” The ridiculousness of this parent-child coaching session illustrates the nature of our nature. Clearly we don’t have to be taught to dispute, to attack those who we perceive to threaten what we see as ours – not only our own things – but even our ideas, our perceptions. This has been more than obvious in recent years. People have taken to uncivil and unhealthy disputes that quickly escalate into personal attacks.
St. Paul address this when he wrote the Philippians (2.14) He says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”
This command of St. Paul is followed by instructions of how to make this happen. He says, “…holding fast to the Word of life…” Dispute is diminished when our focus is on the gift of God within us, rather than responding to the evil inclination that is our reflex. This is the gift of God provided in the crucifixion and resurrection. By first receiving and then focusing on God’s mission, God’s work allows for dialogue rather than dispute; focusing on the issues rather than the person. It’s true that we don’t have to be taught to “dispute” but we can receive the “Word of life” that allows for interaction – even lively interaction – for the sake of the mission. For more information visit me at KarlGalik.com
There’s two kinds of waiting. The first can drive you crazy. The second can give you peace. The first kind can be a waste of time. The second kind of waiting is a great investment of time. The first kind of waiting is the kind that happens in traffic jams, at traffic lights and in long lines. This is the result of too many people in one place at one time. It usually has the effect of eating away at patience and raising things like blood pressure or anger levels. The second kind of waiting is actually designed to give you peace – not take it away. It’s actually a gift from God and not the result of overcrowding.
This is the waiting that St. Paul speaks of in Romans 8.25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
The word that Paul uses for “wait” is a complex word in the original Greek language rich in nuance. It implies acceptance. It denotes a readiness to receive. It intricately weaves together a readiness to accept a gift from God with a sense of anticipation. This is the waiting the original 12 disciples had to learn on this Saturday after the crucifixion and before Easter. Jesus himself converted it by his appearance, his presence. The disciples gathered together in fear and frustration waiting to be prosecuted by the same people that executed Jesus. Instead Jesus appeared and their waiting was for more blessing, more courage, more power from God. In that appearance Jesus converted waiting from something that drives you crazy to something like waiting to open a gift. It’s a lot more like the child’s anticipation of Christmas morning and a lot less like long lines adults form to buy a ticket. In fact, waiting for God is now like waiting with God for the next good thing! That’s God’s idea of waiting. For more information visit me at KarlGalik.com
If you want to show your support for your favorite team, what would you do? Here in Gainesville, home of the Gators, it is not uncommon to observe a T-shirt sea of orange and blue in the stadium. It lets you know you’re playing in “The Swamp.” The color theme is carried through with cheerleaders waving orange and blue pom-poms, while shouting familiar Gator chants. In ancient middle East times, prior to T-shirts and pom-poms people still expressed their passionate support in pom-pom like fashion – only by waving readily available palm branches. As crowds would wave them, a moving sea of green leaves greeted conquering heroes. Their extended length served to exaggerate their enthusiasm. This is the nature of celebrating Palm Sunday as the first day of Holy Week. Instead of a crowded stadium, Jesus entered a crowded Jerusalem with a sea of enthusiastic fans waving palm branches and shouting out their support of Jesus. Why then in five days would Jesus discover jeering instead of cheering? First consider what you say after your team loses. It’s probably unkind. Superficial fans can be fickle. Secondly, consider that instead of the loyal fan base, the Good Friday crowd was of interest to religious leaders Jesus displaced by bringing his new commandment of loving each other as he had loved them. (John 13.34) Yes, although Palm Sunday gave way to Good Friday; cheering gave way to jeering, the last book of the Bible, Revelations provides this anticipated final celebration.
It says, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…” (Revelation 7.9)
For more information visit me at KarlGalik.com
Picture yourself standing in front of the mirror in the privacy of your bedroom or your bathroom. As you stand there naked, what do you see? Who do you see? How does it make you feel? It’s very likely most of us will be “insecure” about what we see. Except for the small percentage of finely tuned athletes who have been downing protein drinks after weightlifting, most of us will see someone is too “something…” Too old. Too fat. Too small up there. Too large up there. Too…insecure. Although the mirror may indeed illustrate the need for less of somethings and more of other things, it doesn’t show us the reflection we see when we look into the mirror of God’s perfect love for us. That is the mirror of God’s grace, God’s perfect love for us. What we see when we look into this mirror is our self from God’s perspective, from God’s point of view, through the eyes of his love for us. Yes, his love may indeed say we need to have more of this or less of that – but always in a context of complete acceptance and complete and perfect love. In fact, that grace-full glance actually equips us for change rather than drive us to cover up or look for quick fixes. Psalm 16 says that security comes from the Lord’s Presence. God’s Presence provides a sense of well being and security in where you are going! When you know all that, when you are all of that – you are gifted with “security.” For more, visit KarlGalik.com
The question is, “Does God give you what you want?” Let me throw in another question just like it. “Do your really want God to give you what you want?”
Consider Psalm 37.4, “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
So…it seems like God does promise to give us what we want. In fact, I agree, as long as you’re talking about what our heart is in need for; what our soul really, wants. What you and I usually hear is, “Delight in the Lord, and he will give you what you lust for.” Many of us are quick to interpret God’s promises of gifts as something to satisfy our passing appetites. These quick-fix, passing lusts, although not always bad in the moment, are always passing and in that sense unsatisfying, sometimes unpleasant and always unfulfilling. So when God promises “the desires of our heart” his desire is for us to have what is not lust-filled, but long-lasting; always pleasant and definitely fulfilling desire. He gives us the unconditional love that sustains, the belonging that attaches us forever to an eternal community; a hope that keeps us looking up and onward. These are the lasting desires of your heart – and in that sense – yes, God loves you enough to not give you what you want – today; in passing. God loves you more than enough to give you what lasts, what your soul craves, the desires of your heart! For more information, visit me at KarlGalik.com
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? -The Prophet Micah (6.8)
This is a quote from a seldom heard from book of the Bible, the prophet Micah. The purpose of his prophetic time was to catch people’s attention. They had gotten too busy and too distracted to focus on what the Lord saw as a lifestyle for his people. They were letting the important things like seeking justice and providing loving kindness slip away – and as a result Micah was warning that the good and the bad were suffering for it. The good and the bad were about to lose what they had because they had taken it for granted and failed to seek justice and love kindness. In the midst of it all, an arrogance had sprung up that led them to believe they could live independently of God’s mercy. Wait! Does any of this sound familiar? Does any of this strike a familiar chord? Was Micah talking to them or to us!? Hmmm…listen again.
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
-The Prophet Micah (6.8)