Archive for the ‘By Craig Kuhlman’ Category

Implications of the Gospel – Our View of Humanity Changes

My wife Nan and I, along with a good friend from college, J.D. Sawyer, who was living back on the east coast, had a unique experience one Saturday evening in Hollywood, back in the late 1980s.

J.D. was out on business and stayed with us for the weekend. Living in Pasadena at the time, we had a number of ways to spend a Saturday evening. He suggested we take a trip down to Hollywood. I didn’t realize it at the time, but J.D. held an ulterior motive of hoping to run into a “movie star,” giving him “bragging rights” to his 16 year-old sister back in New Jersey.

Alices restaurantAfter eating a late supper, we ventured out to catch a dessert and coffee on a Malibu pier that had become famous as a star-gazing haunt called Alice’s Restaurant. As we sipped coffee, listening to the waves lapping below us through the open windows, J.D., true to his ulterior motive, quizzed the waitress about who had been in that evening, and she listed them off: Billy Joel and his then-wife Christie Brinkley, Larry Hagman (J. R. from Dallas), and musician Rick Springfield.

With dessert and coffee now over, and perhaps a let-down feeling held by J.D., we ventured across the street to a small liquor store so he could purchase a post-card to mail back to his sister. As he and Nan were looking at cards, I was looking around the store at other people. Suddenly out of my mouth blurted the words, “Oh, my gosh, it’s Charlie Sheen.” This was just a year after the original movie Wall Street had aired, so his status as a celebrity was secure in my mind.

At first, Nan rejected the notion. But as I said it again with more intensity, she whispered to J.D., “we need to get out of here or he’s gonna make a scene.” I responded with, “I need to go meet him.” Unfortunately, despite his ulterior motive, J.D., held back. I walked up to the checkout where he now stood, nudged him on the shoulder, and Charlie turned around with a somewhat disturbed look on his face. I mean, after all, who would be approaching him near midnight in a Levi jacket with collar flipped up, not looking for trouble? I held out my hand and said, “Hey man, just want you to know, I’m a big fan.” The disturbed look instantly turned to a smile and he shoved out his hand and responded, much to my surprise, “Hey, I appreciate that.”

We headed back to the car and I chided with J.D. for not shaking Charlie’s hand as that would have been a perfect story to share with his sister. Now feeling more emboldened, he headed back into the store and not only met Charlie, but Charlie’s date, actress Kelly Preston.

It was a wonderful ride back to Pasadena. J.D., and I made a pact to watch Wall Street again the next morning. After giving ourselves high fives again and again over the experience, I caught my breath and became more reflective. I said something like, “we’re making such a big thing over this, but in a thousand years from now, Charlie will probably say that back in 1988 he met three saints of God in a Malibu liquor store.” We had a great laugh.

At that time I held a more exclusive theological view of God, and how He viewed humanity. Wrongly so, I thought that God only included a “select few” in His master plan of salvation, and certainly not those who held the headlines of the day. Today, I, along with readers of this blog, know how small that exclusive view is. We now celebrate that God has included all of humanity in his love…even if they do have a little “tiger blood” in them. Don’t we all from time to time?

As we look forward to what 2015 offers us, let’s celebrate that the Gospel changes how we view all humanity, our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether or not they have a clue they are included in His love.

~ by Craig Kuhlman

Not Having It Your Way

Can you imagine how successful a fast-food chain would be if they marketed these words as their slogan?  Almost appears “Un-American” doesn’t it?

Scripture refers to this phrase in a single word, “submission.”  Submission is also known as an outward spiritual discipline, or an act or habit that draws us closer in relationship to God, and specifically, in this case, others.

20133463-usa-yield-signWhy is it so difficult to yield or submit to others, when the outcome can be very beneficial (life-changing in some cases)?

Our oldest son recently announced that he and his fiancée were going to move their wedding date up by eight months before graduating college, with plans to transfer credits to another university.  That’s not what we had talked about.  It isn’t the commitment that he made to us to obtain his degree before marriage.  Internally I came unglued.

Why do we so easily bury our heels into the ground in a way that can polarize relationships?

The next day, Nan kept telling me I needed to get over it, and that it wasn’t our choice.  We needed to respect and support his decision even though the timing may not appear to us to be the best choice.  I couldn’t accept it.  Then a small miracle happened.  Through the back and forth discussion with Nan and a close friend, I gained clarity.  I literally felt my heart change in a moment’s notice.

What happened?  It became clear to me that the issue was tied to long-held values and commitments. The primary value was the fact that I wanted him to finish college without the risk of anything getting in the way.  I wanted that for him and his own family’s security and success.  Secondly, he had made a commitment when he became engaged that he wouldn’t speed up the timetable on marriage until he had graduated.

Values and commitments are generally a good thing.  They are good until we place them before and above relationships.  Values and commitments are something that if held long enough can literally be felt as if they are woven into our very own being.  How many times had I shared with him that his mom and I didn’t get married until four days after my graduation.  How many doors had I witnessed being opened due to education over the years?

Keep in mind, the value can be anything that is held and cherished long enough.  How many wars have been fought over religion, or politics?  How many churches have split over theology?

In my mind, college and preparation before marriage had become part of my being until the small miracle and clarity occurred.  Through that discussion, I was reminded that I had no intentions of going to college when I was in high school. Further, I had talked my girlfriend out of going to college so that we could get married right after graduating high school.  Her parents had always envisioned her going to college, and I thought that was unnecessary.  How the tables had turned over these past thirty-five years!  The passing years seemed as if they were my whole life, but upon reflection at that moment I saw how temporal my values were.  They weren’t part of my natural DNA.  They simply became engrained over time.

As I reflected, the thought occurred that if I could have held those same prior values (although my son clarified that he never once considered dropping out of college), what was the big deal?  Should I really let something temporary get in the way of my relationship with my son?  How many times had I told him “there is nothing you could ever do that would keep me from loving you forever?”  Isn’t that the kind of relationship I have with my heavenly Father?  How could I go back on that value?  One that is eternal, not temporal.

Submission is a spiritual discipline, because humanly speaking we can’t do it and the Holy Spirit reminds us that not having it our way is usually the best when it comes to healing relationships and changing our hearts.

~by Craig Kuhlman

photo courtesy of 123RF Royalty free stock photos

You’ll Be In My Heart

empty tombThis weekend we celebrate the life and resurrection of our risen Lord, traditionally called Easter Sunday.

Too often this is depicted as a time of sadness and regret, and for Jesus’ disciples that ran with him there certainly was sadness, but Jesus addressed it to remind them that He had to go so that He could send His comforter, the Holy Spirit, who would be with us always, forevermore.

Last night I caught the last half of Adam Sandler’s movie, Click. I have to admit, it still brought tears to my eyes. The movie depicts the life of an individual on fast forward, missing out on many special moments of his children growing up and not being there for them and his wife. Many tears were shed by his family in the last moments of his life. But then the screen returned to him waking up in a bed and realizing it had all been a dreamlike vision of what his life might be if he kept on that path. He was joyful that he had another chance to live life right as a much younger man. The sadness immediately left his character, and no doubt the movie viewer when he “came back to life.” A resurrection, if you will.

In the same way, Jesus’s disciples’ sadness turned to joy when they took Jesus’s words for them to heart, in the last chapter of Matthew. He had this to say to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I was recently reminded of this when I heard Phil Collins track “You’ll Be In My Heart” to the Disney movie, Tarzan. Imagine Jesus singing these words to his disciples and by inference, to us today. Not a time of sadness, but joy, knowing he will be with us forevermore.

Come stop your crying
It will be all right
Just take my hand
Hold it tight

I will protect you
From all around you
I will be here
Don’t you cry

For one so small,
You seem so strong
My arms will hold you
Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us
Can’t be broken
I will be here
Don’t you cry

Jesus promises us that because of His death, and resurrection, the bond that he forged with humanity can’t be broken. Not a time of sadness, but of great joy.

[Chorus]

‘Cause you’ll be in my heart
Yes, you’ll be in my heart
From this day on
Now and forever more

Easter Sunday depicts the time when Jesus bound humanity to Himself, forever. Unfortunately not all at this time believe who they are in Him.

You’ll be in my heart
No matter what they say
You’ll be here in my heart, always
Why can’t they understand
The way we feel?
They just don’t trust
What they can’t explain
I know we’re different but,
Deep inside us
We’re not that different at all

Although Jesus was God, He chose to become man and will forever retain His dual nature of God and man. We’re different, but because Jesus rose and took humanity with Him, we’re not that different at all.

Don’t listen to them
‘Cause what do they know?
We need each other
To have, to hold
They’ll see in time I know

Although many don’t know today who they are in Christ, they will see in time, He knows. He knows because that was the Triune God’s plan from the foundation of the world, and today He is reconciling all things to Himself.

When destiny calls you
You must be strong
I may not be with you
But you’ve got to hold on
They’ll see in time I know
We’ll show them together

Although Jesus is not with us today, physically, through faith we hold on, and as firstfruits we will show the way together to All, in time.

I’ll be with you
I’ll be there for you always
Always and always
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
Just look over your shoulder
I’ll be there always

This Sunday reminds us through the words of our Savior, and through Collins’s lyrics, “I’ll be there for you always.”  This Sunday is not a day of sadness. Make it a day of hope and great rejoicing for who we are in Him.

~by Craig Kuhlman

Photo courtesy of Apologetics UK

Trinity and Humanity in a 298 word nutshell

Readers of this blog have asked certain questions from time to time that have risen out of our underlying theology.  Perhaps you have asked some of these questions yourself? Admittedly, this will be more academic than what we usually post, but hopefully useful, nonetheless.

What is Trinitarian theology? This is the question that forms the basis for this blog and one I was required to answer this week for my Grace Communion Seminary course, The Nature of God and Jesus Christ, taught by Dr. J. Michael Feazell.

If we are all included, what is the difference between believers (Christians) and non-believers (non-Christians)?

If we are included and already saved (Universally) why should we seek to help others understand they are saved (Personally)?

What is the difference between Universal salvation and Personal salvation?

What difference does it make how I live my life today?

Why should I obey God if he has already forgiven and included me?

What difference does faith and repentance make?

If it was all “done” by Jesus Christ at the Cross, what is there left for me “to do” today?

Why do the Gospels and Epistles speak about being blind and lost if we are included already?

How can we speak about a loving God when the Bible speaks at the same time about his wrath and judgment?

Who is Jesus?

Who or what is humanity?

How is it that we can say everyone is our brother and sister (especially for someone like me who lived as an only child of my parents)?

I think you will be able to find answers to each of these questions if you look closely enough at my answer to the question “What does Trinitarian theology mean to you (in this case me personally)?  Let’s give it a try, but before we begin, please realize that this is my personal definition, written in my own words, based on the many things I have read and studied from many other Trinitarian authors.

“Trinitarian theology means to me that before time, space, and any creation existed, the Father, Son, and Spirit existed as three distinct persons that so completely interpenetrated themselves that they existed as One God in Love and purpose.  From that loving relationship came about the desire and plan to create and include humanity to exist with them in union and communion in the same loving relationship.  This theology establishes that God is relational with and not distant from all humanity.

“In order to include humanity (created) in them (non-created) a hypostatic union was needed and brought about by the incarnation, God becoming man through the Son, Jesus Christ.  Through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension, humanity was united and became one with the Son, and thereby gained access to (was included in) the Father-Son relationship through the Son (by the Holy Spirit) forever.

“This theology provides the foundation for answering who we are by addressing the question who is Jesus?  By knowing who we are in union with the triune God gives us purpose and requires a response of belief and trust (faith) through repentance to participate in that relationship thereby living in communion with the Father, Son, and Spirit.

“Only by knowing first who God is, can we fully know who we are.  Through our understanding of Trinitarian theology and living out of the love God first had for us, can we truly love others and live into the Kingdom life described by Jesus in the Gospels, and the apostles in their letters.

“When we come to that belief the blindness and darkness of our fallen humanity is exchanged by seeing and living in the light, walking in the Spirit, participating in Jesus’ ministry through the Great Command and Great Commission of making disciples who make disciples.”

The answer to this primary question loosely forms the basis for the team of writers who blog here weekly, as we write about the tremendous relationship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has provided and into which all of us has been included.

~by Craig Kuhlman

“I Learned the Truth at 17”

Janis Ian As we begin a New Year, let’s begin by looking back to what may seem a “time long ago and far away.” Musical artist Janis Ian won the 1976 Grammy for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance.  She sang the song “At Seventeen” at the Grammy’s before she was presented the award by comedian and actress Lily Tomlin.

Contending for the Grammy were other very well-regarded female artists and their titles: Helen Reddy (Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady), Olivia Newton John (Have You Never Been Mellow), Linda Ronstadt (You’re No Good), and Judy Collins (Send in the Clowns).

Ian, just a few years ago, her dark brown hair having now turned silver, would tell an audience “I’ve sung that song in Ireland and watched 30,000 people sing it back at me.  And I’ve sung that song in Japan and watched an entire crowd of people who don’t speak a word of English sing it back at me.  I mean I’ve watched people do that all over the world, and I said, ‘don’t you think that every writer like me dreams of one day hitting a universal, just one time in your life, it’s like that major pop fly right of the park?’  You dream that you’re gonna hit one song, one time where everybody who hears it is touched.  And everybody who hears it feels like it belongs to them.  And I said, ‘if you get once in your life to write something that crosses race, and gender, and culture, and all the other things that we put up between ourselves to make sure we don’t get too close to one another.’  If you can do that for just one moment, then someone like me thinks, ‘well, this life was very much worth living.’  How could you get tired of that?”

If you are my age, which is to say you were also a teen when Ian first performed the award winning title; or, if not, perhaps you heard Taylor Swift more recently introduce Celine Dion as she performed the song at the Grammy’s, you will be hard-pressed to get those haunting words (universal words as Ian describes them) out of your head:

I learned the truth at seventeen,

that love was meant for beauty queens,

and high school girls with clear skin smiles,

that married young and then retired.

Why is it those words would be universal for so many?  And why is it so hard to feel loved and accepted by such a beautiful Triune God?  Could it be that in our fallen state “those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces, desperately remained at home,” like Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes, afraid they weren’t worthy of such a beautiful Triune God?  C.S. Lewis, in The Great Divorce, described it as “Here was an enthroned and shining god, whose ageless spirit weighed upon mine like a burden of solid gold.”  For Adam it was not the result of truth, but a lie.

The truth is, to such a beautiful Triune God, we aren’t that “brown eyed girl in hand-me-downs, whose name He never could pronounce.”  All of us, no matter our physicality, are truly that beautiful “rich relationed hometown queen, who marries into what she needs, with a guarantee of company, and haven for the elderly.”  Jesus guaranteed that company for eternity.  Jesus has overcome Adam and our fallen state that so easily and universally makes us feel less than everyone else, and especially as we stand before Him.  The lie no longer holds power over us.

The truth is, also, my friends, in God’s economy there are no ugly duckling girls or guys.  The creator of all beautiful things thinks we are every bit as much.  He loves us, adores us, and chose to lavish that same love and adoration that existed before time between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, upon us.  He stopped at nothing less than the Cross to forever include humanity in their circle of life.  Jesus paid the price for all humanity and said, “It is finished.”  Our ledger will never state “exceeds accounts received.”

As we begin the New Year, be encouraged, the truth you learned at 17, and “to those of us who knew the pain,” that time is no more.  We are forever held in God’s loving arms as the most beautiful, cherished, and adored that creation will ever know, because we are His children.  That is the truth in 2014.

~by Craig Kuhlman

Gift of Giving

I was part of an amazing supernatural experience a few weeks ago that took place in my office.

I have a client who lost her husband a few years ago.  They had been in my office several times over several years and I felt like I lost a dear friend when he passed away.  As he declined in health we discussed God, heaven, and other topics, and grew close together in the process.  We even found some time to discuss financial matters when needed.  Since his passing I’ve had the opportunity to continue building our relationship with his widow as I administer their Trust account.

Back in 1996 her husband fell over from a heart attack on the golf course.  There happened to be a young deputy sheriff nearby who ran over and through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was able to bring him back to life.  They were forever grateful.  The young deputy was forever humble.  For years they tried to give him a gift to express their thanks for the extra years they were able to spend together and he refused.  Said he was just doing his job.  Said their thanks was plenty enough.

My client being the determined lady that she is just couldn’t let it go and asked for my assistance to locate him.  She was amazed and thankful when I came up with his address (where would we be without Google?).  She sought my guidance about pressing him on what he may need, and how we might structure the gift.  I offered my counsel and she went to his home and arranged lunch with him and his family.  She once again expressed her thanks and asked what she could do, now in honor of her deceased husband to thank him.  This time he said he’d think about it.

She arranged an appointment with him in my office to discuss what she might do for him.  We got together and he expressed how hard it was, once again, to accept anything for this event that happened in his early twenties.  I was impressed with his humble attitude.  He went on to say that he had sought counsel from his pastor and discussed it with his wife and came up with only three present needs.  He was no longer working on the force and had taken a teaching job while he pursued a degree from seminary.  He originally thought his tuition was covered by another source, but when he discovered it wasn’t, at his pastor’s urging he agreed to meet.

His needs were simple.  Cover his future tuition at seminary and what he had already paid; a replacement vehicle (used, not new) since his was in need of repair; and their mortgage on a modest home.  He once again indicated anything she gave him would be helpful.

My client told him she wasn’t going to do everything, but put a significant number on the table that she would give.  Our recipient friend didn’t know what to say.  My eyes started to tear up.  She looked at me and asked how we go about doing this.  I suggested that since there was enough we should cover the tuition and used vehicle purchase, and apply the remainder to the mortgage.  Once again, he didn’t know what to say, but the gratitude in his eyes said it all.  I couldn’t help but say this is a direct gift from God and he has provided my client with the opportunity to participate in that gift.  They readily agreed.  My eyes teared even more.  I couldn’t hold them back.  I had been in the midst of greatness.

When the Holy Spirit moves us to participate in what Jesus is doing, it’s an amazing thing.  When we simply observe as a bystander what Jesus is doing we sense somehow that it is supernatural.  God loves his children, and at times chooses to provide for their needs in an amazing way.  We can’t always answer why him versus her, but we can always trust in his love, and when moved to participate, provide and experience the gift of giving.

~ by Craig Kuhlman

I Just Can’t Stop Loving You… (A Universal love song)

MJ photoMichael Jackson became known as the King of Pop in the 1980’s.  He produced some great music and one of those hits stands out to me as more than just great music. It’s a Universal love song from God to each of his sons and daughters.  If you are keeping count, this is my second Trinitarian love song to add to our list.  I encourage you to download it to your favorite device and imagine God singing these words to you and all of humanity.  There is a reason that so many have wanted this to be played at their wedding.

Sit back, listen to the song, read the lyrics, and contemplate my commentary.  MJ is amazing, and I just can’t stop thinking these words were inspired by the HS.  I don’t know if Michael personally knew he was included.  But if not, he is certainly included (without a clue).  To coin a phrase from a dear friend, every time I listen to this, it gives me “crazy tingles.”

Each time the wind blows
I hear your voice so
I call your name
Whispers at morning
Our love is dawning
Heaven’s glad you came

As each non-believer realizes who they are in Jesus and turn to him, the heavens are delighted as that person moves from Union to Communion in Trinitarian relationship.

You know how I feel
This thing can’t go wrong
I’m so proud to say I love you
Your love’s got me high
I long to get by
This time is forever
Love is the answer

God’s love for us is forever, and it can’t go wrong.  We simply can’t imagine how proud he is of each and every son and daughter.  The closest comparison is that of the love of loving parents toward their child.  Yet the love of the loving parent is only a glimpse of how much our heavenly Father loves you and all of humanity (past, present, and future).

I hear your voice now
You are my choice now
The love you bring
Heaven’s in my heart
At your call
I hear harps,
And angels sing

Scripture says that there is singing in Heaven when one non-believer believes and turns to God believing in His everlasting love for them.  We are His choice now and forever.

You know how I feel
This thing can’t go wrong
I can’t live my life
Without you

God is relational (being one with Jesus and the spirit), and because of that he made the irrevocable choice from the beginning of time that he wanted to live his life with all of humanity.  He will move heaven and earth to accomplish that end, both universally through the union of man and Son (accomplished with the incarnation) and calling each of us to personal belief and choice.

I just can’t hold on
I feel we belong
My life ain’t worth living
If I can’t be with you

I just can’t stop loving you
I just can’t stop loving you
And if I stop
Then tell me just what
Will I do
’cause I just can’t stop loving you

Our Father simply can’t stop loving us.  Because of the choice he made, a choice from the beginning of the foundation of the world, he just can’t stop (because Love is what Love does) loving humanity (that means you).

At night when the
Stars shine
I pray in you I’ll find
A love so true

Because God is relational, he will never violate our humanity which allows us to personally love him back.  But it is our personal choice.  And he will wait for eternity, if he has to, for us to make that choice.

When morning awakes me
Will you come and take me
I’ll wait for you

And he will wait for us as long as he needs, just as the Father in the parable never stopped waiting for his son to return from a life that led to zero.  The Father (Luke 15) stood waiting and watching, and ran to his son upon his return.

You know how I feel
I won’t stop until
I hear your voice saying “I do”
“I do”
This thing can’t go wrong
This feeling’s so strong
Well, my life ain’t
Worth living
If I can’t be with you

He will always wait until we personally say, “I do.”

We can change all the world tomorrow
We can sing songs of yesterday
I can say, hey
Farewell to sorrow
This is my life and I
Want to see you for always

Someday, in the world tomorrow, we will all say farewell to sorrow, and that begins by our saying, “I do” to our heavenly Father and accept his inclusion of all humanity.  Imagine a day, as it could be, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit on stage singing this song to us.  But that day humanity isn’t in the audience, they are on stage included in the embracing arms of God “for always” (group hug). Arms raised, lighters glowing, angels all around, singing this Trinitarian love song FOREVER!

~ by Craig Kuhlman

Why The Law?

broken cookware setAvid readers of this blog and students of Scripture have probably asked this question before, just as the Apostle Paul asked the same question of the readers of Galatians.

I did some pretty stupid things while growing up.  I had a sandbox in my backyard and it was the center of play for a number of my neighborhood friends.  A friend of mine and I were playing in the sandbox with a tin teapot and cooking set of our neighborhood friend, Julie.  I’m not sure what got into us but we decided to beat the living “hades” out of the cooking set.  Dented, dinged, and thoroughly smashed were the remnants of a cooking set after we were “done” with it.  Adding to the stupidity we buried the smashed cooking set in the depths of the sand.  It was as if there were a proverbial “think cloud” above our heads indicating, “Yeah, no one will find it now.”

Sometime later the neighborhood gang was gathered together at the sandbox (including Julie).  Interestingly, my friend and I must have forgotten what we did.  If you are ahead of me, you already know that Julie dug up some of her missing cooking set and immediately burst into tears at the sight of it and ran home.  My dad looked at me and said, “Craig, in the house.”  I glanced at my remaining friends as if to say, “please pray for me.”

When I returned to my friends, I said, “It didn’t hurt.”  Someone responded, “Yeah, we heard you screaming.”

Now, as I recall, at the time, I didn’t have an explicit rule indicating, “Thou shall not destroy thy neighbor’s teapot set.”  But from that time on (because of my transgression), that rule certainly stood, and I wasn’t “stupid” enough to ever violate it again.

To answer his own question, Paul tells us, as he did the Galatians in verse 19 of Chapter 3:  “It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.”  In other words, because of our human nature and a natural tendency not to exist in relationship with others, the Law was provided as a sign, or a map, until Jesus came and wrote his relational law on our hearts.  The Law never stood above God, but always reflected his heart.

Some today may look at the Law as being obsolete because it looked forward to Jesus.  And that would certainly be true, but not because of what we might assume.  Our Father-Son-Jesus-God is a relational God and desires that we be in relationship with him and our neighbors, as the Law promoted.  Because we just can’t help ourselves (in the sandbox or otherwise) and therefore can’t “keep” the Law, Jesus came to write it on our hearts.

If I had a clue the law had been written on my heart I wouldn’t have needed a set of rules to treat my neighbor, Julie, relationally.  In context, Paul went on to refer to the Law as a tutor.  The Greek term for tutor referenced a household slave who brought the child in the home to “school” to learn.  Tutors, in this sense, and today, were never meant to maintain a lifelong relationship.  It was short-term in nature to bring a child to maturity, as Jesus has in our relationship with him.

Although we may refer to the obsolescence of the Law in a pejorative way, it was meant, and remains a reflection of living relationally with God and our neighbors.  Today, through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit residing in us, the Law has been replaced by our relationship in them.

Jesus has “obeyed” the law on our behalf, and in this sense it is obsolete, providing us the freedom to live relationally with God and reconciled mankind. In other words, when we live in Him, and relate to others as God would want us, we don’t need to be told “Do this, or, Don’t do that.”  Or, “Don’t destroy your neighbors cooking set.”  The Law was never put forth by a distant God desiring to control us in some way.  Why the Law?  It was a reflection or a sign pointing toward the One who would write it on our hearts when he came.  As we learn to live relationally with our brothers and sisters in Jesus, the law is reflected in relationship and our love for them stands above the Law.

~by Craig Kuhlman

 

We Are…Holy Ground

Misc. 2013 031Recall the words spoken to Moses in Exodus 3:5:  “Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’”  And recall the words written by Moses in Genesis 2:7:  “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  These words have resounded in my mind the past couple days.

On Tuesday, June 4th, I had a wonderful opportunity to travel with our CEO and seven others from our senior management team to New York City to be part of the NASDAQ Closing Bell ceremony in Times Square.  It was a surreal experience as were the other events of the day.

Four of us arrived early in the day in New York and felt that seeing the 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, and the Statue of Liberty would be the best way to spend our precious few sight-seeing hours.  After dropping our bags at the hotel, and a subsequent thirty minute cab ride, we arrived within walking distance of the memorial.  After making our way through a long line to get a visitor pass, we then proceeded to the site that included several check points and a security scan detection system that could have rivaled most airports.

As I walked to the reflecting pool where the South Tower once stood I felt an overwhelming sense of awe, and even now as I write these words, my eyes are once again tearing up as they did on my approach to the pool.  How many times had I watched those buildings fall, and now I was standing right in that very spot where almost three thousand individuals lost their lives.  I began to hear the words in my mind, “this is hallowed ground.”  I felt that in each of my senses, as I heard the water flowing in the pool, as I touched the stone and stared at the names of so many lost lives.  This truly was hallowed ground.

We made our way to the North Tower reflecting pool to find the name of a sister of a co-worker.  She had been on Flight 11 that hit the North Tower.  I created a crayon etching of her name to take back to her brother and co-worker Matt.  This truly was hallowed ground.

As we proceeded through our morning we saw other sites packed with tourists stretching to snap a photo, and oddly, I got the same sense, that this was hallowed ground.  There was Trinity Church Wall Street, visited by Nicholas Cage in search of clues in the National Treasure movie series.  The New York Stock Exchange appeared as a gated community.  No one entered without security clearance.  There was Federal Hall where George Washington was sworn in as first President.  Across from it at 23 Wall Street stood the J.P. Morgan Building that I recalled from reading The House of Morgan.  We browsed jewelry at Tiffany’s and then made our way to Battery Park for a view of the Statue of Liberty.

At some point I reflected on the fact that so many people (myself included) were making such a thing of well-known historic buildings and landmarks, as if they stood on hallowed ground.  The question occurred to me, “Would God feel the same way?”  To Him, these are simply brick and mortar landmarks, nothing more; but we are His hallowed ground.  He resides in us.  He has accepted and included us.  We, collectively, are God’s holy ground.  He determined before the foundation of the world to include us in His Triune relationship.  Friends, in His eyes, we are far more precious than any of the sites I mentioned before, because we are holy ground.  We are much more than the problems we face.  We are far greater than the stresses we experience.  We are so much more beautiful than the jewels at Tiffany.  We are more majestic than the Statue that stands on Liberty Island, worth far more than the countless millions held over the years at the House of Morgan or traded on the NYSE.  In His eyes, we, my friends, are holy ground.

~by Craig Kuhlman

 

 

Follow Me (Follow You)

3 crosses of calvaryRegular readers of our blog will no doubt be familiar with this headline and the one who made it, especially as this Sunday caps a season focused on, around, and in him.  If we stated, “And then there were three,” we would all know to whom we were referring.

Perhaps Phil Collins did also when, in 1978, he sang “Follow you Follow me,” with hauntingly beautiful lyrics by band members of Genesis, released on their ninth studio album labeled “…And Then There Were Three…”  I have come to hear the timeless 1978 original and their first to reach the American Top 40, along with their performance almost thirty years later, Live in Rome (2007) as one of the most beautiful Trinitarian love songs of what Jesus is communicating with his followers.  I would encourage all of you to purchase it on your digital media of choice so you can play it as often as you feel moved.  I encourage you to listen to the song as you read these written words.  You can also listen and view it on YouTube.

Every time I listen to the words, I can’t help but imagine Jesus singing them to each of us…

Stay with me,
My love I hope you’ll always be
Right here by my side if ever I need you
Oh my love

And our response as we proceed through life in relationship with Jesus, sometimes our faith is unwavering…

In your arms,
I feel so safe and so secure
Everyday is such a perfect day to spend
Alone with you

And at other times when we look at the stuff around us, we may hold personal doubt…

I will follow you will you follow me?
All the days and nights that we know will be
I will stay with you will you stay with me?
Just one single tear in each passing year

But then realize there is no need to ever question Jesus’ relationship with us…

With the dark,
Oh I see so very clearly now
All my fears are drifting by me so slowly now
Fading away

I can say
The night is long but you are here
Close at hand, oh I’m better for the smile you give
And while I live

Why is it that we doubt?  The fact that he chose to empty himself of his Glory, live on earth as he did, and then die a painful death (while we were still sinners), only to be resurrected and ascended to heaven with all humanity, should quiet our concerns forever, permitting each of us to always stand in relationship with God with no fear, no shame, no guilt, and no doubt.

How can we claim such a thing?  Knowing that acts of sin and the shame and guilt that come with it is always nearby?  Because of the events of this week, the Father doesn’t look at us the way we look at ourselves.  He looks at us through the eyes of the resurrected Jesus, who died for our sins, past, present, future.  Because of that, from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s view, there is no reality of fear, no shame, no guilt, and no doubt.

Because we stand in relationship with God from the same vantage point (albeit it’s harder for us to accept ourselves than it is for God to do that), we can respond to the call, Follow me, with no fear, or doubt.

In each passing year (from 1978), when Collins had long brown hair, to the 2007 tour in Rome with no hair, and Tony Banks on the amazing keyboards when his hair went from dark to gray, as we age and experience change, hopefully our faith is growing (not graying) as we follow him, and we will always feel so safe and secure.   Our fears drifting by so slowly now, fading away.

As we heed his words to Follow Me, and we reflect on what happened during this Easter week that ended with the inclusion of all humanity (God’s plan from the foundation of the world), let’s rejoice that we stand before him with no fear, no shame, no guilt, and no doubt.

~by Craig Kuhlman

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: