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Literally Humble


7:59 AM
Yesterday was one of surprises and blessings. My activities included: reading the Psalms on the back porch, coming to the office for a brief time and doing some work, having lunch with my son Seth, dropping the car off to get it fixed after running over some trash that fell of a truck in front of me, having a meeting with my pastor, and going to class. The between times, driving from place to place, were filled with contemplating the theologies of Rahner, which I find difficult to understand. Some of his ideas I agree with but there are other thoughts that I disagree with totally.

While driving around, a friend from the Downtown Rescue Mission called and needed money to buy a truck. He wrecked his and now doesn’t have a means of transportation to get to work and school. I wanted to say no, but I didn’t. I told him I would buy the truck for him as long as we didn’t go above $2,500. While at lunch, I got an email from George Veras, the marketing guy at the Hall of Fame. He apologized for the late notice but wanted me to do a 4 hour telephone call Friday and would pay me $10,0000. Coincidence? God is so good! I think, He has been waiting on me to trust and surrender so that He might show me his faithfulness.

I also have been noticing that there are times when I have felt led to either kneel or lie prostrate to God. Naturally, I didn’t. I simply sat there and would talk “to God” in a way that no one else would know what I was doing. This morning, I was led to kneel before leaving the house. This time, in the safety of the privacy of my own home, I knelt. What a blessing!

Why is it that I say I want to be pleasing to God and follow his will while at the same time, I fail to do it? Also, why do I fool myself into thinking I am following Christ but yet I always limit my surrender?

For me, I think it boils down to fear. The money issues are a fear that I will not have enough to live on or not keep up my lifestyle if I follow God’s leading in giving to those in need. At other times, it is that I am fearful of what others will think. What if someone walked into my office and saw me kneeling? What would they think? It’s not that I’m some holier than thou person who is wearing my faith on my sleeve or trying to cram the gospel down somebody’s throat. Besides, I don’t think that was Jesus’ way. He did, however, go off by himself to pray and in remembering him in the garden, he knelt. I also remember Daniel and company kneeling three times a day in their living quarters. Maybe these acts of worship and praise have a purpose.

Maybe these acts are used to allow God to reveal himself and his character to us. Maybe these acts are used to confirm our humility, our adoration, and our surrender to our King. Maybe in surrendering and in doing we get to experience God in reality and not just in the imaginings of our mind. He becomes real. At any rate, I am going to pray that God grants me the grace that In the future, I will listen to the impulses that he plants in my head and then be wiling to do them.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19

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Written by John Hannah

November 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

Wealth May Not Be Riches


After my last post, some friends suggested I read the book Radical. Good book but you can tell right away it is speaking from the Southern Baptist Tradition – the author skipped right over love and went straight to the sin problem. For me, I like Saint Ignatius’ approach. Once I am grounded in God’s love for me, then I can look at the shadows, those things which I have hidden from others and even myself because I can now realize that I am a loved sinner.

That brings me to my reflection this morning. Remember the story about the rich young ruler in Mark 10?
As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

I was just wondering, what if Jesus didn’t mean the wealth of his possessions? What if Jesus meant that he should get rid of the wealth of his righteousness?

I know that I can get all puffed up about what I am doing in my walk with Christ, how I attend church pretty regularly, how I read the word, how I spend time praying, etc. What does it matter if I, that’s a capital I, do all these things? If we really do believe in the finished work of God the Father through His Son Jesus, if we really do believe in the unmerited favor of grace, shouldn’t we be more than willing to give up our righteousness in exchange for the righteousness that comes from Christ? Now, I’m not saying to go out tonight and get blasted! What I am saying is that nothing I can do counts with God. All that counts is what He does with, in and through me. So what can I brag about? Maybe that’s why Paul said this, “Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, we who worship through the Spirit of God, who boast in Christ Jesus and do not put our confidence in flesh, although I myself have grounds for confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he can be confident in flesh, all the more can I. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee, in zeal I persecuted the church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless. (But) whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ. More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and (the) sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

What do you think? Should we be like Paul and give up our own righteous and religious works so that we count all things as loss for the riches found in Christ? The righteousness that comes from as a gift of grace, both imputed and lived.

Written by John Hannah

October 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Three Types of People


7:19 AM
As many of you know, I am taking myself through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in class. The last class covered The Second Week of the exercises. This week is a vacation week. How appropriate!

The Second Week is about surrendering to Christ. One of the meditations in the Second Week is on the three types of people. In actuality, it isn’t three types of people at all, but a progression of faith in Jesus. The first person is that person who has decided to follow Christ in external things. The rich young ruler who asked Jesus what it took to get into heaven and had obeyed all the commandments of God is a perfect example of the first class of person. The second person prays that they would prefer neither riches or wealth, fame or disgrace, health or sickness, nor long life or short. Their preference is to do only that which brings the greater glory to God and causes them to walk more closely with Him. The third person has come to the point where the desire to identify with Christ is so strong that they pray for a life of poverty and disgrace just as Jesus lived. This morning, I was pondering  Luke 12:13-32.

“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!” But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”

As I read this, I thought about how much I was like this man. My barn is my savings accounts and my retirement accounts. Three years ago, I had built a barn that I was sure would give me the ability to enjoy my retirement years and leave a little nest egg for the kids. Like most people my age, my retirement account has taken a big hit over the last few years. Not only that, I have a vision to open a retreat center for those with addictions. You know the ones I’m talking about, addictions to substance abuse, addictions to work, addictions to possessions, and addiction to people pleasing. To do this, I’m going to have to use some of those depleted monies. This is a huge struggle inside me. I really like my barns! I think to myself, “If I weren’t married it would be different” or “I need to leave some inheritance for the kids” or “With inflation and all will Elise and I have enough?” I want to do what Christ wants me to do but I have so many responsibilities. I feel like Peter getting out of the boat during the storm and immediately beginning to sink. However, as I continued to read, Jesus provided the answer.

He said to (his) disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. How much more important are you than birds! Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides. Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

I think He wants me to become more like the third type of person, don’t you?

Written by John Hannah

October 14, 2010 at 7:31 am

Literally Humble


As most of my friends know, I am in the process of getting my MA in Pastoral Studies from Loyola Chicago. I read a book earlier entitled The Call to Discernment by Dean Brackley. If you take it to heart, it will shake you up! It talks of how the American economic system has created a hierarchy of status based on wealth. Status symbols have become our standards for determining self-worth. This comparison, what is in reality competition, causes us to look down on those at a lower rung while holding in contempt and envy those who hold a higher rung. His issue was not that there are those who have the God-given talents to increase wealth but that somehow in creating this wealth, they think themselves superior. He also has issue with those who are less wealthy who have bought into the societal norms and somehow feel they are less than. In either case, we dishonor God because He has made us all and we are all equal – equal in depravity and equal in the grace of His love and forgiveness.

This morning I was pondering over the three types of humility as defined by Saint Ignatius. For those unfamiliar with Saint Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, I will give you a brief intro into his understanding of humility. It is important to know that each of these three types of humility builds on the previous humility.

1. Person of the Law – This person is totally committed to keeping the externals of being a Christian. For instance, making sure they are in church every Sunday, that no curse words cross their lips, you know the external.
2. The seconde humility gets to a point in life that they neither desire riches nor wealth, fame nor disgrace, health nor sickness, long-life nor short. Their only desire is for whatever brings the most praise, reverence, and service to Jesus and/or whatever builds them the most in their faith, hope and love.
3. The third humility is to actually desire poverty over riches, shame and disgrace over fame and honor.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered a conversation about the Genesis creation story. I happened to state that I had changed my view on the Genesis creation story. I wasn’t really sure that is the way it happened and that it might be more allegorical to teach Spiritual truths. Wow! Did I catch it! I was wondering though does he takes the following passage found in Mark 10 as literally as he does the Genesis story?

“As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.'” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to (the) poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”

Most times I hear others speak about this passage, they tend to talk that it really didn’t mean to sell all your possessions but just to love Jesus more than the possessions. It is an allegory. Is that why the apostles got up and walked away from everything to follow Jesus? I guess in my own mind, I have settled on taking the passage in Mark more literally than the one in Genesis.

Written by John Hannah

October 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

What It Takes to Have an Authentic Team


Friday Night Lights Speech & Prayer

Team means commitment. In means relying on each person to do what they’re supposed to do. It’s about sacrifice of all personal rewards for the good of the team and for the goals of the team. It’s about accountability. Not only being held accountable but holding your teammates accountable.

Great teams always accomplish more together than than they could do as individuals. That’s the law of synergy. But for a team to succeed at creating a synergistic, successful team, each team member must commit to one another. They must commit to being the best they can be – to be competent at their job. They must commit to the team’s goals and place team above their own personal goals. They must commit to being responsible for doing their job well and that they can be depended on by their teammates – No matter what the cost. They must commit to having character that displays the attitudes and desires that bring a team together. Lastly. they must commit to sacrifice. Are they willing to go the extra mile? Are they willing to suffer and endure the hardships which is the price each team member must pay to be part of an authentic team?

Is your team generating the synergism of success? Let’s check your team’s oil:

1. Is each of your team member’s loyalty to the team first or o they place personal accomplishments in first place?
2. Are each of your teammates working at getting better each day and becoming more competent in their role?
3. Does each team mate value the contributions of his fellow teammates?
4. Are each of your team’s members reliable? Can they be counted on, especially when the going gets tough?
5. Do team members go to bat for one another? Are they loyal? Will they stand up for each other even when it goes against the crowd?

Written by John Hannah

July 1, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Posted in Christian, God

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