Listening

Mack was a tall man – really tall. He had a deep echoing voice…Darth Vader material. And he was opinionated. The combination of these qualities made him quite intimidating, but they also helped me listen to him. Mack told me that he had been a successful businessman for several years but his heart wasn’t in it. His real passion was kids. So he quit his job and started working as a school administrator. What I won’t forget is what he said next. “Charles, don’t choose a job for the money. Do something that you love and the money will sort itself out.”

Do something that you love. That’s the stuff of calling. That’s what the word “vocation” actually means — hearing a call to do something you were meant to do. It’s not limited to what you get paid to do, though the two can overlap in different ways. Sometimes a paying job supports a broader calling beyond the job. Sometimes we get paid to pursue our calling. Sometimes it’s a combination of both over time.

For disciples of Jesus, regardless of compensation, calling always relates in some way with the mission of God to make all things new in the world that have been ruined by the reign of sin and death.

So how do you find your calling? Consider these three actions that I have found helpful in discovering mine.

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Prayer

I sat across from my friend as he spilled out his challenges through heart-felt words. I knew there was an expectation that we’d pray for his needs soon. This prayer time was common practice, a show of belief that God should be involved in such things. As I prayed for my friend, I asked for healing, for guidance, for patience while he waited for the answer. I covered a lot of bases because the truth was – I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from our prayer. I said the words “please heal” because I knew I should say them. But my expectations on this occasion didn’t include any immediate healing.

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Fix Original

Some friends and I have been having an interesting conversation this week. We’ve been discussing the question, “Does God punish Christians for disobedience?” Is there a connection between the struggles we encounter and God’s displeasure with our sin?

Particularly troubling is the story in 2 Samuel where the prophet Nathan informs King David that the child he had with Bathsheba would die. The reason: God was punishing David for murdering Bathsheba’s husband Uriah so that he could have her as his wife. Then 2 Samuel 12:15 says, “…the Lord struck the child….” Seven days later David’s son died.

Honestly, I’m not sure what to do with this story. I have so many questions and difficulties with it!

My questions notwithstanding, the issue that David’s story raises is: should we expect these kinds of things to happen to us? Does God still deal in one-to-one punishment? What exactly is God up to when we face hardship and suffering?

As I reflected, four texts came to mind.

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Everyday Discipleship

Charles Kiser —  January 18, 2015 — 7 Comments

Purpose

I began this blog in 2007 as my family was moving to Dallas to begin our church start-up work.

At that time, posting to a blog made sense because we had a number of supporters and friends (probably three) for whom reading a blog was an easy way to stay updated on our work.

When Storyline, the church we helped to start, became “self-sustaining” in 2013, the dynamics changed: we no longer needed to update our supporters as often, and so the blog sat on the shelf.

Since then I’ve been wondering: what will be the new purpose of this blog? Who do we want to read it?

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Rituals Define Reality

Charles Kiser —  November 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

Baptism

[This is a guest post by Paul McMullen, a fellow leader in the Storyline Community.]

I was fortunate to take an intensive theology course this summer. The title was, Theology as a Way of Life, and it focused on the ways in which liturgical and ascetic theology spiritually form the community of God’s people. If that sounds a little heady, it was a bit beyond me, especially since it was taught out of the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, which I’m unfamiliar with.

One of the big takeaways I did have is that God has gifted us with (at least) two rituals filled with power and mystery: baptism and communion. As followers of Jesus, these rituals form us. They define reality. Another way to say this is that, in a mysterious way, these rituals connect us to God’s story on the cosmic level.

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