Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If Jesus IS Alive...

...how would you know it?

This is a question I've been pondering since all of Christendom just celebrated the high holy day of Easter. As you look at the Church, do you find evidence of life? Is the radiant life of a risen Christ emanating from within?

It is often hard to answer that question in the affirmative. And when you look back at the history of Christianity with all the atrocities committed in Christ's name, it is rather difficult to find evidence that the Church believes at all in the resurrection of Jesus.

Growing up Catholic, I was surrounded by gory images of a beaten, thorn-crowned, crucified and speared-through Messiah. Those images of death and torture seem to signify the morbid mindset of many of today's Christians. Their pre-occupation with death and judgment leads them away from the life-affirming and life-changing message of Easter.

If that wasn't true, wouldn't we see more evidence of Christ-likeness in the Church?

The question of "Who Killed Jesus?," rekindled in large part by Mel Gibson's film a few years ago, matters little in my opinion. Whether you fall into the John Crossan camp, believing “that the Romans, not the Jews, killed Jesus as a revolutionary agitator inimical to their continued governance of Judea”, you side with the Anti-Semites who solely blame the Jews (you'd be in a growing minority btw), or you believe both are culpable, the pressing issue is whether you fixate on Christ's death or His resurrection.

The Resurrected Christ at St George's, LittleportFor me, the resurrection is just as much about my attitude every day, as it is about a promise of life after death. And if, like me, you believe in the abundant life proclaimed in Scripture, then it should effect the state of daily affairs in your life. It should be evident in the way you approach challenges, the way you interact with others, the way in which you conduct yourself and the way you spend your time, energy and resources.

A religion fixated on death will produce more of the same, but a living faith rooted in the life of Christ will produce abundantly more. So, as I reflect on the Easter story, I am once again encouraged to live out my faith actively. And for me that means doing more, spending my time, energy and resources more wisely, loving more and having a more positive attitude.

If Jesus is really alive, then how is it effecting your life here on planet Earth?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Weekend Retreat

Last weekend, I had a nice little getaway to our cabin in the woods, just me and Zach, our Aussie. I had planned to go down for a work weekend with my brother, but he couldn't go due to other obligations. It was okay, really, because it gave me some much needed quiet time...time to do some manual labor...time to reflect.

Our cabin is situated on an old strip mine in eastern Sullivan County, now known as Greenbriar Lake. I had to pass through Clay City: Mayberry of the Midwest to get there on Indiana's back roads. Tracy and I get a kick out of that slogan for this sleepy little town, so I stopped and took this picture just to make her laugh.
It worked. :)
The Doyle cabin, built with my grandfather's hands and a load of discarded telephone poles, is rustic, at best. Plumbing draws spring-fed lake water into the shower and kitchen sink. An outhouse provides the only other "facilities." I went down, in part, because my uncle is in the process of installing a new two-sided outhouse with a real septic system. He left a large pile of debris from an old shed and some downed trees that needed disposal by match. There was also a pile of concrete that needed breaking and disposal by tossing lakeward.

When I arrived Saturday morning, it was a frosty 30 degrees or so. There was a thin layer of ice over a majority of the lake where some Canadian geese had sought refuge. I was able to snap a couple of quick pictures, first thing. There's a small sample to the left.

After Zach and I had unpacked, opened/airated the cabin and settled in, we got right to work. It was an exhausting day of log-splitting, concrete throwing, debris burning and general back-aching chores, but it was long overdue. I needed a good physical work-out like that. And it gave Zach a chance to explore and get a good work-0ut, too (mostly chasing a neighbors cat, the geese and some squirrels).

We cooked that evening over open flame and enjoyed a clear, starry sky that night. We awoke to a warm, spring-like day and morning clouds soon gave way to sunny skies by 10:30. I had already rekindled two fires, begun packing, cleaning up and preparing for the 2-hour drive home by then. I also had time to snap a few more pictures, including this one of Zach and I on the pier just after sunrise.
The drive home, though I was quite sore from the day-and-a-half workout, was very nice, thanks mostly to the 6o-degree weather and some good tunes. I was home in time Sunday to play with my daughters for awhile before taking them to dinner and putting them to bed. And while I hate being away from them on "stay-home days" this was a much needed retreat for me...one that I'll cherish for some time.