In the mountains of western Massachusetts the Lord has built a foundry out of which are cast all manner of instruments for His service. These hammers, these nails - these scalpels and swords were fashioned from metals made molten by the crucible of confrontation, study, independence, and community. This experience and environment is unlike any other and has provided its products a peculiar ethic and a wonderful worldview. Those of us tempered in this foundry are a league of useful soldiers and in the kingdom we are the Lenox Order of Saints.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On Risers and Rims

I'm about to leave the office with PB to go and pick up the older of the two BICS vans from the shop.  The class heads out this afternoon for Aroostook County on a ministry team tour of northern Maine.  There will, of course, be little done that will meet the definition of "ministry".  So often the Holy Spirit's presence is invoked into a room where neither the officiants nor the congregants are really prepared for the moment.  And so there are performances and wistful, sentimental reflections, the symbol has to suffice for the substance, and we hope that the Lord will somehow redeem the hour.  Thankfully, he almost always does. I'm so very grateful for these tours - I remember several times a crystal clear reception beating out the static and the hum and getting a sense of what it means to minister.  Skits and songs and times of testimony can be a drenched altar for sure; but how much more amazing the flame when it is lit!  Do you remember those times of fellowship with the Lord in ministry?  Did it frighten or inspire you?  Did it cause you to pursue a life of opportunities to know it over and over?  I'm sure it seems like a lifetime ago for a lot of us - how do you remember those times today?  Pray for the students as they travel and minister this weekend - may they know and redeem the fellowship of the Lord more completely than we have.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your Yellow Wood Walks of Yesteryear

For many of us, our decision to attend BICS seems more improbable now that the demands of life have made us more practical.  What exactly were we thinking back then?  Were we idealistic or just out of options?  Were we aspiring or settling?  Were we hammers or nails?

Our tales are all so different but our experiences here in Lenox much the same.  How do you now view this quiet little harbor where you docked your life's ship?  Have you fared better or worse on the high seas for your time being discipled at the institute?  It's a question worth asking.  Perhaps your year here is like a forgotten savings bond purchased years ago and discovered in an old strongbox.  Maybe there are needs in your life that call on you to redeem that bond today and renew the call the Lord placed on you way back when.  Do the sepia-toned memories of your days in the Berkshires have that patina of providence?  Just wondering myself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are We Career Apprentices?

G. K. Chesterton once remarked that it is a sure sign of sickness to be obsessed with matters of health.  When a bunch of teens get together you never hear them talking about the value of a colonoscopy, the favorability of one doctor over another, or the best diet to ward off diverticulitis.  That's the kind of fare you might hear around the folding tables at the church potluck dinner.  No - the healthy discuss what they're doing - not what they only wish they were.  It seems like so much of the conversation in the church today has to do with what it means to be healthy.  If you were to walk the aisles of your local christian bookstore you'd find among the stuffed animals, tee-shirts, and pen sets a myriad of books having to do with renewing and finding our purpose.  What some interpret as a revival of purpose - I see as a death rattle.  A church that busies itself with arriving at a mission statement has despaired of actually accomplishing anything.  As Alfred Adler once said: "It's far easier to fight for one's principles than to live them."