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Vulnerability

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Vulnerability: it’s the universal condition for every human being regardless of our age or our circumstances. We don’t like to think about it but the truth is we are vulnerable every second to any number of potentially harmful or even devastating occurrences. Because of this, much of our lives revolves around attempting to at least limit our vulnerability. Everything from endless passwords to insurance policies to locks on doors are all attempts to at least limit our vulnerability.

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Vulnerability

By Randy Goldenberg | Mar 1, 2021

Vulnerability: it’s the universal condition for every human being regardless of our age or our circumstances. We don’t like to think about it but the truth is we are vulnerable every second to any number of potentially harmful or even devastating occurrences. Because of this, much of our lives revolves around attempting to at least limit our vulnerability. Everything from endless passwords to insurance policies to locks on doors are all attempts to at least limit our vulnerability.

Because of the discomfort vulnerability brings us, we tend to admire invulnerability. Our super heroes all have near invulnerability and were it not so impossible we would like to have at least some of their powers. We might even secretly think at times, how wonderful it might be to be indestructible,  to walk through life utterly fearless. We tend to view an all powerful invulnerable existence as a superior one, but is it really?

Would not even an all powerful indestructible being, be inferior,  if it did not possess the capacity to love? Would not a truly superior being possess all of the finest human capacities at the highest level of development? If this be so, would anyone dispute the human capacity to love, as being the highest and finest of all our capacities?

Now here is what we know, to love anything requires being vulnerable. The very nature of love makes one extremely vulnerable. So might this mean that invulnerability cannot exist among highly developed beings?

Let’s go further and ask,  might the supreme being who is in one sense Indestructible, in another sense be the most vulnerable person in existence? Does this mean that love and the necessary vulnerability it requires must always bring pain? Well yes and no. In our present world where there is such a thing as evil, vulnerability and the inevitability of eventually experiencing pain is an unfortunate reality.

However this would not be true in a realm where evil did not exist. In such a realm vulnerability would only increase intimacy and joy. We all know to some degree the experience of feeling safe and loved by some people. We can be vulnerable with them and they with us and it deepens our intimacy and relational joy. We cherish these relationships and count them amongst the very best experiences that life offers. Some of us have enjoyed this kind of experience in a larger community, maybe a support group or something like it and again we count it amongst life’s best experiences. We know that the more we can immerse our lives in these kind of relationships the greater is our joy.

But even in the safest relationships or community things happen and hurts occur and the more vulnerable we are the deeper the hurt. So we find ourselves wondering at times is it worth it . Maybe being closed, hidden,  as invulnerable as possible and  as  beyond the reach of being hurt as possible, is wiser? We know there are and have always been people who despise vulnerability for these very reasons and who believe power, control invulnerability are the virtues to pursue. They accept life as the survival of the fittest and cynically mock talk of vulnerability and intimacy.  These people consider “ might “ as the only, “ right “ and weakness of any kind the greatest evil. Such people have lost their souls,  they are no longer fully human and alive, albeit they never know it.

The Bible says that the Creator and Sustainer of all existence completely revealed Himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ . This means the almighty Creator is the most loving and therefore most vulnerable person in existence and because of that the safest person we could ever know. This means Almighty sacrificial loving vulnerability is the most powerful force in existence and Christ offers it freely to each of us. After all it is the only path possible to truly win over, the entire devoted allegiance of a human heart. So when it comes to vulnerability, Christ reveals it, we fear it, love requires it, evil despises it, community thrives on it and society aches for it.

I  hope you will consider joining with me at fcfchurch.com or on fcfchurch Facebook for 6 Sunday mornings starting on Easter Sunday, April 4 and we can explore each of my six statements about vulnerability in the opening sentence of this paragraph.

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The New You 2.0

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

I have a theory that I wonder if you would agree with… That we all, at times, sense and want the emergence of a significantly better version of ourselves. Little things give it away like when we are grumpy, vindictive, or petty, and we say things like I am so sorry, I have no excuse for behaving so badly, or I know better.

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The New You 2.0

By Randy Goldenberg | Nov 10, 2020

I have a theory that I wonder if you would agree with… That we all, at times, sense and want the emergence of a significantly better version of ourselves. Little things give it away like when we are grumpy, vindictive, or petty, and we say things like I am so sorry, I have no excuse for behaving so badly, or I know better.

Bear with me, while I offer a bit more evidence: that old familiar tradition at the start of every new year—New Year’s resolutions. I know what you are thinking. No one ever sticks to those and no better version of ourselves ever emerges from those. But what if we did? Would there not be the emergence of a significantly better version of ourselves? One that is likely at least a little healthier, happier, and more helpful to others?

Perhaps you are thinking, so what, even if your theory is true, the hard evidence shows that we seem to have some sort of paralysis when it comes to actually doing whatever needs to be done for this better version of ourselves to emerge.

Might there be a way for our paralysis to be overturned, to be, as it were, healed? What is at the root of the paralysis? What would it take to actually break the inertia and rise up from our paralysis, to see to the actual emergence of that better version of ourselves, version 2.0?

Is the paralysis caused by the weakness of our vision or imagination in dynamically picturing that better version? Or could it be that we picture it well enough, but our desire is too weak? Perhaps our vision and desire are fine but our will is too weak? That seems to fit. Or does it, since our will seems plenty strong to stay the same?

I would like you to consider the possibility that the only thing that frustrates the emergence of a better version of ourselves and paralyzes all of the new activity that would be necessary for such a version to emerge into reality is a new outlook in some key areas.

Oh brother, here it comes… another psychobabble success talk. No, I promise that is not true. What if all that was needed to strengthen my will and keep it full of powerful, enthusiastic energy was this aforementioned new outlook?

Let me get more specific. By a new outlook, I mean an entirely new view of what constitutes reality. A new way of thinking about things. A new way of seeing things. A new set of beliefs. None of it is irrational, contrived, or in any way unreasonable. Maybe you wonder, what are some of these new views? I would like to introduce six of them.

  • A new way of viewing circumstances.
  • A new way of viewing God. Yes, I said God.
  • A new way of viewing Jesus.
  • A new way of viewing myself.
  • A new way of viewing others.
  • Finally, a new way of viewing life itself.

It is these prevailing views that provide the dynamic energy necessary to empower the action required to bring forth the emergence of that better, 2.0 version of ourselves.
These views have the power to take that picture in our mind and imagination and those desires of our hearts for a better version of ourselves and bring them into reality.

Maybe an example might help to see how this works. We all remember the tragic attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The scenes of people desperately trying to flee the burning, soon to collapse buildings and the people who made it to the street running away from the buildings as fast as they could.

Then there was another unforgettable scene. Firefighters, police, and first responders of every sort running towards the buildings, not away from them. Running into the buildings and climbing the stairs to the upper floors.

Now, how do we account for this kind heart-piercing heroism? Why did this horror bring out the stunningly beautiful, better version of them? It was all empowered by their authentic view of at least four of the six that I mentioned above. (I say four because I have no certain way of knowing their view of God or of Jesus). Consider the four views that we can be rather sure about:

First, they saw themselves as first responders, and therefore responsible to respond. Second, they saw themselves possessing unique potential to deal with the crisis, and they held their lives loosely. Third, they saw others as needing to be rescued and themselves as servants, duty bound to do everything possible to rescue as many as they could. Fourth, they saw their life in terms of their mission. Theirs was not just a job but a mission that they counted more important than their lives.

I say all of this because I want to invite you to take a journey with me and allow me to present an approximately 40-minute talk on each of the six key views. I will do one a week on Sundays at 10:00 am, but after that they will continue to be available on Facebook and YouTube at any time.

Give this New Year a chance to be significantly different, and more importantly, give yourself a chance for the emergence of the New You 2.0.

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Finally, the greatest Christmas present revealed!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

Well here we are﹘that time of year when so many minds are fixated on the subject of presents. Some are searching for the perfect presents to give to others, while some are excitedly anticipating the presents that will be given to them. I would like to discuss these two diverse camps of present-fixated people and expand it into a much deeper and much more relevant personal conversation.

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Finally, the greatest Christmas present revealed!

By Randy Goldenberg | Nov 10, 2020

Well here we are﹘that time of year when so many minds are fixated on the subject of presents. Some are searching for the perfect presents to give to others, while some are excitedly anticipating the presents that will be given to them. I would like to discuss these two diverse camps of present-fixated people and expand it into a much deeper and much more relevant personal conversation.

I wonder if some of you might be one of those people who, as you seek the perfect present for the special people in your life, starts out with no clear idea but a certain kind of confidence that says, “I don’t know exactly what I am looking for but I know that I will know it once I see it.” So you shop around, waiting for your inner radar to display the present, thus ending your search.
The other camp is more fixated on getting﹘getting the present that supersedes all other presents. Unlike the first group that doesn’t know what they want, at least initially, this group knows exactly what they want and all of their excited hopes rest on getting that one present. On the great festive day their delight or disappointment will be determined by whether they did or did not receive the present they were hoping for.

Now allow me to share a belief I have about life. Every human that is alive or that ever has lived fits into one of these two present-fixated groups. Many of us spend our entire life looking for that elusive present. We don’t know what it is but we search on, confident that we will know it when we see it, yet it is often hard to find.

The second group of us think we know what the present that we want is, and we just have to acquire it or life will be one big disappointment. We may even have a vague name for it.
We may call it “happiness” or “love” or some other names like “peace” or “meaning” or even “success.” But like the first group, try as we will, it seems to somehow elude us and so restlessly or hopelessly, we move on through life, becoming frustrated or discouraged.

Might the answer be hidden in plain sight? After all, where did all this talk of presents come from? Is there not a historical event that started it all?
It is called Christmas, and it centers in on a most amazing story. A story about the Almighty Eternal Creator and Sustainer of the universe, intervening in human history. Intervening in human form of the least likely sort, a vulnerable baby, born in a borrowed animal stable in an obscure ancient village called Bethlehem.

But what does that have to do with presents and the restless search we all participate in? Well wasn’t there something in the story about the Magi bringing presents to the child? Yes, but that’s not the answer to the soul-taxing search we humans all find ourselves participants in.
What if the elusive presents that we are searching for are really not something but someone﹘a presence. The presence of none other than the Almighty Eternal Creator and Sustainer of the universe, in a non-intimidating form.

The presence of the Almighty is as gentle as a newborn. The Almighty so desiring closeness and trust from we His created image bearers, that He places Himself vulnerably in our hands. The Almighty revealed in the life, teaching, miracles, and most of all in His sacrificial death on the cross as the safest, most merciful, and trustworthy being in the universe.This is followed by His resurrection from death to prove He really came to rescue us and can rescue us from all that destroys us, even death.
What if every one of us is seeking what only Christ our Creator can give, and our souls will remain restless and disappointed apart from Him and the existence that He alone can bring? What if the greatest present He can give is His presence in us and with us forever?

What if all along the truth was, we were made to live in an existence where His presence and His will and His ways bring the life we have always wanted?
What if it can start now by simply putting our trust in Him and becoming what is only rational for a finite being to become﹘a follower of one’s infinite Creator?
I hope you will never look at a present of any kind ever again without being reminded of the presence without which no present has any significant value.

I put my trust in Christ as a deeply flawed 23-year-old man, and l have now enjoyed His presence in my life for 47 years. I have learned as His follower to live from the inspiration and guidance of His presence as it is revealed in His word the Bible. I trust in His promise that I will enjoy the fullness of His presence for all eternity when His sacrificial love and goodness fills the universe and all those that follow Him, because He has won their trust. I so hope your search for the ever elusive present might end, as you put your trust in Him and become His follower and enjoy His presence evermore!

I would like to offer you another small present, I hope this won’t sound presumptuous.

On December 6 I will be starting a six-week series of Sunday messages on this very subject of “The Presence.” I hope that you might consider checking them out online, or better yet, in person at our church campus.

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How to navigate life's turning points

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Have you ever wished an alarm would go off saying, “warning the decisions you are about to make will determine the quality of your life for the next decade of your life.” Even though turning points can have such a dramatic, even long term impact on our lives, they tend to be tough to spot when they occur. Generally speaking, we may not even realize they’ve happened until 3-5 years have passed and we stop to reflect.

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How to navigate life's turning points

By Randy Goldenberg | Oct 30, 2020

Have you ever wished an alarm would go off saying, “warning the decisions you are about to make will determine the quality of your life for the next decade of your life.” Even though turning points can have such a dramatic, even long term impact on our lives, they tend to be tough to spot when they occur. Generally speaking, we may not even realize they’ve happened until 3-5 years have passed and we stop to reflect.

Does this mean we are doomed to never recognize them and forever, at best, navigate them haphazardly? No not at all. Simply acknowledging their reality as well as observing them in the lives of others can greatly help. But in all honesty, as important as those two ways are, there is a third way far more important. Bare with me as I share an experience from my own life.

I became a follower of Christ in 1973. My conversion was so personally powerful that the only thing that made sense was to immediately devote my entire life to serving the Lord. Now, I had no idea what that would mean or look like, I only knew it was my passionate desire. Over the next 10 years, that desire motivated me to do everything possible to equip myself as well to volunteer to serve in many capacities in the local church.

But still no possibility, no open doors for me to serve the Lord as a full time vocation.

My family had been Washingtonians (D. C., that is) for 3 generations. In 1979, due to my views on bible prophecy I wanted out of D.C., and for that matter any big city.. So I moved to a tiny little country railroad town called Brunswick, Maryland. A place I had never even heard of. I became very involved in a church there and a group of adults I was teaching a class for started praying with me for the Lord to grant me an open door.

Within a year, the Pastor of that church left and I was called upon to do some substitute speaking there as well as for a tiny mission church they had started. Within months the tiny mission church asked me to be their Pastor. That was 1984 and I have been serving the Lord full time ever since.

Now the point is this, I now know leaving D.C. was a major turning point in my life.

The repercussions are so many there is not time or space to list them all. But I had no idea when I made the decision to leave D.C. that the Lord was about to change my life dramatically forever. It was only 4-5 years after the 1980 move that I caught a glimpse of what a dramatic turning point it was.

You are probably now wondering, ‘but you said there is a third way to navigate these turning points more important than the first two.’ Yes, and it’s the surest way to navigate them appropriately.

The key is above all things to maintain your personal, passionate, undistracted devotion to Christ and then learn from the examples of others, particularly those in God’s word. Add to that the habit of periodic spiritual reflection and it makes for a powerful navigational tool for all of life’s turning points.

So, can you reflect and surface some significant turning points now that you might have been totally unaware of when they were happening? Did your responses set you on a spiritually positive trajectory or a negative one? Might you have some sense of a present turning point you are in the midst of?

Are you maintaining your personal, passionate, undistracted devotion to Christ? Are you accessing the many scriptural examples of others navigating life’s turning points? Are you taking periodic spiritual pauses to reflect?

Our enormously patient and loving Father wants our lives to be full of enthusiasm resulting from ongoing assurances that life is an adventure full of meaning and excitement because He is ever leading us in the venture.

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