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Displaying all posts by Michael Gulker.
Image Management and Confession
March 2, 2016 | Michael Gulker
Image Management and Confession
“Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” -Psalm 32:5 Dear Friends: As our country is ramping up for a presidential election later this year, we see and hear many campaign ads trying to capture our attention (and vote) by featuring candidates and their sound bites. Most everyone will admit there’s a fair amount of image management in the world of politics with TV ads, for example, showing a candidate’s family on a joyful picnic in the park, not the real world of loud arguments and icy silences that happen in many relationships. As Christians, we’re not immune to image management either. We can all likely remember a revelation shared within our church family that illustrated the hidden life of a brother or sister. And, moreover, who among us can’t recall a time when we’ve changed our behavior or hid our attitude before stepping into church or a gathering with other believers? God doesn’t ask us to make all of our shortcomings and sins public, but he does instruct us that we are not to hide our sin from him. The act of confession is key to an open and honest relationship with the Lord. We have the gift of forgiveness already, but the confession of our sins helps us move away from image management toward the truth about who we are: sinners redeemed by God. Furthermore, when we our cease image management and confess our sin to others we testify to the bountiful mercy of a God who set aside his own righteous image to bear our sinful image on a very public cross. Confession helps us become who we are called to be before the Lord – his witnesses. And when we’re fully present and honest with Jesus, we are most fully ourselves.  Confessing not only our sin, but also Christ’s redemptive Lordship over our lives allows the fullness of this witness to naturally overflow into other parts of our lives. Confession, then, allows us to move beyond image management of election season into the Lenten season death to all false images and to the true hope of our  glorious resurrection with Christ on Easter Sunday. Amen. This post is excerpted from our March prayer letter. To receive the prayer letter in your inbox, click on the button below. Subscribe! To the monthly prayer letter.
A Journey of Transformation and Hope
February 4, 2016 | Michael Gulker
A Journey of Transformation and Hope
“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”  - 2 Corinthians 3:18 Dear Friends, As we move into the season of Lent during this bleak mid-winter, we’re reminded of the stark reality that despite all of our résumé virtues, our lives are symbolized by decidedly unremarkable ash. God forms us from ash, and we become ash when we leave this earthly life. All of us have this same end. Yet, Jesus transforms our ash in the laying down of his life for us in the distant and yet very present Easter. His doing so gives us both the ability and courage to lay down our lives not just for Jesus, but for his body as well. We do this knowing that ash is not our final destination, but the opportunity to witness to the overcoming of death. Here at The Colossian Forum, we believe that the laying down of our lives in the midst of conflict creates a space for God to do a new thing. When we trust that all things do hold together in Christ, the transformative work of the Holy Spirit helps us lay down our lives and in so doing, new creation sprouts from the ash. That is our prayer for the 10 groups piloting The Colossian Way curriculum right now. We invite you to read some of their stories here.  Thank you for joining us on this journey of transformation and hope. Please pray with me during this upcoming season of Lent as we look for ways to lay down our lives. This post is excerpted from our February prayer letter. To receive the prayer letter in your inbox, click on the button below. Subscribe! To the monthly prayer letter.
Prayer Letter, January 2016
January 5, 2016 | Michael Gulker
Prayer Letter, January 2016
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy." - Matthew 2:9-10 Hello Friends, Happy New Year! This week we begin the season of Epiphany, when we remember the coming of the wise men and their gifts to Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew says a star went ahead of them and then “stopped over the place where the child was” (Matthew 2:9). God revealed himself through a star; a particular star that these wise men from the east knew specifically belonged to this new king. Like much of the Christmas story, this takes place at night, with heavenly light illuminating the darkness. Sometimes it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that darkness itself can become, in the hands of the true and living God, the gift we need to see the light—the star guiding us to Jesus. Because of the darkness, the light of Christ shown all the more brightly. In our work at The Colossian Forum, we’re inviting this bright light of Christ to beam into the darkness of conflict and sin within our churches and communities. The darkness may seem pervasive when you look at a particularly divisive issue facing your family, church, workplace, or community. But we know that Christ’s light shines through the darkness. ALWAYS. Please join me in prayer in this new year that we might be courageous lights in a darkness that’s not always as dark as it may appear. This post is excerpted from our January prayer letter. To receive the prayer letter in your inbox, click on the button below. Subscribe! To the monthly prayer letter.
Prayer Letter, October 2014
October 9, 2014 | Michael Gulker
Prayer Letter, October 2014
[div id="blockquote"]But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. Psalm 19:12[end-div] Our work at TCF is continually framed by prayer and Scripture, and as we worship we frequently find ourselves drawn to the Psalms. We rejoice to participate in praise with the Psalmist, and we gratefully find our own sorrows taken up in the laments so eloquently expressed. And as we wrestle with difficult conversations, we find ourselves challenged by verses like this one, which remind us that we each contribute, in our own ways, to divisions in the church. The Psalmist was no stranger to sin, and has proven a faithful guide as we work with Christians to recognize and honestly acknowledge our own failures to love God and one another. So often our shortcomings are buried under layers of justification and fear, and it takes the guidance of the Holy Spirit to uncover them – to shed light on the darkness we each hide. And yet, as the Psalmist testifies, this work is never one of condemnation, but of redemption! God helps us to see and repent of our sin, for sure, but then redeems our failure, transforming it into an opportunity for growth in His love. Further, this astonishing grace changes us, not only as individuals, but as a community: when together we invite God to “clear our hidden faults,” we find ourselves newly equipped to love God and each other, even in the midst of our disagreements. As you pray for TCF this month, please pray with me for our staff and friends – that like the Psalmist we’d have the courage to invite God’s convicting presence, and open hearts to respond in love to what He reveals. Please pray that in the midst of sometimes difficult work, we’d be transformed more deeply into the image of His Son.
Another welcome!
September 19, 2014 | Michael Gulker
Another welcome!
I am pleased to announce the addition of Craig Schrotenboer to The Colossian Forum team. Craig joins us as Director of Operations, bringing with him extensive operational experience with Herman Miller, Davenport University, Youth For Christ, and KIDS HOPE USA. Craig’s skills and gifts are already helping TCF to become more efficient and effective as we continue to develop our capacity to serve the church.    
Prayer Letter, February 2014
January 30, 2014 | Michael Gulker
Prayer Letter, February 2014
Dear friends of TCF, This week's lectionary reading includes Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" - a sometimes perplexing passage that presents a striking vision of life in God's kingdom. Jesus describes the counterintuitive fruit of faithfulness: loss becomes gain, poverty becomes wealth, emptiness is filled to overflowing. His words confront our everyday ways of seeing, and call us to live in light of a very different Way. "Blessed are the peacemakers."  We all know that peacemakers on the global stage don't have an easy time of it. Their work can be physically risky, emotionally grueling, and unrewarding for weeks or even years at a time. Peacemaking closer to home isn't all that different. It requires of us hard work, courage, and patient yet unrelenting persistence. Peace isn't something we stumble into, it's something that we make as we participate in God's Way. God has in fact gone before, breaking down barriers, inviting us into the peace He's already established. So our work to make peace is a grateful expression of our identity as God's children; when wemake peace we are in fact revealing a sort of family resemblance. At TCF, I'm deeply honored to work side-by-side with Christians who are committed to this difficult business of making peace. In the thick of intense disagreements, I watch brothers and sisters exercise courage and patience and intense effort to pursue Christ's peace together. And paradoxically, among children of God who see a great many things very differently, the peace of His kingdom is strikingly revealed. Thank you for praying with me for God's peace in the Church.