life

Life is precious. Life is beautiful. Life is also undeserved, and most of us throw away the gift of life that was given.

Today is a day you have a new opportunity to grab life by the horns. Refocus. Renew. Center around a new purpose.

I saw so many faces at church today that blessed me. Some admitted they had been absent for too long. Others just reflected the same joy in seeing familiar faces.

It was a community coming together under the roof of their house.

But also let me add that its not about just coming to the community ‘home’ on a certain time every week…its about using that community to support you as you live out what God is teaching you through your community.

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My Chaco clad feet merged with a Haitian orphan.

I wish that I could better convey to people the joy, excitement, hope, grace, peace and adventure they could claim if they centered their life around Christ. But instead so many of us add him on to the busyness this world gives us, and hope that it all works out ok.

I can no more make that choice for them that God can. Because, Lord knows, he wants all to choose his life. We just let this world cloud our Kingdom vision.

What God has given each one of ua is our life story to share. Or struggles and pain. Our heart and what God has been teaching us. Similar circumstance that might draw someone’s heart closer to the Healer.

Are you sharing your life story? Are you living the life that your resurrected and eternal Savior has gifted you?

Today we are reminded that we are a resurrected people. The true question is…will you live your life with the hope and promise Christ has given you through his sacrifice?

roots

CLEARING CANON 009There is a stunning, tangled web of beauty at the base of each tree that stretches to the ocean of blue above. But the most beautiful part we can’t even see. It’s hidden beneath the surface, going so deep that if you tried to pry it out it would take hours, if not heavy machinery, depending on size.

Once on a mission trip to Galveston, we were tasked to dig out the root system of a tree that had been taken down by the hurricane. I worked on one section of the root system all morning. It did NOT want to come out. I dug, I pulled, I dug some more…then pulled some more. I even got ‘blessed’ with a large cockroach in my pants for all my efforts. That was not a beautiful surprise when I used the bathroom. Texas does grow them biggest. Several more hours after lunch, I was starting to think the roots were really not coming out.

All of a sudden I was on my ass with a root as tall as I am, and about 3 inches in diameter. It had a dirty dampness to it’s rough surface, and if it could talk, probably pretty angry. I looked at that thing in amazement. I’d put so much time into digging it out, and it had put so much time in growing in that one place. I wouldn’t have wanted to come out either!

A bit later, I heard a roar of celebration…a group of students had successfully gotten out a massive root system from the front of the house.

There we were, all celebrating in our own ways…our vicories over roots. Ironic, right? They had invested so much time in that one place, allowing their tree to have a stubbornly, strong base and we took it from them.

As the crappy caretakers of this world, we think we know all about what should be where, and how long it should be there. What if those root systems were supposed to stay? What if they were going to sprout a new tree, more beautiful and stronger than the last that succumbed to a hurricane?

We dig roots up and throw them out, or we dig roots out to transplant somewhere else with much authority. But we are not the ones who planted them in the first place…

Then the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?” He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” [Matthew 15:12-14]

No surprise that Jesus wasn’t really talking about roots. Also, no surprise that I wasn’t trying to stick with a earthy theme, either.

Right before the disciples asked Jesus if he knew the Pharisees were offended, Jesus had just quoted the prophet Isaiah:

You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” [Matthew 15:8-9]

Read that again…conflicted anywhere?

Honor me with their lips. It is so easy to be that Christian around Easter. Do what is expected. Dress nice. Be nice. But if your actions are not matching what is coming out of your mouth…you are doing an incredible disservice to Christ’s sacrifice…and his resurrection. You never know who is overhearing you, and you never know how you actions will be perceived by that person. Which is why you heart should be aligned with…

Their hearts are far from me. Sometimes it’s amazing the show we put on so people see what you want them to see. But you cannot force yourself to be close to God. You have to make an effort, and put work into it. And that takes time. I know I’ve grown a lot closer to my heart being more like his in the last few years, but some days I am absolutely guilty of being consumed by this world and not in the ‘I am a missionary to this world’-consumed. So many distractions to separate my heart from his, and I allow them let my heart drift away from him.

They worship me in vain. I love worship. I feel very connected to my Savior through worship. But the idea that worship HAS to be in a sanctuary, or on Sunday morning, or even in a building is complete crap. Make your worship true. Seek your Abba. Break out of the worship ideas that shackle you to what people have ‘always’ done. Sadly, some worship experiences are so consumed by tradition and performance I have trouble feeling the Holy Spirit. I’m not judging, but that seems pretty in vain to me.

Their teachings are merely human rules. Do you live by the Spirit, or do you live by mandates? Do you live by faith, or restriction? Do you expect the laws of this world to enhance the laws of God’s Kingdom? They are not meant to. We are a set apart people, and we are not held to human rules and regulations. Kingdom rules lay groundwork for love, not hate. For acceptance, not exclusion. For grace, not guilt and judgement. For transformation, not status quo. Kingdom teachings cannot be contained…they are meant to be shard.

What Bible are you reading? Has God planted you? Do you cling to his roots? His roots are trustworthy, and strong.

We are a stunning, tangled web of roots when planted by God…made into beautiful trees. Will you live as though you are planted by him, or will you be a blind guide? If  I am only a blind guide, I am doing a garganuan disservice to the Gospel message. So I better damn well make sure I am planted correctly, and that no one tries to tear me up as I cling to his even deeper roots.

help

So this blogging every day thing for the 40 days of lent was actually 46 days long, who knew. And today I could go with the whole, ‘I am really bad at asking for help…’ blog post, but no. You are getting something else!

This blogging idea emerged when we saw a photo that Rethink Church put out for a photo-a-day during lent to connect Methodists on Instagram. Rethink Church is a part of the United Methodist Church and is a message that challenges not only seekers, but the thinking of the church as a whole. Their goal is ‘to encourage a global spiritual dialogue both within and outside the church.’ And if you’ve been reading our blog posts using the word from each photo-a-day, we’ve definitely been writing on topics that feed those goals.

There are 5 of us that decided to add something to Lent, while some still fasting from other things as well. What any of us will tell you is that this Lent has been one of the most vulnerable, discerning, powerful and completely full of the Holy Spirit. I think we’ve learned more about each other in the process as well, and that is always a good step in the right direction among your community.

One of the most intriguing things that have happened is how many different perspectives we’ve had on the EXACT SAME WORD. Even when we are technically writing on the same perspective, we say it completely different. I’ve had a hard time forcing myself not to read someone else’s before I wrote mine so we preserve our own views.

Shawn Franssens makes me laugh all the time with his witty writing. I love that he is willing to be honest and insightful, yet drawing us to something bigger to challenge us all…as all Pastors should. Some days I even go running, literally running to his office, in excitement about what I saw.

I am enamored with Lindsay Evans and her poetry. She is such a talented writer and sees things in very unique ways. I love her honesty, and of course the hilarious stories about her kids seep through, too. The bottom line is she loves Jesus, but she’s not going to push and judge you if you aren’t quite there yet.

Sometimes, I admit, Brian Swanson’s writing style drives me batty (I don’t think he’s reading anyone else’s blog anymore, so he probably won’t see this)…but there have definitely been days that I love how God is working through his views on scripture. And, you easily see what he is passionate about through his views on the words we’ve blogged on.

Last, but most certainly not least, there is Heather Kostelnick who has grow so much in her sent theology in the last year that every single thing she writes down is a Spirit-filled testament of how God is working in her life. She has a beautiful perspective on what it looks like to integrate mission into your everyday life. You hear her struggles, and you hear her victories as she puts Jesus at the dead center of not only her life, but her family as well. And her enthusiasm is contagious!

For me, it’s been good to the point of giddiness and it’s been bad to the point of I wanted to throw the entire blog out the window. I’ve been in some interesting mental and emotional places while I’ve been blogging for 43 days. Many of the words have forced me into self-examination I didn’t necessarily want, but I am not in the habit of telling God, ‘No!’ The most amazing part is how much I’ve dug into the Bible again. This time for me, not for work, which is a very uncommon act in the last 5 years. I have gotten on a prophet kick that I’m not sure yet where God is going with it, and I have a renewed excitement about what the Bible is saying. A great thing to come out of Lent, right?

Mar. 27 - helpAll this to say, help us! Pomogite! As Shawn reads that one he will definitely raise his fist in the air and say it in the Russian.

Help us to continue to grow. Help us to continue to be challenged. Help us to continue to seek our Savior in different ways.

With the end of Lent, we’ve run out of words and there are so many more that would provide a fantastic opportunity to grow, be challenged and seek Jesus.

Please comment on this post, or reply on one of our Facebook links to help us to set up a word for each month that we will all write again on the same word…but with five different perspectives.

Friends, if you are with me to keep blogging a word together, share this on your Facebook page or reblog it on your blog.

This Lenten journey has been amazing, and honestly, I don’t want it to end. I just need a break.

Help us!

happy

mar 11 - happy Strength

Today I am happy.

An unnatural happiness, actually.

It could be because a week from tomorrow I leave to go see my amazing best friend in Utah. (Photo on right from the last time we got together in Utah…expect greatness in a few weeks!)

Or because our church was so full of vibrant, beautiful life last night at the Bible Series viewing party.

Or I could be still on cloud nine from Duke beating North Carolina last Saturday. (If you missed that game…I’m sad for you. No really.)

Or because my friend just accepted a dinner invitation, and she knows how much I love being in community around tables.

Or because I am looking forward to meeting with the zaniest group of ladies who are on fire for serving others and spreading what I like to call the ‘propoganda’ tonight.

Or it could be because I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

Or maybe even because this slice of pizza I am eating right now has extra olives. It is always the small things, after all.

But today those things are just happy contributions to my Monday.

Today happiness comes from the pure, sweet Holy Spirit filling my soul.

Laughter bubbling easily from my lips.

Easy going nature fully restored.

Songs are heard through my office door as I cannot contain my worship. (I’m not sorry if I’m annoying you! Worship with me!)

This Lenten journey started 27 days ago…27 looooonnnng days ago.

Before this journey started I never imagined I could stick with blogging every day. It takes its toll, and at times I want to throw the towel in…ok A LOT of times. Then my stubborn side kicks in and I get my blog posted before I go to sleep for the night, which I count as that ‘day,’ by the way.

But over halfway through this Lenten journey there are so many amazing things happening.

I am in scripture more and I am LOVING being in God’s word again, with passion instead of obligation.

I am listening more. God still speaks…we just never make room to listen.

I am worshipping more, since I gave up ‘secular music’ for Lent. Check out the ‘Jammin’ tab at the top of the blog and you’ll see what I’ve been worshipping to this Lent season. I’ve actually been jammin’ today all by my happy little self. (My boss walked by and said, ‘Well, aren’t you the songbird today!’)

I am uttering prayers more consistently than usual.

I am being more intentional.

I am being more like the person God desires me to be…and that feels pretty damn good.

Endnote: I was going to find the ‘perfect’ scripture for the Rethink Church word today, ‘happy,’ but then I decided God’s people reflecting his joy is the best visual of ‘happy’ scripture out there.

faithful

Doubt. Anger. Questions.

We’ve all been there. Hell, I struggle with the whole ‘What’s happening here, God? What’s the point?’

Dreams that seemed like they were his. Decisions made that seemed like he was backing it all up and opening every door have not been what you thought it would be.

Ugh.

But every time. Every damn time…its not him. Its me. Sounds like a bad break up? Well, it really is a bad break up where we put our hands up and say, ‘Done.’

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But he’s a stubborn God and he refuses to break up with us.

He doesn’t go anywhere. I do. I venture off the path, true to my distractive nature…then eventually remember we were going somewhere and jump back on course.

What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. [Romans 3:3-4]

For me it’s not so much a lack of faith, but a lack of patience with the timing of his faithfulness.

It is also a matter of hearing his voice, and then when enough time passes that I don’t hear anything else on the topic…I doubt what I heard. I doubt me. I doubt my ears. I doubt my capabilities. I doubt my experience. Albeit experience he has given me for a reason.

All because my human ears get full of the opinions of others about me. Even the most optimistic can ignore it for only so long until their ears are dripping with negativity.

So I doubt my call. I doubt what I am good at, and I doubt what I heard from him for what seems like decades ago.

Let God be true.

God is faithful.

In the deepest part of your soul, you’ve felt it, too. He is faithful to you, his child, and he loves your dreams. He gave you the vision for those dreams.

I say this to not only myself, but shout it to both of us…suck it up, be who he has created you to be, rest in his faithfulness and go fight for something that counts.

And for the love of all things holy, stop trying to break up with God! ‘Cause he’s not going anywhere…