go

Go. It is such a tiny little word. Only two letters…yet the use of it is far reaching.

Go get me something.

Go be something.

Go away.

Go…as in constant motion and never stopping. As are most of our American lives.

But what if we slowed down? What if we counted breaths? What if we stopped the go-go-go mentality that tears as the fabric of real community and solid relationships?

What if we slowed down enough during this advent season to not just exist during Christmas, but to live and be alive as God’s people during Christmas?

What if we were nice when we tend to be mean?

What if our words were kind and thoughtful instead of hurtful and insulting?

What if we ran our arguments through a clean filter…and stopped arguing?

What if we spend less and give more?

What if we stop to appreciate beautiful moments instead of glorifying and exalting the ugly ones?

What if we honored the birth of Jesus with our actions?

What if we reflected what the Kingdom of God should look like on earth instead of making it look unappealing?

What if in going…we lived sent?

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Big responsibility? It should be, because we’ve been given the gift of grace and unconditional love. We’ve been given the gift of Jesus.

We have been given the gift of being a sent people into a hurting world to work at correcting the wrongs we have the ability to fight against.

Go? Slow down. Appreciate. Love. Live sent. Let’s not over complicate things…just be who God created you to be.

This advent I am jumping back onto the Rethink Church train, and I will be blogging a word a day while also posting a photo to my Instagram. I hope you join me, because I have a feeling we could all use some Jesus this Christmas.

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tears

Jesus wept.

Tears. Just to double check I looked it up in the Hebrew dictionary…yep, actual tears. *Geek alert – maybe I should have led with that.*

Also, shortest verse in the Bible. Mind blown? Good.

And ironically (or not) it is found in the Gospel of John, which is the Gospel that has the most sent language woven throughout.

Whoa, halt the presses. Sent language? Yes, folks…not only did God SEND Jesus to earth. Jesus SENT disciples. Jesus SENT his followers. Then to empower them all…Father SENT the Holy Spirit. Thus the beautiful sent language of the Bible that sheds light on our souls that we are ALL indeed missionaries. We are ALL sent.

TRAINSTATIONGIRLSAll found in that lovely Gospel of John, with some tears in the middle.

One of the most tearful times in my life was ripping myself away from the Chinese students we had spent 4 weeks loving and caring about…pouring every part of ourselves into. It is not physically, humanly possible to love someone that much in 4 weeks…that is something more than just who we are as sent people, it is something that comes alive with God moving through us in our relationships with those around us. For the first time, during that summer while leaving the students we’d grown to love, I understood why the Ephesians elders were so torn up about Paul leaving them. [Acts 20:36-38]

Jesus was about relationships. How could he not be? Then within those relationships people came to expect things from him. Why? Because he was the miracle man. The one with all the confusing answers…and the one who was healing people left and right.

If you are Jesus’ friend in those times, would you expect him to be there to make everything right when YOU needed it to be right?

I would. Not because it’s about me, but because of the faith I would have been growing while being around such miracles.

In John 11, Jesus gets word that Lazarus is sick, but instead of the normal human reaction of running to a bedside…Jesus uses this opportunity to show his power, yet again, to those around him.

By the time he gets there, Mary and Martha are…let’s just say more than your usual angry…Mary doesn’t even come out to meet him and Martha actually says to him, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

Do you blame them? They had watched Lazarus go through the pain of dying, then Lazarus had already been in the tomb for 4 days AND they’d been grieving that whole time.

So then, Jesus asks for Mary…stay with me…we are almost there.

Mary goes to him, and what does she lead with but, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ See a trend here?

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked.” [John 11:33]

Then?

Jesus wept.

There are so many ways I’ve heard people take this, but honestly, I’ve always viewed this as Jesus, the human. Out of all the things John could have written…John chooses to reveal that Jesus wept. I’ve always wondered if John sat there with his scroll and ink, pondering – ‘Should I show this side of him? Will anyone think him weak?’ Normally in a Scottish accent, not sure why…just Scottish.

But there is beauty in the realness of that friendship and love. There is beauty that in the midst of a Gospel full of movement and people being sent…there is emotion and time for Jesus to pause in his own community while the Pharisees are literally breathing down his neck.

But there is more…because even in the story of Lazarus, even in the midst of this pause where we see Jesus with those he loved deeply we hear this:

‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you SENT me.’ [John 11:41]

Then Lazarus was raised from the dead and everyone moved on in their sentness.

Just kidding…then the Pharisees kicked it into gear and it all progressed to the cross where we should find ourselves falling and refueling for this crazy sent ride we are on with God.

Apologies, my brain is scattered because we leave on the Junior High mission trip tomorrow, but my point is this…even in the acknowledgment and acceptance of the simple reality that we truly are a sent people, emotions are a part of it. The anger, passion, kindness and compassion…the tears…when you live as an active participant in God’s Kingdom work, when you are actively loving and caring about the relationships around you…there is no way to avoid the emotion. Embrace it, because even though the last thing I ever want to do is admit anything ever leaks from my eyes…Jesus is the example we follow and even he wept for his friends.

This post is a part of a series that my blogging buds and I are doing as a part of extending our Lent experience. To read more about that go here. We blog the same word on the 15th of each month, though I am pretty sure I am the first to post this month and it is the 16th…so give ’em some grace, because this will be the first & last time I get one up before them. If you want to check out what they had to say about ‘tears’ go here:

Heather Kostelnick

Lindsay Evans

Shawn Franssens

Brian Swanson

leave

There is one place on this earth that rips my soul in two to leave.

It is a palpable sound to God’s ears because after all, he is the one that sends me.

The echo of that rip haunts me when I leave. A good haunt though, a reminder that things are not right in this world, and that I’ve been chosen to make a small difference for the life of a child. A reminder that God is working long before me, all around me and staying after I leave…that it is never about me, and always about him.

I never would have imagined my soul would be so closely tied to an orphanage…let alone one in Russia. It wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t even deal with being around kids. But to speak God’s love, worth, hope and community into the life of an orphan is the greatest privilege there is in this world.

It used to be the hardest thing I’d ever done to leave the orphanage on the last day. The emotion of leaving is overwhelming to even the hardest of hearts. We would lose whole days to the kids acting out or withdrawing. We eventually amended trip schedules so that we went back for a ‘last’ morning so the kids wouldn’t be as emotional on the last day. It helped everyone take the leaving part in slower steps.

Some trips the kids would hang on to the back of the bus, it didn’t matter how seriously we told them it was dangerous. It was as if they were clinging to those last precious moments, too.

What I love most, though, is it rarely happens anymore. It isn’t as emotional when we leave as it used to be. Why? They know their friends, or friends of their friends, are coming back. We’ve crossed the line of dismay and sorrow into this beautiful place of deep love and trust. It’s amazing the strength of the ties that God creates in his mission fields.

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But this is what happens when you surrender your heart…soul…life…God leads us to unimaginable, beautiful, Kingdom places.

The hardest part for me is leaving those places, and holding on to that Kingdom life.

The beauty of it is the places God sends you is where you find the person he has created you to be. The best of you and worst of you collide, and his heart is ignited in yours. Your soul finds itself overflowing, all because you willingly surrendered.

And when that happens, no one wants to leave that behind.

earthly

Have you ever felt liked you couldn’t escape something God was trying to teach you? For example, a word that keeps popping up EVERY. WHERE. In music, scripture, conversations…no matter how far you run. It’s still there!

Well, lately…that word is dust. Ironic…because there is no dust to be found in KC right now. We’ve gotten too much snow to even imagine it’s under there somewhere.

In scripture Jesus sends the disciples out, tells them not take anything with them…and share the message. Tell the story. But…if people refuse to listen, shake the dust off their feet and leave the town.

Seems drastic, right? To shake off that earthly dust in holy protest?

But it begs the question…what if our earthly words are not going to get through? What if we’ve done our part and its time to move on to what God has next…to leave the rest to Him?

It all comes down to what you believe, and what you choose to hear…

Feb 28 - earthlyI tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? [John 3:11-12]

If we cannot believe God’s words about earthly things…we will never understand his Kingdom language. And without Kingdom language…what are we truly living for? This earthly world is not enough for me, and it shouldn’t satisfy you, either.

vision

Everyone has dreams. Even those that are told they are not allowed to dream…secretly, they have dreams for themselves.

What I love about a dream is the amount of passion that is behind it. Whether you are driven by love, soul or God…the passion that can ignite a dream to fulfillment is beautiful and sometimes intoxicating…even magnetic.

For most, that dream turns into a vision for the future…a preferred future. For others, it is a calling by God to be something or someone for Him.

In that vision, what is your heart most longing for?

If you hang around me long enough you’ll hear a couple different things…at least I hope you do, because it feels like I have myself on an auto loop repeating everything over and over. *Yes, I know I get annoying.*

Maybe there should be a test for my conversations. The first question will be ‘Please circle the words that you heard the most in our conversation: God’s Kingdom, mission, Kingdom work, iced tea, Isaiah 58, Acts 1:8, coffee, Duke basketball…’ The list could go on, but the point is what are you talking about and what do others hear? How is your vision for you or your surroundings being articulated to those around you?

My calling is to live sent. Be the church. Be a missionary in a lot of different contexts. For me specifically that means discerning God’s will, going where he leads and pulling others along for the ride. This also means…all of my vision folds into living sent and guiding others through those steps.

That creates problems when you run across people who don’t speak your same language or understand how a calling looks and feels. For them…that vision is ugly, uncomfortable, scary and confusing.

Whereas, what you see is beautiful…enticing…fulfilling…adventurous…

Once you capture vision, you get the opportunity to make choices based on that end game. At times those choices will be hard, but because it feeds the vision, you have reasoning to point to while deciding. Could make life decisions easier…

Because when your life falls under a vision everything points back to that one dream with crystal clarity. But if you lack vision…what direction are you really going in? What are you drawing others to? Where is your passion? How do others see your heart?

Frosty Vision

And it’s not always the vision for your life…sometimes it is a vision for those around you. I truly hope that the things I am a part of, the people I meet and those who actually listen to what comes out of my mouth, understand that I believe that all of us are called to live a life of sentness. That they will see mission isn’t a scary thing…or something else to add on to everything else. That mission is about community and being in relationships with others. That mission is a shift in the way you see the world…your family…your church. That they have a mission impulse that was embedded in them from creation.


This morning when I got in my car to come to church…there was frost on the window. Normally, an annoying thing, but this morning I found it as a thing of beauty. There were several ways to look at it…of course, annoying. But there were four different layers. The frost on the window, the dirty window, the tree behind the frosty window and the sun shining through it all.

Vision is a lot like that window. You can focus on what is right in front of you…or you can focus on the dirty aspects of your life. You can focus on what comes next. Or you can ultimately focus on what is shining through it all.

Here’s to being able to point back to radically living for God and finding vision, even when the frost is annoying.