Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Believing God

No, I did not just forget the "in" from the title of the post. It was intentional. A whole other conversation, really.
I am so frustrated with myself today. Disappointed in myself. A little angry.

Here's the thing. I sometimes struggle to believe God. To believe that what He has for me is the best thing for me. To believe that the way He wants me to live is the most life giving. To believe that His desires for my heart will in the end serve me best.

Yes, you guessed it. I decided to walk my own path on something and here I sit looking over my shoulder feeling a little heart sick and a lot of self annoyance and all I can muster is..."duh."

God has always been about forming a people. He has done that by calling us to a way of being that mirrors His heart, His intention, His desire, His passions, His character. And not because He needs some ego boost or some power trip or some manipulation tool. But, because He knows how we should live. He knows what abundance looks and feels like. He knows where real life comes from.

And so, at almost 44 I am stunned that once again I have let the whispers of the deceiver throw me off course, even just a little when I know better. I do. Once again, I affirm the covenant with the ultimate covenant keeper and say - yes, I do believe you, God.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Secret Places

either showing exuberance,
graciously nodding
often pain oozing out of them
and at worst lifeless
tell a story.

pounding with unspoken but real experiences
untouched or even undiscovered.

lived by rote
patterns that annoy frustrate and pacify
yet when given the freedom to be
often launch passion in unexpected ways.

change everything.
Faces, hearts, lives are given context
truth emerges.
What seems is now rewritten as what is.

Once again
it is clear that what we think we see is not clear.
Within all humanity is the beating of a story yet to be spoken
because it is unsafe to speak.
Within all humanity is the desire for relationship yet to be pursued
because it is unsafe to feel.
Within all humanity is the secret place yet to be named
because it is unsafe to admit.

Faces, hearts, lives, backstories
nothing is quite what it seems.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Heart

I am pretty sure mine is physically not in great shape - my Dad died of heart disease at the age of 59. I am not working out regularly and I am carrying more weight than I should be, although that is slowly coming off - woohoo!

However, cardiology is not the direction I am going here. I am fascinated by the capacity of the human heart. A wall plaque hangs in my daughters room that reads, "think with your heart." That really is a goal I have for my kids. I want them to be heart driven. I want them to be so in touch with their heart that compassion, empathy and love overflow out of it. I want them to choose to do the thing that their heart knows is right even when their logic is screaming no. This is scary because when one lives from a place of passion/heart life gets messy.

I am learning to live with messy. Never thought I would. I am an odd mix of really spontaneous and out there coupled with a little OCD that needs my i's dotted and my t's crossed. Messy has never been my favorite because it does not fit into cute storage containers.
But life, the great teacher, has me transforming and I like it.

I am sure if most of the people that I interact with could see into my heart and see the muddled mess they would fear for me. They would counsel me or caution me. They would suggest I 'tighten' things up a bit. They may suggest I get rid of some things and replace them with different things. Lots and lots of advice about how my heart should look. But, honestly, I've never felt more alive in my life, right in the middle of the mess of life. With fewer defined things ever. With life plans that are in transition. With faith that is being called to something bigger and new but yet defined. With relationships that cause me pause. But there is freedom here. There is a sense of real, raw, nitty gritty life. I've been longing for this. I want to feel my heart beat in my chest and my pulse race. And I am.

When we open our hearts, life gets risky. But from my little corner of the world, life gets really worth living. Don Miller, in Searching for God Knows What, writes: What if the deepest longings of your heart were there for a reason? Small minded boxed in formulas of modern religion were not the truth? The gospel of Jesus was not "safe" after all, but full of intrigue, passion and romance."

Now we're talking.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


I am in the middle of a curriculum writing process and that is why my thoughts are turned to Exodus. I love a good analogy and thrive on a metaphor. Exodus feels like Theological Grand Central Station to me. It seems like every big theological idea flows through Exodus on its way to its final destination.

Moses' life
Moses' call
Moses' & Pharaoh
Plagues, Release and Red Sea
Desert wanderings and provision
Arrival at Sinai
God speaks and gives assurance of His presence
Plans for Worship
Golden Calf
Moses and God at Sinai

I keep coming back to chapter 24 and chapter 33. They are such powerful images of an intimate relationship between the Redeemer God and humanity. God seeks to dwell among His people. He promises that His presence goes with humanity. He keeps covenant in the midst of unfaithfulness. He gives consequences but He never withholds love. Law and Story are interwoven and instead of being oppositional they are both prescriptive and descriptive of our story with God. Immanence and Transcendence flood the pages of this book - Sovereign God who is above all speaks at the Mountain and humanity must turn its face from the glory, yet Sovereign God dwells among the people in their camp and at the tent of meeting.

It leaves one echoing the words one reads...The Lord...The Lord...The Lord!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

You Are Holy Because I Am Holy

Holy. Me. Really? My mind keeps drifting to this idea of holiness and what it really means for us. I think many of us have endured a form of "reductionist" Christianity that has reduced the gospel down to manageable ideas and soundbites. It has also reduced the way of Christ down to sin management at best. My heart tells me there has to be more. However I know where my mind goes and I know to what and to whom my heart feels pulled and I am left challenged by my own unholiness.

After looking at this word and how it is used I think I am sure of this. Holiness is God's work. Alone. It is what He does in and through us. What makes us Holy is not our own piety or our own ability to "do good." It is because God has consecrated us for His purpose. Whether it is a place or a time or a special day or a person -- it is the consecrating of that thing or being for use by God that makes it holy.

And so we are holy because He is holy. We are made, called and sent for a purpose.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Simplicity versus Simplistic

A facebook interaction with a friend recently has stirred these thoughts and I am not really sure I have a good way to articulate what I am thinking. Ah, this is why I blog. I get to order ideas and thoughts on paper, well on a screen if we are going to be technical.

This began with the idea on her wall that Faith is not Intellectual Suicide. I thought long and hard about that idea and was trying not to comment because I knew it would develop into a longer conversation. But, in spite of my best attempts at self regulation, I commented. I said something like, "it may not be, but it sure feels like it sometimes when you see how the church and Christians tend to offer simplistic answers to complexity." Her response was that simplification of truth was the challenge. I responded back that at some level I think I see her point....HOWEVER...

Simplistic answers like: God, Jesus, Bible and Church just don't cut it anymore. Pray, Repent, Obey don't either. They are all still true, valuable answers -- we just have to measure how we use them. In a culture that no longer values the "I have all the answers" mentality that Christianity has prided itself on, we have to change our ways. It is now more attractive to have good questions, hard questions, ones that require a struggle.

And so, when considering these two "S" words -- we can agree that God is truth and that is simple, but it is everything that follows that statement that is nuanced, tensioned, and gritty that we need to be challenged with. If we simplify down to simplistic we are no longer representing God in the way He chose to reveal Himself to humanity.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Taking a Break

It has been 5 years of blogging now and I discovered today that there is no easy way to delete a blogspot account short of deleting individual blog posts. So, I am going to be taking a break from this blog for a while. Who knows, maybe we will catch up later!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Missional Living

The last 5 years or so many conversations between pastoral staff and ministry folks in general have centered around the idea of the shift from programmatic church to missional church. We have tried to define it and struggled. We have linked it to post-modernity and it has scared many. We have tried to delineate between emergent and missional. Where emergents seem ticked off and angry at their church past, missionals have tried to soften their voices to seem more understanding. It has been an interesting time.

I personally have read a fair amount on all sides of the missional and emergent conversation. I have taken a graduate level class about planting missional churches. I am as much a Hirsch & Frost fan as the next person. But I remain somewhat confused as often I go back to the "how?"

Well yesterday I finished reading Tangible Kingdom. What a book. It is a beautiful unfolding of what incarnational missional community looks like. It has taken my assumptions and turned them on their head. It has challenged me and frustrated me. However, more than anything it has given me hope and a child like excitement about my faith journey.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Shirley, was her name

I don't usually go on about my Mom, but this year at least on facebook, I have talked about her a lot. The timing is curious for me. She died 7 years ago tomorrow and it feels like yesterday and an eternity.

Sometimes we have the ability to only remember the good and the picture that emerges only half resembles the truth. I remember the things about my Mom that irritated me. I remember the things that I wished were different. But really those things are few and the list is short.

And so today I am indulging myself with the things she did right.
She loved fiercely -- she had your back and you knew it.
She loved tenderly -- her ability to read your face and listen to your heart was amazing.
She gave extravagantly -- out of both overflow and shortage, her generosity was unsurpassed.
She noticed people -- her friends comprised both the popular and the unpopular alike.
She listened with her ears and heart -- she just got people.
She loved the Lord -- not perfectly, but passionately.
She held family close -- her kids, her grand kids, her sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews.
She welcomed people -- our home was always filled with people.
She inspired people -- more so while she was suffering through cancer than ever.

And there is more. But these are the things I am thinking about tonight and am grateful to have seen modelled for me. What a joy!

And they called her Shirls!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I get made fun of a lot for over-thinking. My brain can be a scary place, and if you have read this blog very long I bet you are "Amen-ing" right about now! One of my friends reshaped the over-thinking for me a while back and told me to embrace it as a gift. I try to remember that when I begin to feel overwhelmed by my thoughts.

So let me begin by saying, today I was thinking..... And I was. While preparing for teaching tomorrow, I realized I could not move on to the subject matter until I addressed the idea of thinking with my students. We need to talk about how people think. How generational groupings change our thought processes, how experiences shape our thoughts and how temperament and personality drive it. Just the idea that we get to go here is thrilling to me!

And while I do not want to scare high schoolers, this is important stuff to deal with. Understanding how we think about things is sometimes as central as what we think about them. In my book anyway.