A Posture of Openness…

I was thinking last night about how I approach scripture and God in prayer. I have so many questions about my life and am typically seeking answers. So, I open up my Bible in hopes to find some kind of wisdom for my circumstance/problem. Or I’ll ask God for clarity or help to see my plans through.

I started to wonder, however, if I’m coming at this from a wrong angle. What if I didn’t come in looking for answers to “my” questions or looking for clarity for “my” plans, but instead came in posture of openness and listened more broadly? What if I sought God to and allowed Him to really direct my steps and future instead of asking Him to bless what I bring before Him? I thought of how scary and yet how freeing it would be. It’s scary because I know it would stretch me, break me, and challenge me. It’s freeing because I wouldn’t be so locked into my plan and what I perceive to be “detours” would actually be “the” path…

I come today in a posture of openness…   

Biblical Time…

More than ever, I’ve been in conversations that have made me think of time from a biblical standpoint. We live in a world where we have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. And, when something goes wrong or nothing goes on for a bit (like a week or two), we start to stress and worry if what we’re doing is making any difference.
The Bible, however, talks about generations and time spans years, seasons.  The one that sticks out the most is 40 years in a desert. I think about the plight of the Israelites in the desert and how I too would be grumbling and complaining after a few months of daily walking in the desert. Or how I might be tempted to melt some gold after a few decades.
I’m reminded of pace. I’m reminded that we must “daily” give our lives to the Lord and trust that the Holy Spirit will do the rest. I’m further reminded that faith is: “to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).

Out of Control…

So, I’m breaking my hiatus from blogging today!!! I’ve been spending time offline but am getting back into the swing of writing, sharing, and blogging.

To start things off, here’s a lesson from tomatoes: I came home on Saturday afternoon to find a huge bowl of tomatoes on our dining table.

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My daughters had actually picked the tomatoes from our backyard. A little background and context on this: I planted tomatoes months ago in an attempt to slow down and enjoy the hobby of gardening. I planted them, watered them for a few days and then they were on their own until now. I got really discouraged because ‘tree like’ weeds started growing all around them and seemed to have swallowed them up. I wrote off my tomato plant and thought it was a lost cause. But my kids (Sami’s in the pic below swimming through the weeds to get a tomato) fished through the weeds and pulled out some really solid tomatoes!

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Two things I learned from this day:

1. Just because I didn’t take care of every little detail doesn’t mean that God’s not at work or can’t work…

2. I may plant the seed and not see any growth and the next generation may see and reap the fruit…

It’s absolutely crazy what you can learn about life and ministry from tomatoes…

It’s Not about Size…

we always think that size determines our success or ability to influence. but it’s not necessarily true. i’m in the midst of reading and studying the book of James and he reminds us that destructive power is beheld in this tiny entity called the tongue. remember when we were kids and chanted the mantra, “sticks and stones will break our bones, but names will never hurt me!” i’m not so sure about that. i think that physical pain heals, but emotional scars can last a lifetime. i still remember when someone took a shot at my preaching by saying that “a dog could preach better.” i brushed it off, but it hasn’t left my memory. it’s a remark that somehow enhances an existing insecurity and makes it all the more difficult to move forward and grow. i also remember when a teacher long ago told me that she saw incredible success in my future. these words embedded hope and inspiration whenever i feel like a failure. words are absolutely powerful. they can inspire us to accomplish more than we ever imagined possible or they can kill our spirit to a point where we are physically immobilized. what words do you speak? do you give life? or do you destroy life? james calls us to tame our tongue. he questions how we bless God and yet curse people who are made in His likeness. And he tells us that this should not be so. know that your tongue has great power – power to kill or power to heal. and, know that what you speak changes our world!!!

Love Can Change the World

Do you believe that “Love can change the world?” I think that we think it, say it, but don’t necessarily believe it or live like it. As I’ve been reading scripture, I’m constantly reminded about the power of love and the need to give it freely. I also am constantly reminded that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (change) and not control or manipulation. I still admit that I default at times to control games and subversive forms of manipulation to try and change people. As a parent, I sometimes have to punish my kids. But do I really think that punishment will change their behavior in the long run? I don’t think so. I believe that a moment of love has more power than years or even decades of judgement.

I was watching a clip from “les miserables” last week. It’s the opening scene where jean valjean is just released from prison (20+ years of hard labor for stealing bread) on his way to meet his parole officer and is invited into the home of a catholic bishop for dinner. Jean Valjean can’t believe that he’s being let in and keeps reminding the bishop that he’s a criminal, he just got out of prison, and he’s dangerous. The paper in his hand says that he’s dangerous. In the night, Jean has nightmares of his time in prison. He woke up remembering exactly who he is (or at least who he’s been told he is). Then he gets up and steals the bishop’s silver spoons and when he’s caught in the act, he knocks out the bishop and flees. The next morning, he’s caught by the police and brought back to the bishops home. When the police ask the bishop if he knows the man, he says, “yes.” And when asked if he really had given Jean the silver spoons as a gift (Jean’s story to the police), he says, “yes I did. But I’m very disappointed in you Jean. Why did you not take the candlesticks? They’re worth more than the spoons.” Then he draws up close to Jean and stares into his most humbled eyes and declares that he’s bought his life back unto God.

In this moment, Jean’s whole life is changed. Year’s of prison that was supposed to reform him did nothing but destroy his humanity. Yet, in a moment of radical love and radical grace, his life is changed forever. Love can change the world! And if we choose to love, perhaps we can be a part of changing it!

Weeds…

Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...

Sami and Jaci helping give perspective to my weed problem...

i’ve got weeds growing everywhere!!!  i put a couple shots of one patch that’s in front of my house.  One with my kids and car to give you some perspective on how tall they are and one that’s a bit closer up.  now, i’ve actually got to do some major work to get rid of these bad boys.  i can’t believe how fast they’ve grown.  this patch was dirt when we first moved in 9 months ago and now i can’t even see the dirt!  being a pastor and theologian, i can’t help but look at my weed garden and see the correlation to our lives.  i’ve put off taking care of my garden for almost a year and now i have

Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!

Yes, They're ALL Weeds!!!

a serious problem that seems totally out of control and overwhelming.  i almost don’t know where to start.  i thought of weeds in my life that are now deeply rooted within me and think of how overwhelming they become when i choose to look away and ignore them.  when they started, they were just small little patches so i thought, “no biggie…  i’ll take care of it later.” after a while though, the crap in my life gets overwhelming and i feel like it’s a lost cause.  did you know that some weeds actually produce these little flowers that almost make them look pretty?  but no, they’re still weeds that grow out of control and start screwing up the rest of the garden.  weeds can be subversive that way.

i sat there thinking about all of the different strategies to kill them.  i’ve heard of different organic solutions (water and vinegar, boiling water, soap and water, etc.) but i’ve chosen to go the old school route of pulling them by hand.  one by one, i’m going to go after them.  since there are so many, i’ve asked my friend to help me out.  interesting isn’t it?  even in this, i can see how community makes such a difference in helping us figure out our junk as well as help us deal with it. wow, when i decide to deal with weeds, it actually brings me closer with people.  interesting.

weeds…  a curse, a blessing…

i’m pretty obsessed with my weeds right now…  enough talking about them.  time to get dirty and deal with them…