The Olympics and the Gospel…

The olympics have been a real treat and addiction for me this Winter. I’ve been watching as much as I can because the competition has been amazing (yes, I even watched some curling)! 😉 One of the stand out moments for me was Shaun White’s half pipe performances. He had done so well in the first heat that all he had to do to win gold was board right through the middle of the half pipe. What’s his response? He does some of the most amazing tricks that anyone has ever seen!

I was thinking about this and what freedom and grace does to and for us. Sometimes we think, “I’m covered by grace so there’s no need to try anymore.” Sometimes we worry about making grace cheap because we can’t seem to change. But what is we could experience the freedom that grace brings to a point where we live extraordinary lives. It wouldn’t be about trying to win anything anymore or trying to “make it.” It would be about living all out because we can and because failure wouldn’t change our status. We might do some amazing things that no one has ever seen or thought possible.

We’re like Shaun White about to drop in knowing already that the gold is in hand. The gospel has freed us given us a status before God that is unchangeable. So what will it be? Do you cruise? Or do you go for it? The choice is yours…

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The Power of “With”

I’m starting to realize the power of being “with” someone. I know that we’re always looking for specific answers and used to asking specific questions of “how,” but I’m learning more and more that spending time “with” someone creates change.

If we knew everything that we were supposed to do, we’d be more lost. We’d find less reason to have a relationship with God. We’d no longer be human. I know that this is a strong statement, but I truly believe that God was calling us to Him to be “with” Him. It’s not about letting us know what we should or shouldn’t do, but about loving us and being in relationship with us.

What would it look like if we really, truly spent time “with” one another instead of just knowing what to do in life? Maybe there would be more love, more grace, more forgiveness, more justice, and more reconciliation…

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…

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!

The Passion of the Christ…

Our core group got together tonight to watch the Passion of the Christ.  I’ve watched this movie twice now – once when it first came out in theaters and once again tonight.  I have to say that it’s an incredibly made movie and really brings the Scriptures to visual life.  So, kudos to Mel Gibson for a job well done…

I wanted to write my thoughts this time around, however, because they’re a bit different from my first viewing.  The first time I saw this move and even this time around, my heart breaks at the sight of Jesus being brutalized for our sin.  I was overwhelmed by guilt, shame, and gratitude all at the same time.  I couldn’t help but think about how I am like the Roman soldiers at times, like the Jewish Pharisees at others, and even like Pilate who thought that indifference would absolve him from responsibility.

This time, however, I kept hearing Jesus’s powerful words of forgiveness piercing my heart.  I kept hearing his voice speak out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do…” and “You’ve heard it said, ‘love your friends and despise your enemies,’ but i tell you, “love your enemies…”  Jesus is praying for those who are persecuting Him.  He says to take heart when people hate you on account of Him because they hated Him first.  My gut kept yearning for justice.  I was hoping for vengeance.  I kept thinking about everyone who was persecuting Him getting theirs in the end.  I kept wanting WRATH!!!  But, His unconditional, never changing, ever forgiving love kept piercing my heart and soul. His voice kept whispering through my anger and disdain “He dies FOR us.”  He didn’t just bear the cross, He laid His life down on the cross FOR us.  This whisper started to change every emotion in me and started to affect me more than the loudest shouts of revenge.  HE GIVES HIS LIFE FOR US…

I am in desperate need of this grace.  And in my desperation, I now have this incredible desire to offer it…