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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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Week of February 11, 2019

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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Philosopher, Dallas Willard was consistently famous for asking the question, “What makes a person a good person?” Actually, that is the core purpose of philosophy, to discern what makes a person good. The way around that discipline in our contemporary society is to skirt the issue by declaring “everyone is good” and capable of doing good things. Therefore, the substance of the discussion is made moot.

However, goodness that is a moral, ethical, holy reality demands a more serious consideration. Not only did Jesus die to make men free (Gal. 5:1), but he died to make men holy, that is, godly or like God in character. No wonder that goodness is fruit that is produced by the “vine” in us. It is God who is at work in us to accomplish his good.

I wonder if the good that humanity commonly does is because we were made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26)? But, the goodness that comes directly from God is a goodness that is redemptive, restorative, and reconciling. That goodness always has as its purpose to bring creation back into relationship with the Creator, Redeemer and Friend. There is a goodness that is higher than simple good. 

Week of February 4, 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019
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Everyone likes kindness offered to them, but few want to do the work to become kind people in themselves. Mother Teresa lays it on the line when she said, “Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” The subtle message in her statement is that kindness is a matter of our “being.”

What is it that you need to let go of that keeps you locked into a self-referenced way of looking at life. If everything must run through our self-centered lens, then we are miserable of all people. It is only when we are free from our self-addiction that we have a chance to become the person God created us to be.

Kindness operates from what Paul preceded his exhortation to become people who love, are full of joy (not happiness for that is always temporary), rooted in peace – the peace only Christ can bring, and patience or forbearance with people and circumstances. With that foundation, kindness has a chance.

Week of January 28, 2019

Monday, January 28, 2019
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Is it obvious to everyone that we live in a particularly impatient world!? If we are willing to choose the methods of God’s kingdom in heaven on earth as we often pray, the contrast in our world is stark. It reminds me of Robert Mulholland’s discussion in Deeper Journey of the “self-referenced life vs. the Christ-referenced life.” We will hardly ever develop the characteristic of patience without a different point of reference in living life.

The patience of job was patience built on his deep awareness of who God is. His circumstance did not change his view. If we live with a view of life that runs through the view that we are indeed the center of the universe, we will always struggle with patience. So much of life hinges on our knowledge of God.

Patience is the brother of peace. It is when we have resolved our significance and security in the environment of God’s love that patience makes perfect sense. It is out of a peaceful heart that we are able to wait on God. Patience with one another and patience with things find their strength in the work of the Holy Spirit in us, not just the presence, but the transformational work.

Week of January 21, 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Peace is an illusive thing for most because it is viewed from an event-oriented perspective. Peace as the scriptures refer to it is a characteristic of life versus a commentary on the circumstances in which we live. Yes, we would like to live in a “peaceful society” that eschews violence of any kind, but if sin exists in the heart of humans that will hardly be the case.

Peace in one’s heart is a priority of God. The birth, life, and death of Jesus was to accomplish peace between we humans and our Creator, Sustainer, and Lord. There is a spiritual peace that was provided for all who would believe through the events of Holy Week. So, we can be at peace with God, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of peace.

One of the values of God’s kingdom is that we can become peacemakers. In fact, Jesus said that is how we become the sons and daughters of God…,” blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God.” Becoming people of peace is an inside/out transaction. Peace requires that we keep our focus on the Prince of Peace and learn to walk in his ways. It requires that we let go of much of our ego-driven ways and learn to lean on His presence.

Week of January 14, 2019

Wednesday, January 09, 2019
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Sometimes the scriptures call us to things that make no sense! “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds….” How is that possible?! Maybe it is because we misunderstand joy. Maybe we make it an equivalent to happiness or pleasure. But, I reckon that joy is different that joy. Oswald Chambers gives us a clue to our misunderstanding when he says, “Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not.”

Joy comes through the activity of the Holy Spirit in us that keeps us aware that what happens is never the end of the story. To become a joy-filled person is not a matter of personality, but of awareness of the “whole story,” both present and future. Joy comes as we learn to know God for who he is and that whatever our circumstances, they cannot change God. God lives not in gloom, but in delight.

Joy does not mean that we are rescued from hardship, but we have a soul-peace that see Reality from God’s perspective. Joy removes the scaffolds that we use to prop ourselves up and lasers life on the good, loving, certain heart of God. Joy is meant to become the shape of our souls; a peace that smiles with assurance rooted and grounded in the love of God.

Week of December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

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              What we most miss about Advent is the rhythm identified by the four themes for the four weeks.  I suppose it is because of the colorless way that we tend to think about spiritual truth.  But, I have been particularly conscious of the way God reveals himself through his creation this week.  Our theologians have a term for that called, general revelation.  This means that God reveals himself in ways other than the scriptures and Jesus.

              This week the sunrises and sunsets here in Colorado have stopped me in my tracks.  The beauty and glory of God through that which he has made has bowed my heart before him.  As real as the lessons of nature are the themes of Advent: hope, peace, joy and love.  This week raises our sensibilities of God’s immense love that showed itself in the humility of the manger.

              Lest we scrub the manger with a spiritual disinfectant, may we be shocked once and for all that the God of the universe, creator of heaven and earth allow himself to take on the fragility of a baby – who no doubt cried!  If you choose to embrace the day and resist distraction, let the love of God bend your knees to the ground

Weekof December 17, 2018

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

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              “I will bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  It is an easily recognizable sentence in this Advent Season and we have a Christmas carol to match the impetus to celebrate with joy.  There is joy that is attached to celebration and I suspect there was a sense of that for the shepherds on that cold hillside in Judea.

              We don’t know what it is like to live in anticipation of the Messiah like these characters in the Nativity story knew, so what is our joy in the story?  I suppose for most of us we look forward to the re-enactment of the Nativity for the sake of the children that are around us and their performances of their “part in the play” or the “cantata.”

              But, just maybe we can enter in again in the “joy” of the angels when we step back into the mystery of salvation.  I tend to think that gratitude is a major part of joy.  I suspect that given the life the shepherds led that the announcement of the coming of the Messiah was filled with the hope of change – that would be an experience of joy.  I wonder if our joy is like theirs in that the anticipation of change is the reason for joy.

Week of December 10, 2018

Monday, December 10, 2018
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Peace, the shalom of God! It is a hard message to comprehend in a world full of chaos and conflict. Yet, that is one of the beauties of the Advent Season. It is a time to stop and re-engage the message that Jesus was to bring to us as the Prince of Peace. Peace begins with “peace with God.” No matter what the circumstances, peace with God is the foundation of all other peace. As humankind attempts to accomplish peace in the world apart from God, the disastrous outcome seems to only increase the conflict rather than resolve it. I’m reminded of a statement Dallas Willard made when he said, “Human problems cannot be solved by human means.” This week our scripture of peace is the prophecy of John the Baptist when it was said of him, “He went about preaching the baptism of repentance that you might be forgiven from your sins.” Isaiah went on to say that his message was, “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” In the Spirit of the Prince of Peace then, what do you need to do to, “Prepare the Way of the Lord?”

Week of December 3, 2018

Tuesday, December 04, 2018
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“Hope springs eternal” or so we know the expression to be, but what is that beyond wanting a certain outcome to take place. It is okay for spring training and a baseball team; but is this something we can actually live on. Is there anything historical or philosophical or any other substance such wishful thinking? Hope in this fashion -the most common fashion – is about one’s comfort and convenience.

As the Season of Advent begins, we speak of hope, but quite different than simply the human heart’s hope that things will “get better.” As followers of Jesus our hope is a living hope and is rooted in a real Person, Jesus the Christ. Our hope is in you, Lord! Hope that finds its meaning in the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

The way, truth, and life of Jesus has all the substance that we could ever desire. The is a solidarity with multitudes in history who have given themselves to walk with Him and pass down to us a living faith that is rooted in Christ who is our hope. The point of our earthly life is Jesus. Paul said it best, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!”

Week of November 19, 2018

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
 

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One wonders what was in Abraham Lincoln’s thinking when he set aside the fourth Thursday of November of each year as a national day of Thanksgiving. Given the day in which he lived I’m certain that he assumed that the Judeo/Christian image of God was in each American’s mind. My how things have changed. It is not unlike prayer today.

In the painful or fearful experiences of life most people are keen on the idea of prayer, but like the giving of thanks, who do we offer prayer to? I think in the extremes of life goodness and hardship are the moments when we just might have a sense that life is bigger than us. Wisdom is when we can live with a constant awareness of our own smallness and God’s largeness.

The other reality that can help us is when we realize that all of the universe that God created is personal, so when we made space to slow down and reflect Thanksgiving is a very personal holiday to enhance gratitude in our lives. I trust you will make space to reflect on gratitude, but not just for a national holiday.

Week of November 12, 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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As early winter sets in and the season of harvest covers the earth it is time as it always is to pause from the pace of life to give thanks to God for his goodness to each of us. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in and as reluctant to be thankful as is too common, there is always goodness if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. I often wonder when we do give thanks or even if we pray, to whom are we giving thanks and to whom are we praying. Is there any genuine notion of God when I hear the ordinary person in my world thanking or praying? Just this week I had two people ask me to pray for them. Now I wonder why; what were they thinking?

In this season in our culture, I think there is enough cultural support for some sense of God and God’s existence. I think this is a good time to follow up the terser references to God. There is a spirit in our day in which I find people anxious. Maybe that anxiety is grounds to consider alternative approaches to life. Just maybe God has something to offer. In this case ancient truths are not irrelevant.

Week of November 5, 2018

Thursday, November 08, 2018
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Part of the Church has set aside a day to remember those who make up the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12. None of us have gotten where we are in our spiritual journeys without the examples or help of others. Some are known to us and some are unknown. Many of us have been “prayed into faith” by someone who carried that mantle unbeknownst to us.

Remembering those, that is taking time to reflect on those who modeled, taught, or served, is always time well-spent. We have personal mentors, and literary mentors, and biblical characters that have all been used by God to move us forward into the Way of Christ (John 14:6).

I would like to encourage you to make space this week to prayerfully make a list of those that you can remember. You might even take time each day to journal about one person and what their contributions have been. I know we are not pen and paper people much anymore, so if you are not, why not type your story on seven pages and then make it the beginning of your own “Jesus Story.” 

Week of October 29, 2018

Thursday, November 08, 2018
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The “God-with-us” story that has stretched through the centuries has taken on both seasons and events that we have come to acknowledge if not celebrate. Reformation is one of them which we celebrated yesterday. We know it as a period of reforming the church from directions that had taken place that had added to the story taking away from what had originally given us.

The conflict arose over authority. Was the God-given authority resident in the organization of the Church or was it in the pages of the Scriptures inspired by the very Holy Spirit of God? That is the question! It seems that we might be facing the same struggle today though with different players. Does authority reside in the mind of modern man or does it remain in the revealed Word of God? Put another way do we “shape the Scriptures” or do the Scriptures shape us.

The Reformers did not deny authority as legitimate in our lives. The issue was under what authority are we to live life. The reforming need in the Church remains and in our present day, I suspect the reformation needed today is actually a return to sixteenth century reformation, by returning to the Word of God as the true authority for kingdom of God living.

Week of October 15, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018
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We suffer from some of the consequences of the gaps that have formed in our society. There was a time in which in our homes that we were more concerned with “training up good citizens” than we were about producing children who were successes. It has been a subtle change, but one that has only taken a generation to change.

There was a time in which we valued the well-being of the whole above our individual successes. The fact is that any culture faces that dilemma, but we have a “higher” calling called the kingdom of heaven. If we will engage is the ways of Jesus above all other involvements, the fruit will be righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit – for everyone.

This is a hard sell in our hostile world, but it was a “hard sell” in Jesus’ world too. In the end, it is the only way that is truly sane. Jesus came to bring a reality that would save our souls and save our communities, and in the end save the world, but we get to choose. That is the hard part; sacrificing our self-referenced way for the Christ-referenced way. I hope we can embrace the only way that can bring salvation to our innate brokenness.

Week of October 8, 2018

Tuesday, October 09, 2018
 

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It feels like there should be some things that should have been settled like the authority of scripture and the revelation of God in Jesus, but it seems like every generation requires that the issue has to be revisited, studied, and concluded once again. Why is that necessary for the vitality of the Christian faith?

It seems that the reaffirmation of the tenets of the faith is always a part of shaping a new generation of believers. The confidence that is based on truth is necessary for a maturing society. The challenge lies in growing up from adolescent faith to mature adult faith. The nature of society is a factor in how willing people are to receive life and truth on God’s terms.

I suspect that authority that arises outside ourselves is always challenged by the youth of every generation, yet it seems that the self-referenced nature of humanity today lives on the extreme edge of narcissism. It is difficult to engage the modern mind in the pursuit of truth. I suspect that we are so inexperienced in our ability to reason or think through the issues logically, that the truth of God is profoundly foreign. It behooves us to return to the Scriptures and refresh our minds with the truth of God.

Week of September 17, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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I’ve been thinking about our theology regarding love for God. Most any Christian, when asked would concur that they indeed “loved God.” But, I have been considering what that means. The scripture is replete with the equation, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Based on that axiom, one would have to conclude that we are “only kidding ourselves.”

The usual retort to such a challenge is that “well, I’m only human.” God is fully aware of our humanity, but he stated the connection multiple times. Is there something that we are missing? I wonder if there is a clue in John’s Gospel when Jesus makes the connecting point being, “our remaining in him.” Maybe we can’t obey his commands without the practices that “flesh out” the remaining in him.

Maybe we can love him without living life in the Spirit. Maybe we are remaining dependent on our own fleshly, self-referenced efforts that really lead in a circle, back to ourselves. Maybe we need to revisit what it means to remain in him on a regular basis. I think remaining in him involves a vision for it, a commitment of intentional action, and the means to keep moving inward into oneness with him.

Week of September 3, 2018

Wednesday, September 05, 2018
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Perspective is part of the role of the scriptures. Is your perspective for life rooted in truth or gleaned perception? May I remind you that we have been given the scriptures to correct our self-referenced notion of things. Our self-referenced life is shaped by both our own distorted nature and the messages in which we are immersed in from the world around us.

As we are faced with the changing of seasons, summer to autumn, I would hope that along with that aspect of creation that you would endeavor to recognize what in your thinking is dead and the life has gone from it and then to be willing to let the scriptures re-form your understanding and way of thinking.

For many, autumn is a favorite time of the year because of the mild weather and beautiful fall colors. This is a great time to take the scriptures into our minds and hearts through memorization and meditation. In this way, autumn can be a season of change moving from death of our distorted thinking and birth of truth and life in its vibrancy.

Week of August 27, 2018

Tuesday, August 28, 2018
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I occurred to me this week that when we contemplate our heavenly destination, most of us consider heaven being a “place in which we can be rescued from the things we find most distasteful”, but I wonder if our view is less than biblical. It seems that Jesus gave us a clue when it was said of him, “… but for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross…” It seems that joy is the destination.

If you will, it would seem that pure joy is the “pot at the end of the rainbow.” The hidden element seems to be joy. As servants of the Holy One, joy is our message! Every day we have the opportunity to bring the kingdom of God to bear on our circumstances. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.” I think he has captured the essence of the presence of the Almighty.

It was for our joy that Jesus joined us from heaven when he left the glory that he had with the Father and took on the role of a servant – a servant of joy! If we are able to see the “invisible” Presence, then we can embrace the joy set before us and become servants of joy. 

Week of August 20, 2018

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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This is a great time to remind ourselves of something very insightful, but rather old. “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” With all the energy that seems to go on in individual’s lives and even society as a whole that is directed toward “happiness” brought about by personal comfort and convenience, we need to remember we are called to something higher.

We are called to joy; a life lived in the “Shadow of the Almighty” and with an eternal restorative focus. Joy is so much deeper than happiness. In the words of A. W. Tozer; happiness is about what happens, joy is not. Our joy has an honest story that began with the crucifixion and resurrection; continued through the ascension and is cap stoned by the Return. Joy is meant to lift us to life beyond the brokenness of our world.

We are called to engage the world as it is as messengers of joy, bringing life to the victims of corruption and injustice. If life is about what happens to us, we have nothing substantial to offer. May your joy be filled by the Presence of the Prince of Peace. 

Week of August 13, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018
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Our breakneck speed society is bound and determined to break our necks unless we return to God’s word to us: “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it wholly, I mean holy.” We don’t seem to know holy much in today’s world, so maybe wholly is helpful to us. At least we know the synonym to wholly as completely or fully. The point is the Sabbath has both dimension and content and as such God has given us a gift from which we can draw on every week of our lives.

I suggest that one seventh of our day and one seventh of our week be devoted to activities of, in the words of Dan Allender, sensual glory, communal feast, holy time, and playing with God. We were made for sabbath rest as surely as we were given work to do. I wonder if we were more consistent with sabbath practices, if we would be able to move beyond our addiction to entertainment.

I encourage you to make true Sabbath a part of your life rhythm. Try it for the next 4 ½ months as an experiment and see if your life is not more peaceful and joyful. 

Week of July 30, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

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One of the psalms that we often sing goes a little like this, “Create in me a clean heart in me O Lord, renew a right spirit within me…” It seems that the psalmist knows that the heart is the core of who we are. Just how then, is the heart ordered? It would seem that it can easily be disordered, so re-ordering it is an on-going transaction.

The great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards talked profoundly about our “religious affections” and in fact was talking about our heart’s deepest desires. It would seem to me that we have a day before us in which the hearts are rather tepid and do not carry the depth that God created us for.

The wise Solomon once wrote, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Based on the truth of that statement, it seems like most of the problems in our day are heart problems. I guess my encouragement today to quote Dallas Willard, “Our most important task today is the care of our hearts.” It seems more space and effort might be given to the transforming work of the Spirit in our heart’s desires.  

Week of July 23, 2018

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
 

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Maturity and maturing are not terms that we spend much time with in our day and age as they are not exciting enough to garner our attention and yet they are the essence of beauty in the eyes of God. You see, maturity and maturing is the way of beauty in the hands of God. I wonder if the fact that maturing takes time and is a slow process; it is assumed to be meaningless. In our discard-oriented society I think things get “thrown away” far too soon. Especially, in the dynamic of living organisms, it takes time to reach full potential.

I was driving down the street just the other day and I was impressed with the beauty and cooling benefit that mature trees provide. It takes time to grow a tree into the image God created it to fulfill. Driving along a canopied street shaded by huge overarching trees provides a refreshing natural experience.

So, I ask you are you engaged intentionally with maturing? Do you ever make space to take a step back to notice what God is forming in you? When our heart’s desire becomes God’s heart’s desire, we take on a vibrancy that is like none other. Whatever the heart’s desire is it constitutes the reservoir of our lives from which we bless the world. I would encourage you to make regular space for the deepening and enriching of your heart with God.

Week of July 16, 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018
 

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There is an old term that is as dynamic as it was in the 18th century. Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley were famous for describing what God has always been after in us with the term, religious affections. It’s meaning is about as far from typical religion as it could be. In a nutshell, they were referring to the “hearts desires.” They understood correct theological thinking wasn’t the path to the keenest of things that God has desired for us. To say it simply, he has always wanted our hearts. He found it in King David before he ever became king.

The truth is we have given up far too easily and settled for a spirituality that is far short of what Jesus died to accomplish. The Sermon on the Mount exposed heart’s desires that were the worst reflection of us as his created ones. For instance, he wants the adulterous heart changed so that it wants nothing to do with lust of the flesh, but honestly seeks the love of neighbor.

When usually considered, the response is that, that is impossible. But, like Jesus said to the disciples when faced with another impossible situation – with God all things are possible. It becomes a matter of surrender of one’s will to the love of God above all else. Above all else is above all else. That is the question, “Am I willing to seek the kingdom of God above all else?” That remains the standard.

Week of July 9, 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
 

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Rootedness is an interesting phenomenon. In what soil do we find our roots? It seems that we live in time when rootedness is viewed as rigidity and a psycho-spiritual disease. Yet, isn’t it true as followers of Jesus that we are continually encouraged to root ourselves in Him? The prevalent attitude is that everything is negotiable, except what the “other” person is not willing to negotiate.

If we are called by God to be “salt and light”, then we are meant to radiate that which is common to no other Source. In fact, we are as ecclesia, the called-out ones, called to speak with a different voice than that which is predominant. We must however, be those whose voice is rooted in the Way of Jesus and we must learn to speak from what God has already spoken to us.

One of the challenges that we face is that we have been shaped by values and ethics that we often not directly or indirectly biblical. I think it behooves us to reconsider our reasoning to ascertain our biases and be sure that they are directly consistent with the pages through which the Holy One has already spoken to us. There is a higher standard for those who are called by His Name.

Week of July 2, 2018

Tuesday, July 03, 2018
 

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If we pay close attention to Jesus, one of his great mysteries was his ability to adjust. I think many of his excellencies were subtle to the naked eye. I am founding that the closer we pay attention to him the more we experience true amazement, not just in the broad strokes of living, but in the fine details in each of his circumstances.

When thinking about the nuances of our ordinary lives, are there not distinct opportunities in every encounter in our days? We are always presented with the need for the many shades of grace. There isn’t a person that we meet that doesn’t need a fresh touch of the love of God. In the quiet moments of most people’s life, is there not an aridness that describes the human experience?!

The metaphor I am thinking about is the wind of the Spirit. Much like what Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about that one night long ago. As we tend the tiller of our boat, slight adjustments are required to catch the full breeze with the sails of our faith. I’m thinking if we can learn the “adjusting” ways of Jesus, the movements of the Spirit can be fully experienced. Are you, am I so intent on the movements of Christ that we can sense when his power has been loosed into the “other?”

Week of June 25, 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018
 

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Continuing to learn to love is the measure of our lives. Most people think your simply love or you don’t as though it were a mystery of the universe. However, the love that Jesus calls his followers to has a great deal of substance and one must learn it to make it a way of life. To learn Jesus’ love is to learn patience, forbearance and forgiveness. Gordon Smith takes us through this journey in his book, Called to Be Saints.

Once again, we are faced with a world that is rampant with anger in desperate need of peace that is the fruit of love. In our little village we grieved another killing at the hands of anger and rage. It seems to me that we are constantly accosted by the lack of love for our fellow humans, yet so often the Source of our health and holiness is rejected as somehow impractical or irrelevant. What if we were to lead the way in the ordinary encounters of life, where the world could find peace and a love that respects the dignity of every person? What if we were to lead the way in love as much as we have expected that we were leading the way with truth? What if we were known for patience, forbearance and forgiveness? Could Jesus Way be experienced as revolutionary and it was when he walked the planet in flesh and blood? He set the standard, could we rise up and join him?

Week of June 11, 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
 

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Learning to love as Jesus taught us to love is once again like entering the wardrobe and coming out in Narnia. We think we have a handle on it and find out that we know very little of what loving like Jesus called us to involves. As with everything with God, there is so much more to it.

It begins with “radical hospitality” in the words of Gordon Smith. Love is simply this: “to welcome the other as you would Jesus.” Usually we think of hospitality as serving food or drink to someone who has entered your home, but I think more accurately is the welcome you receive at the door – just as you would if Jesus came.

Hospitality requires that we get over ourselves and look out for the needs of the other (Phil. 2:3-4). That is the hard part; getting over ourselves. One of the ways we can best do that is to really listen to the other person without thinking about what we want to say in response. In this hospitality is learning to be fully present to the other person. It seems simple, but it is oh so difficult to learn that the encounter is about them, not you

Week of June 4, 2018

Monday, June 04, 2018
 

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The way of Jesus takes the disciple into unique territory. The path is beyond what is natural to human beings: love for family, romantic love, love for country, car, golf clubs or house. The path Jesus takes us on is love for the enemy, the different or irregular and for those who are not yet born.

It seemed simple when Jesus said it, “Love one another as I have loved you.” But, the revolutionary nature of that simple command was to radically change the individual and the society. It was to stand out within the human community as the most powerful social experiment yet under taken.

No one has fully come to grips with the breadth of such a charge. At best is has been a label devoid of reality. At worst, it has been treated as archaic and the mantra of the “loser.” In a world in which humankind tries to reason itself into inaction, Jesus’ refrain remains haunting to the true believer. As disciples, it is meant to be our brand, our identifying mark

Week of May 28, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
 

                                                                             Blog for Week of May 28th

 

What fills your mind and heart these days; finding “happiness”, being successful according to Wall Street, being comfortable? It is easy to be completely wooed by the kingdom of self. It will guarantee that we will fit in to the world around us that is driven by the same mantra.

But then, we can instead embrace our heritage, “thy kingdom come, they will be done.” This is a way that is radically different in almost every way. Living by the passion of my will not only focuses on another way, but also another destination than what God saved me for. Let’s get this straight, we were not redeemed by Christ for ourselves, but for his eternal purposes.

When we join the world, its ways and its values, we give up our birthright and the calling that was sacrificed greatly to accomplish. Our identity is that we are the ecclesia, the called out ones that have been sent back into the world to be its salt and light.

Week of May 14, 2018

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
 

                                                                       Blog for Week of May 14th

 

Spring is a joy to embrace, but it is also a time to prepare for the growing season called summer. We work at preparing our yard and “beds” for the growth that we anticipate. In some ways we can prune some plants still for growth, while we fertilize and soften the soil so that what has been planted or what has sprouted can maximize its growth. This is an ideal season for immersing ourselves in God’s way, so that our hearts are prepared to receive the work he is purposing to do in us. This is a great time to commit to memorizing scriptures, increasing our devotion to prayer, and immersing ourselves in one of the Gospels so that we can live and breathe in the atmosphere of Jesus.

The challenge before us is not a natural challenge. What God has for us requires that we listen for a different drumbeat, a different cadence. God’s way is never the “common” way. It is strictly uncommon. So let me encourage you to make this season a new season cultivating what God has set before us.

Week of May 7, 2018

Tuesday, May 08, 2018
 

                                                                           Blog for Week of May 7th

 

The signs of spring provide a beautiful commentary on change. The change in the season moving from winter to summer is the most colorful of the year. It tells us that the harsh conditions of winter are being left behind and growth is being reawakened.

What is it that needs to be reawakened in us? We can get lost in the dailyness of our lives and miss the fresh calling of change and growth. If we keep our heads down and not up, the beauty of opportunity escapes us.

I don’t think we were created to make every day the same. There are seasons in the year and there are stages in life. What is it that you need in this spring season and this stage of your life? All is meant to bring us to a greater maturity; a deeper love, a greater faith, and a more solid hope. Ask the Lord to show you and he will!

Week of April 30, 2018

Wednesday, May 02, 2018
 

                                                                       Blog for Week of April 30th

 

Spring at home is a time to aerate and fertilize the yard; aerate to improve the absorption of the spring rains and fertilize to poison the weeds and stimulate the growth of the weeds. It is common in our homes to clean and organize from the season just past. We know that will the change of seasons, certain activities are needed to the sake of the rhythm of a healthy life. It is hard for us to keep in mind the invisible world of Spirit, more real than all other expressions of life, yet less tangible. Therefore, may I suggest that we give thought to the needs of our “inner man” from which all other things gather their Source. Taking care of our “being” is our first work as all “doing” flows from the reservoir of Spirit. The question for us, “Can we give as much attention to the Temple of the Holy Spirit – our souls, as we do the earth property that we possess? Think about it; what needs to be extinguished or discarded to make space for new growth. What spiritual aeration and fertilizing needs to take place for the best growth in the season ahead? I have three practices that have always helped: scripture memory, devotion to prayer and immersion in the Gospels to learn Jesus’ Way.

Week of April 23, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
 

                                                                       Blog for Week of April 23rd

 

Spring is a great season of beginnings to consider something to be added to make a more fruitful existence. May I suggest that this would be a great time to renew our commitment to being people of truthfulness. It’s as though our culture has lost its moorings regarding truthfulness. It seems that we have to become capable researchers to find the truth about something.

As followers of Jesus we have the opportunity to once again set things right in the world as it pertains to us. We have been given the clarion call to be people of Truth (Zechariah 8:16). It is the only way for a society to thrive, let alone survive. We have been told that truth will set us free (Jn. 8:32). And yet, the pillars upon which that is printed on the architecture of modern day, the university is hardly living up to the slogan.

We can complain about society or “others”, but we have a place of impact if we will but be people of truth individually, 2 Pet. 2:2!

Week of April 16, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018
 

                                                                     Blog for Week of April 16th

 

Spring is a season for awakening! There is something within the natural world that awakens plant and animal; those that have been asleep. God ordains his creation to be that way. We daughters and sons of the Most High – for us it is a different story.

We get to choose! Life and breath is presented to us, but we have to choose to participate. We choose to wake up to the call of the Spirt or we don’t. The dailyness of life can woo us to slumber with the busyness of life when we think we are wide awake.

It is only when we make empty space that we can hear the whisper of God that awakens us to the sound of His Voice. The fact is that when our “beliefs” do not flesh themselves out in our own flesh and blood, we remain in a self-deceptive hibernation doing all kinds of “good” things that we have not been called to do. The metrics of our common culture is that significance is measured by busyness. What a sinister deception! Responding to the Voice rather than our “best thinking” is the difference between divine relationship and religion.

Week of April, 9 2018

Monday, April 09, 2018
                                                                                           Blog for Week of April 9th
Do you have any sense of pushing on in your faith? It seems to me that the daily way in which we live, we are inextricably drawn to status quo. It’s as though we scramble to find control which we have come to confuse with stability. Stability is a statement to describe the inner life, not one’s circumstances. Control is an external function. As a consequence, control feels like it is strength when it is in fact most vulnerable and rigid. Stability is a soulish function. If we are to “push on” in our faith, it is in reality pushing up that leads downward as in deepening one’s faith. To soar upward, is to descend downward. Seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? The main thing is to shove off the bank so to speak and God will determine the direction and flow. We are left with these words of Jesus, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
 

Week of April 2, 2018

Wednesday, April 04, 2018
                                                                                          Blog for Week of April 2nd
How do we respond after the event? What carries us forward when the celebration is past? The celebrations of God’s redemptive work: O.T. or N.T. are meant to help shape us in the way of truth.
It often seems like our religious events are usually quickly forgotten; that we use them for a change of pace, but doesn’t God have more in mind than that? These events are given to be used by God, not just to make theological statements, but I think rather to help us separate from the self-centered environment of our popular culture.
Whether it is the events of Holy Week just passed, or the tradition of Passover, it is to remind us of our story that we are a people called out from among humankind to be separate in the life of the Spirit. We remain set apart unto God to carry the living hope within us into a hopeless world.
Some have described true followers of Jesus as “Easter people.” Easter brings us a fresh hope, joy and peace. Don’t you think that our world needs that just now?
 

Week of March 26, 2018

Tuesday, March 27, 2018
                                                                                         Blog for Week of March 26th
Even though the world around us thinks that Christmas is the end of the story, we know better. This is the week that changed the world. It is a week of intention, the week that separates the disciples of Jesus from those who simply admire Jesus. The hard story of suffering, sacrifice and confusion tells us a story of revolution. No revolution on planet earth can take place without suffering and sacrifice. If we enter the story this week, prepare to slow down and re-read John’s gospel, chapters 12-17 over and over. John was there and has given us a full picture that invites us to participate in this week that indeed, changed the world. One of the practices that can enhance our understanding is to join the disciples from around the world in praying what is called, “The Stations of the Cross.” It is simply the places and events in this final week of Jesus’ mortal life. We have a great opportunity to support Jesus as he journeys to the Cross once again. I think he would like the company.
 

Week of March 19, 2018

Monday, March 19, 2018
                                                                                   Blog for Week of March 19th
Glory is a rather common biblical term, but uncommon in today’s language. However, it is an all too frequent concept. It is common for men and women to seek glory and we have come to accept it and call it by other names: success, prestige, honor or publicity. Consider, if you will, the sin of the angels. What was it? Seeking glory! I suppose that might be the deception of our age; seeking the glory. Remember what happened with Herod in Acts 12 when he sought the glory? It certainly puts us on the wrong track. The spirit of our Lenten season was profoundly stated by John the Baptist when he said, “He must increase and I must decrease.” That seems to be the opposite of the rampant spirit of our day, both in the church and in the society. Join with me as we prepare for Resurrection Day in the vitality of decrease.
 

Week of March 12, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018
                                                                                         Blog for Week of March 12th
In light of Lent’s practices of fasting, prayer and acts of generosity, it is of great value to give attention to prayer and specifically, the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Our focus this week is on the phrase, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus knew a lot about what he was teaching the disciples. He knew that life in the Spirit is at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We often miss out when we reserve this prayer to our celebration of the Lord’s Table or for formal worship gatherings. This was given by Jesus to his disciples (that’s us) as their “bread and butter” prayer for daily life. It included each of the notions that we need to engage in to face the day with a genuine sense of readiness. If we indeed understand that we are apprentices of Jesus, we need to learn everything we can from him on how to live well. At least during these remaining days of Lent, may I challenge you to pray the Lord’s Prayer – slowly, before you begin each day. Let its truth seep into your mind and heart before anything else in the day.
 

Week of March 5, 2018

Tuesday, March 06, 2018
                                                                                 Blog for Week of March 5th
It is often to our detriment when we treat life in an, “out of sight, out of mind” sort of way. During the Lenten Season, if we are to benefit most from the rhythm of fasting, prayer and acts of charity, it behooves us to be as intentional as possible. It is to our advantage to identify each expression of fasting, prayer and giving each week and submit those to God every day. The fruit comes in directing the focus of our lives during this period of solemnity. Focus is a practice that yields tangible blessings. It seems that the lack of intentionality or focus in our spiritual lives is what produces a spiritual malaise. It is easiest for us to look for external stimulation as a source of spiritual liveliness, but it is more a lack of intentionality and focus of the “inner person” that is missing. It is difficult to truly “follow Jesus” when we avoid the “quiet work” that Lent brings to us.
 

Week of February 26, 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
                                                                                        Blog for Week of February 26th
We struggle with solemnity. Our capacity for sobriety has been marginalized by the constant deluge of anger and hostility that characterizes the social atmosphere that we breathe day in and day out. Yet, the way the Lenten season sits before us emphasizes the path that led Jesus to the greatest expression of love in the universe, of all time. What is required of us if we are to join the Savior in his walk to the cross is that we tune our minds and hearts to his Voice and his cadence. This is a time to block out the noise. Maybe our fasting comes in the form of removing the noise, making the choice to clear the space around us. That is after all what a spiritual discipline is: making space for God alone. Solemnity and sobriety are not equivalent to sadness. Instead they bring us into the presence of Jesus who it was said of, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). This season of solemnity and sobriety are meant to lead us into the presence of his great glory.
 

February 19, 2017

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
                                                                                         Blog for Week of February 19th
With the event of last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we have entered what is called the cycle of life: fasting, prayer and acts of charity. This rhythm is made to challenge our natural self-centeredness in order to “prepare the way” for Jesus. John the Baptist is known for the message: confess your sins, repent and be baptized (cleansed) of the corruption that governs your life. Though we reside on the “other side of the cross,” this is a season that invites us to refresh our sensitivities. We have confession available to us every day and we do not have to make an annual trek to Solomon’s Temple for the sake of forgiveness. We can walk in forgiveness because of the daily work of the Trinity and the history of the cross, but it is for the deepening of our walk in grace that we come to this season to renew our awareness of Jesus’ path of holiness and wholeness. Fasting, prayer and acts of charity are given to us to stimulate our obedience to God’s call on our lives of justice, mercy and humility. May your fasting result in a life of justice, mercy and humility. Fasting is not meant to be a practice to “get” something from God, but it is to capture our attention on the ways of God that are of a greater substance than our usual path of comfort and convenience.
 

Week of Feruary 12, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018
                                                                                      Blog for Week of February 12th
Ironically, this week begins on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Conversation has raged throughout the last few decades regarding Lincoln’s spiritual life. Most of the conversations have focused on either theology or “theological jargon.” What is indispensable are his actions of justice, mercy and humility. It would seem that the prophet Micah might ring in on Lincoln’s faith (Micah 6:8). Do we expend too much effort on proper theological declarations and not enough focus on the fruit of one’s being (John 15:8)? For all the correct theology in the doctrinal statements, it seems that there is little justice, mercy and humility being lived out. Maybe correct doctrine has little power to transform; instead it seems that the fruit of truth actually lived out makes a greater impact on the darkness. On behalf of Abraham Lincoln, a life lived in justice, mercy and humility seems to bear undeniable light that lasts.
 

Week of February 5, 2018

Tuesday, February 06, 2018
                                                                                     Blog for Week of February 5th
The movement of season we take for granted. I dare say anything that does not grab our attention gets none of our attention. Suffice it to say, that in our natural state, a good share of life escapes us. I keep coming back to the same practices that make a difference in how we experience our days. Awareness and attentiveness are the two elements that increase the dimensions and color of each day. Henri Nowen described spiritual disciplines as simply “making space for God alone.” These disciplines of awareness and attentiveness require a degree of emptying space of its usual noise and clutter. When we engage the day with these practices there is a richness and meaningfulness that comes through brightly illuminating the day. The ordinary breathes extraordinary if we are prepared to receive it. Let the days of this winter season move deeply within.
 

Week of January 15, 2018

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
                                                                                    Blog for Week of January 15th
A new calendar year often brings renewed attempts to correct old excesses or to stimulate fresh passions; so why is that the nature of our Western humanity? Is it because we are so unhappy? We make the condition of our bodies or the productivity of our work the source of our happiness, when instead God calls us to joy. I suspect that we need instead, to come to a place of peace (shalom) in Him and then what he wants for us will come into focus. Change and growth have a chance, the, to be the nature of our days. What we tend to want for ourselves is temporary and elusive. Matthew 11:28-30 outlines a much better way as we learn the “unforced rhythms of grace.” There is more fruit that hangs from the vines of grace than hang from the vines of our “best efforts.” May I encourage us to learn “his yoke” and direct our efforts toward “the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and let the fruit grow at its pace. In the kingdom of God there is no GMO.
 

Week of December 25, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017
                                                                             Blog for Week of December 25th
Nothing that is rich in meaning can be raced through. Does it seem to you that we race from Halloween to Christmas and then we race through the Day and on into another year? Is that not why our lives are superficial and our joy so short-lived? I’ve been learning a lot from the Jesus Way. We have a tendency to just think about imitating the character of Jesus, but not his way about living. The Jesus Way is unhurried and full of richness. He lived a day at a time, not a week at a time, a month at a time or a year at a time. Can we just not hurry through this week following The Nativity? Can we live with the scent of the straw still strong in our noses? I’m one for rehearsing the Story over and over to notice the nuances that add color and fragrance to the Incarnation. By this time we are exhausted with the white noise of Christmas songs (not Christmas carols), but our redeeming the joys that we celebrate can bring fresh depth to our souls. I trust you were able to gather new expressions of hope, peace, joy and love during the past weeks. Now it is time to savor the rhythm in your mind or on paper. Don’t let the blessing escape you!
 

Week of December 18, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
                                                                                     Blog for Week of December 18th
As we march through this Advent Season and the week that is set before us, we are serenaded by the clarion call of the Wilderness Voice of John who baptized. Our sweet Jesus in the manger images are thwarted by the Voice crying out, “Prepare the way!” How do we receive the innocent image of the Incarnational One, unless we have come humbled by the sheer awareness of our own unworthiness? That’s what repentance will do for you. There is a critical transaction that has taken place through John and his call to repentance. Since we have the Gospels, we have more than an inkling as to what Jesus was about. The preparation was necessary so that the inhabitants of the Land would be able to receive that Gospel Story. It is the same for us today. Our receptivity is dependent the humility that has been carved out of the stuff of our humanity. Those who could never quite grasp the preaching of the kingdom of heaven we the same one who were far more concerned with John’s authority, than they we with John’s message. Again this week is a great opportunity to prepare the way as we make space and invitation for that same Spirit of God to bring us to a fresh place of repentance. May you know the humility of heart that allows the simplicity of the Manger to once again embrace afresh the Coming of the Holy One of Israel.
 

Week of December 11, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
                                                                                           Blog for Week of December 11th
 
 In preparation for Week Three of the Advent Season, we open ourselves to the stories of Joy.  Someone, I heard it somewhere, that joy is simply peace dancing.  If that is the case then the dancing I see is rarely joy.  As we peruse the pages of scripture; it is clear that joy is high on God’s agenda for his children.  I wonder why we don’t live with more joy?        Maybe we have been deceived into thinking that we create our own joy and for the most part we are ineffective in that pursuit.  It’s not that people aren’t striving for it or trying as hard as they can.  I think joy is something that we have to receive; it comes from God and God alone.    Jesus said something about joy when he said to his disciples, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my Name, ask and you will receive that your joy may be made full." Joy is the fruit that comes from the hand of God.  Make some space in your life this week to ask Jesus for that which will make your joy complete.  The Joy of this Season is rooted in the Savior and his love for you and me. 
 

Week of December 4, 2017

Tuesday, December 05, 2017
                                                                                  Blog for Week of December 4th
 
 As confirmed disciples of Jesus peace is set before us this second week of Advent.  The clarion call is to live in the reality of repentance – repent of your sins.  We never get beyond the need for repentance as it is the way of cleansing and change.  The secret of repentance from the heart is humility.  No wonder John’s message in preparation for Jesus’ coming was repentance of sin.    In order to receive Jesus day in day out, we need the humbling of our dominating egos, for that self-centeredness is the very thing that keeps us from him.  True repentance requires a vulnerability that opens us to Jesus as Savior, Lord and Friend of our lives.  Our contending for the place of control is our great obstacle for all that he came to be to us.         I wonder if that was not the essence of the preparation message – humble yourself in the sight of the Lord.  That is the only opening for the Savior.  Otherwise, we are left with a tepid life of belief that is at best a deception.
 

Week of November 27, 2017

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
                                                                                 Blog for Week of November 27th
 
 This next Sunday begins again the rhythm of Advent, the four-week season of preparation; preparation to receive again the entry of Jesus into our world and our lives.  In the sixth century, the leaders of the church introduced this season of anticipation as a way to encourage the deepening of the experience of believers.  We often need help in slowing down, so that we can embrace these days renewing our joy in God’s great love that comes through the incarnation of the Holy One.   This is a time to celebrate the first coming of Christ into our sin-sick world, giving us hope for life lived in the Light.  The second purpose of the Advent is to celebrate the presence of Christ in our lives as we have placed our faith in his saving and kingdom bringing work.  The third purpose is to anticipate his Return when he comes to judge our world and complete his salvation story.     I want to encourage you with Sunday’s scripture that you might sit with it and let it flow over you like a fresh wind: Mark 13:24-37.  Let the certainty of God’s promise and the stimulation of his kingdom assignment fill the nooks and crannies of your soul this week.