Synchronicity or a glimpse of the eternal

I like the synchronicity of life. Sometimes people call these God moments. I believe they aren’t just moments, but glimpses of the eternal.

For the past week I have studied the Beautitude:

Matthew5 3And I struggled with it.

Every. Single. Day.

What I have always read and heard in those words is that unless I suffer I will not meet God. And I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to be brought low to my knees. I don’t want to despair.

Jesus spoke these words to two groups. The religious elite and everyone else. He said it to unmoor the listeners from the set of beliefs that said, only those who experience material riches are blessed. Jesus came along and said. Nope.

And they needed to be shaken. I needed to be shaken, and boy did those words shake me. All week I asked myself, will I only gain God, if I lose everything?

Then on Friday I read a Psalm about David. David the boy shepherd, who plays the harp. Defeats a giant. Becomes king. And he messes it all up. He has a man killed. He has a baby out of wedlock. His sons all start fighting. But was still loved by God.

David wrote a beautiful Psalm that shook me a little more.

psalm 51 17

This is a man who understood what it meant to come to God, warts and all, and still find hope. Still find love. Still find blessings.

It wasn’t until yesterday when I sat in the seats at church and listened to the message. Which was about David. The boy who was anointed king while the other king still reigned. Who was called by God and answered that call with nothing more than who he was and what he had.

A harp

A slingshot

A voice.

He came to God poor in spirit. Not destitute. Not in despair. But as he was so he could be filled up and given God’s kingdom.

Synchronicity or a glimpse of the eternal when I wrestled with God.

Being poor in spirit is a lot of things. There is hope in that for those who are lost. Who are marginalized. Who despair. The hope is they aren’t forgotten. They are blessed too.

And there is hope for us. For those of us who look in our full hands, full hearts, and minds and say, God, here I am. Use me. Even like this. I know I am called by you, because you do great things through people. People even like me.

I don’t know that I will ever hear the first beatitude the same way again, because now I know I am included.

I am known, chosen and loved. Exactly as I am. With exactly what I have. I come and serve.

Today, go out and live the truth, “Blessed are the poor in spirit. For theirs is the Kingdom of God.” Lift up your hands and say. “Here I am. Use me. Just like this.”

Watch the world change.

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A big deal

This past Sunday was a pretty big deal in the church. For the longest time I thought Christmas was the most important holiday in the Christain faith. And then I realized Easter is the bigger holiday. As the years go on, I realize Pentecost is a really important day in the life of a Christian, but it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Christmas morning. Or the thrill of new life on Easter.

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But this past Sunday as I sat around a campfire with my church I was reminded how important Pentacost really is.

It is the day we celebrate coming alive.

It is a people

centered in Christ

in community

on fire with God’s love

who are sent to change the world.

Pentacost isn’t just a day that the banners on our altar change, or our pastors wear different colored stoles. It is a day we remember that the Holy Spirit is with us. In us. Around us. Through us.

A day we become empowered to do great things for the world.

This Pentacost I wondered why, on a day we received the Holy Spirit do we sit in our churches and celebrate inside the walls? Doesn’t it seem like the right day to go out in the world and serve?

I love the story of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit came as a “violent wind” and “tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them” gathered there, and then they spoke in tongues.

It was such a weird scene that some people thought they were drunk, but others heard the Gospel.

In their own tongue and they were amazed. Peter then addressed the crowd.

Pentecost

The Holy Spirit is for all and we the church are the ones who spread that call. With the tongues we were given, in our unique way with our special gifts. The Holy Spirit descended on each one of us. It lit a fire in our hearts to go out and spread the message of peace, love and reconciliation to every single person we meet.

In whatever way we can

As often as we can

As each circumstance requires

The fire we were given only grows if we allow it to spread. It extinguishes if we keep it inside of us. Pentacost is a reminder in our church year that we were given a precious gift that we weren’t meant to keep to ourselves.

This Pentecost, go out and spread the Gospel. Speak the language you have been given, to the people you are with. It is life changing, it is world changing, it is kingdom changing.

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Choosing your story

Choosing your story

This week my family was riding in the van. My oldest had a complaint of some sort or the other. She is going through a growth spurt (of which I have no empathy, I never experienced growing that fast) Her legs and arms often ache and she, much like my husband, doesn’t deal well with pain.

The youngest starts singing at the top of her lungs, “Life is Hard. Hard. Haaaaarrrrddd.”

Because that is pretty much my response to most of life’s difficulties. Because if life isn’t hard, it is almost impossible to see the absolute beauty in it.

Then this morning I went out for my run. The clouds in the distance were swollen and heavy. But to the right of me the sky was light and shades of blue poked through. I put my money on the wrong clouds and  two blocks from my house the skies opened and released its torrent.

I hate running in the run.

The refrain, “Life is Hard. Hard. Haaaarrrrddd.” echoed through my head.

We get to choose how the story plays out. Rob Bell calls this Anakephalaiosasthai. When suffering happens, we choose the next step. We choose to believe God’s redemption was always there or we can choose to believe grace skipped us. We can live in to: Joy. Redemption. Reconciliation. Or we can choose: bitterness. Anger. Pain.

Our stories are told the way we want them to be told.

Almost ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. And for about a year it leveled me. Not just the treatments, but my story. I was so angry and bitter it happened to me. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t want that life. I wanted everything to go back to the way it was.

Somewhere along the way my story changed. Cancer no longer became the thing I wish I didn’t have, but the catalyst for change in my life. My healing wasn’t only physical, but emotional and spiritual as well. What I say about cancer now is, it was the best worst thing to ever happen to me.

Life is hard. But it is so freaking beautiful at the same time.

What is the story you tell about your hardship? Do you have broken relationships? Chronic illness? A bad marriage? A difficult job situation? Where does your story lead you? Is the path rocky, bitter, and full of anger? Or, is that rocky path beautiful and full of life? Do you turn your face to the rain and accept refreshment? Do you marvel at the pain in your body as generating new life?

(Paraphrasing Rob Bell) The thing about stories is, if you can tell it, you’ve already lived it. You’re through the other side; it didn’t destroy you, so why live like it has? This life we have is precious and beautiful and so short. The hard things in life ARE hard. They bring us to our knees. They change us. But every hard side has two retellings. Don’t waste your life telling the wrong story.

Choose today to live into: Hope. Truth. Grace.

And do yourself a favor and listen to this RobCast that explains it so much better than I ever could.

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Compassion is . . .

We need more compassion in today’s world. When I open my news feed and see people debating whether gay rights is biblically right or wrong, I want to answer with compassion.

When I see faces stretched in anger, hurt pouring out of hearts after centuries of racism and segregation, I want to answer with compassion.

When I see families arguing. Friends fighting. People who forget they are loved, I want to answer with compassion.

Compassion starts with hearing and listening. It begins when I stop arguing with the person in front of me and open my head, ears and heart to his hurt. Her brokenness. The world’s injustice.

We say we fight for justice in this world, but often we mean human justice. One that answers discrimination with arguments about state’s rights. One that answers a negligence of justice with rioting and riot gear.

Our justice is not true justice. Because the only true justice in this world begins with compassion. It starts with looking at the person in front of you with dignity, love and respect. No matter how different they are from you. No matter how they may have hurt you in the past. Compassion says I will stop following my own hurt and focus on us. On our relationship.

On reconciliation.

Compassion says I might lose something I thought was important, for what is important.

Love

Hope

Redemption

We all have people in our lives who need compassion and often we, ourselves, need compassion. Dialog happens when we let go of “fair and equal” or “I deserve.” Often those are code words for this is mine and I will do anything to keep it. Nothing good comes from such a scared place. Instead, if we look at the person in front of us and remember she hurts as much as I do, he is as afraid as I am or she doesn’t feel loved; kindness emanates from that space. Patience rolls in like fog, dampening our anger. We remember her light comes from God as much as mine does. If I lay down “my side” and focus on “our side”compassion becomes the common language instead of anger.

I want this world to burst with compassion. I want hurt to be answered with love. Anger to be answered with kindness. Fear answered with hope.

And above all, I want us to love each other recklessly and fully; with gentleness and peace; with hope and longing for complete restoration of relationship.

1Peter38

Jesus challenged the rich young man to lose his life. Lose his life for what is eternal. Today, lose you life for what matters. Let go of something you thought you couldn’t live without in order to bring about restoration of relationship.

Let grace and compassion run wild in this world.

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Sunday Reflection: Grace

“Because we religious types are really good at building walls and retreating to temples. We’re good at making mountains out of our ideologies, obstructions out of our theologies, and hills out of our screwed-up notions of who’s in and who’s out, who’s worthy and who’s unworthy. We’re good at getting in the way. Perhaps we’re afraid if we move, God might use people and methods we don’t approve of, that rules will be broken and theologies questioned. Perhaps we’re afraid that if we get out of the way, this grace thing might get out of hand. Well, guess what? It already has.”

Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday

What if today, you baptized yourself in grace?

What if today, instead of accepting the human call of death, darkness and sin you heeded God’s call of life, light and grace?

What if today, you didn’t look in front of you for affirmation, but up to the One who loves you recklessly?

What if today, you ignored the human rules of worth and accepted you were already redeemed and worthy?

How would you live different? How would you love different? How would you change the world?

Today, on this Sunday

Let-grace-run-wild

Let it run wild in your heart, in your mind and your world. Live into that truth, today and everyday.

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Resurrection Sunday

he-is-risen

 

You’ve put on your Easter clothes. You’ve piled into the car with a smile on your face. You greet your church family with Happy Easter!

This is how it goes, right?

Then we go home, eat a big meal with family, put away our Easter clothes and go back to life. Until next year.

But. What if we lived each day, like it is Resurrection Sunday? What if we didn’t think of Jesus’ sacrifice once a year, but every single day? What if, we felt God’s incredible love with every morning breath we take in, and every exhale before sleep.

What if we truly lived every moment as a resurrection moment?

Because when confronted with the absolute love and sacrifice of God, how can we live any other way?

This Easter, don’t put away the story for another year. Live into the promise of that cross, each and every day, and remember:

I-am-known-I-am-loved-I

 

Happy Easter, friends. Carry that message of hope out into the world, wherever your feet carry you.

 

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Friday Encouragement: A Hard Beautiful Day

Good Friday is a hard beautiful day. Jesus on the cross. Our sins laid bare. Dying for us. For the people who get it wrong so often.

Yet, in that hard space, where the sky darkens and the earth shakes, we are transformed. IMG_3429

 

We know he lives, he rises, he loves.

 

 

IMG_3430

Death doesn’t get the final say.

Garden of the Gods

 

God does.

 

Remember in the hard times there is a God who is unshakeable. When death knocks on our doors God gathers us in his arms and dries our tears. When you don’t feel worthy God loves you, exactly how you are.

Today is hard. But it isn’t the end.

It is the beginning.

 

 

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