Friday, December 31, 2010

Why Miss It?

"I'm glad Jesus wasn't a politician telling us what we wanted to hear or selling us the same old crap that never works. I am grateful for His honesty and truth. He invites us to take courage - to believe that the kingdom of God is the good news we've been waiting for and to realize that without a radical turning of the heart, we'll never be able to see what He is doing in our world and is inviting us to be part of.

So much of repentance is about dying to old things and inviting new life into the new things of the Spirit. Imago Dei had to ask the hard question: Do we actually want the revolution of Jesus to break into our life and our community? Frankly, we were worried about what we might lose.

I have told our stories to many church leaders. The weird thing is that most of them smile and get excited and go home inspired, but nothing changes because they try to do kingdom stuff without desire for the King. In short, they never repented. Repenting turns us away from our own poverty and toward God's best. His kingdom is here among us. It is moving and accessible. Why miss it?"

- This Beautiful Mess, Rick McKinley

Do we "want to"?

"One of the biggest challenges to following Jesus into His kingdom is not a lack of direction but a lack of desire. Most of us don't really want to do it.

When the Imago Dei community numbered only about twenty and we were still meeting in a borrowed basement, it became pretty apparent to me that this was our problem. We didn't "want to," and not because we didn't understand what God was calling us to either. What part of loving your enemies or embracing a child is confusing? We knew what to do, but we couldn't bring ourselves to act.

We realized that if we wanted to live out the kingdom, we would need to get our hearts before God. Only His Spirit can create spiritual desire. ... We needed God to change us."

- This Beautiful Mess, Rick McKinley, Pastor of Imago Dei

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Living Worship ~ Mark Labberton

"I offer a palette of observations to provide color and texture so we might come to perceive, name, and act more justly.  This is the change in you and me that the world awaits.  This is the new life towards which Christian worship relentlessly urges us to move.  Until our worship actually leads us to love differently in the world, our hearts have not changed.
I use worship to mean living the life God made for us - in other words, the most encompassing response of the whole of our lives to the whole of God made known in Jesus Christ.  Worship is sharing in the life that is God's life in and for the world.  Worship, then, will not refer to a particular form, musical or liturgical.  It refers to the life-encompassing act of waking up to God in Christ by the Spirit with our whole being, living in communion with others who are doing likewise, and letting it show in the midst of a world for which such wakeful worship is to be a daily taste of the kingdom of love and justice that is coming."

~ The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor:  Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus

"Fewer Services, More Service"

"I want to propose a slogan: "Fewer Services, More Service." Most churches focus a great deal of energy each week on creating a meaningful worship experience. I have no objection to that. ... Unfortunately, very little energy is put into helping members know one another well enough that they could tend to a culture of grace and truth in their midst.

But note that the service Jesus offered on the night he taught his disciples to love one another was a very mundane service to them. Jesus didn't invite them to a worship service. Nor did he create an opportunity for the disciples to service the disadvantaged of Jerusalem. Instead, Jesus washed their feet. ... Jesus said the world will know we are his disciples if we love one another by tending to each other's basic needs.

I wonder how many people in churches actually know the basic needs of their fellow church members. ... We rarely talk about how we could meet one another's basic needs. It doesn't often occur to Christians that this is what church is about."

- New Monasticism, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

I have to ask myself if I really know the basic needs of my own brothers and sisters. I must be more intentional about looking for opportunities to "see the need & meet the need" of my compadres.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Choice

"So when you and I hear staggering numbers (greater than a billion people live and die in desperate poverty, surviving on less than a dollar per day ~ twenty-six thousand children will die today due to starvation or preventable disease) and statistics (eighty percent of the world population lives on less than ten dollars per day) about the poor and needy among us and around the world, we have a choice.  We can switch the channels on our mega-TVs and continue our comfortable, untroubled, ordinary churchgoing lives as if the global poor don't exist.  We can let these numbers remain cold, distant and almost imaginary.  Or we can open our eyes and our lives to the realities that surround us and begin considering the faces that are represented by these numbers."  David Platt ~ Radical

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me." (Mt 20:37-40 MSG)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inspired Unity

All the believers were one in heart and mind. Acts 4:32

Sadly, with individual interests on the stage, Spirit-filled fellowships turn into institutions, with all the baggage institutions seem to require. Personal agendas and concerns begin to rival one another, and eventually fellowship is corrupted or even broken. The body of Christ becomes a collection of churchgoers, and instead of one heart and mind, there are many.
The early church was utopian, the kind of community that everyone craves and no one believes is even possible. Christian movements always begin with a sense of unity. The excitement and newness of a fresh work of God seems to subvert everyone's petty agendas, while awe forces observers to realize that something greater than their individual selves is taking center stage. The power of God gently and thoroughly overcomes the selfish individuality of men and women. When God does wonders, people live in wonder. And living in wonder puts us in the audience rather than on stage. Wonder and unity work well together.

-from The One Year Worship the KING Devotional (Chris Tiegreen)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

With Clarity of Purpose

"The more genuine and deeper our community becomes, the more will everything between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and His work become the one and only thing that is vital between us."

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

May we continue to be led by the Holy Spirit into the places in the Kingdom He would direct and command us to go. May we be united in Him and fueled by the power that raised Jesus from the dead! May the love of Jesus compel us outward always, leaving self behind.

Keep Your Eyes Open For Jesus

This incident happened to Jonathan while in college working as a page for Senator Strom Thurmond.

"But in my rush to follow Jesus to the White House, I almost tripped over him one day on my way to lunch at Union Station. Just outside the doors of that great building, a man was crouched down, holding a styrofoam cup. He asked if I could spare some change, and I looked at him without saying a word. I remembered what I'd heard back in King about how poor folks in the city were lazy and begged money to buy drugs and booze. A country boy in the city, I was dressed in my Sunday best, doing everything I knew how to fit in. I didn't want to look naive. So I looked straight through the man and kept walking.

But about the time I stepped through those glass doors into Union Station, I recalled one of my memory verses from vacation Bible school. They were the words of Jesus, ringing in my head: "Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me" (Matt. 25:45 KJV). I knew that if those words were true, I had not only just ignored a fellow human being; I had completely missed the Lord I was trying to serve. I turned around and ran all the way back to my little dorm room on Capitol Hill, found one of the Billy Graham tracts my church had sent with me to the big city, wrapped a twenty-dollar bill around it, and returned to Union Station to deposit it in that man's styrofoam cup. It was the only thing I could think to do at the time. I just didn't want to miss Jesus."

- New Monasticism, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Back into the World...

Leonard Ravenhill (1907–1994), a British evangelist, once said, “The greatest miracle God can do today is take an unholy man out of an unholy world, make that man holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”

Take the risk and "boldly go where no man has gone before" ~ make a difference (MAD) for eternity, sharing His GREAT love and allowing Father to receive all the glory!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Relational Deposit

The one minute script for Mark Gregston's "Parenting Today's Teens" has a wonderful message to parents.  With a few minor changes, it has even broader impact for all of us.  Here's how I read it:

Much is being said today about the economy and the need to save money, but let me ask this…what is your relational savings account looking like?

Having a solid relationship with others is like making deposits to a savings account. You add to it every time you give of your time, energy and wisdom. In the future your investment in people’s lives will compound in the form of responsibility, maturity, and mutual respect.

People who invest themselves in a relational savings plan have something to draw upon when tough times come. So think about that when you plan your week.  Find time to invest this week, one-on-one, in your relationships.

I'd like to make a deposit please...

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Joy of Giving (Advent Day 13)

Today's Advent reading is from the "Girlfriends in God" devotional ministry.
Written by Mary Southerland.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NCV): "Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily."

One of my favorite authors, Richard Foster, writes, "Giving with glad and generous hearts has a way of routing out the tough old miser within us. Even the poor need to know that they can give. Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed." God loves to see us give for no other reason than the joy of giving.

The true story is told of a self-made millionaire who had lived in New York City his entire life. Born and raised in a ghetto, he worked hard and achieved much. Anyone who knew this man would testify to the fact that he was generous--to a fault, some would say. One year, the man was disturbed by an attitude of selfishness and greed that seemed to pervade the Christmas holiday season and everyone around him. Not one to condemn, the millionaire decided that since he had been given so much, it was up to him to do his part in combating greed and came up with an unusual plan. Wearing a disguise, this man stuffed his pockets with $100 dollar bills and set out for a walk on the streets of New York City. When he saw someone in need, he whipped out one of the bills, pressed it into that person's hands and with a "Merry Christmas," made his way down the street. "It was the most wonderful part of my holiday season," the man reported, and he has been doing it ever since.

God is much more interested in our motive for giving than in the gift itself. If that motive is tainted with greed, the gift simply does not count. A powerful way to guard against greed is to choose joy over greed. Giving with joy is Kingdom giving! Before you give, ask yourself, "What's in it for me?" If the answer is "nothing," then go ahead and give the gift.

When our children were in middle school, we owned what I affectionately called a "Mini-Gym." It was a set of bar bells, a weight lifting bench and a few free weights. Both Jered and Danna loved their "gym" and used it almost every day. When Christmas rolled around, we learned that two of their good friends, Jeff and Jeremy, were not going to have much of a Christmas because their dad had lost his job. Jered came up with a plan. "Mom," he said, "Danna and I have talked about it. We think that Jeff and Jeremy would love to have the gym. But we don't want them to know we gave it to them, because they might be embarrassed. What do you think?" I thought I was in the presence of two joyful givers and quickly joined them in their plan.

A few days before Christmas, Jered and I took the gym apart and loaded it in our car while Danna found a huge red bow. Together, we made a sign that read, "Merry Christmas! We love you!" Danna blew up balloons while Jered dug out some Christmas lights. We enlisted the help of a neighbor who had a key to our friend's house and joined in the fun by agreeing to find out when the coast was clear, unlocking the back door and letting us in. At the designated time, off we went, laughing and singing Christmas carols. We parked down the street until the neighbor called, giggling, to let us know she was all set. Once we were inside, we raced to assemble the gym, post the sign, tie the balloons and tape the lights to the front door, leading our friends to their Christmas surprise on the back porch. We then high-tailed it home as if the FBI was hot on our trail! The neighbor reported that just minutes after the boys returned, she heard shouting and "whooping and hollering." The joy of that Christmas still lingers today. Greed doesn't hold a candle to joyful giving!

Greed is never satisfied and never at rest. There is always something more to be gained and someone else to outdo. Take sheep, for example. Sheep are dumb enough to eat until they are sick. They simply do not know when to stop. A heart that is filled with greed behaves the same way. I am afraid our heart motives are all too frequently self-serving when it comes to giving. Our pride is at stake, so we give to impress others. Perhaps, we give out of fear and guilt, hoping to buy God's forgiveness from our sin. People are watching, so we give in order to gain their approval. What is the solution? Giving! Giving is a powerfully effective deterrent to greed when we give for no other reason than the joy of giving.

Proverbs 11:24-25: "Some people give much but get back even more. Others don't give what they should and end up poor. Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped."

I once read an article that described three types of givers. The first kind of giver is the "flint." To get anything out of a flint, you have to hammer it, and even then, you only get chips and sparks. A second kind of giver is the "sponge." You have to squeeze it and the more pressure you use, the more you will get. The third kind of giver is the honeycomb. It just overflows. What kind of giver are you? Experience the joy of Christmas when you experience the joy of giving. Merry Christmas!

Father, thank You for all You have given me. Help me to be the kind of giver that points people to You. I choose against my pride or any wrong motive for giving Christmas gifts this year. I choose to keep my eyes on You and my glance on the world. I love you! In Jesus' name, amen.

Now It's Your Turn

We make a living by what we get out of life, but we make a life by what we give and how we give it. Beecher wrote, "No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. The heart makes a man rich. He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has." How do these words relate to your life this Christmas?

Take inventory of your "stuff." Make an actual list. Then set aside a time of prayer and solitude during which you give each one to God.

Consider giving an anonymous gift and recruit your family to help.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let the Authentic Voice Lead the Way

"The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God - not an echo of what others are doing and saying, but an authentic voice."

- A W Tozer, Rut, Rot or Revival

Visibility for the Invisible

As I was reading through the November/December Outreach Magazine, I came across an interesting article about Mark Horvath, a previous homeless man, who is back on the streets letting homeless people tell their stories in an effort to raise awareness throughout the United States.  I went to the blog and was gripped by the numerous video stories and interviews he's done since 2008.  Just click on the title above to link there.  His goal is to allow what often goes unseen to become visible to the eyes and hearts of Americans and educate them about homelessness.  Mark talks about meeting Angela, who was dying under a bridge in Atlanta.  She was spending much of her time in church praying.  He asked the church group what they were doing for her and they told him they were bringing her sandwiches.  It was in that moment Mark realized that sandwiches were not enough!  What people like Angela need is housing and medical care; help getting off the streets!  The comment he ends this section with really hit me.."If you're only being their part-time buddy or taking them sandwiches under the bridge, it's only making you feel good."  Heart check...

Let the Spirit Lead

"What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use - men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men ... He does not anoint plans, but men - men of prayer!

- E. M. Bounds

The Root Is Where It's At (or "Starship Enterprise")

"In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise."

- Richard C. Halverson, former chaplain of the U. S. Senate

Friday, November 12, 2010

Don't go to Church...Be the Church

This is the first of many stories shared on website (click on the title to link to the other stories) and I wanted to share it with all you Fox Trotter's...

Thanks for allowing God to use you this weekend through “Be the Church”! Here are some stories of how some of you were the church:

I wanted to let you know that our life group visited 4 homeless camps in the very early hours before daybreak this morning. I am grateful to TSC and to Justin for encouraging us to take a little detour and even some risk. This was a very different experience for our Life Group (except for 1 who was our "experienced guide" & some of her friends) :o) We took breakfast, coffee, fruit, water, and other food items, blankets and socks and went to parts of town my eyes had never seen. God showed us a kind of pain and desperation we hardly knew existed in our community, yet these folks were all so thankful and polite to us. We saw young and old; men and women, but almost all of them had a smile and a story for us. When I snuggle under the covers of my warm, safe bed tonight after eating way too much for dinner, I’ll be praying for my new friends.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No Shortcuts!

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention." ~ Jesus (Mt 7:13-14 MSG)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."  (Mt 7:13-14 NIV)

How has Jesus asked us to live?  Are we committed and lovingly obedient to it?  How is that changing the way we live?  Are we hearing His voice?

"Stay off the paved path" ~ ERM The Barbarian Way

Monday, November 1, 2010

Into the Swamp

"Postmodernism began in the academic community, oozed into leadership, then morphed into Congress, public schools, and our homes. Sadly, the slumbering evangelical church has also now slid into the murky waters of a post-Christian swamp."

- Charles Swindoll, The Church Awakening

Like a friend of my dad once told him, "It's sad, but it's true, Daddy!"

It makes my heart hurt.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A. W. Tozer ~ Of God and Men

"We hear a Christian assure someone that he will 'pray over' his problem, knowing full well that he intends to use prayer as a substitute for service. It is much easier to pray that a poor friend's needs may be supplied than to supply them".
See a need, meet a need!  Pray as you do it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Extra in God's Story

"I want to be so excited to be an extra in God's story that I will tell anyone about it at any time (without the staring of course). I want to beam with joy at the small part I play, never tiring of seeing how the story will play out and not harboring secret ambitions for a bigger part.

Being this type of extra requires that I drown my visions of personal glory in a sea of humility. I need to recognize that my place is not to write my own part in God's story. The mind-set of an extra, to go where the director says to go and do what the director says to do, will help me weaken my tendency to judge others. After all, the playing field is level for all the extras, so one extra has no reason to feel more important than the rest."

- Crave, Chris Tomlinson

I want to walk out this story in much the same way, giving all glory to the One who deserves it all, and always being willing to share my story without shame. I'm just grateful He allows me to be here. I want to bring Him honor. I want to be pleasing to my Lord. He welcomes us all to join Him in His story; the story about Himself.

What's your definition of a "Christian"?

I've been reading a book written by Mike Yankoski titled "Under the Overpass ~ A Journey of Faith on the streets of America" and was challenged by his question of how I would define a Christian.  Before I could begin to answer, he asked; "Is it broad enough to encompass the drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, and broken people of the world?  Jesus said that He came to heal the sick.  Drug addicts are messed up the same as liars are messed up, just the same as all humans are messed up.  We all need Jesus.  We all struggle with ways in which sin plays itself out in our lives.  What's worse?  To not do dope or to not love your brother?  Why do we kick drug users out of the church while quietly ignoring those who aren't dealing with other, equally destructive sins?  Why do we reject the loving, self-sacrificing, giving, encouraging, Jesus-pursuing drug addict but recruit the clean, self-interested, gossiping, loveless churchgoer?  Which one do you suppose Jesus would rather share a burrito with under a bridge?"
This resonates loudly within me...and I'm sure for those who share burritos under the bridge too!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shaping a New World Order

"The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity."

(2 Cor 10:3-6 MSG)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No One Cares About Your Church ~ Tim Schraeder

This is a great article that encourages us to be The Church!

Click on the title to read the article posted on the Catalyst website.

A Dangerous Enemy ~ Jenni Catron

As typical siblings do, my sister and I fought over EVERYTHING when we were growing up. We knew how to push each other’s buttons and we thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Most of the time our battles were over the petty things like who got the last piece of cake, who got to sit in the front seat of the car, or whose favorite TV show we got to watch.

Although petty, the things that we battled over were usually always things in limited supply, things that were scarce.

I think we learn to fear scarcity at an early age. The fear of not having enough causes us to race to beat others to get what we want. Before we know it this mentality infiltrates every part of our lives.

We're afraid of a friend (or colleague) becoming better friends with someone else, so we don't make the introduction

We're afraid the store might run out of that fancy new thing we want so we slap our credit card down and impulsively buy it

We keep our freezers stocked because we don't want to go hungry

We give our financial resources sparingly because we're afraid we won't have enough for retirement

We don't celebrate the accomplishment of a co-worker because we're afraid they'll get promoted sooner

We hoard.
We keep.
We guard.
We protect.

I believe that this mindset of scarcity is one of the most dangerous enemies to great leadership. Our unwillingness to champion others, to give to others, or to make a way for others is a dangerous place to find ourselves.

In our efforts to guard and protect ourselves we actually sabotage our leadership influence.

Scarcity is in opposition to great leadership because I believe one of the greatest responsibilities of leaders is to generously develop, inspire, and empower those you lead.

If you are constantly protecting what you have, you rarely have time to invest in the people around you.

"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:25

I'll be honest; scarcity can get the best of me. It's one of the greatest challenges to my leadership.

How about you? Do you battle scarcity? What do you do to combat it in your life?

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 05:42 AM PDT on Catalysts Blog

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Commentary from Isaac Anderson ~ Economy of Love

"At least two things must be said.  First, when it comes to caring for the poor in our locations, the sheer magnitude of the task can tempt us to apathy.  However, on this point the Scriptures are clear:  neglect those among us who have material and physical needs, and our rituals are meaningless.  Worse than meaningless - they make God sick.  We must remember that the validity of our worship hinges on our commitment to the homeless and hungry outside our door.
Second, many church leaders take this issue quite seriously.  And each congregation has its own financial challenges, its own burdens to carry.  But if God's provision is going to meet the poor where they live, we must honestly assess what our church budgets say about our true priorities.  Is meeting the needs of the marginalized a central or peripheral concern?  What material and aesthetic comforts are we addicted to, and what sacrifices must we make so that all people have their basic needs met?  Is the gospel we preach good news for the rich and poor alike?  Are both being filled?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rocked by the Relational Tithe

The concept of the "relational tithe" absolutely rocks my world. Wow! This is absolutely walking out the Message. This is Jesus come to town. Wow! This is what it means to lvoe, and to be Christ to our brothers and sisters, with nothing expected in return. I don't see how a person can hear this message, and then go out and live life as usual. May it never be. I may never be the same. If I could cry, I would cry right now.

Thanks for sharing this Jeff! Good stuff!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Missional Evangelism

"Evangelism is by demonstration before proclamation.  Proclamation comes after they've seen the gospel in action.  To Jesus, the church was an active verb and not a passive noun.  Jesus' followers practiced mission evangelism. The heart of God's mission is serving."

~ Michael Slaughter ~ Ginghamsburg Church ~ Tipp City, Ohio

Views on Social Justice ~ Great Articles and Videos!

Catalyst Leadership Digital Magazine

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Engage Your Greatest Challenge

"I am convinced that when we face our fears, we look straight into the eyes of opportunity, and the courage we often need to engage our greatest challenge can be found only in the midst of engaging that challenge. There is a point of impact where we experience conflict, opposition and resistance. But it is also at this point of impact where we have the greatest opportunity. It is on the battlefield that we reflect what's on God's heart, and we stand in that place where God longs to make Himself known."

Erwin Raphael McManus, Chasing Daylight

Willing to Stand Alone

The technical definition of impact is "a forcible contact between two or more things." This is an accurate description of how men and women are used by God to shape the course of human history. Whenever God is doing a new thing, He does it through people. And those He chooses to lead the way are often considered fortunate only in retrospect. The reality in the moment is often quite different. It is a privilege to be called to go first even when it means you are the first to suffer and the only one at risk. It means you must bear the weight of responsibility and accept the consequences that will come with the privilege.

- Erwin Raphael McManus, Chasing Daylight

Friday, September 10, 2010

New York Times Editorial ~ David Brooks

Gospel of Wealth

Interview on "Social Justice" ~ Video

Fighting Sex Trafficking

Radical Leadership ~ Video

To Reach People No One Else Is Reaching ~ Andy Stanley

I'm in love with...

Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.
1 John 2:15-17 (MSG)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Rise" - Robbie Seay Band

Slow down, be still
Let go, we will
Be here, be now
Slow down, be still
Breathe in, refill
Be here, be now

If you choose to love
To know that the call
Is to give all you are
To give love away, away
Rise, rise, people of love rise
People of love rise, give yourself away
Rise, rise, people of love rise
People of love rise, give yourself away
Give yourself away, give yourself away

Slow down, just breathe
Be still, believe
Be here, be now
Slow down and see
It’s all you need
Be loved and free

And to hear the call, is to give your love away
And to hear the call, is to give your love away
And to hear the call, is to give your life away
Is to give your life away

We’re not safe, we’re not safe
But we will rise

Be a Radical Catalyst

cat·a·lyst   /ˈkætlɪst/ [kat-l-ist]

1. Chemistry . a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.

2. something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.

3. a person or thing that precipitates an event or change: His imprisonment by the government served as the catalyst that helped transform social unrest into revolution.

4. a person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vessels for Good

"A significant part of seizing divine moments is recognizing that God's intention is to use us as vessels for good. Not simply to do good, but to generate good. To lead others toward good."

- Erwin Raphael McManus, Chasing Daylight

This kind of goes along with that whole "Do the next right thing." idea. God indeed wants us to be vessels for good. To do good, not "do-do" good. We are to step up and do what feels right in our heart, as we connect with His heart.

Go Deep, My Friends

"The most important influences in people's lives are the ones who have helped shape who they are. You really can know a person by his friends. Trustworthy people are surrounded by people who trust them. And women and men who are genuinely Christ-like are surrounded by those who long to be more like Christ. Character breeds influence. Influence shapes character. The relationship between character and influence is like breathing - the deeper you inhale, the stronger you can exhale. Take your character deep, and your influence will be profound."

- Erwin Raphael McManus, Chasing Daylight

Take deep breaths, my friends. I covet your influences in my life.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's Your Percentage?


By Christian Buckley | Humanitarian Jesus
Recently during a radio interview for Humanitarian Jesus the interviewer tried to sum up the idea of living as a Christian humanitarian as follows:

"So what you’re really saying, what you really want people to do, is to take part of their tithe, you know the 10%, and direct that to social causes and need, right?"  Being that it was a live interview, I kindly responded, “Not at all. I want people to abandon the 10% view of life and adopt Christ’s actual call to give a 100% of what wasn’t theirs to begin with.”  Silence -- followed by a rapid shift to, “How about that interview with Francis Chan, great guy.”  So there it was in a burst of radio failure. He wanted a safe answer and I gave him danger. He wanted a small ask and I told him there was none. He had a 10% view of devotion, asking how much of his stuff he had to give up, and I was challenging that by asking how much of God’s stuff he was planning to keep.  For most of us seeing the ravages of poverty, homelessness, disease, and hunger in our world is not the problem. And for the average church and Christian out there today wanting to do something about those issues isn’t the problem either. The real problem is that we approach giving and helping and serving with a 10% mindset. Somewhere along the line we cut a deal with ourselves that if we gave 10% of our time, talents, and resources to God we could rightly hold on to the other 90%. As a result we have sadly created a culture of 10% Christian living and even worse, an understanding that the other 90% was actually ours to begin with.  The starting point for living as a Christian humanitarian is to wake up every day seeing our stuff, our lives, and our time as 100% Christ’s for his work and his glory. We have to abandon our bargains and balances and resist the temptation to ask if we have done enough. We stand no chance of making a serious impact in the world around us and the brokenness that exists if all we can spare of ourselves is 10%.  Imagine if Christ had adopted a 10% world view. What if he gave only 10% of his time and passion while he was on earth and considered the other 90% his? What if he could only have spared 10% of his life on the cross or had chosen to take on just 10% of our brokenness and sin? Christ gave 100% of everything he had and everything he was to the people around him and to us. Do we really believe that God sacrificed 100% of his son for 10% of our lives?  The role of the church in this new era of the social gospel and Christian humanitarianism isn’t really to show people global needs or create pathways for involvement because great advancements already exist in those areas. The pressing task is to abandon the 10% Christian mentality we have accepted and give 100% of who we are and what we have to following Christ and investing in the world around us for His glory. If we do that, the how and what and where of humanitarian investment will follow as details. If we don’t, the details are irrelevant.

Christian Buckley is the co-author of Humanitarian Jesus and the co-founder of The Glue Network, a social media project based cause marketing solution. As an attorney he has represented death row inmates and CEO’s. As a business leader he has helped shape both non-profits and action sports companies. Find out more at or email

Monday, August 30, 2010


Wait, did you hear that?  What?  I think I heard it again.  Could you repeat that?
I wasn't listening to you.

How often does this ring true for you?  I know it's all too familiar for me.  What causes my inattention is often focusing on what's going on with me and the world I think I control.  This prevents me from really hearing what's being said on the surface, and way down deep in the soul.  I need to listen with my ears and with my heart!  So often I hear the information and then begin to process that in my logical and often prejudiced mindset; so I can dispense the appropriate response.  I feel the need to "fix it" and give the steps necessary to clear the path to freedom (it worked for me before).  I'll say what I think needs to be said instead of hearing what was said and be silent!  When something is shared from the heart, I must put aside the urge to do my thing, and really connect heart-to-heart with my friend.  As I hear their heart, I'll know how to respond through the Father's love.  I'm learning how to listening now...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mercy Me's "Crazy Enough"

I would definitely call these guys ordinary radicals. Are we crazy enough? Am I crazy as I need to be? - jim

Call me crazy but what if we learn
To love our brother for nothing in return?
Oh how the rules would change

Reaching out to the ones who need help
Treating them as you first would treat yourself
Now that would be insane

It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

(Verse 2)
Is it so strange to think that one day
we will truly see everyone the same
Oh good we be so kind? (could we be so kind?)

To sing along when life's playing their tune
And cry with them when their hearts broken in two
Have I lost my mind?

It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

Oh, have I gone mad
Believing that love still has a chance?

It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

It may just be crazy enough (repeat)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Penny Looker

I have a friend who looks very carefully at both sides of an issue.  On one side you have "heads" with all the knowledge and organized information that will carry you to a logical conclusion in a situation.  On the other side you have "tails" with great feeling and emotion in unorganized and often unorthodox fashion arriving at another conclusion.  Which side is correct?  How do you know?  Is it important?  What difference will it make?  After looking at both sides of "the coin", my friend can see all the details that define each but understands something I often miss; the value of the coin is in the material it's made of and does not change no matter what side is showing!
I need to focus more on what the value of the coin can do than calling "heads" or "tails"!

(Not) In the World

"Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good. In this strategy, success in the church is defined by how big a building you have to house all the Christians, and the goal is to gather as many people as possible for a couple of hours each week in that place where we are isolated and insulated from the realities of the world around us. When someone asks, "Where is your church?" we point them to a building or give them an address, and everything centers around what happens at that building.

When we gather at the building, we learn to be good. Being good is defined by what we avoid in the world. We are holy because of what we don't participate in (and at this point we may be the only organization in the world defining success by what we don't do). We live decent lives in decent homes with decent jobs and decent families as decent citizens. We are decent church members with little more impact on the world than we had before we were saved. Though thousands may join us, ultimately we have turned a deaf ear to billions who haven't even heard His name.

Discipling is much different."

- David Platt, Radical

Monday, August 16, 2010

What's the Give Away or Take Away?

Sometimes churches go a bit too far trying to share the message of salvation.  Recently a youth group was "taken hostage" by their leaders disguised as terrorists in order to "scare" them into a real commitment as a Christ follower.  It was so "real" that law enforcement and S.W.A.T. teams responded!  The intent of the "act" was lost on the intended audience.  I wonder how something like this effects a searching, struggling, and even settled soul.  Using fear as a motivation to change hearts and share love does not compute in my brain!  I recently came across a personal response to a similar situation.  A church decided to use the old "bait and switch" routine to share Christ under the guise of a "free" backpack, full of school supplies, give away.  Here's that story:

Upon arriving, everything was organized and well planned. I pulled up to the parking lot attendant to show him my confirmation number in order to park. I then parked and my son and I proceeded to check ourselves in. We were given a wristband, and told there were free concessions available for us. My son was really nervous and not sure what to think of everything, so we went inside the church where we were instructed we would be able to get our backpacks. On the outside of the building, we could hear shouting, laughter and music. I was figuring we were in for a good time. A few random people guided me to the correct door to enter. When inside 2-3 ladies welcomed me and I thanked them. They all in their own way told me they REALLY hope to see me back again. Nice for the invite, and I was feeling rather relaxed and comfortable. It was just a few feet and past a “line forming” barrier where we were taken into the sanctuary. The man on stage was throwing footballs and such to the crowd. The energy was high! I was asked to hold while an usher found us a seat. Once directed where to sit, on my way there, the lights dimmed and the mood got really serious. I thought to myself… what is happening. As predicted, in most churches that are controlling and power hungry, I was not surprised as to what came next. The speaker…. Not sure who or what position he might have in the “church” but he looked as if he might be an assistant pastor or youth pastor. (I have looked for information on him and not been able to find any) He started with his childhood story and how he “discovered” Jesus.

  “One day I was watching the old movie on Moses, and saw him split the Red Sea. I turned to my mom and asked if that was real. She replied the movie itself was not real but the actual story was. I then as a curious boy started asking question to find answers to this incredible true story.”

He continued to talk for a bit, but I started to tune out and make sure my son was doing okay. The next thing I remember tuning into was as follows.

“I just need a volunteer. You, please come here. You will not have to talk; I just need you to stand facing the wall with your back to the audience.”  The lights dimmed further as to make the mood more serious and reflective. Slow “guilt” music began to play. “Here this boy is going to represent Jesus. Back when Jesus was alive he knew he came here to save you all. I met a girl last year that was hurting. She was cutting herself and couldn’t stop. I met another girl who was suicidal and another family who just lost their house and income. “The list went on for a bit.  “Who knows what you might be going through today? Perhaps you are a wife ready to pack her bags and leave her husband… (so on with the guilt/fear questions).  You are hurting and Jesus is ready to take away all your guilt and pain no matter what your situation is. See these screens with the crosses? Jesus endured the pain, so you do not have to. (Goes back to boy standing on stage) Before nailing him to the cross, they beat him so badly he was unrecognizable. (Doing motions around the “volunteer”) – The soldiers took whips the size of this microphone, and gouged into his back. It bled and oozed. Jesus was dehydrated, and fell to the ground”

At this point again, it began to get severely graphic for a room full of kids, that were simply there for a backpack. All the specific gruesome details of the actual “hanging Jesus on the cross” I cannot relay properly. The speaker continuing….

“The last words Jesus said were “It is finished”.  So for all of you today you have nothing to worry about. Jesus died for you. (Dismisses the boy)  I have another example and I have my two boys to help me out here. (Two men from the sidelines came onstage) – This guy here will represent “the enemy”. This one here will represent you. I will represent God. As you live your life, the enemy will beat you down. When you trust in God and call on his name, the Bible says that the enemy will go away. He will be right there by your side.”

A few “Amen’s” erupted from around the sanctuary.

“As you can see God stepped in, and shooed away the enemy. As you go through life, you may stray and the enemy will come back, as he is always trying to.”

They repeated the stupid play once or twice more. The men then returned to standing on the side.

“I want to ask you all to stand with me. (Music and lights grow louder and darker. All I could think, was here it comes.) I know you all are here for backpacks, but we want to share this story with you. You will get your backpacks I promise. Right now what I have to say is important. It has nothing to do with you joining the church. The pastor and his staff are more concerned with spreading the story of Christ no matter what church you go to or where you are in your life. I am sure you all have heard of Heaven and Hell. I have had the chance to talk to people on the brink of death who have said that they had a glimpse of either Heaven or Hell. The ones who where “in Hell”, woke up gasping for air in a panic. They said the pain was intense and they could feel their soul burning as if they were above a bonfire. They felt the burning and that, my friends, will last an eternity. You know how bad it feels to get burnt. Imagine that feeling always there never going away. It sounds like torture. The ones I spoke to that had a glimpse of Heaven, said they didn’t want to return to Earth, it was so incredible.”

At this point I was appalled at the tactics this guy/institution was up to. They were literally just scaring the living Jesus into them.  Way to make a no choice, guilt ridden, fear striking speech.

“I now want to start with the children. Let us pretend there is a line of tape on the ground; one in front of you is white, and one behind you is red. Are you ready to cross the white line and make a change in your life and have a personal relationship with Jesus? I am about to invite you ALL but once again I want to start with the kids. The first “show” I did (and yes, he used the word show), there were swarms of people around this alter taking that next step in their lives. It was an amazing turnout. So I now invite the kids to come forward to the alter if you want to have that personal relationship with Jesus we have been talking about.”

No lie, I believe 85%-90% of the kids/teens were instantly up at that alter. Why wouldn’t they be? They were there for a backpack and were then all the sudden scared to death by this corralled situation. So, common sense, we now have all the kids upfront, time to target the parents/guardians!

“The little ones have made the decision to change theirs lives, now parents, I want you to consider the same. It does not matter where you are in your life. It is not about joining the church. I have a friend over here who visited a sick man everyday at the hospital until he died. He was not a part of our church, but he still took the time to let him know he cared and wanted to share the love of God with him. I am here to do the same. So parents, loved ones, I invite you now to join the youth up here if you also want to take the step toward having a relationship with Jesus.”

As in so many “institutions”, I could see and “feel” the crazy amount of ushers/counselors getting ready to move in on the people standing up front. They had some information/accepting Christ into your heart packets. So cliché! The speaker then led the whole group in a “Prayer of Salvation”. They all repeated it cult style, then were cheered for when finished. Like a miracle, the lights became bright again, music turned to something SUPER casual, and the people were all instructed to see a counselor/usher to get their “packet” on the way back to their seats. Keep in mind he was talking for a good 40-45 minutes or so! As everyone dispersed, I breathed a sigh of relief because the backpack I had come for was finally about to be given to me.  The speaker switched into fun mode again.

“Alright kiddos! Who is ready for their backpack?!? (no one really cheered, it was asked several times and the crowd started to interact just a little with excitement) Before we do that, it is time to give away this brand new bike to some lucky person in here! The Nintendo Wii will be given away by a random drawing from all the names who came to Operation Backpack! Okay let’s do a dance-off.  I want to see all ages up here dancing for the bike! “ The crowd starts to perk up again because who doesn’t want a free bike? About 7-8 people were picked to go onstage and dance. “Okay, start the music!” Everyone onstage danced their butts off. One kid stuck out because he did this maneuver that landed him on his back offstage. He thankfully was fine, and the “crowd judging” began. The kid that landed on his back, was the winner. I tell you this because the most shocking thing came out of the speakers mouth right after he announced that the kid was the winner.

“Where are your parents son?” He looks into the crowd and points to the boys parents, “I have to ask, were you on drugs when you were pregnant with him? I have NEVER seen any moves like that before!” Everyone, chuckled and passed it off.

We were then told we would be dismissed aisle by aisle to go up front to receive our backpacks.

From there, my son and I got our backpack and left the sanctuary.  We did not stick around after the “planned salvation speech”, and quickly headed home!

For the record, there were too many inserts and details to remember, but I tried to get the gist of everything.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fighting for God?

The question of "Do we/should we fight for God?' is answered well in Jesus Freaks II. Zhao Xia is the wife of pastor Li De Xian in China. He has been repeatedly imprisoned and tortured for his preaching. She says of their lifestyle, "We are constantly reminded that we are in a spiritual war. We know for whom we are fighting. We know who the enemy is. And we are fighting. Perhaps we should pray for you Christians outside of China. In your leisure, in your affluence, in your freedom, sometimes you no longer realize that you are in spiritual warfare."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Primal Leaders

"...they are numbered among the unlikely. ... those who are most religious will be most offended and indignant. Barbarians are not welcome among the civilized and are feared among the domesticated. The way of Jesus is far too savage for their sensibilities. ... Jesus is being lost in a religion bearing His name. People are being lost because they cannot reconcile Jesus' association with Christianity. Christianity has become docile, domesticated, civilized. We have forgotten that there is a kingdom of darkness stealing the hopes and dreams and souls of a humanity without God. It is time to hear the barbarian call, to form a barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt. Let the invasion begin ..."

- Erwin Raphael McManus, The Barbarian Way

A Tribe Called Forward

"To belong to God is to belong to His heart. If we have responded to the call of Jesus to leave everything and follow Him, then there is a voice within us crying out, "Fight for the heart of your King!" ... "yet Christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists." ... "A quick survey of the modern church would lead you to believe His invitation was "Come, and listen, ..." ... "Perhaps the tragedy of our time is that such an overwhelming number of us who declare Jesus as Lord have become domesticated - or if you will, civilized. We have lost the passion and power of that raw, untamed, and primal faith."

Erwin Raphael McManus, The Barbarian Way

Friday, August 6, 2010

Denied Entry

The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. "They won't let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner." "What are you complaining about?" said God. "They won't let Me in either."

- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's Important...

Through prayer and following our consciences, we can make a difference in our personal worlds. This is the revolution and world-changing God has called each of us to. Whether or not our obedience to Him takes on international importance is not of concern to God. What is important is that we seek Him, live for Him, and obey Him daily, and He will do the rest. There is no higher calling than this, and there is no calling more dangerous to ignore.
- Jesus Freaks Vol II

Just Listen To His Story

"... I promise myself if I ever get frustrated with life again, if I ever get into river-deep debt, I will sell it all and move out into the woods, find some people who aren't like me and learn to love them, and do something even harder, let them love me, receive the love of somebody who doesn't share my faith system, who doesn't agree with me about everything, and I will sleep beneath the stars and whisper thank you to the Creator of the universe, as a way of reacquainting myself to an old friend, a friend who says you don't have to be smart or good-looking or religious or anything; you just have to cling to Him, need Him, listen to His story."

- Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Religious People, Psssssssssst!

"I never read this section of scripture without realizing again just how suspicious people are about our being changed by Christ. I'll tell you, when your eyes are opened, when the blindness is removed, and especially when you begin to tell the story of your pilgrimage from blindness to faith in Christ, hang on! And don't be surprised if you encounter the most resistance from religious people. They will look at you like you're R2-D2 from a galaxy far, far away. They will stare. They will really begin to wonder if you've got both oars in the water. Religious folks are uncomfortable around authentic people whose lives have been changed by the living Christ."

- Charles Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Jesus Kind of Love

I really like what Donald Miller shared on his blog today and it speaks my heart too:

"The Jesus kind of love, the love that speaks the truth and yet does not try to control, is supernatural. It is a very confident position and it comes from God. Will it always win? No, but the point is not to win, the point is to love, even to our deaths. So make this commitment, I will tell the truth to the best of my ability, I will not try to control, and there is nothing anybody can do to get me to stop loving them."

~ Donald Miller (from his blog post 8/2/10)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Get off the bench!

"Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!"

~ Paul the Apostle (1Cor 9:19-23 MSG)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Faith & Difficulty

"If we think we are going to grow in faith by sitting around at a Bible study, we are wrong. That stuff is fine, but without a story, without diving into something really difficult, something that requires us to look to God for support and wisdom and comfort, it will be more difficult to become a person of great faith."
~ more from Donald Miller

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spending time with Father

"Sunday morning church service is not an enormous priority; spending time with other believers is!  Some people associate Sunday morning with God. One of the things I associate with God is a sunrise. How many sunrises have you missed over the years, and God created that?"

~ Donald Miller

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Schools Out

My counsel for you is simple and straight-forward: Just go ahead with what you've been given.  You received Christ Jesus,
the Master; now live him.  You're deeply rooted in him.  You're well constructed upon him.  You know your way around the faith.  Now do what you've been taught.
School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it!  And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. – Colossians 2:6-7 (The Message)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Burritos full of lvoe

Burritos full of lvoe

How wonderful the aroma

That has found their hearts

So hungry for significance

Lvoe, peace, dirt, smiles

And hearts longing for lvoe

A suffering people lost to society’s cares

A broken people needing helping hands

A hurting people that look like Jesus

A special people who know how to share

A dirty people with hurting hearts

A tender people with golden hearts

A least of these people that Jesus said to love

A proud people hanging on to dignity

Picking up pieces

Of broken hearts and spirits

Walking through the pain with them

One step at a time

Loving and learning and being the blessing

They’re the same kind of different as me

They’re just like you

A hopeful people who bless you right back

A wonderful people who stay on my heart

An infectious people who know the meaning of want

A strong people who know what it means to suffer

A suspious people leery of liars

Burritos full of lvoe

How wonderful the aroma

- Jim Burnham, Spring 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Theos - logos

I thought this was pretty interesting. It’s from the Mars Hill Bible Church theology:

The word theology comes from two Greek words: “theos”, meaning “God”, and “logos”, meaning “word”. So theology is words about God.

When we put to words what we believe about God, we discover that he has been writing a story of hope and redemption for all the world. His story is a movement from creation to new creation, and he has given us a role to play in that story, in the restoration of our relationships with God, each other, ourselves, and creation.

Since story is central to our belief about God, our words about God–our theology–exists in the form of a narrative [see below]. You won’t find isolated text references or a list of specific propositions in it, because ultimately neither of those things best reflects what we believe about God. What we believe about God is at the heart of what we believe also about each other, ourselves, and creation: that ultimately everything is part of the one great story.

In the beginning God created all things good. He was and always will be in a communal relationship with himself–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God created us to be relational as well and marked us with an identity as his image bearers and a missional calling to serve, care for, and cultivate the earth. God created humans in his image to live in fellowship with him, one another, our inner self, and creation. The enemy tempted the first humans, and darkness and evil entered the story through…

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Place Your Life Before God

I love this reminder from Paul in his letter to the Roman belivers:

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.    Rom 12:1-2 (MSG)
How's your life offering of worship today?  Is it pleasing to Father?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Power of Stories

This quote from Scotty Smith jumped right out at me, so I had to share it. Stories. Hmmm?

We learn so much from each other's stories. The impact of monologues proffered from the lecture halls of academia cannot begin to compare with the power of a heart recounting tales from the variegated journey we call life. So much of God's Word comes to us in the form of story-telling. In both the Old and New Testament narratives we are encouraged and challenged as we enter into the heartache of sin and the joy of redemption as the history of salvation is so creatively and faithfully preserved for us. Pretty soon we realize that these stories are really our stories because we are a part of the same family and the same tapestry of failure and grace. Such is the power of stories. - Pastor Scotty Smith, from the Foreword of Soul 2 Soul

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Looking with Eyes of Love

While listening to a recent podcast "The God Journey" with        Wayne Jacobsen & Brad Cummings, I heard a profound statement that I just have to share.  One of their friends sent this quote: "If we look long enough and hard enough, we can find something to HATE about everyone."  Their comment was that the opposite of this is true also; but most specifically in this: "I think Jesus looked long enough, and hard enough, to find something to LOVE about everyone"

How's your vision?  Perhaps a new prescription will bring things more clearly into view...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Excerpt from a Make Way Partners newsletter

In the movie Dead Man Walking, based upon the true-to-life story of Sister Helen Prejean, Sister Helen befriends a man convicted of kidnapping, rape, and murder. She tells him, "You are a son of God, Matthew Poncelet." He breaks down, and says, "Nobody ever called me a son of God before. Called me a 'son-of-a-you-know-what' lots of times, but never no son of God. Thank you for loving me."

Reflecting upon Sister Prejean and Matthew Poncelet reminded me of what I often tell people who think, "some girls might be trafficked, but others 'choose' prostitution" I tell them, "No five-year-old little girl ever sits on her daddy's lap and says, 'When I grow up, I want to be a prostitute.'"

When we see a prostitute on the street in the light of a daughter of God whom life pressed, punished, and pummeled to the point where she felt prostitution was her only choice for survival, then, we catch a glimpse of her in the innocence of childhood gone awry, sweeping her far from the beautiful creation God intended her to be.

Likewise, I doubt any trafficker or murderer went fishing with his daddy one bright sunny Saturday morning when he was five years old and said,"Daddy, I think I want to be a rapist when I grow up." What did satan -- the enemy of God and all of those He loves -- do to that little boy to destroy what God created him to be?
I wonder what satan has done to blind each of us from finding our own glorious incarnation of Him shining through us, like portals of Christ. Do you feel the splendor of Him working in and through you each and every day because you know exactly what He creatted you to be, do, live?
I wonder how we might transform the world if we saw all those who participate in the suffering of the oppressed as sons of God. After all, they are exactly like those whose life has blown up to the point they find themselves on a cross, next to our Lord being offered paradise.
At the very least I bet we'd be transformed, and I suppose that is where it all starts -- our transformed hearts blazing love, compassion, and forgiveness so brightly it burns the dross of sin from the world.

Live as Father does

"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity." ~ Jesus (Luke 6:31-38 MSG)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Loving on Jesus

It was so awesome to see our Life Group loving on Karl Friday night. Here is a hurting homeless man pouring out his broken heart to us, and being loved in return. He was ranting and raving and crying out for help. Oh, he didn't know it, but it was written all over him; "Help me!". After 15 or 20 minutes of this, Stephanie engages the character, Karl. It was awesome! She said, "So I hear what you are saying, but I have a question for you. What does healing look like to you?" That question stopped Karl in his tracks. It humbled him. I think it really made him come to terms with what he was talking about. He needed to put his pride aside, and allow healing to enter the picture. From that point on, it just seemed like everybody began to lovingly interject comments that hit Karl in the heart, and really blew him away. He felt loved. He felt accepted. Did I say he felt loved? Before we knew what happened, Karl was so relaxed and at peace, that he fell asleep right where he was sitting. All we could do was smile. It was an awesome display of loving on Jesus.

"...Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13 (The Message)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Where's your identity?

God doesn't seemed worried about whether we like him or have all of our theologies correct about him.

He's also confident enough to trust us.
And give us second chances.
And hundreds of chances.
And thousands of chances.
And millions of chances.

It would be great if humanity had that sense of identity -- of being so sure of who we are and that we're loved that we could risk opening our arms and our hearts in the face of someone else misunderstanding us, or judging us, or hurting us.  ~ Stacey Robbins

Are you living in the identity of His love?  If not, why not?  If you are, what difference do it make?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Got Wisdom?

James 3:17 (The Message)
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What we are to be about? or Being a Christ-Follower

"The reason I bring this up is to plead with evangelicals to return to the sort of call Christ has given us, to obey Him and experience intimacy with Him through sharing our faith, loving our enemies, serving and feeding the poor and hungry directly, and to stop showing off about how moral we are and how that makes us better than other people." - Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

"The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.

- John 1:14, The Message

Living Loved, Hello!

"Imagine how much a man's life would be changed if he trusted that he was loved by God? He could interact with the poor and not show partiality, he could love his wife easily and expect her to redeem him, he would be slow to anger because redemption was no longer at stake, he could be wise and giving with his money because money no longer represented points, he could give up on formulaic religion, knowing that checking stuff off a spiritual to-do list was a worthwhile pursuit, he would have confidence and the ability to laugh at himself, and he could love people without expecting anything in return. it would be quite beautiful, really." - Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Al? Bert? Albert? ~ No, Steve!

Several of us have seen the homeless man that hangs around Albertson's on Texas street but no one was able to connect with him until recently. Marion saw him one day while helping Pam and actually said "hello" (first contact)! It was intentional not to be too forward and engage in conversation; just be a friendly blessing. A small dilemma arose from this encounter however; "how do I refer to him, I don't know his name"? A call to Jim would resolve the problem, he's got a name for everyone : >) After a short discussion, three names were readily apparent - Al, Bert, or Albert in lieu of an actual name that he normally uses (Al or Albert would suffice for now). A few days later, another opportunity arose and Marion gave "Albert" a ham sandwich and water that she happened to have extra (what are the odds of that). "Hi, would you like something to eat and a water?" Al said "Yes mam - thank you". Marion replied with "Your welcome, have a nice day". Not again! She still didn't get his name. Today was the third time to be the blessing. This time, as Marion said hello and handed him some food and his favorite drink (red Powerade), I said "Hi, I'm Jeff" extending my hand toward him and he replied "I'm Steve".

Nice to meet you Steve!

Monday, May 3, 2010

What Difference Do It Make?

I keep considering something Lorie shared with me on Sunday morning. She is thinking about asking some members of the group to step out and spend a weekend with the gang under the bridge. I guess I just have questions about it. I'm not opposed to it, but I need to know why we are doing this. What is our motive in this adventure? What are we wanting to accomplish? What difference do it make? I ask these questions (and others) because I am not sure what my own motives would be. I would want to know I am going with a clear conscience, and a certain agenda (agendas bother me). I'm not sure I can do that at this point in my own personal journey. I know this sounds like the ramblings of a crazy man, but Hello!, it's me. Am I the only one struggling with this? Anyone else out there? I don't know what I am uncomfortable with. I do know I would not want to have any attention drawn to me if I do this. That is something which really bothers me (a lot). So, someone speak to me. Let's dialog about this. We are community after all. Does anyone else have thoughts on this? Please share!

- Struggling in the Spirit

"What's this? Fools out shopping for wisdom! They wouldn't recognize it if they saw it." - Proverbs 17:16 (The Message)

Not a Formula, but a Friendship

By releasing us from the terrible burden of trying to earn His friendship, God put the focus right where He wanted it - on the relationship He always wanted to have with each of us. He wants to be a closer friend than any other we've ever had; to share our joys, our pains, even our failures as He teaches us how to live in Him.

Daily, God wants us to discover more about Him and how He wants to be involved with us. This is an intensely personal process. Try as we might to standardize that relationship by offering a checklist of actions necessary to cultivate it, we will always fall short. No living relationship thrives through the use of a checklist because it is far more dynamic than any list can facilitate. God can be personal enough to develop this friendship with each of us as we invite Him to do so.

- Wayne Jacobsen, He Loves Me!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"I am known as Ed"

The man who is know as Ed is a strange fellow. We have seen him around a good bit over the past 4 months, and have ministered to him when opportunities arose. Marion asked his name one time, and he told Marion "he was known as Ed". Funny! Ed is easy to recognize because he his always wearing these white rubber boots.

Ed was one of our last stop's of the day yesterday. We were looking for Bones, and spotted Ed in the alley behind the Downtown Shreve Memorial Library. We stopped and brought him coffee and a breakfast burrito, and started up a conversation with him. He railed against the Republicans and the people of First United Methodist (who like to be in the spot light). He told us we are not like those people at First United Methodist, who just want to be in front of the camera helping the homeless. He informed us we were "Christians". I'm not sure where he got that idea. I never told him. He told us he had been on the streets for a little over 18 and a half years. Right now he is living on the back porch of a print shop downtown. He said the owner trusts him because he does not smoke, use alcohol, or drugs. I would love to sit down with him and dialog for a few hours. He is interesting, but peculiar (but aren't we all). As we were leaving and saying our goodbyes, all of the guys shook hands with Ed. Tina went to hug him, as usual for her and Lorie, and I thought he was going to have a stroke. He stiffened up and stuck out his hand to her, but she hugged him anyhow. Ha! Poor guy has been without affection for so long he don't know how to accept it. That's kind of the way I am with trying to accept Father's affections for me though.

Bones on Wheels

Yesterday, as we talked to the "guys under the bridge" we found out that Wheels' (see previous blog) actual street name is "Bones". His name was confirmed again later as we were talking w/ Evelyn. I asked her if she knew the guy in the wheelchair, who was a dumpster diver, that we called Richard. She told us she didn't know Richard, that his name was Bones, and that he had been on the streets a long time. She knew him to be a very nice man.

I will probably still call him Wheels, but not to his face. I'm glad I know his street name now. Somehow, it just makes a difference to me.

I wonder how he got the name Bones. It's kind of a creepy name. On the bright side, maybe he is a great dominos player.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do what He does

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.

Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God.

Don't let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with Him. Don't even hang around people like that.

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You're out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

Eph 5:1-10 (The Message)

Relational Tithe

Weird ?