Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The steady rhythm of the surf.

God be merciful and gracious to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us and among us—Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!—That Your way may be known upon earth, Your saving power (Your deliverances and Your salvation) among all nations. Psalm 67:1-2

Jesus taught us, saying: ‘I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.’ John 13:34–35

And so the people sang, with stringed instruments this prayer to the merciful and gracious God, shine Your face upon us and among us that Your way may be known upon earth.

And God, the merciful and gracious God, so loved this world that He sent His only beloved Son, Jesus, who taught us saying, “Love one another. You must love one another, just as I have loved you.”

This the way of God that was known upon earth.

And I walked down Newport Beach this morning. There really isn’t a dawn on the coast of Southern California but rather a seamless and solid bright white light across the sky. And it was just me and the surfers in their black shiny seal suits crashing through the waves.

Walking. And yes I picked up a few pieces of trash because I am my father’s daughter. And thinking of Jesus and how He loved.

And he didn’t protect or explain himself as he stood silently before Pilate. Even to himself, inside his head with defensive conversations. He could have told that old Pilate a thing or two, but He didn’t.

And He reached out to Zacchaeus hiding in the tree, and invited him to join him. Guess what. Zacchaeus’s name means pure and innocent in Hebrew. And only Jesus could see him, who he really was.

And as they spat at Him, He asked His Father to forgive them for they knew not what they were doing. Because He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved.

And again and again, Jesus stopped and looked and invited, “Come and follow me.” And when He broke the bread loaves and the two fishes to feed the hungry crowds, after giving thanks He gave them to His followers to serve. And all were satisfied.

So as Nicole and I drive the rumbling Uncle Ted Cadillac across salt flats and up along Highway One to San Francisco I intend to continue this conversation with Jesus. How have You loved me?

That I might love, just as You have loved me.

And in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of Your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A few more steps forward on the long and winding road.

You, O LORD, shall give strength to Your people; the LORD shall give His people the blessing of peace. Psalm 29:11

Happy are the people whose strength is in You! whose hearts are set on the pilgrim’s way.
Psalm 84:4

Contemplative reading of the Holy Scriptures and silent time in the presence of God belong closely together. The word of God draws us into silence; silence makes us attentive to God's word. The word of God penetrates through the thick of human verbosity to the silent center of our heart; silence opens in us the space where the word can be heard.  Without reading the word, silence becomes stale, and without silence, the word loses its recreative power. Silence is the deepest response to the word.
Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

So sometimes it is about silence. Another walk under the swaying eucalyptus trees and soaring hawks and past the still damp creosote bushes. 

Breathe deeply.



Set and not shaken. 

So be it LORD God Almighty.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


. . . the love of Christ overwhelms us when we consider that if one man died for all, then all have died; his purpose in dying for all humanity was that those who live should live not any more for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life for them. From now onwards, then, we do not consider anyone by human standards: even if we were once familiar with Christ according to human standards, we do not know him in that way any longer. So for anyone who is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old order is gone and a new being is there to see. It is all God’s work, he reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. I mean, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not holding anyone’s faults against them, but entrusted to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:14–19

Dear LORD God, overwhelm me with Your love. Let me live in the place of joy and thanksgiving that You do not hold my faults against me, but have entrusted to me the message of reconciliation.

Almighty God, You have surrounded me with a great cloud of witnesses: Grant that I, encouraged by the good example of Your servants, may persevere in running the race that is set before me, until at last I may attain to Your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Now there are heaps of old pricker bushes and dead eucalyptus branches piled up by the road

The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and He will refresh your life with His love. Zephaniah 3:17

Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. Psalm 90:14

Twice a year I step into this twisted angst that sucks every last bit of gladness out of my days. The blue and white door tag arrives at 220 South Country Club, announcing The City of Tucson’s Brush and Bulky Collection in which big trucks will haul off up to 10 cubic feet of stuff from in front of our house for free. Take it all, please.

I feel so tightly squeezed a prisoner, locked behind the bars of my thinking. And buried under the heaps of stuff that fill every tiny space of my life. This has been the year of rattling the bars, trying to sort through the metaphorical jars and plastic containers of unclaimed and untagged keys that fill the kitchen drawer and that line up in the window above the utility sink. This has been the year of filling up black bags with red ties and hauling them out of my heart to dump far, far away. But like Eustace the dragon, the scab never scrapes clean.

I don’t want to be the crazy cat lady any more. The one that can’t even squeeze out the front door because every nook and cranny is crammed full of my burden, the one He longs to lift off of my shoulders and fit with His sweet yoke that is light and joyous.

And I think I know which key it is. Surely His word is clear on that one.

Now I will worship you and bring to You my sacrifice of praise, drenched with thanksgiving. Psalm 116:16-17

This morning the Cry Out prayer letter arrived, like it does every week. And this is the week of thanksgiving for all of the mighty works that the LORD our God did in the Near East during Ramadan. Really? That’s not what my headlines blare out day after day. I read more about decapitations and young children blowing themselves up in mosques and drone attacks. But indeed, the LORD our God has said, “Call to me and I will answer you.” And this mighty army of prayer warriors from all around the world, of which I am one, believes that He has heard and is answering.
·       Let us take time to thank Him for how He is working.
·       Let us in faith give thanks for the dreams and visions that have occurred all across the region.
·       Let us believe for a harvest of people encountering the extravagant love of God in this next season

Let me take time to thank Him for how He is working.
Let me in faith give thanks for the dreams and visions of hope and a future.

Let me believe in this extravagant love of God.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Here is the church and here is the steeple; open the door and here are God's people.

David danced before the LORD with all his might. 2 Samuel 6:14

And last night I watched a distressing movie that actually I thought I had wanted to see: Kingsmen. It had been billed as a sort of humorous James Bond movie and it had the token bulletproof umbrellas, the brilliant-yet-crazed bad guy, the perfectly tailored suits and a swirled martini. And then it was chock full of every sort of maniacal taking of human life imaginable.

But most unnerving of all, even more than the mother shredding apart a bathroom door so she could strangle her two-year-old daughter was the scene in which the members of a small country church attack each other with hymnals, coat racks and pews until all lie bloody and lifeless in heaps. And the story is told in such a way that the audience is cheering each dead body because The Church represents all that is hateful and foul and cruel in the world and it is the first step in purifying and restoring an earth spinning its way to destruction.

And I lay under the stars last night by the table fire and grieved. And certainly it is A Lie nurtured by the Evil One that this is the fellowship of the followers of Jesus are only united by angry finger-pointing and name-calling. But I grieved every instance in which I, His child, have joined in judgment and mercilessness, and thus lent fodder to this accusation.

And this morning I joined a small group of followers celebrating His name in a similarly white and steepled building. And I soaked in scripture reading and the ancient hymns and the truth that there is a wideness in God’s mercy and that He is to be praised. With all of my might. Again and again, as I carefully copied the photocopied program into my notes. May this be the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

Come, let us worship Almighty God.
Let us lift up our songs, our prayers, our praises.
Come, let us honor Christ Jesus.
            Let us love Christ with our hearts, our minds, our spirits
Come, let us be filled with the Spirit of the Living God
            Breathe in us, Breath of God
Alleluia, Amen.

• • •

Confession and Assurance
O God, You are all around us and in us.
            We thank You for Your presence.
From the east we hear You call us to freshness and newness of the day
            Deliver us, God, from our broken hearts and incompleted dreams
From the south we hear You call us to warmth and growth.
            Deliver us, God, from hard hearts and cold hands.
From the north we hear You call us to the refreshment and peace of a cool, bubbling spring.
            Deliver us, God, from our boiling, destructive unforgiveness.
From below we hear You offer us a solid foundation,
            Deliver us, God, from our unstable faith.
From above we hear you call us to life beyond what we experience here.
            Deliver us God, from our limited perception.
Praise be to God!

• • • 

Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me;
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.

• • • 

Let the words of my mouth
And the meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer.

• • •

There's a wideness in God's mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in His justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in His blood.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man's mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at His word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.

• • •

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise God, all creatures here below;
Praise God above, you heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

And at the top of this morning's TO DO list is to rip out all of the invasive species which have overtaken the garden.

It is to the glory my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples. John 15:8

 Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” God is waiting for us to respond. Life gives us endless opportunities for that response. But our love for Him must come first.

God wants all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity which distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love God who is revealed to us as the God of all people. It is in God that we find our neighbors and discover our responsibility to them. We might even say that only in God does our neighbor become a neighbor rather than an infringement upon our autonomy, and that only in and through God does service become possible. Henri Nouwen, The Loving Reminder

So I am starting to turn my thoughts to home, and the life that awaits me there. How do I take this repentance and this recentering and walk it every single day, anew? Beyond making a checklist I mean. I, being me, did make a checklist this morning. Not a TO DO list which is so very satisfying to tick off one at a time, but a TO CONSIDER list. Areas of my life to hold up to The Light and consider.

Because this is the hard step. The ruts are deep and well-worn. Thought patterns and Pavlovian systems ripple out in all directions, crisscrossing the hip-high in green new paths I wish to trod. And it isn’t calling for a backhoe scrape down to the foundational caliche. The truths are not new. But I wish to walk in freshness, with a light step. Freedom from The Accuser. Courageous joy. Rest in His centered Love. Come further up, come further in.

He will hear my voice. He will bring me safely back. God who is enthroned of old, will hear me. Psalm 55:17

O God, you have taught me to keep all Your commandments by loving You and likewise, my neighbor: Grant me the grace of your Holy Spirit, that I may be devoted to You with my whole heart and united to others with pure uncontaminated, affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.