Thursday, April 28, 2016

I look upon all the world as my parish.

Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them. Psalm 118:19

I put myself wholly into Your hands.
Put me to what You will,
rank me with whom You will,
put me to doing,
put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for You or laid aside for You;
exalted for You or trodden under foot for You.
Let me be full; let me be empty;
let me have all things; let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily resign all to Your pleasure and disposal. - John Wesley
Journey helps open people up to encounter God in new ways. Many times, it is in the movement of leaving what is familiar and of exploring something new that creates space for people to go after things they might otherwise have been unaware of or blind to. – Bill Johnson, Defining Moments

John Wesley journeyed. A lot. Over two hundred fifty thousand miles by horseback. He also journeyed far in his understanding of who Jesus was and who he was in Jesus.
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. –John Wesley 

And now Mary Anne and I hold tickets Tucson to Istanbul and tickets Istanbul to Athens and tickets Rome to Tucson, and a journey. May we see His gates of righteousness and enter them. May we encounter Him and His image bearers in a new way. May we be aware. May we have eyes to see the good we can do, in all the means, in all the ways, in all the places and at all the times.

I put myself wholly into Your hands.
• • • 

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses of the Negev. Those who sowed with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed, will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves. Psalm 126

My God is too small. Deep within my broken heart is the Naomi mentality, that the hand of God has turned against me, and that the remainder of my life will be spent on the edges of the field, harvesting small handfuls after the reapers.
Which is the point of story. Why we are to tell and retell the stories of the mighty God we serve. Bill Johnson said that these stories are not only what He has done in the past, but are prophesies of what He will do, and more, in the future.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

It is so easy to forget. To not live in what is true.
And thus the refrain for the morning: Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.

And Audry Assad sang all the way back and forth to the pool, I know and I believe You are the Lord; Help my unbelief, Help my unbelief.

Monday, April 25, 2016

"You cannot enter here," said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. "Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back!

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes;
    and I will keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep Your law
    and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of Your commandments,
    for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies,
    and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
    and give me life in Your ways.
Confirm to Your servant Your promise,
    that You may be feared.
          Psalm 110:33-38

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. Ezekiel 47:12

We went up to the cabin this weekend, Nicole and Momma and Reed and I. And it was complicated and messy and discouraging actually getting up there, as always. Always when I think about making my way up to the mountains to seek His face, His rest and His glorious beauty, there are ever so many distractions.

But we made it. I know that it was the Spirit who propelled me up. Or His angels, the same way that they grasped Lot by both hands and dragged him out of Sodom. And I met Heidi Baker in a fresh new way because I was finally ready to listen to her heart immersed in the river of His love. Not wading in the river, ankle-deep, or knee-deep, or waist-deep, but all the way in and under and among His love. And read story after story of His power, of His passion to save His aching and broken children if only there was someone to send, someone willing to go.

And all of the verses about being willing to leave all of my thoughts which are not His thoughts and my ways which are not His ways took on a fresh joyous trumpet call, much like a the horns of Rohan.

And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the city, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of war nor of wizardry, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.

And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns, in dark Mindolluin's sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the north wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet You
As the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, Amen.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For You are our God, and we are the people of Your pasture, and the sheep of Your hand.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet You
As the day rises to meet the sun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

But all who wander are not lost.

Jesus taught the people, saying: “Take notice of what you are hearing.” Mark 4:24

I hope the book of Ruth affects you the way a trip to the Grand Canyon might. How do you apply the Grand Canyon? Of course, you don’t apply the Grand Canyon–you are stunned by its beauty. You stop talking as you let it fill your soul. You are silent as your soul expands. You sense that you don’t have enough capacity to capture the beauty.

One of the oddest things about deep suffering is that the sun comes up in the morning. Life limps along. We have to hang in there with the story that God has permitted in our lives. As we endure, as we keep showing up for life when it makes no sense, we learn to love, and God shows up too.

Hesed, His steadfast love, a one-way love, a stubborn love. Your response to the other person is entirely independent of how that person has treated you. Love like this is unbalanced, uneven. There is nothing fair about this kind of love. But commitment-love lies at the heart of Christianity. It is Jesus’ love for us at the cross, and it is our love for one another. We rightly sense that death is at the center of love.

When feelings are the standard, we are left adrift on a turbulent sea. But with hesed love, you don’t allow your spirit to pull away. You move towards the other person; you don’t allow an ugly space to grow. –Paul Miller, A Loving Life

So one of the very cool things was that Manuel wanted to watch dawn rise over the Canyon. We had endured a sort of awkward and not-enough-blankets dozing in the car by the side of the road night in Nicole’s big old Cadillac and even before the tiniest hint of light had started to edge the horizon we stumbled along a trail to the very edge.

And waited in silence. Awake. Eyes open.

And the Monday night ladies have started a new book. And in each of our lives there is some of that darkest-before-dawn aching limping forward, in hope of the resurrection love. And we don’t really understand what it will look like, and maybe there is a little doubt mixed in as well, that keeps us from recognizing Him as He comforts us outside of the tomb of smashed expectations.

His lovingkindness. Hesed, His steadfast love, a one-way love, a stubborn love.

And one more morning before dawn I pray the prayer of hope and strength and courage.

Make us strong and courageous to do the new thing, because You are not the God of I was but You are the God I am and You are doing a new thing and that thing is unfolding right now in us. We will be strong and courageous and we will not be afraid, and we will not be discouraged, for You are the Lord our God & You will be with us where we go, so we take the next step which may feel like a leap of faith but our best mode of transportation through anything is always a leap of faith. –Ann Voskamp

And this morning’s wonder watching was through Arroyo Chico under bulbous pregnant-with-rain clouds shaded with silvers of every hue. The creosote were so bursting with flowers and fluffy pods that I could barely breathe. It was too dark to see the compass point mountains so I wandered around and around under yellow-drenched waterfalls of palo verdes and paid attention past the prickly pears and chollas. And pretty much the moment I stepped back through the front door the clouds let loose and birthed.

I might have to take the bus to school.

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to His disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of my faith, that I may behold Him in all His redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pomegranate blossoms on the sidewalk.

Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds; they will recognize His works. Psalm 64:9

Yesterday Gary talked about the Psychology Today article again, the one about awe and happiness. Wonder produces joy. As in Everette marveling over all the pomegranate blossoms littering the sidewalks of Tucson. Everette love pomegranates because they are so juicy. This is what it means to come unto Him as a child.

The key to happiness is to have a smaller self.

And my early morning meditation verse yesterday was the one about the deer longing for the water brooks. And the question Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? and why are you so disquieted within me?

And Gary had an answer: Discipleship begins with the understanding of our identity as the beloved child of God. Unearned, unmerited, but because He is love, and we are His handiwork.

True spirituality is seeking what the heart longs for. Nothing else but Him will fill that hole.

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30

And Gary described this yoke as a sort of training yoke, the sort of thing an Indiana farm boy would know about. And the little ox is strapped to the big ox, and He leads, and we follow.

And Gary offered a different sort of map of where we are going, the two of us, how we are going through each day. The continual conversation with Him is not so much about my future and my work and my breakfast cereal and my parking lot place, but rather it is about those moments of meeting with others. How Jesus walks through the crowd noticing, pausing, looking up, stopping.

Stopping with tenderness in his eyes. What would you have me to do?

Dear LORD today may that be my map, Your children, the oh so many images of God I will meet today.

May I recognize Your works. And be filled with awe.
And declare Your deeds. 

And by the way, thank You for the four new red roses by the front door.

Monday, April 4, 2016

I wonder if I will find my way.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in Me. John 14:1

Oh Lord, You are my portion and my cup: it is You who upholds me. My boundaries enclose a pleasant land: indeed I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel; my heart teaches me, night after night. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not fall. My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices; my body also shall rest in hope. The Lord is my strength and my song; You have become my salvation. Psalm 16:5-9

Andrea came over Friday night with an almost armful of deep red roses from Heather’s yard. And I am listening to and relistening to You make beautiful things. Which somehow came up with a link from Cameron. And I remember Heather and Dustin’s yard when we first peeked out the back door. 

Hope is springing up all around.

And I just walked around Reid Park because my bike tire is flat. Really, there are few things I love more than the smell of creosote.

The promise of rain in the desert.

It would be harder to find a sweeter prayer time than that of Vineyard City Church, the one before the service. Before the donuts and coffee with plastic lids.

Vulnerability abounds. There is no pretense. The church is full of gritty people willing to do the hard work, if He walks with us. Broken so He can put us together again to look more like Himself.

And I have been thinking about spring a lot these days. Following winter. And dying seeds before there is fruit. The rhythms of it all woven into all of life and death and life again. 

And Glenda talked about this death and life cycle. Dying in order to be like Him. 

You have heard it said, “Love your neighbor. Hate your enemy. But I say, Love your enemies. Do good to those that hurt you. Bless those who curse you. Be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Jesus brings a radical challenge to us.

Who is my enemy? We can ask, “Do we want this person to go away and never come back?” This might signal unresolved resentment. Is there someone I just don’t want to love? We as humans seek to justify our feelings and beliefs. To blame the other.

To love an enemy is one of the clearest examples of being like Jesus. It is an unmistakable sign that we are of the Father. And it is an opportunity to be radically transformed.

For Jesus, love is always a choice, connected with an action. He died for us even while we were enemies. Loving an enemy has no revenge, it is giving more than is expected; it is going the extra mile.

Love wins.

We can become consumed with resentment. Or. Suffering and death is the path to life. It is the love of Christ that moves me to extremes. Paul continues, Christ’s love is the first and last thing that we do. We do not regard people according to the flesh. But we love them through His love.

Prayer for enemy:
·       Confess our sin
·       Ask for compassion, to see him as Christ sees him, a person He loves to death
·       Ask for His strength and willingness to forgive
·       Be accountable to someone else
·       When we pray for blessing for our enemy, we are dying to self
·       We are to do good, just as He sends sun and rain to both the evil and the good

Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble…no exceptions. No retaliation. No murmuring. Instead, bless–That’s your job, to bless. 1 Peter 3:3-9

No excuses. Be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. 

And my Morning Offices to be read between 6 AM and 9 AM is a little off of calendar, so this morning's readings were from Good Friday with long sections of Scriptures from John 19 describing The Passion of Christ and chunks from Psalm 19 about my heart within my breast is like melting wax

Lest I forget what the love of Christy should looks like. 

That His joy might be complete.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Marchando en la luz de Dios.

O LORD, let my soul rise up to meet You.
As the day rises to meet the sun.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, Amen.

 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he Is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:6-10

It is so easy to blame others for my darkness.

The Garden of Eden was full of that pointing of the finger, from the very beginning.

The light is truth, seeing it for what it really is.

And that is the Lenten pause. Confession. Choosing to walk in the truth.

And what is truth is that each of us is a sinful, broken, but very beloved child. And if we walk in this light, we have fellowship with each other. But if I occupy myself with ruminating and resenting, then I am alone in the darkness, gnashing my teeth like Gollum.

And later on John is going to tell me more truth, that if we say we love God, but do not love my brother, His child, I am a liar and the truth is not in me.

And right now the political stuff in our country is chock-full of finger-pointing and resentment, but there have been a few poignant moments of walking in the light. And ol’ Bernie, when asked abut his religion and his faith in God said that it comes down to “do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” And if this was too obscure and hard to understand, it is more clear when it is put “do unto others’ kids as you would like them to do to your kids.”

Because our kids rip at our hearts. And in Isaiah God says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

And we cannot have fellowship with Him if we walk in the darkness of accusation. In Him is no darkness at all.

And a lot at Imago Dei, after we share Eucharist with one another, we sing, “We are Marching in the Light of God.” We sing it in English. We sing it in Swahili. We sing it in Spanish. And then we sing it in English again. Really loudly, with Mr. Curry crashing the piano keys.

And that is the point of it all. Because He loved us, we love others. Love is not earned. It is because He is the I am. Love.