Wrecked and burning the bridges – A story of 2015

burningship

If you have at any point followed this blog you know that i was at one time obsessively on top of it,  documenting the things that were at the forefront of my life.  But then life sped up, and the already limited time spent writing was suspended for the tyranny of the urgent.   In the midst of working a full time job for a salary, keeping a full time business flowing (i still dont get paid a paycheck for that one yet), keeping my house (if you can call it that), keepin my hubby organized as much as I can and keeping the dogs in control … would you believe i still love to read as much as i can get my eyes on.  Daily reading keeps the mind sharp and satisfies that need to learn, be challenged and to grow.

Life long learning is a serious theme of my life.  I have a bucket list of things I want to accomplish before  heaven is real.

I have wanted to work out this unresolved upheaval of my life and the stripping of any sense of normalcy that occurred in 2010 when we lost our income, our standard of living, and our purpose (short run).  This year (2015) was the one to lay down the grieving for what was, and fully embrace the life that is now. If you have ever been there it’s not easy to make that turn. Thank God for movement with this- because for so long it has felt like I was straddling a fence with one leg in the past, the other in the future and the present was the pokey fence digging and gauging into the middle of me.

But the truth is 2010 and those mosterous losses were a gift.  A scarey as hell gift that cast us out into deep water with only the provision God would bring. Like a scene from 1519 and ships burning in a harbor port somewhere in the Yucatan peninsula, I identified with Cortez.  There was no turning back- it is forward to the unknown with only the meager provisions, and the grace of God.

There was a freeing of a part of my soul that had been denied for decades, numbed to a whimper by the necessity to work a job, and live like 99% of college educated Americans. Years of obedience, timely-ness and accuracy, of learning to work with a full spectrum of personalities, some of which left deep scars, all making bigger and greater demands of my life, my time, and talent in exchange for a meager portion each pay.

Don’t get me wrong… I really love my experiences (well, I was not so fond of the years working for a women we called hitler’s little sister, but all of the work was interesting.  I am thankful for those years too because they taught me how to recognize and treasure that is working for good people, and to see the the kindnesses, the blessings.

But as the ship of ease and income hit the rocks of the harsh recession it was clear the ship was no longer sail able.  The recession had driven my ship to the rocks, wrecked, forever altered beyond repair.  So burn the ships and let’s conquer new land.  In one quick stroke i struck the match, turned to the dry hulk and lit it up.

That ship had more passengers than i thought.

Fear, my old traveling companion, was big and heavy baggage that had to be cut loose too. Fear always appeared when there was a moment of question, or a change of scenery.  Loud and exhausting to travel with, fear often held me down, gripped with a deep sense of overwhelming emotion.  Fear is a bully.  Fear is a liar.  Lets call this traveling companion what he is… a distortion, a betrayal to what is true, shackles on my feet, and someone who overstayed their welcome in my life.  Fear had traveled these 50 some years with me but it was time… he had to go.  So there in sight of the burning hulk of my former life I parted ways with old Gripping Fear. He chased after me for a long time, but I would not take him back-no, never again would I sit debilitated by him again.

Doubting Doubt, a more quiet of the traveling companions, was always there when we rounded the bend of a new portion of the journey.  Doubt always had strong opinions too, loved to express disbelief in my life, or God’s ability to lead and provide for it.  Doubt brought along others – Shyness, Insecurity, and Procrastination.  Doubt, while quiet, was one of the most destructive voices… often engaging my whole energy, and altering my responses to life itself.  When I first lost my job doubt was there to assure me i would probably not make it, and something hideous was to come next. Doubt often planned, organized and threw lavish parties in my living space, ushering in procrastination who was always dating insecurity.  They kept me up at night, spending long hours speaking to me of anything but truth and peace.

Raging Resentment was a dangerous guest, bubbling through the surface and constantly trying to get me to remember injustices, and events that were not fair.  Like a cruel animal constantly taunting its prey, Resentment kept on coming.  But i knew better.  One small sip of resentment would be deadly poison to my soul.   For you see, I believe every thing that happens in life is filtered through the gentle hands of our great God.  And i believe there are lessons to learn about life, and my own sick soul, which require tough doses of medicine to protect myself from such poison.  Resentment still tries to whisper soft and velvety smooth thoughts about how injustices should be repaid.  But she lies.  She speaks only in ways that will bring death to my soul.  I meet her with my new friend Forgiveness, who reminds her that every event is an opportunity to let go, love and move forward.  Resentment runs away, licks her wounds and regroups… She is a challenging enemy of my soul.  Yes, she must go too.

One challenging companion that lingered was Guarded Grief, who at every opportunity lamented and was found weeping over the burning hulk of what once was.  She was not consolable, and there was no common ground to be found to negotiate with her . Almost like a pouting and tired child that demands their voice, Grief continued to grab the emotional reigns, and remains fixed on the trauma, the loss, the change.  Truth can be found in Grief.  And Grief must be handled with great consideration for she brings a perspective that is tough medicine.  But she must be dealt with gently and properly, or she will not go, and she will leave you stuck in places that drive others away.  So Grief demands her turn at the dance.  She offers compelling reason to drop back, assess, get angry, find a way of copng with factors beyond your control, and she waits for periods of time, an almost silent companion that walks with you in this place of loss.  Her company is bitter sweet because she brings a richness to a side of life few people want to deal with… and she can bring crystal clear vision, although often she puts on thick lenses of emotion.  Everyone offers advice for dealing with Grief.  I won;t add to it.  I can only say that it is up to you to find that place where the emotions and the deep senses of loss give way to a new found purpose, and a new normal.  Grief can have a cruel side too…. like the smell of baking bread harkens me to memories of my mom, and the intense sense of loss even though it has been 23 years she is in heaven.  Grief seeks to poke and prod with reminders that are essentially good things.  She is a master of tweeking emotions when we least expect it.

Have you ever imagined the traveling companions that have shared your journey? Some of these were old friends, a part of my life for as long as i could remember.  It would be odd to release them, and move forward without them.  But this is what needed to occur.  And this is what happened.

Yes, there on the beach, feet from the burning hulk of my former life I announced my separation from these companions.  I announced my complete break from them, and refuse to travel one more step together.  And there, on the sandy beaches of a new life I gazed at the ship burning, thanked God for the new life to come, and accepted his invitation to travel on abandoned to God.

In those moments of decision, of burning up the ship, abandoning the toxic companions of my past and of taking a deep sigh as i accepted the offer to travel with God there was a peace, and a sense of calm beyond words.  Abandoned, wrecked, but at peace.

While i have know Jesus, and have had a strong relationship with him for 30 years now, this was a deeper calling.  The call was to lay down my trust in myself and my ability to earn and squirrel away money, but instead to watch, pray and ask for my needs because he would provide.  And he has. Over and over, in amazing ways the resources to pay bills, meet needs and survive have been there.  Sometimes seemingly impossible, often simply, and always to his Glory.

 

This is indeed a gift.  It is an opportunity to let go of everything, and let the priorities become reset, not to my own priorities, but to the greater good of a loving God.

I wanted to write this for a few reasons, but i must confess that it is very scary to write about coping with a major life event and subsequent transition because it is personal.  In a human sense it could be deemed an epic failure.   Or it makes people uncomfortable because they fear the struggle and loss is contagious. No, a thousand times no, it is not contagious.  If you have not sensed the deep water of loss, nor struggled to find a new normal in your life I cannot explain in a way you would relate to fully.   These life changes are something individual, personal, yet if you will not be disabled by them, they are transformational.  The depth of grief and loss caused me to dig deeper, love greater, set better priorities, and follow harder after God.

Something changed in me.  The stripping away of all the extraneous was not the only thing.  The process made me see how this life is fleeting, and we only have a finite time her to bring glory to God, and allow him to use our lives to build his kingdom.  The burning ship reminded me that just about everything in our life is subject to that test.  Will my character, my word, my actions stand the test of fire to bring forth silver and gold  for the master, or will they go up like the ship, burned to a crisp with nothing to remain?

This gift comes with a price.  It becomes challenging to be around people who have not embraced such change, or who have not been called to this change, yet this is where I am. And this is who i am.

 

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Wolves among sheep, cowardly shephards

 

 

Part 1 in a series on the book of Jude

I have been drawn back to the book of Jude because of things I see occurring in the church in America.  We cannot be caught by surprise at the presence of evil in our churches, and in our fellowships.  Jesus told us that would happen, and Jude writes because he was compelled to discuss the many ways that evil people have crept in among the believers.  I want to spend several posts examining the book of Jude, the concept of Apostasy and the hunger for holiness, godlyness and freedom in Christ.  It is with that goal that i offer these articles as a clarification, and perhaps because in my life it has been a wake up call to live a holy life, seeking God daily, moment by moment.  I pray you will see God’s word as deep truth, and you too will join in asking God to protect his people, and build his church free of apostacy, error, slander and greed.

Jesus warned us over and over that the church would be filled with believers and unbelievers alike.
In Matthew 13 we learn that some are wheat- healthy, solid, good; and some are rates- simulations, copies, knock-offs of the real thing. To a point they look alike…but at some place in time the difference begins to show. The wheat forms heads of grain- the tires form something but there is no grain, no substance, nothing fruitful. Yet the tares are the big fake out – looking like and growing along side the true ones, only visible when the fruit should be visible.  No grain produced, no purpose except to take up valuable farmland, soil nutrients, and crowd out the good.  Consider how this is played out in churches everywhere.

And then there is the book of Jude which challenges true Christ followers to earnestly contend for the faith because there are deceptive apostates that have come in among us. Let’s read Jude’s words:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (‭Jude‬ ‭1‬:‭3-4‬ NIV)

So let’s pull some points from this passage:

  •  Jude is compelled to write about contending for the faith. Contending speaks of a challenge, a debate, a polished understanding of the subject. Contending is used of soldiers guarding the city who are prepared and have great strategy and planning for how they will protect and defend their post.
  • Jude reminds Christ followers that faith was given once and for all.  Faith is something given once to every believer, but it is something that must be worked on, given attention to.  It was a gift to every believer.
  • Jude reminds believers that faith was entrusted to God’s holy people.  The word entrusted means to be put into someone’s care.  This faith is more than a gift – it is a sacred trust from God to his people, to be handled rightly, protected, guarded.

So we know that faith is a gift that has been entrusted or placed in our care by God.  Verse 4 furnishes the reasons for why we  are to earnestly contend for the faith… it is because of the tares, the false ones, the apostates.

Look out at the church, especially the comfortable church in America and you will begin to see how the defense of the gospel is diminishing, and the invasion of ungodly people  is coming.  Lets continue to look at what Jude tells us about these people:

  • Certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago  – God was not surprised by the presence of falsehood, of tares.  He was not taken by surprise, but instead warned of this centuries before, speaking through the profits.  Condemnation is a very harsh word – it is a noun that means “the action of condemning someone to a punishment; sentencing”.  The actions and choices these people have made are already condemned, judged, worthy of punishment.  The language indicates these deeds have been accounted for by God….
  • These individuals have slipped in among you – they live, breath, move and act among the believers.  They influence, deceive, redirect, thwart the work of God for their own purposes and devices.  They have slipped in – secretly, quietly, almost without notice they have joined us.

This brings me to a thought about how easy it is to influence one another, and how easily we can be encouraged or discouraged in our faith.  As believers we need community – a safe group of fellow believers that can hold us accountable, and visa versa.  But the people Jude is speaking of buck the idea of accountability.  They prefer instead to build influence by lies, deception, and exhorting peep pressure.  I must say that of late i have been asking the Lord to filter my thoughts, and give me discernment and wisdom to be a positive influence to other believers.  I am also praying that God would give me discernment to see the truth in situations and people that appear to be not preaching and living their faith as the Bible prescribes. So lets continue looking at Jude to see how these people are described:

  • Ungodly people – Literally the translation means “people not of God”.  How they live, what they do, say and think will be evident and apparent.  They live in patterns that God does not approve, or is not the best choice.
  • who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality –  This is the fruit of their life.  These ungodly people alter truth, using their altered perception for their own purposes and those purposes are not moral.  Simply put, they justify their sin with God’s word.  Pervert – to alter something with a sharply negative intention, to mar or damage what was whole.  There is a contrast between grace of God and license for sin…. how opposite to each other, and what a great benchmark for determining a situation.  God will always extend grace – granting us favor that is not earned, giving us blessing though we deserve hell itself.  And God’s grace is pure, whole, right and good.  But these other people choose to damage that truth, take from God’s free gift and extend instead damage, pain, injury, all for the sake of advancing their own plan or goal.  How unsettling that is!
  • They deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.- How can you miss the truth that Jesus Christ is the ruler and king over all – he was the creator, and he is the one who handles every aspect of life.  These people choose to deny this truth, living as though God does not exist. They live for their own goals with self as center of life.

It is for these warnings that God has put in place the office of Elders.  Elders are intended to be the shephards of the flock on earth, watching over the body of believers, protecting them from harm, alarm and deception.  It is a sacred office, a responsibility that should never be entered into lightly.  Scriptures are careful to lay out the qualities elders should have, the qualifications for the office.  And while i have spent several posts discussing these qualities, and how important they are to the body lets consider them in light of Jude’s announcement that tares or false teachers will live among us.

Elders should be knowledgable and well studied in the scripture  – why? because error can begin with subtle changes in truth.  Like a counterfeit piece of currency examined by a bank teller, the changes are subtle, but the tell knows what to look for – specific marks, watermarks, etc.  When they are not there, or they are altered the currency is counterfeit.  Likewise, a little error can lead to big error, and should be examined and corrected  quickly before it has a chance to grow and take root.

Elders should be leaders – Scripture tells us they should be the husband of one wife, having their children and home in order.  Leadership starts with a good home life…. when that is good the elder has demonstrated that he has a leadership ability and is capable to influence for good those he loves.

Elders should be courageous – Standing for truth requires discernment, diplomacy and the courage to speak truth to situations that are wrong.  Elders should be unbiased, not easily influenced by one person or another.  They should be reflecting the values of Christ to the congregation.

Elders should be accountable for their lives and faith to trustworthy brothers in the faith.  Accountability speaks of bearing one’s soul, being totally honest, and seeking counsel for living.  We all need community, and we need each other to remain strong, stand firm and live rightly.

When elders are not leaders, not strong in their faith, or are easily influenced by others who are not living rightly it is very dangerous for the flock of God.  The majority of God’s people look for and need the strength of leaders to protect them, defend the faith, and make certain that the church is a place of safety and protection for God’s people.  When elders become self serving or greedy the protection and grace of God are not present. And the sheep stumble.\

When elders choose to have no courage they open the door for deception, error, and greater problems.  And it all goes back to a church that is rightly governed versus a church that is not.

Lord, we need you now more than ever to flood our churches with your spirit.  We need you to call your leaders out and strengthen them for service, granting them great insight into your word, and wisdom to recognize truth from error.  We need you to raise up strong leaders with hearts fully yielded to you.  You have told us we do not have because we do not ask.  So we are asking – May you build your church, and not permit the gates of hell to prevail against the church.  May you call out the error of those who refuse to see error, or refuse to lead, and may you call them to step down from their neglected office.  We ask you to pour out your spirit on us, and give us deep insight into your word, and discernment for how to deal with those who are not believers.  We ask that you tear down anyone who has placed themself in a leadership role without your wisdom and insight. And Please heal those who have been hurt or injured by false people.  I claim the promise that you are triumphant over hell and the grave, and I thank you that you are all powerful and there is not anyone   Amen

 

 

REpost: Death of a vision

I follow a number of blogs, and one that is always spot on is “TGIF: Today God is First” written by Oz Hillman.  Oz has sensed the call to minister to the marketplace, and call Christians to redeem their work life for the glory of God.  His daily devotion came from a season in his life where much of his world crashed down on him.  God, in his grace, had a different plan for his life.  He called Oz to this new direction, to speak life to the business world, to rally men and women of God in living out their christian principles in the business world.  And his leadership in this area has been a watershed of great movement of God’s Spirit.  But it all starts with the death of a vision.

Vision is personal.  yet it is a gift from God for his kingdom.  Vision is calling to obedience, aligning will, mind, strength and purpose to follow the calling.  Here is a repost of his daily devotion on the death of a vision.  Like a seed in the ground must die before it breathes new life, visions must die too.

dov

If you would like to visit his website, or sign up for a daily devotional please go to http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/tgif/

 

leadership

Leadership is one of the single largest challenges of our age – perhaps of all ages.  In secular life it is easy to see how lacking we are of strong, determined, selfless leaders that steer the course of our government, and business.  Stall-ward strength, determination to bear solid core values has melted into self serving, selling out to the highest bidder, and conceding to malfeasance  misfeasance  nonfeasance.    We have grown to expect that our political leaders will not lead well, or will not lead at all unless the outcome brings reward to their pocketbooks and wallets.  Some companies have in recent years hit the rocks, made the headlines, and even gone out of business because the captains of industry steered their ships into the rough rocks and destruction.

Its an academic topic – Are we experiencing a “brain drain” from the region?

Its a business school push – How do we develop solid leaders with tools to lead well.

Its an issue of the church – Development and selection of leaders must be on God’s calling, not secular skill sets.  The bible contains concise job descriptions (if you will) of the positions of Elder (Bishop/Overseer) and Deacons in 1 Timothy 3.  Lets take a look at them:

Qualifications for Overseers (Elder) – 1 Timothy 3:1-7

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Qualifications for Deacons (Deacon) – 1 Timothy 3:8-13

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife,managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Both of these positions came at a point of growth of the church.  Things were becoming too much for the early church.  Structure had to be established… The flock of God needs under-shepherds… men who would watch over the very souls entrusted to them by God.   The role of elder is noble, but a heavy weight of responsibility to 1. live as an example to all, and 2. to lead, teach, counsel with the sheep.  The role of deacons is also an important part of the church, as workers tasked with specific jobs or roles – the origin of the position was to care for all of the widows, to ensure that everyone was treated equally, and received equal portions of the welfare.

But lets go back to elder… how is an elder selected?  In my church a committee is formed to select suitable persons in the congregation.  From their opinion a name is decided upon, and at the annual meeting a vote is taken, then he is prayed for.

Ultimately God will watch over the decisions, and it is my prayer that those chosen to lead meet the criteria of the scripture.  Why? Why is that important?  Because the very purity of the role, the power to discern and obey the Spirit of God, rests on the ability of godly men to have the courage to obey, to follow hard after God, to establish a good reputation with all people;whether they are within or outside the church, and whether or not the word of god will be upheld.  These are weighty matters that speak deeply to the character and teach-ability of each of us.  Lets look at the qualities of an elder:

  • must be above reproach
  • the husband of one wife
  • sober-minded
  • self-controlled
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • able to teach**
  • not a drunkard
  • not violent but gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not a lover of money
  • must manage his own household well
  •  not be a recent convert
  • he must be well thought of by outsiders

The list speaks deeply to the character of the person, with one exception – able to teach is a gift or skill that is supernaturally gifted by God.  Character reflects what is going on deep inside… the very wiring of a person.  It speaks of discipline, ability to manage well, with love and care, not falling into the propensity to drink too much, or argue.  In our time it seems very current to see that they should not be a lover of money because so much of the rest of the world runs hard after money.  Self controlled and sober minded speak to the discipline.  But the qualities also look to the family around the man – is their home in order with children yielded to obedience, faith, teachability?  And is the wife a support for her husband?  Is their marriage good?

Why such emphasis on these qualities?  I pulled this from something I read years ago… i think this helps to capture the idea in a systematic and clear way:

The elders in a church set the precedent for what faithful pastoral leadership is in that
church. Therefore, elders must not only have character, which qualifies him to lead
God‘s people, but also the competency to accomplish the duties Jesus his Senior Pastor
has assigned him. The duties of the elders are many according to Scripture. Elders,
deacons, and members share the load.

 Prayer and Scripture study (Acts 6:4)
 Ruling/leading the church (1 Timothy 5:17)
 Managing the church (1 Timothy 3:4–5)
 Caring for people in the church (1 Peter 5:2–5)
 Giving account to God for the church (Hebrews 13:17)
 Living exemplary lives (Hebrews 13:7)
 Rightly using the authority God has given them (Acts 20:28)
 Teaching the Bible correctly (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:2)
 Preaching (1 Timothy 5:17)
 Praying for the sick (James 5:13–15)
 Teaching sound doctrine and refuting false teachings (Titus 1:9)
 Working hard (1 Thessalonians 5:12)
 Rightly using money and power (1 Peter 5:1–3)
 Protecting the church from false teachers (Acts 20:17–31)

All of these are mandates of scripture, ordained by the word of God to continue the church, to advance the kingdom of Heaven. Character must line up with purpose…. to ensure faithfulness, obedience, teachability and solid leadership of God’s people.

When character does not match the church is opened for error, for mishandling of the role, or for a bad example of leadership both within and without the church.

Error is something that dates back to the garden of Eden, and that infamous temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden… The serpent put a spin on the words God spoke, cast doubt, appealed to a dark side of human character, and nobody stepped up to say different.  Eve listened, not to the pure truth of what God said to her, but to the lies that fed into the story, appealing to the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Subtle disception lead to the introduction of sin into the world.

By the same token, an elder must know the word of God, and know the truth, and be able to differentiate truth from error.  They must be able to clarify, correct, encourage, and foster faith based on the word of God clearly presented with no room for error.

Elders should be older in the faith… tested, tried, allowed to have developed character, faith, and discernment.  It is so sad when you see a young believer put into the role of an elder because of their new found faith and zeal.. while their faith is exciting, and noticable, they have not endured challenges, developed a depth of their theology, or a depth of the ways the Lord works.  Likewise they become “bate: for the enemy to pounce on, attack and disable.  Young believers dont have the same level of experience or knowledge about spiritual warfare to combat the onslaught of attacks.  It will come with time, but the burden of leading the church should not fall on a young believer’s shoulders.

One final thought – In the book of acts we see the choosing of a new leader done through much prayer… and examination of the character of the man in their ministry in the church, and in their world.  While prayer is present, i wonder if  our modern church looks first at the outward appearance, community stature, career position/ influence and make a decision to promote those who look successful in the world.  I wonder if we disqualify people because they have endured challenges, reversals, great loss, or great trial.  I fear that our humanity gets in the way of the plan God has for leadership.  We can be so subjective, so discriminating.

Lord, the church is your work, and you privelege us to be a part of that great work.  May you remain strong in our churches, leading us with all power and wisdom.  May you select leaders that are strong, and faithful.  Help us to be wise and discerning of your spirit, choosing the people that are your choice.  Order the steps of every committee making these decisions, and give wisdom to every congregation to choose and vote wisely.  And may the Lord protect each man that steps into these roles.  Keep them free of critical spirits, judgements, and misuse of position.  Protect their families from the attacks of the enemy for Jesus, you are the victor. The enemy is defeated.  Amen

Listening to old friends

We were up early to drive friends to the airport this morning.  Aaah, fresh morning air, low angled light and a world still snuggled in bed. 

We have known these people since the early 90s, sharing a friendship built on our common faith in God.  Today when we picked them up the conversation turned to thoughts and hopes of their future that will be a drastic step from the life they currently have .  they talked of a move to out west, and a complete change in the career and ministry there involved in .  I realize at that point all I can do is listen .  I wanted to speak and share some of ways god has moves and what he  has done in my life these last 3 weeks .  there was no room in the conversation for me .  They needed to speak.

so I prayed to god for wisdom because I don’t want to be upset  I’ve missed an opportunity to share the miracles he has done in my life .  I believe the lord told me to just listen and be silent .  perhaps that’s the one thing that we all need is a good listening ear .  it so difficult in our world to actually have people take time to listen not only to your words but to listen to your heart .  Under that veneer of spoken words there are so many more things going on…emotions, pain, struggle for acceptance, hunger for truth, or just the human need to be understood.

So what was I hearing from them ?  excitement, emotions, fear, apprehension, the desire to be accepted for the ideas that are in their hearts,  us to bring on willingness to hear anything else , and a heart that wanted prayer for all of this .

this was also the first time in their marriage to buy for the 2 of them wanting to do something together .They married later in life and were very set in their ways of chew their ministry and job .  Unlike steve and I, they never merged other interests and phat common ground in ministry .  we have prayed for years they been married but this might be something that burns on her heart .  working together as a couple on a project or on a ministry is so exciting because we eat look at the activity from our own perspective how to watch god move together .  I’m thrilled and honored to see that god is starting to answer that prayer .  but the new prayer is that god would show them clearly what their direction should be on the greater prairie they would honor and listen to it . 

A lesson learned.  Listening has a price.  It costs me the right to speak, and it allows me the priveledge to hear and take what I heard to god in prayer. 

We don’t always have to tell people everything about our life for god to move.

But a prayer request-  I heard the guy saying “by this date I will no longer be doing what I currently do”, “By this date I want to move out west.”. Fresh from my yielding my words and vows to god, I wanted to encourage him to not make self vows…but there was no opportunity.  Prayer is the answer.

Challenges of this life

recently I wrote about a friend who was diagnosed with cancer .  his health has remarkably declined  so much so that he’s in the hospital and hedging toward hospice.  as a group of us gathered and sat with him yesterday it was challenging to see how much pain he was experience .  apart from kindness  like backrubs and encouragement in prayer there was a little we could do to ease your suffering .   I can only say that my heart is heavy with the thought that he may not be with us much longer . on the flipside he is coming closer to his home going to jesus .  the freedom from pain suffering the stress of this life and the sims card world we live in is real. 
I’m not sure why I don’t keep in focus the truth that heaven is real and passing from this life to the next just means slipping loose from the bonds of pain and suffering .  falling into a deep sleep here on earth and waking to a renewed, regenerated, sin free, and in the presence of jesus . that’s the hope we share .  that’s graduating to a wonderful eternal state .

Now don’t get me wrong- I’m praying that God’s will would be done, that he would heal , that he would restore and he would regenerate all that the cancer has taken .  sometimes god chooses to heal on this earth and other times it to turn on healing .

I also felt like um I was sitting in the presence of someone like job.  and I did not want to say anything inappropriately like jobs friends .  we shall all cross the threshold of this life 1 day and I’m not sure we’re ever prepared to walk with friends  on  this part of the journey home .  find as brothers and sisters in the lord we do walk along side, we pray and we assure them that they are loved by god and us .

Spring and renewing hope

What should I write about  today, I thought .  I’ve taken my lunch on my new job and I’m sitting in a quiet place .  The area were I am is very park like was beautiful trees, landscaping and lots of bird activity .  and there’s a gentle perfume in the air on spring flowers and budding trees . Ah spring, that’s what I need to write about .  Spring, not just in the physical sense of the seasons but in the spiritial sense of the new season in my life .  it has felt like 1,000,000 years since I’ve seen the colors and vibrance off spring in my life .  I know the colors have been here all along however  it was just my eyes but could not see them .  the past season of my life was a deep winter of sorrow and stress and challenge and  a lingering sunset struggle . it was a time of deep growth underground in my soul where is was not visible on the surface.   But like that returning spring season there is a new vibrant color to the life in my soul .  I know that life is something that was long expected eagerly anticipated.   The old friends of winter are still there and the memories on freshness of the struggle linger on.   But there is the new vibrancy and eagerness to see what is next in my life .

so as I look at the colors of spring I think austin of how my life has changed .  yet in the changes there’s no there’s newness that seems familiar .   I like the simplicity of my life these days .   thank you lord for what you’ve done in my life  and for what you’re doing now .

Momentum is building

It started with a series of phone calls to my cell phone…. it grew with the content of each call…. inquiry, interview, follow up interview, and finally a job offer. A Job Offer – it was as powerful as that crack of lightening in a dark sky. Those phone calls ignited a new fire in my soul – A new hope that I have something to contribute to society, and do not need to live underemployed and poor for the rest of my life.

But when i accepted the job i still was numb… these past 2 years have been mind and soul numbing in many ways. Often those flickers of hope were mere mirages, that gave way to rejection letters, and returned me to the search, the hunt for work.

But when i put in my resignation to the part time job it was like another lightening strike – this time it consumed my dispare, leaving in the ashes a renewed longing for the future, for the hope that God promises. My resignation felt like the shackles that were around my feet and hands had been removed. Like all good things there is the bittersweet – and that is the people i leave behind at my old part time job. For the last 2 years a majority of these women and men have been wonderful cheerleaders, encouragers, the voice of hope. They became my sisters and brothers… the bond grew strong. And they accepted that my time there was short – i would be moving on to full time work as it came up.

In the wake of my resignation I received a flurry of calls, and emails wishing me well. How humbling to know my time with this little part time job was worth it… Now my prayer is “Lord use me in this new venture – crack open new opportunities to build friendships, and good work relationships.”

Thank you God for this road you have put me on. And thank you for igniting the joy in my life again!!!

Human Worm Holes

An odd term, unrelated to insects, but more of a unique physics term that suggests a bridge of two times distant to each other. Wikipedia defines this as “In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a “shortcut” through spacetime. For a simple visual explanation of a wormhole, consider spacetime visualized as a two-dimensional (2D) surface.”

If you know me you will know that I tend to run the other way from deep technical scientific theories, but I wanted to learn more about worm holes because of an article I read on the NPR website today.
In an article titled ‘Rasputin Was My Neighbor’ And Other True Tales Of Time Travel Robert Krolwich introduces the concept in human terms – humans that were alive through two seemingly distant points of time. His first example was of an elderly russian man who said he was the neighbor of the famous russian monk Rasputin. Rasputin earned his notariaty through hobnobbing with the Russian Imperial Family, and made claims to have cured the crown prince Alexei of his hemophelia. Now, some decades later this elderly russian man told stories of encounters with this man.

Its funny. Perhaps i payed more attention to the article because of my passionate interest in Russian history from the late 19th and early 20th century. Since a child I have read voraciously every morsel I could find on the russian Czars and their families. I remember crying and feeling as though an important part of my heritage was destroyed when the Czar was overthrown. And woven into that last monarchy was the story of Rasputin, a monk with a dark and questionable motivation to influence the Czarina which reverberated through all of Russia.

But the wormhole idea – that someone is a bridge from a distant past, and is still living and speaking today is an interesting one to me.

My encounter with the human wormhole idea was a woman named Tillie. In the 1960s she was in her late 70s, a frail woman with a deep russian accent. She mesmerized me because she seemed so secure in herself, and had such a commanding presence, almost to a point of edging into arrogance. But when I asked my parents about this commanding demeanor they explained to me that Miss Tillie had been a stage performer in Moscow, gifted at theatre, and song. And her most memorable performances had been for the Czar Nicholas II and his family. She escaped Russia as a young woman at the start of the revolution, first settling in Paris. France where she sought refuge with the russian enclave there. As she earned money she planned and subsequently booked passage for the USA. Her theatre and musical skills fell short of being realized in the USA, however she maintained her air of destinction for a life of prominance and social standing in a country that rapidly changed. I wanted to learn more russian to absorb her stories, to listen to the fantastic life she lived.

Tillie was not unusual to me. In fact there were several people like this in my church growing up. They had stories and their experience and memory stretched back to a differnt age. Even my own grandparents had stories of leaving the mother land for our shores, and a life of opportunity. The dusty villages of eastern europe untouched by the conveniences of modern life were a very real part of their memory. When I listened to thier stories they were as fresh as if they were yesterday. But the truth is most of what they remember is no more. Rapid changes in the world brought electricity, and the rapid movement of changing technology into beucholic places. I would close my eyes and listen to stories of sleeping in a big feather quilt, with the warmth of the goose down keeping you from freezing through the night when the coal furnace began to cool. And memories of the rag man, who visited and collected all the warn out material and papers from each household. My grandparents entered life when horses ruled the transportation in their village, and they closed their eyes to this life seeing high speed jets.

Wormholes! OK, i get it. I understand that there are people who are a bridge between a past and our present. They bring first hand knowledge of a time that seems ancient to us. And I think they are treasures, gifts that allow us to understand other times, and other ways. They offer understanding, and the eye witness to history from a clear perspective. They bring history to life, because they are living history. They provide a continuity of life. But that is where I scratch my head and ask the question “since when did this become unusual?”

In short order we shall also be the wormholes from an ancient past to a distant future. I wonder if we will seem to be the oddities, wormholes, of a future generation? I wonder if they will want to hear our story, our witness of history, of a time passed?

We are our brother’s keeper

Most of us have read the story of the first sibling rivalry, and fight, which ended in a murder when Cain and Abel went at it in a perfect place. Anger turned violent. Anger that exploded. Then the haunting words of Genesis 4:9 “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: [Am] I my brother’s keeper? “

Cain’s words spoke deeply to the core of the issue. His resentment for his brother’s success made him blind to the need each of us have to care for each other. It is so hard to look back at this event from the ease of the twenty first century and offer arm chair quarterback ideas. But the truth is Cain was blinded by his anger, and his jealousy. Here was his opportunity to do the right thing or not… and he could not get past the sin nature to do what was right.

That passage has dug deep into my soul. I am my brother / sister’s keeper. Yes I am. And so are you. We are on this earth to grow together, to develop family, community, and a place of safety for all. We are there to learn from those who are a few steps farther down the path, and in return to turn back and grab the hand of someone behind us to bring them up. When community works we all benefit. When it breaks down we read the headlines.

So what is being my brother’s keeper anyway? Wow, that can be a million different answers, but at the core it seems to be loving them enough to be there with them, be their strength when they are weak, their cheerleader when they need encouragement, provide that correction when they look like they are heading for the cliff, and be their friend.

If you ask my husband he would say the key component of being my brother’s keeper is accountability – checking in to see how something is going, or praying through that wrestling match over some major life issue. Being willing to be vulnerable and honest with someone takes courage, but it also takes safety – knowing that those intimate thoughts that are barely verbalized are not going anywhere except to God’s ear.

Why am i writing about this? Today we learned of a friend’s troubles. He has been accused of things that are not good. His family are not good at hiding their emotions – it does not look good for him. And the only thing we can do is pray and love the family. But I wonder if someone ever took the time to reach into his life and really love him, correct him, and be his keeper.

Lets pray for him, and his family.

Lord, you are soverign above all, and all power is in your hand. As we bow before your authority I thank you that you have promised you will never leave us, nor forsake us. Remember this man in his time of trial. Bring the truth to the surface, and show your power to keep this family in this dark and challenging hour. We know that there is no place we can go where you are not there. And your word tells us that you have been touched with the pain and grief we feel. Lead on Oh King Jesus, and bring a settling of emotions, and a clarifying of the truth in this situation. Thank you that your love is great, and your character is good. Amen”