Category Archives: Christianity

Frozen in fear

I have been accused in the past of having high expectations of people.    That I think they are capable of more then they actually are.  I’ve been told that I should just accept that some things won’t change.  I doubt God endorses this philosophy as God is constantly pushing people to change, to be better and to trust him.  This is seen time and again in the Bible and in our own lives if we’re honest.  God wants good things for people, for all people and that rarely lets anyone off the hook when it comes to change.

I think this is why I get so frustrated with the church.  Presbyterians in particular are notorious for halting any hint of change with debate and discussion.  We table absolutely everything.  We claim we are waiting on the Holy Spirit but I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is dancing about in the room and no one is willing to see it. We are afraid of doing anything for fear that it might be wrong or it won’t work.

This fear is killing us.  It’s paralyzed us.  We aren’t doing anything for fear of offending or losing people.  We do this delicate dance around this issue of change and growth.  We never want to talk about what needs to be done because we are afraid.  In my reading this week I came across a passage in Deuteronomy where Moses reminds the people of God that God is always with them.  That God in fact goes before them:

“It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 NRSV

We need to remember that God is going before us.  Our trust should be in God, not our processes.  We need to accept that movement is part of faith.  Movement and change are built into our history.  There is only one constant, God.  That constant is the thing we should cling to.  We need to push through the fear we feel.  God has moved on and is expecting us to catch up.  It’s time to let go of our attachments to what we know and move forward into the unknown believing that God will provide.

Do you think that’s possible?
Will we find the courage to follow God into a new {different} life?

You’d think I was in Seminary…

My Bible is permanently cracked open to the page that I last left off.  I cannot stop reading.  Not because it’s always interesting {it’s not} it’s because of the one random detail I never noticed before.  A small fact that had previously slipped my notice or was long ago forgotten.

There’s a book that rests beside my Bible filled with notes on random things.  If you peeked inside you might find a comment on how old Aaron was when he died, how crazy the Israelites are to constantly complain over and over again when God is sure to hear them and how not much has really changed as it still happens.  There are quotes and scripture references to go back to in the future.  It’s probably something I’ll never read again but at the time I felt like I had to remember whatever it was I wrote down.  So it’s written.  It is written.

I have no idea why I’m doing this.  I’ve read large chunks of what I’m reading before.  I am a little crazy I think.

I’m not getting anything accomplished really.  When I’m not doing this I’m reading Andy Stanley’s book Next Generation Leader and talking about it with my optometrist who then encouraged me to abandon everything and go to the Drive Conference in Atlanta.  It was tempting.  I’d love to be filled spiritually and find some new direction.

This might seem like rambling and I believe that it is but that’s truly where I sit right now.  I’m feel like we’re weaving through the desert heading into the promised land and I’m surrounded by people who don’t believe it, cannot fathom it, would push it away.  There are others who stand with me.  Others who stand apart and believe that things are possible but I wonder where our Moses is.  Who will lead us and push us and say the tough things?

I guess I should mosey on over to the New Testament and see what Jesus has to say for this week but my heart still hangs back with the Israelites as they threaten to enter the promised land.  Will they do it?  Will it actually happen for them?
Of course we know the answer.  We would know the answer for ourselves too if only we would trust.  The question is when will we do that?  When will we trust?

I probably should stop reading.  I probably should stop worrying about others and think about where I’m going to go next.  It’s just not likely to happen.  It’s not really my style.

So here I sit.  Reading and thinking.  Praying and reflecting.  Coming up with more questions instead of the answers I seek.  God is funny sometimes and I look forward to seeing where this all leads.

Shadow Days

There was a time right around when my son was born that I like to call the dark times of my soul.   I was so angry.  So very angry.  I didn’t know why X. was created in a way that required him to have surgery.  I was angry at God, at everything in our situation and I didn’t know what to do.  There were days when I couldn’t pray, I just sat frightened and fearing the worst.

The prayers of others carried me through that time.  The prayers and thoughts and encouragement of so many of my family, my friends and throughout the community of faith carried me through.  As I stand on the other side I can see the hand of God pressed on me, carrying me, my husband and X.  We survived.  Some might say we thrived.

When I first heard the song Shadow Days by John Mayer I loved it {which should come as no surprise as I love everything by him} but I didn’t pay too much attention to the lyrics.  This week however I happened upon the video and I was struck by one particular line.

“Had a tough time, had a rough start but I finally learned to let it go.”

We had a tough time and a rough start as a family but we pulled through.  I’m so grateful for the love and support of everyone.  The prayers pulled us in.  God was there with us.  We were truly blessed. This song reminded me of how far I’ve come.  How my dark days are indeed over and how blessed I feel right now as part of this family and in my ministry.

Here it is…

When I announced the I was going through Leviticus I knew that someone would want to know my stance on Homosexuality and Jesus.  I didn’t expect it to come quite so fast but thanks Robert for prompting me to share.

Here’s it is:

God doesn’t make mistakes.  God makes people.  Some people are gay, some are straight and I think God loves everyone.  Some of you might wonder why I would say this.  You might think I’m a horrible Christian for believing this but here me out.  I don’t think God ever intended for us to hate gay people and I’m fairly certain as a church we’ve got it wrong.

The first thing I thought when I got to Leviticus 18:22 was “well I guess it’s ok to be a Lesbian”.  There’s no mention of women/women relationships and I guess that’s probably due to the fact that women were not really citizens.  I’m not sure why we got hung up on this line really.  It’s one line in a bunch of lines that we don’t really follow anymore.  Think about it for a moment

Truthfully there’s a lot more said about menstruation, semen emissions and sleeping with other animals then there is about homosexuality.

I do not know why one rule is held up over these others.  I do not understand why  Christians who follow Jesus think it’s okay to hate others.  Jesus spoke love into the world.  Jesus lived love in the world.  Jesus showed us how much God loved us and tried to demonstrate how we should live.

When asked which were the most important parts of the law Jesus said “‘…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” {Matthew 22:37-40 NIV}

We need to love our neighbor.  We need to love them.  This is what Jesus taught us to do.  We are called to love, serve and speak God into the world.  We need to love.

I love gay people.
I love you too.
I try to love everyone.
That’s what Jesus taught me to do.

God doesn’t quit.

I’m wading through Leviticus right now and am awfully thankful I was not a priest back in the day.  I don’t think I could have done it.  I really would have had a hard time killing a cow/sheep/insert animal here.   I’d make friends with it and then when the time came to say good bye I don’t think I’d be able to do it.  It’s really not something I would have to worry about though as I’m a women and therefor unclean a lot of the time and also unworthy of the task.

Have I mentioned how thankful I am not to have been a priest back then?

A few days ago I decided to read the Bible from front to back as I was jumping all over the place.  I started to wonder if I was missing key things because I wasn’t following a plan.  This forces me to hit areas of the Bible that I forget about. Leviticus is one of those areas.

As I’ve been reading through from Genesis to Leviticus 16 and what I’m really appreciating about God this run through is that God lays everything out neatly in great detail {in fact some might argue too much detail} so that the people of God ‘get it’.   God’s people make mistakes and he stays with them.  Explaining things over and over again.  He doesn’t quit.

We worship a God who doesn’t quit.
This is great news!

God doesn’t quit.  God is there.  Persevering through the ages.  Trying to catch our attention and draw us back into right relationship with him.  God loves us so much he even joins us on earth for a bit to see if that helps.  God is pretty great that way.  We’re pretty lucky people.

I think this is something we need to remember.  We think if we’ve made a mistake it’s over.  We think we can’t turn back but the truth is we can.  We can always go back.  Even when we build a golden calf, we can always go back.

We worship a God who doesn’t quit.
Even when we as individuals don’t ‘get it’.
Even when we as a church don’t ‘get it’.

God doesn’t quit.
We shouldn’t quit either…

Meet me at dawn.

As the sun begins it’s stretch into the sky, my alarm goes off on the nightstand beside me.  I slowly drag myself out of bed and stretch my body attempting to get  muscles moving once more and it’s clear to me in seconds they would rather be tucked back in my warm bed.  My feet barely leave the ground as I point them in the direction of coffee.   Shuffling towards the kitchen while rubbing my eyes I’m lucky not to make contact with any door frames.  I can barely see.  The light is dim.  I need that coffee.  The minute it takes to brew feels like an eternity and I’m hesitant to create any noise that might waken my 2 year old.  These moments are meant for me and God.

With coffee in one hand and a notebook in the other I scramble off to find my Bible.  After I have collected everything I settle into my corner, comfy and secure. I begin to pray.  After prayers I read.  It’s God and I.  Together in the quiet of the morning.

Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?  Time with God at dawn.  Moments set aside for reflection and prayer.  The truth is it’s more like a duel than a sunrise symphony.

It’s not that I don’t love God, I do.  It’s not that I don’t respect God, I do.  It’s just that in the morning, at the crack of dawn before the world awakes I’m probably a little too me when I face God.  I ramble about anything and everything in my thoughts.  As I’m not reading for a purpose there’s very little to direct me and my thoughts can seem scattered and confused.  While reading I’ve been known to complain to God, cheer to God, reject some rules and find myself pushed in to the reality of what it means to be a follower.  Some days I struggle to stay awake and most days it’s not pretty.

It’s funny really.  When I’m writing a sermon I pray with a purpose.  I’m composed and directed.  Things have a plan and I listen and reflect and follow as I’m supposed to.  Without a plan I’m all over the map.  Without a plan it’s chaos. These mornings aren’t perfect but they’re me.  This time set apart from God is one on one time with no real purpose.  It’s rather liberating really.

This ritual is fairly new.  Adopted out of the realization that I far too often neglect time with God independent of work.  I came to the conclusion after one too many days away that I needed to schedule God in as he’s too easily pushed to the side.

I’m probably not alone in this.  Life is busy and in this modern age we’re always moving, thinking and saying we’ll get to reflection next week.  Time set aside for quiet reflection is frowned upon as we could be using that time to do something.

I’m here to tell you it’s okay to sit.  I’m actually getting more accomplished now.  I waste less time on the internet.  I am more invested in the day, in what is happening right now.  Starting the day off with God means I actually carry God with me.  It’s a nice feeling.

It’s okay to sit.  It’s ok to reflect.  There is nothing wrong with stopping.  We all need to set time aside to sit, listen and hear what God is saying.  While my time isn’t perfect, it’s my time.  Time God is using to teach and direct me.  It’s time for discovery and surprises.

This week I invite you to join me.  Seven days is all I ask.  Seven days at dawn where we meet God and surrender our time to him.  It doesn’t have to be perfect time.  It doesn’t have to be planned.  It just has to be.

Will you join me?

VBS.

VBS affects kids.  You might think it’s just something for kids to do but it affects them. How do I know this? Right now in my head a song from VBS when I was around 10-11 is in my head.  It’s goes like this:

Good morning Lord.  It’s a beautiful day.
Good morning Lord.  I’m going your way.
Open my eyes and let me see someone who needs a friend like me.
I know that I can surely be loving, caring always sharing.
Good morning Lord.  It’s a beautiful day.
Good morning Lord.  I’m going your way.

I can remember the gatherings we had that year and the friends I found.
I remember the fun I had helping lead the little ones to their activities.
I remember feeling important and yet still having a good time.
It was a transitional year for me.  I was crossing over from participant to helper.
I remember it.  It lives in me even now.  It is a great memory.

I have no idea why this song is in my head today but it did make me wonder.  What will our kids remember 20 years from now about church?  Will their memories be as full as mine?  I sincerely hope so.

Great things might happen.

This weekend I’m preaching on Luke 24:36b-48 and I didn’t intend to.  I thought I would preach on 1 John but something kept calling me back to this passage of doubt and the disciples.  How they were scared and unsure when Jesus arrived.  How Jesus brought peace.  How he was patient with them in their uncertainty.  How he didn’t give up on them.  It spoke to me.

Jesus offered the disciples a tactile experience.  He allowed them to touch, to feel him.  He showed them how alive he was by eating and just being with them.  He calmed the chaos in simple ways.  He just was with them and brought them peace. This was his way of connecting to them after the resurrection.  It is so simple yet beautiful.

There’s so much we could learn from this.  He calmed the chaos by offering peace and just being there. As the church in transition we are living in a state of anxiety.  Anxious about what we should do, how we should act and what we are doing wrong, we find ourselves flailing looking for answers.  What we need to do is surrender control to God and just be.  We should be witnessing to the moments of grace that God has shown us.  We should be sharing the power of God in our own lives as individuals.

In our anxiety is feels like we’re trying to plan our way out of this mess.  We hope that with a powerpoint projector or some kind of fancy program people will see Jesus.  We believe if we find the next best thing they’ll realize the importance of Church.  Those things are great but they aren’t how Jesus did things.  If we look at Jesus’ example, he ministered through relationship.  Everything he did was about people and he didn’t have an agenda.  It was never about growing a church or keep one open.  He ministered and shared God’s love because he loved people and wanted them to know there was nothing God wouldn’t do to get into relationship with them.

That’s the best part of the Christian message isn’t it?  There’s nothing God wouldn’t do to get into relationship with you.  God loves us so much that he would die so that we could always be with him.  This kind of love is so incredible.  It’s so powerful.  It’s our story to tell and we should tell it.

We are witnesses to this great love.  We should share our individual stories of grace and the power of God in our lives.  If we let go of our anxiety and started to just share the story we would find ourselves in the communities in which we live.  We would meet people and discover who they are.  We would find out what the needs of the community were and we could begin to meet them.  There would be a sharing of lives, our stories and love would flow abundantly.  With no agenda beyond living the message of grace and love in the world, great things might happen.

It could be incredible if we just let go and lived.
It could be incredible if we just let go and trusted God.
Do you think it’s possible for us to ever let go and truly trust God?

Let’s just end it already…

I’m tired of hearing about how the church is dying.
Let’s just kill it already and be done with it.
Seriously, I’m tired of this.

There is so much negativity floating around out there.
There is so much disbelief in the resurrection that I want to bang my head repeatedly against my desk sometimes.
When will we start believing in the resurrection?
When will we start believing that the Holy Spirit could come?

Think about it, what sane person would join an organization that believes it’s dying?  No one I know.

How are we supposed to attract people when all we do is talk about death?
We need to become a church of the resurrection.

Our focus needs to be the Gospel, not the next roast beef dinner.
We should be feeding the poor and helping our community, not worrying about cash.
We must stop dwelling on death and start embracing life.

We are a church that speaks about resurrection.
It’s time we started believing in it.

The third dream…

I had a third dream last night but after much contemplation and discussion with my husband we’ve determined it wasn’t ‘the dream’.  This is a relief!

The dream I did have involved me arriving at church at 10:27 to lead a worship service at 10:30 and finding out that the church I was leading worship at was not in the same location as the one I was used to.  Instead of the church I was used to I entered a gray room with grey folding chairs and only 3-4 people that I knew.  Then when I got up to lead worship the call to worship was incorrect and the people just ever so calmly told me to go with it.  I had a very unsettled feeling in that church and I felt weird leading things.  It did not feel like I belonged there and I was glad to wake up.

{The vivid dreams need to stop.  I have been known to have crazy dreams before but these dreams are too real.  They’re starting to freak me out.}