Tag Archives: Christianity

Flames

The dance of a flame is incredible to watch.  Colors merge into one another. Slight variations in the atmosphere can cause it to burn brighter or fade away. Flames dance and flicker as they reach out around them seeking to spread their warmth and grow stronger, bigger.  They are as dangerous as they are intriguing. Flames are not something to mess with unless you know what you are doing.

I wonder if this is why God sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples in flame.  So they truly could feel the majesty and awe of it’s presence.  So they might be inspired to live in the flame, to dance boldly and spread the flame as they move in the world.

When the flame fills you, you must dance.  When the flame fills you, you must fan out into the world.  You are as dangerous as you are intriguing as nothing can stop you.  You must move.  You must share.  You must spread the light that’s in you with those you meet.

This week we celebrate Pentecost.  The coming of the spirit.  The dangerously intriguing spirit that inspires us, that motivates us, that changes us.

Are you ready to receive it?
Will you let it’s flame fill you and wrap you in it’s warmth?
Will you live in it’s message and spread the flame out in the world?

The spirit is coming…

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Do I need a label maker?

Everyone has a label nowadays.  You have to be an ’emerging liberal conservative with evangelical tendencies’ to feel like you fit in in the Christian community.   It seems as though people believe that if you haven’t labeled your beliefs and put them in a category you’re not thinking enough about what it is you believe.

I don’t really understand the need for all this labeling.  Labels don’t really move us ahead and usually lead to division.  Then once you’ve divided yourself into categories you often find conflict comes next as each division thinks they’re right. After all the conflict you’ll find a lot of wounded people crying out in pain and I’m fairly certain this is not what Jesus wanted for us.

I cannot find one place in the Bible where Jesus said ‘you must label yourself according to beliefs and theological interpretation’.  Jesus is all about relationship and God’s love.

We all have labels that get put on us.  To some I’m a preacher.  To others I’m a teacher.  Some might call me pastor while others call me friend.  I’m also a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister and if I’m honest a pretty decent singer.  I can embrace a label for each part of my life and separate out sections of me or embrace the uniqueness that is me.   God created me to be all of these things.  Each part is important to the whole.

God created us all to be a part of the people of God.  Each part is important to the whole and we need to look at our differences as things that enhance the faith rather than detract from it.  We need to co-exist and embrace our diversity as it helps to create a rich, full faith that is constantly revealing truth to us.  When we focus on our differences as a negative thing and bring judgement into the mix we’ve lost perspective and purpose.

I don’t want a label.  I just want to follow Jesus.
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Do you think labels are important or do they hurt us?  I’d love to know what you think.

Stuck

I think we’re stuck in the same model.  You know what I mean, the model of ‘doing church’ that we’ve been using for the last 75 years or so.

I use the term ‘doing church’ instead of ‘being church’ because most of us really are just doing it.  We get up Sunday mornings {or we don’t} and we go to church to have worship done for us.  We might throw some money on the plate, attend a few dinners and help out here and there but in actual fact the church is something we expect to be there for us.  It’s a place we go when we want tradition, to be comforted or just as a habit.  It’s something that doesn’t really change.

We are stuck.

Stuck is not a good thing to be.  When I think of stuck I imagine gum on the bottom of a shoe or a door that just won’t open.  Not pleasant experiences and definitely not something that will entice or serve anyone in a positive way.
As a church we are stuck.  We are unable or unwilling to move or release ourselves from the holding pattern we have been in for years because of fear, because of tradition, because of a desire to maintain some control over the process.

The thing is, we are not in control or we shouldn’t be.  God should be the captain of our ship.  God should be the one who is in charge and if you read the Bible you’ll see that often times people who get stuck on control or who like things a certain sort of way get into a lot of trouble {I’m looking at you Ahab & Solomon}.

It’s time for us to vision.  Not those stupid visions that happen when you throw 7 people on a committee and get them to draft a new statement of who we are but actual real life visioning.  We need to throw the people of God into a room and ask them where they want to be in 10 years.  We need to hear what they are passionate about and find ways of making ministry real and vital in our world.  We need to make a choice to work with God.  We need to seek out who God wants us to be.

Who does God want us to be?
Where is God leading us?

I’d love to know what you think.

Where are the quiet waters?

If Psalm 23 had been written by the mother of a 2 year old who also happened to be a minister on a journey towards a more disciplined prayer life it might begin a little something like this:

The Lord is my Shepherd.  I’m well cared for and have all that I need except sleep. Sleep would be good God.  Sleep would be good.

I am a tired, tired soul.  This past week has been rough sleep wise.  I’ve been up at 3 more times then I care to admit.  Twice my son decided it was morning and another time I awoke with a brilliant idea for the blog that was gone as soon as I fell back asleep.  I really should sleep with a journal and pen for moments like that.  I’ve been getting up earlier and earlier.  This morning I was up at 5:45.  It has been suggested that God wants more time with me.  I would have thought that 5:45 was too early even for God, apparently I was wrong.

The Lord is my Shepherd.  He’s supposed to be leading me to rest by quiet waters, isn’t he?  Maybe that’s just for David…

I have next week off from preaching.  I hope to sleep, play, read, write and embrace all that extra time brings.  I am looking forward to more time.  Just time to do what ever comes forth.  It should be good for my soul.  Maybe I’ll find those quiet waters.

If God dropped by.

There is a tree in my front yard that is absolutely beautiful.  It flowers in the spring.  Has lots of full green leaves in the summer.  In the fall it turns color and begins to change into the stark stoic tree of winter.   Around dusk, when the light turns just the right shade, when the wind is blowing at just the right speed and the sun is at just the right height in the sky, it looks like it’s on fire.

The first time it happened I actually went out to examine the tree.  I knew it wasn’t on fire but it looked so strange and otherworldly.  It was quite the effect.  It’s happened a few times since and I enjoy the beauty that happens during that  exact mix of time, light and sun.  It’s quite a sight to behold.

When it happens I wonder how Moses felt when God made huge public displays of his presence.  My little light trick pales in comparison to the living, breathing God stepping into your presence by lighting a bush on fire or appearing as a swirling cloud.  Would Moses and the Israelites have taken these signs for granted?  Did they just get used to God’s big, bold appearances?

I wonder why those things don’t happen now.  Do they happen and we just don’t see them?  There are so many times I look back on a situation and realize how present God was with me but I missed it at the time.

Do you think God gets missed in the every day?  Would we even notice a burning bush these days?

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if God dropped by…

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.