Yesterday and the rest of this week the blog will be in an allergy-induced coma. Mornings are kinda hard with the breathing and sneezing and phlegm and what not. I’m sure God has things for me to see in it, but mostly I just feel miserable. So, hopefully they will calm down over the next few days and I will get back to un-medicated thought patterns and the blog next week. Until then, run after Jesus!
Can a church be both strategic and organic? I love the structure and drive of creating strategy, but I also believe that if we can strategize the church, then we can quickly create our own kingdom instead of God’s. How to balance those is a big question in my mind.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
I’ve been reading “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer. A few quotes and thoughts as I’ve started reading it.
Everything is made to center upon the initial act of “accepting” Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him. (16)
Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. (17)
When religion has said it’s last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the “and” lies out great woe. (18)
The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution. (22)
C’mon! There is so much there, out of just the first two chapters! Oh my, the God-and part just wrecks my heart! Oh how I love the other things that I try to include in following God. Pick up the book and give it a read. I’ll leave you today with the prayer that Tozer writes at the end of chapter 1.
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Don’t for a minute envy careless rebels; soak yourself in the Fear-of-God— That’s where your future lies. Then you won’t be left with an armload of nothing.
The church staff I work on has recently started a new practice. Each day at 10a and 2p, we stop whatever is happening in the office, close the office and spend 10 minutes in prayer together. We generally read a Psalm from the Paraclete Psalter and then spend time in silence or prayer. We have been doing this for about a month. Here’s what I have learned:
- There are a lot of Psalms I am not familiar with. (Like Psalm 29- that one wrecked me last week. The voice of the Lord… Wow!) I have read the Psalms a few times, but as we pray the Psalms together, I hear then in new ways as I allow them to wash over me as offerings to and from God.
- I work with some awesome people. If you’ve never prayed with anyone on the church staff, just come in and ask, they all love Jesus, and it comes out when they pray.
- The power of pausing.
Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love, for whoever loves has fulfilled the law. -Romans 13:8
I’m reading a book right called “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. It is the story of Hazel, a teenage girl with terminal cancer.
Last night I came across a line from Hazel in a conversation about beauty with her boyfriend. They are marveling at the beauty of the elm tree seeds falling all around them. Here is a snippet:
“Of course,” said our waiter. “We have bottled all the stars this evening, my young friends. Gah, the confetti!” he said, and lightly brushed a seed from my bare shoulder. “It hasn’t been so bad in many years. It’s everywhere. Very annoying.”
The waiter disappeared. We watched the confetti fall from the sky, skip across the ground in the breeze, and tumble into the canal. “Kind of hard to believe anyone could ever find that annoying,” Augustus said after a while.
“People always get used to beauty, though.”
That last line is such a good reminder! I worship the creator of all beauty and goodness, but very often I find myself missing the beauty altogether, or worse, grumbling about how annoying it is.
Today (once the sun and someone else in my family is awake!), I will choose to see beauty. And I will not be satisfied in the beautiful thing, but I will remember who the beautiful one is, and give Him glory and honor and thanks.
So, shake off your slumber, stretch your limbs, open your eyes wide and see the beauty God has placed around you wherever you are today.
Where do you see beauty today?
Challenged students to pray this prayer of St. Ignatius for the next 3 weeks. Feel free to join us!
As I’ve been reading through Proverbs recently, I’ve been struck by how often our world operates in the exact opposite way from what the Proverbs say. Take these verses from Proverbs 15 for instance:
5- A fool spurns a parents discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
What? In our culture that first statement would read, “A fool heeds a parents discipline.” It is completely acceptable among teens to trash your parents when you don’t agree with them. (I would guess that if I changed teens to 30-40 year olds, it would still be a true statement.) But, the kingdom of God works differently than the kingdom of man.
10- Stern discipline awaits those who leave the path; those who hate correction will die.
Our world encourages “finding your own way” and “doing whatever makes you happy”. Neither of these statements lead one to be open to correction. Our culture rebels against correction: “Who are you to tell me what to do/say/think/how to act?” And this is encouraged! Be independent, follow your heart, and make your dreams come true. But. God’s kingdom works differently than the kingdom of man.
18- The hot-tempered stir up dissension, but those who are patient calm a quarrel.
Most often, the loudest, angriest voice wins in our culture. If you have been wronged, be as loud and angry as possible, and “they” will have to deal with you and make things right. Case in point: A plane full of United passengers are recently stranded in China for 3 days. They begin yelling in the airport and attacking United personnel across the counter. They receive refunds and vouchers almost before they have landed in the US. Another group is stranded in Peru (A country they weren’t supposed to see) for 1.5 days. They stay mostly calm and never cause a scene. It takes 7 weeks and LOTS of phone calls, emails, and faxes to hear from United. (Side note: Full refund request okay’d on Wednesday morning. Woohoo!) But, God’s kingdom works differently than the kingdom of man.
33- Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.
In our world, humility is usually a trait of weakness. It’s ok to fake it when people are publicly making much of you, but it is not something that will lead you to great honor. Case in point: Usain Bolt. The cockiest, least humble athlete I’ve ever heard interviewed. He takes great honor for himself. But, God’s kingdom works differently than the kingdom of man.
Go after the kingdom of God!
Where do you see a difference in the way of our culture and the way of God’s kingdom?