Backwards

I do not want to get stuck on the broken things of the past, but instead keep my eyes open to the new things God is trying to unfold for me now.

I will miss it if I am only looking backwards. Things are bing done around me and ahead of me, but I am missing every one of them because I am walking backwards.

God can make a way where there WAS no way, but I will miss it every time I am focused on the way it always WAS.

"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past.
Behold, I will do something new,
now it will spring forth;
will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, 
rivers in the desert."
     - Isaiah 43:18-19

Stopped Praying

Something was said by a former student of mine. "One day I just stopped praying, but God never stopped speaking to me." I have been fascinated with that statement all morning. She mentioned a removal of herself from "what I was socialized to be."

If we have grown up even a bit in or around the Church, there are practices taught to be utilized and enacted in particular ways. I am not sure that this is how we are meant to live. God has made each one of us a particular way with very colorful wiring, and we cannot expect to relate to or hear from God in the exact same way as every other person.

It is very possible for me to hear and know the heart of God at the core of who I am when I allow myself the freedom to hear from God from that place instead of the rigid expectations of how certain people have heard from Him in the past.

As long as I am giving good check to those things I believe I am hearing from God. I want to be more focused on listening to Him than I am on the pathways or practices I have been taught along the way.

Those things I believe I am hearing from God still need to be checked against His Word and His Body (fellow believers) to be sure my heart is not deceiving itself and calling it God's voice, but there is still a far greater freedom in that than the socialized ways I have been taught for years in the Church.

Yes, there was a moment when I stopped making prayer closets, creating calendared "quiet times". There was a moment I stopped praying, but the more entangled I become with the heart of Jesus, I realize He never stops speaking to me. 

[never]Forsaken in the Drudgery

There is a promise God makes in Hebrews. He says, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." (13:5) I have read that promise a bit differently today.

Most of the time, I have found that promise speak very clearly to me in times of trouble and struggle. There have been moments when loneliness comes in the form of a difficult situation I have faced, wondering if I really am alone in this. In those moments, I have been encouraged to know God has not abandoned me.

But today, this promise speaks to an entirely different loneliness I have found from time to time--the travail of day to day living.

There is a loneliness that settles in for us in the days that blend together in a boring gray. The routine becomes monotony, and the days are all the same. In those times my heart can be bogged and sandbagged. These are not days of difficulty, because even difficult times engage the heart and mind. These are not days of beautiful and spectacular memories. These are just days like one Counting Crows lyric:

"Today was just a day fading into another
And that can't be what a life is for." (Amy Hit The Atmosphere)

These times become very lonely spots, and then comes this promise of God to break down the loneliness of our own drudgery:

"I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

Even in your normal every day, I am here. I am present. I still come after you and pursue you. I have never left you. I have never and will never abandon you.

There is a strength that comes to the heart in the moments you can praise, sing, and remember this fact. No matter how monotonous and gray my day to day seems, God is still near to me.

Sea Glass Conversations [a poem]

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Along the crook of where ocean meets land
I find myself walking over sea glass;
treasured gems in reverse,
not found in nature and refined by man
   but having been discarded by man
   has been refined by nature

I pick up a piece and ask it a number of questions.

What onslaughts have you withstood
to become so smooth and beautiful?

How many times did you wonder
if all the ocean's tumbling was worth
this beauty you could not have seen
   along the way?

Where did you gather strength
to endure years pitched about
   after being pitched out?

What does the voice of God sound like...

when it bores through self-hatred
and burnishes your broken edges?

How did you stay strong without fracture?
How did you patiently await the vision
   of what you would become?

I slip the gem into my pocket
and I can hear it look me in the heart to say,
"I have al the same questions for you?"

Growth in destruction

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, it’s insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it looks like complete destruction.” - Cynthia Occelli


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I read this quote this morning and it has shaken the dust from something in me. There is an awareness to have in the moments when everything breaks down or falls apart, an awareness and recognition of the potential for beauty and growth that now begins in those otherwise desperate moments.

When I Preach

When I preach or speak, I hope for the inner-dialogue from those who listen to resonate with the words of Henri Nouwen in his book Creative Ministry.

"What you say loudly, I whispered in the dark; what you pronounce so clearly, I had some suspicion about; what you put in the foreground, I felt in the back of my mind; what you hold so firmly in your hand always slipped away through my fingers. Yes, I find myself in your words because you words come from the depth of human experiences, and therefore, are not just yours but also mine, and your insights do not just belong to you, but are mine as well." (35)

This will only happen if I am willing to be known as pastor and preacher, and only if I am willing to be fully available in relationship and connection. The pastor is still a fellow man, and the moment a pastor forgets that reality, they are not a pastor. They are a performer.