What’s your number?

One of the first things we noticed when we left the organized part of church is how small our lives was in comparison with the congregation we left behind.  They do so much for the underprivileged.  They have a large amount of resources.  The pastors are honest and open people.  They are very good leaders.  The worship is top class.  They excel in children’s ministry.  They can reach a lot of people.  Compared to them we are only a speck.  Horton, are you there? 🙂 This comparison left us feeling useless.  We had no function. 

It all changed when God showed us that He is present in the everydayness of our lives.  It revolutionized our small world.  Gone was the comparison game.  Jesus showed us that we can connect with people and become their friends.  Somehow, sometime, He will begin to shine into their lives and we can walk a shared journey together.  The question however remains.  Will our small walk make a difference in the bigger scheme of things?

Perhaps this quote from Juan Carlos Ortiz will give some perspective.

Once an old woman in Argentina introduced me to a girl. “This is my granddaughter,” she said.
“Is that so?” I replied.
“Yes, I have great-grandchildren,” she said. “One of them is fifteen already, so if she marries soon I may even have great-great-grandchildren.”
“How many children did you have?” I asked.
“Six.”
“And now you have how many grandchildren?”
“Thirty-six.”
“And how many great-grandchildren?”
“Who knows?” she said. “I’ve never counted them.”
According to that proportion, she could have 216 great-grandchildren and 1,296 great-great-grandchildren!
Her family was quite impressive, too; one son was a doctor, another a lawyer, two were farmers, one was a taxi driver. Among her grandsons were engineers and many other professional people.
If I had asked her, “How did you manage such a large family—all these well-fed, well-dressed, well-educated people?” she would have replied, “I didn’t. I just took care of the six.”

Can we take care of six frienships over 30 years or so?  I believe it is possible.  Of course many people look at the quote from Juan and suddenly they have a formula on how to reach the world.  Let’s start an comprehensive discipleship drive for christians to reach six people at a time and teach them how to be disciples.  It won’t work.  Discipleship is life flowing into life.  It cannot be taught.  I think Philip Yancey said it best.

Love…is not mathematical; we can never precisely calculate the greatest possible good to be applied equally to the world’s poor and needy. We can only seek out one person, and then another, and then another, as objects for God’s love.

You don’t need impressive credentials to be a friend.  And as anyone will tell you with friendship.  “A friend is never just a number.”

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What have I fallen into?

I read a lot of blogs of friends telling of their faith journey.  Almost all of them deal with loss.  Some of us took a hammering, lost our best friends, were uprooted out of the group that loved us and had to move on to the unknown.  For some, the past months and years were lonely years. 

We talk about our loss a great deal.  Our loss.  Large quantities are being written about this.  We can describe every detail.  We certainly know what we came out of. 

I want to reflect on what I believe is more important and that is: Did we only lose?  Did we simply stumble into a life-sized emptiness?  The wilderness.  The dessert.  The short walk to nowhere that keeps going on forever?

Or….Did we gain anything?  “What have we fallen into?”

I think I read this quote somewhere, if not, I actually thought this one out  🙂 (Please tell me if you know who said this.)  It is one thing to stand in the sun and feel the warmth on your back.  It is another thing to fall into the sun. 

The same applies to Jesus and us.  Scores of us go to weekly gatherings, feeling the warmth of the Son on our backs.  It’s nice to know He is here somewhere and that makes us happy.  Gradually for some, high-speed for others however, the environment has changed.  The warmth is gone.  In this process, we can find ourselves in 2 places.  One is cold dessert where we long for what was.  The other is a falling into the Son. 

In the first instance, we can trace back what went wrong.  Why did all those awful things happen?  Perhaps, we can create a better Egypt.  We can have a place whare all the slaves are equal.  Perhaps a smaller Egypt will be the right thing.  Perhaps then, every slave will be seen as an individual that is important part of the mechanism.  No longer will the slave be overlooked or taken for granted.  No, we will create a place where all slaves can be valued.  Egypt after all is not that bad.  We were fed.  Ok, Ok… we had food.

The second option is to fall into the Son.  That means, life as we knew it, is over.  Jesus will become the whole lot.  The Everything.  When we fall into Jesus, warmth, ceases to exist.  Destruction.  Consumed.  Decreasing.  We lose.  Only “I am” is left.  Love.  Freedom.  Forgiveness.  Delight.  Silence.  Endurance.  Kindness.  Righteousness.  Vast open spaces.  Friendship.  Closeness.  Gentleness.  Playfulness.  Good humor.  The end of loneliness.  These are some of the puzzle-pieces of the Person I worship, that have I have “gained”. 

Did we only leave because it was bad?  Or did we leave because of a hunger that was never satisfied? Turns out, we have the opportunity to fall into Jesus.  We do not always know what this means, but it is the ongoing adventure of the windblown people.

But I am trying

While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves – blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do… A.W.Tozer

Perfection

This comes from Brennan Manning.   I think somebody is supposed to read this.

It used to be that I never felt safe with myself unless I was performing flawlessly. My desire to be perfect had transcended my desire for God. Tyrannized by an all-or-nothing mentality, I interpreted weakness as mediocrity and inconsistency as a loss of nerve. I dismissed compassion and self-acceptance as inappropriate responses. My jaded perception of personal failure and inadequacy led to a loss of self-esteem, triggering episodes of mild depression and heavy anxiety.

Unwittingly I had projected onto God my feelings about myself. I felt safe with Him only when I saw myself as noble, generous, and loving, without scars, fears, or tears. Perfect!

But on that radiant morning in a cabin hidden deep in the Colorado Rockies, I came out of hiding. Jesus removed the shroud of perfectionist performance and now, forgiven and free, I ran home. For I knew that I knew Someone was there for me.

Gripped in the depth of my soul, tears streaming down my cheeks, I internalized and finally felt all the words I have written and spoken about stubborn, unrelenting Love. That morning I understood that the words are but straw compared to the Reality.

I leaped from simply being the teacher of God’s love to becoming Abba’s delight. I said good-bye to feeling frightened and said shalom to feeling safe.

Get Me out of here!!

Yesterday I read a post and about four sentences stayed with me during the night. I have to blog about them. The post is from John Frye and the title is “Jesus goes postal“. The four sentences?

 When the Temple curtain was torn from top to bottom, I can hear God shouting, “Get me out of here! I am the God for all the nations. No exclusion from Me.”

Get Me out of here!!  That was our feeling when we left the organized part of church.  I need to breathe!  I am being suffocated by this claustrophobic little space.  There is a whole world full of God out there.  What am I doing in here?  There is so much to see, hear, feel taste and smell.  God has left the building 2000 years ago and guess what?  We are back in it.  Jesus said:  “I send you OUT into the world.”  The God-life is to be found outside.

Of course many of us carry this small, narrow-minded, inflexible, shallow, uptight God inside of us.  We walk around blissfull in our small self-centered worlds, thinking that what we know and experience is enough.  I can hear Him shouting.  “GET ME OUT OF HERE!!”  Will we let Jesus rip away the curtain in our lives and let a wild God go free?  What will happen then?

I don’t know, but we might just find out that He has always been out there, waiting with open arms.

DEEP theology

The shack” is one of those books.  If you do not find God in that little book, I would suggest that you stop looking at mountains, waves, trees, sunsets and people(and lots of other stuff), as a revelation of God.  Of course we can dissect it page by page, paragraph by paragraph, word for word, letter by letter and then list all the stuff that is not to our liking.  Do that and you will miss out.  But don’t worry, you won’t know that you’ve missed out 🙂

One of the problems people have with this book is that God the Father is represented as a female.  It’s just to much for some of us.  It’s not correct doctrine.  Horror upon horror!  “We, the defenders of God, will tell people not to read it.”  Do that and you will miss out.  But don’t worry, you won’t know that you’ve missed out 🙂

My opinion is – God the Father is male.  He revealed Himself to me as a Father.   He continually refers to Himself as a Father.  Jesus calles Him, “Father”.  Having said that, I firmly belief the Holy Spirit to be female.  In Hebrew the Holy Spirit (Ruwach) is written in the feminine form.  Who better to prepare a bride than….. well a Female?  Then there is Joh 3:5  that says “I am telling you the truth,” replied Jesus, “that no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit can be gentle and She can be fierce.

However, I want to take you to the beginning.  That’s right,  the very beginning.  Look at this verse.  Genesis 1:2  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  Now close your eyes.  Listen to the voice.  Wait for it…

“Look at this mess!! Do something with it!” 🙂