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Friday, January 25, 2013


As I was reading my friend's excellent blog, all of a sudden I had a "I should've had a V8!" moment and realized, wait, ohmygosh, I HAVE A BLOG TOO!

After ten days away during the Christmas holidays, I just put my head down and got to work when I got home. I plowed through hundreds of emails, and dove into several projects on the docket for this semester:

Suffice it to say, I got in the zone. Before I start down the road to burnout, I let myself sleep in this morning in order to catch up, breathe, rest and reflect.

The first song that came to mind as I rested was one that we sang last week in church: How Deep the Father's Love for Us. Being steeped again in theology through the Wesleyan theology course and the seminary course (which is on the Pentateuch -- one can never tire of studying that!) made me pay closer attention to the lyrics, the great gift being that the truth and power of the gospel washed over me again in joy and wonder. So many lines spoke to me:

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure...

Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers...

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.

I was then reminded of something I had read earlier in the week from the Gospel of Matthew. In Chapter 13 we are given several of Jesus' parables regarding the kingdom of heaven. Each one is equal parts life-giving and head-scratching for me. I love the images and truths expressed, but the longer I follow Jesus, the more I know how much I still don't know.

This particular parable hit me most this time:
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (verses 31-32) I cook with mustard seeds occasionally. They are tiny, beady, and non-descript. That is how the church in the world feels to me sometimes -- a tiny voice in a din of naysayers, especially as waves of violence and suffering keep washing over our world. Yet these pithy parables remind me to persevere, be patient, keep moving forward, all the while leaning into God's strength and not my own. Because in surprising ways, the kingdom keeps moving forward. I just need to open my eyes a little wider, and look for it with what John Wesley calls "spiritual senses." As the Father's deep love continues to press in upon us as "vast beyond all measure," may we grow in our awareness of what the Spirit is doing every day in our worlds. And more importantly, may we then join in! 

That realization helps me understand more as to why I haven't posted much here lately... I've been caught up in the party happening around me. Glory to God. May your 2013 be one full of the Father's deep love.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Prayers

I am spending this morning reflecting a bit on 2012 and praying for 2013. Here are some quotes and prayers that speak loudly to me. I want to share them here.

George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends, wrote, “People must be led out of captivity up to God. Be patterns, be examples that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.” 

The Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) helped to transform America by releasing their slaves in the late 1700's, and by organizing the Underground Railroad. How are we called as followers of Christ in 2013 to stand up to systems of pain and oppression?

"Almighty and everlasting God, in whom we live and move, andhave our being; glory be to Thee for my recovery from sickness, and the continuance of my life. Grant, O my God, that I may improve the year which I am now beginning, and all the days which Thou shalt add to my life, by serious repentance and diligent obedience; that, by the help of thy Holy Spirit, I may use the means of grace to my own salvation, and at last enjoy thy presence in eternal happiness, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen." (Samuel Johnson 1709-1784).

I love this prayer. The "means of grace" are profound -- spiritual disciplines, sacraments, scripture, humble service... You are so generous God in equipping us FAR beyond our own limited capacity through your transforming love and power.

I read a bit in the genealogy of Jesus in the Book of Matthew as it starts, and it's a cavalcade of broken people. So much sin and junk in the generations of Jesus' line. I look at my own family line, and there are deep hurts as well -- as there are in every family... yet you saved me and have chosen to use my imperfect life to bless others. A miracle.

Frederick Buechner has written, “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love the Book of Philippians. All of these quotes and passages could be summed up in these two simple verses from Chapter Two, which sum up the great tension of the Christian life:

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (verses 12-13)

May you know and love Jesus more in 2013, and may that love and knowledge flow out in abundant blessing to others. As George Fox challenged us, may we our lives preach to "all sorts of people." Happy New Year.