Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Sabbath in the Suburbs

Sabbath in the Suburbs is a worthwhile read, especially if you're looking for ideas of what it could look like for a family to celebrate the sabbath together. There are a number of books that provide an in-depth understanding of the sabbath, historically how it has been observed by Jews and Christians, etc, but there are few books that chronicle the journey and exploration of what this could look like for a person and/or family. This book would be though generating for any person, especially those with young children.

A few quotes:

We have such a short time on this earth. How do we we want to live it? Always busy, working on the next project, chore, or errand? Or with an attitude of unhurried trust and joy?

The world would go on without us. We would be dispensable. We would let God's grace seep into us in a way that is can't when our lives are crammed full of activity.

Sabbath is more than a day; it's a mind-set.

Sabbath is a way of modeling a different relationship with time, one that values relationship over achievement.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Ephesians 3:18-20 // REWRITE

The following is a rewrite of Paul's prayer found in Ephesians 3:18-20.
"May have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..." -Ephesians 3:18-20 NIV


You are not alone. You are a part of an eternal community of Christ followers – God’s very people. As you journey together, may you have the ability to comprehend and grasp with your whole being the love of Christ. His love, that stretches wide beyond geographical regions, ethnicity and race. That love, that runs long through the story of history itself, from eternity to eternity. The love, that extends toward the very throne of God, raising us up to sit with Him; forgiven, healed, restored, joint-heirs with Christ, who have been made alive with the same Spirit that raised Him from the clutches of Death, Hell, and the Grave. His love that reached downward into the mire of human depravity, taking on the very nature of humanity, stained by sin, stricken with the very punishment that belonged to us. May this love, become deeply lodged in the very core of your being, until it changes how you see everything (God, others, even yourself).

No longer shall you be satisfied merely making castles in the sand or paddling around in the shallowness of the shoreline. Rather, may you be drawn further and further out, deeper and deeper in, until you are completely consumed by His love. May you experientially know that which is beyond human rhetoric and comprehension.
Don’t be mistaken! You haven’t seen the least of it yet. Just when you think you’ve got a hold on His love, you’re swept still further out and further out beyond that. God is able to do anything, exponentially more than we can ask, think or imagine, according to His power that is presently at work within us…

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ephesians 3:16-17 :: REWRITE

The following is an expanded re-write of Ephesians 3:16-17.

 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
–Ephesians 3:16-17 NIV

I pray that the very core of your heart, the executive center of your being, the citadel of your soul, will be fortified and strengthened by the endless power of God’s Spirit. May you be built up, not according to your lack, but His boundless supply. The purpose of such strengthening isn’t for your own honor, making a name for yourself, or even expanding your own kingdom. On the contrary, this infusing of God’s power is that you may, more and more, live out your life as if Christ were living His life through you. Don’t be content with Christ’s provision of an eternal destiny. But, implore Him to be your traveling companion throughout this journey called life.

Don’t just tidy up your soul the way you’d clean your house prior to a visit from an out-of-town guest. Yard mowed. Bushes manicured. Landry put away. Yet, all the while, the closets are a mess, and so will be the rest of the house, once they depart. No, invite Christ in. Give Him refrigerator rights. Grant Him keys to the closets and access to the attic. Don’t stop there, go ahead, turn over the title and move into the guest room yourself. Let Him run the affairs of your home and all of your comings and goings…

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paul's Ephesian Prayer :: Remixed

The following is a rewrite of Paul's prayer found in Ephesians 1:15-23.

Because God has chose you, predestined you, accepted you, redeemed you, forgiven your sins, lavished you with his grace, shown you his will, marked you with the Holy Spirit and given you an eternal inheritance that you can partake of in the here and now, I have not stopped giving thanks for you. Day and night I’m praying for you! I keep asking God, over and over, to give you in abundance the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The Spirit that causes you to come alive with an awareness to God and His present-nearness, even in the most mundane moments of life. In all the arenas of your life, may you know God better. May your relationship with Him continue to move from the theoretical and abstract to the practical expressions of love and faith in action. May this experiential knowledge of God transform you from the inside out and cause you to walk in complete freedom with-Him.

Like the shutter of a camera that opens to let light in so that an image can be captured, I pray that the eyes of your heart will be opened, so that the image of who God created you to be, will be etched and developed deep in the core of your being. May every skewed image of this world that rises up to distort your true identity in Christ be exposed for what it is, a mirage - an illusion.

May you be consumed with the hope to which you have been called. All these truths that declare who you are in Christ, may they begin to cause you to see everything from His perspective (God, yourself, others and the world in which you live). May you be so infiltrated by the reality of God’s promises that you will never again settle for empty, stale or aimless living.

May you come to understand not only who you are in Christ, but how Christ Himself sees you. You are His treasured possession, a precious jewel, the very one who He suffered and died for to reconcile back to Himself.
May you know that you are no longer under the tyranny of sin, nor the power of Satan. No longer are you to be spellbound by the enchantments of this world or imprisoned by the fads and labels of this present age.
For the same dynamic force that God exercised to shatter the dominion of death, raising Christ from the grave is at work within you who believe. May you live in the sphere of His kingdom here and now…

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Paul's Colossian Prayer :: Remixed

The New Testament letter's penned by the Apostle Paul contain instruction and doctrine, but they are also very personal. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul writes, "we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well."

Paul saw prayer as a significant element of the on-going transformation within the life of those he discipled. Not only their prayers, but the prayers he prayed for them. In nearly every letter we have by Paul, he makes note that he has been praying continuously for them. In a few places Paul even gives us a glimpse into not only the constancy of his prayers, but the content as well. There's much we can learn about prayer from simply reflecting on they types of things Paul prayed. The past couple of weeks in New Community, we've been reflecting on Paul's prayers. 

I've encouraged  everyone to take the passages/prayers that we're studying and commit to pray them throughout the week for: 

  • themselves/immediate family, 
  • someone they are close to, and 
  • someone they have a hard time being around (but must interacte with on a regular basis). 
In addition to studying and reflecting on Paul's prayers as they are written, each week, I've offered a rewrite of the passage. A remix, if you will, of the passage, what it means and how we could practically pray it for ourselves and others.

The following is the rewrite for Colossians 1:9-14.

God I pray that you grant unto me an experiential encounter with Your truth – the knowledge of Your will. Renovate my mind and establish the blueprints to Your kingdom deep within my heart. God, help me to see things from Your perspective. Everything, from who I am to what I do. Invade every sphere of my life – private to public. May I live as if You were living through me. I pray the very minute details of my life will bring an unending smile to Your face.

God, more and more, let me learn how to keep in step with Your Spirit in every part of my life. As I follow Your leading, the way You want things to be done, may my life be marked by the out-flowing of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Father, expand the horizon of my vision, until I see Your present-activity in virtually every arena of my life. Strengthen me with the power of Your Spirit. As I’m empowered according to Your might, may I not bow down as a despondent coward in the face of adversity and difficult circumstances. No, in the power of Your might, may I find the wherewithal to stand and not give up. When I’m mistreated and in the midst of difficult people, may I be slow to anger and respond to others with love and grace.

Finally, I desire to be a wellspring of joy, giving thanks to you at every occasion. May I not get bogged down with the snares of this world to the point of my joy becoming strangled and my heart diminishing into decadence of complaining. May I never lose sight of the reality that I was once aimlessly wandering in sin, shrouded by death and held captive under the dominion of darkness. Not so any longer! I have been rescued out of darkness, snatched out of death and transferred into the kingdom of the Son of Your delight. I have been chosen, forgiven and redeemed because of Your never-ending love.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Recalling Prophecies

Timothy, MY SON,  I am giving you this COMMAND
in keeping with the PROPHECIES once made about you,
-1 Timothy 1:18

God has a plan for each of us. At times in life, we are blessed by interacting with other followers of Christ who have an intuitive sense into what God is doing in one's life, even at discerning the special grace(s) God has imparted to a person. Elements of one's giftings, calling, etc. These words, messages and insights, when shared at a timely season, in a God honoring way, have tremendous power to direct one's course in God.

Along our journey in this world there are many things that can serve to distract and derail us from God's preferred path for our lives. Relationships, busyness, pressing needs, even forces of darkness can rally to twart our way.

At other times, discouragement and apathy settle in on our souls like a fog on a spring morning. Subtly it settles, barely noticable at first, and then before one knows it, they find themselves unable to see ten-feet ahead. Likewise, discouragement and apathy, slowly, yet steady settle in on our souls, until without nearly noticing, we are surrounded, clouded, stagnant and lacking in any sense of motivation and direction.

Timothy, as a young man, seemed to face his share of discouragement and opposition in life and ministry. Paul "urges" him to "recall" those things that had been spoken over his life prior to the fog settling.

To "recall" these prophecies, and by them, "fight the battle well." God's perspective, often found not only in His written Word, but the very words at time spoken to us by God, through others.

Over the years, there have been various influential people in my life, who at times, have spoken a timely word into and over my life. Words, that I knew were from God. Words, that either resonated with something God Himself had spoken to me or perhaps a word confirming something someone else had spoken. Regardless, there was power in these words - they brought life to something deep within.

I've kept many of these words written down on pieces of paper. At times, like Paul's instructions to Timothy, I've found it helpful to go back to those pieces of paper and simply re-read, remember and reflect on these messages. And, it is during those discouraging seasons of the soul, that these words have the potential to strengthen us, to cause something to rise up within us, to enable us to "fight the battle well."

  • Have you ever experienced someone speaking a word like this to/over you?

  • Do you have people in your life like this? People who can give perspective and insight into life, especially during the difficult seasons of the soul?

  • Are there things that you have sensed God has spoken to you? Things, that in times of discouragement or misdirection could be "recalled" to help you "fight the battle well"…?

"Like golden apples set in silver is a word spoken at the right time."
-Proverbs 25:11

"A person finds joy in giving an apt reply-- and how good is a timely word!"
-Proverbs 15:23

"Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with." 
-Habakkuk 2:2

Friday, March 01, 2013

Nannie Dairies :: Learning to Hum

Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time at my grand parents. They owned a small farm in North Carolina. My grandmother, affectionately known as “Nannie,” lived to be nearly ninety-six years old. She was blessed to maintain her mental capacities and relatively good health all the way up until the end of her life, which spanned over the course of nearly a whole century.

Since she was a little girl, she loved God with all her heart and endeavored to follow the ways of Christ in every area of her life. She was an amazing woman of faith.
One of my earliest childhood memories of Nannie is that of her humming. Humming while doing the dishes. Humming when snapping peas just picked from the garden.  Even while cleaning floors or toilets, regardless of the task, she could always be found humming.

As a child, to me this humming seemed like nothing more than background noise. I was unaware of what was going on. I was Unconscious to the realities at hand, as I was too consumed with my childhood pursuits of fun and games to notice and too naive to understand fully what these sounds meant. Yet these sounds, the sound of Nannie’s humming still echoes in my ears to this day!

During my twenty’s, during a visit home from college, it dawned on me that Nannie wasn’t just humming – she was singing. And, she wasn’t merely singing – these were songs. And, not just any songs – these were hymns. She was worshipping God…continuously.

It wouldn’t be for another ten or fifteen years before I would more fully realize and appreciate the rare quality this was to be found in a human. It wouldn’t be until I found myself surround by long work days, pressing needs and the necessities of life, not to mention three young children, who at times demonstrate more frequent fits of frenzy and sibling rivalry than the do the harmonious joy filled love shared among brother and sisters.

Moments and seasons to which one (present company particularly) would be more prone to sigh in exhaustion, rather than sing. Moments where the humming has long since digressed into mutterings about simply “getting along.”
It has been in moments like these, that I hear the echoes of Nannie’s humming rise up within my soul. Echoes of a woman, who had long since learned to rise above the challenges of life. In times like these, as the Psalm 78:7 says, she becomes “my example.”

A life that demonstrated the embodiment of the seemingly inconceivable admonitions of found in Scripture. Scriptures like Colossians 4:2, where the Apostle Paul exhorts us to “pray continuously.” Or, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, where it commends us to “always be joyful. Never stop praying. And be thankful in all circumstances.” Or, as Colossians 3:16 instructs us, to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”
These are Scriptures that can seem impossible at times to live. Yet, I know they are, because I’ve seen them lived. And, Nannie was my example.
When I grow up, I want to be like Nannie…

 “You have been my strength and protection.
That is why I can never stop praising you;
I declare your glory all day long.

(Psalm 71:7-9)

As you find yourself doing a seemingly menial task like taking out the trash, cleaning the house, mowing the grass or driving around town, begin utilizing these moments to intentionally worship God. Hum a song. Sing a hymn. Or, simply make up a sonnet from your heart to God. As with anything, the more we do this, the easier it will become and the more natural songs will flow. And, perhaps one day we’ll find ourselves just like Nannie – simply worshiping God all day long…