Through a Glass Dimly

Not All is Clearly Defined Therefore We See Through a Glass Dimly

Month: December, 2013

Liturgy of the Ordinary: You Are Here… or There?

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“You are here.” At least that’s what the map at the mall told me. I’m not over there. Or in the “C” wing. I might be there eventually. Right now, I am right here. 

It’s good to pause and with the utmost sobriety announce to yourself, “I am here. In this moment. Eyes wide open. Fully alive. You are here.” 

If what Iraneas claims is true, “The glory of God is man fully alive,” then it would behoove me in this moment to slow my pace, pause and focus on this present moment. You are here.

Am I fully alive? Or am I off to the races like the rushing running surging sea of humanity that threatens to throng me on a daily basis. Is my sentence for having a heartbeat to live on an endless wheel like the gerbil I adopted as a kid? You are here.

Or… could there be found within a calmness of soul? Like that of a hurricane. Wind. Wave. Rain. Thunder. Lightening. Hail. Storm. Yet, on the inside, in the eye. In the midst of it all. Peace. Calm. Rest. Quiet. I am here. Fully here. Fully alive. I choose to be here.

To be fully alive. To live life fully here in the midst of chaos and a world that seems to be losing it’s sense of balance and sensibility, brings honor and glory to God. I want to be here. 

“And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7. You can be here.

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Power of a Nod

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Liturgy of the Ordinary: Never underestimate the power of an encouraging smile, a nod of affirmation, a wink of support, a thumbs up across a crowded room. 
 
When we become intentionally attentive to the glory of God in the small… small overshadows big. Fireworks are fun, but they flame out and are short lived. The thrill is gone.
 
Small but consistent acts of grace, in the name of the One, can impact a person for a lifetime. The thrill remains. 
 
Don’t allow your innate tendency of risk aversion to keep you from being the hands, feet and life of Jesus over the course of your day in the smallest of gestures. 
 
Jesus, through you, will change lives… and a side gift? He will change you.

Lessons in Waiting: Bitterness, the Easy Pill

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Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow. That’s a lie. Bitterness is the easiest pill to swallow when you have been hurt, crushed, betrayed, or thrown under the proverbial bus by those you trusted.
 
Bitterness goes down like warm honey over a sore throat. It’s sweet to the wounded soul… and therein lies the danger. It tastes good when you are sporting a lacerated heart.
 
The real mark of Christ being formed in a person is when they can refuse the sweet temptation of bitterness and exhibit the very heart of Jesus through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, mercy, grace.
 
Perhaps this will help. We become what we behold. As we gaze upon our pain. Rehearse the event. Nurse the wound. Retell the gory story. Relive it a thousand times in our mind. We keep the hurt alive and drive the root of bitterness deeper.
 
However, if we fix our eyes upon Jesus. Know that He knows. Understand that He suffered and died at the hands of broken unregenerate men. Realize that our pain is but a fraction of His. Embrace His forgiveness and therefore are enable to forgive others. 
 
Then we begin to appropriate and internalize His love, His character, His nature and His capacity for grace. 
 
Behold the Lamb that was slain. 

Liturgy of the Ordinary: God in the Normal-ness

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We, like Elijah, sometimes look beyond the obvious for an earth shattering indicator that God is active in our present reality. 

Yet, it is in the common, the ordinary, the normal-ness of the present that God’s gentle whisper pierces the veil between heaven and earth. Eyes open. Ears attentive. Spirit tuned in. 

If we look for Him in this present moment, He will not hide. He is not dodging our desire to see, but waiting for us to slow down enough to notice that He is near. Present. 

1 Kings 19:11-12

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”

At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

Forward From Here

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The splash of raindrops. I had to open my window just to let the sound drift into my little room. It’s late December and I’m struggling to see with a clear vision into the coming new year.

I feel an awkward pressure every twelfth month to come up with something profound for the dawning of a new calendar year. Nothing. I want to find a word. A phrase. Something inspiring. I’m getting zilch.

It’s funny how we pressure ourselves into these little corners of expectation. Self-imposed stress. Needless really. As if I need a personal vision for a new year. After all, the past year will go down in our family memoirs as the year from hell.

The year we were jobless. The year we were homeless. The year we lived out of a suitcase. The year Rachel, my 13 year old, slept on an air mattress. The year I sent out 260 plus resumes only to be turned down again and again and again. The year I met the suffering Servant of the scriptures.

As Westerners, we are quick to place a template of our current cultural context over the life of Jesus as though he lived in the burbs, drove an Audi, and took videos of his kid’s indoor soccer games on his smartphone. It’s not the picture we get in scripture of a Messiah who had no place to lay His head.

Is it sacrilege to say “good riddance” to a whole year? Is it wrong to not be excited about Christmas this year due to our displacement and the fact we are living in someone else’s home? Is it unspiritual for me to long for one season to be over in order to move forward into the next?

I feel tainted for the thoughts that come into my mind when I see posts on social media of friends and virtual friends whose lives seem to be shiny, tidy and put together nicely while ours is none of those things. Envy is a prison cell of sorts.

Perhaps I’m being too honest. Too raw. Too real. I should polish this up. Remove the rust, lest some think my faith is weakening. Or maybe we, on occasion, need an unfiltered dose of open-wounded reality in order to know that the climb out of the valley will be worth it all.

In case you’re wondering right about now (I probably would be)… I have not lost my faith. In fact, it’s more intact than it has ever been. It’s more honest and more grounded than at any other time in my life. In spite of our temporal circumstances, hope has not been lost, though scratched and dented. Growth has occurred.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:13-14 NKJV

Beauty in the Desert

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A number of years ago, we served on the staff at a church in the high desert of Southern California. I had never lived in a real desert before. I did grow up in West Texas, so that kind of counts, I suppose.

I have to admit, for the most part I was never a fan of desert life. It was too hot, too brown, too windy and too barren, except for the mountains.

Rising out of the Southeast and the Southwest were two ranges of mountains that stood as beacons of hope for me. One set of mountains, the Marianas, were the foothills to the mountain resort communities of Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead.

Even though I resided in the desert these mountains reminded me that there was more just beyond that barren place. They reminded me that with just a little drive time I could be enjoying the stunning beauty and cooler refreshing temperatures of those mountains.

As our family has experienced this season in the wilderness and the corresponding emotional roller coaster ride that daily threatens our peace and sense of well being, we have discovered the treasure of trust, faith and hope that is being produced in each of us makes every high and every low worth it all.

One of my greatest discoveries has been this: Just as Jesus was not on the boat with his disciples, but was on the water in the storm, so too does he reside in the desert, waiting to meet with those who would dare to trust him in their darkest of days.

Lessons in Waiting: Not too long ago I would have told you that my time in the wilderness was the darkest and most frightening place I have ever been. I can now say that it is the most beautiful, fruitful and blessed place, for it is a land flowing with His grace, brimming with His mercy and saturated in His love. #beautifuldesert #stunningwilderness #fruitfulland #noneedtofear #JesusisintheDesert