That’s Some Good News

Budding in Decay

Budding in Decay

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!           — 2 Corinthians 5 [nrsv]

My professor and missional mentor at Rochester College, Mark Love, has written a very succinct and inspiring post about the good news of Jesus, as the apostle Paul tells it. It’s worth a few minutes of your time.

 The death and resurrection of Jesus marked a dramatic turning of the ages. “Everything is passing away,” he says in 2 Corinthians. “Everything has become new.” The old age that is passing away was ruled by the powers of sin and death. But the coming age, the age of a new creation is ruled by God’s life, by faith and grace and the Holy Spirit. A different human life is possible under those conditions. Our life doesn’t have to be one of constant futility where we are always doing the thing we don’t want to do. A slogan for the old life under the powers of the old age might be, “the thing I hate is the thing I do.”

 

I am still trying to wrap my head around this idea that cross & resurrection of Jesus was “a dramatic turning of the ages.” I think I have a loose grip on it in my mind, but how do you communicate that because Jesus’ grave is empty, God’s future is bursting into our present? Anytime we write the day’s date, we are acknowledging that Jesus changed history—but it’s more than just about AD/BC or CE/BCE.

In this new age, what’s broken, dying, decaying, suffering, and messed up doesn’t have to stay that way. When God rolled the stone away, he ushered in the first act of new creation—life in the face of death that will one day overcome the cosmos.

I love Mark’s phrase “A different human life is possible under those conditions.” That brings me hope. Because God is working to bring about reconciliation and wholeness—we can work towards true human flourishing in equality and justice and peace. Because God is working to bring about restoration and new creation, we can artfully order the stuff of the world, care for and cultivate the land in wholeness.  Life in this new age is a life where our work and our art and our relationships and our passions have enduring power towards eternity.

That’s some good news.

No Newness Yet

Time Expired

 
You are the God who makes all things new.
We gladly raise our voices and move our lips
        to acknowledge, celebrate, and proclaim
               your staggering newness.
As we do, we hold in our hearts
        deep awareness of all the places where your newness
               is not visible, and
               has not come.
        Our hearts link to many places of wretchedness
               short of your newness.
               We picture our folks at home,
                       sick, in pain, disabled, paralyzed
                       and no newness yet.
Move our hearts closer to the passion of our lips.
Move our lips closer to your own newness.
Work your newness in hidden, cunning ways among us.
Move us closer to your bodied newness in Jesus,
        newness of strength come in weakness,
        newness of wisdom come in foolishness.
Draw us from the wretchedness we know
        to his scarred, bloody wretchedness
        that is your odd entry of newness into our life.
We pray in the name of his suffering newness. Amen.
                                                                            —A prayer written by Walter Brueggemann

Let Go – Embrace

November 10, 2012-1

Life:

Letting go -
    Frenetic
    Hurried
    Complex
    Distracted
Embracing -
   Peace in every step
   Contemplative
   Simplicity
   Presence
                            of God
                            in each
                            moment

 

Creative Outlets, Contemplation, the Divine, Goals, Intents, and the Stuff of Life

. . . Just a few of the things on my mind of late. There is deep meaning in all of this—more than a blog post could ever contain.

. . . I’m in the last semester of my degree in Rochester College’s graduate school in missional church leadership. It has been life-changing, and I will sorely miss it when all is said and done. But it is, of course a big reason why I haven’t been writing much here.

. . . Goals. Do you have them? I don’t. At least not really. Nothing specific, to be sure. I have been considering intents of life. What’s my life’s intention? Here’s what I’m working with:

. . . to live a disciplined and contemplative life, spent in love for the world.

I’ve realized something important over the several months. Intentions matter. And intentions beget priorities. For me, priorities have become finding creative outlets, working hard at simple habits like waking up earlier (really, this is restoring an old habit), journaling, and a little exercise.

. . . By biggest intentionality over the last several months has been the pursuit of God through contemplative prayer. I was reminded in a deeply painful way at the end of this summer that I simply do not know how to truly pray—to truly connect with the beauty and joy and peace and purity of the Divine. There is beauty all around that pulses with the heartbeat of the Divine that I miss. So, I have been very intentional in this pursuit of practicing the presence of God. It has been a journey to be sure, and a journey that has just begun.

Maybe I’ll blog about it, but maybe I won’t. I know—not the way to build and audience.

In the peace of God, little else seems to matter. I’m trying to get to that place.

Thanks for reading, and look for some more work at the beginning of the year.

God’s grace and peace to you and your house!

Bonhoeffer Books for Young Leaders

The saying goes something like this: The one who leads, reads. And the one who reads, leads. Something like that at least. I think its profoundly true. I don’t read as much as I want to, and my leadership isn’t what it could be for lack of it.

There are a lot of books that I’ve read and plan to read that are important books for Christian leaders to read. But there are two in particular, that I think young leaders need to read, especially. Both are by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

 

1) The Cost of Discipleship

 [1]

 

 

 

 

  2) Life Together

 

 

 


[1] This is the edition I read while in college. A more accurate edition is available: D. Bonhoeffer, ed. Discipleship, ed. G.B. Kelly (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).

I am convinced…

I’m convinced being generous is a better way to live.

I’m convinced forgiving people and not carrying around bitterness is a better way to live.

I’m convinced having compassion is a better way to live.

I’m convinced pursuing peace in every situation is a better way to live.

I’m convinced listening to the wisdom of others is a better way to live.

I’m convinced being honest with people is a better way to live.

This way of thinking isn’t weird or strange; it is simply acknowledging that everybody follows somebody, and I’m trying to follow Jesus.

—Rob Bell, in Velvet Elvis

 

Brokenness, The Gospel, and the Kingdom.

My friend Jake Kaufman was written another outstanding post. There are a lot of pretty stellar things going on over there. You should check it out.

There is something particularly powerful about this post, called “When Faith Meets Reality.” As someone involved in theological academic studies, and as someone who spends way too much time in my office, there is a certain difficultly in taking the ideas and notions of faith and allowing them to intersect with the messiness of life.

I can talk a good game about passion, about laying our lives down for the sake of God’s kingdom and God’s mission. My twitter bio even says “I’m one of those crazy people who actually think Jesus meant the things he said.” And I do. I do believe Jesus meant the things he said. That no one can follow him without taking up a cross. That the call to salvation is a call to wholeness, peace, and Kingdom-oriented passion for justice & mercy & holiness. That we ought to love our neighbors, our enemies, and not be surprised when they resist us.

But you couldn’t tell it by my life.

Jake writes “‎It’s not that the teachings of Jesus are offensive or questionable to me; it’s that they are inconvenient to my routine.”

Yes. Inconvienent. Inconvenient indeed…

I have this intellectual notion that the Gospel & the Kingdom are inherently about brokenness. I would even say they are about embracing brokeness. But that idea is intellectually bound for me. It is stuck in my head, unable to make its way to my heart. Because here’s a shocking reality: messiness, brokenness, it’s inconvenient. Actually, it sucks.

But what we’ve got to realize – what I’ve got to realize – is that we are all broken. When we come to accept that we don’t have a clue how to make something of our lives, that we are utterly incapable of living a perfectly put together life on our own, we are in just the place we need to be to accept that call of God. God calls us into his Kingdom, where God takes our brokenness and the brokenness of the world and renews, restores, and redeems it for something beautiful.

 

“I am a sinner, if it’s not one thing, it’s another

Caught up in words, tangled in lies.

But you are a Savior, and you take brokenness aside and make it beautiful”

—All Sons & Daughters, Brokenness Aside

 

Lectio Divina

[below is a bulletin article I wrote for the stc church one summer, while I was working with an intern. You may be familiar with the practice, but if you are not, I pray this is helpful & transformational for you.]

// Spiritual Reading //

We have all had those moments, or those days, or those extended period of time when our reading of Scripture is not what it needs to be. It’s dry and stale. There’s nothing new or life-changing in it. We just rehash what we have known for years, and so we come away from our time reading Scripture no different than when we . But what could we expect? We know the stories. We’ve memorized the verses. We have pages and pages of notes. But still, we come away from our study not having been changed or challenged. It becomes routine, ordinary….dare we say boring?

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Scripture can and will bring us life and energy as it leads us into deeper relationship with each other and with God. But we have to do more than just read it. We can’t just approach it as a reference book, or a set of facts to be learned. If we want Scripture to change us, we have to allow it to feed, energize, and transform us.

I had the privilege of helping a friend prepare a workshop on reading Scripture in community with the goal of allowing it to be transformation, and I want to share some of that material. There is an ancient approach to the reading of Scripture that may bring new life to you time in the Word. It is most commonly known simply as spiritual reading, or more formally lectio divina. There are four components of this approach—Read. Think. Pray. Live.

READ // Lectio

First of all—we must read the text. Read it slowly. Read it quickly. Read it over and over again. Read it in multiple translations. Savor the metaphors, the similes, all the literary devices and poetic beauty.

THINK // Meditatio

After reading the text, it is absolutely necessary that we meditate and think on the words of God. This meditation moves us beyond looking at the words of the text and entering the world Scripture paints for us. The Psalmist’s words become our words:

I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.            Psalm 119v15-16

 

PRAY // Oratio

In our reading of Scripture, we enter a conversation with God, and we must take what we’ve read and thought about to him. We do this with an eye toward the final step of this ancient practice.

LIVE // Contemplatio

The goal of reading Scripture is not knowledge. Knowledge is important….but the real goal is to walk in obedience. We read the text, take in all its beauty, meditate on it and pray about it so that we can live it.

 

Resources

This information was taken largely from Eugene Peterson’s book “Eat this Book” (2006)

Josh Graves has written a book based off of Peterson’s premise. It’s very engaging. “The Feast”

Tony Jones has a book on this same topic, but Peterson handles it more ably. “Divine Intervention”

Patrick Keifert has helped to write a handbook on a related reading practice called dwelling in the word. I have been introduced to the practice of dwelling in the word through my graduate work. It is a communal process that has been nothing short of transformational for me. I haven’t read the book, but my hunch is it will be very good as an introduction to dwelling. “Dwelling in the Word”

 

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove on Being Saved

Sometimes it can be difficult to make sense of a dark world. I know it has been difficult to sense what God has been doing in my life over the last several months. But constantly, God shines just a little bit of light into darkness, and it stirs hope. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove shares a brilliant story on how he is being saved. I suggest you check it out. I hold onto this:

“But I do know that right here in the midst of the mess that we’ve made of God’s good world, grace happens. And when it does, you’re saved. And when you are, you can only whisper, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” You say it while the tears flow down.

When you catch your breath, you tell the story as best you can.”

“Grace Happens”

 

 

New Hope in the Morning

Lamentations 3.22-25 NRSV

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.”

 

This may be the most boring post ever. Sorry.

I believe in the importance of rhythm and discipline in our journey toward God. Without rhythms and disciplines—habits, you might call them—it is easy for us to get off track. Over the last several weeks, I have worked to develop some specific habits to guide me on my journey with God. Most of these habits are centered around the morning hours. If you’re day starts well, then you’ll be more likely to take advantage of all the day has to offer. And if you’re like me, it can be so easy to get off track in the morning and subsequently derail you’re entire day. Lay in bed a little too long, watch a little too much TV, get carried away in your Facebook or Twitter feeds. It can happen to all of us. It happens to me way too much. So here’s my boring morning routine, that I’ve grown to love. I’m still working on it. It’s still not where I want it to be. But I love it.

It’s mundane. This post is mundane. But I’m coming to learn that God is in the mundane. I need to learn to seek God in the mundane.

It’s a peaceful morning. I move slow. I open myself up to God. I pay attention.

The Mundane Details:

Wake up between 5 & 545a. Shower. Same thing (minus earlier hours) that I’ve always done.

Go downstairs. Turn on our little stove light. Turn on espresso machine. Get out skillet, knife, cutting board, plate, fork, eggs, cheese, peppers, onions, garlic, spinach, olive oil. Lay them on the counter. Pull out the grinder & espresso beans. Grind, dose and pour a shot of espresso. Clean up.

Turn on the stove. Slice up peppers & onions. Cook them with the garlic. Wash the knife & cutting board. Start to pack my lunch. I’ll work on my lunch while cooking and eating breakfast. I never sit down. I sit down all day. I stand in the mornings.

Wash spinach. Add it to the skillet. Put the bag of spinach and veggies away.

Crack eggs in the skillet. Add salt and pepper. Mix it up. Add some cheese. Finish cooking, making lunch. Wash stuff as I finish using them.

Eat breakfast. Take my vitamins & supplements: Fish oil because an informed friend told me I ought to. A small multi-vitamin. Vitamin D (4000 IU) because I had severely low Vit D levels that was making me crazy tired. Doctor ordered.

While eating, make a smoothie for my wife and I to split. Banana, oats, apple juice, vanilla soy milk, strawberries/peaches & blueberries. Using a Magic Bullet. Finish dishes, clean kitchen, pack bags & lunch.

Finish getting ready. Kiss my wife. Out the door, at the office between 7 & 730.

At the office, I get out my bible, my journal, a pen and my Common Worship Prayer Book app on my phone, and go through morning prayer. Taking time for silence, reflection, and writing as I need to.

I’ve gotten good at breakfast, but not so good at praying.

But where is God in this, in the mundane?

That’s what I’ve been thinking about. I started some of these habits primarily for health reasons. I was feeling like crap physically—which can wear one done emotionally—so I needed to eat better in the morning.

Lamentations has been part of morning prayer recently. And it offers a simple but profound truth. God’s mercies are new every morning. You may not be living the exciting glamourous life you had dreamed of. You might have to punch the clock like you did yesterday and for 500 days before that. But God’s mercies are new. Every day.

When I turn on the espresso machine, I am reminded of God’s rich blessing. When I cook my eggs, I am reminded that God provides. As I clean up, I remember that God made something beautiful out of chaos.

            Everyday, God is faithful.

Every morning, God has new blessings, new grace, new mercies. God is my portion. God is enough. So I hope. As I drink coffee, as I cut peppers, as I wash dishes, I hope. I hope, because even in the mundane and boring, the small things, God is present.

May we learn to seek God in the mundane.

Page 1 of 612345...Last »

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.