Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Traveling without ever leaving my desk

I listen to a series of lectures from a church planting conference and two different sermons today. So I'm thinking about a lot of different things right now.

While I type this I am in my office watching the sunset. The clouds are floating by quickly so the sunset is changing quickly. The soft light of sunset is something I never grow tired of. There is something so soothing about this time of the day when I take the time to stop and enjoy it.

It has put me in the mood to ponder memorable thoughts from what I listened to today...

Going from a Movement to an Institution
The thought to ponder from this lecture was this. On a spectrum, am I more currently more a part of a movement of God or an institution created by God? I think I have both going on around me. I'm involved with more than one set of believers. I prefer movements. But I respect our need for institutions. The speaker was describing how at the beginning of something new you are largely in a movement of God among a group of people inspired to sacrifice and love one another. Then life with people happens. Something goes poorly. Chaos ensues. A group of people sits down to figure out how to deal with the problem. The problem may be small or it may be big. When a decision is made and acted upon. A piece of the movement has just become an institution.

He argued for why institutions are necessary. They were good arguments. But he also said that there will come a time when the institution is doing more harm than good and a revival or rebirth will need to occur it will swing back towards being more of a movement again. That isn't the only option for what might happen in my opinion but it's certainly the one I like the best.

The Gospel of Peace
The next recording was a sermon on Peace. The peace of the gospel. In it he argued that some people know peace because they choose to ignore anything that makes them anxious. Then he did a beautiful job of walking through the passage on peace from Philippians 4. "Be anxious for nothing but with... As people who trust Jesus Christ with their lives we have other options than to try to ignore what makes us anxious. We are given courage to acknowledge the uncertainties that life will bring. We have the opportunity to pray with thankful hearts and instead of trusting in blind ignorance that comes with a shallow sense of peace. We get a promise of rock solid guardianship of our minds and hearts by the master of the universe who brings peace beyond our ability to describe to another. Sometimes the peace is so amazing other people, ironically, will be tempted to believe you are in denial.

I am watching a friend let the peace of Christ rule in her life. My faith is greater because of it. It makes me feel sad to think of all the people who don't believe God wants to be there for them in this way. They don't even try out a simple prayer blended up with an attitude of hopeful thanksgiving. They miss out on having access to what is Eternal in their very temporary circumstances.

Spiritual Gifts
Since I had an unexpected ice day, I also had time to listen to yet another sermon. Last Sunday, I got to deal with leaky pipe issues. This meant waiting on a plumber to arrive at my home. So I decided to log on and listen to last Sunday's sermon. It was on the topic of Spiritual Gifts. Our pastor Steve asked people to text him with their gifts and how they discovered what they are. I wondered what I would have sent if I had gotten that text. I love to teach. I love to encourage. I love to believe God. Sometimes I think the Spirit of God moves me to do those things in a measure that feels united with God and supernatural to me and not just my personality being demonstrated. Sometimes I am told that how I explain things helps people to understand. Sometimes I am told that what I express gives courage where there was once fear. Sometimes I believe God for what is unreasonable and miraculous.

I have walked around all over the place today. My soul needed it. I am thankful for another ice day. I hope we don't have another one anytime soon. :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Standing at the plate

Life is fragile.

Love is required.

Love doesn't happen without God.

These are the thoughts running through me. But there is more than these words. How do I feel? Well the experience that came to mind when I asked myself that question is this. I am a little girl standing at the plate. I'm playing baseball with a group of friends. I am scared to death. Will I be able to hit the ball? There is a feeling that comes with that moment. You feel so vulnerable. You desire so much to succeed. You want to succeed to avoid the shame of failure. But even more than that you want to succeed to be a part of a team. To be apart of something bigger than just you. You know how great it will be if you smack that ball hard. You know how sad it will be if you swing.... and you miss.

How is all this connected. I'm not totally sure yet. But it is connected. Love is risky. It places you in a very vulnerable position. It requires faith in the God who is the source of love. Sometimes I am aware that God is calling me to love. And I fell like that little girl. Grabbing the bat in faith. Walking to the plate in faith. Standing there and waiting and praying that God will speak when it is time for us to swing and not knowing the outcome.

Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing."
Jesus said, "Follow me."