10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What is Christmas?

      Christmas in September, economy, elections, family dynamics, work, bills… whew sometimes things seem a little crazy-scary! James (1:2) tells us to consider the challenges Joy! First John chapter 4 reminds us that Loving in all things is who we are. Jesus invites us to serve the poor and those on the margins. The Great Commandment tells us to love both God and Neighbor….whew, even those bible instructions can all feel like one big, impossible pile.
       Let me share a Christmas secret. Love gets into places that nobody expects or thinks is possible. That’s the whole Jesus-in-the-manger story. Love that is self-less changes us and others.
       Do you remember last year at Christmas when I challenged everyone to give as much away as they spent on their own families? We bought a boatload of mosquito nets to get rid of Malaria, and piles of stuff for the Caring Cupboard. This year I didn't make that specific challenge, although it’s a good pattern to consider, but the stuff that wears us out is the stuff that is focused on ourselves: my family, my job, my bills,… mine. Christmas is outwardly focused: God leaving heaven and coming to earth, Jesus’ mission, Jesus’ Church’s calling, Jesus’ love for the neighbor, the poor, the hungry… all outward, all my opportunity for Joy.
What’s your Christmas about? I challenge you to shape it around Jesus instead of yourself. Be creative, be faithful, and be surprised at God’s freeing love in a manger. Enjoy the warmth of family traditions, make it with love, and ground everything in Jesus’ birthday. I bet you’ll find an unexpected gift!
     Right now I'm looking  to get beyond myself/ourselves into scripture, into trying new ways to follow Jesus, into learning, … into Christmas.  How are you making Christmas this year?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When I Pray I Feel...

     I'm feeling the blah's of a busy season and when I pray there's no magic relief!   I wish there was, but there's not.  When my Dad was dying, I prayed and the journey didn't get easy.  I wish it did, but it didn't.  When people are stressful (I call them EGR - extra grace required -- people & situations) I pray, often for them, and God's way of love and for me, and they don't suddenly get all warm and fuzzy or compliant.  I wish it were so, but it isn't.  So why pray?
      I pray to stay connected to God...something bigger than me. (Here's some info about prayer.)  It seems to me that a God big enough to love me with amazing creativity in creation, persistence in Jesus, and effectiveness over thousands of years, is someone who's got a better handle on things that I do.  (And I haven't found a better handle on life stuff.)  So I want to stay connected.  In that desire, practice and journey, I get changed for the better.  God does stuff that I couldn't see before.  And I find prayers answered in familiar and surprising ways.
      I pray to let God change me.  I need you to know I'm not an on-my-knees, head-bowed, hands-folded, kind of pray-er.  I walk and pray.  I write and pray.  I draw and pray.  I play music and pray.  I think and pray.  I cry and pray.  I sigh and  pray. And, once in a while, I bow-my-head-fold-my-hands and pray.  (Here's some back info on ways to pray.)  It's messy, sometimes mundane, often without immediate reward, frequently one step in a long journey, and always (in hindsight) powerful.
     Today I am wrestling with life on the inside of my head and soul.  I came across an article called "Why Pray?"  and was reminded to pray.  I was connected to God through a prayer: while reading the article, while writing this blog post, while waiting in my own discomfort, and while thinking about practical solutions to life's stuff.  Maybe I need to go take a walk?!  Thanks for starting my prayer time with me.
     If you want to:

  • engage about prayer, 
  • share a thought about prayer, 
  • know someone else is praying with you for a prayer request, 
  • offer a strongly or wonderingly held belief about prayer, 
  • pursue a sincere question about prayer, 
  • confront a deal-breaking or heart-breaking frustration about prayer,
... anything, then go ahead, right now, right here.  I'd love to share in that holy, prayerful conversation with you. Peace on the Journey.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Still Thankful

     Thanks is a daily opportunity to be happy, healthy, and to be connected to God and others. Don't miss it! 
     A day to be thankful is good.  A life of thanksgiving is better.  As I head toward Christmas I want to remember that it's not my birthday and so I'll working on giving the birthday boy what he asked for... care for those I'm prone to call "other."
     My impulse is to buy people I know gifts, to spoil my grandkids, and take care of me.  I'm learning to care for my family in reasonable ways and give myself away in Love ways.  How about you?  What will you be doing this Christmas season?

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Backdoor to Thanksgiving

   Three deaths, a marathon schedule and strangely I find hope in all of that.  Why?
   For one, I proclaim my hope to others and it rubs off on me.
   Two, people are appreciative.  That's not always the case in the day to day stuff. 
   Three, put together the first two and it's easier to remember my call.  And...
   Four, watching PF 6:8 partner with Brush with Kindness, and Circles (both love in action projects close to my heart) have moments of public success is gratifying.  God does amazing things through regular people.
   All this gives me very easy access to thankfulness for Thanksgiving.  Thanks be to God.  That's the life I find following Jesus.  That's the source of my joy.
   Where do you find joy and a reason to give thanks?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Election Time -- I'm a Follower First... Living Love

    Election time = Nasty time, or so it seems.  As a follower of Jesus, everyday = Love time.  I think that means kindness, honesty, prayer for all, openness, going beyond win/lose, and a bunch more stuff I'm still discovering and learning to do.

     John Wesley, 18th century Anglican preacher & founder of Methodism, said, "I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them, 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against: And, 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side." (Wesley's Journal, Oct. 6, 1774)

     I could wax scriptural, or philosophical, or political or personal, but I'd rather simply invite you to reflect, read, pray and Live Love.  It's New Testament, Old Testament, Jesus, Kind, practical, good, secular, sacred, and my goal.

     Here are a few articles I've found encouraging (Disclaimer... you may not find this encouraging, but this is my blog, after all. ;-):
     How do you Live Love in these times?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hell No... or Yes?

Yes or No?
    I just read an article, by Travis Loller in the progressive Huffington Post,  about the new documentary movie "Hellbound?".  It got me thinking how so many of us Christians live as if there is no hell, and then defend a literal hell with devilish delight.  I know for me there is still openness in my answer to "Hell?".
     Here's a thumbnail of the un-researched, un-footnoted, in-process, what-I-believe-about-hell.  I believe in Hell, as separation from God, and as a result of choices I make.  I believe a loving God has done everything possible to graciously invite, include and love me and all into a divine, loving, eternal presence.  I don't think it's a literal geographical place, nor is heaven, but more about my relationship (heaven) or lack of relationship (hell) with the Divine God of Love.
     What I don't know is far more extensive, than what I know!  What I know is that  the two great commandments are Love God and Love neighbor.  I remember that as "Live Love."  That's more important to me, and it seems to be for Jesus as well, than my definition of hell.
     I believe there is an eternal, spiritual reality. I know how to talk about that reality with the language of God's love for me through Jesus -- as model, Savior, presence and love in-the-flesh (incarnate).  I don't know all the details of that, and my ignorance generates in me comfort in God's love, curiosity along the way to keep learning, and a profound imperative for loving everyone. (And I'm still learning mightily on that last  one.)
     I believe God is big enough and God's Love is vast enough to handle all of life's questions and mine.  I don't want anything smaller.  When I try to live into something more limiting, life presents a question that just can't be satisfactorily answered within the tinier frame of reference.  I see God's enormous, surprising, including love as I learn from and follow in the Way of Jesus.  That Way includes my brain, my world, and God's love in the mix.
     I expect that this question isn't finished for me.  God will continue to grow me.  And all along the way I believe that God's life-changing, soul-saving, world-reconciling, mystery-generating Love is holding me and drawing me closer.  Traditional language calls that salvation.  So for all my friends who will challenge me, I'm saved.  Saved from the hell of disconnectedness, of unlovedness, of non-enough-ness, of cluelessness, of broken-without-hope-ness, of worthlessness, of purposelessness... of all the realities that would, without a Way of Love, leave me wandering, alone, broken, hopeless, clueless, living a random life that makes no difference.  I'm included in something huge and loving.  How cool is that!
     I care about what you believe too!  I care about what keeps you connected to God's love and if somehow that's a different picture of hell (or any other belief for that matter), I want to learn about your picture too.  I want to love all of God's creation along the way.  I want to live with Jesus' welcoming, loving, life-changing ways.  So please share what gives you hope.  Please share how you see hell.  Please be brave enough to speak with only gentle honest words for yourself and trust that The Author of Love, of Heaven & Hell, will hold us in Holy Conversation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cost of Connection

     I'm doing the boring work of airport waiting and I am truly so excited to be here.  Why?  I'm going to see my new granddaughter, Miah May.  Connections are like that.  They all have a cost.  Some costs I pay joyfully.  Some I pay functionally, some reluctantly, and some costs are too high for the connection expected.
     I been reading the Old Testament book of Leviticus and all those rules about sacrifice.  Why?  I want to be connected to my heritage and my God.  I'm ready, once in a while, to pay the cost of reading with explanations from scholars and colleagues in hand, so that I can understand, learn, grow and challenge my life's thinking.
     I'm committed to following Jesus, including loving everyone.  I run into that most with my EGR (Extra Grace Required) relationships.   I pay the cost of leaning into those relationships precisely because it's worth the cost of learning to live a life that's proven to make a difference in world-changing ways.
     Right now, I'm joyfully connecting, even if it means waiting in airports, rushing to get work done, and spending some money, it's all worth it for the connection.   Really, that's why I choose to pay the cost of connection most of the time... I experience a better life, a joy, an effectiveness... it's worth it.
     There are days I fail to pay the cost and have to ask for help.  That's OK too because it usually drives me back to considering the cost of connection, my values, and my choices.  So how about you?  What relationships are worth the price of connection for you?  Which ones do you choose?  I'd love to hear about your decisions and choices and stories in the comment section.
    Off to see Miah May and her family.  Peace on the Journey.  Dave

God loves you and me so much God paid the cost of connection.  Check it out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Finding Peace on 9/11

n this anniversary of 9/11 I read a thought provoking piece by Rabbi Laura Geller, Fighting the Internal Enemy.  Rabbi Geller reminds me of two important principles for peace.  One is relationship with myself, knowing and understanding what moves me, both good an bad.  Two is relationships with others and learning the "other's" stories and life.  Both of these are set clearly in a relationship with the Divine, something bigger than just my conclusions and inclinations.  Good stuff.
      So I wonder how it's so easy for me to forget what Jesus' taught, to love my God with all I have and my neighbor as myself?  It's not rocket science.  It's not military.  It's not budget dependent.  It is effective.  It is contagious.  It is faithful.  Yet I get wrapped up in anger, pain, ego.... easily, without awareness of both myself and the Holy.
      I've noticed many different responses to 9/11 over this decade plus one years.  Some intense.  Some reflective.  And digging deep into my spirit, and you into yours, is a simple, powerful beginning place to remember and build peace.
      How do you remember and build peace?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Legacies and Lost Things

hat would you give up to follow Jesus?  Family?  Church building?  Job?  Status? Security?  And that begs the question,  What wouldn’t you be willing to give up?  I honestly struggle with the thought of giving up  family and security.  The other things are less important to me.  (I didn’t say “not important!”)
Jesus got into trouble when he expressed his faith in God by saying, “Destroy this temple...and in three days I will build it again!” (John 2:19) And in the Gospel of Mark the leaders listening to Jesus’ words interpreted them to mean their building and they weren’t willing to see that destroyed for holy purposes.   Point is they seemed more interested in their  stuff than the savior.  I am wondering aloud if I’d fare any better?  You?
I’d like to suggest that we all want to leave a legacy--make a lasting difference, and often we think the tangible things like buildings, money, houses, and the like, are the best way to do that.  Jesus teaches us the best way to leave a legacy and make a difference is to follow God with abandon, it’s spiritual, not physical.  Seriously, look at Jesus’ own life.  He offered a world changing legacy with no money, no institution, no facilities, nothing tangible, but with everything spiritual.  I think that’s a clue I want to pay attention to.
Proverbs 3:5 says, With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment.”  Jesus said, “But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33)   These truths are tough to live out.  These realities are vital to live, if all that is vital to us, is to live on.
My new granddaughter, Miah May Harris, was born today (Aug 15, 2012) and what a joy.  What a precious gift.   I want a future with hope for her and her family.  I want a future with possibility for my family and friends.  I want... but unless I give everything to God’s control, I know I can’t guarantee that future I want so badly.  I know I can’t buy Miah May everything she needs.   I know I can’t stop hurricanes.  I know I can’t change the course of disease, single handedly change culture, or stop all the little things that can harm.  In loving wisdom God’s given me a way to offer a future... Love.  Love in Jesus.  Love, God’s gift.  Love radically lived.  Love applied in the neighborhood and with my Extra Grace Required people. And God’s way isn’t tangible, rather it begins in trust.  (“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see.”  Hebrews 11:1)  It isn’t structures and stuff that leaves a legacy and offers security, rather it’s spirit and surrender.
I want nothing more than to share God’s joyous, freeing, life-giving love.  And I’ll admit there’s still some selfish motive on my part.  I want Miah May, my family, and my friends to have more because of my legacy.  I’m working on my selfishness and trying to hold the old stuff, the material stuff, the things I call “my” stuff, loosely, because really... really, I can’t control them.  God does.  And God loves me, and you and everyone.  And truly, God provides everything, and provides abundantly.  (“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20)
So, what are you protecting that’s keeping a world in need from hope, joy, love, wholeness....? What won’t you give up?  As a congregation we’re seeking to follow Jesus in a whole new time and culture and I know for me it means giving up many things.  How about for you?  Is there still something so hard for you to imagine giving up that you’d rather others not know about Jesus, maybe your own grandkids? (or kids or friends...?)  
I don’t want to have any barriers to God’s power in my life like that, so I’ll keep praying, working to be honest,  and working hard on the things that God has given me to tend.  I hope you’ll join me and pray with me.   I’ll gladly join you and pray with you, so that God’s fullness can flow through each of us and First Church.  In the meantime I’ll work to use Love, spiritual stuff and all else that’s added in, for holy purposes.  I’d be ecstatic if you’d join me.  Remember, serving God and neighbor with Love makes us “First!”  (Mark 10:31)
  How are you working on your legacy?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wisdom of the Elders

     Relationships are life. (I'm tempted to talk about God and earlier blog entries, weaving these life giving connections into the theme of relationships, but I'll let you do that.)   Reflecting on and living in the changed reality of my Dad's death I am touched by wisdom.  Wisdom born in relationship.  Wisdom of those who have lost a father.  Wisdom from friends seasoned by pain.  Wisdom from friends ready to trust my emotional need of the moment.  Wisdom from family who are making a journey through the same territory. All elders, of sorts, if not by age, then by virtue of their wisdom.
     Dad's wisdom is glistening through the memories, conversations, prayers and support.  His is truly as a generational and spiritual elder.  It is a wisdom that has shaped me, as well as guided me.  And, as wisdom does, it surprises me with It's appearance and relevance.
     There was another elder, this week. One beyond the list above, and one I've just met.  Samuel White, grandson of a slave, pre-civil-rights-born, friend of our Rural Missions home owner.  Samuel told us stories about his history and connections, about his wisdom incubated in both pain and joy, freedom and limitation. (Shown here with homeowner Maria Haywood.)  His was wisdom rooted in a very different place and situation.  It was less familiar and enriching.
     What my father and other elders have taught me with lives and language is that relationships are life.  In relationship we love, grieve, grow, suffer, learn, lean, believe, trust and so much more.  The tasks of life are valuable and yet, always secondary to relationships.
     What my mission week has reminded me is that there is a Love that will not let me go.  I know it as my mission friends live out the love of Jesus, being real Church, in a difficult week.  I know it as I hear Samuel proudly recount his history, pain and all.   I know it as I remember the wisdom of my Dad, and so many other elders, a great cloud of witnesses, who have loved me.  Thank you all.
      Who are the elders, teachers and guides in your life?  I'd love to learn from your wisdom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In Memorium...Man & Mission

My Dad died yesterday morning.  It's been the predictable whirlwind of calls and questions since.  There is much to say, but right now a partial and maybe disjointed reflection.
      I will miss Dad.  He taught me faith and fun, play and serious stuff.   I have many fond memories of moments like when I didn't know what to do with the mentally challenged kid's pestering everyday on my walk home from the school bus, Dad said to tell him, "Cease and desist or you will be the perpetrator of a disastrous incident."  He was teaching me humor, compassion and language all at once.
    Here on the mission trip I have seen the true power of Church as the group has come around me and my family offering compassion, care, help with any transportation, funds,... in short showing me the love of God in practical ways.  Thank you team.  It means the world to me.   (Some from back-home church have even helped via e-methods.  Thank you too.)
     Family is the most important part of the reflection as my wife Penny has offered care and my and her  behalf to Mom and others.  Thank you sweetheart.  And family that has encouraged me to stay in mission, or do whatever I need to do.  Thank you.  Perhaps family most for sharing the foundation together of the love of Jesus in practical and enduring ways that gives us hope and joy even in the face of death.
    Dad died today.  It's hard and good.  It's challenging and easy.  It's faith and practical stuff.  It's part of life and faith.  One thing I know is that his faith in the practical and enduring love of Jesus served him well in life and is lifting him into joy even now.  So to you Dad, Thanks and I Love You.

Monday, July 23, 2012

New & Good

here's always something new and good in the day,  that's just how God does things.  Today the team talked about "New & Good."  We found relationships with homeowners, and one another. We related about new experiences.  We shared about gifts in spite of challenges.  We told stories of a variety of gifts in the day, none fully anticipated, all good, and together, an abundance of treasure.
     Monday's on the mission trip often are slow and feel less productive than most of us like, because we're getting situated with supplies and tasks.  Monday's are frequently challenging because working with our hands in the heat is not the daily occupation for the majority of our team.  Monday's are sometimes tough as we puzzle out where the lost team left off and where we need to pick up.  And with all of those realities we found an extravagance of God-given gifts.
     Reflecting on this we connected to Exodus 25 and the Exodus in general as a mission trip.  Israel was on a mission and even had some building plans along the way.  We are on a mission trip of another kind, but both trips were missions from God and connected to all of life.  Both adventures had gifts.  Both journeys have times of challenge and ease.
      What mission are you on?  What is God doing on your mission?  In other words... what's New & Good?

See more pictures at PFUMC's Facebook site

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All In

unday is a cross-cultural, deep-faith experience here in the Sea Islands territory, at Wesley UMC, Hollywood, SC.  These people bring all of life and all their energy to praising God and the sanctuary rocks holiness with music, participation and preaching.  More than that it's contagious.
     This week the congregation was celebrating their pastor's, Keith Hunter's,  three years of ministry here and his return for a fourth.  The District Superintendent preached about who's in and who's out.  And the reality of God's love, is that, through Jesus, everyone is in.
      The afternoon took us to Charleston, SC for a walk in the historic district and for dinner.  More relationships and "being" activity (I talked about those the past two days.).  Tomorrow begins the work and the primary work is being God's people showing the love of Jesus in practical ways.  A piece of that will show up in home repair.  The rest in caring conversation with families and cooperative work together as a mission team.
     Stay tuned for more. Right now I wonder how my faith is "all in?"  How is my life completely invested in life-changing Love?  How about yours?

To Be or Not To Be ...

o Be or Not To Be ... not To do or Ta Da.  Life and mission trips are all about being.  Being with God.  Being with people.  Being in the moment.  Being in the community and culture around me.  Being real.  I frequently find that a challenge, coming from a daily world that encourages "to do" rather than "to be".
     At home I have a "to do" list on my computer.  (I can still access it now, but I don't need it.  Yippee!)  I have a "to do" list in meetings.  I have a "to do" list at home.  And when I finish my "to do's"  I celebrate with "ta da's!"  My middle class world is build on accomplishment and my ancient-future faith is founded on "to be",  being in the moment, who and what God asks.  And it never fails to surprise me how well "to be" works, when I let it.
      Last night we practiced "being" as a team with dinner and no agenda, but conversation and being together.  Today we'll practice "being."  as we visit a United Methodist Church that celebrates and worships from another cultural perspective.  (Southern, African American, protestant, rural...)  And we'll have fun just being with them and in the moment.
      God said "seek my Kingdom first and all else will fall into place"  (My paraphrase of Mt. 6:33)  And it works!  I wonder what "to do's" I'm carrying around inside my head and heart that keep me from enjoying the gift of being today.  Maybe that's part of the mission.  How about you?  What's on your "to be" list today?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Car Trip -- Another Leg of the Journey

on’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.

This word starts my day along with a little reading about a reluctant people on a 40 year camping trip (the Exodus story).  So on the road again to new places and new conversations (some of them with myself, most with others and God.)

I have a life where I've grown in noticing power beyond my own, that is at work for good in my life.  I've learned more about that force by following Jesus.  An interesting, challenging, fun, hard, joyous, struggling, stumbling, partying, communal road for sure.  Today the road just happens to include a car and north and south Carolina.  The journey continues.

What's starting your day today?  What's new and Good?

Friday, July 20, 2012

From the Road

Al driving, Rick navigating and me, unseen
photographer enjoying the ride.
      Traveling means a day of conversation and getting to know more about Al & Rick.  Traveling means lots of traffic, sitting and scenery.  Traveling means we're closer to our destination and never far from home, with two iphones and a droid.
       Hillsville, Virginia is our stopping place for the night.  That means dinner with the group at Applebees, with laughter, conversation and rain.  It means an amazing waiter, Troy,  with a memory gift.  He took orders for a table of 10, split the checks and got everything right including to whom the meals went.  It also means getting to know a little about everyone with fun, fellowship and time together.  That's a great foundation for a week of relationships and work.
      Given I'm starting my third month of weight watchers the day's highlight was fresh fruit at the motel (no points!) and a chance to Skype with my most prized relationship, my wife, Penny.
       A good day filled with the gifts of God.  What did your day hold?

Heading Outward

I'm on the road this morning to build relationships and homes.  Setting out to help when experiences tell me I'll receive more than I give.  Excited to to travel and sad to leave home.  That's the stuff of life and holy things...mixes...gifts...adventure.

I am so grateful for opportunities that take me beyond myself.  Beyond my schedule. My needs.  My routine.  My abilities.  Because, that puts me in a place to learn, grow, trust, connect and love.  Thanks be to God for such a day today.

I'll post more this week as I can.  Now I've got to go put on my sneaks and get going. Joy on the Journey.  Dave.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Honest...to God & Me

   Honesty is much easier when it simply means tell no lies.  But honesty is less about speaking truth and more about seeking truth.  It includes enough reflection to be honest with myself about the stuff deep down and all around.  Then I can be more honest with God and with others.
     That's the Great Commandment from another vantage point, Love God, Love others.  It takes honesty.  Real, honest to God and to self, honesty.
     Honest isn't dumping every uncensored, unfiltered thought when I have it.   That's lack of love and undisciplined.  It takes less courage to dump, than it does trusting God's timing and grace to lovingly and reflectively engage another.
     Honest isn't trying to change, shame, blame, or coerce others with my ideas and beliefs.  That's unkind and untrusting.
     Honest isn't telling other people they are wrong, in order to save their soul.  That's bad communication.
     Honesty is loving, kind, reflective, confident, and humble.  It is patient, bearing with another through conversation, debate, play and resolution.  It doesn't have to win, and waits calmly for an opportunity to speak.  Honesty trusts that God is bigger than any situation and is in charge.  Honesty is in a caring relationship that doesn't give up and uses every available strategy to patiently love and persistently help.  It never seeks harm, entanglement or strife and will courageously endure with grace.
     Honesty would be a lot easier if it simply meant, "tell no lies,"  "share only facts."   But it's big.  It's God stuff.
     What dioes honesty look like to you?  What are your good and bad experiences with "honesty"?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Extra Grace Required People (AKA EGR's)

    Why does it still surprise me when people behave badly?  I know that my thoughts and opinions aren't held by everyone.  I know that we all have moments that we don't act the way we'd like to.  And yet,  when others fail to play nicely with others (especially me), I'm genuinely surprised.  (At least for a moment.)
     Here's how I see it.  I don't have a corner on the market of seeing things right or interpreting truth.   I believe that God has ultimate truth and yet a simple reading of the four Gospels of the bible tell me about four different perspectives on a truth that I hold near and dear.  Further, those four perspectives are not right or wrong, just different.  In fact, I'm glad for all four because I'm richer for having the different viewpoints.
     Now a moment of candor.  It does tick me off when I try to be gracious and I am still met with anger, or stubbornness, or unkindness.   Maybe it's me?  But, I think the world works a little better when we take time to value the gifts others bring;  when we take time to listen to one another; and when we debate ideas without blaming, calling names, and demonizing others.
     While admitting my surprise and frustration,  I can also say there's a part of me that's not surprised.   I have been taught to love everyone.  It's a way of life that I believe is important.  Everyone is equally loved by God.  So I've come to realize that I will have some Extra Grace Required (EGR) people in my life.  I'm also willing to admit that I may be someone else's EGR person.  I just hope we can discuss the struggle over dinner...that we can act with respect and kindness...that we can live love (even if we don't like each other much), and find some way we're both richer for the experience.
     How do you handle people who behave badly?  I'd really like to know.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Learning New Skills

     Last night I published my first web site!  No applause please.  I did it because I live in an online, multimedia, in-the-moment world, and I want to stay fluent in the language.  I still value face to face relationships, live experiences, things that take time, and experiential living too.  But, I know that I can't freely share one meaningfully,  without understanding something about the other.
     The bible and history have taught me a lot about this adventure.  I remember how the apostle Paul said he was willing to become all things to all people so he could reach some.  I get that.  That's why I began a web site, I have a face book page, I text, and  I do many things that I never dreamed of, so I can be connected to other people's lives in meaningful ways.
     You see I'm on a mission to Live Love in real and meaningful ways.  Why?  Because I follow Jesus.  Why? Because it's the most comprehensive, meaningful, effective way to live that I've found.  And if I want to Live Love I'll have to use avenues that are important to others, as well as my own favorites.
     Well, next on my list is to check out the top of the music charts this week and maybe give a tweet!

FYI -- I'm currently sharing a series called "On A Mission."  (Feb 5,12,19)  If you'd like to listen to a little bit here's the podcast link.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Today Is The Day to Change The World

     Today is the day to change the world.  No waiting, no acceptable pacing, only full out loving everybody the same.  We talk about justice and equality, but I know that I worry, that if I work to hard at it, "Will I lose something?".  Well, by putting it off I've lost even more.
     This week two things have crossed my path, sharpened my conscience...raised my urgency.  They are Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, (I read it today on this MLK holiday), and my encounter with the Circles Initiative to eradicate poverty. (Both are amazing stuff.  If you've never explored please take a minute.  They're far more important than the rest of what I have to say!) This co-incidence has quickened my pace and strengthened my resolve to speak, work and advocate for the poor and powerless of our society.
     My first mission is awareness: both my own and yours.  Yours through my sharing so that you and others  have the opportunity to become aware of needs and injustices. For instance, do you realize how hard it is to care for a family from a place of poverty?  I can only begin to imagine.  These two links give quick, informative snapshots: 1) The Wage Gap; 2)  Nickle and Dimed.  There is so much more to this conversation, but you (dear and valued blog reader) have to want that for yourself, so I'll leave it for you to ask questions, post challenges, and share insights.
     My second mission, and by far, the hardest, is self-reflection, as to what needs to change in me.  What are the lifestyle changes that I need to make,changes that will make a difference?  Is it no longer shopping at Walmart?  Is it moving into the poorer part of the community?  I am still exploring and learning.  I know it will be a bumpy and imperfect journey because the issues are complex at times (though morally straight-forward) and because I can be slow, blind and stubborn sometimes (but I hope not all together).  I am confident that Jesus, who offers me love, grace and a way of life, will guide, redirect, challenge and help me.
     My third mission begins two-fold:

  1. Working to establish a Circles Initiative right here in Lebanon County that can partner with the Caring Cupboard, the Phoenix Center, and many other services, ministries and resources of the area;
  2. Inviting, modeling, cajoling, badgering, teaching, pestering, organizing, enlisting, dreaming, presenting, assisting, companioning, praying, serving, working and persisting until we all, you and me together, are Living Love ... everyone has what they need.  I believe that Living Love it is possible that all who experience that Love, find hope, joy, power and freedom in that Love.  And in receiving that gift, that Love then  flows through them and the world is changed.  It becomes contagious, generative, exponential...world-changing.
     That's my mission, eradicate poverty, live love and change the world.  Wanna help?  Tell me how!