Sunday, November 26, 2006

Peace. Peace?

Funny thought. Funny question.
Are there things in your life you wish you didn't have peace about?
Things you wish would be different, only you feel called to be in them the way they are?

Generally we talk about looking for peace.
And finding it when we know we are being obedient to God.
Trusting that He holds all of the details our lives in His hand.
Which is completely and fantastically true.

Only it leaves me with a bit of unsettledness.
A lot of asking God why.
And a lot of learning to love and trust Him because I know that He has my best in mind.
We sang a few songs tonight that made me chuckle.
I chuckled because God has this uncanny way of giving me what I need at the most opportune (or sometimes what seems to be the inopportune) moments.
Following a long conversation with someone about trusting God -
even when in my head certain things make no sense,
but there is an immense amount of God's peace surrounding them -
I arrived at church and was greeted by a time of "favourite hymn selection."
I didn't pick one.
Even though I am always ready to call out 489 at any moment.
(Hmm. There's an irony that just made me chuckle...489 is about peace - and being well in one's soul...)
Anyway, the first 2 songs were "If You But Trust In God to Guide You" and "Have Thine Own Way".

Now, riddle me this.
Is there a better set of songs to follow a conversation on not "getting" God,
but knowing that we have to trust and follow whatever the call -
whatever cross we've been asked to carry -
whatever it is in our lives that God is asking us to push aside in order to be obedient to Him?

I'm glad that God gives me the grace to chuckle at me
and at the way He reminds me of what I need to hear
and at life itself.
Is there a better way to end an evening at church than with a shoulder shrug,
a shaking of the head,
and a good laugh?
But that seems to be the pattern as of late.
And so far it seems to be doing well for my soul.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Benedictine Monks...

A group of us engaged a challenge over the last few weeks:
to spend time in silence
simply acknowledging the presence of God.
Not thinking.
Not praying.
Just being.
And being in awe.

It's not always an easy thing to do.
My brain takes over.
I start to think
even about how I need to think about how aware and silent I'm being.
It's ridiculous.
But a good challenge.

Miller (some of you my be sick of hearing about him, but I'm only on p.61, so that's just too bad!) was talking about a book by Kathleen Norris and how she talks a little about Benedictine monks and how they would stay up late at night to study the Bible by candlelight. And I think to myself, yeah. Sigh.
There is something about darkness that makes the presence of God seem much more powerful -
or I'm simply more aware of it.
Perhaps it's the glimmer of light in the dark.
Perhaps it's simply the fact that it's dark so there are less things to distract me.
Either way, it's a powerful image.
And one I thought I'd share.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Little Sermon in a Nutshell...

I feel somewhat lacking in wisdom.
that there ought to be something deep going on in my life that I should be able to reflect on.
And the truth is that there's a lot of "deep" going on in my life.
Maybe too much.
And I don't really feel like reflecting on it.
I want things to go back to being a bit more simple.
You know - easier.
I was enjoying those days of being full of joy all the time.
And really seeing all of life's twists and turns in a positive light.
And deep down that hasn't changed.
It just seems that God is grabbing my heart.
Which is a good thing.
It's just that it's challenging.
And frustrating.
And stretching.
And forcing me to be aware of myself
and at the same time
be full of prayer-filled attempts
at making the details of life "not about me."
It seems that every song, every book,
every Scripture, every sermon
is giving me a reason to be affected.
Part of me thinks this is how it's supposed to be.
This might be the closest to a living faith journey I've been on in awhile.
Not that I haven't had some incredible moments of living faith prior to the last 6 or so weeks -
but the challenges -
the roadblocks, the potholes, the chips in the windshield, the U-turns,
and let's not forget the asking for directions -
are what make it a journey - a road trip as it were.
That's when the maps,
the company
the music
and the snacks
make it great.

So, friend, thanks for sharing dinner.
Chris Tomlin - indeed "You and I Were Made to Worship."
Go Dutch Meatball soup, orange water, and frosted mini-wheats.

And for the map...
I picked up the Phillips Translation of the Bible that used to be my Grandpa's off the floor beside my couch a few moments ago. It was the contemporary version in his day. Much like our Message.
In reality, I picked it up thinking there had to be a gem worth sharing as I felt very much lacking something to share.
Funny how God does His thing.
I opened it up to the end of 1 Corinthians and found the heading, "A Little Sermon in a Nutshell," and this is what it reads:
"Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, live like men, be strong! Let everything that you do be done in love."

I needed to hear the "stand firm - be strong!"
God is good and God is faithful.

I also needed to be reminded to do everything I do in love.
That's not always an easy one.

Roll down the window.
Enjoy the road trip.
And find the joy in the journey.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Finding beauty in truth

I picked up Donald Miller again today.
I decided that after a day where I came home in "one of those moods",
I needed to get my head back in the game.
I will also note that a nap was needed and taken.
However, before I got to napping, I got to a nugget.
One of those pieces that just hits you where you need to be struck.

In this journey we call life
or faith
or perhaps an intertwined combination of the two,
it seems that we often have high expectations of God.
And don't get me wrong.
He is good.
He wants to bless us.
He takes care of our needs.
But it's like we forget how blessed we are and take it all for granted.
When things take unexpected turns,
or we are let down
or people hurt us
or we feel alone
we fight to really live what it is we say we believe.

If "the joy of the Lord is my strength"
than why do difficult circumstances have such powerful control over my perspective on life?

It's not that the truth about God has changed.
There is something, however, about how I view what I know to be truth.

And in walks Donald Miller.

"The truth is that there are a million steps, and we don't even know what the steps are, and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them; and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing. I have come to believe that the sooner we find this truth beautiful, the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up, keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him, teaching us to not rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps, but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love."

For the record, the piece about "His love" was in italics.
It needs emphasis.
God hasn't changed -
even if the way He's getting me to where I am going has.

We have sung "Guide Me O My Great Redeemer" the last few Sundays in church.
And it's quite fitting, I think.
It's a journey.
The travel route is different for each one.
But the Guide is the same.
And in that there is joy.
And a beautiful truth.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Musings as of late...

Yesterday someone gave me a pleasant reprimand for hosting people at my house all the time. They were referring to people who aren't good at being served. I think it was well-intended, but got me to thinking about the why and the how and all of that.
I enjoy it.
Serving, that is.
It feels good to bless others and to see them smiling.
And since I enjoy it, it makes sense to use it in a way that benefits others, not?
It doesn't feel like work or like hard-fought obedience.
Rather, it just is.
And it's good.

This afternoon I was reading a piece out of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and I came across a piece about giving; about making life about others instead of about oneself. It went like this:
" to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house. Not what I look like in the mirror. When I give my time, when I can make someone smile after they were feeling sad, it's as close to healthy as I ever feel.
Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won't be dissatisfied, you won't be envious, you won't be longing for somebody else's things. On the contrary, you'll be overwhelmed with what comes back."

And I thought to myself, "Amen!"

The key is ensuring that the giving is done for that reason -
the reason of loving my neighbour as myself -
considering others better than myself.
It's not about me.
It's not about my car
(those of you who see my beauty on a regular basis may have pre-determined that part of my philosophy... :) )
Or my house -
Or the frizz and the glasses -
or even the straightened look.

Giving feeds into life.
Into feeling alive.

One of my favourite proverbs has always been:
"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."

And I think it holds true as long as I'm not trying to do it in my own strength.
Then I simply get burned out.
But it comes back to that Psalm 29 business.
"The Lord gives strength to His people;
The Lord blesses His people with peace."

Indeed He does.
And in His strength, refreshing others
is an incredible source of refreshment.
Of giving life, even.

"...take hold of the life that is truly life..."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Getting "All Fired Up"...

So it's still kind of a cop-out because it's not really me,
but it's something I love and have been challenged by.

I mentioned awhile back that I found another Linda Siebenga poem while looking for the one about getting on our knees in the berry patch. And I know that this one is more directed at Pentecost, but really, I think it's directed at everyday. I think it's often our everyday fear that if we pray for God's Spirit to work in our lives, it just might happen.
Anyway, it's worth a read.
And a think.
Even a thought or two.
Thanks, Linda.

A Mighty Rushing Wind

What if today the sound
of a mighty rushing wind
would fill this building
and flaming tongues appeared
above each head
our tongues becoming loosed
and eloquent
to bring the good news?

Perhaps we fear this mighty
rushing wind.
Fear that it might blow
through us.
demand our lives
our souls
our all.

Wanting just a little of the Spirit
to keep us through the day
but not a great mighty amount
rushing through us
with a surge of emotion
upsetting our conservative poise.

Wanting a little of the Spirit
to warm our lives
but not a flame hot enough
to sear
to cauterize
our sinful soul wounds.
Not so hot that we will be
compelled to share our fire.

Dare we sing “Come Holy Spirit”
with more than voices
knowing that he might come
filling us with exuberant praise
that needs to be shared?
“Come Holy Spirit
Lover of my Soul.”

~ © Linda Siebenga from her book - “Windcatcher”

The 7 minute lull...

So they say that every 7 minutes
there is a lull in conversation.
And people have to decide
if they're comfortable with the silence.

It's been a 15 day lull.
I'm not really comfortable with that.
7 minutes?
I can handle it.
In fact, I kind of like it.
It's good to be in silence with people.
To just be.
And to know that you are in a safe place.
A comfortable place.
Where your mind isn't spinning.
It's just "being."

15 days, however...?
I apologize.
I'm back.