Finding God in the ordinary

The most spiritual moment of your life is the moment you are currently in. This can be extremely difficult for us to see. We live in a world that is addicted to distraction. We wake up with the constant pressure of checking emails, posting and responding to people on social media. We have become so accustom to being pulled away from the present moment. We are living for everything but absent from the NOW! 

In order to improve our conscience contact with God we must start embracing the sacrament of the present moment. In order to do this we have to slow down and become aware of the presence of God that is already with us. This can be difficult because most of us have been taught that God is out there somewhere rather than inside of us. So many of us have an external God complex and a someday God will disorder. 

This is where contemplative spirituality can help. Thomas Merton speaking of the contemplative spirituality said this " They abandon themselves to the will of God and keep in touch with the realities of the present moment; That is to say, the inner experience and spiritual realities, not the surface emotions and excitements which in reality are nothing but an illusion. They swim the living stream of life, remaining in contact with God in the hiddenness and ordinariness of the present moment and the tasks it brings. In this way ordinary activities - such as walking down the street, sweeping a floor, taking a stroll in the woods, can be enriched with a contemplative sense of the presence of God."

It takes time and practice to see God in the ordinary. Our lives are oriented to everything except practicing the sacrament of the present. This is especially true as it relates to the humdrum of life. This is where spiritual exercises are very beneficial. Prayer and meditation increases our awareness to Gods presence. It calls us away from the noise and distraction to a contemplation of Gods real presence in our lives. This is what Merton called experiencing "God in the hiddenness and ordinariness of the present moment."

This is where a daily spiritual exercise and can help!  

I have listed a spiritual exercise below designed to open your eyes to Gods presence in your daily life. Its called the "Examen" it was originally designed by St Ignatius. (I modified it for modern use) It  has five simple steps that when practiced daily help you become aware of Gods presence. 

The Examen daily practice,

1. Prayer of Preparation

Start your time by becoming aware that you are already in the presence of God. You may use words or allow your self to pray without words. It is usually best if you introduce a "Sacred" word that helps you re-center on Jesus when your mind drifts. (Peace, Grace, Forgiveness) This is not a time for perfection! If you find yourself drifting don't condemn yourself. I found that 15-20 minutes are best to allow yourself to relax and become aware of Gods presence. 

2. Gratitude - Prayer of thanksgiving

Allow yourself to become grateful for Gods gifts and blessings that you experienced through the day. Beginning with the answer, re-centers us to Gods perspective. A heart full of gratitude is a heart that is wide open to seeing God. Keep it simple! I usually start with three to five things to be thankful for. 

3. Examine your consciousness

What have you been most mindful of today? Allowing yourself to take an inventory of your thoughts helps you see patterns that you are unaware of. It helps you to be conscious of what we are thinking rather than just allowing our minds to drift, we learn to "Set" our minds. (Ref Colossians 3). The more we practice this the more we are aware of our consciousness and are active in reseting to Jesus. We will find that we are more and more aware of God during our day. 

4.  Choose one thing to be aware of in God and prayer from it

Contemplative prayer is not about getting somewhere or getting something. It is living from what we already have and where we already are. This allows us to let go of striving and embrace peace. 

5. Look to tomorrow in Hope 

What did I learn today that I can bring into tomorrow? When we are fully present in the moment we can look to tomorrow without missing out on today. 

I hope this helps you. If so, please let me know by commenting and or writing me. The schedule for posting is as follows. Monday posts in conversations are going to be on spiritual practices and direction. Fridays are going to be reformative thoughts on Gods character and nature. 

Love,

Mark 

 

 

Stop the shaming!

There is tremendous power in affirmation. There is also tremendous destruction in humiliation and shame. So many of us were raised to believe that humility looks like humiliation. Humiliation is not humility. Humility is simply being right sized. Humiliation is something that robs us of our dignity and value. 

We live in a culture of shame and rejection. This has bled into the church culture on so many levels. This past week we saw our social media feeds light up with fake news about Lady Gaga. The (Lie) story on social media was that she would do an anti-american pagan half time ritual. Supposedly she would bring america and our children into a satanic ritual. High profile christian ministers and revival leaders called for boycotts based on the story. What ensued was a public shaming campaign of Lady Gaga by the Church. In the end it turned out to be false with little to no apologies to follow. 

I think it is time we stop stoning culture with shame and humiliation. It only further hardens peoples heart. Shame and humiliation are not part of the Holy Spirits ministry. It doesn't matter if it is Lady Gaga or those that oppose the religious right. (Full disclosure I didn't vote for Trump and am not a fan of all of his policies or prophecies.) The shaming of people for their political views by the left, right or the church only further hardens peoples hearts and misrepresents the Love of God. Humiliation is a false prophetic word that propels people toward the destiny of the enemy! 

I will give you an example of humiliations destruction in my life. When I was in sixth grade I had a teacher that was very crude. I had done well in school up to that point. I was very respectful and always applied my self to what I was being taught. I remember that year I was having a hard time with the math curriculum. I asked for help several times and he would seem irritated. One day he called on me to come to the front of the class to do a math problem on the chalk board. I was so nervous because I had been struggling. I wondered why he would call on me knowing that I was already behind? I drew a blank as I stood in the front of the class. He began to pressure me to hurry up. I was at a total loss and just guessed at the answer and was wrong. He started calling me an idiot and making fun of me. The class laughed and made fun of me. I was so mad that I slammed the chalk on the floor. He then chopped me in the chest and screamed "Your an Idiot!'. 

That moment of humiliation hit me like a wall of bricks. I remember giving up on school and allot of other things in that moment. A person who carried authority had public shamed me and prophesied a word of wickedness over me. By the spring of that year I would be expelled from that school and failing not just math but every class. I eventually would end up dropping out of high school. I later recovered a sense of intelligence by affirmation of those who know me. 

The scientific community has made many recent discoveries about how dramatic events effect our brain function. The bible speaks so much about how words can break our spirit. It also speaks about how words of affirmation can bring, healing. You might remember the story of the prodigal sons. We know that both sons fell into false identity and their own inner estrangement from their Father. What is so powerful about this story is that the Father does not shame them back into reality. He affirms them and embraces them into reality. Love covers a multitude of sins! 

Its time the church stop participating in the ministry of accusation. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We have to understand that God draws with bigger circles and broader strokes than we do. Sometimes it might be healthy for us to remember what we have been forgiven of. After all he who is forgiven much loves much. 

So back to Lady Gaga! On one of her Instagram posts she made these statements after listening to her priest. "Thank you Father Duffell as a beautiful homily as always and lunch at my pop's restaurant. I was so moved when you said " The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but food that God gives"...

Instead of a celebration by the Church a shame campaign began. 

"As Relevant Magazine shared: A day after the initial post, Lady Gaga—whose real name is Stefani Germanotta—once again took to Instagram to respond to an article from “CatholicLink” called, “From Lady Gaga to Steph Curry: 5 Things to Remember When Celebrities Share Their Faith.”

The piece praised Curry for making “faith more than just a Tweet or FB status,” but said, “Many celebrities are sharing Bible verses, quoting priests, and singing Christian music while at the same time still leading a typical Hollywood lifestyle void of Christian values such as modesty and purity.”

Gaga took issue with the piece, responding directly to the article’s author, writing in another Instagram post of an article screenshot:

“Dear, Becky Roach. Mary Magdalene washed the feet of Christ and was protected and loved by him. A prostitute. Someone society shames as if she and her body are a man’s trash can. He loved her and did not judge. He let her cry over him and dry his feet with the hair of a harlot. We are not just “celebrities” we are humans and sinners, children, and our lives are not void of values because we struggle. We are as equally forgiven as our neighbor. God is never a trend no matter who the believer.”

- Source Happy Sonship Blog

For more on this story click HERE (Happy Sonship Blog)

What would have happened if the greatest family on earth celebrated how God moved her in that homily? I believe its time for a movement of affirmation to sweep the earth. I believe its time for the church to embrace its prophetic mandate to show the Love of God. After all it was Jesus that said "The tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you."

Jesus showed us the way of affirmation. We are called to pick up our cross and follow Him. 

When a person is evoked for who she is, not who she is not, the most often result will be the inner healing of her heart through the touch of affirmation.

Jesus said you are to love one another as I have loved you, a love that will possibly lead to the bloody, anguish gift of yourself, a love that forgives seven times seven, that keeps no record of wrong. This is the criterion, sole norm, the standard of discipleship in the New Israel of God
— Brennan Manning

 

Affirmation brings a healing to the soul and a "Courage to be" as Paul Tillich simply states. Look for someone today in the midst of humiliation and speak a word of affirmation. 


To affirm a person is to see the good in them that they cannot see in themselves and to repeat it in spite of appearances to the contrary. Please, this is not some Pollyanna optimism that is blind to the reality of evil, but rather like a fine radar system that is tuned in to the true, the good, and the beautiful.
— Brennan Manning

Love, 

Mark 

The Idolatry of God

Im sure many found the title of this blog incendiary. It is not my intention to use shock language just for the sake of being shocking. However, I wonder if most of us even realize that how we see God is often Idolatry. Bad religion has reduced God into our own image. We have made God a retributive father something akin to Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde based upon our actions. We created a God that is loving until he is angry. Then He becomes like the Hulk smashing us and everything in His path. The sad reality is that so many of us believe that God changes like this when we sin. We believe that He becomes a heavenly ogre that looks more like Donkey Kong than a loving Father based upon our behavior. What if I could show you this is not who God is! What if I told you that regardless of your behavior God doesn't change.

I lived in these thought patterns and fears for years. My life was always riddled with a deep fear that God hated me because I messed up too much. I constantly thought that Gods love had to be balanced by His anger. He was a God of Love but...... He was pleased with me when I behaved and when I screwed up He was angry. What I did realize was I was worshipping a God created in my Image. I had an Idolatry of a God of my imagination. The God of the Bible never changed regardless of my sin

In theological language there is a doctrine called "Immutability" which simple means God doesn't change.

In order to explain Gods unchanging nature, we will look at the story of the prodigal son. (for the sake of brevity, I will sum it up rather than site the whole passage)

In this parable, a son comes to his father and asks for his inheritance while his father is still alive. In this culture asking for your inheritance when your father was alive was like saying "You are dead to me." The son then leaves the land of his father and wastes his inheritance on hookers and booze.  After, the money was gone and he was starving and destitute he makes this statement “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.” He believed, based upon his actions his relationship with his father has changed. Was this true?

Did the Father change when the son walked away?In order to answer this, I want to ask a few questions.

1. Who changed?

2. Did his father ever stop loving him?

3. Did God morph into a angry father?

In this story the Father did not change at all. He never stopped loving His son. He never became angry at His son. His nature never changed!

If that is the case, then what actually changed? What changed was the sons perspective of the Father. It was actually the son that changed. Sin (mistaken identity) altered the ability of the son to see his Father for who He really was. The truth is that God never changes His mind about us regardless of what we do, believe or feel. He comes to us to change our mind about Him. Jesus didn't come to the planet to change Gods mind about us, He came to change our mind about God.

We see this in the unfolding narrative in the Old Testament. God comes again and again trying to reveal His unchanging nature and heart towards humanity. In return we then interpret Him through the lens of sin and a fallen understanding. We then create a God in our image that changes from one moment to the next based on our living. The question I have is this, If God changes based on us, are we God or is He? Thankfully, in the climax of human history Jesus comes and makes a shocking statement. "If you have seen me you have seen the Father." He reveals forever the Father heart of God! He is the exact, expressed image of God. He is Gods first and final Word, Logos (Gods Logic) published in flesh and blood. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, to save not condemn. 

In the story of the prodigal son, the Father sees the son a long way off and runs to him and embraces him. This is the only place in scripture it says God ran! The truth is that God has never been indifferent than us. It is impossible for God to be irreconcilable to His creation. He doesn't just love, He is Love. He doesn't just reconcile, He is reconciliation. He is God and cannot become or not become what He is. He is the Lord and He changes not. The scriptures say that in Him there is no shadow of shifting. 

It is very odd that people should think that when we do good God will reward us and when we do evil he will punish us. I mean it is very odd that Christians should think this; that God deals out to us what we deserve. … I don’t believe in God if that’s what he is, and it is very odd that any Christian should, since there is so much in the gospels to tell us differently. You could say that the main theme of the preaching of Jesus is that God isn’t like that at all.
— Fr. Hebert Mccabe

and

Sin is something that changes God into a projection of our guilt, so that we don’t see the real God at all; all we see is some kind of judge. God (the whole meaning and purpose and point of our existence) has become a condemnation of us. God has been turned into Satan, the accuser of man, the paymaster, the one who weighs our deeds and condemns us.

The father does not need to be persuaded to forgive and welcome his son. He does not need to change his mind. He loves his son. That is his truth. All the son needs to do is to see his sin for what it is. He recognizes himself as a sinner, and at that moment he ceases to be one. His contrition is forgiveness. All the rest is celebration and feasting: “This is all the real God ever does, because God, the real God, is just helplessly and hopelessly in love with us. He is unconditionally in love with us.

King David understood this when he declared "God doesn't deal with us according to our iniquities." If there was someone who could understand this it would be David. The good news is that God loves you and is running after you. You maybe in the worst season of your life? God hasn't changed! He unconditionally loves you. He isn't Dr Jekyll, the Hulk, or an angry puritanical father. He sees you no matter how far you feel from him. He is waiting to welcome you home and throw a party. I encourage you to let Him love you as you are not as you should be. 

Love, 

Mark 

 

 

 

 

 

Who or what is God?

Since the beginning of time people have wrested with this question. Endless volumes of books and literary works have been written in an attempt to answer this enigma. The problem is that we are often searching for the answers, but asking the wrong questions. 

Recently, I was in a meeting and people were discussing who God was to them. I sat silently and listened offering no answers to them. It was one of the most formative experiences of my life. As I silently listened  to their stories I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. We can learn more about what God is like by realizing what He is not. 

We can discover more about what God is like by realizing what He is not.

All of these people began their stories by relating how they had believed in a different God once. The God they once believed in they no longer followed. This God was demanding, angry, performance oriented, hostile, hateful, vengeful, and even devilish. I listened as they related how believing in a God like this set off a chain reaction of destructive behavior in their life. If they believed that God had no interest, value or even love for them, why should they love themselves? As I sat listening, I could relate. I also once believed in a different God. This God was just waiting for me to screw up so He could fry me eternally on a heavenly BBQ. I wondered if I also acted and even gave up on many good things in life because I had lost all hope in a good God. Could how I see God determine the course of my life, for better or worse?

So many people I meet have given up on church and even religion because the God presented in those circles is too small. I know many of my evangelical friends may think this blog is dangerous. However, I offer you hope for/about those you care about who are doubting. God is bigger than our doubts, unbelief or even wrong beliefs. What I discovered in my friends conversations was that they had taken an honest look at the God they believed. Maybe even more honestly than the church has. They had come to the discovery of what God is not. In so doing they found what God is. I wonder if that is the path of true faith? Every story I heard was rife with hope, deliverance and salvation. These people all began to see that God is Love. When this epiphany happened things in their lives began to turn around for the better. They started to be more active in serving humanity with unconditional love. My friends had a desire to show unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness. The greatest miracle was that they began to love themselves and see their purpose for living.

We often debate, argue and even scream at each other trying to prove what God is. I wonder if the best picture of what God is like is a heart filled with hope and love formed in times of doubt? We call walking with God "The Faith". However, most of the religious world tries to make it "The understanding." We defend concepts without ever experiencing the personhood of God. He is tender, loving, merciful, forgiving, accepting and full of never ending faithfulness towards us. 

Maybe we have been so afraid of doubting that we haven't allowed ourselves to discover God in the lack of answers? Our certainty has kept us from really seeing. I encourage you to allow yourself to have questions! I know it can be scary to allow the religious deck of cards to fall. However, God is not so insecure that He can't reveal himself to you, even when you doubt He exists. 

As I listened to my friends stories of discovering a real faith in the midst of their doubts. I realized that the path to unshakable faith is a downward spiral of asking "What God is not" before we can  ever ascend into seeing who He truly is. 

Here is a great prayer to pray,

I trust in you, Lord, but keep helping me in my moments of distrust and doubt.
— Henri Nouwen

 

Love, 

Mark 

A Morning Liturgy

Good Morning,

 

How you start your day affects your entire life. So many of us wake up in yesterday or worse tomorrow. What do I mean by that? We have such a hard time living in the present moment. 

We should live in the present where love can touch us
— Henri Nouwen

The psalms declare "this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad "IN" it. The most important 24 hours you have is the one you are presently in. We need to cultivate a morning liturgy that reforms and grounds us in today. It is in the present that you will find the presence of Jesus. Jesus taught us to take no though for tomorrow or yesterday. 

A good morning liturgy is to pray and meditate on the Lords prayer. It grounds us in today!

Give us this day our daily bread
— Jesus Christ

Another great morning prayer;

God, I offer myself to Thee Today To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life.
— Unknown

The more we cultivate a liturgy of morning prayer to be grounded in the present. The more we will see God at work in our lives. 

Love,

Mark

Spiritual Protest

Prophecy should be a form of protest. I hope that statement caught your attention. 

Woody Guthrie had a slogan on his guitar. It read " This machine kills fascists"! Guthrie was making a prophetic statement. Music has been used to protest war and injustice since the beginning. 

“Artists are the greatest threat to any totalitarian regime”.
— Walter Brueggemann

 Prophecy like music is by nature art. Prophecy is protest! It is a creative medium that gives language to what we feel in the depths of our hearts. It is a voice that challenges the presuppositions of the many "isms" that have robbed us of hope and unconditional love. I have sensed that the prophetic expressions of the past will not suffice to carry us into the next transition. We need an emerging company of creatives that give language to our next voyage. We need prophetic protestors that speak for the marginalized and overlooked in our society. We can no longer sit on the side lines and ignore the injustices of society. We can no longer be puppets to the empires of nationalism and consumerism. All through the scriptures creative prophetic's have challenged the abuses of empire and imperialism. They pleaded for the widow, the orphan and the alien. St. Patrick would later give language to their vision of Christ in all when he prayed "Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ above me, Christ below me". The prophetic voice speaks for those who don't have or have lost their own. We must become our prayers, we must become intercession. We must protest with creativity and drunken optimism. 

 It won't be easy as it will require a radical poverty of "self promotion". This creative protest will most likely not be found in the epicenters of religious success. It will most likely be found in the barren places of human suffering. The very places you would find Jesus. These emerging agitators will be found like John the Baptist in the lowest places of our society. They won't be seen on the stages of political endorsement. They have thrown out the political language of us versus them. They will exclude no one! They will be crying out for the victims of systemic injustice. You can hear them with the shunned crying "Behold the Lamb". They will be like John the Baptist, who was an anomaly to the religious and political system. John walked outside of the norm to make a way for Jesus. He challenged the certainties and presuppositions of the religious and political order. These disrupting radicals theologically and practically are walking off the reservation at Gods command. These prophets are protesting thousands of years of religious exclusivity. They are expressing a broader reach of Gods inclusive love. They choose not to eat in comfort so they can sit with the afflicted and outcast to bring healing. We must again find the prophetic courage to walk outside of the norms of religiosity/nationalism and fundamentalism to comfort and protest with those who morn. 

These new prophetic's will protest the narrow minded and limited interpretations of scripture by becoming part of the incarnation. In the face of fear mongering they will preach peace. In the shadow of fatalism they will declare hope. In the midst of violence they will care for the wounds of society. In the reality of racism/inequality and injustice they will practice inclusivity. To those gripped by poverty they will show generosity. In the midst of political and racial polarization they will build bridges of hope not walls of indifference. 

They will love their neighbor gay, straight, black, white, Muslim or Jew. They are protesting because they see Christ in all! 

This is the new prophetic movement! Will you protest with us by sharing Gods love with all? These new protestors are not protesting against anyone! Rather, for everyone! 

“Nothing is ever really yours until you share it.”
— E. Stanley Jones

Re-Imagine Gods Justice!

Hey friends! It has been a really long time since I have written anything on this blog. I am going to attempt to write something weekly. I have been on a journey theologically over the last few years and everything has been turned right side up. I will share more on that another time! 

God is a God of Justice!

Have you ever heard that used in an attempt to balance His love? I hear it all the time and I used to say it all the time. I remember about twenty years ago a woman told me a story of a pastor in a town. This pastor majored on the Love of God. His messages and life said very little about Gods Justice. The other pastors in the area accused him of taking Gods Love out of balance. They claimed he was dangerous. One day the pastor was hit with lightning and died as the story goes. The religious community saw this as a sign that God was balancing Love with His Justice.

This story may seem ridiculous but internally that is how many people see God. They think God balances His Love with His Anger. They believe that God is merciful but He is also a God of justice. This view of Justice is more inline with the peoples court than the scriptures. This view sees God with judicial scales in His hand. What if I told you Gods Justice is nothing like that! When we see the true justice of God it is liberating! We see that Love and Justice are mutual expressions of His character and not mutually exclusive. 

I think its important to make a few statements before we look at some inspired words. We need to see that God looks like Jesus. Jesus said it Himself, He declared that if you had seen Him you saw what God is like. Jesus is our interpretation of God. He is the first and final Word on Gods character and nature. Any theology that doesn't look like Jesus should be flushed down the toilet. 

Now lets look at a few verses that describe the Justice of God. The first one is a bit lengthy so hang in there. 

Matthew 12:10-21

And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “ Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, “ What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He *said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.
 But Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. Many followed Him, and He healed them all, and warned them not to tell who He was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet:
 “ Behold, MY Servant whom I have chosen;
 MY Beloved in whom MY soul is well- pleased;
 I will put MY Spirit upon Him,
 And HE shall proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
 “ HE will not quarrel, nor cry out;
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
 “ A battered reed HE will not break off,
And A smoldering wick HE will not put out,
Until HE leads justice to victory.
 “ And in His name the Gentiles will hope.

Our view of Justice requires that someone pay for their crimes. We are raised with a philosophy that Justice demands retribution. In this story we see a man with a withered hand. What is fascinating about this story is Jesus never asks him how it happened or why it happened. The culture that Jesus lived in cast blame on people when they got sick. They thought God must be angry for a sin this man committed. They taught it was God that caused this to happen to release Justice.  Jesus encounters with the sick and sinners reveals the opposite. You remember the woman caught in adultery, the paralytic, leper and many more? Jesus would declare their sins were forgiven them without a need to receive retribution. In Jesus we see forgiveness as a gift and not a transaction that required Justice. He even declared their sins were forgiven before He went to the Cross. Proof the Cross was not a Divine payback but a rescue! 

If you notice in the above portion of scripture "a battered reed He will not break off, a smoldering candle He will not put out". Jesus always seemed to notice the broken in the midst of the crowd. He had a eye for those deemed too far outside the circles of acceptance. It seems everyone that society thought needed to be the recipients of Justice Jesus would show mercy too. 

So what does Justice look like in the mind of God? Lets look at a few more passages.

Isaiah 1:17

Learn to do good;
 Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
 Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

Justice: Reprove the ruthless (actually means to bless) Do Good, Defend the Orphan, Plead for the Widow. 

Jeremiah 21:12a

“Then say to the household of the king of Judah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O house of David, thus says the Lord:
“ Administer justice every morning;
And deliver the person who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor,

Justice: Deliver the person who has been robbed. 

Zechariah 7:9

Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘ Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother;

Justice: Practice kindness and compassion

Isaiah 30:18

Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who long for Him

Justice: God longs to be gracious, have compassion, He is a God of justice! 

It seems the justice of God is redemptive not punitive. Maybe Jesus was revealing what real Justice is in the sermon on the mount? Divine justice is the mercy of God. Remember Jesus hanging on the Cross despised and rejected of men declaring "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"? That my friends is the ultimate picture of Justice in Gods eyes! His Justice, Love, Wrath all reveal the same thing. God is Love! 

I hope you enjoyed this! Next week we will Re-Imagine wrath...

 

 

 

Silence, Solitude

When Thomas Merton was asked what the goal of the monastic life was. He answered " The goal of the monastic life is to get nowhere"! This may seem like a contradiction but that is the point of prayer. Prayer is not something we engage in, prayer is something we become. Jesus obviously spent large amounts of time in silence and solitude in His ministry. Could it be that is why the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. It's interesting they would ask this seeing they obviously saw Him pray. We live in a noisy world that demands our attention. It is for this reason we must practice solitude and silence. If we are never silent, we don't have anything to say. If we never embrace solitude we can not be healthy in community. Be Still and know that He is God. Silence helps us hear the voice of God. Silence heals our addiction to distraction. 

Come out of Zebedee

Mark 1:14-20

Jesus Preaches in Galilee

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.

You will notice Jesus declares to them to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is in the present now. Unfortunately, repent had been translated repent. It is actually the word in the Greek that means change your minds.

So many of us have started following Jesus but never allowed Him to transform the way we think. Change is the ever present constant in the christian life. Jesus first statement is "Change your mind, the Kingdom is present"! In order to see the Kingdom we must be born again. I am aware that being born again can be taught as the moment of salvation. However, a fuller understanding of this is seen in learning to see. 

I am convinced that wat keeps us from seeing the Kingdom is the mindsets inherited by our families. The bias, assumptions, limitations, hurts, experience and fears! We have to leave our Zebedees! We have to leave the securities of thinking that have come through our parents in order to see the Jesus Way! Until we leave the smaller world of thinking given to us by our ancestors, we can't see what has been ours from eternity! We don't see with our eyes, we see through them. We must discern what we are seeing through? The Kingdom? Or the experience of the past?

This is why Abraham had several separations in his journey of "looking for a city that had foundations whose builder and maker is God". Abraham was on a journey to spiritual enlightenment and transformation. In order to experience this he had to leave the limited mindsets of Ur and beyond. Until we see through the mystery we will always be tending nets, rather than following Christ!

Ask the Lord to show you the limited mindsets of your family and come out of Zebedee!  

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