Wednesday, June 21, 2006

wisdom from the sages

The Lord travels in all directions
at once.

The Lord arrives from all directions
at once.

Wherever we are, we find that
He has just departed.

Wherever we go, we find that
He has just arrived before us.

Thomas Merton

Monday, June 19, 2006

the reluctant conversationalist

Are you supposed to speak to someone about something? Ever had the nudge on your heart like I know I should go speak to so-and-so. Do you ever have this sense that this conversation is long over due? Maybe it’s time to have this little talk.

Is it possible that future events hang in the balance while we deliberate the “right time” to have the conversation?

As we look back through the sacred narrative of God’s people, do we see any history changing conversations that almost did not take place because of mankind’s hesitation to say what needs to be said? In retrospect, it’s hard not to acknowledge the fact that we come from a long line of reluctant conversationalist. We are a people who are convinced that things will or will not somehow work themselves out. Rather than speaking the words of truth that must be said, we cower in fear of meeting face to face with these life issues for fear of discomfort and what the outcome might be.

The reluctant ancient ones:

Jacob did not want to meet face to face with his brother Esau after stealing his birthright blessing.

Joseph did not want to talk with his brothers in Egypt after they had betrayed him.

Moses questioned whether or not he could speak to Pharaoh.

Ester seemed reluctant to tell the King her true Jewish heritage.

Jonah was completely defiant in wanting to speak to the people of Nineveh.

It is amazing to think of these conversational events as somehow locked in sacred time, waiting until someone would have the courage and faith to have the talk they knew they should have with the person they know to have it with. What was waiting to happen?

Would the wound of a brother remain unforgiven?

Would the heart of a family remain broken?

Would 2 million people remain in bondage?

Would an entire people be executed?

Would a complete city be destroyed?

We now know the massive power of healing and freedom that resulted because the pioneers of faith had the conversations that needed to take place. We know the life changing potential in having the heart to heart talk with those whom we are seemingly at odds with or disconnected with. This must be the tone of the redemptive movement of the Redeemer. Hearing the Voice of the-One-who-holds-all-things-together is one thing, but having the courage to act on it is the difference between really living and barely breathing.

How can one know what to say in those intense moments? Is it possible to be guided by the divine in the conversations of our lives? Is it possible to be so in tune with the sacred rhythm of the Spirit of God to say what needs to be said? What does it look like on earth to live this way?

Jesus Christ

Conversation after conversation, Jesus always seems to “go there” with everyone he meets. Maybe that is why people were so affected by the words he said. His words seemed to shoot like arrows straight to the wounds of the heart. He was the perfect agent of restoration. His words may have seemed difficult to his hearers, but they contained the potential to set the hearer free should they allow the truth to enter into their protected personal world. His words were the balm of healing to the wounds of their soul.

So the question remains, could the words of the young disciples of Jesus contain the same power to restore the decay in the hearts of the shattered and broken? Could they release freedom for the prisoners?

How many days will pass before we bow our heads, bend our knees, and engage in the conversations that could change life as we know it?

While it is still day, may it be on earth as it is in Heaven.

Friday, June 09, 2006

missing the best part of me

The last two days Darla has been in PC with her parents and the girls so I have been home alone. Locked in our bedroom, I try to go to sleep without being startled by the littlest creek and pop. “It is not good for man to be alone,” it’s the ancient word. How true it is. I am not “good,” when I am alone. Good meaning balanced. These last couple of days I felt like I haven’t been in my right mind. Just off balance. I realize this morning as I read Proverbs 31, how incredible is it to have a wife who fears the LORD.

A good woman is hard to find, and worth more than diamonds.

She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.

She’s skilled in the crafts of the home and health, diligent in homemaking.

She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.

She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

These are just a couple of characters of the one I call love. You are my wife!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

yada' derek

Put GOD in charge of your work, then what you've planned will take place.

Proverbs 16:3 (The Message)

yada' derek = (knowing the way) by letting it find you [Ps. 143:8]

Saturday, June 03, 2006

letting go of yesterday

Another page of the Abrahamic journey... Step one sell all your possesions. The difficult thing about this step is remembering all the amazing things God has done in the midst of us from this house. Many tender hearts have come through the doors of this house and into our lives to reveal the Great Restoration Project among us.

I have to remind myself that things are only things and that it is through people that the Divine weaves his healing dreams.

I knew the day that Chris painted the trim on the house, that one day soon we would be selling this house. I am so thankful for his act of giving to our family. His wife and family were a refuge house for us when we were wounded from the accident. Even though we are not as close as we used to be, I know that their friendship was a gift. May they know the reward for their tender care.

From family and friends to the youth we have served, we have seen so many lives transformed on the floor of our living room. I pray that this house would continue to be used to meet people where they are and help them find hope in tomorrow.

Although it is hard to say goodbye, we cannot stay here and at the same time go to the place that the One who holds all things together is leading us. May everyone who reads this story find themselves thinking towards the courage to take whatever step of faith you may sense tugging on your heart. May you know the peace of the One who is bringing all things back to the way they were originally intended to be. Amen.

Friday, June 02, 2006

a week of things coming full circle

Living in the now
when the past comes forward
so that the future can be set in motion today

I heard this message illustrated in a teaching from Rob Bell recently. I had no idea that it was going to be a life lesson that would literally be played out in my every day life.

Things come full circle
At the age of nineteen, I began my first career. It was in a men’s retail clothing chain. Along the way I made some really selfish and lazy choices. Four years later near the end of that job, I was an assistant manager in a store in Mobile, Alabama. One busy Saturday I was running the register. A lady was buying lots of back to school clothes for her kids. There was a promotional on some silk shirts buy two get them both at half price. I noticed that I had rang up just one silk shirt for her at full price. I told her to pick out one more because of the promotion. When she did, rather than ring it up, I just put it in the bag. I was lazy and didn’t want to void the whole transaction and start over. One of the other employees informed our loss prevention team at the home office. A few days later, the man from loss prevention, dressed all in black, came and interviewed all management staff. When he sat down with me, he had the sales journal tape with the transaction in question. He explained to me that I had two choices; I could stay and defend the alleged violation of which they would persecute to the full extent of the law or I could resign immediately. I choose the second.

That event caused a domino effect of things. Being newly married for only a few months, this was a deep wound at the core of my identity as a man, and as the provider for the home. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was the shaping of my understanding of the character of integrity.

Yesterday, while at lunch I was journaling about how life is like a mosaic. In the middle of writing, I looked up, and the man from loss prevention walked right past me. After living for nearly 10 years with this wound, I thought to myself I am not going to let this opportunity to share with him how my journey has come full circle. When he came back by the second time, I stopped him and asked him what his name was. He did not recognize me. I told him that we had first met in Mobile a long time ago. He was amazed that I remembered him. I shared with him that I was wrapping up a rewarding career in marketing and public relations in order to go start a new mission work in Honolulu. He was very pleased that I had done well and that I was moving on to do a positive work for others. He asked if I had spoken with any of the people from Mobile. I told him that I had not but I did marry on of the assistant managers from another store, Darla. He asked if I had a picture of my family. I showed him a picture of my family that I carry in my journal. He wished me the best and went on to order his food.

This week has been a week of things coming full circle, from the wedding of my little brother, the reuniting of my family, and the remembrance of my own beginnings in marriage and friendships of the past.

The past has been brought forward so that the future may move forward today! Wow! That is absolutely crazy! I must be in life therapy lying on God’s couch. All I can say is that my soul is being restored. Amen.