Advent: Day 3

I just moved into a new apartment, and it is 100% a victory in commitment and faith. I’ve been afraid to put down roots and this feels like a solid step into the ground. Right outside my window, across the way, are these gorgeous apartments. My bedroom is mostly bed, and I have 2 roommates. I’m grateful to be here, and to be with them, and I also know, or hope, or really know, this isn’t my final stop. This isn’t it, it. This isn’t my forever, god, I hope not.

Waiting is really hard when you know where you’re at is not it, it and a potential it stares at you from across the way. You wake up with longing, with a desire to be on the other side. It doesn’t take away from how great the right now may be. What is possible just reminds you how much space there is in your heart, in your longing, in your desire for more. It’s okay to want more. It’s okay to look across with even envy. There is a fine line between inspiring envy and covetous bitterness. It’s okay to know where you’re at is not it.

Because it isn’t. There is more. There is space for even deeper promises. There are promises waiting to blossom. So yes to embracing all you have right now and yes to knowing more is to snow down. It snowed today.

Where can your desire for more receive more grace and judgement?

What is on the other side? What does it represent? What would you get?

What is great about this side? (Because this side was the other side of something else.)

Shine in Service

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:5-10

2020 was a necessary year that showed us our own darkness and our capacity for light. I carry into 2021 the bruises, the breakdowns and the blessings of this past year. The lessons of exhaustion and helplessness are in my body. The feelings and visions of rage and injustice are in my bones. The promises of hope and renewal flow in my blood. Nothing is wasted. Nothing is by accident. We may be foolish and unwise, yet in God’s grace, even those things he can turn into treasures that light the way for a better tomorrow.

My prayer for 2021 is to choose vulnerability and kindness over natural inclinations to defend and shut down. I want to harness the power that is in me, in all of us, through the power of Jesus, for the sake of others. That is the ONLY use of that power. To be a vessel of God’s power is to be a light for the world. Shine my friends. When you sense Jesus’ death in your body, and it leads you to break when you see injustice, pain and suffering in the world, let that stir you into generosity, faithful action and brave connections. When you sense Jesus’ resurrection in your body, and it leads you to see how the pieces do come together and hope does have the last word, let that stir you to share that joy and peace. May we carry the depths of heartache and heights of hope in our body, minds and souls. May we be the #church that blesses the nation, not through super spreader rule-breaking worship concerts, but by being a light in service of others.

  1. What would it look like for you to shine in service of your community?
  2. Who dims that light? You? Loved ones? What does it look like to protect yourself from their shade?
  3. If today you were to choose kindness and vulnerability over the need to right and the need to look cool, what relationships would you work on? What projects? What purpose would you go after?

Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear it! xx

CBG: Children

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Mark 10:13-16

The disciples have seen the breadth and depth of society that has come to Jesus’ feet and teachings. They have seen the outcast, the marginalized, the sick, the poor, the rich come to Jesus. They have seen Jesus offend those in power, those other have been too afraid to question. Here they didn’t want the children coming to Jesus. Why not? Did they think the children wouldn’t understand? Was this their way of caring for Jesus because they didn’t want him to be bothered by high energy children? They didn’t see the point of these children coming to Jesus, the prophet, the Messiah, the great teacher? What would that do for the movement?

Jesus gets angry. Jesus rebukes his disciples. He demands that people need to receive the kingdom of God like a child. He then spent joyful time with the children.

Let us stop profiling and decide who can or cannot be part of the work. Let us not assume what God can or cannot handle. Let us expand what the movement can look like and who can be involved. Let us expand our idea of community. Let us undo our scarcity, results-oriented, sense of urgency mindsets. Let us receive God with boundless hope and simplicity. Let us receive God and jump in with faith and joy. The movement and the work is for this moment: unabashed joy, love, intimacy and grasp of God. This is why we toil, so that all can experience the fullness of God on earth as it is in heaven, and when you get glimpses of that on earth, pause and relish.

Prayer: God help me to receive your promises like a believing and hopeful child. Help me to strive and do the work with a faith and trust that it is indeed possible to have heaven on earth.

Who or what is deterring me from experiencing possibility and change?

CBG: Calling

Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God. And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following him, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

John 21:17-22

After sitting with the pain and shame of rejecting Jesus, Peter was gently and patiently pulled back in. This is probably Peter’s rawest, most vulnerable moment. He knows his own weaknesses and experienced the gap between what he wants to do and what he does. And here is beckoned by Jesus. Jesus doesn’t recount Peter’s fall. Jesus doesn’t do that sort of nasty human judging. Jesus doesn’t need to show that he was right. Jesus moves in a way so that Peter, the wrongdoer, can heal. Damn.

In that soft quiet intimacy, Jesus tells Peter his greatest calling: Peter will live and die just like Jesus! Peter will truly lay it all down, till the end, for the one he loves. I wonder how he felt learning his fate. Fear? Inadequacy? Regret? What times in your life have you felt the certainty of God’s calling on your life? You could feel the closeness of Jesus, the stirring of the Spirit and the declaration of God. You were too unarmored to defend yourself from the wave of truth. It’s pretty scary to experience God like that, especially when he puts a seemingly impossibly task in front of you. Callings don’t always feel like soft marshmallows and look like joyful rainbows. How do we respond when we receive something so profound it freaks us out?! Do we redirect the focus out and onto others? What about them? What about that? Can we instead sit with our God-given unique path, recognize it can only happen with the Spirit’s guidance and then take one step forward? It’s all one step at a time.

Prayer: Pray your desires, unabashedly. Listen to what God has in response. Are fears that arise human-driven or God-given? Pray for a sensitivity to the Spirit in your feelings, your energy, your relationships, the Word.

Creative: Look back at a text/book that has inspired you in the past.

Brave: What have you wanted to ask for but have been afraid to voice? Can you do it today?

Generous: Do something sweet for a family member!

Day 17: Forget me not

Exodus 1-3; Psalm 17

God heard Israel’s cry for help from slavery and he remembered his covenant. I mean I don’t think God forgot; as if he had turned away, was listening to some other kind of music and Israel’s crying suddenly jolted back to his original plan. God doesn’t forget and his timing is perfect. So in light of his unchanging qualities, how can we see this? This was the ripe time to take his next action. The people were so aware of their oppressed reality. It’s hard to get people to change when they don’t know they need the change. You can’t pull people out when they don’t realize they’re stuck in a bad way. God remembered. He didn’t forget. He simply brought it back to the forefront so that he could share exactly what Moses needed to hear. God doesn’t forget. He always has the best plan, the original plan at hand. It’s that he knows the best time to strike. He did here with the right person: someone who had a blemished past, who needed refuge, who straddles two cultures, not really belonging in either fully. He was the unexpected bridge who could be an instrument because clearly the good and miracles out of him were not from him. They are from above. How can I get to a state of humble desperation? What unexpected circles have I had access to and can now have positive influence?

A little bit of the Psalm. I love the last bit about how David will behold God and in return he will be excited about his likeness. You know how couples or owners and dogs end up looking alike? The thing we hold, admire, keep close the most is the thing we become and when we look in the mirror hopefully we’re excited. When you behold a kind, compassionate, powerful God, hopefully you become more like that. God may I behold you and be more and more excited by the person I see in the mirror.