Full of Light

My grandmother died a week ago Friday. She was the last of my grandparents to go, the last of her siblings, and it feels, in some ways, the last of her generation (except for many of my hospice patients, of course). I mean, They don’t make people like her anymore. Today was her funeral. It was amazing. If Jesus is even half as glorified in my life and subsequent remembrances as he was today in this one woman’s celebration of life, I will be delighted. Speaking of celebrations, here’s my contribution to the service:


I always felt like the undeservedly lucky grandkid. As the oldest one, I got to know all my grandparents longer—and I always thought, better—than the rest of the grandchildren. But I also spent five summers living with Grandma and Grandpa M when I worked at Camp Cedarwood, and so I felt like I got to know Grandma best of all.

It turns out (because as a hospice chaplain, I do this a lot), it’s much easier to write a eulogy for someone you’ve only known six months than someone who has been an active force and a constant part of the background for your entire life. From her reading Elsa Beskow books to me as a child, to her accompanying me and her niece Hali to the Newport Folk Festival to hear Uncle Phil play, there are so many memories of Grandma it’s really difficult to distill it to just a few.

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In the end, it comes down to a word association exercise, in which anyone who knew her for any length of time could participate. I say her name and the first word that comes to my mind is “enthusiastic.” Then all the other words would be the things she was famously enthusiastic about, like Sweden, New England, fried clams, hot dogs beans and brown bread, Delekta’s coffee cabinets, Rhode Island, Christmas, hymns… but the word I always think of when I think of Grandma M is “celebration.”

That woman hardly drank a drop of alcohol in her life, but she is the most celebratory person I’ve ever met—still, and it’s been a lot of years since the memorable Christmases at Salisbury Road. It was Grandma’s ability to make a celebration out of the most mundane that helped me clue into the fact that God Himself loves parties. (It’s in the Bible. Look it up.)

I suspect Grandma’s ability to celebrate the insignificant and mundane came out of the fact that she knew that the basis of all celebration—the One really worth celebrating—was God Himself. And she knew God Himself, and wanted to enfold everyone else she knew and loved so enthusiastically into the celebration of Him with her. She wanted everyone she knew, and everyone she met, and most especially her close and extended family, to join in this celebration of the God she loved, and who loved her, so much. She could get pretty single minded about this.

Back in 1995 I wrote a sonnet about her. I’m not a poet, so be bear with me. Grandma had a glass eye. In the poem I play that detail off a saying of Jesus in Matthew 6:22, which in the King James Version, says, “If, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.”

 

If Thine Eye Be Single

“You’ll lose an eye!” But when she talked like that,

We knew we might, because she really had.

Her glass eye, staring solo, soaked in what

Was normally a juice glass. Bathrobe-clad,

She fed us, and my one-eyed grandma might

Have scared me but was Grandma, and I loved

Her, and her whole body was full of light

Because her eye was single, fixed, unmoved.

She shone like Christmas candles in July—

Like blind Lucia’s crown. And when the winds

And winter came at last, and when her eye

That was of flesh, and not of glass, grew dim,

Her Christmas candles sputtered but remained

Alight still, and her vision stayed the same.

 

Grandma’s alive, and where she is now—in the presence of the One she spent her whole life urging us to celebrate—her celebration (which is really worship) is pure and true, and even more uninhibited than she ever was here with us. I’ll bet, though, she’s still heckling Jesus to get every last one of us into the party.

The Like of God

I was loved as a child.

I know I was fortunate in this, and I think I even knew it then. I was loved by my family, I mean, which I suspect is the main thing, in childhood. I had a little more trouble at school, though, and somewhere along the way I picked up this perfectionism thing, and so overall, I didn’t like myself very much.

Of course, growing up with church-folk, I knew that God loved me, too. What’s more, I knew He loved the whole world so much that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16). I knew that He is love, in fact (1 John 4:8). I was very grateful for this and sometimes could even “feel” it, but at some point in my 20’s I was able to articulate,

I know God loves me, but He has to, because He’s God. I just don’t think He really likes me.

We could talk about how that thought triggered a multi-decade journey into discovering more about who God is and who I am, or you could sign up for Stepping Into the Story and hear about it there.

Something else I picked up as a kid (I don’t remember where, and maybe only church kids hear this–I don’t know) was that, as the child of a loving God, it was my responsibility also to love everybody. But, They said, loving and liking were two different things and I didn’t have to like everybody. Phew. That let me off the hook. I could just say I loved everybody in the general way we “love” people when we stand up for causes without actually getting our hands dirty and getting to know the people we’re standing up for. And I didn’t have to try to like anybody in particular if it didn’t come naturally.

But then one evening a number of years ago, a friend I was hanging out with after a late shift at Starbucks, who didn’t identify as a Christian, though he had grown up in the Catholic church, said, “You know how, the more you get to know someone–I mean really get to know them–the more you like them?” This probably says more about the character of this friend than about the human condition, and I’m not sure the process he described is something everyone experiences all the time. On the other hand, I have discovered it to be true more often than not, so I said, “Yes?”

“Well,” he continued, “I think God, since He made everybody and therefore knows everybody so intimately, must really like everybody, too. I mean, I kind of feel God must even like someone like Hitler.”

You might imagine I’ve been thinking about that for a long time, too, and I might almost be ready to write a blog post about it–sometime soon after this one.

Then late last summer, as the first iteration of Stepping Into the Story was getting under way, we were doing a lectio divina exercise together. I don’t remember which Scripture passage we were reading, but when we were discussing our impressions and what we might have heard from God afterwards, one of the participants said, with something a little like awe, “It makes me feel like God likes me.”

It was a simple statement but a powerful moment–I think for everyone. There’s something of an epiphany when you realize–when you feel–that God likes you. Now I’m wondering if that is part of what has gone wrong with many attempts to evangelize, among those of us who still believe in evangelizing. The heart of the gospel is God’s self-sacrificing love making a way–in Person–for us to relate to Him again, having dealt with our sin. But I wonder if a lot of us miss something in the delivery. I wonder if, were those of us who feel compelled to share this Good News convinced that God liked us, the News would really sound good, as we communicated that God not only loves you, but likes you, too.

 

Forgive me

Lately I’ve been reading Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah, one of the speakers from the GO Conference. As a totally frivolous aside, it struck me pretty funny the first time I looked at the book’s spine–given the author’s surname.

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It’s not a frivolous book though, as you might imagine. Lament usually isn’t. Reading it during the second part of Lent has felt pretty appropriate. Especially when the readings in the Anglican lectionary started being from Lamentations, which is what Prophetic Lament is a commentary on. This morning what I read in that book absolutely leveled me. I’m worried I’ll not be able to explain adequately either the extent or the reason.

This morning, in Prophetic Lament, I learned about George Leile for the first time.

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George Leile (alt. Lisle) was born a slave in Virginia, freed in Georgia, became a church planter there, and then eventually a quite effective (and thus opposed-by-whites) missionary in Jamaica. George Leile was the first Protestant missionary in the Western world, and finding this out is what devastated me.

You see, I grew up in a very missions-oriented family, and a very missions-oriented church. My parents were missionaries. I’ve been a missionary. I’ve taken classes on “missiology” to the point where I can identify which missiological ideas I agree with and which I don’t. I’ve been on missions committees in churches. One set of grandparents almost became missionaries, and then didn’t because they discovered that the agency they had been planning to work through had, at best (which isn’t very good), a paternalistic attitude toward the people groups to whom they sent their ministers of the gospel. At worst, it was…worse.

I say all this, not to brag, but to make clear two things (which I suppose might, for a second, still sound like bragging): 1) Christian missions is an indelible part of my heritage, and 2) there have been at least some active attempts in my family across multiple generations to combat, or at least resist, racism.

And for all that, I had never heard even a whisper about George Leile. I was told, in my missiology classes, that William Carey (a Brit) was the first Protestant missionary from the Western world to anywhere. I was further taught that Adoniram Judson was the first American missionary. Both of those men have really amazing stories, and the women in Adoniram Judson’s life (there were a few, because they kept dying) were in many ways more remarkable than he was. I am grateful for the work of these men and women and I’m glad I know about them.

But that thing about Carey being the first Protestant missionary and Judson being the first American missionary? Totally bogus. George Leile was the first Protestant and the first American missionary–he went overseas at least a decade before William Carey. I don’t know how to describe the logjam of emotions that tumbled into my heart when I read about him, but I will tell you that I discovered myself crying.

Good Friday 2018 is almost over. On this day, Christians everywhere–of all colors–celebrate that God loved us so much, He came Himself, in the Person of His Son Jesus, to suffer the logical conclusion, the consequences, and the ultimate punishment of our sin. (Yeah, I said sin. We’re going to talk about that here one of these days, too.) I should’ve said Christians everywhere, of all colors–and for millennia.

Jesus died on that Cross over 2000 years ago, and the Bible makes it really clear that the purpose of that death was reconciliation–first between humans and God, but second between humans and each other. How is it that 2000+ years later, in the United States of America, we’re less reconciled than ever? How is it that after all this time, the white church has contributed instrumentally to the diminishment of whole people groups, instead of being what I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to create–a Whole Church, and the flagship and prime example of real image-of-God honoring, fully cooperative, reconciliation in Jesus Christ?

How is it that Christians are still so divided along color lines that in almost half a century, a missionary kid like me never heard of the actual “Father of Modern Missions” (a title usually given to Carey)? Or if I did, it was never in those terms, and I don’t remember it.

And so I want to say I’m sorry, and to ask your forgiveness. I know I’m apologizing for a system larger than I am, that’s been around longer than I have, but I think there’s something important about owning corporate guilt, and the white church in this country (if not around the world), for all its amazing and beautiful contributions to the Kingdom of God, has shortchanged itself–and the Kingdom of God–and done a lot of damage to the crucified Body of Christ by dismissing and ignoring (to the point of actual ignorance), a “great cloud of witnesses” through whom God has also been working, just because they a different color than we are.

Christians of color (I’m not sure that’s an appropriate term–technically neither black nor white are actual colors, and technically none of us are actually black or white–we’re all people of color, but I think you know what I mean), I’m sorry I didn’t know about George Leile. And if by some chance you didn’t know about him, either, then the white church and I have some real accounting to do, and I’m sorry for that, too.

A blessed–and reconciled–Good Friday, everyone.

Going for the Black Belt

As a young child, I grew up in a pretty self-disciplined (not strict, but, shall we say, “behaviorally well-maintained”) family. My husband tells me I have a black belt in delayed gratification, but if that’s true, it definitely came with training and not because I wanted it. I particularly remember resenting my family’s rules about observing the Christian version of Sabbath. I didn’t like staying home from my friends’ houses on Sunday afternoons. I didn’t like having to do my homework on Saturday so I wouldn’t have any to do on Sunday. If I had liked shopping at the time, I probably wouldn’t have liked not being allowed to go shopping.

I didn’t appreciate those prohibitions…until I got to college and did my homework on a Sunday once. It was the only time. I discovered that, while it wasn’t great saying no to some fun events on Fridays or Saturdays, what I really did like was having an entire day, free and clear, at the end of a busy week and before the start of the next one, to relax and recharge and with nothing hanging over my head. I learned to manage my time. I also learned (although I think it took me a decade or so to become conscious of this) that setting this time aside as God’s special day actually drew me closer to God—even when I was spending the day with other people, too. I have discovered similar “results” from things like tithing, reading Scripture, learning to pray, serving others. But at the end of the day, spiritual disciplines are not about results. They are about relationship.

As human beings, it’s really easy for us to get sidetracked by the good things God has built into creation—even by the good things God has designed us to need. We start to think we need those things more than we need Him. We start to think we only need Him in order that we may have or use or love those things.

Spiritual disciplines get us back on track. They help to reframe our world. They are not discipline in the sense of punishment but in the sense of reordering. I might give up coffee for three months, not because I believe coffee is evil, but because I don’t want coffee to be in charge of me—I  want only God to have that right. I might dedicate a certain percentage of my income every month to the work of God in the world, not because I think God wants to keep me broke, but because I want to remind myself that everything I have is His anyway, and that He is perfectly able to take care of me no matter what.

Spiritual disciplines unlock the hold that our people, our possessions, our vocations, even our ideas can have over us. They release us into the freedom of living in love with God—and therefore in right relationship with the people, possessions, vocations, and ideas we encounter every day. They remind us that God—and nothing else—is God, they keep us humble, and they empower us to live better as God’s image-bearers and vice-regents in the world, moving by it His energy  toward the shalom-flourishing for which He created it.

A life of spiritual discipline helps us love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength because it cuts the power that the created order wants or tends to have over our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. When we are freed to love God entirely, that’s the way we come to love our neighbors as ourselves, too.

The next OSFGroup study, “The Greatest Commandment,” is about spiritual discipline. Comment below, or contact me, if you want to get in on it. It starts 2 April 2018.

Isaiah 54.2

Some things about me you may already know, and if you don’t, you should:
  1. For the entire six years of our marriage thus far, Paul and I have lived in a 650 square foot house. It is, according to some people, “adorable,” and truly, we have made a good life for ourselves in it. Paul has planted an increasingly amazing garden, and we live on a quiet and beautiful pond which is lovely to sit beside (or on, if you have a working boat) in the summer. We are aware that Tiny Houses are all the rage. They even kind of appeal to us. But most tiny houses aren’t 100 years old, and are laid out better. This one is pretty limiting when it comes to offering hospitality. Or actually having a place to put stuff away, to be honest. When we host family holidays, unless it’s blazing summer, we have to have people over in shifts so everyone fits.
  2. For a number of years, but increasingly insistently over the last one, Paul and I have been praying about moving, scouring real estate websites, taking day trips to neighborhoods in which we’ve been interested.
  3. I have parents who have engaged in ministry their entire lives. This past summer, they retired. They, too, have been praying about whether to move–out to my brother’s family (he’s got four kids)–or to stay in this area. Recently they finally decided they want to live nearer the grandkids while the grandkids are still young.
A week ago yesterday, my dad sent an email offering to sell us their house.  We spent the rest of the week praying about it, and on Sunday afternoon, told them we’d buy it. Since then, one thing after another is falling into place in some really uncanny ways! We are really going to miss “our” pond, the garden, and the neighbors, but God seems to be clearly directing us to this move and this location for this next season (however long that is), and we are excited!
Even though the Pilgrimage is primarily an online ministry, from the very beginning Paul and I have wanted to offer hospitality. Now we will be able to invite people over for meals, for brief individual or small group retreats, for mentoring sessions, etc. Even the online portion of the Pilgrimage ministry will be helped by this move; when I offer spiritual direction or teach Stepping Into the Story via video chat, I will now be able to go into a separate room, with an actual door, and conduct truly private sessions, whether Paul and I are both home or not!
We are very conscious of and grateful for our new home’s history–which is that my parents built it in the 90’s intentionally as a place of ministry and hospitality. We love the house (and I lived in it for years, before I met Paul!), we love that we know “where it’s been” so to speak, and we love that, as Paul’s mom said when we told her about it, “There’s a lot of Jesus in that house!” There really is.
This move is pretty momentous for us as a couple and also for this ministry, and so we’d both be grateful for your prayers regarding a few things:
  1. We’re praying for a good buyer for our current house.
  2. We want to keep with the “mission” of our new home and have it be a warm, hospitable place where Jesus is still encountered. Please pray that God will help us foster this in the way He has called us to do–not duplicating my parents’ ministry, since we’re different people, but being faithful to our own callings.
  3. This would be a really good time for me to become fully financially supported for the work I’m already doing with the Pilgrimage.

 

I haven’t been particularly proactive in my “support discovery” over the last year as I’ve been using my part-time hospice work (and income) as an excuse to avoid it, because let’s be honest–asking you to help with my salary is awkward.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling prompted to swallow my pride and take up the “spiritual discipline” of completing my support raising process. In the meantime, with a new mortgage and the need to furnish a house with more than a futon, I’m starting to see a real reason to finish support raising. I want to ask you to please pray that I will be faithful to do this and that the support will come in. Even more, if you’re not already on it, I also want to invite you to join my “Pilgrimage Outfitters” regular support team. Regularly scheduled financial gifts are most helpful, but special or occasional gifts are a great blessing, too. They’re also all tax deductible, and you can donate here. In addition, I’d love to increase the number of churches which support the Pilgrimage, as I really see the Pilgrimage in part as a ministry to churches. If you are part of a church and would like to see your church partner with the Pilgrimage, please let me know and let’s talk about how to make those mutually supportive connections.
Please contact me if you have questions about any of this, including but not limited to how the Pilgrimage might help churches, how the ministry of hospitality really has anything to do with the Pilgrimage, what’s the philosophy behind financial support raising, etc. I’m so grateful to you for being on this Pilgrimage with us and want to be a blessing to you, too.
[Note: The feature image was taken years ago, when I was renting The House from my parents. Oddly enough, I could probably take the exact same photo today, as we are having another blizzard and the trees already look like that.]

Exactly the Same Thing

Now that you know what the OSFGroups will be doing next, I really kind of want to tell you about the study we just finished. If you’ve been reading along, you knew that we were going to talk about that kind of nebulous concept, glory, for about two months. Well, we just read the last passage for that study on Friday, and are taking this week to make any final observations or remarks before I close down the groups and we all take a break before the next focus.

After two months, we’ve studied a lot of different facets to glory (which I have, sometimes, been comparing to a diamond–it seems appropriate somehow), and at the end of last week, a couple of participants in one of the groups were mulling and wondering over the idea of God giving humans glory and humans giving it back to God–the amazing kind of circular and integral flow that we had recently observed in some of the passages we were reading. The words love and glory, both, were also “flowing” fairly freely, and then I jumped in and said,

Here’s what I’m wondering:

Why are we all still talking about God’s glory and God’s love as two different things? If someone or something’s “glory” is basically that person or thing’s essence, and “God IS love,” then how would God’s love and God’s glory not be exactly the same thing?

One of the very faithful and thoughtful participants chimed in a few days later. “Glory is a lot of things,” he said,

Much more than I ever really gave thought to. Jenn, you hypothesized that perhaps God’s love and glory were the same thing. And in some ways I agree with you.
Yet in other ways not so much. There remains for me this intangible, other dimensional aspect of God’s glory that elicits reverential awe! This God of mine is powerful, creator of all, and the holiness of The Great I Am is something I’m uncomfortable being too comfortable around.
Creation is here because of Him and gives Glory to him…if for no other reason than our existence proves the attributes we laud on Him…deservedly so.

Not going to lie. I loved his line about being uncomfortable being too comfortable around the great and holy God. But I really do believe that God’s love and God’s glory are the same thing–maybe a little bit passionately. So I wrote this long reply which turned basically into sort of a blogpost…which is why now you’re reading it here, too, although it may make less sense to you if you haven’t been following along on our journey of discovery about glory.

I agree that there’s an aspect of God that is very “other” (separate/holy) from us, and that creation exists because of Him; I just don’t see that as necessarily something other than God’s love.

“God is love” is a simple statement, but it’s also pretty huge. Christian theology of many different strains from the very earliest times has said that it is because God is love that the creation was made: we and everything around us, beyond what we can comprehend, were created as an act of love. And while I agree that God’s love is what enables us to approach Him (because He first approached us in love, through Jesus most fully–another 1 John passage: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19)), I also think that His love is something we humans are crazy to imagine we can ever wrap our minds around–even when we end up actually living Revelation 21!

If it’s really true that God is, at His very essence, love, then all these “acts of glory” we’ve seen from the beginning of this study (from becoming completely incensed at His people “cheating on Him” with a metal baby bovine, to coming around the curtain to talk to a young boy, to somehow mysteriously leaving His people entirely, to overwhelming a prophet to the point that he would go out and warn the people, to becoming one of us simply so that we could slaughter Him in one of the most brutal ways possible…and in that way reconcile us to Himself–ALL of it) is an expression of Himself–which is love.

I find it genuinely intriguing that on one end of “the spectrum” (I’m not sure what spectrum I’m talking about, but hopefully this’ll make sense anyway!), are people who are uncomfortable with the idea of “the wrath of God” (something I have been wanting to blog about for about 4 years and keep putting off!) and emphasize “the love of God.” And on the other end of that same spectrum, whatever it is, are people who are uncomfortable (for probably many various reasons, although the concept about God’s holiness and otherness is probably in there for a lot of us) with the idea of God being too permissive, and so try to downplay the love of God, or have it accompanied by some other attribute.

But at the end of the day, maybe it isn’t a spectrum at all, and really all of us are just basically thrown by the “kind” of Love that God really is, because it/He is other, and near, and holy, and humble, and incomprehensible, and accessible; and all that stuff about Him–all those attributes–that we try to spread out across a spectrum because that’s how they work (but not always very well) among us is Love: the God who is Love.

Anyway. 🙂 That’s how it seems to me. And I guess that’s why I think that, at least in God’s case, Glory and Love are the same thing.

 

How about you? What do you think?

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The Greatest Commandment

One day a religious scholar asked Jesus which commandment, from His perspective, was the greatest. Jesus answered him, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29-30, NIV). Then He threw in a second one: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 31).

If you’ve heard any teaching on these commandments, chances are good you heard them taught on together. Or that the second commandment was emphasized, presented as the way to fulfill the first. That’s not entirely inaccurate. Certainly the two commandments are closely connected, particularly if Jesus found it necessary to include the second in a discussion about the first. Much later, Jesus’ disciple John even wrote in a letter that if anyone claimed to love the unseen God but couldn’t manage to love the person next to them, that person so claiming was a liar (1 John 4:20).

But while can’t truthfully claim to love God if we don’t love our neighbor, is it possible we can’t faithfully love our neighbor if we don’t already love God with everything we have and are? Jesus does distinguish between the two commands. He says the two commands together fulfill “the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40), but not that they are one and the same command. Jesus Himself demonstrably loved people, but all of His words and actions flowed out of His love for and relationship with His Father.

That’s all very well for Jesus. But how do we love a God that we can’t see?

The hypothesis behind the next OSFGroup study (starting on 2 April) is that, if practiced out of a desire to know and love God better, the spiritual disciplines are one way to foster our love for God–heart, soul, mind, and strength. That might be a surprising idea! “Discipline” sounds regimented and dull. It sounds like punishment. It sounds like it could be guilt-inducing. It doesn’t sound at all like the way to foster freely-given and spontaneous love for anybody, least of all a spiritual being Who is in many ways so unlike us.

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This guy is a sculpture in the art park in Minneapolis, MN. He reminds me of J Alfred Prufrock in the poem by TS Eliot.

But, just as practicing a musical instrument ultimately draws a musician into freedom and joy in making music, so spiritual disciplines can also foster freedom and joy in relating to God. Don’t believe it? Join the study and let’s find out together if it’s true or not. Let me know if you want to check it out!

You Maybe Had to Be There

I just went back to my second-ever Pilgrimage blogpost on this platform, to see how I set up my GO Conference post last year and try to replicate the format…and discovered some really great quotes over there. You should check them out.

This year’s conference was, in my opinion, even better. I’m really glad I was invited to do a workshop there because probably I otherwise wouldn’t have taken the time out of my schedule to go, but it was so well worth it. I feel like–maybe because of the internal consistency of each of the talks, as well as of the conference as a whole–the speakers were harder to “sound-byte.” I’m going to try, though!

Disclaimer Note: I wasn’t able to get photos of Pastor Miles because I sat too far away, and I was too distracted by my upcoming workshop to get much of anything written down from Fr James Mallon, which was unfortunate, because he was excellent as well. (Sorry, Fr Mallon!)

Tamrat Layne

Tamrat Layne was astounding, but as made his points entirely via narrative, I was unable to “clip” any quotes out of context.

Miles McPherson

God has called us to be unified; He will never bless division. God has called us to love; He will never bless hatred.

Expand your in-group.

Rename me as your brother.

See my color; honor what God has made.

Give me your heart.

Soong Chan Rah

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Disruption to change the status quo can be a healthy thing.

Lament as a spiritual practice has been lost in the church…it doesn’t fit the narrative.

Even though you are in the midst of the most broken, sinful place imaginable, Christians never have the option to run away and hide.

We are not seeing the de-Christianizing of America. We are seeing the de-Europeanizing of American Christianity.

Lina Abujamra

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We long to see the hero pull off the last-minute win.

What do you do when your calling becomes painful?

…devastated by this God who had not held up His end of the bargain.

What stands in the way of revival is not just the need for repentance, but our getting stuck in our brokenness and disappointment with God.

The greatest lie you will ever believe is that God is done with you.

Jill Briscoe

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Don’t waste the pain. Let it drive you to God; you should’ve come to Him sooner.

You’re never done.

Courage is doing the right thing, frightened. And you do it hurting and you do it sick and you do it old. You just do it. That’s courage.

After obedience, you know what to do next.

Peter never woke for the rest of his life without hearing the cock crow and making his breakfast over coals. We never get over our defeats. But God will not grow us until we let Him humble us. Every day.

“Is that your cross, Jill? Are you done? Who do you think is going to carry it home for you? All the way home, Jill. All the way home. All the way home.”

Lecrae

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Contemplate Jesus’ persecution.

I have a grave fear of pride…God’s laid me out a few times because of it already…I know how real it is–when luxury becomes a necessity.

Say what God’s been teaching you.

Ask yourself: who’s at the top? Who has to live under this? Spend time in the underworlds.

Samson gave me a lot of hope because he was all the way messed up, but God used him up to his last breath.

Moses resisted the amenities of royal Egypt…To be a truth teller is to be despised. Will I die knowing I spent time with the poor and the disenfranchised and the people God is passionate about?

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You maybe had to be there, to catch the real impact of these quotes. I am grateful that I was.

As for what I myself said…there’s a recording somewhere. I may try to make some version of it available here at some point. On the other hand, I do plan to offer this workshop again at least once, and nobody wants spoilers, right? Whether I post it or not, you’re welcome to invite me to present my workshop on listening to your church or small group, too. It’ll probably go even better the second, third, or fourth time around.

 

 

Listen!

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Remember how last year I attended that conference in Worcester? This year I’m excited to be giving a workshop at it–a week from Friday, already! The conference is in Springfield, MA, this year. If you’re local, I recommend getting to the conference if you can make it. Personally, I’m excited to hear what LeCrae has to say.

 

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But I can only speak for my workshop, so here are two synopses:

A Walking Humbly Workshop

The world seems to be getting louder. For every increasingly public tragedy and act of oppression and violence, there comes a volley of tweets and an onslaught of Facebook rants. But do the rants in turn simply yield more violence? Are we in a vicious cycle?

How can the Church regain its authority and ability to cut through the noise, instead of just contributing to it, especially when we are so often divided in and amongst ourselves? The key is in listening–first to God and then to each other–not to confirm our own ideas, or to earn the right to be heard, but so we can hear God’s heartbeat again, allow God to synchronize our heartbeats with His, and begin to truly hear and heal the broken hearts around us.

 

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