Thursday, April 26, 2012

Deep Growth

Mark 4

Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly.

Lord Jesus--The push in my cluttered culture is for growth that is fast. You are not looking for fast growth, but instead deep growth.  Roots that sink deep into the soil that nurtures and gives life giving hope.  Ok, deep not quick, what does that imply?

Deep growth is not about what I can get, but more about what I can give. I live in a consumer driven culture that has infected the church.  Your focus is not personal growth, and getting my needs met...but you call me to something that is different.  It is in creating opportunities to give that my deepest needs are met.

Deeper growth takes time.  I don't like that part.  I would love to have this be instantaneous, immediate, exponential. Instead, my experience so far with you is toward roots that sink deep into the soil of your grace, planning for and allowing incremental growth.  Never forgetting that harvest time is coming...

Deep growth is about rootedness and about connectedness to the source of nutrients that produce growth.  You are the source...a theologian once called you the Ground of all Being...not bad but way to limited a view for my taistes.  You are the ultimate source of all that there is that fosters growth and life.  You are the ground of all being, but also the air of all being, the context within which we live and move and grow. Yes, a bit more that just ground. The more I am connected to you the more green, life giving growth can occur.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1796). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Soil and Son

Mark 4
[4.3-8] “Listen. What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled among the weeds and nothing came of it. Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding his wildest dreams. [4.9] “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Lord Jesus--It is a simple story...of planting and of harvest. Your word is the seed.  It finds its way to the soil one way of the other. Sometimes it falls on by the side of the road.  Busy places are not a good place for your word to grow.  I need to create time and space within me for the process of spiritual formation to take root.  Is there a decision process there?  Sure.  But is decision the only part?  Not it an important part absolutely. If I make too much of my decision to act I end up not fostering the qualities that need to change for ongoing spiritual maturation to take place.

The implications run down the hill from here, don't they, Lord?  The point of telling the story in the first place is that soils can change...amazingly enough. Prodigal sons and daughters can come home, lost coins can be found, lost sheep are searched for...and soils can change...need to change.  I need to be open to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in both crisis and process.  Actively promoting change in the soil of my heart.

How? Simple things really: prayer that is honest and real, seeking to make a place in my heart for your word, engaged in acts of caring that reach beyond self, family and immediate close friends. There is grace to be asked for and received,  but the work and the harvest requires ongoing attention and effort.

Lord Jesus--Continue to work the soil of my help me to be open to leading and guidance to your work with in me.  What needs to be worked on today? Help me to see today as an opportunity for growing and maturation.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (pp. 1796-1797). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Telling The Story

Mark 4
[4.1-2] He went back to teaching by the sea. A crowd built up to such a great size that he had to get into an offshore boat, using the boat as a pulpit as the people pushed to the water’s edge. He taught by using stories, many stories.

 Lord Jesus--You  taught by using stories...parables...extended metaphor. Analogy, simile, metaphor...all variations on a theme of word pictures, or a way to tell a story.Seed, sowing and farming was something that everyone could related to.

They were simple stories about farming and about dangerous travel...just normal things really. Stories about lost things that become found and of hope beyond expectation. The more I think about your stories the more that I want to enter into them.  That really is what you want to have happen in my life.  For my story to be informed, conformed, reformed and transformed by your story.

That old hymn is good as far as it goes.  "Tell me the Old, Old Story," is great,  but it stops short.  It is not just about being told, are even of retelling the story.  It is about living the story, becoming the story and of being shaped by the story of God's amazing, scandalous grace over a life time.  It isn't just about the past, you call out to me to live out your story today.

In the day that stretches out before me and that will start in just a few minutes, help me to live the story today.  Help me to transform simple things, a job, a voice and a day into the page on which your story can be told anew.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1796). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Family Deserves an Extravagant Welcome

Mark 3

[3.31-35] Just then his mother and brothers showed up. Standing outside, they relayed a message that they wanted a word with him. He surrounded by the crowd when he was given the message, “Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside looking for you.”  Jesus responded, “Who do you think are my mother and brothers?” Looking around, taking in everyone seated around him, he said, “Right here, right in front of you—my mother and my brothers. Obedience is thicker than blood. The person who obeys God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Lord Jesus--The definition of family is front and center in our culture right now.  I have always had an expanded view of what family means.  From foster children to adoption to birth children, it is all important and it is all family.  I think of the group that I worship with...and think of the word  is a close knit group.  I know about the changing definition of family, first hand.

This is a time that  is looking for the extended family connections exactly when the nuclear family is having trouble staying together.  We long for connection that is enduring yet struggle with paying the price.

Lord Jesus--Family is something that we are increasing uncomfortable with in a culture that is increasingly more inclusive with that word than your followers are comfortable with.  But here, you focus me on the boundaries of family and you begin to redefine the edges of who is family for you. Family is about following the will of the isn't about genetics.  It is about obedience.  Inclusion is not something that is closed to anyone who wants in.  The family of God can stretch to include all who choose to follow.

I have a good friend who mentions these two words often:  "Extravagant Welcome." That is how family treats each other warmly, openly, without a desire to control by guilt or manipulation.   I may differ at times with my good friends on the limits of extravagant welcome, but he is exactly right...that is how we treat family. Too often the community of believers have defined themselves by prohibition and not by a clear demonstration of your love lived out over a life time.

Help me to live out these simple words with clarity and hope in a culture too concerned with things that really don't matter.

Mark 12:30

29-31Jesus said, "The first in importance is, 'Listen, Israel: The Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.' And here is the second: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' There is no other commandment that ranks with these."

Lord Jesus--Then this picture that I took at Albany airport might include family and I didn't even know begins to make me wonder, think and pray differently. Who in this crowd is a part the family and I will never know it until heaven?  Who is struggling right now and needs a touch of the Father?  Let this simple insight inform my prayers, Lord Jesus.  Family deserves an extravagant welcome where ever I find them.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1796). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Mark 3

[3.28-30] “Listen to this carefully. I’m warning you. There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you persist in your slanders against God’s Holy Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives, sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.” He gave this warning because they were accusing him of being in league with Evil.

Lord Jesus--The lesson here is simple: basic mistakes cause huge problems. The warning is clear. Crediting the work of God to evil is a basic mistake. The questions are good ones. Where does this power come from, but the answers that thes leaders came up with were the product of their stating point.

The work of the Holy Spirit: how it is expressed and how it is experienced in the life of the believer is something that expresses it self in simple things.  We can call them many different names, but the thought is much the same--fruit, results, or harvest.

Matthew 7

16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thornbushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.

The equation is simple but not easy.Grace+light = Fruit =results in lives. Why do I lose track of that so easily? Who does the judging of the fruit, Lord? Certainly, not is so easy to get this thing twisted. We can fail to heed the warning that you gave and run the risk of making the same mistake as the Pharisees. But we can also get so concerned with grieving the work of the Holy Spirit that we end up paralyzed.

Ok, so where is the practical in this? You were restoring to health those twisted by the results of sin. Evil never restores, it only twists away from health, healing and wholeness.  It is all about the listening and watching your work, Lord.   You push me toward your light every time.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1796). NavPress. Kindle Edition.