Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Growing Edges?

Mark 4
[4.26-29] Then Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens.

Lord Jesus--With all the church growth books that I have read and the 3 simple steps sermons that I have heard, it seems like growth should be simple and direct.

Here you tell me Kingdom growth is like farming. Growth of your kingdom is like organic farming.   Why is it that I would feel more comfortable if it was more like mechanics?  Put the oil and gas in and start the engine and off we go.  Instead, the kingdom is like a garden.  There is faith in the seed or the farmer would never send the time to plant the seed in the first place.

We have succeeded in making biology more and more something that is viewed as mechanical, but in the middle of it all we know there is mystery.  We know so much and yet so little at the same time.  We know more about the process of seeds growing and less about The Maker of the seed than when you were here, Lord Jesus.  We find ourselves knowing and loving human beings but apart from you we have no idea how we got here or why we are here, or even what that capacity of love even points toward.

The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!

So, kingdom growth is something that takes a bit of investment of faith, waiting and participation in the process...and growth, the generative is something that is visible and traceable, but not controllable or forced.  So really the point is is about green growing edges.

Where are the green growing edges in my life?  Could it be a desire for your word, this process of wanting to write and communicate with you that I participate in...some of the reading that I just can't put down at this point.  Those are all indications of green growing edges.  How about in LSCC and in the life of the church.  Where are the growing edges?  Could it be in the increasing number of people who are finding places to serve and just serving without the need of being asked?  Could it be in the sincere care that is being shown to those that are not honored or valued by others?  Faith trusts in the One that established seed time and harvest.

This picture reminds me of the path that you want me to take.  It is uphill, it is steps, it is a bit narrow and yet there is adventure to it.  I don't control it, I experience it all around me. In fact the more that I try to control outcomes and impacts the more elusive my experience of your Kingdom can become. A bit like gardening has to respond to the condition, the climate, the soil, and how much water is available. With the outcome, the blessing resting in your hands where it was all along...

So I continue the journey upward and onward...a step at a time, not missing the scenery as it unfolds around me. Who knows I may find you around the next turn in the road,  I remember a couple of travelers that you met on the road to Emmaus one day...

Lord Jesus--In this day that will begin in just a few hours, may my journey lead me closer to you and to the person you would have me to become.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (pp. 1797-1798). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shining Light

Mark Four

[4.21-22] Jesus went on: “Does anyone bring a lamp home put it under a washtub or beneath the bed? 

Lord Jesus--Light is something that I have been thinking a  lot about lately.  Light, sun, walking in the light...You are the one who said you were the light of the world. So you have put your light into my heart.

Sometimes it is not comfortable having this light.  I can't see things in the dim half light where are the edges are blurred.  Sometimes it is much more comfortable to see the world that surrounds with a bit less clarity.

Don’t you put it up on a table or on the mantel? We’re not keeping secrets, we’re telling them; we’re not hiding things, we’re bringing them out into the open.

Lord Jesus--The point is that light's purpose is revelation, clarity and anything less is wasting the resource that has been bestowed.

There are times when it seems as if I am a light in a carnival of sound and life.  It is dark and the world that surrounds me is teaming with activity and purpose and I am just there doing what you said. Shining my light...then it is time to claim the promise...

John 12:32

 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  

That is what life is all about really lifting you high in my life, Lord Jesus.  Help me in this day to find creative, generative, positive ways to lift you high. Any light that I might have is really reflections of you...Shine Jesus! Shine!

[4.23] “Are you listening to this? Really listening? [4.24-25] “Listen carefully to what I am saying—and be wary of the shrewd advice that tells you how to get ahead in the world on your own. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.”

The light, the witness, the places where I have the chance to shine the light...have been given by you, Lord Jesus, no one else.  Instead of hiding light, your direction is to polish the mirror of my soul.  Shine the light in every opportunity that I have, in overt, covert and obvious ways...it is all about shining the light in a dark world.

Any other approach is a rock wall dead end. Generosity of giving all the grace, light, hope and wisdom that you give only results in more light, more hope, more grace being received.  How can I lose?

Remind me today to shine the light that you give...

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

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Seeing the Forest And The Trees

[4.10-12] When they were off by themselves, those who were close to him, along with the Twelve, asked about the stories. He told them, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom—you know how it works. But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. These are people—   Whose eyes are open but don’t see a thing,ears are open but don’t understand a word, Who avoid making an about-face and getting forgiven.”

Lord Jesus--It is easy to miss the obvious.   Old lines come to mind: " if it was a snake it would have bit me" or "He can't see the forest for the trees."  The point is that the specific is missed within the larger context.   Parabolic teaching was a tool that you used to reach the masses in a way that they could be brought closer...nudged toward the Kingdom.  I wonder how often the Pharisees scratched their heads trying to get it in focus.

The goal is toward receptive insight.  You want me to see every interaction as an opportunity for learning and growing into all that you would have me to be.  That process, that journey doesn't end this side of the pearly gates.

People have their own agenda.  That simple fact does not change the reality that you want to use the setting I find myself in to your honor and glory...and to nudge me toward you.  I just need to trust that you will use the agenda of others in your will and plan.

 People get angry...or passionate...or whatever they want to call it at times...and it is hard to connect the dots of your grace  Does that change the fact that You have allowed me the opportunity to learn and grow within the situations that I find myself? NO!  Seeing the message and understanding the application in the specific setting can be distracting at best and confusing at worst.  You have an agenda in my life that continues through all the turns along the way.

That is when I am glad that you taught the crowds in stories  I don't have to understand it all.   I just have to trust that even if I can't see the trees right now, I know that I am in the forest because I can hear the wind of the Spirit through the leaves.  As I am listening I just have to wait for the next nudge.

Lord Jesus--Today, work as you see fit.

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Learning to Listen

Mark 4
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--The whole point is the listening part isn't it. For there to be change in the soil conditions there has to be listening, a pervasive attentiveness to your work in my life.  Your work takes place in so many different ways in my life and on so many different levels concurrently.  There is the call to priority of purpose.  Weed choke out the word for the simple lack of pulling them out. There is the call to looking to the work that is put before me without distraction. I can loose focus so easily.

You remind me this morning that fruitfulness is a process that needs to be attended to in simple and consistent ways. There are times when consistency is not easy...distractions come up...life happens.

I used to think of this in a way that was somehow less than.   I should have...I could have...I didn't.  That somehow I am responsible for the weeds that surround and can so easily engulf.   I am not sure that is the point. Weeds are a part of life. Don't watch them grow pull them out! The point is the weeds that are in front of me now.  There is a harvest to plan for and to work toward.  Guilt is never an adequate motivator.

What are the real motivators for listening?  Connection, direction, encouragement to grow deeper, a closer walk, and to continue the process of learning how to let your grace seep into this heart of mine.

Let my ears and heart be wide open to your voice today, Lord Jesus.

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