Friday, December 6, 2013

chains

bent, weighed down, and pressed deep into the earth,
this is all you've ever known.

shrouded in darkness, your heart beats but you are still;
life is static. unmoving.

possessed, but never belonging.
longing for one final breath,
for your eyes to close and never open.
to slip away in the same way you exist: unnoticed.

against your will, they open.
waking shame and silence are your death.
inescapable, link- by- link they have bound you.
the weight of living strangling life.

bound.
slave.
flesh.
blood.
brother.
sister. 
remembered.
fought-for.
how i long for you to be free.

chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.
[O Holy Night, Franz Gruber]

from oppression and violence He redeems their life, and precious is their blood in His sight.
[Psalm 72:14]

...and they were lovely because He loved them...

[Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones]


resources:
Exodus Cry (global)








Saturday, October 26, 2013

[[It wasn't a number]]


It wasn't a number; an overwhelming statistic rattled off with great emotion, a sense of urgency mixed with a touch of despair.

It wasn't a face; worn by the deep cares of this life, marked by sufferings I may go my whole lifetime and know nothing about.

It wasn't a book; an author that scared me into Kingdom living.

It wasn't a conference, a mission trip, or weekend retreat; it wasn't a song, a sermon, or a prayer.

It was Jesus; the One who, in the middle of a routine praise band rehearsal, whispered “Surely there's more to my Kingdom than this”.

It was Jesus; the One who said “Come away with me and be awed by my beauty, by my power to save.”

It was Jesus; the One who knew the mess that I am, that there is no good in me, yet said“Give me the pen. All those gaps and broken places in your story? I will redeem. I will reconcile. I will make beauty from ashes”.

It was Jesus; who stripped all of those other things away so I could learn what it meant to know Him and not just know about Him; so I could feel the weight of the decision to pick up my cross and follow fully or not at all; so I could know joy and not just temporary satisfaction.

It was Jesus. And it still is. And now it is by Him that I see all of those other things: the overwhelming statistics, the weary faces, the books by brothers and sisters who challenge me to keep walking a narrow way, the conferences, the retreats, the mission trips, the songs, the sermons, the prayers.

He is not “The one who modifies my behavior and makes me morally acceptable to my culture”
He is not “The one who overwhelms me with statistics and guilt until I become disillusioned in humanitarian relief efforts”
He is not “The one who scares me into His Kingdom”.

He is Wonderful, Counselor, the The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Reconciler, Holy, Beautiful, Merciful, Just, Redeemer, Emmanuel.

Emmanuel.

God with us, revealed to us.

So we can see. And by Him, we now see everything else.

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, so that, as it is written,
 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 
 [1 Corinthians 1:26-30]

Monday, September 30, 2013

Good Things Happening Here: Life in Apartment 4

I live with some amazing people who love in extraordinary ways. We laugh, we cry, we pray, and we celebrate. Here's a glimpse of some of the life that has happened here recently. Pictures explain far better than I ever could.

P.S. The links that follow all belong to my awesome roomies. Please check them out :)

Beth

Becca

Chalice

P.P.S. We specialize in hospitality. By that we mean we love visitors. We like to share our meals, our lives, and our living space. So if you haven't come by in awhile, or ever, or even if you're a frequent flier, please visit us :)








And, in the words of Robert Frost "If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane".

Thankfully we can. So we do. A LOT.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Painter of Light

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“Does it ever end? Dear God, does it end?” Her voice cracked and the tears that had threatened to spill over came gushing out like floodwaters after a storm. Subject to a lifetime of abuse and desperately searching for a way out, she trembled like the little girl she'd been years before. I know it ends, Father. I know it does. But when? And my heavy heart echoes her cry and the cry of a hundred others “How long, O Lord, How long?”.

Knowing how is not the same as knowing when, and while I know that You will come, it doesn't keep us from hurting in the spaces between. Those spaces that can be so dark. So lonely. So Heavy. But if I'm going to weep for something, if something is going to keep me awake at night, I'd rather it be this.
I'd rather mourn together and come to know The Man of Sorrows than be drowning in my own.

The more You teach me to love and walk in the light, the more I see the depth of darkness, craftily blinding captives yearning to be free. But even in the seemingly impossible there is hope. There is victory. There is closure. There is a God who sees and a God who sends: Sees the chains and sends us running into dark places, not to open the door or loose the chains, but to tell them that if they choose, they can get up and walk because You've already broken the lock and You hold the key.

Sometimes it takes a sunset to remind me that in the midst of our cries for justice, in the midst of the weeks that are heavy on tears and light on answers, in a fallen world full of darkness, my Redeemer still paints beautiful pictures of light. Not only in the sky, but in our lives.


The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be give to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.

[Isaiah 35:1-4]

Monday, June 24, 2013

Teach Me

With every rise and fall of my chest,
Teach me to offer thanks.
Thanks for another day,
For another breath,
For one more heartbeat,
One more chance to love.
One moment more to hear Your voice,
One more choice to get up and follow,
One more time to dance in Your showers of mercy and grace.

Teach me to listen to Your ever-beating heart,
To lean into the bosom of my Father in quiet rest and reckless abandon,
Until the only rhythm I live in this broken world is Yours.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The God of Missing Pieces

"Excuse me sir, but is this the church?"

A quiet roomful of humanity turned to stare at a blurry, black and white photograph of an ancient cathedral.

And he, he was speechless. As his eyes met the trembling hand that held tightly to a piece of his past, a silent tear slowly trickled down his cheek.

Finally the words came. Slowly, deliberately, full of awe, as if someone had offered him the fortune of a lifetime. Perhaps for him it might as well have been the same thing.

"Yes, yes. I believe that it is. Come and see me after I am finished speaking."

83 years old. The man is 83 years old. And for more than 70 of those years he has not known the name or place of the one who saved him from annihilation, from "hell on earth", as he described it, simply because he was a Jew.

It was, after all, only a place; only a place  and a brave catholic priest who found the courage to extend a compassionate hand to a trembling, orphaned Jew. He was only a boy. He did not think to ask his name. He did not think much of where he was or where he was going. The prevailing thought was only that of survival and not being sent back to certain death in the ghetto. He considered himself fortunate to have been among only 17 Jewish survivors from his hometown. After the war, he left for Israel, then onward to America, never to return to his beloved Poland.

 Now thousands of miles and years removed from those fateful days, part of his life was being handed back to him by an anonymous Polish woman. Something he seemed to have given up long ago, when all the pieces of his life were scattered to the wind in the aftermath of death and destruction. But here she was, at least 40 years his junior, offering closure. Offering to let him see and remember one more time so perhaps he could heal a little bit more.

I do not know where or how or why this all came about: Why this woman chose to hear him speak; what about his story touched her enough to locate his childhood safe haven and the brave man who saved him. I just know that I was there when it happened. That in a world full of pain and suffering and "I-don't-knows", a world that seemingly produces far more questions than answers,  The Healer let me see His beautiful restoration at work.

It's hard sometimes when our fields get ravaged by locusts, when the fig trees don't blossom, when our barns are empty of a bountiful harvest; it's hard, but it is not impossible. The cross is always before a resurrection tomb.

The scattered things, the missing things...He keeps them.
He gives us back the years that locusts have eaten.
He keeps track of our wanderings.
He bottles our tears.
He is the God of missing pieces.

"You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?"

[Psalm 56:8]

"I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you."

[Joel 2:25]

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

[2 Corinthians 5:19-20]





Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Between a Seed and a Storm



30 And he [Jesus] said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-32


35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Mark 4:35-41

Same day. Same disciples. Same chapter. 3 verses later. 

From faith to fear. From trust to trembling. 

Somewhere, somehow the mustard seed of hope and promise got covered over by the waves of doubt and despair.

It's easy to hold on when you're standing on the land; cozy, dry, and surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. It's a lot harder when you're out on the ocean; cold, wet, alone and uncertain;  trying to figure out how to hold on to a miniscule mustard seed with the same hand that needs to steer the ship clear of danger. 

Two of the most oft-repeated stories---one of faith, the other of fear. Often told separately, in such a way that one might never notice that these disparate emotions occurred on the same day. In the same men. Walking with the same God incarnate. 

I don't know exactly they were thinking, but I can imagine. I can imagine going to sleep in the presence of the Most High and waking up to storm-blown chaos. I can imagine images of peace and calm being replaced with feelings of fear and trembling. I can imagine them trying to get their bearings, asking themselves "Is this how it all ends? It ends in a storm?" I can imagine impetuous Peter asking Jesus, "Lord, I thought I planted my seed...I had faith...but where's the tree? How can there even be a tree when there isn't any dirt? Will I ever see dry land again?" And all the while their Teacher was sleeping.

Jesus could have rebuked them...

Rebuked them for waking Him up.
Rebuked them, professional fishermen, for not having an emergency plan; for not having all the answers.
Rebuked them for panicking. 

But He didn't. He rebuked the "wind and the waves" instead. He rebuked the obstacles, the very things that were causing them to panic, to lose faith, to lose their mustard seed. 

And then He asked them a question:

"Why are you so afraid?"

And another:

"Have you still no faith?"
 
The answer lies in their response: They still didn't know who their Teacher was. They still weren't sure their Rabbi was Steadfast, the one who made them, who sustained them, who loved them, who would walk the way of the cross for them.

This wasn't news to Jesus. He already knew what they would say, how they would respond. But it was news to the disciples. They didn't know that they didn't know. 

Jesus wasn't rebuking them. He wasn't saying "Get it together guys, or I can't use you anymore".  As their Teacher, as their Rabbi, He was helping them understand. He was helping them find their faith. He was showing them their empty places. 

The storm was a point of revelation, not condemnation.  


Because willingness to learn, to follow, to believe always comes from a place of knowing that we don't know. 

That's how small we are.

That's how big He is. 

And that is where the mustard seed is planted.