Filtering by Tag: Discipleship

What I Would Have Done Differently

I'm just coming off of a cold that hit me smack dab in the middle of Christmas festivities, which is why I've let the blog slide a bit. Looking back over 2012, it's been a tumultuous year packed with transition, relational upheaval, and as a result, more mistakes on my part than I'd like to admit. I'm being a bit vague because there are a few things I want to process through writing, but haven't found the right place to do so yet.

I am thankful for the sorts of people that God has surrounded me with, Grant, Myron, Gary, Gene, Joe, Shirley and Wilbur, Jim, and a host of others who have walked with me through some difficult processing, willing to listen carefully and respond gently, and of course my lovely wife Courtney who has (and is willing) to hear it more than anyone else. With all of you, we haven't always come out at the same place, but still left committed to each other and Christ.

I am also thankful for those who have shared their own hearts, whether it's on facebook, in the comments below, or in person. I've heard a lot of stories over the past few months that have both encouraged me and broke my heart. One of my goals, both personally and for this blog, has been to give people a safe place to share their heart. Though that hasn't happened on the blog itself as much as I'd like (which I know has a bit to do with my tone) I've received several emails from isolated souls, afraid to be themselves, afraid even to be comfortable in their own skin. If I can accomplish anything with my writing this next year it would be more of this.

If there were anything I could change about my writing this past year, it would be –as I mentioned before– the tone. Not that I would have downplayed the frustration, but I have failed to express clearly the hope I have for what God is doing with His people that I've seen expressed through a wide range of characters. I hope to be more of a sower of hope this year. I want to be honest, and hope is honestly has a growing place in me.

One more sneak peak for this coming year. I'm bringing a good friend and artist Debbie Sommers on board to beautify and compliment the posts. I've had a building conviction that the artistic, the poetic, is not simply a cherry on top of our journey to know God, but a vital part of it, like salt, pulling out the flavors of who He is.

I'll be taking off the last few days of this year to focus on some other projects I want to launch by the new year. I'd also like to make some headway on some 'other' writing I've been doing.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this year, I hope it has been worth your while.

What I'd Change If I Were Jesus

If it were up to me, there would only be one thing I would change about following Jesus (or if I were Jesus, following me). I would change whatever God was working on in me at the moment. If I had to be moment specific, right now I'd like some revisions to Jesus' call to unity.

Jesus unfortunately talked a lot about unity. He tossed a national traiter, a political revolutionary, a couple of hotheads, and some blue collar workers into the same boat told them to get along. If the sorts of disputes we have among the disciples in the gospels is the tip of the iceberg, then the little discipleship community wasn't always easy sailing, even with the Son of God physically in their presence.

And now Jesus calls me to live together and share life deeply with conspiracy theorists, flaming liberals, fundamentalist republicans, self-righteous over-spiritualizers, and narcissistic manipulators.

Unfortunately, I figured out a long time ago that the number of people we're called to part fellowship with is far smaller than the number of people I want to part fellowship with. If I'm operating on my social tolerances, I can handle a lot. But when it comes to who Jesus asks me to live life with, my tolerances just can't muster the strength.

Consequently, Church can feel like a wrestling match. I love my church, I love the people there, most of the time. But I'm a bit of a control freak, which I used to control by standing on the sidelines. But recently Jesus has specifically called me to quit being the squeaky spare wheel and start hitting the pavement. This doesn't come easy. People don't do what I think they should; they lie, lump manipulative expectations on you, and season their conversation with spiritual words that make you feel like you should probably care more about your faith. Of course they're probably just as insecure about theirs.

This of course is all a documentation of my deficiencies. It's not my specific group of believers I hang out with that is the problem. No matter where I go I'd have the same issues, because I am the problem. I am the one lumping expectations on people for what they should be, how they should treat me. I am the one who speaks out of my insecurity, steering the 'spiritual' conversation to places I'm comfortable with, so I can control my surroundings.

Jesus of course wants me to do more than just get along with his friends. He wants us to love each other like He loves us, which is according to the gospels a rather painful process. He's thrown us all in the same boat and asked us to to the same thing He has, to take up our cross and die to ourselves, for Christ, for others.

A Benediction For the Day.

May God place difficult people in your way, May He guide you in places of relational frustration, May He send you your ideological opposite when you ask for His help, So that you, like Him, may die for the Jesus that lives in others.

 

Camp

I'm at Bethel Camp this week. Leading worship for a hoard of Jr. Highers in the hills of Kentucky. The drive down brought back a flood of memories from Drift Creek Camp, which is tucked in another set of mountains in the Pacific Northwest, where I spent several of my childhood years walking in the misty rain forests along the coast underneath towering pines. Camp was a liturgy, bringing me back to the basic truth that there was something more to life than girls and sports, that God was doing things in the world and he wanted us to join him.

I won't go into details, but my last year at camp, as I walked the trails, I was faced with the question from God, "If I want to screw up your life as you know it, would you still follow me?" My first response was what I was supposed to say, what all the camp speakers told me to say. He didn't want parroting; He asked again.

"If I want to screw up your life as you know it, would you still follow me?"

I told Him I hated that He would do that but I didn't feel I had a choice, I hadn't found any other place to really live but in Him.

That was the Eucharist of my camp experience, the final lesson: God is not a part of my life, my life is his to contort in whatever way He sees fit.

What did you learn at camp?