Tag Archives: life

Tough Love…

We’ve all heard the phrase “tough love”, maybe even experienced it in our adolescence as we clumsily navigated through some rebellious patch of our life growing up.  Hopefully you are not still stuck there.  It can be painful both as a parent and a recipient of tough love.  I however, have been experiencing tough love of a different nature lately and this morning took a moment to meditate on it.  What I’m dealing with is how love can be tough.  It’s hard to love people sometimes.

I have had a number of instances over the last year and especially recently where I was deeply struggling to feel and be loving toward people.  I have felt like the Apostle Paul in Romans where he said:

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.”  Romans 7:18

Paul endured all kinds of things at the hands of other people and he struggled with doing the right thing, the loving thing.  He reveals our inner conflict between the spirit and the flesh in us.  I have a desire to do the loving thing but sometimes my mind is saying stick it to them.  We have a tendency to justify our feelings or subsequent actions, because after all we were done wrong, they are being unreasonable or we are the victim.  That all may be true but the conflict remains and reveals our true problem.  To be true to the Spirit in us, we must love and be loving. 

As I read Romans 5 I find the problem with and answer to my dilemma:

“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:5

The demands of life and the demands of God are so great that I don’t have a chance to do right without Him.  God knows the selfish and self-preserving nature of our flesh.  We are without the hope of consistent love without the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.  Without Jesus and the gift of His Spirit we do not have the capacity to love the unloveable.  We will revert to our flesh and flesh will always protect flesh.  It defaults to self-preservation. 

However, even as a believer we will have to believe the promise of God’s love.  Through His Spirit He has poured out His love in our hearts giving us His capacity to love even in the harshest of conditions.  Love is tough, but its impossible without God’s love.  So before we begin to excuse our unloving behavior by what others have done to us, we need to draw deep from the well of God’s love and remember that even in moments of injustice and persecution God gives us the capacity to manifest the love of Jesus through our mortal flesh.

Love may be tough, but not impossible.

Who do you need to forgive today?

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Love + Incarnational = Transformation

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I stopped by my Grand Mother’s house today to pick up some flowers she wanted us to have.  Granny Hobbs is 91 now and for as long as I can remember she has given everything away.  My daughter asked me, “Why … Continue reading

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The effects of revelation…

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I was reflecting this morning on the effects of revelation on one’s life.  Paul speaks several places in scripture about the revelation of Christ and His gospel and  their impact upon his life.  This revelation had a death and life … Continue reading

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Simple Church: The mystery of God and the Beauty of the Journey…

This is a great post by Katie Driver about the adventure of Simple/Organic Church.  It can also be found at CMA Resources

The Journey of Discovery, by Katie Driver

Backseat driverI have a lot of conversations with people who are struggling with the blind adventure of the simple, organic and missional church life.
I hear things like; ” I don’t really know what to do!”, “I wish someone could show me how this works!”, “I tried that/that, and it didn’t work so what’s wrong?”, “What is this supposed to look like?”, “Is there a manual or something I can follow?”, “Can you give me a blueprint to work from so I know what I’m supposed to do?”

I empathize with these questions. These are real struggles from hearts that want to “do it right” and have been trained to follow models, leaders, organizations, and manuals so that what they do is “successful” and “correct”. I resist the tendency, which is so easy for me, to tell them what to do. Instead, we start talking about what they are learning in the process, what their goals are for living this organic simple life in Christ, what the Scriptures say we should esteem, and that it is okay to try different things and even fail a few times in the process.

God is certainly capable to get us where we need to be, when we need to be there, with all that we need in the process. The bottom line is; He is faithful.
Have you ever heard that saying of on “a need to know basis” ? I think that fits well with His leading of us. He takes us one step at a time. He gives us what we need to know and understand when we need it to lead us forward in faith. He also lets us struggle.

Most of us don’t want to hear that we learn best by what we struggle with and figure out on our own. We also don’t like to hear that failure is a better teacher than our successes. In fact, I recently read a medical study that concluded that we actually grow more brain cells when we fail! How’s that for “organically” rewarding our failures? What incredible Grace!

I believe, God is taking us each on our own wonderful, unique and unmapped “Journey’s of Discovery”. That is what the journey west, of the explorers Lewis and Clark’s into the then unknown, was called.

For those of us who admit to being ” a Trekkie”, you’ll be familiar with the saying; “of boldly going where no man has gone before”. I like to use the Star Trek motto to illustrate what the journey in the lifestyle of simple, organic, missional church is like. No manuals, no maps to follow, no clear guidelines and directions (yet,… just give it a few more years and the experts will have the ‘5 steps to simple church success’ available soon at your local bookstore….sorry, my cynicism again).

We do have some great folks out there who are sharing their own journeys of what they are learning and experiencing. Giving us some understanding of what this whole simple lifestyle is all about. Lewis and Clark types who, are on the “Journey of Discovery”, just like the rest of us, but are a little further along on their expedition and keeping great journals.

Tom and I have been doing something different this summer. We have been taking short three or four day “mini” vacations on the motorcycle, but we’ve been doing it in a totally new way from how we have done it before.

In past years we have had a general plan to our vacations. Not completely, but we would have an idea of where we were going, where the scenic spots were, where the camping areas and the places available to us for lodging, eating, getting gas, etc would be. We would, once in a while, drive off the planned course and see what we could discover, but that was the exception. Most of the time we just followed the mapped course we’d laid out together in the kitchen over a couple of nights.
In these vacation expeditions we’d also have a definite goal and agenda of what we wanted to see, experience and accomplish. We don’t have the name “driver” for nothing, and some days the only goal seemed to be how many miles we could push through in a day!

This summer however, has been different.

Instead of loading up the car and luggage carrier with all our necessities for camping, our suitcases full of “stuff” that we’d maybe use, coolers packed with food and drink, we packed small bags that fit into the limited spaces on the motorcycle. Usually not more than a change of clothes, our rain gear, a couple bottles of water, basic toiletries, a bible and extra jacket. We’d take along a map, but only for the sake of getting us back on track if we got disoriented and lost out on the back roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We load up and take off in a matter of minutes (verses hours), heading out of the city, in the general direction we wanted to go. We would find some road unknown to us and take it, just to see where it would lead. Often times it would lead to some great and awesome place that we would never of found on our own. Sometimes we would find ourselves at a dead end, where we would have to turn around and go back a bit until we found another road and take that for a while. We found some incredible places and experiences that made us look forward to what new things we’d discover tomorrow! We felt alive and revived. Resulting in thankfulness for all that we saw God bless our journey with each day. A beautiful road, a person to encourage or pray for, finding new friends in towns we’d never of known, creating memories and special times of enjoying life together in the goodness of God. It was simple (unencumbered and portable), organic (let’s see what unfolds naturally in the process) and missional (what other lives can we bring some aspect of the nature of Christ to today in our encounters).

When Lewis and Clark made their journey into the western wilderness some two hundred years ago, they went not knowing what they would encounter with each day and decision of direction. Sometimes, the river they travelled just took them along it’s natural path and when that was no longer possible, they found their way through mountain passes and vast prairies with sometimes the help of those native to the area. They recorded information, observations and drew pictures of what they were discovering and wrote it in journals for those who would be following in the future. Even though this would be the beginning of the westward movement of settlement, each of the pioneers soon to head west on that journey still had to discover, on their own with just a few journal notes of information and helps, the path to where they would eventually settle.

Tom and I driving along this summer on the unknown back roads of MN and WI, not knowing where we would eventually end up that night was exciting, rewarding, adventurous, fun, a bit unnerving, tiring and stressful at times. All of the above and more! I wouldn’t give up one moment of it.

The simple organic and missional church life gives us no GPS, maps and instructional directions. Instead, we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the direction we are to go. We get to learn how to follow Him in a dependent and intimate way. When He says; this is the way, we go that way. We learn to have ears that hear. We learn to discover, on our own with Him, the unique adventure that Jesus has planned for us to experience more of Him and what He has in store of us while we walk this side of heaven. To know Him, and walk daily in an intimacy that is fresh, alive, exciting and dependent. We have the ultimate “journal”, the Word, that has all that we need pertaining to life and godliness. We have the journals of others on similar journey’s that can encourage and aid us, but in the end, we find our own Journey of Discovery with the Author of it all!

In the vernacular of motorcycle trekking………….”enjoy the ride”!

From Katie Driver’s Blog, Backseat Driver

The Vision and The Journey…

the journeyNot all journeys begin with a vision, but every vision is the beginning of a journey. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I am talking about something that originated from the heart of God, not the desires of man.  We have all felt strong desires and placing them in beautifully crafted words and called them a vision.  Church leaders are notorious for this , the proof being captured in many churches’ three part vision statements.  I’m not slamming on the desires of Godly men who want to do good things, but there is a big difference between the visions of men to do Godly things and the visions from God that only He can give and fulfill. 

“That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  John 3:6

God fulfills His visions through us and by the resources He supplies.  We cannot see or understand the full scope of this kind of vision.  If we did, we would run away from it like Jonah or run right out thinking we can fulfill God’s vision.  A true vision from God frightens you and captures you at the same time.  You don’t go looking for it, it finds you.

It was a typical Sunday service.  We were going through the same routine we go through every Sunday.  As we came to our time of worship, I was engaged as I usually am somewhere between sorting out the last thoughts of the sermon I am about to deliver and half listening for any last minute promptings from the Holy Spirit and trying to worship.  All of a sudden I am arrested by God with a vision.  I am engulfed by what I see in the Spirit as everything in the natural fades into the backdrop till I am only aware of God and what He’s showing me.  And, this is all I see…

I was taken outside of our Church building as I watched a storm appear.  It was sudden with no time to prepare.  You could not see the storm, only it’s effects.  It was like seeing one of those storm stories about a hurricane or tornado on the Discovery Channel.  The power of the wind began to tear the building apart starting with the shingles.  Piece by piece the building tore apart, shingles, plywood, timbers and bricks, til all that was left was the concrete slab foundation.  Then as quickly as the church was torn apart and stripped away, God began to build it back.  Suddenly, I found myself back standing in our sanctuary singing our last song if worship.

I tried quickly to compose myself.  What now?  I sensed in my spirit that God was about to do what I saw, but I had no idea what that meant.  As I said before, it frightened me and captured me.  I heard the Lord say, “surrender.”

I made my way up front and stood before the people God had been so gracious to bring together as our church.  I felt compelled to share what I saw and what God said to me.  When I was done sharing the vision, I said to the church that I sensed God telling us to surrender, that if He needed to strip anything away, we needed to surrender and let Him.  If I needed to go, the building needed to go, any programs, any people, finances, ideologies about ministry or personal issues, then we needed to surrender and let Him.   I asked everyone to pray with me a prayer of consecration.

What came next, I would not have expected.  And, so the journey began…

Come along with me.

Changes, changes, changes….

Life is an incredible journey and it is easy to lose sight of it if we only focus on the moment.  Some moments in life can be paralyzing if we let them.  Those of you who have done much flying have been stuck in a city or airport when you needed to be somewhere else.  It’s a layover, not your destination.  None of us decide to permanently stay there.  However, we are there.  We make the best of it, maybe even find a way to enjoy it, knowing it’s a journey not the destination.  We have to learn to enjoy the journey which means embracing changes.

Our Church has gone through many changes over the past 3+ years.  These changes have reshaped and reoriented who we are and what we look like.  There have been many moments in this journey that could have been paralyzing and maybe for a season even were.  But weathering and savoring the good and bad continue to shape us for God’s plan – a people who genuinely reflect Him and reveal Him.

I am not the same nor is our church the same but what we are changing into is something glorious.  This blog and our church blog will begin to reflect the changes we are going through.  Tomorrow I am going to share a vision God showed me 3 years ago that has shaken everything in my life. (Vision: not something I desired or dreamed up, but an actual, literal vision from God.)  This vision was the beginning of a journey.

Have you ever seen a literal vision?  What did you see?

Shared life…

Today I played golf for the first time in 1 1/2 years.   I was invited by someone in my church who loves golf and lives on the 6th fairway at Beau Rivage.  My Dad was home, so the three of us hit the links.  It was the most awesome weather; great temperature with a nice breeze.  Now I’m not going to give Tiger Woods a run for his money, so I don’t take things too serious.  But, I ain’t too bad; though I will admit being last today.  A bad day on the course is still a good day.  I think I lost 6 balls and my golf shoes obviously sat too many years in my garage, because on the 5th hole the soles of my shoes literally began to come apart.  By the 8th hole I was playing with one sole.  By the 9th I felt like I was walking in mockasins with no soles.  My back was killing me by the 10th green.  What an awesome day!

Why?  We may not always think about it, but everything that is worth anything is better when shared with people we love.  Think about it.  Just about everything in life is enhanced by the presence of others we can share the experience with.  A funny movie is funnier when you can laugh with someone.  Your favorite restaurant is better when sharing it with a friend.  Golf is even better when you can play with people you care about.  Even if you play badly.

All said, this journey with Jesus is enhanced by the community of intimate friend that I get to walk with.  Love if fuller if we can share it.  I am glad that God has me on the path I find myself.  Church has taken on new meaning and new life for me.  I am breaking free from lifeless religion and institutional spirituality into the beauty of organic church, oneness with Jesus and share community.  Life and life more abundantly. 

Does something in your spirit long for something more, something different that what you are experiencing?  Is there a longing for something deeper in Jesus and others?  Ask yourself, what is keeping you from experiencing it?