Tag Archive: confession


Silence

Jill is still leading a group experimenting with different forms of fasting from excess (see earlier post ). The other week was a media fast. I chose to only use my phone and computer as a tool. This meant for me no random Googling lyrics to the song you can’t think of and no occasional scrolling through facebook. The harder part was I stayed away for one week from my podcasts. No sermons, TED Talk, Radiolab, The Liturgists, Art of the Sermon, Seven Minute Seminary, Productive Pastor, and Sermonsmith all just had to remain silent for the week. I also stayed away from radio, TV and movies for the week (with the exception of The Flash which has been our one family TV show recently). Taking a week off wasn’t crazy hard, but it did have more of an impact than I expected.
I noticed how I habitually put my headphones in every time I get into the car to listen to some podcast, and instead I was surrounded by silence. One time Ethan and I were in the car for a one hour drive. He was staring at his phone and I started getting antsy because of the silence. Uncontrollably I started filling the silence by making up songs, trying to remember old ones.  Ethan eventually put down the phone and we went back and forth singing songs from the Sound of Music to eighties songs. We ended up having an amazing time.
I also began to fill the silence of this week with prayer. So if I ever said I would pray for you, this particular week I did much better than ever before. I became aware of my habits and how often I fill the silence with media.  It all had created a haze that was keeping me from seeing myself and being who I am called to be. Now I am not planning on going full-on stone-age monk. I have learned some great things and have been inspired by the podcasts. I have kept up with the world and know what is going on because of the radio. I am simply working on not avoiding the silence and filling it with noise, because it was in the silence I experienced God and joy in wonderful ways.
After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
Lord Jesus, when we fill our every waking hour with noise it is hard to hear your gentle whisper. The noise often masks our loneliness, heart aches, hurts, and even our sins. Underneath this mask of noise the very things you long to heal in us remain hidden. Lead us in silence to reveal those chords of disharmony that are still resonating in our lives.  Help us enjoy the blessing of media without it becoming something that keeps us from hearing and responding to your gentle whisper. Amen.

 

This is the song Ethan and I were singing over and over, but couldn’t remember all the lyrics (and I couldn’t use google to check). It made us smile and laugh so now it is your turn.

Missing the Mark

I’ve been helping teach our confirmation class which has been a wonderful experience. Pastor Mike and myself are taking turns with the different lessons. The lesson I recently had was on some of our essential doctrines including sin, salvation, and grace. I had worked up and pulled together different activities and metaphors to explore these different aspects of this great story. Just to be clear I don’t think I failed our children, but I walked away from that time with an ache in my heart. We explored how we encounter God’s grace as preventing, justifying, and sanctifying. We talked about different aspects of sin. We talked about the beauty of salvation being a process of being perfected in love not simply a destination. All day afterwards I wrestled with having had the opportunity to tell the greatest story of all time, and felt like all my words fell short. Poetry

It was like taking a class on poetry that discussed all the technical aspects of writing a good poem, but never really offered an experience of a great poem. Now there is joy and beauty in the patterns and rhythms themselves, but it is only a part of the whole beauty of the poem. I long to get better at telling not just the details of the story, but the fullness of the immeasurably beautiful story of Good News.

Thank you for the grand story of your saving grace and how there is beauty in both the details and the whole. Lead us in ways that our lives become a great narrative reflecting your story and help us to be better story telling so that others may realize that you are writing them into your amazing story of love. Amen

Why do we renovate our homes? What makes us recognize the need for a change? Is it just being tired of the way things are, or is it because something isn’t working right and it is time to get it fixed? Isn’t it funny how once one thing gets renovated it leads to our eyes being opened to something else needing to be renovated? It could be taking down some dated wall paper and putting up a fresh coat of paint that leads to changing the floors or the light fixtures. The broken stove top gets replaced and the projects ends up including new counter tops. 

I am glad this God of grace invites us to participate in his transforming power that can renovate our lives. Through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ and the renovating sanctifying power of the present Holy Spirit those leaning walls of prejudice and racism in our lives can be knocked down. Where the constantly dripping pipes of addictions and destructive behaviors can be torn out and replaced and the leaking stopped. Where the mold and mildew of anger and hatred growing under the carpet is torn out and the cool floors of peace are put in and felt under feet. One of the beautiful things God gives us as followers of Christ is the gift of repentance. The gift of repentance is the entry way in which we can find ourselves participating in God’s ongoing, never ending, sanctifying grace. What is our gracious renovating God wanting to renovate in your life?

Lord Jesus, you who call us to be holy as our heavenly Father is holy. Thank you for your renovating grace that is perfecting us in love. Teach us how  and lead us to participate in your renovating, sanctifying grace that continually transforms us into children of your holy kingdom who love in all directions by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Thank God for the Hands

hnads 1195576_92868095I have had a very interesting time recently. A great friend of mine and I have sought to meet regularly for a time of prayer and confession. I confessed to him that I have been in fear. Fear that didn’t make sense in the midst of all that God has done and is doing. Fear that seemed uncommon and out of place for me. It had to do with fear about these next steps of the process of me becoming an Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church. My brother in Christ, with his hand on my shoulder, pronounced the sweet words over me, “In the name of our savior Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

A couple of days later during morning prayer I was reading Psalm 62 and it seemed that the words of God were just coming alive. That fear was melting away as I meditated on how God is my Rock, my refuge, my salvation. I was flooded with reminders of how God has radically provided for this journey. I was overwhelmed with a joy of knowing that God has a hold of me with his love and grace. My salvation is in Christ Jesus.

Recently my wife had asked many of our friends and family to pray for me and this next step of the process. [I am struggling for words to describe this next part] Even though I was alone at the kitchen table as I continued with prayer that morning I felt as if I were being lifted up on the hands of those praying for me.  The fear was beginning to be transformed as I felt surrounded and lifted up by the Body of Christ.

Later that day as I began studying in preparation for this next step something happened. It was like a beautiful switch went off. Freedom. Deliverance. For whatever reason, at some point in the prior weeks I began studying out of fear, but now I was studying from a place of liberty and joy. I was studying because these are the very things I want written on my heart. I want to know these things about God so well, that they just start dripping off my lips without my even thinking about it. I want to know this God revealed in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, His grace that goes before us, grace that justifies us, grace that transforms us and liberates us to know love, be loved, and to love.

I thank you God for the hands that proclaim forgiveness in your name. I thank you God for the hands that lift others up in prayer. I thank you God for your hands that break the chains of fear and bondage to sin. I thank you God for your hands that lift us up to know your grace and love. Amen.