I was off visiting my roots in the Bay Area for a good week, which entailed me asking myself the question “how many coffee/lunch/dinner/meet-me-for-drinks dates can I cram into 5 days?” Needless to say, I had a full schedule ahead of me. As I met up with various friends, I realized that I love how diverse, beautiful and true my old friendships have remained. Though we are distanced from one another, some scattered across California, other’s landed beyond the borders of the state, beats are never missed with these dear friends. We slid back into the rhythm of conversation and picked up the dusty lines of communication as a day hadn’t gone by since we were eighteen. There was a theme that kept cropping up as I sat down for coffee with one friend and had late night drinks with another. It was a perspective on theology. One I have come to understand is paramount for navigating through this life: keep your theology open, but the Gospel closed.
About a month ago I was sitting in my community group brainstorming of ways that we could improve our Sunday mornings. The unanimous consensus: we were all feeling discontent with what we were experiencing in service. We felt trapped, stifled, a little dead, like the moment we walked through the doors the very Spirit within us shrunk behind our hearts to hide. It seemed like no one was really praying, no one was really getting prayed over. The message seemed flat and the worship lackluster. We questioned. We vented. We tried to place the blame. We teetered on whining. Then God stopped us and asked us to do something about it and it looked a little something like this:
You want change? Step into the space I’ve created for you. Continue reading “Stepping into Space for Change”
I believe in prayer. I really, really, do. And you know what? I don’t pray nearly enough as I should. And I’m talking all-out-on-my-face-filled-with-the-Spirit, sort of prayer time. I tend to go through bouts of prayer binging. I’ll be super solid, carving out time everyday for just God and me. Sometimes, it’s 15 minutes and sometimes those 15 minutes turn to 45… Those are my best times spent in prayer, when the hands of the clock tick beyond what I was even aware of and I’m just lost in the vortex of the Spirit pouring out from my mouth and deep within. When my mind is so full of visions that I feel like I’ve stepped into a heavenly world. When I get prophesy for someone and a self-centered prayer turns outward to a friend in need. Then I stop and it’ll be weeks before I’m in that groove again. I need to stick to the groove.
I think I had it drilled in my head somewhere between middle school and high school that the Christian Faith is all about blind faith. I specifically remember my middle school youth pastor dragging out a chair on to the stage one time and asking for a volunteer to come up. He positioned the student in front of the chair and asked him to sit down. The kid did, no questions asked. “Why did you sit down without looking?” My pastor asked him. “Because I knew the chair would hold me up,” the kid responded. While I realize now that the kid was probably planted, and actually the PK, I also realize how wickedly skewed the concept of faith became to me from that moment on. Faith was blind because I believed in an unseen God and He was going to ask me to do crazy things no questions asked and I had to trust Him because of a chair. What bologna.
This morning I awoke to a still and quiet house. I made coffee as the rest of my household slept and sat down at the table to read my Bible. I found myself opening up to John, specifically, the few chapters before Jesus’ arrest. They are beautiful passages, full of promise and glory, of a life full of Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the love of the Father. I geeked out as I tend to do. If you’re looking for some good scripture to munch on today, I’d suggest reading through John 14-17. You will not be disappointed. As I slipped in the ribboned bookmark and shut the cover, I was hit with a vision from God and it was this:
I had this moment in Church last weekend where I wanted to stand up with hands lifted high and shout words of praise at the top of my lungs. I was that excited. Instead, I sat there squirming in my seat. A miracle had just been shared. Someone had been cured of cancer, healed by our Heavenly Father. And I wanted to go crazy. I wanted to run up and down the isles jumping and skipping and praising our Lord. Instead, everyone just sat there, stone silent and I sat along with them because I was afraid of what people would think of me. I mean you could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet. There was no clapping. No laughter. No hallelujahs being raised. The whole place seemed stiffer than the wooden pews we were sitting in.
I’ve lived in a Christian bubble before and it was terrible. It’s was dangerous and I languished in it for far too long. All I did was church stuff, hung out with church people, went to church, and was in a church small group. I guess it has something to do with comfort. I think when you live in a bubble too long you end up like a boiled frog in a pot of water. I feel like I’m starting to boil again and I want to jump from the pot. But it’s hard to do.
The thing is, when you’re living in a bubble, you’re kicking back in a froggy Jacuzzi with other content frogs and you’re all just sinking into the steam until it’s too late. The next thing you know, you’re legs are being served up at some French restaurant or you’re being dissected in a high school Biology class. Gross. Continue reading “Boiling Frogs and Popping the Comfort Zone Bubble”
I never realized how much joy I receive from the average, the minuscule, things that can so easily be ignored and forgotten. They seem frivolous. The way candle light dances in the darkness, the squeak of the floor boards in my childhood home, the memory of my grandpa’s gravelly voice, the smell of crisp apples in fall, the sound of the train rattling by in the dead of night, eating olives off our fingers, the time a humming bird built its nest in the pink-blossomed branches of the cherry plum tree. It’s things like this that fill my heart.
I believe in the Holy Spirit. I have faith in His gifts. I cheer for healing. I root for tongues. I salute the prophetic. And I have none of these gifts. Oh I’ve asked. I’ve prayed. Think what you will. Speculate what you want. Maybe I haven’t prayed hard enough. Maybe I don’t have enough faith. Insert whatever spiritual lacking excuse you wish. I’ve blamed all of these things too. I tend to get down on myself. Question. Wonder. But I had a revelation the other day, which happens about every week or so. It’s the kind of revelation where you whack your palm to your forehead because it’s just so stinking simple. Yet so stinking beautiful. I write all of these revelations down. Maybe I’ll share some others with you all another time, but we’ll be focusing on the greatest of these, which is love.