Aug 27, 2016

Heed a Song Sung for the Spirit

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, 
and watching for this purpose with all perseverance 
and supplication for all saints…” 
Ephesians 6:18 WBT

A songbird trills its melody just outside the kitchen window, 
a back drop to the rote routines of morning; 
brewing tea, let the dog out, light a candle, empty the dish rack, pour milk over cereal. 

Refreshed from sleep, thoughts are quiet. 
Attention is allowed to settle effortlessly on patterned sequences of tasks and paths around the kitchen. Familiar movements follow: cupping the mug, spooning cereal, holding a match to the wick, opening shutters for the first glimpse at day. 

In the midst of rinsing the bowl, 
candle fragrance rising, 
and still sipping tea, 
the bird’s song register’s again. 
Still singing. 

The mind’s attention sharpens. 
Movements cease. 
Silently I hear You’re missing this.

Return to the table. Search the foliage rich view beyond the window for the feathered resident. 
Sit with the song. 

Hear deep in your marrow a song sung for the Spirit within, by the same Spirit that permeates all. Awaken to the soul’s response as whispers begin my own morning’s praises and prayers, joining the song bird’s melody.

Though the songbird has ceased, 
candle fragrance fills the room 
and prayer continues in gratitude for heeding the Holy Spirit’s invitation.  

“Devote yourselves to prayer, 
being watchful and thankful.” 
Colossians 4:2 NIV

Aug 4, 2016

Be Like Jesus

{For the past several months I have been working with a small group of folks at my church, defining what a Creative Writing Team might contribute to worship. In part we have been in conversation about beginning a blog designed to compliment each sermon series for the contemporary service. This post was first shared on that blog.}


“God decided from the outset

to shape the lives of those who love him 

along the same lines as the life of his Son.” 

Romans 8:29 MSG

God’s fervent intent, His deepest desire, is to make us into Jesus’ image; for us to be like Jesus. The concept may seem daunting. Here are some thoughts that point the way.

Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School Assistant Professor reminds us, “Jesus specialized in asking people to steep themselves in the words of the scriptures and then to look around their ordinary Tuesdays to see what they could see about holiness and life with God.” In her book, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, Winner explores multiple Biblical metaphors that symbolically illustrate the nature of God. From such symbolism we gain insight to ways that we can be Christ-like. For instance, Colossians 3:12 NIV tells us, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Put on Jesus’ nature each morning just as you put on your day’s attire. Wrap yourself in His character as you engage in those ordinary days that are every day of the week. Be like Jesus, for His interaction with the people was not just on the Sabbath and did not happen behind the pulpit of a sanctuary. His conversations with seekers occurred across the tables of a meal, down the street around the local well, on lake shores in the midst of workday chores, on the road during travel, in homes and on hillsides, as well as in the congested thoroughfares of city streets. To be like Jesus, to love people as God loves us, we must wear our faith into every venue that we frequent. 

To be like Jesus, Christians simply have to show up. Jesus showed up in the hard places of human life. He showed up when people were diseased and dying. He sought out the poor, the widow, the orphaned, the marginalized, and the felon. Jesus offered food when the crowd was hungry. He washed feet to express His love. As Shelly Miller describes, “... God often shows up in the messy, broken, ordinary, complicated of the mundane.” In the foot steps of Christ, with the love of Christ, we are given compassion and courage to show up, to be His ambassador of hope for people who are struggling.

“ He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; 
and greater works than these he will do.”

John 14:12 NKJV

In the course of our efforts we’ll encounter people with deep questions regarding faith. It’s helpful to remember that Jesus repeatedly engaged in conversations with people who doubted His divine nature. But His followers knew Him to be approachable. Strangers knew Him as a teacher; ever patient, prepared to illustrate again, within the context of daily life, a new metaphor, a new story, of how God lovingly pursues His children and how faith can be nurtured. We can follow His example in the varied circumstances of our contemporary lives by being authentic about our own moments of doubt and our own committed journey to a stronger faith. Christian writer, Shannon Martin wrote, “...(Jesus) keeps showing up for us, often disguised as each other. He reveals himself, quite improbably, through humans who struggle ...”

Try it on, this garment of Christ. Perhaps a few alterations might be made, in keeping with the unique talents and spiritual gifts that God created in you, even though the composition of the cloth is His. Step into your ordinary days permeated with the variances of God’s people, wearing the heart and mind of Jesus.

Dear Lord Jesus,

You spent your life here on earth caring for others.

You reached out to the homeless and the hurting with compassion. 
You forgave those who insulted you and tried to destroy you. 
Seeking hearts found answers from you. 
Weary hearts found rest. You lifted up those who were beat down by life.

Your kind heart broke for the entire world.

May we follow your example and spend our lives reaching out to others. 
When we are tempted to turn away from people,

let us show your love instead. Amen.

Max Lucado

Lauren F. Winner, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other 
Overlooked Ways of Meeting God
Shelly Miller Blog - spirit-descends-like-a-pigeon/
Shannon Martin - church.html
Max Lucado, Live Loved: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life
Photography by Lisa Moreland