The Fog

Most mornings, Monday through Friday, I get on a bus and a ride from my local park and ride into city where I work, Seattle. Every day, with the sun coming up in the East, I can see this view from I-5, ushering me into the city.
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Even on rainy days, I can look through the drops to see the Space Needle, standing tall just north of the city.

But today was different.

In a mix of changing seasons and the water that’s around the city, thick fog obscured my view to the point I couldn’t see past the bridge. I knew it was there, but I just couldn’t see it. It was then that I realized how this moment happens in our lives.

There are times when we have think fogs of life that try to tell us we are surrounded, alone, stuck, and that hope is not visible. We think about the fog more and more and lose sight of remembering the truth that there are things that we have built, there are relationships, and actions, and strength that we have to overcome the situations that plague and worry us.

But the fog is there. And it seems the sun can’t get through.

However fog, as we know in the Pacific Northwest, is not permanent, it is temporary and burns off as the sun reaches high to the new days potential. It shines in the sky and the fog clears, showing us the truths that we have- that we have foundations, we have friends, we have people that appreciate us and care about us. We have hope.

And that’s what I want you to realize today- the sun is coming.

The sun is rising, and while you can’t see it yet, hope is rising.

Stay strong, be vigilant, and hope in Him.

Be blessed today.

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Fix The Weekly Leaks

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 8.34.02 AMI was in the middle of the sermon this last Sunday when I heard God tell me, “Fix the Weekly Leaks.” I was like, what does that mean? I wrote it on the front of my bulletin and started realizing it applies to to BIG things in all of our lives- Time and Money. Where are you a little leaky? While buffer and margin are great to have and build into our schedules, do you find you are a little leaky somewhere? Maybe you could try some small change that could make all the difference. Ask some simple questions of yourself. Why do I do that? Could this be done better? By all means, don’t obsess- but be open to change- going to bed a little earlier, changing that morning routine, however that looks for you. Have a great day, week, month or year and
DFTBA – Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

Who was Malchus? (and why names matter)

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In the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Bible, Malchus is the servant of the Jewish High Priest, Caiaphas, who participated in the arrest of Jesus. According to John, one of the disciples, the Apostle Peter, being armed with a sword, cut off the servant’s ear in an attempt to prevent his Master’s arrest.

The story is related in all four gospels, John 18:10–11; Matthew 26:51; Mark 14:47; and Luke 22:51, but the servant and the disciple are named only in John. Also, Luke is the only gospel that says Jesus healed the ear.

The relevant passage in the Gospel of John, KJV, reads:

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the scabbard: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? – From Wikipedia

I have been thinking about names for a while. Ever since reading about certain names, specifically names like Melchizedek, Malchus, Onesimus, and others. Why are these names in the Bible? Why do they matter? why do names matter? Here are just some quick thoughts:

First, where do you find a person’s full name?
Birth Certificates. Diplomas. Wedding Invitations. Social Security Cards. Passports.

Why the emphasis on these documents?
I think there is a fair consensus that these are documents of note, proof that you are you and not just the third one in the phone book or in a page of search results. You are distinguished from all others with your name.

What does your name mean?
Mine means, “Gift of God,” and others I’ve talked to said, “Perfect,” “Town of the North,” “Grove of Ash Trees” and “Lives by the Sea.” If you take a sec to search on the web or in a baby name book at your local bookstore, you’ll find what your name means. Norway has a list of all the people named certain names and the trends as they rise and fall. Do you ‘live up to’ your name?

Does your name matter?
I think that it does. At a point in Jesus’ career here on earth, he takes a moment in Matthew 16:16-18 and John 1:42 and names Simon “Cephas,” or, “Peter,” both meaning “Rock.” This cross-gospel intentionality of both disciples chronicling this moment strikes me that names mean something. Think about a name of someone who just annoys you. Got it? Now think of all the other people that had that name that you associated that bitterness with and it flavored your relationship because of that other person and your relationship with them. Names have an incredible depth and impact that we can’t even see or hear or feel at times because we can feel that names don’t mean very much. In my younger years, quite foolishly, my friends and I used to play a game of who could think of the most names that would be associated with a trailer park. While we were young and silly, we were encoding names with stereotypes and we created biases that we couldn’t have even realized in the process. Names have that much power and more.

Think back to a time when you did something wrong and that person of authority used you full name. How powerful, how stopping and heart-clenching it was, when you heard your full name out in the open air, not on a form or piece of paper on a wall. It almost sounds foreign or incorrect sailing through the air with all of the, “well sweetheart, you were named after your so-and-so,” and seeing it on a form at the doctor’s office and learning to sign it in cursive. However, now it was a formal cease-and-desist letter from that person with authority over you. Playtime was over.

With all of these thoughts in mind I think it’s a little easier to think that God, God of the universe, creator of the heavens and the earth, knows not only the hair on our head, when we are hungry, but our names. He calls us by name. While I have no scripture to back up this next point, I get the feeling that one time in God’s world, the Father and the Son sat down and went through the list of people who were going to exist that Jesus would be savior for. I think he did it for everyone. I can see God the Father asking, “Jesus, here’s Ruby- if it was only her, would it be enough?” Jesus would answer, “yes, for sure.”
God would continue, “And David?” “And Sarah?” “And Micah?” Jesus would answer ‘yes’ every time.

Your name and who you are matters. God calls us each by name, this isn’t about a one-time experience. We all get the call, and what’s great is that God keeps calling us to do great things and accomplish tasks we could never have imagined.

I’ll say this too- I know that some names are hard to break from, ignore and bury because of broken, open, and healing wounds. If you had a parent or significant other that was terrible and that name is now associated with you, you have to carry it and it can feel like a burden. I pray that you ask for God to redeem that name for you in the amazing ways that only he can. Address the hurt, the pain, the frustration. Then say God, it’s a name, and this name hurts me. Please redeem it in your perfection. Be honest with God- he can take it- and he’ll listen even when you are shouting. He’s always listening, so if it has to be a whisper, sneak it out.

He’s listening, He loves you, You matter to Him.

Being an Israelite in the wilderness

the-starry-night-1889(1)I was driving home from a friend’s house the other day and it was later in the evening. Ok- it was dark out.

As I was driving, I saw a searchlight in the sky, and while I had seen tons of them in the past, directing attention and traffic to some event and alerting superheroes to bring their powers of assistance to the city’s need, in that moment, it hit me.

I thought back to a recent time a woke up deep in the night and looked out my open window. Silence, wind nudging branches here and there, and a sense of my single, island-likeness in the universe. I looked up to the stars and saw a constellation that I’ve seen so many times we’re like old friends, Orion. I decided to go back to bed that night but as I drove in my car, I thought of an version of that same moment that we might forget happened a few thousand years ago.

You wouldn’t think about it because it’s never talked about in church and it’s so fleeting a moment that there aren’t any recordings of it anywhere. But I bet it happened.

In the middle of the wilderness, in the midst of manna and quail, escaping Egypt and fighting into the promised land, somebody probably woke up in the middle of the night.

There, they got up, and seeing everyone else asleep, they walked to the door of the tent, and because desert nights can be cold, the probably pressed their face out, eyes closed, felt the cool air and breathed in.

Then they opened their eyes.

And because it’s always there as a cloud, you get used to it, it goes before you and you march towards it and you have this march as it moves mentality. But on this night it’s different. You see off in the distance, depending on your tribe, the pillar of fire. You stare at it, and while the coolness has been blowing, you can feel your face getting warm. The tabernacle is a ways off, but it almost feels like you are right next to it.

Then your name is spoken in a harsh whisper. “Come back to bed!” It was as if you had forgotten yourself as your brain started to understand the power you just experienced and how as you walked to your now cool place in the bed, how glad you were that it was for you. And then you would sleep.

And forget.

Or not.

(This is a fictional supposal, and not meant to be doctrinal in anyway, and is not backed by scripture in anyway)

On Losing Someone

1547626The loss of someone is a strange thing that I have been giving thought to as I recently lost someone in my family. While I miss that person very much I was able to tell them thank you for all their positive words of affirmation and that I loved them and would be praying for them. In that, I feel that there was peace and a sort of completeness or resolution in our relationship. Here are a few thoughts that I’d like to explore further on the subject.

Stop looking for a, “meaning in it all.”
I think to the loss of the person that passed, and I wonder about things that I have yet to accomplish in my life, choices I should make, things I should do, but while these are all good things to take from loss, it’s a mistake to think that this is the only location that you should be in when you have lost someone. When losing someone, you need to stay in that moment of grief and grieve. Too many times in life, I have not let myself go there, I have looked to these other things or like Spock in the recent Star Trek movies, chosen to not feel anything at all, and embrace numbness. This only delays the pain and discomfort that has to come when we lose someone.

Don’t be surprised if something hits you WAY later.
“You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” is a song lyric and a truth of life. You may take the time you need to grieve, but then, what seems like out of the blue, you’ll hear a song, you’ll go somewhere, you’ll be in the middle of a movie, and you’ll think, “Oh… I wish I could share this with that person.” But you can’t. In that moment, life will make the lack of that person seem bigger than ever. You’ll be sad, but that’s the point. To quote (though out of context) an favorite author of mine, John Green, “ It’s gonna hurt. It’s gonna hurt because it matters.” Because that person mattered to you, and their memory lives on in you. You are a carrier of their story- you can further the good they instilled in you, by allowing it to become your own.

God doesn’t like death either
I know this seems like a strange way to end, but God isn’t a fan of death either. In fact, while you might think of him as vengeful and angry in the Old Testament, Jesus got to a point where the thought of dying got him stressed to a point of sweating drops of blood. Then we see when Jesus finally died, God’s heart broke so much that he darkened the sky and made the earth shake. The pain of death, though, is swallowed up for the person that believes. However, while we can say that, and know that, and read that, the hurt still remains. The anguish of loss is something the God of the universe understands and is acquainted with. He knows it hurts to lose someone and He is listening to your heart, your hurt, your sorrow. Don’t be afraid to pray things like, “God this really hurts right now,” and “God I’m not happy that you took this person from me.” He is listening and he know that loss is tough, so don’t hide your pain from him- allow him to hear the truth, be honest. He loves you. You are not forgotten.

The best thing to do in times like these when it’s hard to think of things to say is to remember funny, simple stories that happened to you and to the person who is gone, moments where maybe someone made a silly mistake, or spilled something. These moments and anecdotes allow for people to remember there were good times that were had, and there are still many more memories to be made. If you are going through a hard time, I hope these words can help to navigate the hours and months after.

God Loves You.

You are not alone and you are not forgotten.

Who Is My Neighbor?

“I may repeat ‘Do as you would be done by’ till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him. And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward—driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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I cannot love my neighbor without first loving myself. But I might never get to that loving my neighbor if I seek to find all the eccentricities that I love and that enjoy and bring myself to some sad, profane nirvana. So I must branch out to the Savior to see how he has loved me. We are empirical creatures; we must see, and seek to know how we in turn were and are loved. That is how we love our neighbor as ourselves; not that we know how to more perfectly actuate these frail wants which seek to kill and destroy, but that we live to impersonate, replicate and the love shown, “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

In that moment where we choose to fall down the rabbit-hole of his love, to see just how deep it goes, there will tears. The immensity will be great, too great for words and worlds. We, too seemingly small are then found as daughters and sons, equals, loved, ransomed, and heirs.

So that now living and dying to oneself is actually pulling Heaven closer, listening to that neighbor’s story is allowing for more than a physical moment in time and space, but a meeting that might pull someone from the brink, or be the repair of one’s armor, or a wave to a child passing by, defending their innocence, we are radiating that thing greater than ourselves.

See, Hear, Taste, Smell, Love, Enjoy – LIVE.

This Day.

DFTBA: The Importance of Time

Made Awesome

Screen Shot 2013-04-22 at 9.42.30 AMSometimes life can get us down. I know because even though I’m down right now there are opportunities for me to get back up. I start by asking questions to look at the reasons that I’m down:

Have I eaten enough/too much?

How have I handled recent social situations? Well? Poorly?

How do I feel about who I am? Am I happy with who I am? Do I need to make edits to my life story?

Too often we feel that these questions are overwhelming, that while they might need to be answered in our lives, they are the questions that we will be asked everyday, by ourselves if not by others. What we need to do is see that they are not as heady and that we do have the answers to them if we ask honestly.

Yes, sometimes we have to change who we are, what we do…

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