Thursday, February 01, 2007

Super Bowling

So, I'm trying to get into a rhythm of posting again, so I'll just put something simple and non-profound out there...

How "into" the Super Bowl are you... a don't miss a moment person or a watch it for the commercials person or a just don't really care person?

Anybody have good alternative ideas to watching the Big Game?

Any other musings about Super Bowl Sunday?

I'd love your thoughts....

Monday, January 29, 2007

Pursuit

Pursuit

I began a devotional about four weeks ago at church describing my own history around Grace Community Church, a journey that has included each of the four decades that we’ve been celebrating here this month. I still find it hard to believe that so much of my life has centered around this church and the people of Grace, but this has been the pathway that God has led me along. Some people move around a lot- apparently I don’t. And that’s OK- there is something about being rooted in a particular place, with people. Psalm 1 speaks fondly of putting our roots down deeply- into God, into a community.
I know that we now live in a culture that is anything but rooted. Most folks change jobs, even whole careers, about every five years or less. Many move even more often. We get somewhat used to change and the general transience of things- change the channel, surf the web, move along, what’s next? Change is not a bad thing, of course. All growing and healthy things change. In my many years at Grace, I’ve experienced indescribable amounts of change, much of it quite good. I am definitely not a “let’s keep it all the same” kind of person.
But there is something important about putting down roots into a community, into relationships. In years of college ministry, I would see many students bouncing from group to group and never connect very deeply. They were always looking for the “next thing” or something more or better. I see that same pattern lived out with many church folks, too. We try out churches and groups for a while but move on fairly quickly when the shine wears off. If I could offer an encouragement for some who have been here just a short while, it would be this: Put down roots here- with people in community. Invest your life in others and they in you. It’s so worth it.
But that’s not all I would like to say, so please stay with me. If you’ve been on the fringes of things here, or if you’ve never really tasted what it means to know Jesus deeply, it’s time. When I read Scripture, I see words like “knowing God” at a deep, personal, and experiential level. I see truth like engaging passionately in a battle against sin in my own life and the world around me. I see a call to obedience that is nothing less than whole-hearted and frankly, quite radical. And when I compare what I see in these Scriptures to what I see in the lives of far too many who attend church faithfully as well as, all too often, my own life, I get discouraged.
I am an idealist by nature. I long to see things become the way they could be, the way they should be, even. And I don’t want to settle for a lesser version. And I’m praying and believing that you don’t want to either. A verse comes to my heart that captures well our quest. It’s in Hosea 6:3: “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord”. A simple reality has captured my heart and mind in recent months about spiritual growth. That reality is this: it’s about making progress. People who settle for some limited version of Christianity that allows them to coast along for year after year are missing the real deal. The quest is to keep growing-- in intimacy with Christ, in obedience to His ways, in cultivating His character. The adventure is found in simply taking the next step forward. That’s what I have found to be true for the last two decades of my life- when I moved from “Church-ianity” to deciding to truly follow Jesus whole-heartedly. And it forms the question and challenge that I’ll pose to you: What is your next step? How is Jesus inviting you to move- even one step forward- in obedience to Him? Will you take it? Oh, I pray that you will.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day Gratitude

On Christmas

As we conclude another season of Advent today, I am reminded once more of how much I have to be grateful for. We who live in this time between Christ's first and second Advent have the unspeakable privilege of looking back in wonder and awe at the marvel and mystery of His first coming, with all of its conplexity and simplicity, its joy and pain, and being captured by Him all over again. But we also have the courage of looking forward to another Day, another Advent- the day that will make all things new, the day that all the hopes and fears of all the years will be fully realized. Because of the First Advent, we hold tightly to hope for the second. But as we wait in longing, we have the joy of living in community with one another. I consider it a true privilege and joy to be in community with you- people who pour yourselves out for others and for our King again and again. So, while we wait and while we work and labor, we live together in His love.
I consider myself richly blessed to get to do that with all of you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Running Slowly- the Recap

So what I meant to say was...

Hey there,
I didn't quite get to finish my message this last Sunday am, so here's the content of the PowerPoint slides I had... enjoy!

•Consider your priorities
•If someone looked at where your time, talents, and treasure go, what would they say?

•Name your passion(s)
•What makes your heart beat fast?

•Consider Jesus’ pattern of life
•When you think about how Jesus lived His life, what principles emerge?

•Chart a new pathway
•How aligned are you with Jesus’ “unforced rhythms of grace”?

•Make a plan
•Try writing down a “rule of life" (We can talk about what that is if you want)

•Celebrate progress
•It’s not just about the destination but the journey!

So there you go...
Don't you wish you had heard that? :)

I'll see you soon!
Richard

Monday, October 30, 2006

What about a Sabbath?

I spoke yesterday in Kairos about the concept of Sabbath- exploring it through Creation week in Genesis 1-2, Exodus, and briefly in the gospels.
I'd love to dialogue about this with some folks, though.
What do you think/believe?
Is the Sabbath for today?
If so, what should it look like?
If not, why not?
What rhythms of work and rest are you pursuing?
If anyone's actually still reading my occasional blog, I'd love to have some discussion....

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Boss of Me

“You’re not the boss of me!” Ever heard those words tumble out of a child’s mouth? Usually they spill out after a verbal wrestling match of some kind- somebody is trying to impose their plans or their will on another. But then a limit is reached and a stand must be made. If kids could express their thoughts with greater eloquence, perhaps they would quote Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” But “you’re not the boss of me” says it pretty well, too.
And isn’t that the battleground for us all- from toddlers to teenagers, from babies to baby boomers to the beautifully mature (like that?) folks? We all want to be our own boss. We may be perfectly comfortable working for another person or taking orders from someone in authority. We may even prefer to have someone give us direction now and then. But the real issue lies deeper- somewhere beneath the superficial compliance or even the rebellious streaks of “Don’t tell me what to do!” Peel it back and what we find in every human heart is a flag planted deep and painted in vivid colors with a single word on it. The word: SELF. Our allegiance, in our natural state, is fundamentally to our own good, our own well-being, and our own attempt to determine our destiny.
Don’t believe me? Just watch what happens when someone’s rights- even our “right” to a good cup of coffee or to merge onto the freeway- get infringed upon. Try to pry loose from us that which is labeled “mine”. Draw a line and tell someone not to cross it. That flag of SELF will wave like a beauty queen on a parade float, just without the nice smile. Here it is. This is the battle that Jesus engages. It’s a turf war, and the piece of real estate in question is our heart, our soul, our mind, and our strength. SELF will not go quietly or without a fight.
But make no mistake, Jesus is not looking to negotiate a truce. He will settle for nothing less than a complete and unconditional surrender. Not because He’s a divine tyrant or ruthless aggressor, but because the rebel in us betrays our own best interests. In the pursuit of freedom from restraint, we make ourselves slaves to our appetites and pleasures. Take, for instance, our sexuality. Casting off God’s designs for us, we have re-written the manual to read, “Do that which seems best to you in the moment and, when possible, try not to hurt other people.” This creed has led to… freedom? How about millions of men and women enslaved by addiction to pornography and increasing de-humanizing debasement? How about layer after layer of scars on the souls of men and women who gave themselves away physically but can’t ignore the emotional emptiness? Or even the profound and devastating physical consequences of “casual sex”? Is this freedom?
No, God does not wage war against our rebelliousness to harm us, but rather to free us. Since He created and designed us, including our sexuality, He knows what will most protect us and honor Him. And that is why He gives us instruction and boundaries for our bodies- to keep us from harm. But He knows as well that we have this problem- we want it our way. We’re told to trust ourselves, to obey our own instincts, our appetites- we’re only human, after all.
Please, please, don’t believe that horrible lie. We are more than mindless animals or soul-less appetites. In fact, our greatest moment as humans is when we do the most sane thing imaginable- we give up. We surrender our lives and our will to the One who can be trusted with them and who loves us beyond our wildest dreams. The greatest victory in the human heart is when God plants His flag there and we find out that dying to our self is really living after all. It’s in surrender we gain the life that we always wanted.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Amazing Amish

I don't know how much you've been paying attention to the response of the Amish people in Pennsylvania to the horrific murders of 5 of their children this week. I have, at least through the media, and I have been amazed.
The readiness to forgive, the hearts of compassion and love, the demonstration of Jesus, actually, has been remarkable.
We're pretty quick to write off people like these as hopelessly out of date and out of touch, but maybe they are in touch with something many of us have missed. Maybe their simple lifestyle and single-minded devotion allow them to experience a kind of power that most of us can't really fathom.
Their lives have spoken volumes this week to the world. I know that we'll be on to the next story next week, but they'll still be living the same quiet lives of connection to God.
So what does that say to us? Anything about our own lives that use some greater scrutiny? I'm that much more convinced that the ancient disciplines of faith in Jesus are more needed than ever. How about you?