Friday, April 27, 2012

receiving me


At every moment you choose yourself.  But do you choose your self?  Body and soul contain a thousand possibilities out of which you can build many I 's.  But in only one of them is there a congruence of the elector and the elected.  Only one—which you will never find until you have excluded all those superficial and fleeting possibilities of being and doing with which you toy, out of curiosity or wonder or greed, and which hinder you from casting anchor in the experience of mystery of life, and the consciousness of the talent entrusted to you which is your I.  (Markings by Dag Hammarskjold)

The other day I made a bit of a realization.  I am still trying, in futility I might add, to create my self (my true self) each day rather than simply receive my self each day.  Self that is created, by anything or anyone other the God that breathed me into being, can only be false, because it is just a cheap imitation, adaptation, or distortion of the me I was created to be by the one who dreamt me into being before the foundations of the earth.  My true identity is bestowed, never achieved.  So my challenge, for this day and every day after that, is to stop the ongoing pattern of trying, in desperation, to create a self that has in fact already been fearfully and wonderfully made; and to simply receive my self (true self), in peace and in freedom, from the God who made me uniquely and loves me dearly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

psalm 62

Only in God, and God alone, can my fearful and insecure heart and soul find rest. All else, everything but Him, is simply shifting sand, shaky ground...temporal, transient, fragile. He alone is my rock, refuge, and fortress. O how I long for a life rooted in Him, built upon Him, where I will never be shaken. But unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that this very day—maybe even this very minute—I will be shaken, probably often. I will be assaulted and thrown down; probably not in body, but in heart and in spirit. Somewhere along the way today I will begin to believe that I actually am just a leaning wall or a tottering fence...frail, fragile, on the verge of collapse...not enough. Somewhere along the way today I will listen to the lies and start to believe them. Somewhere along the way today I will attach (the Hebrew word for trust means to attach) myself to something other than God alonea conversation, an affirmation, a conflict, a negative comment, an achievement, an interaction—and I will be drug all around the yard by it...knocked so easily off balance, blown by the wind, uprooted. And I will—actually He will—have to remind, and try again to convince, myself of the truth. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. I'll have to listen carefully to His voice, rather than the host of others that rattle around within me, and really believe the truth of His words: My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. And as I listen once again to His voice, and His Word, something will begin to grow within me—trust. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge. And with this I will be able, by His grace and His power, to cut the cords from all the things that I've attached myself to other than Him—the very things that have drug me all over creation—and I will attach (trust) myself to Him once again, my strong and loving Creator. Thanks be to God!


Friday, April 20, 2012

grief

For those of you that might be in the midst of some type of grief, here is an incredibly vulnerable and profoundly insightful gift...http://settlemonroe.blogspot.com/2012/04/grief-as-six-month-old.html 

They say that only one who has been there really knows...this qualifies on both accounts.  May it touch you, wherever you may be in your life or journey, as deeply as it has touched me.

Peace,
JB

Thursday, April 19, 2012

made in His image

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Ephesians 1:4 (The Message)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

I was sitting with some friends this morning talking about what it means that we are created in the image of God.  We were looking at Psalm 139 and taking in the beauty of God’s intricate and intentional design of each of us—not just our bodies, but our hearts, souls, minds, and spirits as well.  We were realizing together that each one of us began as an idea in the mind and heart of God—a dream, if you will—that brought a smile to His face and joy to His heart.  And as we talked about this incredible mystery, we began to wonder out loud why it is that if indeed we were dreamt into being by such a loving and imaginative Creator, why each one of us feels like it is such a distant reality…if a reality at all.  Why is it so hard for us to believe that we are God’s masterpiece?  Why is it so difficult to convince ourselves that each and every one of us is a uniquely beautiful expression of His power, love, and creativity?  Why is it so much easier to believe that we are no good, nothing special, worthless? 

I read recently about a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that for centuries was believed to have been lost, but has now been discovered in Florence, Italy covered over by the painting of other artists.  Currently experts are working—carefully yet diligently—to cut through the layers of paint that have been applied on top of the da Vinci throughout the centuries in an effort to get down to the original masterpiece; one that is the direct work of the hands of the master.  Can you imagine...a masterpiece covered-over...by years and years of other people’s splatterings?  Can you imagine painting over the top of a da Vinci?  Who would do such a thing…and why? 

But the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t sound so far-fetched.  As a matter of fact, the more it sounded like exactly what happens to each of us every day, if we aren’t paying careful attention.  Each day we allow so many things—the comments, opinions, and impressions of others, as well as the woundedness, insecurity, and pain of our own hearts—to paint over the top of the beautiful masterpiece God has created us to be.  His image within us—that was meant to be an expression of his heart and his character—has been tarnished and painted over time after time after time.  So much so that many of us have completely lost touch with the fact that we were created in His image to begin with.  What we need is a daily reminder; a daily work of recovery.  One to help us remember that, in spite of all the layers of whatever that has accumulated upon us through the years, covering up the beautiful work of the Master’s hands, the truth remains that, at our core, we are still a fearfully and wonderfully made creation of the great Artist of all things.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

resurrection

an isolated beach at daybreak
a locked room full of fearful men
a lonely road with two weary travelers
of all the places you could’ve chosen
that’s where you chose to show up

small, obscure, remote, intimate
in some ways hidden
in some ways unrecognizable
except by the ones that were yearning deeply
who were paying extra careful attention
those with eyes to see you
and hearts to recognize you
even if you are in disguise

what does this tell me about you?
about your heart, about your spirit, about your ways
does it mean that I should look for you in places such as these?
does it mean that I should gravitate toward places such as these?
does it tell me I should pursue people such as these?
does it tell me I should pursue a life such as this?

could it be that resurrection is a very subtle thing?
so unassuming that it can easily go unnoticed?



I'm so glad Easter is a season rather than just a day.  So maybe, over the next 50 or so days (until Pentecost) ,I will train my eyes and my heart to see you, O Risen Christ, in ways and in places that I don't normally see you. 

He is Risen!!!  He is Risen indeed!!!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

heroes

Who are your heroes?  For some reason I've been thinking about that question all day.  Maybe because I've run across a few folks today that qualify.  Folks that I didn't even realize were heroes of mine until I walked away from an encounter with them.  You see my biggest heroes are the folks that, for the most part, the world doesn't even notice.  But at the same time those that the world really can't do without.  My heroes are not the folks in the limelight, not the people with thousands of followers on twitter, not the ones that are always out in front, doing the BIG things.  My heroes are the ones who are content, and actually even prefer, to be hidden...in the background.  Those willing to go unnoticed and unappreciated even as they faithfully continue to do and to be all that God has called them to do and to be.  My heroes are those that are at home with small and quiet...and choose to give themselves there, because the people they give themselves to and the things they invest themselves in, while important, are not particuluarly the people or the things that the world would choose to give itself to or invest itself in.  My heroes are the ones that end up doing the things that no one else really wants to do, or spending time with the people that no one else really wants to spend time with.

My friend Rusty is one of my heroes.  In fact, I saw him just today...he was taking up money at a high school baseball game because the man who normally does it (another hero) was in the hospital.  Maybe thats why this is on my mind in the first place.  Rusty loves people.  By that I do not mean he is a people person, which he is, but I mean that he loves people.  He makes time for people, to listen to them, to talk with them.  He knows everyone's name and knows everyone's story.  And every one of those people that belong to one of those names or to one of those stories knows one thing about Rusty...he cares.  He simply has one of the biggest hearts I have ever run across.  Rusty is also a hero of mine because he always does the thing no one else wants to, or is willing to do...and he does it with grace and kindness...in a wonderfully hidden and incredibly beautiful way.  And he not only is content to do it that way, but actually prefers it.  He doesn't care about getting credit, or recognition, or applause...he just wants to be faithful.  In fact I could go on and on...but even that would seem to cheapen, in a way, the wonderful attitude and compassionate heart with which he goes about his life.  So Rusty, my friend, here's to you...you are a treasure...and a true hero of mine.  And I hope you never read this...because then it might give your secret away.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

pouring

     Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.  “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”
     While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
     Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
     “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.  She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.  Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:1-9)

She was just like any other young woman.  She longed for the day when she would meet Mr. Right and be swept off her feet into the romance of her life—a romance that was wilder and more passionate than anything she could ever imagine or hope for. 

She had painted the picture in her mind in great detail—spending years and years dreaming and imagining exactly what her wedding day would be like.  Saving herself for the very day when she would give all of her love and affection—all of her self—to the one she loved more than her very life.  On that day she would pour it all out on him, everything she had, with no holding back. 

That was until she met Jesus.  Meeting him had changed everything.  In him she had experienced a love greater and deeper than she could have ever imagined in her wildest dreams.  She loved him so much that she felt like her heart would explode within her if she didn’t find some way of expressing it. 

And so she goes to her room and opens her dowry; those things intended to be saved for her wedding day, to be given to her Beloved.  As she rummaged through the contents she came upon it, the most valuable thing she owned.  Giving it to him would be the only way she could even begin to express the depths of her love.  So she grabbed her jar of perfume and made her way to the feet of Jesus.  It was the perfect gift, the most beautiful and most valuable thing she owned. 

She brought it in the room, giving it freely and extravagantly to him.  She didn’t just pour a little out on him, but the whole thing.  She poured and poured, upon his head, without restraint.  She poured and poured until it was all gone; until the room was filled with the sweet fragrance of her love and affection.  It was a costly act to say the least, worth an entire year’s wages.  But in her mind and in her heart it was worth every bit of it.  

You have to wonder, as she emptied the contents of the jar on her Beloved, if somewhere deep within her heart and soul she uttered the ancient words, “I am my Beloved’s and his desire is for me.” (Song of Songs 7:10 ESV).


*This is from my book Reflections...available at amazon.com...haha, shameless promotion:)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

palm sunday


As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.  The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.  They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
~ Luke 19:41-44

 What do you do with a God who weeps?  Especially one that weeps over you and me?  He weeps, longing for us to know...to know what would truly bring us peace...to know the enormity of His heart...to know the depths of His love...intimately...the same way Adam knew Eve in Genesis 4:1.  He weeps because he sees the reality of our inner (and outer) landscape.  He knows our hearts.  He knows our pain.  He knows our struggle.  He knows our doubts.  He knows all of our ways...our compulsions and our patterns and our beliefs.  He knows all about what we really think will make life work...what we truly believe will give us peace.  And peace is so much more than a feeling; it is us, His beautiful creation, experiencing life as he intended it to be...the creation intent of God.  He weeps because he sees where our misguided thoughts and beliefs and ways will eventually take us...what they will eventually cost us...where they will eventually leave us.  He weeps because he desires all of our affections.  He weeps because he constantly yearns for us to recognize His passion...for us.  He weeps because he longs for us to know that he is the God that constantly comes to us, that relentlessly pursues us...all the way to the cross. 

So as we enter Holy Week, may we join Jesus on his way to the cross.  May we fix our eyes on his weeping face.  May we come to know his abiding peace.  And may we recognize all of the times and all of the ways he comes to us, both this day and this week.