Thursday, October 29, 2015

salt and light

     You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
     You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. ~Matthew 5:13-16


The older I get the more I've come to believe that ministry is much less about what we do and much more about who we are.  I think it is intended to be something that flows freely and pours forth from what God is doing in the depths of our hearts and souls, not something we have to manufacture or manipulate or create--no contriving, no forcing, no holding back (Rilke).  I think that's why Jesus says that we are the salt of the earth and we are the light of the world.  Salt and light do not have to work real hard to be salt and light, they just have to be what they were intended to be.  They have to bring out the flavor of God within them, and illuminate the beauty of God around them.  It is the same with us.  We're not called to do salt and light, we are called to be salt and light.  Being salt and being light are the natural expressions of the life of God in us.  If we are living in union with God, if we are falling more and more in love with Jesus each day, it will pour forth from our lives and it will find its way to those in our world.  Everyone will taste God's flavor uniquely in us.  Everyone will see the beauty of God illuminated by us.  All we have to do is to be our true--God breathed--selves.  When we are not being who God made us to be--when we are forcing or when we are holding back--we are like salt that has lost its saltiness, or like a light that has been put under a bowl.  And what good is that?  So instead of constantly trying to figure out how to do ministry, from now on I think I'm going to think more about how to be who and what God has created me to be. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

being

I believe in all that has never been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me.
so that what no one has dared to wish for
 
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
 
If it is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
 
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
 
streaming through the widening channels
into the open sea.
(The Book of Hours, I 12, by Rainer Maria Rilke)



Within yourselves you have made a room, a secluded space.  You have built it by prayer--the Jesus Prayer or whatever prayer you have found profitable.  You should be more aware of God than of anyone else, because you are carrying within you this utterly quiet and silent chamber.  Because you are more aware of God, because you have been called to listen in your inner silence, you can bring God to the street, the party, the meeting, in a very special and powerful way.  The power is God's but you have contributed yourself.  God has asked you and chosen you to be the carrier of that silent place within yourself.
     In a manner of speaking, nothing has changed in your daily schedule.  So you attend all the meetings as before, knowing in deep faith and its accompanying darkness that you are bringing Christ, the Christ who prayed to his Father all night, alone on the mountain.  You bring the Christ who stole away from the crowds to pray.  You are now carrying him back to the crowds.  So you should be "with" the crowds.

                                                                                     ~Catherine de Hueck Doherty



Never underestimate the power of God that expresses itself through your own uniquely beautiful giftedness.
 
 
 
 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

slave or son

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received a Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. ~Romans 8:15-16


Lord Jesus, help me not be a slave to fear, but a son of God.

I live as a slave when I start living in fear of what might happen.  I live as a slave when I live my life afraid that I do not have what it takes, that I don't measure up, that I am not enough--that I am of no value.  Then I become a slave not only to fear, but a slave to circumstance, a slave to comparison, a slave to competition, a slave to affirmation, achievement, and applause.  That is when I must cling to the truth that I am a son; your beloved son.  You delight in me.  Then, and only then, will I be free.  Free to live as you live and free to love as you love.

Lord Jesus, help me to love like you today.  Rid my heart of all that is not love.


All who follow the leading of God's Spirit are God's own sons.  Nor are you meant to relapse into the old slavish attitude of fear--you have been adopted into the very family circle of God and you can say with a full heart, "Father, my Father."  The Spirit himself endorses our inward conviction that we really are the children of God. (Romans 8:14-16, JBP)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

the ministry of absence

Many years ago I was working for a month at a summer camp with a group of dear friends.  It was a rich and wonderful time in which we got to see God work and move and act in so many ways in the lives of teenagers from all over the country.  At the end of our month together, the person who had been directing our efforts spent time with each one of us helping us sift through the time together, mining it for hidden gems that might have slipped through the cracks unnoticed if we weren't paying really good attention.  As he and I sat together, talking about all that God was doing within and around me over the past month, he made a statement that has stuck with me to this day.  "You did a wonderful job," he said.  "But it seemed like you always had to be around, physically present, whenever anything was going on.  It seemed like you were only confident that God would work if you had your hands in it.  I wonder if you might need to learn how to trust God in your absence as much as you seem to trust him in your presence."

There is something to be said for the ministry of absence.  Henri Nouwen talked a lot about it in the book The Living Reminder, which I highly recommend!  And it seems to be part of what Jesus was getting at when he said to his friends, "It is best for you that I go away." (John 16:7, NLT)  It was in his absence that the Spirit would come and offer God's presence in a whole new way.  A whole new level of intimacy.  Absence was necessary to make space for a new presence.  I can't even begin to explain the mystery of all of this, but it does make me wonder if we shouldn't pay more attention to this phenomenon in our own lives and ministries.  We tend to think we always have to be present for things to go well.  I wonder though, if the truth isn't more that we actually have a desperate need to be present.  Heaven forbid that things would or could actually go well while we were absent.  What would that say about us?  We need, in some sad and insecure way, to be indispensable. As a result, we end up filling all the space and leaving no room for God to move and to act and to speak.  We've taken up all the space with our own actions and words and presence.  Therefore an emptying needs to take place, an absence needs to occur, in order for God to fill that empty space with his Spirit, his Voice, and his work.  Then, and only then, can we, as Henri Nouwen puts it, "Be the way without being in the way."  I think it is definitely something to ponder.

Monday, October 5, 2015

flourishing

Image result for olive tree

 But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.

                        ~Psalm 52:8

Friday, October 2, 2015

my cup overflows

What is the state of your cup these days?  What is it full of?  Is it full of chaos and stress and busyness?  Is it full of demands and expectations and agendas?  Is it full of fear and anxiety and insecurity?  The truth of the matter is that we are always full of something, be it something good or be it something not so good.  And this time of year it seems to be real easy to be full and not even be totally aware of what we're full of.  The reason this is important is because what we are full of is what will spill out onto those around us.

That's one of the reasons I love Psalm 23 so much.  It encourages us to make time and space to be full of the right stuff--God.  As a matter of fact it doesn't just encourage us to make time and space, but requires us to make time and space.  It reminds us that if we are truly following Jesus, and not just some compulsion to do or to be something or someone other than what he made us to be, we will be making time and space.  Just look at the language of the Psalm: he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside  quiet waters, he restores my soul.  So when I am truly following Jesus, making time and space is a necessity.  It is a matter of obedience.  Why?  Because it is through the process of making time and space--and having our souls restored--that he makes our cups overflow.  Jesus doesn't want those he has given us to pursue and care for to receive just anything that spills out of our cups, he wants them to receive him.  And they will only receive him if that's what we are full of.  He wants to fill us so full of himself that his life in us wells up and overflows to all of those around us.  That is what ministry is all about.