Jesus models for us a letting go of control, earthly power, and reputation. He empties Himself at the cross, trusting in the goodness and love of the Father. God intends that we follow the same path. Yet, in situations both the large and small, we find this incredibly difficult. Why? I have been wrestling with our dilemma for months. Last week I preached a message on this entitled: The Cross: The Deepest Wisdom of God. Afterwards, I found myself listing the top reasons why I, along with so many others, continue to resist the very thing (our need to let go of control) that is the rich source of so much life and power. The following are my top ten reasons: Fear. Is it any wonder God says to us over and over again in Scripture—Do not fear? Things will fall apart. That is true – at least the things that God never intended. Read more.
New Year’s Resolutions are traditionally approached in what you will do different this year to make life better. I will go to the gym 3x/ week (or, I will find a gym!). I will get 8 hours sleep. I will take a cooking class. Here is another approach to the New Years Resolutions specifically for emotional and spiritual maturity. Instead of resolving to “do” something, how about resolving to “quit” something? I will quit being afraid of what others think I will not say “yes” when I really want to say “no” because I’m are afraid the other person will be angry, sad or disappointed. I will quit agreeing with people if I really don’t agree with them. I won’t be okay with myself only if you are okay with me. I will quit lying I will be honest with MYSELF. I will admit what I am really thinking, really feeling, and what I. Read more.
Everyone has a shadow. Shadows are those untamed emotions and behaviors that lie, largely unconscious, beneath the surface of our lives that constitute the damaged versions of who we are. They may be sinful; they may simply be weaknesses. Most importantly, they lie concealed just beneath the surface of our more proper selves. You know it’s your shadow when: You are defensive when someone corrects you or points out your flaws. You are triggered by a person, or circumstance, saying things you often later regret. You act out inappropriately when under pressure. You dismiss others when they bring up a difficult issue about you and your behavior. You keep doing the same thing over and over despite the negative consequences. You are angry, jealous, and envious – a lot. You do and say things out of fear of what other people think. You become busier when you are anxious rather than more reflective. You. Read more.
Parker Palmer’s work on the seasons is among the best I have read. The following is a part of what Geri used with our NLF staff team this past Tuesday to help us anchor ourselves in Him. There are few things more important for us as leaders than discerning the season of God -personally and corporately: Winter is a demanding season – and not everyone appreciates the discipline. It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy. And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts. One gift is beauty. I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow. Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. But, for me,. Read more.
Bob Mulholland Jr. was a professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary for most of his adult life. His life work included a study on the “false self” as the primary hindrance that keeps us from loving union with Jesus (i.e. abiding/remaining in Him, John 15:5). He described his findings in The Deeper Journey: The Spirituality of Discovering Your True Self (IVP). I called him last week to talk about this theme in preparation for my sermon on John 5:17-19. We talked about how, like an archeological tell, deeper and deeper layers of our false self must be shed over the years. His list includes: Fear– vs. trust Protectiveness – fear of disclosure. Possessiveness – vs. letting go. Manipulation – attempting to manipulate those around me, or God, to my agenda. Destructiveness –using others. Self-promotion Indulgence – even in excessive religious practices. Distinction/judgmentalism He notes how the religious false self is the most insidious. Read more.
I preached on “Saying ‘Yes’ to the Wind of the Spirit” last Sunday, and had wanted to expound on this great prayer by Thomas Merton (1915-1968). I was only able to do so at the end of the third service due to time constraints. The impact on many was surprisingly powerful. So here it is for your prayerful enjoyment with God. My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not sense the road ahead of me. Nor do I really know myself, And the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know. Read more.