GodSpace

One of my favorite authors has a new book out!

I was especially pumped about GodSpace before reading it because it promised to include topics that Keri Wyatt Kent has written about previously, in books which have challenged and encouraged me, while expanding in new directions.

Topics such as: Sabbath, Hospitality, Worship, Simplicity, Gratitude, Generosity, and Critical Thinking.

I was especially curious to see the big picture of how creating space for God connects to each of these topics from her perspective – years spent living and writing – knowing that I am particularly passionate about this concept and some of it’s implications.

I started reading GodSpace over the break, and I have not been disappointed!

It reaffirmed ideas I’m particularly passionate about in ways that encourage me to pursue living, reading and writing in a way that is unique to me. It also fleshed out inherent challenges in each of the topics presented, many of which I have or am wrestling with, and thus, also serves as a reminder that all of life is a journey. I appreciated hearing from someone who agrees spiritual practices are worth writing about, and who has gifts that are both similar and distinct from mine.

Highly recommend!

Advent 2017 Week 4

The last Sunday of Advent was a bit different for me this year.

I was with the toddlers!! We played Hickety Pickety Bumble Bee (a name game), sang Christmas songs, looked at a picture of baby Jesus and then made a manger-scene sticker ornament. We had very special snack with the big kids – cookies and cuties – and watched a very rhyme-y movie.

My favorite part of the morning was watching them connect the craft to the picture we had just discussed. They recognized the HAY, and the STAR, and the BABY from the picture and from the song (Away in a manger). They were so excited!

I think perhaps they understand Advent better than any of the rest of us.

When I told them that our morning was going to be a little different than usual, I asked if they knew why, if they knew what was coming up. My expectations were too small. I thought they’d say, “Christmas!” of course, but the wildest one of all responded enthusiastically and seriously: “The baby Jesus is coming!”

Yes, indeed, little one.

He is… He has… and He always will.

P.S. Jeremy summed the sermon up as because God sees and engages with people, so too we see people and engage with them. He thought our local UGM brother spoke well! If you want to get caught up on that with me, listen here.

Advent 2017 Week 3

This week’s sermon was a classic story that packed a punch.

The Son of God spent time with those who didn’t have a great reputation in the eyes of the religious. Those were the masses that you’d find crowded around Him. He also often had the self-righteous watching Him, and He had words for both groups of people.

To the outrightly rebellious, obstinate and ungrateful, Love runs toward, embraces, and bestows honor:

Let’s celebrate because you are here with me; yes, you; you are mine.

To the outwardly obedient, but inwardly unloving, Love still goes to meet and entreats:

Come celebrate with us at the party too because you are ALL my beloved children. Everything I have is yours, but I want ALL my children with me. Loving me means loving your brother.

I didn’t even get to the punch yet.

Which brother do you relate with so far?

I’ve been both at different times!

Here’s the punch.

THERE ISN’T A THIRD OPTION.

I know, it would be so much easier if we could just point a finger at one brother and say “well, at least I’m not like him,” but the hard fact is neither brother in this story is a model son.

Likewise, the church today is full of SO MANY SONS AND DAUGHTERS and sadly, we often spend more time pointing out our differences than we do reminding each other the Father loves us. Because remembering the Father loves even us motivates us to love one another – to actually want to spend time with each other –  celebrating together the good news that we don’t have to fear our standing with the Father and we don’t have to compete with each other. We are all invited in to the party!

-from Luke 15, full sermon available here

 

 

Two Women on Ministry & Culture

Hey Ladies.

I wanted to share two resources with you today.

One, if you or someone you know leads a small team and would like to hear from everyone about their experience this past year this questionnaire from Beth Moore may be helpful.

 Use it, adapt it, share it.

Then read this:

Two, this is a great article from Ann Voskamp about standing strong as women in the midst of a comparative culture.

 

Advent 2017 Week 2

GUYS, our guest speaker knocked it out of the park on Sunday.

Snapshot #2 of Jesus on Mission is Him interacting with a well-educated, rule follower. A lawyer or a teacher, one well schooled in the idea: Love God, Love your neighbor. Jesus first tells the man he has asked a good question and knows the answer. Then as the man, motivated by a desire to justify himself, the text says, asks for clarity on who his neighbor is. To this second question, Jesus responds with a story.

We are all familiar with The Good Samaritan, but often hear it out of context. In essence, Jesus is telling the man that his second question is “not the right question.” The more important question is “Who are you?” How the man answers that question will determine his answer to “Who is my neighbor?”

Fitting this season especially as it is so easy to pick and choose how and where and to whom we want to give, serve, love. As He does, Jesus reminds us that as we seek God, or perhaps as we become more attuned to the fact that He is seeking us, we learn more of what it means to be the recipient of love. This Love motivates us to love those around us.

Who can you love this holiday season?

To hear the full sermon on Luke 10: 25-37, click here.

Advent 2017 Week 1

4 more Thursdays, and the weekend before Christmas will be upon us!

I’ll use each one to reflect on our Advent series this year, described as “snapshots of Jesus on mission.” Sort of a “why did He come” question based on Luke 19:10 – “He came to seek and save the lost.”

Advent week 1 – This week we looked at the first ten verses of Luke 19 – Zacchaeus’ story. You know the song. I recommend the sermon. Here are a few takeaways –

  1. There is always a self-righteous crowd around Jesus; get over the crowd to see Him. Decide for yourself who He is.
  2. Jesus accepts every individual for who they are in all of the mess. He loves and forgives each of us as we are, no expectations. Yes, He has a message to share, but He also came to share his life.
  3. His acceptance, love, forgiveness and shared life rename us, motivating us to do for others what He has done for us. Who around you would benefit from being accepted as they are today?

For more information on this series, or to listen to the sermon, click here.

Now that’s gratitude

Tough post today, friends. My sister shared this with me. It was written by the wife of a couple that her and my brother-in-law knew who passed away this month. I felt so sad when I read it, but I share it with you because it also gives perspective. I encourage you to find the courage in your heart to read it and to allow it to remind you to be grateful for today.

Planning My Funeral.

Resource: Team Personality

Several weeks ago, I shared some resources for exploring your unique personality, behavior & communication style. I came across another resources that addressed the idea of exploring these unique styles within a team or community, so I wanted to share. Here is the link for a video that sums up a 4-part blog series.

I also wanted to ask a question “in-between” individual and group personality. Do you think that couples exhibit personalities? How would you describe or characterize your couple personality, or that of a couple you’ve observed?

Resources: Personality, Behavior & Communication

Personality tests. They are all a bit different and I’ve taken a handful over the years. I went ahead and compiled a list of the ones I’ve taken here, along with a brief description and some links.

If you are just getting started, I’d recommend the first two. If you find these interesting and want to read more, #3 is a discussion in how the first two connect. I’d recommend #4 for a work or team setting, #5 if you work in a church or parachurch setting and #6 for anyone who wants to learn more about communication and relating in general.

  1. Four temperaments – click here to read a Christian perspective on 4 temps
  2. Meyers-Briggs type – probably the most well-known, 16 possibilities from a combination of your preferences for focus, taking in information, making decisions, and structure.  Take the free version
  3. Temperament-Type connection #1 – Keirsey and in chart form
  4. Disc – focuses more on behavior style, often used to help people communicate how to work and relate with others – free version
  5. Apestministry style – free version
  6. Life Languagescommunication style, this is the only one I was unable to find a free version for

Which of the above tests have you taken? Which would you recommend? Are there others you have taken or would recommend?

 

Washed in the Word

Get Washed

The insights from today’s post are taken from a chapter in John Ortberg’s book The Life You’ve Always Wanted. They were an encouragement to me and something I’m constantly needing to remember so I hope this post will clarify some vocabulary and encourages your heart as well.

The phrase “washed in the word” always seemed vague and unclear to me until I read it in context in Ortberg’s book. The phrase comes from Ephesians 5 where it says husbands are to to imitate Christ who “cleansed” His bride, the church “by the washing of water with the word.” Weird.

I mean, I get the importance of the Word, but what does it have to do with washing? Ortberg boiled it down to the quite literal and it was a lightbulb moment. He asks why do we wash something and what happens if we don’t?

So often, we think we have to clean ourselves up so we can go to confession, attend church, read a Bible. Ortberg says the reason we come to God is the exact opposite – because we need Him to cleanse us! He says our minds our full of everything other than truth – dirt and darkness.

The effects of getting washed

When we read the Word, it cleanses our thoughts and our hearts. It reminds us to “seek his kingdom first.” A concept Ortberg describes as purity of heart or “a singleness of purpose and focus that gives consistency to [one’s] choices and commitments.”

In contrast to this, Ortberg references James’ description of “a life of divided loyalties” or double-mindedness. He contrasts single-mindedness as being connected to simplicity, while double-mindedness is connected to multiplicity and duplicity. He defines multiplicity as “ambivalence – pulled and pushed… we both desire intimacy with God and flee from it,” and he defines duplicity is “falseness… a discrepancy between the reasons we give… and the real reasons.”

These are the thoughts we all battle and he suggests the way to recalibrate, to re-orient is simpler than we think. It is not about what we do or don’t do, rather it is about bringing what needs to be washed to the only One who is completely Pure. As He washes us with His Word, we are slowly being transformed. Just like a plate with crumbs returns to its original shine when rinsed, the more regularly we dirty a plate, the more often we need to wash it!

Dallas Willard in his book The Divine Conspiracy says that people rarely think the God of the Bible has any relevance to our real lives. Either it is silly or incovenient or impractical or… there are few who consider the possibility that God’s words are what brings life to us and our world, and that therefore, it impacts every aspect of our daily lives. As a song by Tenth Avenue North says, “only you can make me new.”