Today I Saw God
When my girls were small, they thought I had magical healing powers. I could kiss a scrape or bandage a cut and presto! It would be "all better." They would smile and go back to playing. Today, these girls are young women, and I no longer have that power. They spend their days working hard in places far from home, and when they hurt they're on their own. They're old enough to know that kisses do not work long distance, only in person.
I'm grateful that my girls know that Christ can be such a person, thanks to Sunday school teachers, worship leaders, mentors and pastors. Thank goodness, because the world my kids navigate is very different from the one I grew up in. It's different, even, than the one they knew as children. Today, it seems, there is more shouting and posturing, more blatant hatred and prejudice, and more evident disrespect for persons and planet on a global scale. Nearly everywhere there is rubble, covered in dust.
This is the world my children have inherited from me, and the world I receive today in news, navigation and neighborhood. So many dusty images flood my mind, of collapse and heartbreak, earthquake and explosion, fire and flood, with medics and rescue personnel searching desperately for survivors.
In Mexico City recently, the collapse of buildings brought rescue efforts to the scene of a school. Oh children, especially children the weakest, youngest and most promising among us bid us to pause hoping, waiting, listening, praying.
How in the midst of all of our commotion can we hear a tiny cry, barely a breath? But when together we pause and a hush falls, we do hear it. Then suddenly there is furious digging, hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder, cobbling through earth and stone and rubble to reach the tiny one before it's too late.
Shovelfuls of earth yield to hands which brush away dirt and debris as the small, still form is lifted to safety. Silence doesn't dare hope. But suddenly, there are shouts: "The child is alive!" Oh, such cheering and joy must reach through tear-stained cheeks to the very ears of God. Out of the dust there is life.
Hope is there when brother acknowledges brother, father welcomes son, and foe becomes friend. When we all gather with one cause, one intention, and one mission, our hopes are realized. We do this for our children, for all children.
"Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings." (Isaiah 58:12)
The business of rebuilding the ancient foundations falls to us. We will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings. Dwellings where our children can raise their children, with loving care tendered to kiss scraped knees, and all children can play together.
Lord, thank you for the resilience and tenacity of children. Help us to love them well by providing sturdy support and a firm foundation on which they can build.
I am alone the majority of my time and yet I struggle to find silence.
Or perhaps it would be more accurate if I said I struggle toallowsilence.
When I say silence, I am not referring to the complete absence of sound. My house is quiet most of the day, often eerily so. I am defining silence in this case as a refuge from the onslaught of words, images, input from the outside world. I am constantly connected, a slave to the next ping or vibration indicating someone, somewhere has something to say to me.
To be completely honest, I am addicted to my phone.
I don't use the word addiction lightly. I grew up with an addicted parent. Our home was blown apart by the hold alcohol had on my father's life. Addiction is a devil, a slave master, an insidious seducer. But if you define addiction as a "compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences," then my relationship with my phone could be characterized by the word addiction.
In the interest of full disclosure, I get antsy and nervous when I am away from my phone or I haven't checked it lately. I think about wanting to check it when I am in the midst of something else. I reach for it compulsively at stop lights, in the grocery store line, or when my dinner companion steps away from the table at a restaurant. I move it from room to room with me throughout my day, afraid to miss something important.
The greatest consequence of my relationship with my phone is my inability to sit with silence, to rest with my thoughts, to daydream and imagine, to listen for the voice of God. My constant connection to my phone and all the lovely bells and whistles it provides gets in the way of my ability to tune in to my best self, the part of me connected to the Holy Spirit. My constant connection to my phone gets in the way of my ability to hear the voice of God.
On my coaching journey, both my work with my own coach and the time I spend with my clients, I am learning to ask two good questions repeatedly:
- Who do I want to be?
- What will I do differently?
I want to BE a person who is connected to the Holy Spirit, who recognizes the quiet whispers of God, who is in tune with my creativity, imagination and inspiration. I want to be a person who is constantly learning new things, reading good books and connecting with the people I love. I want to be fully present in each moment, neither tethered to the past or worried about the future.
A couple of weeks ago in church, Pastor Tom delivered a beautiful sermon about listening to God. He talked about the value of pursuing silence as a practice and highlighted the Christian traditions of centering prayer as a way to connect with God. He challenged us to spend 20 minutes in silence seeking God and see what happened. After church that Sunday, I took a walk in the woods and put my phone on Do Not Disturb and turned off my music. I resisted the urge to chatter at God, deciding instead to just listen and enjoy the beautiful day. It was alternately difficult and wonderful, but God was gracious with me while I settled down. Since that day, I have been playing with this practice and have become increasingly curious about the gifts to be found in intentionally choosing to pursue silence on a regular basis.
In order to be the person I want to be, I sometimes need to do some things differently. Now the question is this: what am I willing to do to be a person who listens to God?
Can anyone relate? Does anyone else have a less than healthy relationship with their phone, tablet or computer? Is anyone else struggling to find a balance as we enjoy the miracles of twenty-first century communication?
Originally published on www.kellyiveyjohnson.com
I was born kinesthetic.Not until some time later did I realize I had God to thank for that. Not until I came to know Jesus did I realize I had to do something about it.
Several Washington Nationals players drove this home for me during the post- game celebration of Faith Day at Nats Park. There, a group of professional baseball players who had just slugged it out for an awesome nine innings, sauntered over in street clothes to talk with us about God, Jesus and baseball.
Great combination, huh?
I like to say (and even write :)) that I'm a Kinesthetic Christian, but these guys take this to a totally new level. They're way better at being kinesthetic than I am. They've certainly made WAY more of their gift than I have made of mine.
Yet, one by one, they share honest stories of struggle in the midst of their exceedingly successful careers in baseball one via relationship, one due to injury and one in a dire crisis of confidence. When these guys thought they had finally "arrived," the bottom fell out. Forced to give up what they had always dreamed about, a door opened to something they hadn't known was missing. That's when faith took hold.
Murphy calls it filling a "Jesus-shaped hole." And he is candid about speaking not just about God but about Jesus. His savior is Jesus; he'll say it again, Jesus. Because, says Murphy, "Jesus demands a response."
Wow. I can get on board with that. God has a lot of names these days and shows up in a lot of places. But Jesus, now that guy makes demands. If you follow Jesus, he shows up and then asks, What are you gonna do about me?!
Over the weekend, the major league ball players wore youth-style jerseys with a spot on the sleeve to write the name of a person who has aided their career. Murph wore "JESUS." He's proclaiming the name all over the tv screen, because Murph is all over the tv screen. For his time in the spotlight Daniel Murphy's got a platform, and he plans on using it. During his turn in the batter's box he makes plain that he is a Christian and is doing his darnedest to be a good representative of the family tree.
God made him a good baseball player. Jesus demands a response.
All three ball players who were interviewed by Nats commentator Bob Carpenter confessed that it's never easy in the "Big Leagues." Here, as celebrated athletes at the top of their profession, they bubble in a daily cauldron of nearly unimaginable pressure Perform now. The game, the season, your career is on the line. Talk about tension!
They have discovered the secret to tension. "There's more to life than baseballWe need to be a light to all the others."
Oh, what a welcome message that is to hear.As an avid sports fan and regular contestant, I confess that I cringe every time I hear an interview with a winning athlete that goes something like this:
Interviewer: "So what is your advice to young players who want to play pro ball?"
Athlete: "You just have to believe in yourself and never give up."
NO!!! I want to holler back. Believing in yourself, even with the grittiest of discipline, will only get you so far. To get the rest of the way, you have to surrender. Surrender success, achievements, medals, trophies, and even the World Series ring. Give it all to God. Then, when you can subsist on what's left after giving up all that, Jesus meets us, ad it's the best thing ever. Better than we could have ever planned, imagined, or dreamed.
God doesn't want our trophies; God wants us.
This is the message these ballplayers are trying to live out. Wieters, Rendon and Murphy, plus Goodwin, Drew, Taylor, Lobaton and NY Met, Brendan Nimmo, are here to let us know it.
I'm looking at you guys through different eyes now. You take kinesthetic to a whole new level, and its good, very good. I hope it takes you all the way this year because really, what would God do with a World Series ring, anyway?
It was a great game. It had me on my feet a lot, and I'm making no apologies for that. It's just the way I'm wired. When I see a great play, I'm on my feet. Throw a guy out from center, peg a guy out from third, make a diving grab, homer, RBI, strike them out I'm up! Clapping. Hollering. I can't help it; I'm kinesthetic. I was born that way.
So now I am asking myself Why am I not on my feet when my pastor hits one out of the park? When God makes a great play, why am I satisfied to applaud politely from my pew? What if I were as enthusiastic about my faith as I am about my favorite team?
Thank you for speaking up, Matt, Anthony, Murph and friends.God may speak with a still, small voice, but Jesus demands a response.You are living yours out in front of us. Thank you for reminding me that I must live out mine.
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
I always have more willpower during Lent. I used to look forward to its coming and think, okay what am I doing that I really should get under control? Then I'd "give it up for Lent." One year it was dessert. Another year, peanut m&m's. Then it was Starbucks coffee. And I could do it! Somehow, during Lent, I could wield God's willpower when mine was insufficient – but only for 40 days. Almost as if Lent was a trial period. 'Try God's willpower for 40 days. If not completely satisfied return it on Easter for a full refund.'
So, why can't I sustain this willpower the rest of the year? Because it is Holy; it belongs to God. During Lent I don't just give it up, but I give it up to God, and He shows me what His power can do. By His Spirit He demonstrates what a little bit of Holy feels like in my body and my soul. At my invitation, God is not just in my general vicinity, or in my community, or hanging around in case I should need Him, but He is in me. I am a walking, breathing Temple of the living God.
And then scripture says, "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person." Whoa, that's protection. It feels good until I think what if I am the one tearing down the temple? How do I treat the temple for the rest of my 325 days?
Here's what I know: God doesn't leave me on day 41. He just leaves me to consider that, if I have let Christ in, then whatever I do to me, I do to God. Whatever I do for me, I do for God. As Oswald Chambers puts it, "I must decide whether or not I will agree with my Lord and Master that my body will indeed be His Temple." Every day, all year long.
It is here that scripture makes its appeal, "brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritualworship. (Romans 12:1)
In this is the wisdom of Lent. It may feel like God's trial period with a money back guarantee. But I see it more as a chance to participate in the building of an indestructible Temple, the Holiest of all places, a life centered in Christ. Not by the power of my will but according to the will of the Father. It comes with a lifetime guarantee.
I cannot believe how fast time is moving. We only have a couple of weeks until Easter! In these weeks there will be exciting and meaningful opportunities for worship during services at our church.
First of all, for this Sunday, we have a guest musician and composer, Pepper Choplin . Our two previous Christmas cantatas were his works, and we have sung many of his songs. He will share special music as an offertory at the 9:15 AM and 11:00AM services and direct the choir at the 11:00 AM service. He currently serves as a music minister at Greystone Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. The choir has been preparing one of his recent compositions, "Lord, Have Mercy" as an anthem. I am looking forward to singing with him during the service.
Second, we will have a beautiful handbell anthem, "The Holy City" on Palm Sunday at the 11:00 AM service, and Call to Harmony will sing a song of meditation for the coming Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday, we will have an opportunity to participate in a special service with praising music and communion to remember Jesus at his Last Supper. On Good Friday our Lenten Cantata will be sung at the 7:30 PM service. This cantata features the last seven words that Jesus said on the cross, set to dramatic music. We pray that we all have time to deeply think about Jesus on the cross through that worship service.
Then, at last, on Easter morning we will have a Sunrise service at 6:00 AM, and three traditional music worship services in the morning. As I mentioned in our bulletin, we will sing "Hallelujah" on Easter morning at all three traditional worship services. If you want to join the choir on Easter, please come on Wednesday, March 27 at 7:30 PM for rehearsal. We will go over two beautiful Easter anthems at that time.
We have prepared these worshipful moments to glorify God with our talents. We pray that we can be used as tools to show His endless love and grace toward others. Please invite your family, friends, and neighbors to these services and join us in prayer that we do everything for God's glory.