Jesus Stalker?

Bob Goff is one of my favorite guys.  He inspires, encourages, challenges, and cheerleads for Jesus. He reminds me of Peter Pan – a perpetual kid on a kingdom adventure filled with hope and joy.  He throws candy down to kayakers from a cliff above them. He helps orphans in Uganda.  I want to be his friend.

If you haven’t read Love Does, DO! (Check back in on Wednesday for an opportunity to win a free copy!)

Unknown-2

Bob spoke at the Leadership Summit a couple of weeks ago and asked, “Are we just stalking Jesus?  Have we just been learning more and more stuff about Him?”

I picture a psycho with a creepy room with a stash of Jesus pictures, and Bible verses with strings to cards with the Greek translations, and maps with arrows.  But then…maybe he’s talking about people like me who love to learn and can get stuck there.

Continue reading

Can you Hear Him Now, and Does it Matter?

It’s summer, the glorious Minnesota summer of silver lakes with brightly colored sailboats leaning into the wind, and cheery cardinals in my back yard, and fifty shades of green, growing as enthusiastically as possible before the all-too short season ends.

DSC00379

The other day I’m running.  And sweating.  A lot.  And thinking I am going to die (as usual). But I’m also on pace to go farther than I ever have.

I am scuffling around the east side of Lake of the Isles when I see a middle-aged woman sitting on a park bench.  She’s rubbing her eyes, looking like she might be crying.

IMG_2413Since I run at the pace of a turtle I have time to have a little conversation with God before I am too far gone.

God whisper: Maybe you should stop and ask if she’s ok.

Continue reading

Invitations and the Three Things You Need

I’m not that person.  I’m not the sell-everything-move-to-the-slums-of-Calcutta-like-Mother-Theresa person.  That’s not the invitation I’ve sensed from God.  Yet.

I’m an ordinary girl trying to follow Jesus where He’s put me and getting it wrong a lot.

But if there’s one passion I have, it’s responding to the invitations God extends, as crazy as they might seem in my ordinary world.

The thing is these invitations rarely arrive in a giant Oscar-like envelope with a red seal screaming “THIS IS IMPORTANT!  PAY ATTENTION!”

Unknown

We long for invitation, but sometimes we have to lean close because the invitation is a whisper not a shout.

Recently, Bob Goff wrote,

“Jesus won’t try to speak over the noise in our lives; love whispers so we won’t be confused about who’s doing the talking.”

Sometimes it’s a whispered invitation to stop.  And do something you’ve never done before.  Something a tiny bit scary, or uncomfortable, or potentially embarrassing.

The whispered invitation may come right in your cramped apartment, or in your dysfunctional family, or on the road to work.

The invitation might look like a Jamaican cleaning woman stranded on the side of the road needing a ride,

or an injustice that begs for a note to your congressperson,

or a kid who could use a mentor or a meal.

The other day I saw a friend of mine who responded to the quiet invitation from God to take her aging parent for a delightful afternoon tea out, giving her mom loving attention and a listening ear no matter how confused she got.

Here’s the thing though.  I believe three ingredients are needed if you’re going to respond to these gentle, holy invitations.

An eye, an ear, an hour.

An eye for those in need, an ear attuned to the whispered prompts of God, and the time to respond.

I guess maybe the fourth thing that is needed is a willingness to actually do the work of responding, but the element that I think is most often missing in our lives, the thing that prevents us from responding to God’s invitations, is lack of margin.

A mentor of mine always said, “If you’re too busy to take a pot of soup to someone in need, you’re too busy.”

I know, I know…in some seasons margin is beyond our control.  And maybe the person in need is you.  You’re the perpetual care-giver who, like Elijah after an intense season, needs to respond to the whispered invitation for a snack and a nap.*

Then do that.  Pray. Rest.  Replenish.

But whether God whispers an invitation to be part of some kingdom work, or kingdom rest today, which element is most likely to get in the way of you responding?  An eye to see the needs, an ear to heaven, the guts to respond, or the time to do it?

God, show me where You want to work today, and invite me to be a part of it.  I’m trying to pay attention.

*1st Kings 19

What do You do With a Crazy God Whisper?

I’m not a mystic.  I’ve never heard the audible voice of God, and if you’ve read read this blog at all, you know that being alone with Him, without any other people around to fill the silence with laughter and music and celebrity gossip has been an acquired taste.

But probably the most life-giving, growing edge to my faith over the past twenty years has been paying attention to the promptings of God through the Holy Spirit.

This may sound sacrilegious, but it’s kind of like going on a joy ride with your crazy aunt and not knowing where you’ll end up.  You think she’s gonna zig and she zags.  You think you’re lost and bam!  You arrive at the edge of the Grand Canyon – more exhilarating than any snapshot could have prepared you for.

Continue reading

When God Talks Crazy to You

There’s this homeless guy that I see many days.

He hangs out at the end of the ramp from the main highway near where I live.

He has a backpack and a cardboard sign.

He keeps regular hours.  Basically 9:00-5:00 as best I can tell.  Every day.

You know, like a real job.

This is a little confusing to me. I’ve often thought I should take the time to park and go ask him if he wants help applying for a job at one of the many businesses right near his spot.

I keep McDonald’s gift cards in my car that I give him sometimes when the light is red.

And I talk to him.  I’ve asked his name, but I can’t remember it.  Of course I sometimes forget the names of people I’ve met 12 times, but still, I’m not proud that I can’t remember homeless guy’s name.

Last Sunday I was driving to church with John’s sport coat and a nice black shirt in the car with me.

Continue reading

Three Words from an Inconvenient God

Don’t you hate it when God shows up and is just so darn inconvenient?

You know how I wrote about the book of Numbers, and God’s irritating penchant for obedience on Monday?

I didn’t like that post.  I thought it was booooring.

Remembering…obedience… yadda, yadda, yadda…

Well, the problem with writing a blog is that then it’s out there.  And then I’m more…you know… accountable.

Continue reading

Fast Fail

My friend Sue is a master faster.  She once did a 40 day fast.  Honest.  With only fruit juice and a very understanding family.  And she’s a pray-er too.  She truly did the whole thing right!  I kind of  want to hate her but she’s just too nice.

I, on the other hand, am fasting FAILURE.  I am just hopeful that when Jesus said, “WHEN you fast…” He didn’t really mean it.  I’m hoping that Matthew 6 is the “I’m just kidding, you don’t really HAVE to pay attention to this” section of the Bible.  It doesn’t really count.  It was really just for “back then”“yesteryear”…”days of yore”

Last week our church challenged people to a kind-of sort-of fast.  Not the real kind where you don’t eat anything and don’t tell anyone and you go into your closet and just focus on prayer and God and pious thoughts.  Instead, this was a rice and beans fast.  For three days we were challenged to eat a cup of oatmeal for breakfast and a cup of beans and rice for the other two meals of the day with only water.  We were doing this for two reasons:  to experience what most of the world lives on, and to contribute the money we saved to World Vision’s program for alleviating hunger in Somalia.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I am a cranky pants baby when it comes to any sacrifice in this area (I’m probably a cranky pants baby when it comes to ANY sacrifice, but I’d rather not think about it).
  • I get sleepy, headaches, and lack attention without my morning coffee
  • Every commercial on T.V. is about food
The positives (and I write this grudgingly) were that I was acutely aware of praying for our sponsored children who may not know where their next meal is coming from.  And it made me so grateful for the amazing cornucopia of deliciousness that is available to us on a daily basis.  I also thought more about where our money goes on a daily basis.
But the bottom line?  I really hated doing this.  I wish Jesus was just down with feasting and not fasting.  But, He’s not, so I’m trying to get on board with this.
What about you?  Do you fast?  What do you wish wasn’t in the Bible?



Spirit Stretch Friday and a Bathroom Scale

I hate scales.  They’re so….ungracious.

Like many people, I struggle with my weight.  Ten pounds up, ten pounds down, ten pounds up… (If you don’t struggle with your weight I’m not sure we can be friends). A discipline that’s become really important for me is weighing in.

A few years ago I heard a podcast where the speaker did something fascinating.  He asked 3 brave (foolish?) people to come up on stage and tell the congregation what they thought they weighed.  Then he pulled out a scale.  He asked each of them to get on the scale one at a time, and, you guessed it, each of them had said they weighed significantly less than they actually did.  The scale was the truth-teller.

That gave me an idea.  The discipline of weighing in makes me aware of how I might need to adjust my eating or exercise.  It’s pretty stupid if I make myself face the truth and then don’t do anything about it.  So just recently I decided this physical discipline might be combined with a spiritual discipline.

This may sound really cheesy, but awhile ago I wrote these verses on a card and put them on the scale:

James 2:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like.  But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continue in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.

So the other day I REALLY didn’t want to get on the scale.  I KNEW I was not going to like what I’d see because the day before I had eaten more than I should.  But I made myself get on the scale anyway and you know what?  I DIDN’T like what the scale said, but in addition, as I thought about the verse on the scale, God brought to mind something else I really didn’t want to face – someone I needed to go to and ask forgiveness.  I needed to DO something.

The great thing was that when I did have the hard conversation I needed to have, the person was extremely gracious and I felt like it honored God and brought our relationship to a healthier place.

That scale and that verse were reminders that part of growing in discipleship is facing some things we don’t want to face and then doing something about it.

Maybe this practice helps stretch the spiritual muscles of examination, obedience, humility… What do you think?  Is there a discipline in your life that helps you face the truth?