Friday, April 28, 2006

Mercy [for] Me

My last blog ended with a personal prayer to follow where ever Jesus leads.

I thought I might follow it up with some passages from Wesley's Covenant Service that always renew my resolve to follow "where ever." Phrases listing the possible outcomes of total surrender in opposite parallels always come to mind. Following is not a "I'll love you forever unless..." kind of deal. It's "I will follow PERIOD"

I almost always recall poinient passages from a Kempis The Imitation of Christ lamenting the many who love Jesus' comforts but FEW who love his cross. Any reflection here is always inspiring and spurs me on to follow where ever trusting He is leading.

But instead of words, however powerful and well-crafted, God renewed my pressed heart today with music -- specifically Mercy Me's "Forever and a Day." I was listening to their CD in my half-hour, Time-Alone-With-God commute to my day job. There was God's word to me.

"Where you lead me, I'll follow. Where you lead me, I'll give my life away. Where you lead me, I'll follow forever and a day."

Also they sing about being caught up "In the Middle" of God's Spirit and what He is doing.

Both of these served as way stations for my weary follower's heart.

Thank you God! You gave Mercy [for] Me!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pressed But NOT Crushed...

Paul was a church planting pastor. He pioneered the work of God in many communities. His words "pressed but not crushed..." certainly come from these experiences.

I feel hard pressed but am claiming the not crushed part of his quote. Very hard pressed...

After an awesome experience of God's intimate grace and real renewal among the participants of the Lord's Prayer Pathway on Thursday night, I was greatly let down by the low attendance of our Easter Sunday Gathering. It is hard at times not to focus on head counting and attendance when it is off your expectations. The service was encouraging and uplifting other than lower than expected attendance.

Saturday of this week, I received a call that our worship center had been broken into again. This makes 2 break ins and 2 outside thefts (a gas and an electric meter.) This time the intruders took all the sound equipment left from the first robbery. We had to scramble Saturday to clean up, and prepare for an unamplified and unmixed worship time. The loss is around $1500 which we cannot replace any time soon.

I understand, experiencially,what it is to be pressed but not crushed. Some of the assignments in the kingdom are more challenging than others. I also understand why Peter, when hearing Jesus say that he would be crucified one day, turned toward John and asked, "what about him!?!?" So I must also hear Jesus' words of correction for this pressed and crushed attitude, "If I want him to live forever, what is that to you. You follow me."

Lord, help me to follow you where you lead me, whereever you lead me. I'd be lost on my own.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lord's Prayer (Pater Noster) Pathway

Thursday evening...the meal is over...quietly they follow Jesus out the door and through the valley...up to the silent garden...he prays...

Most Maundy Thursdays have been for me a time to reenact the Last Supper of Jesus and his followers and the initiation on the Meal of Grace (Communion, Eucharist, Lord's Supper.) This is an especially meaningful time to feast at the table of the Lord with his people. Recalling his suffering and ending the gathering in silence as we take down the cross from its place in the worship center, strip it of all decoration, and wrap it in a black shroud and leave the place of suffering and death in the dark.

This year however, Lisa and I felt inspired to focus on what transpired after the Last Supper. There was a very powerful and profound experience to be found following Jesus into the Garden of Prayer. Lisa found a point of inspiration in the experience of David Drury with a Prayer Labyrinth. We simplified the process, and changed some parts of the event to suit our community of faith.

We created a prayer experience in which participants literally walked through the Path laid out in the Lord's Prayer. Each section of the prayer had a stop on this Prayer Pathway for reflection and active, hands-on participation. Participants travelled the Path in a small group from stop to stop. At the end of a time at each stop, the entire gathering recited the Lord's Prayer and then groups moved to the next stop on the Path.

Lisa did a super job creating sacred space for these 5 stops, with intimate candle lighting and appropriate art and activities at separate table/stations. We acted out the first Stop "Lord, teach us to pray..." and the last Stop, "For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." in a center section of seats. For more details for each stop, its activity and emphasis contact me at

We were greatly encouraged by participants from four different area churches. We especially are thankful for the commitments and comments of participants. Many found deep and significant renewal and refreshing during the evening.

I would encourage any community of faith to create such a quiet, reflective Prayer Pathway through which participants can reconnnect with the intimate grace of our Lord!

Lisa and I hope to improve and expand the Lord's Prayer Pathway next year.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Passover Me...

Tonight at sundown Passover begins. During this night, thousands will remember how God delivered them from slavery. They will recall the Lamb's blood that signified to the Death Angel that believers were inside. Only this kept death away.

Tonight, I will remember another Lamb. His blood marks my life. I am not seperated from God because of Him--only because of Him.

Tonight, I remember the darkness and fear.

Tonight, I will again live fully dressed and ready to move.

Tonight, I will determine to live as a free man not a slave.

That's how I'll be Passover Me...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Caught in a Current

As a boy I would swim in Blue Creek which ran just 75 yards from my front door. This tributary of the Elk River (aq tributary of the Kanawha, a tributary of the Ohio) was for the most part shallow and swift. Swimming down stream was not a challenge. Returning to the swimming hole after drifting down stream was. I know what it's like to be caught in a current.

As I look at the dates of my postings here, I see that I am caught in a current. This current is not of water, like those in Blue Creek. It is a current of time. And it runs as swiftly and as shallowly as the ol' Blue ever did.

I go 3 days then 30 days then 2 months between times of quiet reflection (or any reflection for that matter.) Swift and shallow, that's my life. Being a husband, dad, pastor, math teacher, master's student, home owner, brother, and son require quick strokes and rapid motion to keep a balance.

But sitting here frustrated and saddened by the fast pace and shallow depth of my living, I have just caught a glimpse of Odie's Swimmin' Hole. Even on the shallow and swift Blue Creek there are deep, slow places where the water is cool and deep green and the floor is sandy not rocky. Whether dammed up by someone or hollowed out by God himself, swift streams have slow places.

God, lead me beside still waters and restore my soul...