Tuesday

this love of Christ, this grace sufficient

LOVE is my word, the one to frame the year.

I haven't thought of it in months. Telling, huh?



Reading the story of the Prodigal Son with the kids today, I realized I've never heard a lesson on parenting like the father who hikes ups robes and runs to meet his wayward son. 

Sure, God loves like that, but it's not like we can go around parenting children like that, can we?

I suspect not only that we can but that we're called to love so lavishly.

Lately, my heart keeps turning over the idea of truth-in-love. If I'm honest, I prefer the truth side of things. Being right and righteous. I love to weave an argument and close the gaps.

The ones who believe six impossible things before breakfast make me a bit mad. It's not the dreaming but the inconsistency. My mind whirs fast, always connecting dots to a perceived bigger picture. If A, then never B! It's plain as day!

Of course, this is my own inconsistency. I long to be generous and free, but my logic is The Very Best Way, how can you not see?

It's ugliness, I know. I hold it up to the light.

Following Christ is a dance and practicing faith a delicate balance. Truth without dogma. Grace and accountabilityJustice and mercy. Obedience with a pure heart. Freedom and faithfulness. Love that humbles itself and breaks every yoke.

I'm kind of rotten at it, truth be told. Quick to anger. Desperately undisciplined. Lazy in love.

But it never was about my faith or work but Christ's. His faithfulness sustains, and his work makes us complete. Salvation is the gift that we work out together, arm in arm.

At the end of the day, we're all just standing on grace. Wide and long and high and deep, this love of Christ, this grace sufficient.

It's all we have and all we need.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph 3:20-21)
Welcome mat and flag provided to me by DaySpring. Receive 25% off all July purchases with code JOY2012[Affiliate]

Friday

test everything


We do not belong to the night
nor shall we fear it
Quench not this Spirit-fire,
test it all:
book and sermon
feeling, message, proclamation
Hold it up to the light of truth
that maketh all things new

Be not afraid to wrestle, push
Live the questions
The will of God may not be plain
(or same) for you and me

Creation groans, and Spirit births freedom;
paths unique as hearts who hear her voice

The One who calls is faithful and he'll do it:
equip us to be joyful always, prayerful,
to lift hearts brimful with thanks
This is God's good and pleasing, perfect will

In light of God's great mercy, friends,
we offer our own bodies on the altar of our lives,
the worship of each breath sanctified

Let us be not conformed to any but Christ
His truth has set us free like birds to flight
Transformed, may thinking spark 
renewal, our minds first

We who are many are one
Gifted and graced, we belong
to one another in love sincere. 
Repentance springs from kindness most of all

Rejecting evil, we cling fast to all that's good
Honoring each other, we press on
to practice hospitality,
to bless and not to curse
We are not overcome by evil
but overcome evil with good

Children of the Light,
love the day and Dayspring
and each one as ourselves:
beloved, transforming, and renewed

like the dawn of something better

{1 Thessalonians 5, Romans 12}

Thursday

converted


If you told me you were vegetarian
or Republican,
I wouldn't try to convert you
to bar-b-que or single-payer health care

If you told me you were Marxist
or Methodist
or Buddhist,
I wouldn't try to convert you to my
episco-feminist-yankee-crunchy-postmodern-
Jesus-loving-ways

If we shared a pot of coffee
and a conversation, maybe,
we'd speak of books and passion
and trade songs of growing up

but I still wouldn't try to convert you.
It's not like that with you and me

When I said that we don't spank
and you countered, "The Bible says..."
did you think I hadn't read it?
(You never stopped to ask me why)

There was a definite conversion:

your words transmuted us
to you

and me.

10 books that shaped my faith



Sarah Bessey is posting 10 Books a Day for a week on various topics, and since she asked, I'm chiming in, but know that I am not much of a reader these daysThere are not nearly enough women on this list, and it clearly skews emergent, but is what it is, and I was who I was in my twenties when I read many of these.

I do love books, and I'll come around again. I'd love to hear what books wrecked, changed, and challenged you, too.

The Call to Conversion (Jim Wallis)
I read it on the DC metro the autumn the towers fell and the Pentagon burned. It was an early edition, lent to me by the director of the urban ministry where I'd just spent the summer. Although it was penned during the Reagan administration [it has been updated since 9/11], its timeliness was uncanny as I studied poverty and community change and navigated armed guards and terror threats. The country was racing to war, and I was converted: living out my faith meant a commitment to peacemaking and nonviolence.

Life Together (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
This tiny tome put to words much of what I experienced in Christian community at summer camp: confession, forgiveness, service, work. The necessity (and relatedness) of solitude and community. Finding unity. Spiritual discipline practiced together. So stinkin' good.

Fearless Faith: Living Beyond the Walls of Safe Christianity (John Fischer)
I read this as I worked as a youth pastor, and it resonantly deeply as I strove to equip my students to live out their faith in the world. It warns against '"safety" and subculture. He exhorts Christians to dig deep, make art, pursue excellence, love well, and live an integrated faith.

The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church (Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch)
This book blew me away. Both academic and practical, it transformed the way I looked at church and ministry. It dismantles the "if you build it, they will come" model of attractional program building and challenges Christians to go out and be the church in the world. Their take on Christianity in a post-Christendom world alone is worth the price of admission.

Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality (Rob Bell)
This is not a purity primer. It is a Big Picture book, and I was captivated by the story it painted, that sexuality is about wholeness, the putting back together of broken pieces. His vision is so much bigger than what happens in the bedroom, and it offers an especially affirming picture for celibate or hurting people. Its incarnational theology firmly counters gnostic heresies that devalue bodies or paint sexuality as dirty and affirms a God who is present in every aspect of creation.

A Generous Orthodoxy (Brian McLaren)
Transcending denominationalism and celebrating God at work among his people, this favorite affirms the diverse Body of Christ and Truth as Someone far bigger than anything one person or church could fully hold in hand or heart. It helped me to recognize unfamiliar denominations and other Christians as brother and sisters with gifts to bring to a common Table.

Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel (Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo)
I loved this one, too, and the way the authors took turns writing chapters and rebuttals was compelling. They peel back some of our cultural lenses and flesh out the context in which the gospels and scriptures were written. The chapter about the tremendous scope of salvation (far surpassing go-to-heaven-when-you-die) changed me.

Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time (Dorothy C. Bass)
This is a gorgeous book about a God who orders our days and calls us to faithfulness and rest. Its emphasis on sabbath and hospitality remain with me, and her celebration of the rhythms of liturgical year [also, Girl Meets God (Lauren Winner)] primed me to find a home much later in the Episcopal church.

My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers)
This was my first Serious Devotional. I read it in high school and most of college, and I still come back to it now and again. Weighty and meaty, it never failed to call me into deeper discipleship. It was written in 1935, and I didn't find a daily reader as worthy until I began reading Common Prayer (Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove, Okoro).

The Violence of Love (Oscar Romero)
This book is a collection of prophetic sermon excerpts from the radio addresses Romero gave during his three year tenure as archbishop of San Salvador. Romero truly preached with a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. His passion for justice, so rooted in Christ's work on the cross, shaped my faith and worldview considerably.


***

I'd love to know, which books shaped your Christian faith? 



Wednesday

to be truly free


"The church cannot be deaf or dumb faced with the clamor of millions of men and women who shout for freedom, oppressed by a thousand slaveries.


But it tells them what is the true freedom that they should strive for: the one that Christ already inaugurated on earth when he was resurrected and broke the chains of sin, of death and of hell. Being like Christ, free from sin, is to be truly free with the true liberation.


And those who, with their faith placed in the Resurrected One, work for a more just world, against the abuses of a repressive authority, against the disorder of human beings exploiting other human beings, those who struggle based on the resurrection of the Great Liberator, they are authentic Christians."


-Archbishop Oscar Romero, March 26, 1978



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