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Some simple suggestions for those who call themselves ‘followers of Jesus’ as well as all people of faith & good will. You can click here for the full Manifesto

Follow the Nazarene closely (He set a pretty good example on how to live).

Pray often and even more so.  Pray for the people you love, and pray for the people you don’t love.

Don’t build a big church Because if we do, then we will need to protect it and use up time, taxes, and treasure to maintain it.  Instead of a building try Being Church – and rather than building a new building, start by sharing your life with people as they are, where they are and they will undoubtedly see Jesus.

Share the Good News.  For what Jesus did is indeed Good and truly Newsworthy.

Make serving the poor the Gospel mandate it is (instead of treating it like a superfluous add-on)…make charity and justice for the poor a personal, close-up thing and not a ‘program’ in the church.

Give relief to those who are suffering around you and those far away (for we are all in this together).

Visit the sick, the locked up and the shut in.

Sit with the dying…just be with them as they transition into the next part of life.

Comfort the broken, the bruised and the bereaved.

Be generous and lavish with those in need and do so with your time, your talents, your money, and your stuff.  Share your house with someone in need like a teenager in a bad situation or a person coming out of the system.  Share your car, your tools, your garage, your apartment, your books, etc., because we are merely stewards of what God has given us.

Be reckless in giving and receiving God’s grace, graciousness, love and mercy.

Practice hospitality and be hospitable to strangers and those different from you (not just your friends and family).

Love your neighborand yes, I do mean the one right next door, as well as the one down the street, across the country and across the world.

Live your life as a fully alive, aware human being Practice being real and transparent then watch people see Jesus in and through your unique personality.  No stuffed shirts, smug piousness or the need to be superior over people.

Love ‘sinners’…and love all of them, not just the ones you feel most comfortable around.  Remember first and foremost that you and me are ‘sinners’ as well, which is another way of saying we are all wounded and are all in need of Divine mercy and grace.  Befriend people different from you and people of other faiths, and don’t do it just for the sake of “converting” people.  Jesus loved all people – truly, madly and deeply – even those who walked away from, betrayed and killed him.  Jesus had no other motive but to love people into the Kingdom, so put down your Four Spiritual Laws, your missals, and your Bibles and start being real (i.e., human) around people for you’ll be amazed at how much God’s love will flow from you.

Practice Common Grace (whether you are Calvinist or Catholic).  For all people are made in the image of God and God sustains everyone regardless of their faith or lack thereof (see Matthew 5:45, Acts 17:25-28, and James 1:17)

Practice common graciousness as well…don’t be a bully, smug, self-righteous or mean-spirited.  Just because we know the Truth does NOT mean we are the truth or always right.  Only Jesus is Lord and only he will judge on the last day, so save the judging for him and him alone.

Pray, even if you feel nothing, see nothing.

For when you are dry, empty, sick or weak, at such a time is your prayer most pleasing to God, even though you may find little joy in it.

This is true of all believing prayer.

“The secret of your life is written on (and in) your heart’s desire and it was placed there by God.

The time has come to return to the Journey.  Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, no matter what the circumstances, you can pick up where you last left off.  For you see desire is the map God has given you to find your purpose in life, to live the only life worth living.  For it is at the place where our greatest desires and deepest pain meet that our divine destiny is calling us.

Ask yourself what makes you come alive?  What makes you experience God and life most deeply?  Where do you find bliss and joy and the love of God?  Go do that…because you see the world is desperate for people who are aflame with the love and passion of God in their hearts being lived.  The world is in need for people who have come alive.

We must realize that God has sort of “rigged” the world so that it only works when we embrace risk as the theme of our lives, when we live by complete faith in God and with utter abandonment to Divine Providence.  All attempts to find a safer life or to live by the expectations of others will just kill your soul. And that is not life or living, that is mere surviving.  As the bumper sticker on my car reads, “Love is our Soul purpose.”  Find what brings Divine Love into your hearts and go and do whatever you can to share that Love.

Life is short!  Do not wait or hesitate for the so-called right moment or right time or for the money to come first.  Leap now!  Either God will catch you or you will sprout wings.  God is calling us out of our comfort zones to live lives of complete abandonment to His love and care.  Trust that the desires of your heart were in fact placed there by God, and when you seek God, He will indeed give you those desires.

And here is the kicker: don’t ask yourself how you would follow your heart’s desire for that question will cut your divine dreams and desires off at the knees.

“HOW” is never the right question to ask.  “WHAT” is the question to ask yourself. WHAT would you dream for yourself? WHAT does your heart truly long for?  WHAT makes your Soul sing?

With  regard to following your heart’s desire – a desire placed there by God – our “job” is to ask WHAT we would do.  As for the question of HOW, well that’s God’s job…so you do your job and let God do His.

“But You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate…and rich in faithful love…”

Nehemiah 9:17

God’s love is relentless; pursuing us to the ends of the earth and to the very corners of our hearts.  God’s love is a love that never ceases, comes when we least expect it, and is rarely, if ever, ‘deserved.’

God’s love is extravagant; poured out upon us like rain showers on parched earth.  God’s love is tenderness in the midst of our sometimes harsh reality.  God’s love is loyal, even when we or others are not.  God’s love is eternally faithful, perpetually abundant, and immediately available.

God’s love is the Love which shapes our lives and makes us who we are today.

And on this very day, I pray all of us will know and see and taste the goodness of God’s deep, abiding Love.

The late afternoon sky reminded
me of old,
worn out bones,
ashen gray but
filled with a holy spirit,
mine and God’s.
and it left me wondering this question,
if my life would be as much of a gift to those
who  have been such a Gift to me?

“Gratitude prepares a space for grace to reside.”

Jimmy, an A.A. old timer

I am a firm believer that the two primary ways that grace comes to us and enters us is one, through a wound in our hearts and/or two, when space has been prepared.

You see I know God is in the “Grace Business” for I am a wounded sinner who has experienced divine grace more than I can even recall.  But I am learning that grace does not force itself into me, rather I must open myself up to it, empty myself of all that is ego, then and only then does grace come rushing in.

I must be intentional in preparing a space and for me that space is created through gratitude.  Gratitude is a reality that claims that God IS and therefore all is well.  Gratitude knows that all things, moments, and experiences can be and become blessings when seen through the eyes of ‘thank You.’  Gratitude understands that nothing lies outside of God and God’s will for if anything did stand outside of God’s hands then God is neither omnipotent nor omnipresent.

Gratitude understands that in truth all things are present now, that I do not need to beg God for them, and that trust and thankfulness are the keys that open us up to the blessings of grace in all things.  Gratitude is about fleshing out my “thank You’s” to God.  It is about knowing I am only what and who I am because of God’s grace.  And let me tell you, I need grace, daily, sometimes minute by minute because the world wants to ensnare my heart, strangling it with fear and dread.

I have to empty myself out and make some space for grace and the space I need to empty out is where the ego resides, for my ego takes up a great deal of space.  But empty I must if there is to be any room for grace.  I am to be like Mother Mary (who was full of grace) who in order to be so full of grace had to be emptied of herself…as in when she said “be it done to me according to Your Will.”

I am rarely in the headspace for grace, but when I shift into gratitude, I am always in the heart space for grace to come and come it does: in ways unexpected, messily, tenderly, forthrightly, surprisingly, but always, always does God’s grace faithfully come.

For Sunday, September 22, 2013 – Luke 16:1-13

On the brink of losing everything, we see what we really have. We take account of the resources entrusted to us. In the end, what will matter? What will we have to show for ourselves? Are we managing well or squandering the wealth we have been given?

My brother, right now, is dying of bone cancer. From a place of physical strength and independence, he has slipped quickly into utter weakness. Against the barren backdrop of these days, I feel an urgency for what really matters and what does not. What does it mean to steward this property we’ve been given, this one and only life?

Jesus tells a story of a rich landowner who had given authority over his property to a manager, who subsequently squandered the wealth and was brought to account. (Have I yielded the authority over my life to other managers? Have I squandered the riches I’ve been given?) While he still could, the manager turned to others who also were indebted to the rich man and cut new deals with them, letting them owe less than before, thus endearing himself to them in the hope that they would take him in once he was evicted from the master’s property. In other words, he cheated and connived for his own benefit. And Jesus says he is to be commended for his shrewd action!

What are we to learn from this story? Aren’t we supposed to follow the rules, do the honest thing, the morally responsible thing, always and only? Here we are given another door by which to enter God’s house, a small, hidden door out back that requires crawling through on our knees. It causes me to wonder—would I be too proud for the degradation of this door, the door of weakness and spiritual poverty? (As the manager says, “I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.” What a fix he is in!)

Will I lower myself for the sake of what ultimately matters, even to the point of being called shrewd, even sneaking in the back way, empty of other options? Or will I insist on a final report saying how decent and appropriate and careful I have been, how I have managed God’s property just fine … except for missing out on the one thing that matters …. except for taking the risk of a life that is really life.

By:

Season and Scripture: ,

To see ourselves as we truly are—a wisp of love itself—is perhaps our deepest fear. But it is also our greatest grace.

If we are to be the new human, we must begin by embracing Love, which always seeks to incarnate itself.

Love is enfleshed everywhere. Everywhere the Holy One is shouting and whispering, ‘Let me love you.’ And all that is asked of us is to receive. In reality, that is our life’s work [to let God love us]. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

“In each one of us there is such a deep wound, such an urgent cry to be held, appreciated and seen as unique and valuable. The heart of each one is broken and bleeding…  An experience of being loved and accepted in community, which has become a safe place for us, allows us gradually to accept ourselves as we are, with our wounds and all the monsters. We are broken, but we are loved.”

Jean Vanier (Source: Community and Growth)

I was listening to one of my favorite shows on the radio the other night (yes, I still listen to the radio!), the deliciously soulful NPR show “On Being” and the host was interviewing one of my favorite Christian Irascibles, the Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber.  She was speaking at the Wild Goose festival and the topic happened upon her depression and how she dealt with it: she named it Francis.  I was struck by the hilarity and compassion that naming her depression afforded her.  When asked a direct question about does she preach and teach about her depression she smacked it out of the park and left my mouth agape.  Nadia said, “I try and preach from my scars and not my wounds.”

What gentle truth: I try to preach from my scars, not my wounds.

She essentially sums up Jean Vanier’s quote, the essential message of what it means to be a human being seeking God; that journey that leads us from our own wounds to the wounds of others and the beautiful healing experience of scars.

I love my scars, almost perversely so.  Some of them are physical, like the ones on my arms, and some are covered up with kanji tattoos of sacred text on both forearms, and some have been rendered almost invisible due to the aging process.  And some, well most, are the invisible ones , the ones that only God and I know about, the ones that only show themselves in holy moments of intimacy, prayer, and community

I am wounded, no doubt.  But I am loved.  The real struggle for me is do I spend more time focusing on the truth that I am wounded or on the amazing truth that I am loved, beyond words, by a God Whose loved is infinitely faithful and present?  The answer to that question reveals a great deal about where I am spiritually.

Our scars are the perfect reminders of this creative tension in which we must live – that creative tension of living between the “already and the not yet.”   I am whole, but not yet.  I am perfectly human but not perfect.  I am indispensable yet divinely unique.  I am loved by God, but I forget.  I am a shining example of God’s love taking place but I am broken and wounded and wound others as a result sometimes.

The truth is I am not my wounds, but I am my scars.

My scars are reminders of the place where God entered my life, and entered my wounds.  Each scar I have – whether seen or unseen – is a blessed reminder that God is right now, and always has been, with me.  Our scars are indeed reminders that God is with us in the pain and the healing, in the suffering darkness and the tender light.  God comes and sits down on the floor with us in our darkness and reaches out to touch us, to simply BE with us, saying I AM here.  Our scars remind us that even though God may not have delivered us from the the trial or tribulation, God did indeed come to us in Love, to be with us in the darkness and confusion.  I have experienced this Truth many times: when my father died; when my son died; when my mother and brother died; when all hope seemed so lost that I thought the only obvious answer was death…in all those moments,  God came.  And my scars are a reminder of God’s holy visitation.

Our scars are God’s calling cards, reminders of his faithful Presence, enduring love, patient tenderness, and infinite wisdom and power.

So the next time we glance down at our physical scars or feel the pang and tug of the unseen ones, whisper a prayer of Gratitude in remembrance that you may be wounded, but you are Loved.

The hunger deepens and becomes more and more insistent for ridding ourselves of the tremendous burden of pretensions. We long for relationships in which it is no longer needful for us to pretend anything. The clue to the answer is in the awakening within us of the sense of living our lives consciously in God’s presence.

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