Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Romans 12:2 MSG

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Practice Resurrection Now

Richard Rohr, in his book Immortal Diamond, identified twelve ways for us to practice the resurrection right now. As I read each one I shouted a loud Amen! to this God of life that we are called to serve. 

1.   Refuse to identify with negative, blaming, antagonistic, or fearful thoughts (you cannot “stop” having them).
2.   Apologize when you hurt another person or situation.
3.   Undo your mistakes by some positive action toward the offended person or situation.
4.   Do not indulge or believe your false self – that which is concocted by your mind and society’s expectations. 
5.   Choose your true self – your radical union with God – as often as possible throughout the day. 
6.   Always seek to change yourself before trying to change others.
7.   Choose as much as possible to serve rather than be served.
8.   Whenever possible, seek the common good over your mere private good.
9.   Give preference to those in pain, excluded, or disabled in any way.
10. Seek just systems and policies over mere charity.
11. Make sure your medium is the same as your message.
12. Never doubt that it is all about love in the end.

May Jesus lead us to live into his resurrection hopes for the world – where lives are transformed and changed – where we experience victory even in the midst of suffering!

Pastor Chad

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lent is...

I can’t remember where I read the following…credit goes out to whoever it was in this universe that wrote these powerful words…I needed to hear them…I think we all do.
·      Lent is a 40 day season dedicated to repentance, fasting, and prayer.
·      Lent is the season of interior descent, examination, and reflection.
·      Lent is forty days because Jesus was tested for forty days in the wilderness. It takes intentional time and focus to deconstruct our denial, pretense, and posturing.
·      Lent is the season we die to our hopes, our dreams, and our agendas, to empty ourselves out that we might be filled with new life, see with new eyes, live with a whole heart, filled with God’s strength to live an abundant life.
·      Lent is the season you come clean.
·      Lent: It’s time to get real with God, to Fast, Pray, Weep, Morn…to let go and let God be God in our lives.
·      Lent is the season where we might be laid bare to God’s grace, mercy, and light. We are naked before God.
·      Lent is the church season dedicated to falling apart.
·      Lent is the time we rip our clothes, throw dust into the air, and cry, "Oy Vey." Seriously, we live in a culture of denial. We will die.
·      Lent is dying before we die, so that we might live.
·      Lent is when we lay things down, to recover those things which should never have been forgotten.
·      Lent is when we die to the spirit of this world, so we can plug into the Spirit of God.
·      Lent is the season for cleaning out the springs of our heart.
·      Lent is the season for spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical detox.
·      Lent is the season to Reboot.
·      Lent is a trust fall into the arms of God.
·      Lent is the divine interrupt you’ve been waiting for.
·      Lent is deconstructing into wholeness.
Come and be marked with the Ashen cross on your forehead on Wednesday night. Come be the dust you were created to be. Come dive into Lent and receive a New and Right Spirit!
Pastor Chad

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Being Healed

We hear powerful words from the writer of Isaiah…..

“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.”

The creator cares for the powerless. The Lord lifts us up. I don’t know about you but those words bring light and life into my soul. It’s like a drink of water for the thirsty. Good, good news for those wondering about God’s work in this life. God lifts us up! Jesus lifts us up. The Spirit lifts us up.

The Gospel begins with that Good News for Peter’s mother in law. Jesus is making Peter a champion! “Hey mother-in-law, I brought my friend Jesus over, he’ll heal you!”  And boom…..Jesus does. It says she immediately got up and began to serve. Wow, right?

And Mark goes on to say that these kinds of events go on all around Jesus because the word on the street is that Jesus is active in changing people’s lives. An encounter with Jesus….and you are changed. You are not the same as you were before meeting him. Not because you did something great or filed the correct request……I believe it is because Jesus simply desires to lift you up, to free others to be whole and well, to get them back to real living for the sake of the community and world. The God of Jesus desperately wants us to be whole and well. 

And Jesus…so busy raising people up….does exactly what he needs to do in order to continue to bring about life….he prays…and he prays…and he prays. Over and over again…the disciples are wondering, “Hey, where’s Jesus?” “Oh look, he’s over there praying again!” Yes Jesus is predictable! He wants to raise us up and he prays a lot! He wants to raise us up and he prays a lot!

I believe he prays a lot because raising up people is hard hard, hard work! Getting a human being to the point of soaring in life… hard hard work. Getting an infant to the point where they can finally walk….hard hard work. Getting a soul that is so burdened and weary by the ways of the world to not feel faint….is hard hard work. Talk to our doctors and nurses at Mayo. Curing and healing is hard hard work. Talk to our teachers and cooks and janitors and administrators in our schools. Raising up kids is hard hard work. Talk with people beaten battered and abused in life…work on feeling safe and trusting again…..hard hard work! 

Church….we are called to be about the hard hard work of raising each other up! Wherever that needs to happen….here…there…everywhere….raising people up! And we need to pray all along the way!

Peter’s mother-in-law is healed….not just for self…but healed into community. She is restored to the whole. It is a beautiful scene for sure. 

And sometimes it doesn’t look like that! Sometimes it looks completely different – completely chaotic – completely and utterly despairing. Sometimes healing doesn’t happen how we want it to.

That was true with my mother back in 1997 and 1998. She suddenly collapsed in our yard. Dad drove quickly to the emergency room. Within hours mom was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancerous brain tumor. She endured an extensive surgery just hours later. The next morning, about 6 am, the doctor informed my mother that she only had months to live. I had to tell each of my family members this news when they arrived later that morning. We were devastated.

Where was God in the midst of this? We weren’t soaring…we were despairing. We weren’t walking…we were fainting. What do prayers mean when this kind of news is handed to you?
Surrounded by the love of community….we did what we were called to do. We fought lovingly. We went to physical and speech therapy. We went to radiation. We went to chemo. We did special cancer diet programs. We got 2nd 3rd and 4thopinions. We cried. We laughed. We prayed. We questioned. We trusted God to lead the way.

Susan and I got married ten months after the diagnosis. My mom was there. She had beaten the 6 month prediction. Two weeks later, however, my mom passed away. The longest walk of my life thus far was from that hospice room to our car…I still remember the sights, sounds, and feelings of that day.

One of the many changes we experienced during that time with my mom….our prayers changed. Our prayers changed from cure my mom to heal us all…..cure my mom to heal us all.  This video illustrates what I mean by that……
Yes I too believe it is possible to not be cured….but healed. My mom and so many others have taught me how to fight to be cured, but even more so to be Healed Into Community. To be restored altogether differently. To see Jesus as the One who so yearns to raise us up that he goes to the greatest of lengths to show us that life and life will win…that death will not have the last word….that the church will always be the resurrection community that sings an Hallelujah! Even if…we can’t sing it ourselves. Even if….we stopped praying.

Jesus will not stop…Jesus will not stop…..May we never stop……May we never stop…..until all are healed…both here in this life and in the life that is to come. 

“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.”

God lifts us up! Jesus lifts us up! The Spirit lifts us up! May we the church lift each other up! Alleluia Alleluia Amen.