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Out of Control

Life is constantly teaching me the same lesson:

I am not in control of anything other than myself.

This is truly difficult to accept sometimes, but it is the only way to actually walk in legitimate faith. Faith requires trust. It requires risk. It requires out of control circumstances and a firm confidence in God’s commitment to care well for my soul’s deepest needs.

I prefer to gain security from stable conditions, but no one is actually promised such a privilege on this side of the Resurrection. This early stage of our glorious, eternal life is filled instead with adventure. Drama. Heartache. Weakness. Failure. And don’t forget those surprising victories, breakthroughs, miraculous moments of provision and the peace that surpasses any reasonable explanation.

God is our anchor through it all, but we don’t get a pass on the hard parts of the journey.

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The Invitation

Do you hear it?

He’s calling.

His voice keeps reaching out to you. To me. To us.

Just listen for a moment…

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.

Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

(Matthew 11:28-30, The Message Bible)

Jesus is constantly inviting us all to enjoy his friendship and apprentice with him. He wants to teach us how to live more fully. How to break the cycles and quit wearing ourselves down.

His invitation is easily drowned out by the noise of life’s business, but it’s also the only antidote to that very noise. It’s an invitation to take a whole new approach to doing things…

Christ is inviting us to a more restful, quiet, undistracted life. He’s inviting us to a more rhythmic, routine, simple life. He’s inviting us to a life of greater fulfillment, meaning and contentment in the here and now. That is, instead of always reaching for the next big thing that offers to satisfy us.

Jesus is inviting us to prioritize relationships over accomplishments. Quality time over time getting tons of things done and living with a constant fear of missing out.

He’s inviting us to let go of pressure and demands, and to learn things like humility, authenticity, contemplation, and stability (the kind produced by trust, rather than by our mere human “grit”).

He’s inviting us to learn better self-care so that we have more to give to others. He’s also inviting us to bond more closely with others, and to learn and grow in nurturing community together. He’s inviting us to stick with the process, and to “go low and go slow.”

And he’s inviting us to fall deeply, madly, obsessively in love with him — for his joy and our benefit.

Don’t rush past the invitation when it catches your attention. Yield to it. His offer is the offer of eternal life, abundant life, ever unfolding within your present life. It’s worth following along.

He’s only got your good in mind… your peace and your wellbeing.

Don’t worry about what your “calling” is and how to fulfill it. Just come with him. Come to him. He’s got so much to keep teaching you.

 

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Slow Down

A Reflection by Stacy Bick

On my walk today, as I pulled at my dog Esther’s leash to hurry her along, I heard the Lord speak. “Slow down,” He said in a soft, gentle voice. He sweetly urged me to stop and live in the moment. To take in all the beauty of the creation around me. I saw the marvelous sky – how He creatively designed the clouds in rows as if they were rolling waves. Then, as I looked to my right, I saw a cloud in the shape of a heart.

Had He put that there for me in that moment knowing I was looking, paying attention?

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The Alpha & Omega

“And he who sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life without payment. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son.”’

There is a great temptation to imagine that we are the beginning; to imagine that we are the end. We are all the makers of our own destiny, right? Do we not control the outcome of our lives? Does not the ability to make something great of ourselves rest in our own hands?

To some, this is a comforting belief; to others, a turmoil. We as human beings want to imagine that we are in control. It feels good to think that circumstances must bow to me, to my decision. It brings delight to imagine that my word is final. But then in Revelation Jesus makes an astonishing claim, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

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Hannah Herum: The Kind of Life We Live

HannahHerum.jpg

You know when you first make an acquaintance? After you exchange names and pleasantries, someone asks the inevitable, “So, what do you do?” This question rules and defines so many of our interactions and first impressions—even in the Church.

I remember a time in life where I felt like I had no place in the Church because my answer to What do you do? was so unexciting. I wasn’t leading a revival, running a ministry or starting an orphanage overseas. I was nannying. Or working at a coffee shop. Or working in a high school. The feelings of inadequacy and insignificance rose like a tide and threatened to steal the joy of my fellowship and the fragrance of my witness.

But it turns out that it’s not necessarily what you do in the Kingdom, so much as it is the way you do those things that manifests the heart of God. Paul writes about this so clearly in 1 Corinthians 13, but we miss the essence of this passage because the tulle of wedding dress fluff often obscures our vision. We’ve associated this passage with matrimony, instead of embracing the key to authentic fruit in the Kingdom of God.

According to Paul, we can move in spiritual gifts, but if we aren’t bearing spiritual fruit, we are nothing. We can affect society, and accomplish grand acts of charity and compassion, but if we do not do so in love, it is altogether worthless. Paul’s words clarify for the believer that the kind of life we live is just as important as what we do with that life. As followers of Jesus, the end doesn’t justify the means if the means don’t reflect the nature of the Father. It is the how, not only the what that carries heavy importance in the Kingdom of God. Continue reading Hannah Herum: The Kind of Life We Live