A teacher of the Word I highly admired shared a story from early in his ministry. He was leading a student group while finishing up his post-grad studies. God had brought favor on his ministry and good things were happening. He had a radical dependence on the Spirit through all the work.
One night late he was feeling the pressure of the grad work and leading the ministry. He felt the burden and thought, “I just can’t take this. Where is God?”
In that moment he testified that the presence of God seemed to lift up off him and his shoulder felt an unimaginable weight come down. He knew what was going on. The Lord was lifting up his presence so he could see just what kind of “burden” he was carrying. He realized it was the Lord who was holding off so much more pressure.
The leader quickly prayed, “Lord, forgive me! This is your work!”
I have so deeply admired over the years great leaders who have led the way in showing their thirst for God… their dependency on God.
How I need to thirst! I need a thirst like none other for the presence of God. There is a stirring happening in my heart and I need to cry out, “Lord! Don’t let it stop now!”
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water. (Ps. 63:1)
May our hearts cry out!
The latest hashtag movement:
Just like #bringbackourgirls and Kony and whatever else… it will fade away and people will go back to their normal routines and nothing will be done. (NOTE: Kony wasn’t brought down by a hashtag.)
Here is how “journalists” can honor the two killed live on TV (and I’m not going to quit using quotes or air quotes until we get some real journalists back in the media):
- They could quit defaulting to the simple mantra of gun control. YES, it’s a discussion, but it’s not the ONLY discussion, and the panacea of “no guns” is utter foolishness.
- They could decide to do more stories on mental health, mental health laws, adult mental health issues, reporting adults with mental health problems, and highlighting organizations that are doing more to help in the mental health area.
- They would decide to quit sitting at their computer terminals and following what is trending on Twitter and get their butts in the streets to actually do, you know, reporting. Find the story.
- They would refuse to allow blow hards to set the agenda for what headlines the evening broadcast and instead ask the blow hard a hard question in return and not stop until a real answer is given.
- They would quit reporting weather as “breaking news.” And put it back into a 30 second segment it deserves way at the end of the newscast.
- They would quit flashing “BREAKING NEWS” on EVERY broadcast. It’s foolishness.
Don’t stop with a stupid hashtag. Get out and revive your profession! Make it MEAN something. That would bring honor to two people who gave their lives for a mad man wanting more Facebook hits.
I read passages like this:
The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mark 1:22)
and I think, “I sure wish I had those notes! WHAT did he say to get people to respond in this manner?”
The Cultivated Life by Susan Phillips just came to me as a book club purchase from IVP Book Club. I sat down with this book and devoured it. Through the reading I felt I was able to begin breathing again.
The first metaphor she dealt with was precisely my life, and our lives in the American culture: it’s a circus. We are consumed by media. We think we have control… but we don’t. It may not be TV anymore, but it’s social media that replaces it. It’s the earphones over the ears so we can blast music as distraction… it’s a constant humming that has been cultivated into our lives.
It’s not even a matter of observing. We now have the temptation to BECOME the story. We want to photo bomb and somehow be in the story.
The hard move is to choose to cultivate a different life in the midst of the circus. We need to get away from the mentality of “bigger, faster, stronger” or the hype that gets played all the time. The battle is to move away from “heroic” feats (which are no longer heroic because we overuse the word) and realize what is far more beneficial is the development of persons and relationships.
Our current culture either has us in “full on” mode or “veg out” mode. We don’t know how to cultivate a purposeful life.
The book is a gentle prodding. It is a set of ideas on how to cultivate something fuller, deeper, in the midst of our circus world.
One practice that captured me was a modified lectio divina. I have taught and practiced this discipline, but she mentioned the ability to go back to a particular passage every day for a month to keep gleaning.
This is something I am deeply resonating with in my life right now.
Also, I have seriously missed the discipline of fasting. Yes… I’ve missed it. As I head from Labor Day to an annual retreat, I will walk more purposefully in fasting to find yet another way to get out of the circus, at least for a time.
I highly recommend this book as a resource. It can become a friend over many months for a journey that will get you off the flying trapeze and away from the flaming hoops.
40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” (Mark 1:40-41)
Indignant. Other translations choose “moved with compassion.”
Early in Mark’s gospel we see the action of Jesus and it often attaches emotion. Jesus is moved by the human condition.
It’s not a matter of “staying mad” all the time, but it IS a matter of having our consciences moved. Pricked. Sliced and diced.
The human condition of our death culture. We are ready to snuff out life before it reaches full term. We are willing to cut life off once it’s here. There needs to be a moving in our spirits where we become indignant.
When we see people continually beat down by the enemy, would we allow the Spirit to cause a flame of rage to rise up in our spirit and we would declare in prayer, “NO MORE!”
Jesus felt the condition around him and acted. We need to feel again. To feel the racism. To feel the poverty. To feel the bondages thrown on people by the gods of this age. From the people in the gutter who are obviously “on the margins” to those in bondage in other ways and we won’t see it because they look secure… we need a new awareness of the bondage and activity of the Spirit all around us.
Let us feel once again. And then, as Jesus did, let us act.
Our youngest son was married this past weekend. The prayer surrounding him and his new bride from both sides of the family, representing generations of faithfulness, was tremendous. It was a joy-filled event.
Family prayer around the bride and groom.