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Extraordinary isn’t extra

November 1, 2014

There’s little so disappointing to me as getting to the end of a day and realizing that not only did nothing extraordinary happen, but that I forgot to even keep an eye out for it happening.

Life is too short for ho-hum days.

I’ve heard very respectable people teach that ho-hum is normal and that we should expect it as ordinary.  If we don’t, we may fall prey to the mindset that something exciting should be happening all the time, which apparently is a very terrible thing to think.

I used to agree with that, mostly because it matched my experience.

But…if ho-hum is normal, then how do you deal with the Jesus Factor?  Because the kingdom of God is pretty exciting, and Holy Spirit never stops making connections with all the people God loves.  And Holy Spirit is in us.  So if Holy Spirit is in us, making connections with all the people God loves, then that should be pretty exciting, right?  And we should expect the extraordinary to become normal, and normal to stop being ordinary, right?

Right?

It’s easy to give lip service to saying we believe in the supernatural power of the kingdom of God.  He heals, He delivers, He transforms, He provides…but how often do we really consider how He does those things? There is a reason scripture refers to believers as the body of Christ.  We are to do the things He was doing before He left the earth.  In fact, Jesus said we’d do even greater things than He did.

When’s the last time you did something greater than Jesus did?

Yeah…me neither.

However, we’re definitely the ones He was talking about.  Not just pastors and evangelists and famous people with a microphone and special gifts.  In fact, there really aren’t very many folks who fall into those categories.  Most of us are just everyday people.  And Jesus is just fine with using us.

But first we need to realize that in order to bring God’s kingdom to earth, we have to adjust our thinking to match how God thinks.

If you’re not sure what God thinks, keep in mind that even when you don’t hear Him giving a direct word to you and you’re not sure what else to do,  love, generosity, mercy, and honor will always apply to any situation at hand.  That’s the sort of Person He is.  You can count on it.

Sometimes it’s a challenge for us to cross “the chicken line”.  It’s a mindset and a skill to develop. But if we won’t act on what we believe, our lives will be indistinguishable from those who don’t believe at all.  And if our belief doesn’t move us to action, you really have to wonder just how solid it is anyway.

I want a life where normal is extraordinary and I routinely see Him get what He paid for on the cross:  life after life, transformed.  Heart after heart, made whole.  Body after body, healed.  Mind after mind, delivered.  Soul after soul, saved.  Something exciting happening all the time, because He is happening all the time.  This is normal Christianity.

There’s nothing boring about that.

 

 

 

Hindrances and entanglements

October 28, 2014

I keep starting a post and then deleting everything I’ve written.

It’s one of those nights.

The truth is that I don’t much enjoy being in my own skin at this very moment.  That could change in five minutes.  In fact, it almost certainly it will.  I seem to be strapped into a roller coaster that is prone to rather violent tendencies.  I buzz a trip around the track, come limping back in rubbing my neck because of all the whiplash, take a short breather, and then off I go again.

This is not fun.

Life is full of things from which we’d all like to be free.  Taxes.  Mosquitos.  Stomach flu.  Bad hair days.  Mean people. Traffic jams.

But I’ve decided that there is one thing I really want and need to be completely and totally free of: me.

I’m pretty sure that if I get free of me and my stuff, I’ll also be free of you and your stuff.  And if I’m free of me and you, what is left to hold me back from anything?

I can’t say I know a lot of people who are truly free of themselves.  It would be a new sort of weird, removing all the hindrances and entanglements that come with having opinions and issues and belief systems that don’t support who God has made me to be and all that comes with that.

I’m used to the old kind of weird.  I have a lot of that; it’s my go-to.  Maybe it really is time for a new kind of weird.

God’s going to have to pull this one off if it’s going to happen.  But if He’s game…well, so am I.

 

 

But wait! There’s more…

October 27, 2014

I see the ads all the time.  I’m sure you do too.  Some product offers a “90 day risk-free trial!”  Or maybe it’s 30 or 45 days or whatever, but the idea is that you can try some fabulous thing with no risk.

Ha.  Hahaha.  Yeah, that’s real funny.

I don’t know about you, but the biggest risk for me is that I’m going to forget to send it back if I don’t like it.  Or maybe I’ll remember, but my strong aversion to going to the post office will take over.  Either way, those companies count on people like me not bothering to return things they don’t want.  They risk that we might return the product, but bet we really won’t.  And at best, we might actually like it and they’ll get a return customer out of the deal.

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as completely eliminating risk.  If something is worth anything, there is a risk involved somewhere.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.

See, we can create these “safe” lives where everything is controlled and all the emotions associated with risk like fear, rejection, anxiety, disappointment, are held at bay.  But they can’t be completely eliminated.  We are occupying this whirling ball of dirt with other humans, after all.  And as a species we are complex, unpredictable, and prone to mishaps. Risk is just part of life.

Sooner or later, risk will probably not work out in our favor.  Probably sooner.

But what about the times it does?

What about the times we dare to lay it all out there, risking far beyond our comfort zone, and it actually pays off big?  What about the infusion of brilliant life that rushes through us when we realize that we just cheated boredom and defied gravity?

Yeah.  I want that rush.  I need that rush.

For me it’s not about eliminating risk.  It’s about calculating risk, adjusting my current level of acceptable risk.  I want to care less about the things that cause me to choose to live and play small. In fact, I don’t want to care about them at all.

I’m not sure how that happens, but I pretty much think about it all the time these days.  Somehow I’ve become convinced that there might be something really good on the other side of “no way” and “I wouldn’t dare” and “I can’t take the risk”, and I’m not sure what it takes to move me to actually find out what it is.

Maybe I’ll just think it to death and then get so sick of it existing inside my head that I’ll decide risk is better than the sound of my own thoughts bouncing around the inside of my cranium.

It wouldn’t be the first time something like that happened.

 

 

Love has open hands

October 26, 2014

Love is expensive stuff.  And you can take that statement to the bank.  If you’re going to love—really love—it’s going to cost you.  And sooner or later, it will cost you big.

When it costs you big, that’s when you discover the quality of your love.  If your version of love is impatient, selfish, or conditional, you won’t want to make good on that price tag.  You either refuse to pay up, or you’ll do it begrudgingly.

As I sit here typing, I am aching from the cost.  Because today, love was really expensive.  It cost me something very, very dear to me.

It costs me my church family and my pastors.

This church, these people, these pastors, are gloriously imperfect and deeply beloved, just as I am the same.  But we’ve sought the presence of the Lord together.  We’ve laughed together, cried together, eaten together, dreamed together, prayed together.

But eventually, Love whispered to our pastors and said “Will you go?”

And Love whispered to the rest of us and said “Will you let them go?”

Our hearts all broke together.  They did not want to go.  We did not want to let them.

But Love asked.  How could any of us say no?

My heart quickly reminded me that a thing can’t be taken from you if you willingly give it.  I knew in an instant that this had to be my deepest response, deeper than my tears (there have been plenty), deeper than the pain.  And so I chose to send them with love and blessing.  The rest of my church family chose the same.

It doesn’t feel good.  It really hurts, because this has been one of the sweetest, most fruitful seasons of growth I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, and I don’t feel ready to leave it.  But there is peace in it, and joy too…because I am sending my best offering.  No second-rate goods here.

Our last gathering was this morning.  There will be no replacement pastors.  As an organization, the church has disbanded.  As an organism, it is alive in our hearts, bound together by the same Spirit beyond space and time, and we all carry that life with us as we each face forward and begin to move into the next new normal…whatever that may be.

I don’t know what’s next for the Sparky people.  I feel a little adrift.  Ok…a lot adrift.  But God has something in mind, surely.  And I walk out of this church very different from the person who walked, or maybe the better word is crawled, in almost two years ago.

Love is the only thing that can break a heart like this.  But avoiding pain is really choosing to avoid love, and that’s a different kind of expensive.  That’s a price I’m not willing to pay.

So Jesus…You filled my life with wealth so that I could then turn around and pour it out for You.  You gave me good things so that I could be generous in Your kingdom.

Do it again, Lord.

 

Stuck on it

October 25, 2014

Going to Brazil meant depending on God to move people to contribute their money and their encouragement.  He did a fabulous job.  When all was said and done, I lacked for neither.

And the amazing thing is that those gifts just keep on giving.  Not a moment goes by that I’m not experiencing the results of having been in Brazil with Global Awakening.  That kind of experience will rock a person to the core, changing the very fiber of his or her being.

And by “gifts” I don’t just mean money.  One check arrived with a bright pink sticky note attached to it.  On it my gracious supporter had written:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

I took the note and stuck it on a drawer front above my computer in my roll top desk.  I see it every day. At this very moment all I have to do is raise my eyes from this screen and there it is.

Before the trip, that note filled me with hope and excitement about the things yet to occur.

Now, almost three weeks after the trip, the note reminds me of the amazing things that happened and of the power I get to carry beyond Brazil, power that witnesses to the person of Jesus Christ.

Folks, I can’t get a handful of popcorn to my mouth without dropping some, and the Holy Spirit trusts me with His power.  And He never acts like it was a bad decision and He’s sorry He did it.

I spent a lot of my life thinking that the Holy Spirit’s power was primarily to help me avoid sin.  For a long time it never occurred to me that He might want me to use it to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons (Mark 10:8).  Sure, it’s right there in His book, but since I didn’t see it happening around me and I wasn’t hearing it taught that this is actually normal Christianity, I interpreted it to mean that it was something that only Jesus’ disciples did.  You know, in Bible Times.  Not, like, now.

I’ve never been so happy to be wrong about something in my life.

The trip is over but I can’t yet bring myself to take that sticky note down.  I still need the reminders.

The Holy Spirit has come upon me and I have received power.

I am a witness to the power and person of Jesus Christ.

And I carry it to the ends of the earth—to Destin and Sao Paulo, to Tom Thumb and Walmart, to every place my feet touch the ground or my words appear on the screen.

I knew it before…but now I know it.

Edgy

October 24, 2014

Sometimes I wonder

what I would find

if I walked to

the edge of the world.

Is it like a cliff

overhanging space,

the kind that makes you

get all squeezey

and pinchy

when you creep

to the edge and peer over

into the vast nothingness?

Or is it actually

more like a slide,

a small drop with a gentle slope

and just being there

makes you want

to sit down

and push off

and throw your hands in the air

and squeal “Wheeee!”

as you zoom into another unknown?

Or perhaps it’s

more like a seashore,

and you climb from the edge

down onto the deck

a great ship

that lifts its sails to the wind and

flies through the cosmos

to visit the bug-eyed

aliens on Planet X.

I really don’t know

what I’d find

nor do I know

how far away

I am from the edge.

Some days

it feels very distant,

but others

I think I must surely be

very close.

 

You never let go

October 21, 2014

When my love is too small, Yours is big.

When my knees are weak, Your arms are strong.

When I can’t seem to find air, Your breath fills my lungs.

When my hope is frail, Yours is indestructible.

When my vision is clouded by tears, Yours is strong and clear.

When I’m not sure what to do, You are unwavering.

When I am bent by pain, You stay as close as my skin.

When I feel lost, You find me…and You find me…and You find me.

When I don’t know anything else, You open Your heart even wider so that I may know You even more.

No matter what, You never let go.

 

 

 

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