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Dear Christians, If Church is your foundation then you NEED to rebuild!

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.” -Billy Sunday

Being a member of a church is not enough.
Carrying a bible and wearing “church clothes” isn’t enough either.
Saying all of the right prayers and calling out a timely “amen” isn’t enough either.

We can look the part.
We can act the part.
But if there is no difference in your heart.
Then it all that you have been doing is acting – not being.

We can often times get the “doing” before the “being“.
Do you know what I mean?

What I mean by that is this:
We can do church.
We can even do Christianese.
We can do all of the right things for all of the wrong reasons, and still not BE holy as God has called us to be holy. (1 Peter 1:15).

Doing requires works and action (Which in the right context are good, but AS the context can be bad).
Being requires deep, lasting change.
Being requires identity, the true source of context and provides us with the true foundation – God Himself.
We are made in the image of God.
We are His.
Being His requires surrender, sacrifice, dying of our old self and taking on this new image.

You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” -Ephesians 4:22-24 (The Message Version)

If we simply “do Church” we are attempting to “faith-hack” our relationship with Christ and with those He called us to minister to.

If our entire faith journey is all about how Church is blessing ME then we have corrupted our faith and have deleted the great commission from our ideology. We might rationalize it like this: “Sure, reaching people is good as long as they come to our church and as long as they fit the mold of what I think Christians should look and sound like.

I fear that our Western ideology has polluted our perspective of what being a Christ-follower looks like.
The Christ-following ecclesia (as found in the Acts 2 early Church) was about the Body (the group of believers) being unified, sharing everything while adding to their numbers by reaching out into the world and preaching, teaching and making disciples. The love (Agape love) was evident and was like a sweet aroma to the world around them.

Have we lost that lovin’ feeling?
In our attempts to grow our churches, have we lost sight of reaching out and loving others?

Jesus didn’t call us into the safety of a church building to being silos, develop our own church culture and making it hard for the “outsider” to relate let alone earn their membership cards to our exclusive club. We as humans can sometimes make Jesus almost inaccessible to the sinner when we ourselves are sinners save by grace.

Jesus didn’t call us to become comfortable and complacent in our faith.
He did not want us to leave people out or write them off either.
If we are hiding behind Church, or dare I say, if Church has replaced God as our faith in religious practices, rituals and observances, then we MUST rebuild our faith.

How About You?
Church is not four walls of a building where we practice piety.
Church is not about rituals and the styles of our expressions in worship.
Church is not about having an exclusive club membership.

Church is you and me, human beings, living out our faith expression first of all for the glory of God (and not because we prefer this style of worship music or style of service). Secondly, we express this living and active faith so that others might see the image of Christ through us. When we do this, we are helping others discover that faith journey too for the purpose of a Jesus relationship.

Burn the walls of division.
Burn the halls of exclusivity
Tear down the rituals that have hidden Christ instead of revealed Him to others.
Break the traditions that do not glorify but only serve to prevent new membership and fellowship.

YOU are the Church.
YOU are the prophet that God has called to minister to others (that only you can minister to).
YOU are called and equipped.
YOU must check your foundation and if it is in need of repair – begin the restoration process today!

-Something more to ponder today.

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Why We Are Leaving…and Where We Are Going.

Where do I begin…
For months now I have been battling this thing inside of me.
If I’m honest this urge, this calling, this prompting, this restlessness has been there for much, much longer…for both Shanais and me.

Do you recall what happens when you run from God?
If not, just ask Jonah…

There is a deep aching sadness in the leaving…
There is a sadness in the walking away from what is known and moving into what is presently unknown.

I believe the Lord has brought the story of Abram to me over and over again while we have been in this process. The story is about a rich man named Abram. He had lots of family and friends. He had it all. He was not in want for anything. He was comfortable. And then one day God tells Abram to travel out of his known lands and to live in the unknown places. The uncomfortable, unfamiliar lands…the place where he had no friends. The place where there would be no safety.

It was a giant leap of faith.
He had to trust his Creator.
He had to have faith that God would provide the friends, the comfort, the safety. And so he and his wife Sarai went. They traveled into the unknown land with alien terrain and different customs and people. God reminded Him of His faithfulness. Abram and Sarai were both transformed in the leaving. Sure, there were roadblocks and bouts of their own personal faithlessness, and yet God remained faithful to them. Abraham became the father of many nations. Sarah the mother.

When we do not rely on our own resources and lead from our own comforts we are inclined (sometimes forced) to rely completely on the Lord’s provisions instead of our own. It can be dangerous and yet also liberating, because our resources are limited and our experiences to what is known. What we know personally. We can be comfortable in our frames of reference…and yet God’s frame of reference is so much more infinite.

Back to this restlessness…
I could rely on my own resources…and limit my faith journey.
I could remain in what I know to be comfortable…and run the risk of becoming stagnant and run the same familiar patterns but not really delving any deeper. I could remain here (and here is an amazing, place called home)…but I feel it in the core of my being that God is calling me out of this. It is a leap of faith. It is extremely scary. It is heart-aching. Yet, I will follow Him. I will trust that He knows what He is doing. I will lay all of me on the altar and allow God to use me.

Where are we going?
I didn’t set out to find this.
I wasn’t searching for this kind of work.
It’s not something I am completely familiar with.
We are moving to Southern Alabama.
I will be working in one of the poorest counties in all of Alabama.
Have I ever lived there? No.
Do I have any family there? No.
Do I have friends there? No, not yet.

The ministry? – I will be running a Christian Foster Care organization. It’s a huge leap for me. (I keep saying I and me, and what I really mean is that it is a HUGE leap for both of us – Shanais and me.) We are both stepping out of our comfort zones. We are not abandoning God’s mission in this world, but rather embracing it more deeply. I am a fourth generation Salvationist, and you don’t realize how difficult this is for me to do. And yet, I am doing this, and I have a deep sense of peace about it even though it is scary.

Of course there are questions:
Will I do this for the rest of my life? Answer: I don’t know.
Will I come back to the Army as an Officer? Answer: Maybe.
Am I walking away from my faith? Answer: absolutely not!!
My church? Answer: No.

God’s kingdom is so much larger.
God’s love encompasses so many people, both lost and found.

What can you do?
Please Pray!
Would you pray for us?
Some will not understand why we are doing this.
Some will consider it abandoning our calling…I don’t see it that way at all. Rather we are embracing it more deeply. Some might even disagree with us and the decision we have arrived at. That’s fine, we understand.

I hope that I can count on you to still be a friend and a prayer warrior.
I believe God’s love is greater than any one organization or church. He can call us from one place to another and we can still remain in His will for our lives. Some remain called to one place, others to multiple places.

This might change how you view us, but I hope not.
We are still ministers of God’s love and grace. We still call Him Lord of our lives and we still desire to serve Him.

Thank you for loving us and praying for us while in this scary transition. Thank you to the leaders who have guided us along the way…we love you and are forever in your debt!
We are simply trusting that God knows what He is doing…and there’s nothing simple about it.

God Bless You.
-Scott & Shanais Strissel.





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Fear the Walking Faith…It’s a journey!

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

Oh how our faith can waver sometimes.
It seems that the gusting of a slight breeze of discord or worry can shake our quivering feet of faith.

Have you ever come to a moment of realization that your faith is not as deep as you once thought it was? We all encounter times, while on this journey, where the feel as though we have entered into the desert and we are found lacking in our resolve and fortitude. This journey will take us into places that require us to dig a little deeper and to endure the dry and thirsty places – where we find ourselves questioning everything and reaching further for God…who seems to have gone silent.

Have you been to this place?

I remember when I first learned to swim.
My parents would take me into the deeper part of the waters where my feet couldn’t touch and then let go of me, and as they let go of me they step back out of my reach. I remember there was a momentary panic. The saving hands were no longer on me and I found myself struggling to keep my head above the waters. I remember having to reach out my arms while kicking my feet so that I could reach the safety again. As I did this, without realizing, I began to swim by myself for the first time.

My intentions were not to swim. My intention was to reach the safe arms of my parents who were just out of reach.

There is growth within the tension and fear.
Growth that can only take place when we are left to our own devices.
Growth that can only transpire within the turmoil and desert places of our faith journey.

It is as if God steps back from us, and we are faced with the seemingly terrifying notion that we must step into the deep alone. The truth is that we are most certainly not alone, but rather there is growth that is only found in desert. And so we step out, unsure of ourselves…unsure if we can reach those safe arms of Christ again.

Remember Peter on the waters before Jesus?
He is asked to step out into a turbulent, uncertain space.
Peter takes a couple of steps, loses sight of the arms of Christ and begins to sink.
He takes his eyes off of Jesus.
He considers the impossibilities of such a journey.
He must have recalled his inability to do this feat, and as the doubt sinks in so does Peter.

We often chastise Peter for his lack of faith.
We often sermonize this passage to implicate the lack of resolve that ‘the Rock’ had…
But where were the other disciples?
Do we read about their steps of faith on the waters? No.
They were still in the boat watching it all go down.

We have to get out of our boats.
We will encounter dry and thirsty times in our faith journey.
It will feel as if we are all alone out in the wilderness, but we are not alone.
God steps back and watches us within the tension of deeper waters.
And it is within those deeper spaces that we grow.
It is through perseverance that our character and the very image of Christ becomes clearer in us.

Some have turned back and returned to the safe places.
Some have given up because they have felt abandoned.
Others have persevered and they have grown.
The Lord desires all of us to deepen our faith, and so these times of dryness should be seen as opportunities to grow up into this amazing faith.

Being like Jesus isn’t easy.
It takes determination and desire on our part.
Are you prepared to allow God to deepen your faith?
Is it your desire to get off of spiritual baby formula and begin to feast on more sustainable spiritual nourishment?

Take that next step…don’t be afraid, He’s got you, and He isn’t far from you right now!

Something more to ponder today.

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Reflections on the scenes leading to the Cross. (pt. 1)

There are so many focal points associated with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It all started with a celebration as Jesus entered Jerusalem and, the disciples amongst the crowds cheered and lay cloaks and palm branches down in a makeshift parade of a mistaken earthly royal processional. How the tone of the city abruptly changed in only a matter of days.

Then there is the scene of the last supper as the disciples gathered around a borrowed table in an upper room to celebrate their last Passover with their Rabbi. The furtive glances from the other disciples as Peter adamantly challenged Jesus and even attempted to admonish Him. The startling news that someone in the room would betray Him and then the abrupt exit of Judas…

Then there was the prayer garden scene in Gethsemane where Jesus passionately prays for the cup of suffering to be taken from him, and almost as a foreshadowing of what was to come, his disciples abandon him to their exhausted revery and slumber. Then Jesus is arrested in that same garden and kissed on the cheek by Judas which seals the deal of betrayal for thirty pieces of silver. How interesting that we consider it to be the sealing of Jesus’ fate and yet sadly, Judas ends his own life when confronted with the consequences of his misplaced ambitions. Thus, perhaps it was sadly Judas’ life that was fatedly sealed with that peck on the cheek.

Another focal point is the illegal court appearance of Jesus in the middle of the night so as to not ignite a riot in the streets. Jesus is found guilty for crimes he never committed and the leaders knew it and even washed their hands of it all… later, the large crowds gathered, shouting Barabbas as the city officials struggled to maintain order, and Jesus was first led to be whipped then paraded through the streets in a humiliating display of cruelty. How distant that triumphant entrance into Jerusalem seemed on that dark “Good Friday” as an innocent Author of the Universe, now in human form, was led to His slaughter. The ultimate sacrificial lamb and atonement for the sins of every human being on the planet.

And yet how frightened Simon Peter was as he gathered around the fires that night completely shell shocked at the atrocity of the horrific crucifixion scene. He was confronted with his allegiance to Messiah, and instead of his typical bravado, he was reduced to denying his discipleship to Jesus. How dark it all must have seemed as the glowing embers of the fire danced and flickered on the faces of everyone gathered there. The Light of the World seemingly extinguished at the hands of those He came to save, and with the crowing of the rooster that early morning, Peter knew he had betrayed Jesus. How the guilt must have flooded in and washed away the remaining fortitude of ‘the rock’…

If the story had only ended here, it would have been the saddest tragedy to ever have befallen humankind. God was truly dead and, we had killed Him. Yet, the divine plan, foretold nearly a thousand years before Jesus arrived was unfolding and coming to fruition. How the Angels in heaven must have held their collective breaths as those devoted to Him mourned and hid themselves away.

There is an anticipation of what is to come, and yet we should linger here for just a little while longer. When we confront this darkness head-on we must begin to acknowledge the darkness still living within us. We try to deny that it is there and yet we, like Peter betray Him over and over again. Perhaps if we were to linger here we would hear our own rooster crowing…

Perhaps if we lingered here we would understand that we could never be Messiah in our own life. We might begin to realize that our strength has never, ever been enough. Sin still sits cold and heavy upon our souls. We cannot remove it by doing more good deeds or praying harder or reading another self-help book. If we linger here for just a little while longer we would begin to see how majestic and victorious that empty tomb really is for our salvation and for the salvation of all living beings on this planet.

Jesus resurrected hope on empty tomb day.
Jesus resurrected life for more than just himself.
Jesus reconnected what had been broken since the fall of Adam and Eve in that garden so long ago.
Jesus removed the barrier of sin between our mortal souls and the Creator of ALL.

But we should linger here for just a little while longer…
Let it all soak in.
Let the power of the cross and of the death of Messiah sink in…
really go deep within this chapter of our salvation story.

Let’s ponder this for a few days.
But Sunday is coming…

In Search of Significance

People look for significance in what they do instead of who they are. God made something amazing when He made you. Don’t ever doubt that you matter to Him even when this world might try to drag you down. You are loved.

Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen was a widely successful writer, theologian, and professor. One would think that significance was found in presenting theologically deep lectures or in writing books and yet after twenty years of collegiate work he left that world and began to work with the developmentally disabled individuals at the L’Arche Daybreak community in Canada.

Henri Nouwen once wrote: “This is what life is about. It is being sent on a trip by a loving God, who is waiting at home for our return and is eager to watch the slides we took and hear about the friends we made. When we travel with the eyes and ears of the God who sent us, we will see wonderful sights, hear wonderful sounds, meet wonderful people … and be happy to return home.” (The return of the Prodigal Son, 1992).

I often wonder what it will be like when we finally rest in the presence of God. What will He say of the choices we have made in our lives? What will He say of our faith…or the lack there of? I can recall many moments of unfaithfulness to God in my life. I am not proud of these moments. In those dark chapters, I found myself clawing at circumstances and troubles with my own strength and knowledge until my soul was raw and empty. Perhaps this was what it was like when David wrote Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
 How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
 and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted ove
r me?

Filling that void in our lives…

Sometimes, in our search for significance, we come to the realization that God has not followed us to this ego-driven destination. Sometimes we are left wanting for more because the things that we were searching for are found and still they did not fill us because they could never replace the all-consuming presence of God. We try to fill that God-shaped hole in our souls with titles, trophies, monuments to our names, and legacies that people will remember. We spend so much time caring about what others think of us and the reputations or personas that we have built around ourselves – only to feel as empty as when we first started out. It was all for nothing. Why? Because none of it could replace what we left behind – The Father. Our Creator. Our Author. The One who has known us before we even had breath in our lungs (read Psalm 139).

Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.
(Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life.)

So here it is:

All of the ladder climbing, elbow-rubbing, name-dropping, butt-kissing motivations will never fill that void we feel in search of meaningless significance in this life.

I am not saying don’t work hard, or find fulfilling missions and work to belong to. We should work hard and love what we do. However, if all that we do is work at being known by the world, and in our ego-driven, self-promoting ways, find some semblance of recognition – it will never be enough. There will always be another hill of success we will look longingly upon and regret not having what we could not reach.

Yet, God comes to us. At our level, lowly as it is, and says to us, “You are loved by me. You matter to me. I made you, I am proud of you – that is enough.” Think of it: The God of the Universe says that our primary significance is found in our identity as a son and daughter of the Most-High. We can find true and holy fulfillment in His presence and not in all of the attention-seeking practices of our world. How simple and how profound!

God created us for love, for union, for forgiveness and compassion and, yet, that has not been our storyline. That has not been our history.” -Richard Rohr.

May we finally begin to recognize our true self-worth that is only found abiding in the very presence of the Holy One. May His reflection be present in us before it is seen, and may our search for significance be realized in the simplicity and sanctity of Holiness which is fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit.

-Something more to ponder today.

Something’s Worn

The world is a scary place.
Fire and war
war and fire
And I grow tired
of the sadness
poured out
and shaken
like the people
caught
in the middle
of the fight

And I cannot
bring an ounce
of relief in
my worrying
my fretting
and the half-chewed
nail

Still, I am worn
emotionally
spent
left wanting
and wishing
this
were all
a dream
perhaps tomorrow
when I wake
sunlight will
remind me
that we aren’t
alone.

The Dangers of Christian Narcissism

Christian narcissism is more prevalent than you think. It is the conscious or subconscious notion that every act or service or leadership decision revolves around that person. It is the notion we are doing God a favor by serving Him, or that a certain ministry or program would fail without us leading it.

There is a danger within the realms of church leadership to become so filled with pride that it becomes less about what God is doing and more about what we are doing.

I have met Christian narcissists and sometimes he has been there looking back at me in the mirror. It might be sobering to consider, but every time we take the praise and accolades that were intended for God, we are essentially saying God needs us and He couldn’t do it (whatever ‘it’ is) without us. Instead of saying to God “have your way in my heart”, we say “look at me, this worship couldn’t happen without me.”

How dangerous is that? Instead of bowing the knee in humility, many Christians have fallen into the trap of ego with their puffed-up pride and shallow faith. Such behavior is a works-driven service that fills a person with self-importance to the point that God is a second thought. They become like superman, flying here and there attempting to save everyone all because of their holy hubris.

Sometimes the dangers of narcissism is that Christian narcissists develop little groupies and followers and these followers do not follow God, but the Leader that they admire and wish to be like. Could it be that this infiltration of narcissism within the Church is leading people astray? Could it be that Christian narcissists are false prophets who are seeking personal gains and person profits?

What I am not saying

I am not saying that we as Christians need to stop serving others. Nor am I saying that we should cease all evangelistic advances for God’s kingdom. We are all called to be Christ’s ambassadors to offer this Good News, hope and love.

What I am sayin

Check your motivations.
Check your egos at the door.
This Great Commission – is NOT about you – it is about God’s redeeming love for EVERYONE.
There is nothing beneath your presumed “status”.
If you are serving Christendom because of status, power, position, notoriety you may be a Christian Narcissisit.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4)

If you discover that all of your ministarial ventures revolves around your gifts and abilities instead of a Christ-centered intent then perhaps it is time to repent and turn from your inflated ego and seek humility once again.

God doesn’t need you to save the world, He moves you into spaces of service for His glory and honor.

Just something more to ponder today. To God be the glory!

3 Reasons Why I am falling in love with Worship Music again.

I will admit that I used to change the channel when certain “praise” songs came on the radio. I wasn’t a fan of the repetition, a music snob critiquing everything I heard and overanalyzing the lyrics that didn’t mesh with my doctrinal beliefs.

I will also admit that I still hold certain prejudices to style, format, and lyric selection. I am a picky audiophile who loves to listen to a wide array of music. My Spotify account contains so many genres from Rap, R&B, Rock, Country (yes, it’s for my wife *wink, wink*), and even study music.

So why the change of heart? Why am I falling in love with Worship Music again? Let me preface this with, “some” worship music. I still believe that there is a distinction between Worship Songs and Performance songs.

For example, last Christmas my family and me attended a Christmas Eve service at a local large congregation. The sanctuary had a welcoming feel to it, we enjoyed our time there, but when it came to the worship music most of the songs were designed to elevate the performer and not lead the church-goer into a state of worship. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great Christmas Eve service, but it could have been better had the music been vertically driven and included the audience. (Again, I’m a picky audiophile and musician).

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
C.S. Lewis

So, here are 3 Reasons why I am falling in Love with Worship Music again:

  1. Worship Music is Maturing – What I mean by that is this: the days of Maranantha repetition and simplistic lyrics is behind us. The “Shout to the Lord” and “I could sing of your love forever”tunes are songs from our past. Important as they were, and they certainly helped to pave the way for richer, more complicated themes and melodies. I love to hear songs like Battle Belongs, Reckless Love & You Say. One might argue that some of the lyrics are not completely doctrinally sound. And, while I would somewhat agree, most of the time I would contend that the writers of these modern worship songs are attempting to connect the worshipper to the Almighty in beautiful ways.
  2. I am Maturing – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a transition in life, a recognition or reminder of my mortality, I have discovered a deeper longing to connect with my Savior. Music is not the only conveyer of Spirit to Savior, but it does help provide a vital connection piece. There is something about music that transports you and allows your heart and mind to meditate on not just good music but a deeper level of relationship to the Father. I am constantly in awe His presence when I still my heart and meditate on words sung that are verticle in worship.
  3. A Hurting World is A Mission Field – Not only is Worship Music maturing, but the lyrics are delving into, and addressing a hurting world who is in need of a loving Savior. The Great Commission is not just to fill church pews for Sunday morning service, but to create community and unite people from all walks of life with the redeeming love and Jesus Christ. There is a longing that many Worship writers and evangelists are conveying to their fellow Christ-followers: The World needs to see authenticity in Christians and the Church. The World needs to know that they are loved and cared for. Much of the modern worship music is “Get out of the four walls of Church and love people for Jesus” – driven.
“God is to be praised with the voice,
and the heart should go therewith in holy exultation.”
Charles H. Spurgeon

So there you have it. My shortlist on why I am falling in love with Worship Music again. That is not to say that I will stop analyzing song lyrics or checking for doctrinal truths – that is still so important. Rather, I will not let small stylistic issues distract me from worshipping. After all, Worship music, though important, is only one component of true and authentic worship of God. It helps to connect us or point us to Christ, but let us not forget about the disciplines of silence (meditation), solitude, fasting, study, simplicity, service & submission.

This is something more to ponder today…see you next time!

The Abusive Relationship

You used to be there in my life
a shadow of dread
a threat of consequence
for missed deadlines
or poor performance appraisals
or because I didn’t look or
talk like the rest of them.
the robots
the others abused
the broken and beaten down…

You used to be there in my life
uniform pressed and starched
puffed up with self-importance
standing on the necks of
your inferiors.

You used to be there in my life
like a dark lumpy bruise
Just under the surface
isn’t it funny how much like
a wound you were to me?

You used to be…
past tense.
in my rearview
like an abusive relationship
unhealthy, and jealous
I kept coming back to you…
but not anymore
out of my cage
sprung back to life
bruises all healing
and you are no longer
in my present and future.

The Farewell of Tad -“see ya later” (A poem)

You asked me to officiate your son’s wedding.
You, my lifelong friend
a medical survivor
still fighting each day
as antirejection drugs slowly
killed you.

On the drive over
I reminisced about my childhood
how you always seemed
to be at the center of it
How I looked up to you
like the big brother
I never had.

You spoke so freely
of love and affection.
Me – so guarded and jaded
surprised by your emotional
generosity

You rode with me to the
wedding site
shotgun and honest.
You told me not asked me
that I would perform your funeral.
I responded in outrage
and told you to linger on
and fight the good fight.
Yet I could it in your eyes…

After the wedding
with my family in tow
We said our goodbyes
and you hugged me and
told me how much you loved me
My heart was warmed
my brother
my first best friend…

and that was the last time
I saw you in the land of the living
and true to my word
I did your funeral
making my way in the cold
winter to shiver at your graveside
Your quick words of kindness
still swirling in my mind
I whispered the amens
a benediction for the end
of death
Yet, as I stepped back
into my car
I could imagine you there
a year removed when flesh and blood
you sat there with me.

This is not the end
Just a “see you later”
my big brother,
I love you.

Beyond the Finite Universe.

You once asked me if I felt accomplished
to think on it now
greying beard
crows feet growing each passing year
I am not wiser
because of time
I have not become more
or found the secrets to this life
I am still its student
and I have much to learn.
The drive for accomplishment
is a loud clanging band of one
beckoning others to look on
and clap…
full of hubris
sprinkled with an
unhealthy dose of
narcissism.
I would like to think
that I have left a mark
on the side of the universe
as it ever expands.
But I am reminded
of its infinite glory
and this insignificance
of breathing
how small am I?
Still, I long to measure
this existence
with thoughts
to pass onto my descendants
the things to invest in
and the things to run from.
Life, fragile and limited
can break the finite confines
and carry on beyond the course
of one’s skin and bones.
Thus, it would be an honor
to tarry here after I have
long past my due date…
through the fluttering of words
on a page
and on into the hearts of my
children’s children
a ripple in a pond
moving hearts,
ebbing courses
and nudging lives for good
now, this
is interesting…

Urban Bedouins (Prose of truth)

There is a peculiar smell associated with packing tape. Boxes with “this side up” stamped on the sides, brown and crisp all stacked up in neat lines. This is what we are good at. The professional packer. The seasoned traveler that gets “the itch” after two Christmases have passed.

We are chameleons at adapting to new environments. It is a learned trait that pushes nostalgic feelings aside and presses the “this is an adventure” mantra out into the universe praying that one day those words will become reality…but they never will. Yet, with the U-Haul packed and the Tetris champion still undefeated in solid blocks of boxes without gaps or air pockets – the nomadic tribe that is our family piles into borrowed vehicles and closes yet another chapter in yet another state. The unspoken rule of not looking back nor clinging to a past that will only haunt and hurt. The city disappears from our rearview mirror and once more we are between homes. We are between spaces of rest and leisure, where familiar paths lead down into what can be imagined within the unfamiliar landscapes of the next chapter.

We are urban bedouins designed to travel and explore. We are adaptive and flexible and we purposefully seek out what the next hill and valley will reveal to our ever-hungry souls. Tomorrow does not bring dread as one more sleep lingers within this in-between time from one chapter to the next. When we are here in this space we are invisible, unidentifiable, and travelers without compass or map. And there is comfort here. No roots left in our past, we are merely succulents leaning towards the sunlight of tomorrow’s day.

Someday perhaps we will stop our exploration and the frequency of our journeys. We will sleep in beds we own and are not borrowed. We will travel familiar roads without the lingering nomadic call to move on. Perhaps at that moment those roots, shallow and malnourished will find fertile soil and we will dig down, down, down and we will finally be home.

Until then, the urban bedouins journey on…

Revealing All of Our Embarrassing Sins…

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” -John 4:29

Imagine experiencing this.
Someone knows you, I mean knows you thoroughly. All of your mistakes, your failures, and your deepest, darkest secrets. Can you imagine the shame and embarrassment? I can. Some of us would be absolutely mortified of this prospect. Yet, standing before Jesus the Messiah, this Samaritan woman is filled with complete joy and amazement.

Perhaps she has for too long with her shame. Maybe, as the town’s pariah, she finally found someone who understood her, even showed her respect, and still did not shrink away in disgust and outrage.

Jesus asked her for a drink of water, yet He was there for so much more. He was there to offer her more than just surviving a disgraced life, and she was all too familiar with living with the scorn of her neighbors. Jesus offered her not only a listening ear but in His very presence a modicum of redemption and love. Isn’t that what agape love does for all of us? This Godly love, coming to our level, picking us back up, knowing all that we have done…and despite this knowledge of our shame – still loving us? God, in human flesh, making a way for us to be reunited – Imago Dei restored within us. This atonement: too good to be true, and yet it is. Living water flowing through us, restoring us, renewing us, redeeming us.

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…”

Before a wound can be healed, the healer must first see it. Then, all of the impurities of that wound and the potential infection must be removed and the injury – sanitized…

Jesus saw this woman – wound and all. Then living water was given to her.

Still today, Jesus longs to come to each of us, no matter if we consider ourselves sinners or saints, and He wants to see our wounds, our deepest darkest secrets, our shame, and the things that keep us from truly living. He wants to see it all, and he wants to remove the infection from us. Jesus doesn’t want to shame us. He doesn’t want to embarrass us. He comes to our level and offers us this living, restorative water for our body, heart, soul, mind, and spirit.

Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…”

“…I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10.

If you are still seeking something in life and you struggle with internal shame and sadness in some of the decisions that you have made in life – Jesus desires to give you living water that will cleanse you and help you to live again. This is a new year with new hope, dreams and aspirations. Perhaps, for some of us, it is time to allow Jesus to cleanse us and restore us – and He will.

Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did…”
It’s not as scary and embarrassing as you once thought it was.
Come and see Him today!

Something more to ponder today! God Bless you!
Check out my new podcast on Spotify I will cover more topics like this over on that site so subscribe and get notifications when the next episode drops: https://open.spotify.com/show/0R08uxwKoAJhGGmwbWjd0V

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