Saying Yes to Small Luke 13: 18-21 Lectio Divina

#MondaysatJesusFeet

I walked past the chip aisle to reach for my triscuit box and saw her, an early-store-stocker, sitting on the floor with small plastic Pringles containers sliding on top of her. She looked up at me exasperated, “I just can’t get these annoying little packages to stay. Every ten minutes they fall and I’m rearranging them and begging them to stay until the next person reaches for their favorite flavor.”  My eyes twinkled, “Sounds like my life,” I laughed. She shot me a questioning look. “I just feel like I do the same inane things over and over.” She nodded and made one of those sounds women give to each other, “Uh-huh,” the universal: “I hear you girl.”

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But friend, I see you.

I see you wondering if your small matters.

I see you taking laps around the grocery store with your handwritten list.

I see you with your Monday morning ministry hangover wondering if your Sunday sermon stuck.

I see you writing words again in the early morning and daring to push publish while its still dark.

I see you sliding into bed wondering if your small acts of faithfulness matter.

I see you friend, and your small, ordinary, courageous acts of love.

Here’s the truth that I’m leaning into as I go about my dizzying array of the very small: small can be extraordinarily lavish. “Do small things with great love,” Mother Teresa taught.

And then Jesus showed us how to open our arms just that wide.

 

What small things with great love are you doing today?

 

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Behold the Lamb of God

It’s when I show up at the Confession on Sunday morning empty handed that I know I’m in trouble. I’ve forgotten the quick cutting down, the self-pity binge, the explosions at bedtime.  I’ve forgotten the pride because pride makes the rest of it go away, a nice little deceptive veneer.  And I’ve skated through the week without any self-examination. And here I am come to Sunday…a little too pious.

 

 

That’s when I know I’m in trouble.

 

Sin sticks so tight to our personalities we can’t see the worry, the people pleasing, the performance, the binging, the unhinged anger for what it is.  We have clicked into reaction mode because really, it’s all about us again.  We’re no longer following Christ. We’ve made a detour and our self-righteousness is just a sign that it’s all just getting a bit rancid in here.

 

The story of Jesus’ coming turns all of this on its head. Christ is born to the poor, the broken open, to the weak and watching, the dying.  He comes to those who know they need a Savior. Christ is reborn in us when we escavate the dead stuff and lay it down at the cross.

 

It’s when I don’t see my need for the One laid in the manger that I know I’m in trouble. When the nostalgia takes over and the warm fuzzies take over, I know I’m not ready. I’m not ready Him. I’m not ready for the sacrificial lamb who volunteered birth on this dark planet in order to set me free.

……………………………………………………………..

Set aside time to listen to your life. Ask for a new revelation of what is keeping you captive, what is damming you up to love. After each question, set aside time to listen to your life:

 

What do you binge on to fill the emptiness…or do you just check out?

 

What happens when you are triggered by fear, loneliness, anger, pain, ungratefulness?

 

Think over a low point from this last week…what was your reactionary behavior? Is there a pattern?

 

Where do you run to when the pain gets strong? (Sleep, Shopping, Food, Tobacco, Computer, Facebook, Alcohol, Religion, Work, Drugs, Gambling, Sexual Addictions?)

What do you use to protect yourself? (Anger, Denial, Pretense, Hiding, Distraction, Isolation?)

 

How do you try to provide for yourself emotionally? (Success, Fame, unhealthy relationships, manipulation, control, money, people pleasing, sexual promiscuity?)

 

How do you punish yourself or others? (Blame, Unforgiveness, Self-contempt, rejections, abusive words, withholding, desire to harm, aggression, shame, criticism, self-abuse, bitterness?)

 

These are all behaviors/sins that keep us from crawling directly to Him when we are needy. We are invited to come empty, uncomfortably empty…but because of the pain we often want to fill, fill, fill.

 

Ask Him for help. Wash the mask off. Stop pretending and pry up the broken places.

 

Get comfortable being broken in His presence, naked even.  It’s the only way to a life of humility. But friend, you don’t have to fear the process. His kindness is gentle, beyond imagination.

 

This prayer could prove to be the key.

Jesus, I have sinned and no longer want ————–to hold me captive. I’m sorry for the pain that I’ve caused myself and others. Thank you for coming and being willing to die for my sins. I accept Your full forgiveness and thank You for it. I pray that You will transform me and clean this area up in my life. Do not let the evil one use this in my life any longer in Jesus Christ’s name. Show me how deep the roots go and redeem the consequences. I want to be transformed and healed. In Jesus name, Amen

 

The good news? Salvation is never His final work in our life. He knows we’re not “done.” Forgiveness keeps doing its good, hard work, ever-deepening, ever-cleansing, healing, transforming.

 

You, my friend, He died so that you might have Life with Him (1 Thessalonians 5:10) and this just might be the next step beautiful step toward the manger, toward the with-God life.

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Wrapping Up Life

How do you wrap 10 years of a messy life tight into right angles

fold down the cardboard flaps and slide the tape up neat?

10 years of standing semi-circle around that altar beside Kathy Sicard, and Mary and Nick hands open to Jesus

10 years of holding out the cup of wine, a taste of salvation to Mark and Todd and Stacy

10 years of eyes focused straight, following the Celtic cross down that aisle, past the wise ones bowing

10 years of opening Word, wondering at the transformation of seeds thrown and rising into warm, yeasty Life,

10 years of candlelit anniversaries at Tellos and three blood-covered babies pushed out into the day rubbed clean by nurses who still know our names

10 years of summertime stroller walks down a windy pier, banging our palms on the red metal lighthouse,

10 years of full blueberry bags straight from the farmer’s market, a puddle of navy blue warming beside me in the sand,

10 years of table feasts and soup ladled, and brown sugar sprinkled on oatmeal in the early morning,

10 years of real, struggling, luminous lives that slid into our hearts leaving a residue of light.

 

How do you wrap 10 years of light right tight, close the lid and not expect it to weep out the sides?

 

 

Tomorrow we attempt to do the impossible, to say goodbye to a congregation we have loved and where we have grown up and a town we know every nook and cranny of.  Pray for our stamina and the ability to stay present, real, and open to His gifts always being given.

Blessings on your Sabbath,

Summer

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He is risen! Happy Easter Friends

The baskets are stuffed, the Easter outfits laid out on the dining room floor, and the lily’s perfume fills the living room where I am sitting.  Quiet.

 

Quiet is pure gift in a clergy person’s home during Holy Week, especially where there are young children.

 

This year? Xavier fell asleep heavy in my arms during the Maundy Thursday service and Andrew and I passed him back and forth from shoulder to shoulder.  I preached, he celebrated.  He washed my feet.  I washed his.  We both washed the feet of Madeline and Caedmon.  Warm water splashed while her cowboy boots and his soccer shoes lay empty in a pile next to us, their eyes mesmerized on mom and dad’s hands cupping the water, caressing their feet. Xavier didn’t wake up until we arrived home.

 

Good Friday we follow the cross in the dark doing Stations of the Cross and readers have book lights and the Station’s modern art sketches are lit by candles.  This year Xavier got through two stations before he started doing jerky-looking calisthenics and we took a walk.  Progress.  Maybe next year we will get through number 3.

 

Nana and Grandpa Steve have added to the richness, flying in from far away and walking this Holy Week with us, sending the children into a constant sugar-high joy.  These children play and joke like they know they are loved.  We all sponge painted eggs and the children lost interest after coloring a few and ran to the sink to wash sticky fingers.  It was the adults who lingered at the table happy to do something creative and simple.

 

And I just can’t get over the gifts, the small graces that make up this life and His large gift that makes it all possible.  Because without His dying and taking on my death, I would never be able to drink from this heaven on earth.  I would have wriggled free of this Eden and bent, struggled into hell.  I know this because I almost threw it all away years ago before His wounds started healing me.

 

I’m thankful the pervasive evil (when did we get so fascinated with television about vampires, zombies, serial killers?) will never have the last word, that He already WAS the last word and that it is spreading forward and back, saturating and healing the earth.

 

So very thankful for these gifts and friends, honestly, I’m so very thankful for you as well and the family that is building here at a thirst for God, where we catch glimpses of “His hand at work in the world about us.”

 

Happy Easter to you my friends.

 

If you have time, check out this contemporary song based on St. John Chrysostom’s Easter hymn: here.

 

Maybe you, like my little Xavier, will lift your hand straight up toward the sky as you listen to this Matt Maher song and know, He is risen and miraculously, the Risen One is among us.

 

He is risen.  He is risen indeed.

 

Summer Gross

Pictures were from two years ago, an oh so warmer year.  

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Day 4: Pruning so Good News Blooms

Pruning, though painful, causes growth.

We’ve got obstacles that need to be removed and this is where the life-long work of pruning comes in, removing the sin, scooping out the suffocating fear, redirecting the anger, having our minds renovated by the Scriptures and frankly, at times doing major site work with those traumas that need shovels and back hoes and bulldozers….and friends to help in the process.

 

Here I draw a helix…a circular pattern over and over and begin cutting it out:

 

An early theologian said wisely that all through our life, we are in a maturing cycle (I’m just drawing a circular pattern.) But here’s the cycle: purification…that’s the cleaning out pruning phase, illumination…that’s the phase full of AHA moments, full of the struggle of wrestling, of learning from the Word, and then comes the glory and joy of UNION with God …which is where we are headed anyway, …and then back to purification in a never ending cycle.

 

And, perhaps we get stuck in our maturing as branches on the Vine believing that Christianity should be one way or the other.  I get addicted to the adrenaline rush of illumination, the growing, phase…because who likes purification really.  Or, I get so focused on union and forget that in order to develop that close communion with God, the cleaning out and the gulping up big glasses of the wisdom and the Presence of God alive in the Scriptures makes the union possible, makes the union strong.

And then, perhaps the Christian life is not a ladder going higher and higher as we strive and strain toward a distant God, but more this cycle: purification, illumination and union over and over and over as we throw off everything that hinders in a deeper surrendering, a deeper resting into a God with His arms wide open waiting to receive us all this time.

 

And it is in the deep surrender that the fruit comes naturally.

Friend, this Lent are there places in our life that need tending, pruning and healing which will transform your somewhat tentative good news to morph into hope-filled, Jesus-saturated, power-plugged good news?  This is one of the major questions I hope you will listen for this Lent.

Summer Gross

Are you wanting to catch up on the Cross-shaped Evangelism Lenten series? Click here.

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(I am borrowing the fabulous helix idea from Syliva @ the sylvr pen at which she talks about a pilgrimage in circles.  Brilliant, Sylvia.  And thank you.)

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Day 1: Cross-Shaped Evangelism

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. 

Amen.

 

I came barreling out of seminary, fresh out of Victoria Heard’s church planting course with various evangelism methods ready to be fired on the unsuspecting.  I was ready to build a church.  I believed if I had enough enthusiasm, the people would come flitting, moths to the flame.  (And yes, friend, I know you are cringing with me.)

 

Love, true self-giving, cross-shaped love, was completely out of my league.

I was approaching evangelism through the lens of business model  success. Church growth, it’s sometimes called.  Ten years later and I have been weakened, wizened, humbled. The cross is no business model.  The cross is the giving up (dying) to our own imaginary ideas of success and how they might build our kingdom and slowly prying open one finger at a time, letting outcomes slide away.  Only then can we open our hearts, love our neighbor and let the Holy Spirit guide the process of precious ones to Jesus.

 

 

The first step to cross-shaped love?  We must be made whole before we can learn to love with God’s persevering love.  If we haven’t dealt with our own stuff… If we don’t know how we might attack or abandon during the knock-down drag out crucibles in a relationship, we cannot be trusted with the heart of another (though thank You Jesus, He can always redeem our very human messes!)   Through the healing power of the love of God, we slowly become a safe person.

 

Only people who have sat in front of the cross, drank huge drafts of grace, can themselves become pointers to Jesus.

 

 

The second step to cross-shaped love is to become an image of the Father’s love.  Our world is weighed down with a  screwed-up idea of God, and really, why would they want to come within His reach?  We have a whole lot of unhealthy Christian stereo-types to overcome. To do that, we have to build time-tested trust and love them in their language, just as our Father wooed us.

 

Third, if they are beginning to show curiosity, we park ourselves in front of them, asking  questions about their journey. We listen and we listen and we listen and then we slowly share.  We open our hands with little pieces of our story, little pieces of Jesus’ story…just as much bread as they are hungry for that day.  And then, when they are ready to change, truly change their lives, we walk with them to the foot of the cross to meet the One who gave His all for them.

 

And you, friend, I see you smiling because you know that this transformation usually takes years and a team of loving people.  I might have the privilege of walking with them through the first stage and they will need you to listen and stoke the fire of their curiosity.

 

Cross-shaped evangelism means years of prayer, years of self-giving friendship, years of listening and availability.  Why? Because we are not just pray- the- prayer type people.  Jesus’ asks us to make disciples, not pick projects and leave them outside their door with a flimsy invitation to church.  He shows us the way.

 

He built relationships of mutual care.  Jesus feasted at their dinner parties or invited them over to his place with a wave and a “Come and See!”  He walked beside them on miles of dusty roads and then knelt down to wash their dirty feet.  He taught and loved and challenged and stayed present.  And in the midst of all that messy life, Jesus offered good news to the poor, bound up broken hearts, released prisoners from darkness, and brought new life to one bowed- down life after another.  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

 

That is the type of love I need to be transformed by, the type of love I want to hand out one cup of living water after another.  That is good news.

 

Together let’s sit in front of the cross and learn.

Summer Gross

Over the next 39 days, we will be following a journey together deeper into these concepts.  Wanna come along?  Ash Wednesday to Easter, we will be taking a macro-lens look at cross-shaped evangelism.   If you desire to receive the reflection in your inbox, find the box at to your right under the word “Connect,” add your email address and push the subscribe button.  Easy.   And maybe you have a cross-shaped evangelism story to share?  Please use the box under “Submit Your Work” and I would love to share your offering.
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And you, friend, if you want to share this journey on your site, here’s the button embed code:

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(I’m linking with the beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee with her new link up #tell his story. Check out her gorgeous new digs.)

and with Ann (without the fanciful “e” 🙂 Voskamp, of course, so thankful,





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When We Need Hope For the Hard Road

Promises are strewn throughout the Bible like buried jewels.

 

Built on the scaffolding of God’s character, these promises prove firm… sure… trustworthy.  Something you can build a life on.  I mine them in the early morning hours, searching for hope.

 

This gem sparkled this morning from our lectionary:

Philippians 1:6  [I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

Standing tall at the wooden lectern, Ian Attila slowed down his reading and looked over the congregation as he read that promise.  I raised my eyes from the metal side chairs.

 

Hope glimmered and I caught it.

 

Paul’s secretary scratched those words of hope into parchment thousands of years ago and it was copied from one text to another until it was proclaimed over us, the Body gathered, today. Promises lighting hope into our everyday lives like the Advent candles bouncing light over Baseline Middle school auditorium.

 

I needed that hope.  His work is not done and He will never give up on me.  Promises declare hope and hope gleams like the light at the top of our red lighthouse on a clear night, a light we followed this summer back into the harbor catching our breath after a good sail.

 

As a priest, I’ve learned to be a follower.

I follow Andrew, my husband, my 19 year love, my boss.

I follow behind the red gospel book lifted high.

And I follow behind the cross.

 

The brass celtic cross is grasped every sunday by Mark Lewis in his long white alb and is carried forward toward the altar, a military drum beat pounded by Andrew Sicard to O Come O Come Emmanuel and I follow, eyes locked on that cross.  I’m being trained every sunday so I can follow it anywhere.   One thing I’ve learned?  Following the cross is pure obedience.

 

Behind that cross, I am no longer in control.

 

Our three blond headed kids fill up the processional with us, carrying the gospel, the Advent torch. And one sunday when Mark was pursuing the finish line at the end of another 28.2 miles, I had the privilege of carrying the cross, inviting my large-eyed Madeline to grasp its long wooden handle.  Involuntarily, I flinched.  Two hands on that wooden cross and we have lost control, little one.  We are now followers and pursuing a zigzagging comfort-filled route is no longer an option. (Yes, I know, praise the Lord, right?) But, are you ready, little one?  Sometimes following is a joy, lately I’ve had little notes from everywhere to keep following my dreams, persevering into writing.  But, sometimes the course winds through the valley, chilly in that shadow.

 

Life, true life is on the other side of that cross, but following can never be called easy. (Christ, have mercy.)  It means learning the hard work of dumping our baggage, learning to chase after God weight-free. We follow, eyes wide open, locked hard.

 

The gift for every follower, everyone who grasps that cross?  Jesus walks beside us.

 

And He knows where the cross is headed.

 

This last week I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary’s “yes” to God and Elizabeth’s statement in Luke 1:45, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord had promised would be accomplished.”

And with that “yes” Mary became a follower, moving slowly toward the cross, a gem collector on the way.  She gathered and pondered and treasured the promises.  And I imagine she would take them out turning them over in her hand, watching them glimmer in the candle light when it started to grow dark.

Summer Gross

What promises have you collected on the way, that build hope in the darkness?  I invite you to please share and write them in the comment section.

I’m joining Ann Voskamp and so thankful to be counting, still counting the simple and profound gifts He is always sending:

1. A drum beat to follow this Advent.  Thank You for Andrew Sicard.

2. Clumps of snow drifing down.  “Is that snow, Mom? It must be Christmas.”

3. Beautiful friends who open wide their lives so we can mourn together…

4. In the catacombs of a prayer clinic, the nativity throwing light up onto the street.

5. Christmas gifts hidden well.

6. Caravan of Thieves on Friday night making us laugh and clap and wonder at the beautiful tone of the violinist and the energy of the guitarist.  Sharing it all with the children.

7. A clean living room and a friend who stayed with me to the end even rearranging furniture.

8. The coming joy of mom, dad, sister, brothers, my belle soeur, and a nephew/niece in utero.

9. A big box of Christmas books borrowed.

10. Sharing an apple with my three year old, giggling at who gets the last red slice.






Also linking with the lovely Laura Boggess here:

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On the Wrestling Mat with the Tithe

(From Sunday’s sermon)

Today, I’m preaching to myself and I need you to hear that.  I’m preaching at the point of my present struggle.  And for some reason God keeps asking this of me!  My writing and my preaching is usually painfully birthed out of total vulnerability.

But, if this subject of money and tithing is not where you are wrestling, I trust that God will show you where the wrestling mat has been thrown down in your life.

Come, Lord Jesus Christ, come.  I pray that the wind of Your Holy Spirit will breathe strong on all of us here…burst open those doors we try to hold shut against Your Presence.  We ask You for hurricane-force strength winds today.  You come and do this work in us.  Amen.

So friends, this is where it all started:  Monday night vestry (our board meeting) we sat down cozily at Lynne Maxwell’s house and my husband, Andrew, led us through a Bible study that could be described as anything but cozy based on the Gospel (Mark 12:41—44) and Old Testament (1 Kings 17: 8-24) from this morning.

That’s where the hard-core sweat on the mat wrestling with God began.

Anyone else thankful that the widow had such hardcore trust in God but fearful that God might ask the same of us?

I had just been crunching numbers the weekend before, Andrew, has been recently able to provide a more steady extra income from the website design business and the swirling numbers were starting to come into focus. I was gathering a healthy feeling of control. I sat down on the futon with a cup of tea and an empty November budget from Dave Ramsey spread out before me and began crunching last month’s numbers.  Oh.  I hadn’t realized what those choices were really costing us. I started fumbling through the money being pumped into our cars at the gas pump and then evaporating into thin air.  I know you all are going through the same thing as you look at your own numbers.

Then, my eyes slid down to the tithing line item.  We had honestly stopped tithing last January when we bumped our salary down…

but this is what I’m realizing…

when we stop tithing, something dams up in our heart and it’s a whole lot harder to get started again.

With my finger on that empty line item, a toddler whine rose up from some deep cosmic place…it’s mine.

David knew that giving rearranges our perspective.  This is what He said:

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things. (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

Tithing is just this: knowing that all of what He has given us was His in the first place.

Tithing is getting down on our knees and begging for the idol of greed to be slain in our lives.

It is money that is out of our control…an offering.  And sometimes we wrestle laying down squirmy things on the altar.

Do you remember that creepy emaciated figure in the Hobbit?  That’s the image I get.  I’m Gollum in the Hobbit holding onto that ring and petting gold whispering, “My precioussss.”

But I fully understand that 90% of the world does not live anywhere like we do!

Statistics:

We in America live insulated in our two car households, with 1500 square feet on average and throwing out at least $500 worth of food every year!  90% of the world lives in a building the size of some of our sheds and lives on $2.50 a day with much bigger families.  1 billion people on our planet do not have safe drinking water and we have it coming out of our shower heads!  We have NOTHING to complain about!

Discontent is a contagious disease.  We pass greed around eagerly with every handshake, we inhale it as we watch television.

In Matthew during the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains that our small seedlings planted by the word of God get choked by what? …The worries of this life and the desire for wealth.

Matthew 13:22 “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. “

When we stopped giving, I slowly began to believe that it was all mine…

The question is, when my fingers clamp tightly around that small round coin, could it be that my heart gets stony and tight too?

On Monday night at the Vestry meeting, the scripture exposed the hard truth.

Here’s the gospel scripture again:

“Jesus sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums.  A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.  Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.  For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

This time as you listen, place yourself in the scripture, are you a disciple, a passersby listening, someone in line at the treasury ready to give out of your abundance, or perhaps the widow herself?

What are you hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling?  What words stand out to you?

By the way, this way of looking at the scripture is called the Ignatian Way.  Ignatius taught us not just to open our ears to the scripture but to live inside the stories through the senses and allow God to transform us by jumping into the Word with our whole selves.

It was in the middle of this scripture that I began to wrestle….  Someone at the vestry pointed out that the widow was giving not out of abundance, but out of poverty.  Unbidden, my anger started rising.

Like much of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes an Old Testament command and raises it to the nth power.  Don’t just avoid committing adultery; don’t lust after a woman in your heart. Don’t just love your neighbor, love your enemy.  Don’t just give and “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, but if someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

And now here: Don’t just tithe out of abundance, give out of your poverty.  Really God?  You can’t be asking us to give from the point of our fear?

Have you ever gotten angry at a word of God?  It’s kind of scary…but our emotions, especially strong emotions are just signals that there are tender spots to bring before God…and it was clear I had some major work to do in His Presence.

It was then that the truth began to emerge.  Jesus pointed to His love, His sacrifice. Nothing held back.  All given out of love.  He left heaven, a world of perfection, of riches and a throne to be born from an unwed mother into poverty,

left perfect health to be crucified,

left perfect love of the Trinity to be rejected.

Jesus is talking less about money in this scripture and more about full heart conversion.  He just knows that with us Gollums, what we do with our money says a lot about where we worship. 

Where we put our money tells us about our focus and even more telling…about our trust.

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”

The tithe is my bowing down before the altar, money in hand, and worshipping, offering to God all that I am.

On Thursday I schlepped our bulky Lenten cross into Joy Seiler’s living room and each of us in my Journey group asked God for what sins we were running to instead of giving our full selves, our pain, our mistrust, our wounds to God.  Then after a time of silence, we took small nails and the hammer and banged them one at a time, confessing to one another the idols we were begging to give us life…instead of God.

This is what the Lord seems to be saying to me:

The weekly tithe is another hammering, each time banging my greed, my discontent, keeping my greed nailed to that cross…

The wrestling finally stopped with a story, this story

…a nun came to LeAnne Payne, one of my favorite Anglican inner healing prayer ministers…

This nun had laid down in front of the altar, given her all to God but had never felt close to the God she served.  She was drowning in depression, a swirl of negative thoughts about herself and her relationship with God.  LeAnne invited her to journal through each negative thought and ask for a verse to speak directly to that thought pattern. (Extremely helpful idea, by the way…)

She wrote this in a letter back to LeAnne and this, friends, is where hope finally sparked for me…this is where the grace comes in:

[That horrible thought that keeps going over in my mind, “I’ll never be able to surrender to God” met Ezekiel 36:16-36 (and I want you to write this down because this is THE key to the spiritual life) but especially verses 25-27.  “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

And she continued with this: “My surrender issue is of long, long standing.  I have felt as though my hands were hopelessly clamped onto my life, control, a driver’s wheel, a rope—something that had to be let go of, but I couldn’t pry my grip loose, and confessors who demanded a verbal declaration of surrender made me feel only MORE guilty and frustrated and hypocritical because I knew the words couldn’t effect the reality.  And now—it doesn’t matter anymore!  It is God’s responsibility.  I can trust Him to give me the heart and spirit of surrender when it pleases Him…”

 

I finally lay down on the wrestling mat, face down.  Lord, I can’t do this myself.  I need the Spirit of God to be put in me to move me to follow His decrees.  This is always the key:  God’s Spirit in us, moving us to follow Him.

If it is your desire to have God work in your life like the nun experienced, pray with me:

Lord, we admit it…we can’t do this ourselves…we have places in our lives where we have closed and locked doors to You.  But we know that abundant life means getting healed and holy and having the wind of Your Holy Spirit blow through every corner of our lives unhindered.

Jesus, we thank You that through Your blood and through baptism, You have already sprinkled clean water on us, and we have been made clean and You are still cleaning us out;

Continue to cleanse us from all our impurities and from all our idols.  Give us a new heart and put a new spirit in us; Remove from us our heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh. Put your Spirit in us and move us to follow your decrees and be careful to keep your laws.

 We thank You that this is already Your will in our lives.  In Jesus name, Amen.

from Summer Gross

Photos of mites: pitterlepostings.blogspot.com of open door here of cross in sea here black and white open door here clouds here

sharing with the lovely writer: Jennifer Dukes Lee @

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Good, Good Friday

Today, God hung slack on a tree,

Bleeding red love

Hungry

Shamed

Alone.

 

Today, Compassion cried bloody tears

On the mob that killed it

And asked forgiveness

For the hand and the hammer

And cried, “Father!” to stopped-up ears.

 

Today, a king died high

Between earth and cloud

The target of spit

And sword

And crown of thorn.

 

Today, a Lamb followed destiny

and desire

Chained by love

To shame, hurt

And sin

And hell.

 

Today, Earth’s bosom shook.

The silent scream of sin

Shrouded light

And Life died in a casket of pain.

 

Today, Heaven roared and seethed,

And in it’s dark fury

Cast swords to earth.

The planet shook.

Gutteral shudders swelled earth’s belly

And belched black clouds.

God had passed that way

And signed His name

In the blood of His Son.

 

Today, garbage plugged up the universe

With decay

And death swallowed victory

With gnashing teeth.

A lion roared from Hell

And a cross stood

A bleak apostrophe in time and space.

 

Today, it was Friday.  But Sunday was coming………..

Linda Andersen

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