Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

What pours out ...

“If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts.

It is not that God makes us beautifully rounded grapes, but that He squeezes the sweetness out of us.

Spiritually, we cannot measure our life by success, but only by what God pours through us, and we cannot measure that at all.”

(Oswald Chambers)

What if this was the way we assessed our lives?

Or, better yet ... What if we just stayed so close to Jesus that He couldn't help but pour his love and grace into us, and then right out through us into our broken world?

And then perhaps we wouldn't even be bothered to think about assessing ourselves or trying to measure success.

We would know that our only job was to stay real, real close to Jesus. As if that were enough. Because it is.

What do you believe in?

As I listen to conversations between Christians, and as I pay attention to some of the arguments amongst Christian groups of various kinds played out for the world to see on social media (um, is this wise?) I have found myself wondering …

Do we believe more in our own beliefs than we do in Jesus?

It sure seems like we do.

Fighting over what we believe about women…

Fighting over what we believe about very specific doctrines…

Fighting over what we believe about sexuality…

Fighting over what we believe the true definition of “biblical” is…

Fighting over politics …

And the list goes on…

I have found myself wishing we did a bit more fighting over Jesus, to be honest.

Martin Luther nails it:

“Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior.”

At times, you would think our beliefs have become our “god,” our “functional savior.” We cling to them more tightly than almost anything else … it seems our very faith hinges upon them. We seem to want to fight to the death for them.

Do we believe more in our own beliefs than we do in Jesus?

Do we?

God's Mission ...

I remember sitting in a class listening to people answer the question, “What is God’s mission in the world?”

To be honest, I was really disappointed by the answers.

They were almost all kind of individualistic in nature.

Many of them were violent and kind of “end-times” oriented … the idea that all God cared about was getting a bunch of individuals into heaven before he blew the rest of the world to bits.

There were no answers that seemed big enough to be God’s, you know?

My heart and soul were uninspired.

And so I went searching, both in the Bible and from great thinkers: Where could I find a richer, deeper, truer understanding about what God’s mission is in this messed up world?

I went back to one of the modern day classics, NT Wright’s book, Simply Christian, which many compare to CS Lewis’ classic, Mere Christianity.

Here’s how Wright spells out God’s mission:

“Christianity is about the belief that the Living God, in fulfillment of his promises and as the climax of the story of Israel, has accomplished all this – the finding, saving, the giving of new life – in Jesus. He has done it.

With Jesus, God’s rescue operation has been put into effect once and for all. A great door has swung open in the cosmos which can never again be shut. It’s the door to the prison where we’ve been keep chained up.

We are offered freedom: freedom to experience God’s rescue for ourselves, to go through the open door and explore the new world to which we now have access.

In particular, we are all invited – summoned, actually – to discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven.

In listening to Jesus, we discover whose voice it is that has echoed around the hearts and minds of the human race all along.”

Now that … that motivates me!

Silence ...

I went out to lunch with my parents yesterday, which is always a treat.

My parents are almost 80 years old. My dad still works full-time as the senior partner in his law firm. My mom works for my dad most afternoons. They go out to lunch together almost every day. Occasionally, I get invited along.

We had great conversation. They are some of the only people besides my husband who love hearing about my kids … in detail!

However, during one part of our conversation, I noticed I was not listening well to my mom. She (a nurse) was trying to explain something medical to me, and I kept talking over her, explaining to her that I already knew what she was trying to tell me.

Yuk.

Why did I do that?

Why do I often do that?

I use my words to try to control people. To try to explain to them how much I know. To try to correct them; fix them, even.

I want to be a better listener. Do you?

First, then, we must start with silence.

“Silence frees us from the need to control others … A frantic stream of words flows from us in attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit because it puts the stopper on that.” (Richard Foster)

Oh silence, will you be my friend?