The Rest of the Beloved

Yesterday was a retreat day for me.

Every few months I try to set aside my agendas and to-do lists and really try to spend time with Jesus. While this isn’t easy – and I blow it off more than I’d like to admit – the focused time in the presence of the divine is always good – and necessary.

For me, this means I listen to Jesus. I can’t hear Him unless I set aside everything and focus on HIM. I listen and listen and listen.

I usually plan a FULL DAY to do this. Sometimes my schedule allows that to work out, others times it doesn’t. But at least I am intentional about it.

Now the truth is, I don’t sit still very well. (For those of you who I live and work with this comes as no surprise.) So if I really want to spend time with Jesus and listen I need to go on a long run. Preferably, this is a ‘down and out run.’ I run far in one direction so that I have to run the same distance back. (It keeps me honest.)

Yesterday was a 10 mile so that gave me plenty of time to listen.

While running, I try my best to get rid of all thoughts and aspirations; all plans and agendas; all anxieties and challenges…and just listen. I do all I can to quiet the ‘other voices’ that are always chattering in my head and listen…to the voice of Jesus.

God said much to me during that run: things I needed to hear; things I needed to be reminded about. He told me about the sins I need to deal with. He told me about the here relationships I need to mend. He told me about getting a better handle on my frustrations.

I heard Him and I know what to do.

And I was able to rest during that run. (Yes, you can ‘rest’ even when you’re running or walking or exercising.)

The rest I am talking about is one that happens when God has the chance to whisper into your soul because you’re focused on him and you’re trying to listen. Because when you give God the opportunity and really listen, you will hear from Him. And you will hear that you are beloved and that your life is in his hands and that there is nothing to fear and no amount of striving or pursuing will make Him love you more than you already are.

Because when you listen to God you will hear you are beloved. Yesterday, during that run I heard I was beloved. Again.

May you find the time and place to hear from God as much and as often as possible. Amen.

Denying Jesus with Our Lives

We cannot profess Jesus with our mouths and deny Him with our lifestyle.

An unbelieving world finds this not only disingenuous but hypocritical.

Brennan Manning called it the chief reason for the rise of atheism in our time. Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls it ‘cheap grace.’

Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls this ‘cheap grace.’ It’s a grace that is spoken of by Christians. Yet there is nothing of substance behind the words.

The world needs to know that Jesus is real. And that will only happen when our lives testify to his love and grace.

Comfort is Relative

My daughter is spending the summer in Haiti serving at an orphanage. She’ll be hanging with the kids and serving on a number of teams.

She’s there to serve orphan children. She’s also trying to discern whether God is calling her to serve internationally after she completes nursing school. Bailie Haiti

To say I am proud is an understatement. I am so proud that she has both the courage and fortitude to undertake this adventure.

One of the biggest challenges she’s had to face is the change in her personal comfort. In Haiti power is not dependable. It gets hot. There is no cable with capability of recording shows and movies. There are no fast food restaurants she can frequent. must rely on spotty cell phone and wifi service. No doubt, her American standards of life are on hold for a couple of months.

Before she left we were talking about this. I was worried for her. I thought the transition might be too hard on her. One evening we were talking and she said: “Dad — comfort is relative. I am ready to step out of my comfort zone.”

Proud papa moment for sure.

This has got me thinking about my spiritual comfort. I’ve been asking myself this question: “where am I comfortable in my journey. Where have I settled and where must I renegotiate comfort?”

Comfort isn’t bad. But it seems to me we can get too comfortable. We can settle for comfort over everything else.

Jesus didn’t ever offer comfort to his followers. Quite the opposite.

For example:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).

Being a Jesus follower means we must be willing to step out of our comfort zone.

What about you? Where have you grown too comfortable? What do you need to do to get out of your comfort zone?

Don’t Flinch!

God’s love is always looking for a way to express itself through us. Don’t flinch when you have the chance.

  • Maybe it’s a need you spot on your way home from work. You’re tired and you don’t want to be bothered. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe you’ve just got home and your child needs to talk about his terrible horrible day. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe your spouse needs you to understand something she’s been trying to tell you and wants you just to listen. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe it’s an overwhelming desire to pray for someone who is hurting. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe it’s an opportunity to be extravagantly generous to a person or cause. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe it’s a desire to start something new. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe it’s the opportunity to say you’re sorry. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe it’s the opportunity to help one person complete their dream. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe its a friend who needs you to pay them a visit. Don’t flinch.
  • Maybe you’re being asked to step into leadership in a new way. Don’t flinch.

Whenever you have the opportunity to express God’s love, DON’T FLINCH.

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