Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Saturday, February 08, 2014
Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, Jesus, we come to you today grateful for your generosity in allowing us to breathe another day full of breath, for the privilege of being alive. We come grateful for the responsibility of being situated as leaders at Lipscomb University. You have positioned us to touch the lives of students, their families, their friends, their churches. Everything we do vibrates across hundreds or even thousands of relationships, plucking the tender and resilient strands that hold people together. Let us now take off our sandals, for you have placed us on holy ground.
As a Christian institution of higher learning located in Nashville, in Middle Tennessee, in the Southeast, in the United States, in the world we have the choice either to close ourselves off and protect ourselves from the world and culture that swirls about us or to engage this world and culture.
May we resist the temptation to disengage as the Essenes did finding comfort and identity in separating from the world about them, settling into an insular seclusion as though we can somehow be separate from anyone else.
May we resist the temptation to engage as the Pharisees did finding comfort and identity in judging the world about them, settling into self-righteousness and spiritual pride as though we could be spiritually superior to anyone else.
May we resist the temptation to engage as Rome did finding comfort and identity in lording over others with power and authority, settling into domination and oppression as though the power we have was meant to control others.
Instead, guide us as we engage this amazing world around us. We seek to follow the way of Christ as he engaged the world. Let us make an incarnational engagement with this place, with everyone we touch. Let us be fully in this world while not being of this world. Let us be generous like Jesus, giving ourselves away without losing ourselves. Let us be an aroma that promises delight and let us be the delight to the world that we promise to be. Let us change this place by goodness not force, by kindness not judgment, by connection not protection. Let every single thing we do leave a generous and unforgettable experience for this world to ponder.
With the responsibility and privilege we have been graciously given, we ask for boldness. May we be bold. Truly bold. Not the imposing boldness that flows from arrogance, not the flailing boldness that comes from desperation, not the explosive boldness that ignites from anger, but rather the generous and engaging boldness that can only exude from humility.
With the responsibility and privilege we have been graciously given, we ask for wisdom. May we be wise in leveraging our collective experiences, wounds, successes, failures, skills, talents, deficiencies and personalities for the benefit and blessing of the world around us. And yet even with all of that, we ask for more wisdom. Give us wisdom beyond ourselves. Give us wisdom that we have not earned through experience. Give us divine wisdom. In your word you promised that a request for wisdom would not be denied and so we come expectant.
We are grateful for being blessed with the privilege and responsibility of Lipscomb University.
We offer up this prayer in Jesus name.
Saturday, February 01, 2014
For my grieving friends, I know you are tired and weary and may be looking for a place where grief is not or a moment when grief sleeps - so you can also sleep. I also know such a place does not exist and such moments for rest are elusive. You may look at the days before you as an endless line of blank hours awaiting processing.
It is my prayer that you can find some way in all the disorienting emptiness to story your grief. In words. In song. In dance. In tears. In prayer. In poetry. In mission. In art.
And it is my prayer that you will have genuine and humble listeners. Real listeners. May listeners be near you when you can story your grief, the kind of listeners who are uninterested by anything else in the world but you, who are undistracted by any other care in the world, whose listening humbly invites more story.
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Friday, May 31, 2013
At the same time, the ocean sustains us with food. It regulates air quality, weather patterns, the recycling of water. Even for people in Minnesota, where I grew up, the ocean is an essential part of life and is unavoidable. We cannot not engage the ocean We cannot survive in its absence. It is essential to all life.
The ocean gives life. The ocean takes life. We are certain that we need the ocean as we would all die without it, but at the same time, the ocean itself is uncertain in how it will treat us. We need it, but we cannot trust it. We live dependent on it, but we cannot put our faith in its care for us.
We must engage the ocean while having faith in something else.
Sometimes the ocean is fun and we para sail over it. High above the waves and currents and tides, there is quiet and calm, and we gently hover over the waters, seeing almost everything up so high. Although somewhat precarious being so high, we para sail in peace.
There are times of faith that feel like this. Confident and peace-filled. We see everything and it all makes sense. There is no sense that much is wrong in the world and we feel the joy of being above it all. These are good times of faith. We feel strong and mostly in control of things. Yes, we know that we could fall, but we don't fall.
But we don't always para sail. In fact, it is something we hardly ever do. Mostly we float on the ocean. Some people have nice yachts, but most people can't afford huge boats like that. We have our little boats. They float, but they are moved by waves and wind, by current and tide. Little boats on the ocean prevent us from having to tread water, but also shake when the ocean flinches.
There are times when our faith feels like being in a small boat in the huge ocean. It is a faith that keeps us afloat, but in such a way that we feel everything. Waves may splash over the side of he boat and get us wet. We could be carried away by a current. We rise and fall with the tide. Our little boat does not stop the ocean; instead, it helps us live in the presence of the ocean. Faith is not something that protects us from the world as much as it helps us live in the world. Faith is not an escape plan, it is a means of engagement. It is not a way to be unaffected, but rather a way to process the affect.
And sometimes we have to go under. We must get completely submerged into the ocean. Sometimes the ocean just wants to swallow us for a while and we have to go under. Of course this cannot be done by holding one's breath, at least not for long. We need to take extreme measures and climb into a submarine. Inside a submarine, so little can be seen. There is so much unknown and unseen being submerged.
There are times when faith is the only thing keeping us going, keeping us alive. Without it we would be drowned immediately. The submarine faith is powerful, protective, and persistent, but at the same time requires a lot of resources. In fact, it requires everything we've got in order to breathe. one small breach in the hull and there is absolute crisis. It must be strong. It must not fail.
Faith is dynamic and responsive to an ocean that is massively powerful and filled with creatures. Faith is going to look and feel differently depending on the situation. A strong faith is not deciding which situation to be in or what it feels like in that situation. A strong faith is one that addresses the situation, even if it feels like it is precarious. The strength of one's faith cannot be measured by the behavior of the ocean, but by the response of of the person.
Nurturing one's faith is making sure there are no tears in the para sail, leaks in the boat or breaches in the hull of the submarine.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
And now I understood that my song was so perfectly me that I was not allowed to know it on my own. I could not know it on my own for being on my own isn’t being me – if that even makes any sense at all. Rather, I could only sing my song when God himself sang it through me. This added so much more meaning to being an image of God. I had always been an image of God in the world. I am still in the world and I am still an image of God – but now without limits. God has ALWAYS desired to sing through me and now it is finally happening. I was finally doing what I was meant to do all along. Now I was singing something I felt like I had only fleeting glimpses of for so many decades. This was the greatly anticipated thing – that I, together with what seemed to be everyone, was finally freed to sing.