Posted in (in)courage, Breathe, Busy-ness, Devotional Life, Forgetting, Goal, god is with us, God's Voice, Jeremiah 29:11, Rest, Straining

God Speaks

I went to the kids’ award day for the third nine weeks, watched Kathie Lee Gifford’s last Today Show, walked the dog with my husband, Mike, and cleaned out my car.  I haven’t washed or cleaned the car since we left Mt. Pleasant in July.  It was gross.  When I found this devotional book that I’ve had in there for a year or more. IMG_2570 (1) I put it in there because I often have a busy schedule.  Well, if I’m honest, I ALWAYS have a busy schedule and I need to get in my devotions when I can.  Stuck in traffic, waiting at the doctors’ office, waiting in a drive thru line, before I go into work – you get the idea of why I put it in there.  You know what?  I have used it approximately 3 times.  I check emails or I’m calling someone or ….. I’d forgotten it’s in there.

I thought about taking it to my office where all the other prayer books are.  But then, I would never use it….except for maybe a staff devotion or a devotion for church.

I subscribe to the (in)courage blogs and I know I’ve not taken enough self-care by how many blogs I have in my inbox.  (I have many.). As I was in the massaging pedicure chair, I was reading this blog titled “Here, Take a Moment to Breathe,” and at the end, lo and behold it’s the book that’s been riding around with me for years under my console.  Much cleaner, I must say.  I got the message loud and clear.

The sermon on Sunday is based on Philippians 3:12-14. The verses are about pressing towards the goal.  If we (I) don’t take time to breathe, if we (I) fill up our calendars, even if it’s doing great and worthy stuff, then we’re missing out on the richness of living the daily Christian life.  It’s not about getting little Jesus fixes, but it’s about the day to day spending time with our Creator, our best friend, the Spirit that intercedes for each of us.  

I’m going to live into these verses, “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Not rear view mirror living, but windshield living.  Taking it ALL in and straining/leaning/inching/muscling toward what lies ahead.  What’s our goal?  What are we pressing for?  The prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus?  I think it’s what Matthew 22:37-39 says “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  

First, we HAVE to stay connected to the TRUE VINE with every ounce in us.  Otherwise we are short-changing ourselves in the abundant life that Jesus wants to give us.  Second, we have to love people enough to show them Jesus in our every day lives.  “Go ye and tell ALL the world” that I have an abundant love for them.  I want a relationship with them.  If they seek me, they will find me.

I think that’s the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus – to have our essence be so in tune with the Lord that it shows.  That IS our greatest goal in life – our greatest prize!  In her final words, Gifford referenced a Bible verse. “Jeremiah 29 says, ‘I know the plans I have (for) you, declares the Lord,’ ” she said, getting choked up, ” ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.’ That’s not just true for me, you guys, that’s true for everybody watching. Trust Him. Let Him love you like He wants to love you,” she continued. “Like I am loved by all of you.”

Looking forward to Sunday, my friends!

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Kathie Lee Farewell

Peace Over Productivity by Becky Keife

 

 

 

Posted in Balance, Busy-ness, Centering, Faith, Guidance, Holy Spirit, Lent, perseverance, Rest

Renew, Restore, Uphold

As we continue through our Lenten journey, looking towards Holy Week – these verses are a challenge, a promise and a prayer. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” – Psalm 51:10, 12

The sentences above was my facebook status this morning.  The passage came from the online Upper Room readings this morning.  I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear them.  It is so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and all of the things that “have” to get done, that at least for me, the things that I treasure sometimes get pushed aside.  There’s only so long that we can spin like tops like in Inception without completely stopping and getting skewed.  

I think some of us see God as the One that keeps the top spinning.  We see God as the strength to get us through the next thing and the next and the next.  This time of year when there’s just a month left in the semester, in many ways I cling to that image of God giving us the strength, perseverance, and grace to keep moving and going and completing the things that we need to complete and remembering the things we need to remember.  

For some of us, it’s harder to see God as the One that sometimes is this one to stop the top mid-spin.  If you’re in the middle of dancing to a good song or jamming in your car, you don’t want the song to suddenly go off either by someone changing the channel or an emergency test or you arriving at your location.  Sometimes though it takes this sometimes awkward pause to wake us up to realize that we’ve been running on our own steam and in our own self-centeredness and self-involvement and that we haven’t connected to the One who sustains us in awhile.

It’s not that we haven’t been doing what we need to do.  It’s not that I haven’t gone to worship or small group or done the “minister” stuff, but no matter how long the to do list is and no matter how many directions our minds are pulled in whether in worry or day dreaming or whatever, sometimes we need to press the pause button and reconnect with the One who is providing us with the music.

My prayer for myself and each of us is that if we’re speeding through this Lenten journey and we’re thinking we’re in the home stretch, that we’re just as attentive now to God’s leading as we were when we started this journey on Ash Wednesday.  My hope is that we’re just as committed, disciplined and awakened to God’s joy and presence now as when we first believed.  May God speak to us in clear and powerful ways and may we have ears to listen and hearts ready to receive.  May our lives be renewed and restored, and may we trust that God will uphold us today, tomorrow and forevermore!

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This is a true outside of Wesley where I've gotten to watch some persevering green silk worms slowly and surely make their way. May we fit into God's rhythm the same way.
Posted in Campus Ministry, Centering, Evangelism, God, Rest, Spirituality

Rest in God and Get Ready

Published previously on the Faith on Campus blog on August 2nd – http://faithoncampus.com/ready-and-clinging-to-god/

This past week I gathered with a group of young clergy and as we were checking in with each other and I began to describe this time of year in the life of a campus minister I compared it to Advent or to an extended Holy Week in terms of the demand on one’s time and mental, physical, spiritual and emotional resources.  We’ve heard the research about how critical and crucial the first few weeks are in terms of plugging students in and getting into their habit of the semester.  There’s so much that goes into these first few weeks and it often feels like if you miss this first boat, you’re going to be stranded on the island with a few students that may have been hiding in the bushes, but you could be looking through the binoculars seeing what some of the other boats are doing and think wow, where did all the students go?  Are we lost for the rest of the year?  Do we measure up to “x” campus ministry? Should we have put more thought and planning into this?  Is there any way we still have a chance to pull it all together?

We have to get out there and meet students and connect and invite and have those real, authentic interactions.  You’ve got to take every opportunity (or at least send a student leader).  If there’s a student org fair, you need to be there.  If there’s a welcome cook out, you need to be there.  If there’s a chance for you to reach out and connect students to your community through food or worship or playing corn hole (is that just in the South?) or tailgating at a football game or through a day of service or a mission project or whatever it may be – you need to be there.  Ready.  And with a smile.  Not the creepy, too over eager kind, but the one that says I really want to get to know you and your story and here’s how you can feel plugged in here.

Going into my seventh year in campus ministry, you would think that maybe by now I would have figured out some sort of secret method to lure in students.  It’s not so much a secret, but the planning and intentionality as well as the authentic and genuine interest is key because no one likes to see someone running around unprepared and frantic.  Sure there are those times when things come together on the fly and the Spirit of God moves in powerful ways for it to look and feel seamless.  Praise God for those moments.  But there’s also a bar of excellence and quality that we have to have as professionals in campus ministry.  It’s hard to take someone seriously when they have a bunch of great ideas, but those ideas never seem to come to fruition because you’re being pulled in so many directions.

I don’t know about you, but for me, where I am spiritually has a great deal to do with how I approach the beginning of the year.  Where I am in my walk with God has a significant impact on how I or this ministry seem to fare in the gauntlet that is the beginning of the school year and whether it seems smooth or frantic.  If I’m feeling exhausted, worn ragged and torn between family and campus ministry and preaching on Sundays and how we’re going to pay for all the beginning of the year hoopla – I can’t fully engage with new students or any students for that matter.  There are so many missed opportunities and regrets and frustration when the “stuff” gets in the way of the heart of why we’re here and why we do what we do.

So, rest.  Rest in God.  Catch up on your sleep.  Rest in the hope that you have made the preparations, that you have students and leaders and board members that are ready to help and that this is God’s.  I have a post it note on my desk.  As we have faced changes and challenges, it helps center me.  As it gets lost in the piles that sometimes grow on my desk, I know that it’s time for me to shape up and get focused again.  The post it says, “God has done this.”  God has done this.  God is doing this.

Often I feel like I get in the way of that.  At other times I feel blessed beyond measure and in awe of how much God is in the midst.  I didn’t write this to say that I have this giant cop out or loophole where I can not do any planning, preparation, or prayerful visioning and blame it all on God.  Nope.  But I can remind myself that it’s not all on my strength, personality, or how nice or smart or hipster or cool or attractive or funny I am.  It’s not based on whether I’m a mac or a pc.  It’s based on us going into these seasons of introductions, newness or renewal of relationships with the grace and passion and groundedness of the One who has called us to what we are to do in this time and in this place and who will be with us through the events that go super well and those that totally bomb and we vow never to do again.

My challenge to myself during this time is to yes, do the work.  Get ready.  Be prepared to hit the ground running during that beginning of the year crunch time.  But also know and trust and feel that the Spirit of God is at work not only in our ministries but within each of us.  God seeks to move in mighty and transformative ways on our campuses.  God has done this and God is doing this and amazingly, we get to be a part of it!