Wild Eyes

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It isn’t often that my eyes light up with a view of heaven. They were flashing wild though, when I looked at you with all flesh cornea and happened to see the kingdom version. You were a thing of reckless beauty.

It sounds crazy and I know it. I might be just one day away from camel shirts and locusts for dinner but I don’t even mind. I wish you could see it for yourself, I wish my wild eyes could act like mirrors so that you could not deny it. There would be no going back. You could be a dangerous thing.

I feel it in these creaking flesh bones, valleys rising. The lioness. I am more than ready to rise up, pounce, catch it all, run wild. There is nothing in me aching for the cages of old. Don’t take me back.

My son, he ran out into the woods, got so far ahead I could not see him. It is not the time of year for small boys to be alone in Canadian forests. The bears are waking with this early thaw. When I finally found him, I said “are you okay?” thinking his heart is already caged up like mine. But no. Instead his wild eyes turned on me and said “oh mom, I feel like my very own real and true self”. This is what is created in us, the Image of God on our hearts. I can’t understand why we submit to being bound and caged by the world we find ourselves. What will it take for you to remember your whole? The sozo of God, His plans for you are total restoration. Don’t settle for just a part.

I don’t want to hear about your yoke no more. Throw it off. I want to hear about the molds you shatter, your irrational hope.

You who lead? Don’t you dare look back. There is no faster way to yoke yourself again. Keep your eyes locked on the good shepherd. Keep the kingdom vision of your flock at forefront. Don’t settle in. Don’t wear failure like a cloak. Throw it off. Just for a moment, embrace the whole and free, the reconciliation meant for you. Only then will you ever be able to be a tiny part shattering yokes for the oppressed among us.

If the church is a body…

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Here we are…Compensating for each other. Pulling to the right or the left when there is a strain, when someone isn’t pulling their weight. The hand must patch up the knee that is bleeding from the stumble over sin. The back that is sagging from the the age, from the burden bearing; the core muscles have to toughen up to bear the sway from being too great. That hand that stopped typing, let those with the the golden tongue encourage. The vocal cords, let them sing, let them praise.

I wish I was a part of the spine. Strong. Holding things together.

Or perhaps an important part of the brain. The medulla. The frontal lobe. Practical. Wise.

I would not mind being a muscle. Those with the strong arms who do the heavy lifting. Those that serve without any fan fair.

Or even the heel. Calloused enough to walk the hard road. Though, lets be honest, perhaps the church has more than it’s fair share of heels. Mostly we need to be softer.

But no. My only hope now, that I am just a tiny bit of the heart. A single cell perhaps? A piece of the valve that blows open when the spirit shocks. The one who hears the sudden whoosh and makes it poetry and art. The one who whispers quiet in the night when things seem dark and all hope it lost. Keeps the rhythm of the maker. I want to be the one stilll finding all the beauty there in the dark. Find me in the blood and the gore, the mire and the muck. Find me in my own brokenness still naming you saint.

The Fish Are Sick

If the fish in a pond, suddenly started to all swim in circles together, around and around we might wonder if they had been hypnotized. If they all started to bloat, their round bellies expand, dropsy set in with the whole school we might wonder what was the matter. Did someone feed them too much? If the entire pond of fish started to behave irresponsibly, jumping out of the water thrashing on the muddy shores would we not be concerned?

If they were dying, all the fish, anxious and depressed, cutting themselves with dull rocks on the bottom of the pond. If they began sipping on noxious chemicals to dull the ache, or if the whole pond started swimming up streams they never spawned in, but waters that would surely kill them…would we not try to intervene?

Would we not wonder if there was something wrong with the water they were swimming in? Would we not be just a little bit concerned that something was wrong with the ENVIRONMENT?

Perhaps…we should start shouting at the fish. HEY YOU FISH, STOP THAT you are hurting yourself don’t you see? Your underside is bleeding, the sharks are circling, PLEASE stop dragging your  bloated belly along the bottom. JUST STOP IT.

Or maybe we treat the sick fish…can we catch every single one, try to give them some antibiotics, push back the decay. Perhaps if we sit them down on a therapists couch we can cure-all that ails them.

But all the fish are doing it, don’t you see? Every. single. one. These waters are killing them, not so softly.

Its time to drop anecdote into this pond. It is time to figure out how to treat this culture. It is time to love these fish enough to do the HARD work of starting from ground zero, of getting into the mud and the mire and showing a better way. It is time friends, to recognize the thief dropping poison in our kids and to STOP him. They have started taking the bait off of a hook meant to kill and destroy.

Youth culture is sick. For the first time at my work at the university we are prescribing more anxiolytics then antibiotics. More antidepressants then birth control. More morning after pills then casts for injuries. Things are not quite right in this fish pond.

We covet your prayers this weekend as we step into the waters, scatter the only cure for a society so sick. The only hope for a situation so hopeless.

Join us? Pray with us this week. Fast with us this week for a work that only God could do. He can make all things new you know.

Even ponds full of toxin and the half dead. Living Water can soothe even the sickest of fish….

 

Let the Lion Roar

ImageI’ve been guilty of it.
Treating the God of the universe like a lap dog that is mine to groom, to leash up and prance around packed arenas. I’ve believed that He is mine to dominate; tie out in the yard if He gets to mouthy, talks too much. The North American church, loves to do this. Package him up in the guise of family values, of conservative politics, of good behaviour and worst of all mediocre art.
Aslan is on the move He is setting fires in His wake. Fires in the hearts of men after he has burned down our man ordained infrastructures.
We’ve leashed Him for too long, like we could ever make a chain thick enough. We’ve chained ourselves there too, in the stadium, out in the yard, to the kitchen sink. Not once risking our own skins all the while forsaking our souls. The proof is in our anxious hearts, our depressed minds. We are carrying weights we were never meant to…His burden is light.
The evangelical church is shifting, the very ground beneath our feet is moving. Tectonic shifts. You can grieve if you want too…the things that have passed. I will not. I trust the God of the universe to let him burn what He will. I trust him enough to be ALL IN to see what is built tomorrow.

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I’ve no interest in being a lion tamer…You can keep your caged up beast. I’ll be chasing mine, in the Serengeti of this wild life, my heart beating fast with the thrill of it.  I’ll be out in the barren plains of the disenchanted hearts of men, watching the Living Water quench the barren ground. I’ll be out under the acacia trees, the shadow of His wings, anywhere He leads. I’ll be using all His good gifts to expand the horizon of the captured, to tear down the fences of the religious. I’ll be in the great wide open, knowing He is not safe, and there are dangers here I can’t plan for. Still I know He is good and I will follow anyways.
My God? He is not tame but he is so very good.

ImageI feel the quake in my heart…the fire burning white hot. There are far better things ahead my friends…

A Mother Letter: On the Peace

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Dear O,

When you asked for a pistol for you birthday it got me thinking.  Being your mamma always makes me ask the hard questions. This time I wondered about THE PEACE and how we are living it.

You said you  “want to shoot down a tree and to shoot down the power lines”, and there isn’t anything wrong with this, hear that clear. It just made me stop and think for a moment. Little boys love guns and wars and battles of all kinds. My daddy said no guns at our house but we found ways to make our own, turn the garden implements to battle staffs for our ninja club. Children find ways to fight. I just want you to know that you are part of a better way.

You need to know that your daddy and I? We believe the Peace.

You can watch us. The way we do the hard work of getting along, of asking the questions. Peace making isn’t about hiding my boy. It has taken your daddy and I a long time to learn this. To believe that making the peace isn’t about pretending we don’t hear when a word is spoken against us. No boy. That is for cowards. We walk into James 3, believing that the wise are the peacemakers, the humble. You can watch us do our best to bow our knees, to admit our mistakes, but not to cower under it. We want you to learn to use your words, the power of them to disarm or to wage war. The ways that we can use our social capital to build another up or to tear them down. We are still learning this, I will always be the last to call myself wise.

I want you to watch the  counter cultural ways of your daddy. The ways he dampens the power of the empire of pop culture by pointing out its absurdity. The way he points to our humble King every chance he gets. The way he believes, that even while he is turning a kingdom upside down he can do it in peaceful ways. That being a cultural subversive doesn’t mean you throw rocks, but that you take those rocks and build something beautiful instead. The way he does the hardest work of discussions he hates…because being brave enough to make peace doesn’t mean he likes it. No your daddy would much rather live the Peace than make it. You can watch him please…the way his rage doesn’t exist. The way the Spirit flourishes there.

You can watch me too I guess. Watch the way I learn to tame the flesh in me. You know this temper can flare up hot, the way the fuse can just be too short. I want you to watch the ways the Spirit can dampen even a wick like that. I’m learning my boy, I’m learning.

We are going to help you fan this spirit in your own heart. What you need to do to care for your soul to reveal this Spirit in you. The ways you will need space and time like your mamma, the way you aren’t going to be able to rush. You need to know that it takes more bravery to stand up and do the hard work of making the peace than it does to submit to the rage. It takes more strength to bend the weapons into implements of peace. You have these in abundance…I just watched you face the wrath of baby sister with dignity, turning her fists away and never once raising yours. I am achingly proud of you.

Grace and Peace,

Mamma

PS: Peace chasers watch this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWH4R0_-4hg

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

James 3:17

Roots

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I planted more lupins this spring. Lillies too. Shasta daisies and Rudbeckia.

Lupins grow wild here. But, still I want more, I want the property overrun with them, all colours, pushing out the mulien, the thistles. The goodness pushing out all the rest. I want the roots to deepen and the seeds to fall and create new plants next year.

There are rules to follow on each package of seed. When to plant, how deep, how far apart, the type of soil where they will grow best. There are whole books on the subject (someday I will read them).

And it is the way our society works, we create systems to control and contain… and we wish, oh how we wish, that people responded like the seeds. That we could invest and be guaranteed a return. That perhaps, if we follow the instructions exactly, we will see fruit. The problem is people just don’t work like that. The problem is, of course, that people come with intense variations, some scarred, some even ground to a fine powder, and some with so much pride they cannot even see themselves as a seed, deluded to believe they are a great oak tree.

We used to get a lot of pressure to participate in things like the “Leadership Summit” or other Programs to enact on people. It took me a long time to know why the concept didn’t sit right, when so many of the people were brilliant and had so many amazing things to say. Our issue is this: there is an incredible temptation to fall into successful business plan as method of growing a church. This has never been the way of the cross, the upside down kingdom. Jesus was tempted to take control too, to rise up into a world-class Leader. He said No. So do we.  Systems have never impacted the human heart in a positive way, and more education has never produced life change. 

At this point in my husband’s ministry he often gets told to write a book about his methods or to become a youth ministry leader. He has no interest. He says this;  “What we did will not work for you. Just create spaces for the Spirit to move and for community to form”. God is already here in our midst, already working in the hearts of the people in your path.  Your job is just to help them see it. We have seen that people are moved by the Spirit, and by leaders and by community and these can happen IN SPITE OF a program, not because of it.

I wish I could tell you there was a short cut to this maturity thing. To this becoming a whole person in Christ thing.

No. We have to step back and remind ourselves that we are a people under renovation…that is the point of this thing isn’t it? The pursuit of wholeness, of understanding and humility bowed at the throne of Grace. It isn’t a linear process, this thing called life. It is the backwards and forwards momentum and the way we always choose to move towards the Cross, and our eventual and complete restoration.

Do you remember that plan of salvation image from a decade or two ago? You know that one with the cross as bridge to salvation? The one that made it seem like a once and final trek? I’ve been thinking about it lately. Of course choosing the cross makes your salvation secure, but what else? What about the dailies of this beast of a thing? To me now the bridge between completely broken and absolutely restored is progression. There is movement towards one or the other every single today. Life is never static, you are always building into your life…what are you strengthening?  Your wholeness or your brokenness?

That is what we are dealing with friends. We were warned weren’t we? Some of us water. Some of us plant. Some of us till the soil. BUT ONLY GOD MAKES IT GROW. It is the most frustrating thing about ministry…no matter how hard you work, some soil will not turn, some seeds will not grow, some will grow like crazy for a couple of years and get burned by the sun. But we…we just keep tending our plot with all the bravery and integrity we can muster. We keep putting our roots deeper still expecting our own deaths to feed another upstart plant. That perhaps next season, more fruit will be born.

The lupins creep all over this place. Some sprouting up in the least likely of places, others dying off where I thought they would thrive. I just keep shaking the seed pods, considering the lilies. It is the very most I can do.

***Many of the thoughts today are inspired by Jonathon Martins book “Prototype”. Worth your time!***