Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Strategic Checklists

Checklists, faith, prayer

The Power of a Good Checklist

I love a good checklist. That hormonal rush that comes with checking something off of the list is intoxicating. Unfortunately the work I do doesn’t always yield to a check list. I can plan. In fact it is a bit reckless of me to not be strategic in planning out my actions. But although the Holy Spirit always appreciates good planning, that doesn’t mean the Holy Spirit won’t disrupt the plan. Sometimes the spirit needs to. Sometimes someone’s soul depends on that disruption.


I had this week planned out last week (or maybe even longer ago). But a few days ago I got a call from someone battling addiction and needed to talk to someone ASAP.


So I added that to my check list. It seems sterile and uncaring to put this person in need of compassion and care in a time slot or on a check list. Perhaps my addictions need to be looked at as well.


The process of living a life of Holy Mischief includes what I like to call Authentic Activation. Our faith calls us to act - to live out our beliefs. We don’t have to have all the answers before we act. It takes some courage to do the work God’s calls us to do. Sometimes we have to strategically plan that out. We need to put on our checklist the intersection where the things that bring us joy and the world’s needs meet. And then we need to go where God leads us and do those things. Often. Habitually. Methodically.


But sometimes we need to be aware that God might have a checklist too. And we are on it.


Checklists don’t always seem authentic. But I guess that depends on whose checklist it is. 


Until Everyone Hears,


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Chaos and Order

Can humans exist in a world without chaos? 

Chihully’s art in Seattle, Washington

I recently read an article stating that even in a perfect setting like the Garden of Eden, chaos will always find its way in and tempt us out of it.


It seems like we thrive on chaos. It sells. We love to watch for it, read about it and often create it. It’s easy to create chaos. Drop an insult. Play devils advocate in the true sense of the term.


Order is much harder. It takes much longer. It feels really good and right once it’s achieved but it also takes maintenance or tending to. Much like a garden.


Right now it feels as if we are living in more chaos than we had before. It feels like we have no control over our lives. But we do. There are things that we can order to tend to our own garden and create a bit of paradise in our section of the world. By tending to our health and souls we order our lives and we give others permission and inspiration to do the same.


Until Everyone Hears,


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Exhaustion: Be kind to yourself

Spirituality prayer faith

Checking in...how is your soul?

If we know where we are going by foot or by car, there are usually only a few ways to get there. Most are predictable. You’ll see the same sights. It will take around the same amount of time. Occasionally there will be an accident or a tree has fallen on the path and you’ll be slowed down. But not much else changes.


If we know where we are going by water, the path is a bit different each time. Not only do we have to look out for other boats, we have to be attentive to current and storms.


The reality is that each time we go somewhere the journey is never the same but in many cases the journey is so similar we can go on auto-pilot. We can do it in our sleep. It’s easy.


When a global crisis hits, the journey is different each time. Sometimes vastly different. And in our case deathly different. Pandemic fog is real. Things that used to seem easy, now seem hard. Dangerous. Risky.


Be kind to yourself. You’ve never lived through a Pandemic before. Neither has anyone else. Your mental, physical, and spiritual energy stores are exhausted. Refuel in whatever ways are best for you. And if you have a little left over after you refuel, give to someone else. It will multiply your efforts and bring calm to your soul.


Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Praying with others

Prayer chapel
Communal Prayer

I’ve written a good bit about prayer since the Pandemic hit the U.S. I know people are trying to process where God is in all of this and prayer is their go-to spiritual discipline when they begin to question life.


But one thing that has been missing for many believers is the prayers said by the congregation while they are gathered together. There is a phenomenon that happens when a group of people pray together. Their breathing starts to synchronize and their heart beat slows down a bit. Blood pressure drops a bit as well. When two or more are gathered together and they start breathing together, they share in the breath of God that was present at Creation. The “ru’ach” of God that unites us with God also unites us with all of creation. This is what transforms us and transforms the world.


That’s a lot going on. That’s a lot that we are missing. I’m not sure that the same thing happens with online worship. My guess is that families that gather to worship during online worship have these benefits. They probably have grown closer as a family due to this intimacy with God and one another. 


We probably have a connection between those individuals who worship online and the person “virtually” leading prayer as well. Although they aren’t present in real time together, there is a connection.


We have empathetic responses to events that happen in movies. If you’ve ever cried watching a movie, that is a result of the emotional part of your brain empathizing with what you see. My guess is that the same thing happens during online prayers but it isn’t a substitute for the real thing. When someone dies in a movie, I might cry but if someone dies in real life, I mourn. If someone prays during online worship, I connect with God but if someone prays physically in front of me, I am transformed.


This is what we are missing. Find a prayer partner. Pray together. Be transformed.


Until Everyone Hears,


P.S. - You and your prayer partner (unless they live in your home) should meet outside. Six feet apart. With a mask. It’s safer that way.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Directions: What’s your finish line?

Prayer, faith, spirituality

Directions are easy when your destination is fixed.

You can choose the scenic route. The quickest route. The route that passes by a friend along the way. 

There may be multiple ways to get there but your choices lie in the process and not the destination.

There’s a saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”  That’s fairly solid. 

But what if we know the directions but not the destination? We know what we are called to do but we have no idea where it will take us. 

Do we have enough faith to take the first step knowing we are leaving behind a sense of certainty and jumping into the unknown?

What if our destination doesn’t exist yet? What if we are to build something new? Innovate? Be creative enough that there are no directions for what’s next?

Paths are illusions. Drawn by someone else that others take later. Direction takes aiming for what you value, what you love, and taking a step toward it. 

It takes courage. Here’s a recent message I did for Hickory Flat UMC on having courage to reach the finish line.



I don’t know where I”m going because I don’t believe it exists yet. And I don’t have a map. But I do have disciplines. I’m aiming and training for a life of Holy Mischief. And I’m making the path up as I go.


Until Everyone Hears,


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Patterns and Processes

spirituality, prayer, faith
*

 There is a pattern to almost everything in life.

Find the pattern and it releases you to discover the outliers.

Or to become the outlier.

Ignore the pattern and everyone is an outlier,

Certainly that’s another way to view a pattern: everyone is an outlier. Everyone is unique and divergence is only when we share commonalities.

So where do you start the process? Do you start with what we have in common or do you start with what makes us unique?

The starting point shapes your worldview but the process shapes the world.

Either way...just start the process. Connect with others and you'll figure it out along the way.

Until Everyone Hears,


*This photo was taken at the Salvador Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida. Dali used Fibonacci spirals and sequences in several of his creative works. A Fibonacci spiral starts with a rectangle partitioned into 2 squares. In each step, a square the length of the rectangle's longest side is added to the rectangle. Since the ratio between consecutive Fibonacci numbers approaches the golden ratio as the Fibonacci numbers approach infinity, so too does this spiral get more similar to the previous approximation the more squares are added.








Saturday, August 8, 2020

Strength And Faith

faith, strength, prayer

"Love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength." Deut 6:5

I had a revelation about this scripture the other day. If we are to love God this way, we should do everything we can to strengthen our heart, our mind, and our soul. 

The stronger we are the more we can love God. 

The question is: how do I grow stronger? We know how to become stronger physically. We exercise and eat right. We know how to become stronger mentally. We read more. Learn new things. But how do we strengthen our souls?

The answer lies in the spiritual disciplines known as the means of grace. Those practices such as prayer, worship, Bible study, giving, feeding the poor, etc that allow us to love God and love our neighbor. Strengthening our soul isn't just an internal practice but also one that connects us to others. 

I like to think of spiritual disciplines visually by looking at a Möbius strip. It is an infinite loop. If you run your finger along the surface, you'll go to the inside of the strip to the outside and back again. 

The disciplines that prepare me inwardly allow me to live my faith out in the world and my experiences in the world shape my practices of faith. Prayer prepares me for showing compassion to my neighbor and spending time with my neighbor helps me to know how to pray for them.

Strength is a part of being made whole. I recently preached about the feeling of freedom and being made whole. We often think that having a strong faith will make us happy but happiness is not a permanent state, wholeness is. 

Your faith makes you strong. It makes you whole. Getting stronger doesn't make you any more whole. You're already whole. But it can make others stronger. It can lead others to wholeness.

And that is what love looks like.

Until Everyone Hears,



Thursday, July 30, 2020

Re-imagined Creativity


Innovation in Faith

Everything we used to de is being reimagined. How we do meetings. How we grocery shop. How we do school. And how we create, perform, and view art.

I recently came across this gem. I’ve always loved dance and how movement expresses ideas that words cannot. 




I truly believe that the most creative and innovative ideas will be our legacy after the pandemic is over. Which leaves me with a stirring question: how can our practice of faith be reimagined during these times? What can help our faith be deeper and reach wider than we had imagined previously? God created us in His image which means we are created to create. To be creative.

God isn’t done with us yet. No matter how many times we mess things up. The possibilities energize me. And I hope they give you hope for what lies ahead.

Until Everyone hears,












Thursday, July 23, 2020

Finding Your Life Purpose

Ikigai

There is a Japanese concept known at Ikigai which means “reason for being.” The French call this “raison d’etre” or the reason or meaning for someone’s existence. 

There’s not a strong Christian equivalent. We talk about God’s will for our lives. But that’s not laying out a plan. God’s will for us is to be made perfect in love. And while there is a method to do that..it doesn’t always speak to the question of purpose. Or vocation. Purpose and vocation can overlap but they aren’t always the same thing.

Achieving Flow

I believe that our purpose can shift and is fluid over time. For many years the scripture in Esther has stuck with me... “For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.””
‭‭Esther‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NRSV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/2016/est.4.14.nrsv 

I would be working and achieve that sense of flow and think “perhaps I was created for such a time as this.” And perhaps I was, but I’ve been at that place more than once. I honestly think that our purpose is less about what we do and more about who we follow. Following God narrows down what I do but it also expands what I do eternally. It gives me a framework for life and it allows me to be who God created me to be in each season instead of doing one thing in perpetuity. 

My Ikigai is to follow God and reflect God in my profession, mission, vocation, and passion. The world needs me to follow God and I love it. That is my reason for being. That is my purpose. And I believe it is yours too.

Until Everyone Hears,

P.S. - I have a workbook about discovering your life purpose. It starts with prayer and walks you through discerning your next steps. If you’re interested, sign up for my emails here: http://eepurl.com/gWXSRP and I’ll send you a copy within a week. You’ll also immediately get some Holy Mischief challenges. If you’re already a part of my email list and want the workbook, just shoot me an email and I’ll send it on!














Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The Power of Movements

Degas said he liked to paint dancers in order to render movement. Movements are powerful. They take us to new places or help us reimagine old ones. I hope you get the chance to dance in transformational movements. And if you can’t, I hope you can create some.




Saturday, July 18, 2020

What does love look like?

prayer, faith, love

Love is pervading.

Some things are obvious in life. People will argue over politics. The government will want their taxes. Death is immanent. Ice cream in the summer.

Love is pervading. For those who have loved and loved deeply we cannot image this world without it. But what does it look like? If we know it when we see it, then do we know what to do in order to express it? Do the same expressions work in all situations?


When we see love in action, we tell ourselves a story. We see the actors in the narrative and project emotions within them. We "see" a feeling and we blind ourselves to the struggle within them up to this point. 

Love isn't easy. It always costs something. Love makes us vulnerable. If I express my love for you, I risk rejection. I cross a boundary I can't return from. If I don't express my love for you, I risk losing my connection with you. I risk creating a chasm over the boundary that makes any future express of love harder to manifest.

Boundaries are important. They give us structure and order. They give us a sense of safety. But boundaries are imagined and they can and should be re-imagined when we think about what love looks like.

Love makes us vulnerable but love also makes us strong. Love stretches us across boundaries and chasms and it moves us. It moves us to new understandings, new possibilities, and new transformations that make the world better.

Keep defining what love looks like by what you do. It's risky but its worth it.

Until Everyone Hears,


Strategic Checklists

The Power of a Good Checklist I love a good checklist. That hormonal rush that comes with checking something off of the list is intoxicating...