Monday, November 28, 2011

Rethinking Interruptions

"On their return the apostles told Jesus all they had done.  He took them with him and withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida.  When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured."
(Luke 9:10-11)

The 12 disciples have just returned from their first major "solo mission" of ministry.  Jesus had sent them out on their own, giving them "power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases... to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal."  Quite a big assignment.  Now that they've returned, Jesus knows they need some debriefing & recharging time together.  So Jesus sets out to take them on a private retreat - just the 13 of them.  Or so he thought.  It turns out it wasn't as private as he had hoped.  Luke tells us "the crowds found out about it and followed him."

Now, if it had been me, I would have gently (but firmly!) told the crowds that my staff and I needed a little time by ourselves.  We'd be unable for a few days.  Please come back at the end of the week and we could talk then.  I would have known how important it was to invest time in the staff, and to regain energy and vitality in order to continue the mission & ministry we needed to.

That's not how Jesus responded.  Luke says "he welcomed them."  He didn't just "endure" their interruption, he welcomed them.  And he gave them what they needed most - the good news about the kingdom of God (first & foremost!), and some healing. 

Maybe doing the mission (even when tired & worn out) is sometimes more important than "debriefing" the mission with colleagues.  I know how important it is to recharge.  But maybe today's interruption is the one and only opportunity someone will have to come to know God's amazing grace & provision.  Maybe I should rethink those pesky interruptions from time to time, myself.  What about you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Your children's children

"The LORD bless you from Zion.  May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.  May you see your children's children.  Peace be upon Israel."
(Psalm 128:5-6)

Only six verses, Psalm 128 is a song of blessing.  If you fear God and walk in His ways, the psalmist prays numerous blessings upon you:
  • Abundant food
  • Happiness & prosperity
  • Many children (who grow up strong & healthy)
Then there are 2 more blessings tacked onto the end.  The one may "see the prosperity of Jerusalem."  That the capital city of Israel would also be healthy & strong (like one's children!).  And live in peace.  And second, that one may see one's "children's children."  Ah yes, the joy of grandkids!

We need to remember, however, that the life expectancy was much less back in Biblical days, so living into one's "senior years" wasn't as common.  To live long enough to see grandchildren was indeed a blessing.  But it's more than just long life, isn't it?  It's the chance to see a part of you - your DNA - in teh life of a new human.  When we become parents, we know very little about parenting.  By the time we become grandparents (or so I'm told), we bring added wisdom.  Being with our grandkids is truly a joy and blessing! 

May it be so with all of you.

Glorious Splendor

"On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate."
(Psalm 145:5)

My dad was a National Park ranger.  I grew up with an affinity for the great outdoors.  I fondly remember summer visits to Yellowstone NP while spending time with my grandparents in Montana.  We also visited the Grand Canyon & many other smaller parks and sites in the desert southwest.  In high school, I lived in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and had many an after-school hike along the park's trails.  In college, a 7-day stay in Yosemite was seminal.  In grad school one summer, Jody and I went camping in Arcadia NP (Maine).  Needless to say, my soul connects to God powerfully through His natural splendor.

The author of Psalm 145 seems to know what I mean!  "On the glorious splendor of your majesty and on your wondrous works, I will meditate."  Living in Hawaii is such a blessing!  There is beauty all around me in God's creation.  Trees, plants, flowers, ocean, waterfalls, mountains, sunsets, clouds, rocks, volcanoes, etc.  What wonderful opportunities to ponder & meditate on God's majesty. What about you?  Does your soul connect this way, too?  What glorious splendor have you seen lately?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An "Ezekiel 37 Revival"

"Then he said to me, 'Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel.  They say, "Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely."'"
(Ezekiel 37:11)

It's a dramatic scene.  Thousands upon thousands of dry bones scattered throughout a valley.  Death.  Decay.  Brokenness.  Hopelessness.  But into this setting God speaks a word of life.  Through the prophet Ezekiel, God's power comes and rejoins bone to bone... then muscle & sinews... then flesh... then God's breath enters & brings LIFE!  It's one of the more memorable passages in all scripture.

Whenever I've read this before, my heart has been drawn to the truth that God can bring new life to any dry, dead & "dismembered" soul.  No one is outside the reach of God's redemption.

But today as I was reading I noticed this vision is being applied to the entire NATION of Israel, not just an individual.  I knew this was addressed to the people in exile - people who'd been taken from their homeland and families & forced to live in Babylon for close to two generations.  They were definitely a people who felt dry, dead & dismembered. But God was telling them the entire nation would be brought back together & given new life.  This went far beyond one single individual.

What would it mean for our nation to be "resurrected" to new life?  For God to restore our hope, our passion, our faithfulness?  Depending on your political views, you probably can list a number of areas that we need to be restored as a people.  As Americans, we tend to think more individually than corporately.  God is seeking to restore nations.  Maybe we can be praying for an "Ezekiel 37 Revival" in the United States?!?