Posted in Spoken Word, Uncategorized

Hope-Filled

A few words from the economy of Hope
A soap box not often stood on, but as we put on this New self
We find a wealth of words worth reminding, binding us to our Father
In ways we’ve needed for longer than we’ve confessed.
Because even though we’re blessed, it seems we’ve so long stressed the destination
While leaving behind the relation. The Love that has pursued,
We’ve misconstrued as judgment waiting, anticipating that moment sometime far off
When we’re invited into Heaven’s gates, or worse,
Meanwhile the curse of sin seems something we’re left to bear
And His Love finds us there, people trying so hard not to despair, but to declare, Hope.
And at the end of rope, we’re found, as children now being unbound as His Spirit arrives
We find our lives are not just a passing whim, because we’re actually known by Him


The Fathers eye hold us in His steady gaze, as Jesus prays on our behalf, we hear the heart
Of Love that will never depart. And as we start to believe, we receive a New Name
Only scratching the surface of why He came
But as we struggle to remain we hear already the whispers of doubt
Accusations of the rubble strewn about like so many collapsed walls
These halls that are no longer, we wish we’d been stronger, as we examine the pieces
Each stone a word of what we thought would be, we see with our own eyes
The debris of a temple demolished before it could be filled
And it has instilled in us a sense of foreboding, as if floating just over a sea of chaos
Threatening to swallow, and in these hollow ruins we receive the hallowing grace
As the Spirit lifts our face to meet His own, the Father on the throne
Yet also with us, here. Drying every tear, and releasing us from the fear
That these pieces of what could have been can be, should be, will be renamed
Reclaimed as foundation for tomorrow, borrowing Hope where there’s plenty to be found
A solid ground, soil rich for planting, His Kingdom granting our roots
Access to Life of the age to come
Love revealed in the Son, shining with such Love and glory, that we find our story
Has become a reflection of His own, that we are not alone, as the Narrator places one more
Stone upon another, we discover redemption so full that there is no exemption
No place where shadows may remain, no corner that we can’t explain,
for the Light of Love has flooded the whole, and our Soul, Body and Spirit
Are transformed, re-formed by the pulse of resurrections heart
We start to believe in what our Father speaks
That He is not waiting, but seeks our embrace
Time spent face to face, attuning to His ways, that here is Love that stays in the room
Here is grace we can always presume will be, whether on bended knee
Or meeting us on the run, inviting us to come ever nearer, making clearer
The Newness of the Kingdom that is coming, in which all running can cease
For peace can now abound. We who have found ourselves re-storied with a purpose
Making the darkness nervous, as Light gains new ground, all ground,
With rebuilt walls that surround and loudly resound with His praise
Spending our days now, together, united as we read,

Words rebuilt as walls of how we’ve been freed, and how the seeds of His Love
Bear fruit for the healing of the nations, those whose relationships have shattered,
Those scattered into exilic wandering, still pondering whether their story has been written
Those snake-bitten, invited now to see, Love revealed in His suffering on a tree
And You and me? Transformed together to be, outposts of His reign
Unable to contain what has occurred, but by His Living Word
These healed wounds from which blood once spilled
Now proclamations of a world becoming Hope-filled.

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Posted in Different Scriptures, Uncategorized

I hope I irritate you.

Recently I was able to preach on the word “covenant”, specifically connected to how the author of Hebrews addresses God transforming everything in Jesus Christ. As we begin a new year, it’s a time when most of us examine our lives, and re-affirm those things that matter deeply to us. Many who want to live in response to the Love of God revealed in Jesus use these early days in the year as a natural time to renew our commitments, especially in response to the covenant Love God offers to us. I was encouraged once again by God’s desire that we would be able to “know Him” in ways we couldn’t previously. (Hebrews 8:11)

In following the threads woven by the author of Hebrews, there was one text that stood out to me in a new way this time. In Hebrews 10:24 we’re encouraged, “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,” I’ve read this before, and haven’t spent much time considering it because the meaning seems pretty obvious. But just beneath the surface, there’s an invitation to pause and consider the author’s choice of words.

Most of our best translations easily help us understand by saying something like “spur one another on”, “provoke each other”, or even “stimulate each other”. Some others say things like “motivate one another” or “encourage one another” toward Love. If the author had just wanted us to be “encouraging one another” to be more loving, he could have easily used words similar to the ones he uses in Hebrews 10:25 or 13:19. But here in 10:24 he purposefully uses a particular action (to irritate sharply/provoke) as a noun (something to be considered). The noun itself is only seen one other time in this form, over in Acts 15:39 to describe the “sharp disagreement” between Paul & Barnabas that caused them to part ways. The verb form is found in Acts 17:16 (the spirit of Paul was being provoked by the idols he saw in Athens) and 1 Corinthians 13:5 (Love is not easily provoked). This is an irritating provocation that we are unable to ignore.

In this play of words, we’re invited by the author to consider how we can be the kind of active presence in our world that provokes/stirs up/compels Love (agape) and good deeds. Much attention is given in our era to how businesses or even influencers can post content that “gets a response”. It also makes sense that we would desire responses that are measurable/quantifiable. But are we being purposeful as to the kind of responses we are attempting to draw out from those around us, or those who consume what we’re sharing? As enjoyable as it might be to complain about something we have the right to complain about – is it provoking others toward Love? As desirable/easy as it may be to comment or share or join in a conversation with others – is our involvement giving others permission to continue in a direction other than Love?

Into all of this, what would it look like for us to be those who “provoke/irritate/disturb” one another toward Love? There may be as many responses as there are people – which is why we need so many beautifully different and complex members/parts of one Body in Christ. But as the author urges, we get a sense that this isn’t something that will happen accidentally or inadvertently. This is something we must be purposeful about.

Several years ago, I was serving on a mission trip to Joplin, Missouri. We had a great time, and I believe we were a small part of blessing the community as they recovered from seriously damaging tornados. We cleared debris, demolished unsafe homes, and prayed together over the area. When we came home, and the dust settled, I realized I’d brought home a souvenir from all our work outdoors – scabies. I’ll let you google how horrible these little bugs can be on your own (it’s disgusting), but I’ll sum it up by saying: It was an itch I could not leave unscratched. Those little bugs burrow and irritate in ways I’d never experienced before. I have pretty strong will-power when it comes to mosquitos, but the irritation level of these things had me near tears, desperate for relief.

This is what came to mind as I prayed over Hebrews 10:24. How irritating are we being in the direction of Love? Does our presence, and do our words have such an impact on those around us, others cannot help but respond in a Loving way?

Special Note: This does not mean we go around like flower children, always smiling and handing out dandelions (although I love smiles and dandelions). Sometimes to Love someone (in the way of Christ, who is the living revealing of Love) means to invite uncomfortable examine in the gracious presence of the Holy Spirit that provokes actual Love, instead of the fluffy stuff our world sometimes misinterprets as Love.

So there you go. Where/how can you be more irritating this week? Would you pause for a moment even now, inviting the Holy Spirit to think with you over the past 24 hours – and how you may have provoked others in thought or emotion?

Posted in Spoken Word

Matthew 24:36-44

Matthew 24:36-44

Lord, when You finally come return
Fully revealing Your redemptive plan
When all of creation, swallowed by Love
Including every woman and man

Up until that day, none will be counting
As if they’re knowing the date
Some will have lost all awareness
Yet You call us to actively wait

There will be a disturbing encounter
Love itself meets those living opposed
All false selves will be dissolved as You come
All Truth is then fully exposed

May we be those who remain in Your coming
Love, the very mode of our being
Not blinded by the glory of Your Lordship
Well practiced in such ways of seeing

Make us so aware of Your coming
That here even as we await
We are not those slumbering or watching clock
But those who actively participate

You’ve begun to arrive by Your Spirit
By the ways You’ve already revealed
May we not remain desperate for healing someday
But come as those now being healed