The Way We Do It Now.

In these days of social distancing, this is the hub of church life now. The staff and board are all on line first thing in the morning or on the phone connecting with people to show up at on-line church. All through the service Amanda, Brenda and I are here at The Vicarage “greeting” people as they come on line and gathering info through private message convos and on-line comments. We follow up on these throughout the week by phone and Facebook.

After the service, Amanda goes in and makes a few copies for people who do not have internet service and then we distribute the CD version to the doors of those individuals homes.

I hope you enjoy our pastor’s message today.

Busy Social Distancing

I haven’t posted here in the last few days because I have been busy social distancing. You might think….”Wouldn’t the stay at home order make you less busy than usual?”

Well, truthfully the nature of the work is changing but the work itself is still taking the same amount of time . I am moving slower now. Some of that is because I am still recovering from pneumonia. I am noticing it takes me longer to do things than it used to. I need to rest more frequently. But I think the second reason I am moving slower is because of the amount of prayer I am doing these days. That prayer has shifted my mindset to a much more peaceful space.

I am also doing a lot more writing these days too. The book is coming along nicely.

This week I have also gone back to meetings. Not as many as I use to have for sure but I have had two ZOOM meetings which took 3 hours a piece.

Today I called two of our elders in the church and both of them needed my help. One of them has not been able to get out to get food. or her medications. I was going grocery shopping anyway so…. But our grocery has started limiting the number of people who can go into the store at a time.

It didn’t take as long to get in as I thought it would, but by the time was all said and done getting her groceries and meds took me four hours. The smile on her face as I handed her her final med pack was worth it all.

The other couple I helped is refinancing their home and since the banks around here are not open for walk in business all the forms needed to be e-mailed to me for a print off and for them to sign. Then we scanned the forms back into the computer and e-mailed them back to their bank. My elder friends had absolutely no idea how to do any of that so….

Pastoring these days is turning out to be much more practical than it used to be. We find ourselves meeting very practical needs as well as praying and teaching the Scripture. I have to say I am kind of enjoying this new form of social distance busyness. It’s slower and much more hands on. Maybe I am getting less done but somehow it feels like I am being very productive.

Artsy

In my afternoon prayer time the Lord said, “You are beginning to slow down enough to become more consistently creative.”

It is true I have been attempting to be more creative on a more consistent basis. My goal, for the longest time, has been to create a piece of writing and a piece of art everyday.


A fellow artist began posting simple drawing techniques to play with when the stay at home order began. It was then I thought to myself. This time apart could help me establish some of the new habits I have been attempting this year. The dog above was drawn by first writing the number 61 on the page.

One of my problems artistically has always been my consistency. I tend to create in fits and starts. The idea of taking time…prioritizing time everyday has seemed nearly impossible.

That road block which has plagued me for so many years has been removed and I am finding that while I may be classified a beginner my heart is in this. I am having fun creating.

The other day I wrote a poem and I actually took time to rewrite it using a formal poetic form. It was so much fun!

I am finding the more I practice the better I get. I really like my cat.

The Lord is using art to help me keep my mind off of the worries of these present days. What is God laying at your feet to help you shift from worry to joy? If you haven’t found anything take out a piece of paper and a pencil or pen and try your hand at drawing.

Use It

I have always believed that the journey of life is as important as the destination. In fact, when it comes to self discovery I believe that the journey is even more important than the destination. It’s in the journey that we discover our God given roles. It’s in the course of the journey that we discover where we belong in this vast family we call humanity.

The art of self discovery becomes possible only when we stop rushing headlong towards what we see as the goal…the destination, and when we take time to look around at what the journey means to us. What we understand about the journey, how we look at the part of the journey we are on now, helps us understand many things about who we were made to be. There is no right or wrong in this process of discovery just more and less honest.

I have a friend, for instance, who is being driven by the current situation, of social distancing, to begin managing our church food pantry to meet the needs of elderly people in crisis.

My own reaction to COVID-19 is the understanding that I was made for the secret place. Each day finds me driven deeper and deeper into the place of prayer, the place God and I have dubbed “the sage’s cave”.

As I said before there is no right or wrong in the process of self discovery, there is only more and less honest. I could wish to be more like my friend and start laying out plans to create social reforms that will help in the Covid crisis, but that would be me being dishonest about what is really in me, because I am afraid of the reaction of people when they hear I am being led to pray (because lets face it our culture loves social activists while it sort of scoffs at monks).

I will undoubtedly explore the idea of being honest in the process of self discovery in the future, but for now I simply want to encourage you, my readers, to use this current situation to discover something about yourself you did not know before.

Soooooo. ……WHAT DOES OUR NATION’S EXPERIMENT WITH SOCIAL DISTANCING SHOW YOU ABOUT YOURSELF?

A season for every activity under heaven!

Well hello there!

I have heard people say “fear not”.   I began to think…how?  How do we walk through moments like this and not give into the spirit of fear knocking on our door?  The answer is simple, and hard…we are so used to getting things done under our own strength but this…we cannot do this in our own strength.  We must admit our need for HIM (That’s the hard part.  Putting our pride and need to be in control down)! We must turn our eyes to the Lord.    We need to dive into His word.  We need to spend time talking to our good good Father in heaven.

His word tells us there is a time for everything.  EVERYTHING. And a SEASON for EVERY ACTIVITY!

Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version 

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

This means…

THIS IS JUST ANOTHER SEASON.  Yes, it is not a season we have seen for a long long time. It is disrupting our normal. This is what scares us.  But His word tells us  this is NORMAL! It is just a NEW SEASON! One that is uprooting what HAS BEEN to plant seeds for NEW THINGS.  New ideas, new dreams, new goals will be discovered during this season!  That is exciting!!! It is a season where so much looks as if it is being torn down.  While this is an end of how things have been…it creates the space and place for the NEW THINGS WE ARE ABOUT TO BUILD! 

 

We will mourn those things we lose, those things we are letting go of.  We must be careful not to skip this step of letting go, of mourning the loss of what was.  Or we will be tempted to go back to business as usual when this season changes.  AND IT WILL CHANGE.  Right now so many people are having to think out of the box to keep things going.  It is scary, we had gotten so comfortable with what was.  We even thought, “This is how God wants it.”  And now suddenly EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT.  It doesn’t mean God was not in what was. He was in that season, but it also means, He is in WHAT IS. He is in THIS SEASON TOO! Embrace what God is moving you to and through.  Understand what God is asking you to let go of.  AND DESIRE NEVER TO GO BACK.  Don’t go back to comfortable.  Stay out of the box, hand in hand with Jesus- be bold, be courageous, do not shrink back!  Dance for joy, for all that God is doing in and through and for us in this season!

It is a time we must refrain from an actual physical embrace!  Yes social distancing is a thing. Business and churches are shut down.  Some are fighting against this out of fear.  Suggesting we get back to work now, sacrificing a few for the good of all. It might even sound noble.  But my bible tells me the “love of money is the root of all evil.”  We can and will make more money.  But we can not replace a human being. To say a human being is less important than money…IS EVIL…we must call it out.

We are in the season where we must ride out this storm til its end.   The old way of life is passing away, and something new will be birthed in its place. We can not just go back to business as usual, any more than we can say to FALL “Stop right now…don’t move one day more!” All because we don’t want to see Winter come.

Seasons come and seasons go. This season will pass.  Let us learn the lessons that are here for us in the midst of it. Let us embrace the blessings that it offers to us.  Let us make the changes we need to make, plant the seeds for new things so that when their time comes we can reap the harvest!  Let us throw away the old and pick up the new.

FAITH REQUIRES YOU TO STEP OUT OF THE BOAT….WHO’S WITH ME?!  HERE COMES FREEDOM ~ HE IS MAKING ALL THINGS NEW!!!!

 

 

Voices

The world today is filled with voices calling to us. The problem is not in hearing the voices. It is in knowing which ones to listen too and which ones to shut out, because not all the voices are equally valuable or helpful.

So, do I listen to….FOX, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, BBC? Do I listen to the Republicans? Do I listen to the Democrats? Or do I listen for a voice deeper…older than all those voices? Do I listen for the voice of God?

In all the noise that is circulating in the world is it even still possible to hear the voice of God? The answer to that question is “yes”, but it is a qualified “yes”.

If we are going to hear the voice beneath all the other voices, then we have to spend time listening for it. If we want to hear God, then we had best shut off the TV, put away the phone, shut off the radio and get quiet. If we want to hear the voice of God, we had better get out our Bibles and we had best start by reading a few chapters in the Book.

I am not talking about being quiet for a minute or two minutes or even five minutes. God is not in a rush to speak to our angry, anxious, worried hearts. t’s not that He doesn’t want to speak, He is just not going to rush for anyone including you. So if we want to hear His voice in the midst of all this craziness, then we had best determine to settle in for a good long chat. HEre’s how:

  1. Open the Bible. Read starting in Psalms and don’t stop until something stands out to you. That which stands out is the start of God’s voice to you.
  2. Jot down what stands out to you and then think about why it stands out. What does it have to do with your personal life? Write that down.
  3. Congratulations you have just heard God speak to you!

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

It’s time we started listening for better voices than the ones on TV!

BE UNSTOPPABLE!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh. 1:9

I have wrestled throughout the day whether to post or not post.  To be honest I wasn’t “Feeling it”.  I wanted to lay in bed today and let the world slip.  But a small voice kept whispering into my despair,  “Get up. Get moving. You are going to be OK.  I have you.”

The roller coaster of human emotion that is the Pandemic COVID19, has made me a bit unsettled today. So, I took my own advice this after noon, and stopped listening to the voice of fear and panic and I breathed in Jesus and breathed out His peace.

These are unsettling times.  The prevailing winds are panic and fear.  But Ladies and gentlemen, we have the power to CHANGE THE NATURE OF THE WIND!  Our strength does not come from how much toilet paper we have, or how many pounds of meat we hoarded.  OUR STRENGTH COMES FROM THE LORD…HIS JOY dismatles fear  in a second!  HIS LIGHT bursts forth and decimates panic.

It is not time to shrink back in fear and woe.  It is time to be STRONG AND COURAGEOUS.  When everything in us screams, “You can’t handle this storm.” Breathe in Jesus and Breathe out, “I AM THE STORM!!!” Let’s change the very nature of the prevailing winds from fear and panic, lack and greed; to that of LOVE and JOY , COMMUNITY and UNITY!

Stop looking at the grocery store as if it will save you.  Take a breath and recognize where your help comes from!

Psalm 121 1

I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

The Lord is not shocked over what is happening.  He is standing in the midst of this with us.  Together (with the Lord) we are UNSTOPPABLE!

A Professional Meetinger No More

Photo of Man Leaning on Wooden Table

So I spent 19 of the last 36 hours in meetings of one kind or another. It feels like every last ounce of glory and strength has been drained out of my body. Amanda and Brenda are no better off. Brenda was out even longer than I was by about 6 hours.

When people used to ask me what I did I used to tell them I was a “professional meetinger”. That period of my life was annotated by a long series of meeting minutes and action items I had to get done in order to build the Kingdom of God.

The last 36 hours has made me realize that I am not a “professional meetinger” anymore. I still have a deep passion for the Kingdom of God but I realize my job is not to “meeting” the Kingdom into existence any more (if it ever was). I am going to try really hard not to meeting myself into a stupor ever again.

Today when people ask me what I do for work. I am not exactly sure what my answer will be…artist, prophet, pastor, caregiver? What I do know is that I will never again tell people I am a “professional meetinger”. That is a part of my past. It doesn’t fit me anymore.