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 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.

Dance Your Rhythm

What do you do when life shifts from march time to a waltz? What do you do when the rest of the world is still marching and you’re waltzing? What do you do when the rest of the world starts noticing that you aren’t marching to their rhythm anymore?

Since returning from The Philippines, my life rhythm has changed radically. There are days when the world still pulls at me and I am tempted to march again. But, most days I am pretty much settled into the slower waltz rhythm that was put on me by God at the end of 2019.

The rhythm is pretty repetitive: My morning’s go one way. My afternoons go another and my nights…well they are still a work in progress but even they have done some major shifting. The framework around all of it seems to be breakfast, lunch and supper.

I am not good at the waltz rhythm yet. I haven’t got all the nuance down, but clunky as I might look, I have changed pace. What I know is that I will not be going back to marching for a while.

People are starting to notice that I am not on the same foot as them anymore. I am OK with that. Everyone else may need to march. I need to dance in order to accomplish what God needs me to do at Cornerstone.

I was praying about it this morning and I felt impressed by the Lord that much of what I am waltzing through is preparation and discovery for the next phase of ministry.

No I am not leaving Cornerstone, people, so don’t worry. God has made it clear that I have work to do in this city still.

But God is changing the nature of the ministry I do. I have known that for a while and have been very open with the whole church about this. He started changing me three years ago and He isn’t finished yet. The change is going at His pace. As with everything else at the church, God has it firmly in hand and He is in charge of the results.

Woman and man dancer latino international dancing

So…What do you do when life shifts from march time to a waltz? What do you do when the rest of the world is still marching and you’re waltzing? What do you do when the rest of the world starts noticing that you aren’t marching to their rhythm anymore?

You figure out how to be the best dancer you can be …and brother you dance!

Man Doing Airborne Stunt

Control

In this season of intensive prayer leading up to and including Lent, I have journaled many personal revelations/ realizations about my life which I think may mean something to the larger body of Christ.

Here is one thought which came to me on January 31 regarding the idea of “CONTROL”:

It is time for me to learn I do not control God. It is time for me to start allowing God to control the outcomes of my life. So many times, my service to God, my prayer to God, my devotional life before God is about me trying to control the outcomes of my life. My religion, my relationship to God is too often about me achieving some personal goal rather than me totally surrendering to God no matter what the outcome of that surrender is. This insistence on control is a very great sin.

It is time to embark upon the great and terrible and mysterious adventure with God. It is time to resign myself to the current of God’s river and to allow it to carry me away where it will.

Do you ever feel like you are trying to control God?

A Time To Chat.

The Bible says there is a time to every purpose under Heaven. I know you thought it was The Byrds, but actually ….no… The Byrds liberated it from King Solomon and his book of Ecclesiastes.

For all those who follow this blog, you know that God has been changing up my schedule rather severely over the last few months. He’s been causing me to ask what it’s time for in my life. He’s been asking me to discover what is important to me at this stage..and what is not. It’s been harder than I thought it would be. I thought I would just easily slide from one gear into the next, but this has not been so much a shifting as it has been a process.

Part of that process has been an evaluation of what my life is supposed to become. I said yesterday that I knew my life was supposed to include both more prayer and more creative connections with art. I also know that this time with my mother, as her health declines, is something that I will value forever, Her situation is the fulcrum which gives power to this whole movement of life. As I press into the situation with my mother, I am also discovering I do really value time spent relating with people.

Over my many years of ministry I have gotten so involved in the act of ministering to people and being an event coordinator to bring people together for the act of relating that at times I found myself loving people but being really sick of being with them…Too much of a good thing I guess.

Now as I am being pulled out of the middle of everything I am finding that I really do crave relationship with people. I so enjoy just being with the staff on Tuesdays. I love seeing the congregation on Sundays. I love sitting with people one on one just having a good chat. And I love having to go home to Mom so I can resume the quiet lifestyle I need to process all that comes out of those times of relation.

There is a time to every purpose under Heaven: A time to write, a time to draw, a time to take photos, a time to do house work, a time to take care of Mom and a time to be with people for a good chat.

I feel like I am becoming more balanced than I have ever been!

Ready! Set! Draw!

Morning came early today. By 6:30 I had showered, walked and fed the dogs, had breakfast, done laundry, got the bills ready for mailing and loaded the car for the dump run. By 7 I was at prayer in the church and by 8 I was loading the car with my travel piano in preparation for the funeral I am performing this afternoon. By 9 I was peeling potatoes for the potato salad I am taking to the funeral. Then, I headed off to the bank to make a deposit and to withdraw money for mom’s daily needs for the next few weeks.

Brenda had a great night in Southington CT. Two more people gave their hearts to Jesus last night and she got to pray with a man who has had five strokes and lost his voice.

That is the power of story. That is the power of art launched into conversation.

I think it is for this reason I have felt over the last several months that I need to spend more time in two things: Prayer and creation of art.

Sometimes I just practice my hand at simple things I think I will have to draw a lot

This image I actually saw in a vision I had before one of our recent board meetings.

I am learning God has skills He would make available to us if we would both seek Him and practice. These skills remain latent in us until we need them and choose them for the purposes of His kingdom! Who knows but maybe this is one of the reasons for the shifts going on in my life right now. I am being called out of certain things in order to help my mother. That said perhaps I am also being called into other things by the shifting which will make me of greater use for God’s kingdom.

The Story

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By artist: Lisa Johnson

Today was the final day of our Church artist group’s month long art show at The Gardner Public Library. I think we averaged about a tour a week and we had lots of people sign our guest book. So I would call the show a critical success.

Image may contain: plant, nature and outdoor
By artist: Wendy Brouillet

We approached this show very differently from the way we have approached other shows. I have been telling the other artists in Ccada that our art should create conversations. It should raise questions. It should help us start relationships with people in order to show the love of Jesus.

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By Artist: Betty Knowlton

So with this show we decided to gather groups of people together and view the art while telling the stories the different pieces held within them. Sometimes the story was as simple as an interesting technique the artist used to create the piece. The piece above for instance required a styrofoam cup, some green paint, some black paint and a fine toothed comb,

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By artist KenKnowlton

Believe it or not this is actually an enhanced photograph. Would you want to live there?

We live in a world that has forgotten the art of story telling and the gift of story listening. We like our graphs and pie charts. We love the headline and the sound byte. We will read anything as long as it is 300 words or less and we listen to any report that doesn’t take more than 7 minutes of our time.

But just because the art of story is forgotten doesn’t mean it’s lots its power.

Image may contain: plant, flower, tree, outdoor and nature
By Artist: Wendy Brouillet

As a race humans are hard wired for story in a way that even our hurried culture cannot undo. We have questions and we are prone even in the midst of our busy lives to stop and discover the answers.

So with this art show I told the stories behind the works. I asked the questions that made the pieces come alive. For instance…What time of day is it in the painting above?

As humans we don’t live in sound bytes. We don’t live in mathematical equations. We live in stories. We seek out themes and ideas that give our personal stories meaning.

Tonight my sister is at a church in Southington telling the story of Cory TenBoom yet again.

Brenda in hair and makeup

Her story resonates with so many people because it shows in real time how any story that intersects with God’s story can become filled with power, adventure, hope and above all love.

At the Vicarage we are becoming more dedicated everyday to telling the story of how Jesus’ love has intersected each of our stories in a radical way. We don’t know where the telling will lead us exactly. Oh we know the end of the story pretty well (we skipped ahead and read the last page). It’s all the steps in the middle that are a little fuzzy. That said, maybe it’s not all about the temporary outcomes. Maybe it is about just being faithful to live out and to tell the story.

By artist: Ken Knowlton

What’s your story?

What Hope Is

Cornerstone Church has been in a season of 24/7 prayer since mid January. I have been so blessed to be able to spend between 2 and 5 hours of prayer everyday during this season. I think this needs to become a new normal for me. God has said many things to me during this time. Here is one of those things that came to me in a prayer time on January 22.

HOPE is the understanding and believing of God’s future plan in specificity for an individual as well as in the grand scheme. Faith is the chutzpah which acts on that understanding. Faith cannot operate properly without first having a true hope. Many people struggle with faith because they try to operate in faith without any understanding of God’s specific plan for the suture of their situation (they have no hope).

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Pray!

So my children in South Korea have now come under the shadow of this new world wide pestilence. THEY ARE FINE. NEITHER OF THEM HAVE CORONA VIRUS But the newly weds who have work contracts in two different cities in South Korea are now shut off from each other by their work situations for the next month at least.

Kristine is stuck in Seoul and Joe is stuck in Gyeongju-si and as the country shuts down more and more everyday who knows how long this will go on.

Kristine posted this today on her Facebook story line.

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So pray my friends. Pray for my children that they would not remain separated. Pray for South Korea. Pray for the whole world to be free of this pestilence.

GOD Showed Me Something About Beauty / Christian Mystic Quote #38

These thoughts came during my time of prayer and meditation in the Philippines. I thought I would share them with you as a way to help you understand a bit more about what God is working in me as my life goes enters into this new phase of life. During this season I feel like God would have me reorient my life towards recognizing the beauty in the world.

Beauty is one of the distilled essences of love. Where love abounds the aroma of beauty is present. Where love is confronted by hatred beauty is suppressed, but because love can never be eradicated, beauty will always be sensed, even if only in the smallest way.

In the end, judgment is God’s radical work to restore beauty when all other methods fail. JE LILLIE