Feb 25, 2010

Soiled diapers

Unconfessed sin is like a poopy diaper. Really, it is. A diaper is worn underneath a layer of clothing (generally speaking of course, unless your like my nieces and nephews who wildly prefer running around without any pants) you cannot see the diaper, it is hidden. When worn appropriately the diaper exists rather unobtrusively. But dude, once that giant cotton ball is polluted the poor kid wearing the soiled mess is miserable and everyone within a 50 mile radius is painfully effected by the sulfuric toxins. Similarily this is exactly how sin operates. We can keep it covered by a layer of decorative cleanlines but we can feel its slimy presence and, guess what? Everyone around you has to bear the detrament of your debris. Take heart dirty one! If you are brave enough to cry out and acknowledge you sinful diaper, the cleansing sweetness of wet wipes will come to your rescue. I digress...

The greatest reality of sin that we so often fail to understand is that our sinful nature affects others. I believe that is one of Satan's greatest successes. Along with his ruthless army he has deceived our minds in such a way that we think our sin is just that - ours. Paul refutes this horrific misconception in his letter to the church of Corinth.

"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch withouth yeast-as you really are." - 1 Cor. 5:6-7

This admonition is evidence to the truth that we are not created to live individualistically. Although, is this not the very way of our generation? It is of little wonder why we walk around blindly deceived that we are our own and whatever choices we make or do not make fails to impress upon the lives of others. Oh friends how I pray that the scales fall from your eyes so that you may see your communal existence!

So what are we to do with our heavy diapers? Keeping in rhythm with the Lenten season may I draw your attention to the second penitential psalm? Check out the poetic words of Psalm 32 (I have referred to this psalm many times in previous posts, I'm partial to its beauty).

"When I kept silent my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD..."

We acknowledge our sin, we tell those around us, "I know you smell me and I am so sorry for that. I reak of lust, greed, gossip, lying, pornography, false identites, worry, fear... I am a broken mess in need of grace." And in our courageous confession we can be confident of the forgiveness promised to us.

"... And you FORGAVE the guilt of my sin."

Feb 24, 2010

Lenten Breath Prayer

Garden State is one of my all time favorite films. I have watched it countless times and every time I plug it in I receive something new. Andrew Largeman is the main character and he delivers an epic performance; offering scenes that every viewer is able to resonate with. The movie opens with a dream where Largeman is sitting apathetically on a crashing plane. Everyone around him is frantic, crying and screaming, and clinging for salvation. All the while Largeman remains detached from the chaos. This scene poses the question; "How often do we play the role of the crazed passengers - sick with worry and driven by the fear of our surrounding circumstances? How long have we been walking around like detached zombies consumed with apathy?"

During the Lenten season I am practicing different prayer postures everyday. The first week of the season draws to a close today, ushering in the freshness of a new one and already I can see a theme weaving in and around my prayers. A tiny golden thread of rest is slowly going around my fragmented thoughts and quietly wrapping them in an aglet of trust. And this is the severe mercy of Christ, for you see, I am a woman with way too many interests. My role is more often the unraveled voyager opposed to the detached apathetic. Rarely do I pay attention to the destination, rather I intoxicate myself with the honey of possibilities embedded in each new day. What inevitably ends up happening in my drunken stooper of newness is that I quickly lose sight of my original focus and, like a wandering child distracted by a bouquet of colorful balloons, I begin running after the vibrant array of floating balloons; forgetting completely what I was initially pursuing. "Tra-la-la... Ooo pretty!" is my life motto. Very truly I need that aglet to bind me to the one thing that keeps my soul attuned.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - thing about such things." - Phillipians 4:8

I think that both Christ and Paul knew of our great need to practice the search for the sound of silence. Paul tells us to "Pray without ceasing." Take a look throughout his letters, you will see time and time again the command for us to pray, to give thanks, to intercede, to meditate on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Do we take the time to do this? Jesus was found escaping the crowds to enter into a quiet place and be with his Father. He commands us to pray where the only person that can see and hear us is our Father in Heaven.

To be a Christian is to be Christ-like, to be a disciple is to follow in the same rhythms as our Rabbi. Why is it that we walk this reflected way only when it promises the spotlight? We love the large crowds, the excitement of dangerous missions, flapping our tongues on street corners and shredding the 6 string on stage. But what about the thing that does not promise large crowds? What about that which does not stamp our passport of missionary journeys? What about the position of listening? How come we can replicate the ways in which our Rabbi teaches on a mountain but we fail miserable to draw away to a quiet place?

It is of little wonder why we are frazzled and detached. So how then, do we turn and take the first step towards silence? Beautiful question. I think one of the best places to begin is with a prayer called "Breath Prayer". It can be hard, as addicts of speed and noise, to start with carving out 15 minutes of silence; that is why I think breath prayer is the greatest starting block. It is an intentionality you can take with you wherever you are and wherever you are going. Furthermore it is a way for us to live out Paul's encouragement for us to "Pray without ceasing". Bet you never thought it was possible to accomplish huh? Well, it is! Prayer, in its purest essence, is a position of heart.

Breath Prayer is an exercise that exists organically. When we breathe, we do not think about the art of the process, we do it naturally without thought. Inhale.... Exhale... Inhale... Exhale... It occurs on its own, we do not have to will ourselves to do it. Breath Prayer follows the naturality of our breaths and couples it with intentional truths. One of the greatest prayers to incorporate into the patterns breathing is the Jesus Prayer;

"Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Inhale and think on the words; "Jesus, son of David... "
Exhale the last part of the prayer; "Have mercy on me a sinner."

Another prayer of truth aids in the security of our identity.

Inhale - "Abba".
Exhale - "I belong to you".

Abba.... I belong to you.... whether you are a frantic, disheveled wanderer or a numb careless clinging to the identity of your belovedness will reignite and steady your soul. This is the journey of Lent. A voyage towards perfect unity with our Savior and it is only through the practice of prayer that our cold hearts can be melted by the voice of Love.

Feb 17, 2010

Lenten blurbs

Today marks the beginning of a 40 day journey to the cross. Ash Wednesday is personally one of my very favorite days of the Liturgical calendar, for it ignites the season of Lent that I am utterly enthralled by. I cannot articulate why exactly, the Lenten season carries with it a tenderly powerful force that melts my soul; but since I began walking with Jesus it has never failed to touch the deepest parts of my heart in a way that no other season can do. Perhaps it is the rawness of the 40 days that disarms me, perhaps it is the opportunity provided to think with deep intention of my great need for a Savior amidst the dripping crimson, or maybe it is the fact that as I enter the throne room of grace with a heart of repentance and contrition, the pathway for the Holy Spirit is made straight and I therefore become the unworthy receiver's of His insurmountable mercy. Yes, it is each of these things that draw forth an abyss of unfathomable delight as I meditate upon the redeeming journey to the Cross.

Every year I take great joy in highlighting a different posture of worship to guide the season. As I've matured in my faith, so too have my postions of praise - but every year I fast from sweets. This is the big cahouna for I have a ridiculous sweet tooth that, when unleashed, knows no boundaries. This year I will embrace in daily prayer practices; be it Lectio Divina, Confession, Centering Prayer, Meditation, Intecession or Liturgy of the hours. I am expectant and hopeful to meet with Christ through these ancient practices designed by our origianal desert fathers and mothers.

Additionally I will write brief insights about these practices that aimed to open our hearts and minds to the movement of the Holy Spirit and include highlighted posts centered around the 7 Penitential Psalms of the Lenten Season. It is my prayer that this season marks your life with a transformative recognition to the weight of the Cross bore for our sins. May God bless your journey and by his severe mercy draw you closer to his side.

Feb 12, 2010

Another curiosity...

Why not add to the inquisitions of my previous post, goodness knows there are so many more...

Here it is: Was Paul filled with a "different" Spirit than the Spirit we are filled with today? (I use the term "different" very loosely...)

"God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." - Acts 19:11-12

Later on in scripture I read that Paul commanded healing in a broken individual. Why do we not command such things? Rather we are more apt to pray that God would release a person from spiritual possession. Why is it that Paul commanded - unapologetically and confidently, and we cower away consumed by doubt?

Feb 11, 2010


"For HE chose us in him before the creation of the world
to be holy and blameless in his sight. " ~ Ephesians 1:4

Here are some things that I don't understand and things that I question:

- Why is merging onto the freeway such a difficult task for people?
- When will the Cubbies win the series?
- What about dinosaurs?
- Do I, a student of Theology, have to pledge my allegiance to one theologian?
- Were Adam and Eve created with total objectivity?
- Why do men think Bod/Tag/etc is a good choice of cologne?
- How come strange hair appears in places it shouldn't be as you age?
- Why do zits have to be a reality?
- What produces laughter?

It is my nature to marinate in the inquisitions born of this world we live in. I do not believe that we were created to walk around as robots, going to and fro with no consideration to the peculiar things that purposely entertain our journey; rather I think it is a gorgeous blessing to question. If you ever have had the opportunity to spend time, any amount of time, with a child, what you notice with comical immediacy is the explosive energy contained in a mind filled with wonder. Everything that a child sees is something brand new. Balloons and kites become the ground for future pilots. The bubbled throat of a toad ignite budding zoologists. Mommy's pregnant belly is the greatest intrigue that ushers in a new generation of obstetricians. We are born to question, to wonder, to seek and to know.

But as we are born to know, so too we are to unable to understand it all. Our minds are finite organs crippled under the glorious weight of mystery. Reason can only take us so far. We may be able to survive on logic for a while, but eventually we will collide with a force far greater than ourselves that catapults our ability to formulate structured answers. Now, with this in mind; here are some heavier curiosities the parade around my mind.

- Are some people created for heaven while others are damned to hell?
- Was there something that sparked Satan's initial fall?
- Is God all sovereign?
- Can our prayers change the mind of God?
- Is everything predestined?

The ways in which I approach these questions shed light onto my understanding (or lack there of) of who God is. Let me first admit that I am not obsessed with discovering the answers - I am not driven by an uncontainable need to have it all figured out. I approach these questions humbly, ignorantly and longing not to know more about God, but rather to know God more. In this I am disarmed by the scriptures that, in some mysterious way, reveal that the answers to the predominately divisive theologies cease miserably to be either/or responses. Contrastingly so they exist as both/and - which highlight the need to bow before mystery.

When I bring into question the theology of predestination I am occupied by John 3:16 - that Christ came to save the world, and then I am distracted by Ephesians 1:4-5 - that He chose us before the creation of the world and in love he predestined us to be his hons. As I muse over the sovereignty of God I am blinded by the truth of Proverbs 16 - that although I may have plans for my life, ultimately it is God that determines the steps. But what about the renouned story of Moses in Exodus 32? God had plans to destroy the people he had brought up out of Egypt but Moses interceded and pleaded with God to relent; God changed his mind and spared the lives of his people. See what I mean? Both/And.

This is the God that I serve. I do not understand Him yet I seek. I trust in his sovereignty yet I plead. I am curious yet I know when to be silent. Though Tag body spray will continue to pollute the hallways of high schools around the nation, and really old people will get their lisences renewed (this too is a mystery to me....) when they should have been revoked decades ago - the God of all creation will remain. He is sovereign and listens to our cries, He saves and relents. He is the one who was and is and is to come.

Feb 3, 2010

Snot Rocket Confessions

All winter long I've been running outside. This wasn't my first choice mind you, for i did buy a treadmill in effort to stay far, far away from the bitter winds of Minnesota. However, I failed to keep in mind that Craig's List is dodgy and you can never be sure of the quality of things. My treadmill teased me in that he faithfully provided a relatively stable foundation and seamless rotating belt. Just when my confidence in my Craig's List purchase was beginning to gleam, reality came crushing down on me - literally. When I started to break a sweat on treadmill experience #4, the entire foundation cracked and the metal monster folded his sleazy hands around my body and I was crushed under his merciless grip. In other words, the pile of dilapidated shit collapsed on me. It now sits as a clothes rack in my bedroom.

But running outdoors in the dead of winter isn't all bad. True, I'd rather be skipping along the historic 101 coastal highway like I was so fond of doing while I lived in California, but the crisp air and glittery falling flakes that dress the bare branches of oak have an endearing quality all their own. In addition to the postcard settings I run through, my body portrays its own works of art that demand a good laugh. Before the first mile passes, my eyelashes become strands of icy crystals and the once dry fluffy curls ontop of my head flatten and the combination of icy sweat and wet, heavy falling snow bombs transform into one giant matted dreadlock. My legs slowly turn from warm ivory sculptures flowing with toasty body heat to flaming red posts filled with winterized molasses. And the most attractive feature of all - the dripping snot faucet on my face, formally recognized as the nose.

I've never attempted to shoot a snot rocket, farmer's blow or boogery bullet - that is, until last week. It was during mile 5 when my gloves were so covered with sweat and snot and my throat was coated with loogies (sorry to be so graphic, but this is the tragic reality of being a Minnesotan runner) that I gave in and made the decision to commence my first ever attempt at blowing a farmer's snotty rocket of boogery goo. With wavering confidence in my ability to blow successfully, I closed nostril #1 and with all full concentration turned the facuet to full blast.... I'll skip ahead and tell you that I failed miserably. I ran the next block with a string of yellow nastyness teathered to my nose, which then inevitabley wrapped its sticky fingers around my jacket and rosy cheeks. It was disgusting, but I had to do it.

After laughing to myself I got to thinking. This snot rocket practice is a lot like confession. Stay with me here, I know my thought processes are as entangled and outrageous as a toddlers hair-do after an afternoon nap, but don't give up on me just yet. The fact of the matter is my nose was maxed out with ugliness and it was absolutely necessary to clean out so that I was liberated to once again, breathe with ease. This is not unlike the need to confess our sinful brokenness God, and to one another. There are countless references in scripture that encouragingly command that we confess and repent from every stumbling block that keeps us from Christ. I love the words of David in his 32'nd Psalm;

"When I kept silent my bones wasted away"

David is expressing that in our silence, when we refuse to give voice to the corrupt strongholds in our life, we literally grow sick; our bones waste away and we are left with a strength that has been sapped by the heat of summer. In our refusal to confess we remain in bondage to the deceitful grip of sin. Are you still with me? Just to solidify my awkward efforts at connecting the twisted dots I will highlight further truths that encourage confession and the redemption that comes from courageously exposing our trash.

"But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers - their treachery against me and their hostility toward me.... when their uncirmcumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sins, I will remember my convenant with Abraham..." ~ Leviticus 26:40-42

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin... The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart." ~ Psalm 51:2, 17

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." ~ James 5:16

"In the desert prepare the way for the LORD make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God." ~ Isaiah 40:3

Over and over we see in scripture the life that comes from confessing our sins. I know that this sacred act of worship is not an easy task. To be certain it will be painful, but is it not worth the temporary pain when wholeness is its reward? Additionally it will be awkward, clumsy, horribly uncomfortable and, above all, it will require every ounce of bravery and courage; for when we dare to expose our brokeness we are ultimately risking the love and acceptance our friends and loved ones (not of Christ however, let the reader understand with full comprehension, that only Christ's love is unfailing). You will, I can assure you, fail to blow a perfect stream of snotty quagulation the first time you confess. But it is so much better to get it out and create a space to breathe.

Let us cling to the unfailing hope of the Spirit-filled words of scripture and boldly practice catapulting loogies of mass destruction and rid ourselves of the sins that suffocate in order that we may make straight a highway for our God.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness." ~ 1 John 1:9


Blisters, Sweat, Blood, Chaffing (awkward), Tendonitis, Shot blocks, More sweat and blood..... Gotta love the life of a runner. Dear Twin Cities Marathon, it will be rad pounding your paved paths once again! Mark your calendars friends - Sunday, October 3 is race day!!!!