Archive for the ‘Of Spiritual Things’ Category

Returning

Posted: September 7, 2016 in Of Spiritual Things
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This Sunday, the 11th of September, 2016, I will be entering stage right from stage left.
Two and half months ago I stepped into a summer Sabbatical which I wrote about here –  Sabbatical?   Now I am returning.  Hm. Honestly, it wasn’t what I expected, but then again, I didn’t know what to expect. I will say that it wasn’t a vacation in the sense of most vacations. This was soul work.
The first few weeks I spent in my garage cleaning and making things. Things like an apple cider press, a swing, two tables, a work bench, and did I mention I did a lot of cleaning?

I have read a lot of books, read and studied the book of Isaiah from the Old Testament and have sat looking at the wall quite a bit. I have spent nights by a wilderness lake alone,

I have spent time with my wonderful family, cut my hair a couple of times, grew a beard and shaved it off, stirred the compost and went on dates with my best friend and wife as we celebrated our 25th year of marriage this summer.  Kristine has kept a list of everything we have done, just in case I feel I didn’t accomplish anything.

It has been a good summer and such a blessing. Blessed to be part of a church, Epic Life Church, that encouraged me to travel the sabbatical road and then who also continued to minister and serve each other and the North Seattle and Aurora communities.  Epic Life, you are awesome!

I have been wondering though, did I accomplish Sabbatical?  How will I respond to the question, “How was your time off?”
“Just the way it needed to be.”
This past weekend I drove out of town…to the tune of 1300 miles, into the mountains of Idaho and Montana, places that call out to my soul to settle down roots, plant a garden, raise chickens, goats and pigs and smoke a pipe on the porch each night as I watch the sun set beyond the prairie and mountains.  The kind of sunset that slows time down as the sky transforms into color so vibrant it would make #nofilter jealous. I spent just a few hours talking with my parents, sitting in a rural church under great teaching, and driving roads ripe with memories.  I could hear and feel those memories. Each road eventually comes to an intersection, the direction I turned in those bygone years would set my life on a path as God beckoned me on and I tried to follow, often from the weeds not the road.
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” Proverbs 14:8
Mark Buchanan says in his book, The Rest of God, Wise people ask, Does the path I’m walking lead to a place I want to go? If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive?”  Fools don’t ask that. They keep making excuses for themselves, justifying and blaming, all the way to nowhere. They dupe themselves right to the grave. They never change their minds.
Remembering can force contemplative thought. The fool, walks away from that thought and continues on, trying to run from past decisions. The decision to turn East when he should have gone West, haunts him, so he goes further.  Pride wells up forcing the man to continue, in light of possible embarrassment of making a wrong choice, and being a fool, only to become more of a fool. Flight becomes our prison cell.
I stopped.
Calling into the Big Sky, “God, speak.”
I heard of a pastor who would drive out of his city every five years and only return if he felt God was calling him to another five years. On my way across the deserts of Washington, I asked God if he still wanted me to be in Seattle. Am I to continue ministering there, in that city on the other side of the mountains? Or, have I done what I have been called to do and now could it be time to move to a new task, in a different location, maybe the mountains? Lord speak. I don’t want to make a move without your direction. I must give thought.
Then God, with his writing finger, stirred up the clouds and wrote a message to me…No, that isn’t how it happened.  I am reminded however of words from the book Contagious Disciple Making, “Obedience requires us to do what is right even if we do not personally benefit or would be put at a disadvantage by obeying. The inconvenience of the individual believer when living in obedience is an advantage for the corporate body of believers, resulting in fear of the Lord, long life for the body, and increase in the number of members composing the body.”  Please read that again.
I am blessed beyond compare to journey with Kristine.
 
Our Big God has stirred my core to continue in the direction he is leading. We must consider our path, our steps, think on them and trust our Savior’s guidance.  There is a next chapter in Seattle.  I don’t have a big new plan and marketing roll out. We don’t need it.  I think God is giving me just one word.

Aurora Avenue North

After reading a recent letter to the Major of Seattle, “Hell Starts Here, 145th & Aurora”, posted in the Aurora Seattle Blog (which does a great job of keeping ‘eyes’ on Aurora Ave. N.), my cranium started into a grey matter tsunami about the people I have encountered on Aurora, which Richard, the author of the letter to Major McGinn, tells us resembles Dantes Circle of Hell.

But what, or who does Aurora represent? Indeed if we have eyes that only see the physicality of our immediate surroundings which hem us in on all fronts accosting our eyes with the mere tripe of this facade of stone and steel. This plastic and glass empire wanes heavy and indeed does resemble the inferno of the underworld where man is hopeless without Christ.

At first glance, or for some at second and third glance if not at each glance through his or her life, the Corridor of Aurora Avenue accosts the eyes and mind and the innate desire to be surrounded by beauty, even if it is a man made beauty, stirs our beings to scream, “Hell Starts Here!

The tsunami in my mind is fierce, flooding and disorienting my thoughts because I live in this great city called Emerald that has no belief or desire to believe in a God who is loving yet just. This city, a landscape of 700,000 souls with millions just over the fence, pretends to believe there is no moral Right…but is quick to condemn the many who are described, not by their ideas or character or eyes or even their names, but instead by the “concrete waste land” they have been forced to inhabit.

How is it that a society that believes there is no God and therefore no moral right or wrong can pass judgement so quickly on people who are suffering deep despair and isolation? But when our focus is on our surroundings and the eye candy that we ignorantly suck on, we will miss the souls of the people who drive those cars, who sell those cars and who live in those cars that traverse “Gasoline Alley.”

The common solutions, that I have heard and read, to the problems of Aurora Avenue go something like this, “We need to bulldoze the entire strip of alley cats and rats who call Aurora home, and while we are at it put in a bicycle path running from Pike Place Market to 145th in a park that once was Aurora Ave. N.”  The fact is; if Aurora Ave. N. “closed” thousands would be out of work and thousands would lose their businesses. It would displace businesses into the coveted, almost worshiped, neighborhoods and their quiet streets. Causing yet a greater crisis.

Does it ever occur to anyone that we need the commerce of Aurora? The basic needs of a city lie along this strip along with those who derive their livelihood, those who, by the way, have names. Names like Pericles, Azi, Chey-Sun, Cynthia, Bud, Ryan, Fay, Will, and the list goes on. Sure there are many nefarious activities that occur along the strip but does that mean we throw out the baby in the proverbial bath water? Or…do we make a shift?

What if we seek to transform instead of throw away?

I wish you, yes you, could sacrifice one of your precious well paid hours and walk on Aurora with me and look long into the eyes of the small business owner, or the customers who frequent the same businesses. Come look into the haunting eyes of the homeless, prostitute and “dancer.”  My hope is that it breaks your four chambered muscle pounding with in your chest. My hope is that you and I remember these people where once children with bright eyes, hopes and dreams. Many ruined by their parents and hence trapped in this prison we so easily condemn to hell.

At some point we need to stop throwing insults and condemnation at the problem and start getting involved.

At some point we need to stop throwing money and hopes that the “government” will do something and start getting involved.

At some point we must stop speeding down the Aurora Corridor with blinders held tightly to our eyes and start seeing and hearing.

In a somewhat crazy emotionally unstable state,  I truly believe this strip can be transformed, healed and reconciled to beauty. Don’t ignore it, don’t throw stones. Take a lesson from Jesus, “You who are without guilt may throw the first stone.”

Want to link arms and see North Aurora Transformed…Please join me.

Following

Posted: February 16, 2011 in Of Spiritual Things
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I am consistently amazed at the way God leads us.; step by step to a door that seems thick, locked and impenetrable, yet consistently he opens them up and shows us the miraculous on the other side. Our responsibility is to follow. Following takes movement; intentional action to trust the leading of the Spirit and that the steps we tread will not harm us. Oh it might hurt, but we should know that the pain of our Master is so good and opens more doors.

On the other side of the door in front of you lies the miraculous. It isn’t even our responsibility to open the door, but before He opens the door he wants to know if we are willing to walk through it. He isn’t going to open the door if we are just going to stand there and peak through, He will open it when we are willing to walk through it.

Get ready the doors are opening…

This past Sunday at Epic Life was so sweet! The power of God’s Spirit is amazing and the place I get to journey at this particular moment of my life is phenomenal.

There is nothing I am about to write that I mean to be disrespectful to anyone.

This month’s series at Epic Life is “Three Men Who Blew It and Made A Comeback, and One Who Didn’t.” My intro in the Journal is here.  We are speaking on the lives of John Mark, Peter, King David and Solomon and each Sunday will be from a different speaker. I spoke this Sunday on John Mark and told the story of a young man who ran away but was restored by God.

The Spirit moved and even though it was a Labor Day weekend we had many in the service, including several from the streets, many from international communities, families, singles, old and young.

As I finished up the message and Averi brought in music on the keys I told everyone that it is time to Stop running, Drop to our knees and repent and Roll – Turn back to God and follow after Him. He is always there to forgive and has, in fact, already done so. He will restore us.

Recently our Family has been expanding with several men and women from the streets who have the propensity to talk back while I am speaking from the stage. It doesn’t bother me. I just figure they must be paying attention because most of the time what they are saying out loud has something to do with the message. (Not always though). This week I offered prayer to who ever wanted to join me in the front. All of our homeless friends came forward along with a few others and we, (Jeff, David and I) got to pray over each of them. They smelled of alcohol and a lack of bathing, but they did step forward, a couple to repent, another to ask for prayer for someone else, another for prayer as she enters rehab.

So here’s my big prayer! I am praying that we as Epic Life will be able to exemplify the beauty of the Acts 2 Church and have all things in common with ALL the believers. I am praying that we never become like the Corinthians (1 Cor. 11:20-22) who didn’t even share their wealth during communion. I am praying that we are able to break bread together: rich and poor, learned and unlearned, old and young, from every ethnicity, every language, every socioeconomic level, and every spiritually mature level.  I pray that joining us on our knees in the front of church repenting will be all of these people together, side-by-side, without judgement. I pray that this work the Spirit is doing will draw people to Christ and not scare them away.

I know that what happened this past Sunday was scary for many and way out side of their comfort zones, but it was so beautiful!  And, I praise God for counting me worthy to experience it first hand, to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears the full family of God. If you are reading this and you are part of the Epic Life Family, be Bold! See beyond any selfishly focused motives and judgments. Be humbly confident that God has placed you in this place at this time for his purposes and you get the amazing privilege of being in the front lines of something completely remarkable.