Monday, March 15, 2010

Marinating in the furious longing of God

Recently I've been reading Brennan Manning's "The Furious Longing of God".

Furious Longing

The title intrigued me. The little jacket info about Mr. Manning was intriguing - recovering alcoholic, former priest, lived in cave, ministered to shrimpers....

So I read this short intriguing book and I found it.....hard to engage with. I liked it well enough. I enjoyed the language - Mr. Manning uses language that tends to leave me feeling raw and exposed - in a good way. But the general theme - God loves me - was what got in the way. As I was reading I was thinking - yeah, yeah....I get that God loves me. What else is there in this little book that I can wrestle with? And so I was underwhelmed.....but some of it stuck.

In his book Mr. Manning encourages the reader - through stories of his own experiences - to marinate in some verses and phrases. The two that stuck with me were:

Abba, I belong to you.

I am my beloved's and His desire is for me. (Song of Solomon 7:10)

I found myself repeating those phrases over and over. Not only for myself but on behalf of others as well. They became the background prayer while I was running, doing errands, etc.

And then I re-read the book.....again.....and yet again. Today, I was in the doctor's office and had the opportunity to read it for about the 5th time in the past 6 weeks and it hit me totally different. I am the object of God's love - with no pre-condition....just as I am. I am His. He desires me....each day....upon arising He is waiting to engage with me. He is watching over me as I sleep. His love for me never rests....never settles....never runs away but rather is active, alive, pursuing.

Somehow - after marinating with these phrases, I have awakened to God's love for me in a new, fresh way. I am experiencing God's "furious longing" for me....

Thanks Mr. Manning....for being a vessel that God speaks through this day.

If anyone would like to borrow an intriguing little book let me know....

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Road Race - take 2!

I'm participating in the Cooper River Bridge Run at the end of this month. My brother John...specifically YOUNGER brother John....invited me to do this race together while we are down in Charleston, S.C. visiting my dad. My brothers - John and Rich (I'm the perfect middle child of course!) and I took my dad out last summer for some off-shore fishing and other general boy fun for a weekend and it was a blast. So much so we decided to do it again. It was great to connect with my brothers and create some great memories with all of us together. Here is a picture of John making sure Dad doesn't get yanked out of the boat reeling in a giant fish!

But I digress.....back to the Cooper River Bridge Run. Sort of...

The last time John and I tried to race together was about 6 years ago. We both needed a goal to lose a little weight and get in better shape. So we decided to start with a triathlon! Yeah....

After we had both registered for the race we started training. I soon discovered that I liked breathing WAY more than swimming and this led me to not competing. But I did get a very nice $40 T-shirt for my registration fee. John, meanwhile, trained very hard and went into the race with an adequate bike, a nice racing wet suit, and in decent shape. He competed....but alas took a wrong turn on the bike portion of the event and was disqualified. All in all not a very good showing for the Moss boys....

So - hopefully we will be able to do better and both compete in and finish the Bridge run. Of course, the fact that I had trouble registering on-line which caused me to actually register TWICE does not bode well. But I do now have 2 really nice $40 t-shirts....hopefully I'll actually run the race as well!

The race is a 10K - flat except for that 4th mile that is all uphill at an average 4% grade.....should be fun! I'll let you know how it goes in about 4 weeks.....

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Quieted by God's love

This verse has been traveling with me these days

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

When was the last time you were quieted by God’s love?

I wish a thousand memories would flood into my brain when I ponder that question. But, if I’m honest with myself, the moments of my being quieted by God’s love are rare. And it isn’t because God’s love for me is in short supply. Zephaniah makes it very clear:

…The LORD my God is with me
…He takes great delight in me
…He rejoices over me with singing

So it must be me. It must be me not allowing myself to be quieted by God’s love. Why is that? Maybe I don’t feel like I deserve His love and it is easier to just keep moving and striving thinking I can earn His love. Maybe I’m afraid of quiet – of being alone with God so I fill my life with distractions and relationships so I look “okay” on the outside….afraid of what God might find on the inside if I pause. Maybe it’s because if I stop I might hear Him singing and that singing will start to pull me in another direction….a direction I don’t want to go.


But then a memory comes….of my then 5 y.o. son, Alexey, being hurt. But he doesn’t run to me for comfort. He turns away….so I run to him. Holding him I tell him “You are my child, I love you, it will be okay, you are my child, I love you, it will be okay”….over and over again. And gradually….he is quieted. I can feel him starting to “melt” into me as I hold him…no longer resisting me but now leaning into my embrace. And he is quiet. And in my heart I am rejoicing over him with singing.

God desires the same for you and I right now…..He takes great delight in you….lean into Him and allow His great love for you to quiet you…..and just see if you don’t hear Him singing – rejoicing over YOU…and then linger in that embrace….in God’s love!

May the God who takes great delight in you, break through into your strivings this day and quiet you with His love…..and may you hear Him rejoicing over you with singing!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Coincidence - I think not!

I had a good friend in Illinois who could see God's connections in cool ways. One of his favorite phrases was, "Coincidence, I think not!" as he pieced together Holy Spirit happenings. That phrase has been rolling around the last few days as I have experienced a few of those moments.

I have stumbled upon Zephaniah 3:17-18 a couple of times in the past week. Weird. A book of the bible I'm pretty sure I haven't read in total, nor can I find without using the index in my bible yet there it is.....beckoning me. Here is the verse in a "mixed" translation (NIV and the message)

The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He takes great delight in you,
he quiets you with his love,
he rejoices over you with singing."

The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
You've carried those burdens long enough.

Recently, I have begun memorizing some scripture with a friend. Last week it was Col 3:15 and I thought I had picked some others that would be appropriate for the coming weeks. But - in true "coincidence, I think not" form - I believe I am to hide these words from Zeph in my heart and let them marinate and work on me. And so it goes.....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Boring is Good!"

I'm doing my second overnight volunteer stint at Simpson house tonight (You can read about my first night here). Right now I'm listening to about 40 guys sleep....complete with snoring, coughing, and some general restlessness from a few. I am praying for peace for them....

One of the shelter staff told me as she left that she hopes my evening is boring. Then she paused, looked at me and said, "Because boring is good." Yep....striving for boring is my goal for the evening.

The other background noise is in the TV room - NBA finals are blaring complete with guys cheering for their teams. It's all good....

As long as I can keep the sleeping guys asleep and the NBA guys from getting to loud. Otherwise "boring" may be lost....

The last time I volunteered was about a month ago and I was happy/sad to see some familiar faces. I recognize at least 4-5 of the guys. I don't think any of them remembered me.

When the guys were let in tonight I was surprised that about 6 of them were riding bikes, one brought in a pair of crutches attached to his bike, and another man brought in a fishing pole with him. Seeing these guys and how they value what they have is humbling.

Back to praying for peace....and for a boring evening.....Lord, send Your peace.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Awkward Questions about Jesus

Man, I feel like this a lot of the time when I'm trying to talk about my faith to my own kids. (This vid is from an English sitcom entitled "Outnumbered".)

ht to Scot McKnight

Monday, June 08, 2009

Minding my P's and D's

My son, Alexey is in 4th grade. His report card doesn't have the traditional letter grades yet but rather P's and D's. P = Proficient and D = Developing. I'm proud to say that generally he gets straight P's. (That just sounds wrong but I digress.)

I've been thinking of the P's and D's in my life as it relates to serving and being in a faith community with others. I'm in transition right now - having been worshipping at a new church for about 5 months. As I have reflected on that journey some I've come up with 3 P's and a D.

Planner - The previous two churches that I have served at I became quickly involved in many ministry areas. I have the gift of helps so that is a natural occurrence for me. I was involved in youth ministry, praise band, worship planning, small groups....served as elder, worked on search teams, and generally tried to jump in to help as needed. In most areas that I served I became involved in some degree of planning, leading, and directing. I discovered that I generally experienced my most times of intimate worship with God in the developing and planning process and that when an actual event occurred I was unable to worship with the community. I was too caught up in the evaluating, coordinating, hoping, praying, thinking what's next, etc.

Performer - For much of my time on Sundays over the past 10 years I have played drums in a praise band. Again...many times the most intimate worship times for me occurred during rehearsal, thinking thru music, etc. Once Sunday rolled around my thoughts were usually tied to questions like, "What's the right tempo" "Are we together" "Do we repeat the chorus" "How do we end the song". With all of that rolling around in my head it was usually very difficult for me to worship while playing - at least on Sunday mornings. Yes, I "perform and play" my best for God, but on Sunday...with the added layer of responsibility of leading others in worship my focus becomes split. (It is very cool when you do totally engage and a whole community invites the Holy Spirit to inhabit their praises...but for me those moments are the exception rather than the rule.)

Participant - Here is where I have found myself the last few months. I am not involved in any formal ministry. I have simply been a participant. It has been joyful, refreshing, and challenging. It has helped me learn again how to focus my attention on worshipping - not planning or performing. It has been a blessing to worship in community with my family and friends - to dance alongside (in my awkward ways), raise my hands, bow down, be lifted up - together. It has helped me re-discover the joy or communal worship and to see and experience just a little slice of heaven.
Desire - But now what? That is the question that is haunting me as I try and best discern where and how God wants me to serve. I have come to see some of the gifts, challenges, and dangers of my three P's. My desire is to serve God in the ways He wants me to go and become the follower, man, husband, and father that He wants me to be. I can see Him building into me in new ways, with new experiences, and new relationships.
I pretty sure I'll never get a P = proficient. Nor would I want one as that sounds like an end point. I hope I am always a D student. One who is developing and becoming more like Jesus. Yeah....I'm striving for a D!
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.