Friday, January 27, 2012

Notes on God's Love

From time to time I am asked or get into conversations on the love of God and our experience of that love. It is a hip topic today and lots of books are being written about it. I am glad it is a popular topic and authors are trying their best to help people experience that love. What concerns me though is that we can very easily make experiencing the love of God a work, a badge of honor or way of making ourselves feel in. It becomes a sign that "we've got it". If for some reason we don't "get it" then we feel like less of a Christian.

Christ is the focus of our lives and we should keep him and the truth at the center. How we experience Him, his love and our development is up to him. Remember, Jesus is the Great Shepherd of our souls and he knows what we need. It is important not to be taking our spiritual temperature all the time and figuring out where we are. Rather we build our lives on the truth of his Word and look to him as our teacher and Lord. Many times we live by trust in his Word especially when we are in spiritual valleys or in the desert. It is trust and faithfulness that keeps our lives going in the right direction. Having grounded our thinking in reality and living healthy rhythms will go a long way is keeping us centered.

One day after a while of living this way we will realize that we have deepened our awareness of being loved; specifically of being His beloved. It may come as a tidal wave or as a simple realization of who we are. Here are words to describe it: simple, ordinary and graceful. Over enough time we come to know that we are  loved. This is what it is to experience God's love, knowing our identity as his beloved. We realize that we have built our lives on simple truth (the scriptures) and rooted deeply in Christ's forgiveness on the cross.

Remember, keep Christ as the focus. He says to "seek first the kingdom". We are to be kingdom seekers and workers. In doing so we will realize we are the king's beloved.

Here are two verses to think on:

Romans 8:39b
Jeremiah 31:3

Grace + Peace,


Friday, January 13, 2012


One of the things about living on an island is that you are just there. It may sound odd but if you have ever lived on a small island you know what I mean about just being there. Living in the States people cover miles a day in their car, pass from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city in just a matter of moments. Very few live, work and play in the same place, with the same people day after day. If you live on a small island however that is the case. Our island is shaped like a horseshoe and is 3.5 miles from tip to tip and a half mile wide. If you are a runner the longest course is a 10k which is sufficient for most needs.

One of the things to learn living on a small island is how to be there, that is content with what you have, who you have and where you are. That isn't to say we all don't love getting mail with new items like magazines and things we can't buy here. However, no matter how much mail one gets it doesn't change the fact that you need to learn a certain degree of contentment or you can go a little crazy. In the States life moves so fast and is so varied that we can evade a lot of those basic issues. If we aren't content we can just go to a new mall or go the movies or go out to dinner. We just move from thing to thing, not really reflecting on why we aren't content. While life is busy here (no joke, really I'm serious) it is all still here. Which brings us back to contentment.

What really makes a person content? That is a question that island living can teach you if you are willing to listen. I am not saying that people here are any more content than in the States, perhaps less so since we have fewer distractions. Being here, living life in one place has a way of revealing things which might not being revealed living another lifestyle. The Benedictines talk about the vow of stability, being committed to one place and one community for life. I am beginning to understand why.

Contentment doesn't come from riding a bike to work, scuba diving regularly, making money or the other reasons people like life here. There are never enough dives, money or whatever...No, contentment comes from learning to live grounded in where you are and being who you are. That level of contentment is a gift from God through Jesus. Living a life following Jesus has a depth to it that nothing else brings. It settles deep into our being and we know that we are being held, helped and guided through life no matter where we are. We know that a life given to following Jesus isn't wasted which brings a deep peace. The more we get to know Jesus the more we encounter the continual gift of forgiveness, mercy and love. We grown to know deeply how loved and cherished we are. This is where we can rest and be content. We can experience this on a little island, in the big city or in the country. It is a gift offered to all, regardless of background or knowledge or mistakes. Jesus invites all to follow him.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


There have been a handful of things over the last few weeks that God has been using to teach me a deeper understanding of rest. I was reading through the Gym Jones website ( and I came upon a quote that while a little crude caught my attention.  It said “if you don’t have the balls to rest don’t train”. They even developed a shirt with the equation: work + rest = training. At the same time my boss who worked as a fitness trainer told me that they days I get stronger are the days that I rest.
Alongside my fitness messages came some from the ministry here. As we all know Christmas and New Year’s were both on a Sunday. Normally we have two services on a Sunday but I felt lead and was encouraged to have only one service on each of those days. The idea was to reduce our work, rest, change the rhythm and give people a chance to rest. It worked great. We had reasonable attendance for both of those days and changing how we worship helped stretch us to think of who we worship and why.
In addition to my fitness and work life I took some time to be with my parents while they were here over the holidays and we had some fun and unique experiences that had I not slowed down, I would have missed out on. Again rest. To top it all off I reread the chapter on the semicircle in Mike Breen’s book Building a Discipleship Culture. The semicircle is all about working from rest and then moving back to a place of abiding in Christ and being renewed.
End result for me: learn to honor the Sabbath and work from rest. Great lesson and one that I am sure many of us can also learn and integrate into our lives. We are so programmed to work and never rest. We are lead to believe that rest is for the weak and therefore we feel guilty when we slow down, recreate and just be. The idea of the Sabbath is to rest in God, to trust that God is at work in our world and our lives. It is sometimes hidden work like when a muscle is rebuilding after being broken down during a workout. This “hidden” work of God is real work and the end result is that we are fruitful, exactly what we are called to be. If I was to make a workout shirt for Christ followers it would say “rest + work = fruitfulness”. Those two need to exist together and in that order.
In our culture of over work and self reliance taking the Sabbath seriously will be somewhat radical and will be met with resistance. The Christian life should be counter culture and the Christian community should be a place of witness to the world that the deeper value is being over doing.  Since God’s kingdom is here and now we are to live in the kingdom and to do that we must learn to rest, abide, prune and then work from the place of grounded living in Christ.