Shift

Have you noticed changes lately? So many things are different from they were even a year ago. Especially for those of us who can no longer claim youth as our age category, life is very different from what we knew before the internet started. Life has sped up to a dizzying pace. But I’m not talking about that exactly, though it is part of what I hope to help us think about.2015-05-28 15.24.19

“Shift” is as a verb that is used with an object. Dictionary.com’s first definition is: “to put (something) aside and replace it by another or others; change or exchange:”
For example, the WWII generation is passing away. That means they shifted leadership to the Baby Boomers and we who are Boomers are increasingly shifting leadership to younger generations. While these are defined shifts in themselves, there is a larger shift taking place. A spiritual one. President Obama once stated his conviction that the United States is no longer a Christian nation. I think this is up for debate, but I understand what he is saying. Even that is not exactly the shift I mean, though again, it is a part of the shift that is occurring.

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I’m really talking about the atmosphere. Not the weather, but a spiritual atmosphere. Depending on your primary sources for information, the world can look and feel like a place going “downhill” and fast, or a place pregnant with opportunity. From where I sit, I see and sense both, probably because of the current shift. Transition is another word that one can use to describe what is going on. It is the active process as we “set aside” and “replace.”

I’ve mentioned my transitions more than I care to, but at the same time I know many people, especially in service to our Creator God, who are also in transition. I am beginning to sense the shift in these transitions from the early phases that tend to feel full of the fear of change and has more questions than answers, to a more positive sense of expectation about the future in spite of the challenges we will inevitably face.

Some people fear some sort of doom in the atmosphere, often due to the delicate economic balance of the national and world economies. Or perhaps the long-term effects of 9/11 and the more recent “Arab Spring,” or the continued violence in places like Baltimore cause some to sense doom.

These troubling things are on my radar too, but have a I sense that whether or not the doom sayers are correct, God is in the air…. The questions are still hanging out there without clear answers, but God is in them. These shifts are causing people to question the way things are and some ask about God, His existence and His purposes for themselves and for the big scheme of life. This openness is more prevalent now than it has been in many years, arguably even decades. What “open doors” are waiting for me to walk through?

What shifts have you noticed? What does this sense of spiritual shift mean for each of us? Like I said, the questions about the future and how to operate in this new “place” are still out there…. Will you join me is asking our creator what He wants us to look for and pay attention to? How will I respond to what I learn when I pay attention?

Abba, Thank you that you know the end from the beginning! Thank you that your perfect love casts out fear. Thank you for being loving and unchangeable, and that in You all the answers are Yes and Amen! Give me insight to notice the shifts in and around me, wisdom to know how to respond, grace to follow Your lead and strength to obey. Amen

Finding God In The Cafeteria

I sat in a cafeteria the other morning. I was tired. I was spending time in the word of God before getting into the meat of my activities for the day. The presences of the Lord was strong as I sat and listened to the Holy Spirit in this public place. I did not really want to leave….

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Discerning direction and next steps.

Why there? There are some places that make it easy to meet with God. This time I am pretty sure it was not about the location. I think it was more about the condition of my heart and soul…hungry and needy.

I am exhausted. I have been in transition for years. This is a statement of fact, not a complaint. I am constantly making decisions and discerning from God the next steps in this season of transition.

I am hungry, not for cafeteria food, but to experience the presence of God with me in the midst of these transitions. I have found that when I am in need of God, and I look for signs of Him in and around me instead of settling for a substitute. I am more apt to feel “strangely warmed” by the presence of God than when I am not looking. Because I have cultivated a practice, I can usually connect regardless of surrounding conditions.

I am at or beyond the edge of my personal resources. That is actually a really good “place” to be to meet God.

I used to feel the need to try to show up with my life as in order and as “together” as possible. The older I get the less I am concerned with  anything that resembles having my act together. The more exposed and vulnerable I am, the more real my relationship with the Creator becomes. I can’t pretend in this relationship. Every hair on my head is numbered by the one who created me. Every breath I take is accounted for before I even take one. I can not surprise God. Yet, the one who created me surprises me day in and day out with His attention to detail in my life.

A spring blossom

A spring blossom

Sure, I miss a lot of it, but when I choose to be open and look for it, I see the handiwork of God all around me. It may be a spring blossom; protection from accidents as I drive or the handy parking place I asked for when I am running errands. The best ones are things like an unsolicited phone call from a friend to check in or an unexpected hug. These are all little kindnesses that Abba extends to us every day.

What is the condition of your heart? The more you are at the end of your natural resources the better able you are to find the one who loves you and sent His son to die so you can be connected in every location and situation. They key, from my experience, is to ask and look. This old chorus is a favorite of mine:

“Turn you eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

This was written in 1922 by Helen H. Lemmel. Please find her full lyrics below.  I discovered these verses for the first time when I looked up who wrote the chorus today. As God will have, it they fit what I wrote before I found them. May Abba bless you and help you to turn your eyes upon Jesus!

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

Don’t Forget To Have Fun

I feel like my life has been one major transition after another for at least the last four years. Wait a minute, that’s because it has been one major transition after another…! With stress levels off the charts, I try to take delight in the little things. “Leaf Out Day” is one. Another is to observe life of all sorts around me. I spent a wonderful Mother’s day weekend in New Your City with my daughter who has lived in the city for nine years. When we went for a stroll in Central Park we happened upon a fella entertaining with giant bubbles.

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There is nothing quite like bubbles.

Watching the children blowing to keep the bubble up in the air was most entertaining! I guess it is the idea of stopping to smell the roses or taking a minute vacations, only this turned to a 10 to 15 minute vacation.

God is in us and all around us. We can find Him in His handiwork of nature and in the creativity of humans using the creative DNA God placed inside each of us. These gifts and abilities are reflections of the image of God, integral in every human from the point of conception.

The having fun part of creativity and stress relief goes at least two ways. Those who create, risk themselves to draw out the joy in those of us observing and partaking. That Joy of appreciation is returned to the artist/entertainer/engineer for plying their craft and they receive encouragement to continue.

The stresses of life begin to find perspective when we “stop to watch the bubbles.”

I thank God for people who put beauty before me. It may be the bubbles, or a garden, an interesting mass of architecture, a work of art or well crafted words. These provide space from the pressures of life and food for the hungry soul.

Where do you go or what do you do to relieve life pressures? 

If you have a hard time knowing, please take a moment to thank God, in advance, those “bubbles” are there to be seen. Ask God to open your eyes to see what He sees. Then take the next couple days looking a bit more intentionally for beauty, thanking God each time you see.

Let me know how it goes!

“Leaf Out Day”

One of my favorite days of the year is what I chose to call “Leaf Out Day.” I live in Massachusetts and we have four full seasons here. Some more full than others after the recent record breaking winter. Almost every spring the entire woods around my house moves from millions of swelling buds to full, young leaves in a single day. As I write, today is the day!

Leaf Out Day begins

Leaf Out Day begins

I am not always able to watch, but I hate to miss it all together. I can sit on my deck and hear the leaves pop out of their protective coating. Then I can watch as they unfurl and expand. Looking up every once in a while from my work, I literally see the difference throughout the day.

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Leaf Out progression…renewal

I marvel at the creativeness of the one who made the earth and everything in it. The idea and the demonstration of re-creation with every season is a reminder to me that God never gives up on me or on you. If I “fail” a test in life, God does not throw me away. I get to take it over and over and over until I learn it to His satisfaction. Honestly, some tests feel a little like the movie “Ground Hog Day,” but even Bill Murray’s character eventually figured it out.

Every season is a renewed opportunity. Every day is a new day with the one who created us in love, sustains us by His love and offers His love to us so we may give it away.

Do you have a “test” you have been taking and re-taking? Can you sit with it a moment? Can you give it back to God…? Ask Him to let you see it from His perspective. Ask for the grace to keep going until “pass” and move on. There is always more to learn. Like the leaves and the seasons, Abba is faithful.

The Power That Brings Hope

As we await the sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev we remember the day of the Boson Marathon bombing. From the Middle East we learn of Christian beheadings as they become a regular happening. We see the riots in Baltimore and can become disheartened with the injustices all around the events. The “Greatest Generation” is passing away before our eyes and we find ourselves taking the lead.

"All filled up" The post-communion table. There is power in the name of Jesus.

“All filled up” The post-communion table. There is power in blood and the name of Jesus.

Taking the lead in this era is a scary prospect outside of the power of our Creator. This young man, Ryan Garza, produced a short film, under 8 minutes, to turn our eyes from our circumstances to the only sure source of hope. Please take the time to watch, or at least listen, to the end.

Where do you turn when life begins to feel overwhelming?

Please pray for the generations. I am a young Boomer. We are handing off to the X’ers and the Millennials (born about 1980-2000.) There is Power That Brings Hope! Let’s plug into it!

Abba, I ask you to raise up a greater generation than the WWII generation that was truly great. I join Elijah’s prayer from 1 Kings 18:37: “ Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”  I Thank You because You are both able and willing! May I have eyes to see, ears to hear and grace to go with You!