Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections on 2014: Year of Surrender

You crown the year with your generosity, richness seeps from your tracks,

the pastures of the desert grow moist, the hillsides are wrapped in joy,

the meadows are covered with flocks, the valleys clothed with wheat; they shout and sing for joy.  (Ps 65:11-13 NJB)


At the end of 2013 I noted that the predominant theme of that year had been the fundamental relational shift into becoming a disciple (learner/apprentice) of Jesus. As I looked into 2014 I felt led toward specific practices of surrender and trust as I sought to grow in my discipleship. There were three prayers that were fundamental in guiding me in this (prayer 1, prayer 2, and prayer 3, respectively). These have helped me greatly root my mind, heart, soul and body in the rich pastures of the Kingdom of God.

Looking back over 2014, by God’s goodness I think I have grown in surrender and trust! The main way I have noticed growth has been indirect. As I sought to practice the presence of God in intentional trust, I’ve experienced less anxiety, fear and anger as I’ve walked through the circumstances of the year. Sometimes I’ve even experienced surprising amounts of joy and peace!

Some circumstantial highlights of 2014:

  • I walked around 1000 miles in 2014 in my morning exercise routine (3.2 miles a day 6-7 days a week) and have been able to maintain my ideal weight.

  • I got my first tattoo (celtic cross on my right shoulder for my 44th birthday), a symbolic event for me.

  • Celebrated 20 years of marriage and 25 years following Jesus!

  • Three trips out of state (special anniversary trip, trips to Oregon and British Columbia)

  • I had an unexpected “inguinal double-hernia repair” surgery, which was fun.

  • We unexpectedly replaced one of our vehicles with a newer car.

**these events are not special in themselves, but represent events and circumstances where for the first time I tried practicing the presence of God in them, as opposed to just going through them my “normal” way - without God and without hope in the world.

The biggest surprise to me is how responsive God has been. Corresponding to my growing trust, God has been more communicative with me, responding in provision and abundance in relational, financial and emotional ways. This excites me about the future and reminds me of a phrase the Lord gave me early in the year - who knows what trust can do?

This renewed confidence in God’s care has provided freedom for me to start dreaming again about the future. Anyone who knows my story knows this is a huge deal! I haven’t dreamed about the future since coming to Louisville in 2001! Dreaming about the future requires confidence that I will be cared for and that there is a unique place in God’s world for my unique gifts and talents.

In the spring of 2014 I began writing down a “job description,” a vision of what I would like to do with the rest of my life if I could. I’m not quite ready to share the details here yet, but I have been slowly letting close friends and family in on it as a matter of conversation and prayer. I am being increasingly urged (inwardly and outwardly) to take the dream to the next level and begin pursuing it in 2015. The big idea of it is, I want to help people follow Jesus full time.

Looking forward to 2015, I am moving forward with my job description on the assumption that it is a dream planted by God, so I can begin to look for possible plots of ground where it can take root and grow. I think 2015 will be a year of vocation, or a year of redeemed desire.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Christmas Prayer and Blessing

Christmas 2014

Beloved friends on the path of LIFE with Jesus and his people,

May Emmanuel envelop you into his constant care and companionship;
May your heart be engulfed in everything of God everywhere
May your thoughts and feelings be held by the steady hand of Abba
May your body be made ready to respond when he calls to you from your everyday;
May your soul be filled full with all his fullness, overflowing into all your relationships near and far.

May his Spirit bring you a deeper experiential confidence in God's loving care,
May his great love enable you let go of outcomes,
free of getting your own way and getting people to do things;
May you be free to think new thoughts and feel new feelings and dream new dreams.

May we grow closer together as broken and beloved friends in partnership with Jesus in living lives of constant creative goodness.

Emmanuel has come! 
God is with us, forever!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Labor of Love

"Labor of Love," by Andrew Peterson

It was not a silent night

There was blood on the ground

You could hear a woman cry

In the alleyways that night

On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean

And the cobblestones were cold

And little Mary full of grace

With the tears upon her face

Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain

It was a cold sky above

But for the girl on the ground in the dark

With every beat of her beautiful heart

It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side

Callused hands and weary eyes

There were no midwives to be found

In the streets of David's town

In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed

Shafts of moonlight on his face

But the baby in her womb

He was the maker of the moon

He was the Author of the faith

That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain

It was a cold sky above

But for the girl on the ground in the dark

With every beat of her beautiful heart

It was a labor of love

For little Mary full of grace

With the tears upon her face

It was a labor of love

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Emmanuel’s Pace

Emmanuel’s Pace
In coming to our place

Slowly, slowly
So slow and steady
Not without the help of human hands
Hands that he himself made
to bring him in.
We had to deliver him, before he could deliver us.

It took nine long months to come to the stable
Thus begins the steady and slow growth
The process of the perfect God-man
Infinite in patience and tender power

Triune slowness
Teaching us how to be human
How to wade through time and not lose our souls

So slowly did he come
only a few noticed
the poor, the smelly and the marginalized
All the power brokers
too busy and fast
caught up in themselves
Aren’t able to see or care
It’s still the same today.

A weary world rejoices
Lost in hurry, worry and procrastination
We stop, look and listen
See how God does it.
Master of time, taking his time;
It’s still the same today.

If we can learn to walk his pace
staying before his face
perhaps we shall be born anew
a new human race.

A Prayer:
Emmanuel, as Christmas draws near, the pace around me quickens. Traffic picks up, lines get longer, patience runs thin. More rush, more to do and less time, more longing and less thanks; instead of rushing to keep up, help me have the courage to slow down even more. I need deep anchors in silence and solitude in order to stand against the rushing tide. Help me go deeper instead of faster. For your sake and the good of my own soul, I pray.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Pledge of the Apprentice (Expanded)

Back in January, I posted a shorter version of this pledge (which is actually a prayer). Here is the longer version that has grown as I’ve prayed it. With a few exceptions, this pledge has ushered me into every day of 2014. It has kept me focused and moving in a good direction, and I hope it blesses you, too!

It seems especially relevant to me during this Advent season, to think of apprenticing myself to this Jesus lying in a manger. Learning from him begins with attending to the way he came. Each season of the Christian year gives us meditative access to an aspect of the life and activity of Jesus.

Below the official pledge are a few more affirmations that I work through on a daily basis.

Pledge of the Apprentice

By the grace of God, I apprentice myself to Jesus in order to live eternally now;

to become the kind of person, from the heart, who does what he did and says what he said in his confident, peaceful manner. I commit myself to learning this. He is the One who knows how to live, the Master and Maestro of all of life, the smartest and best person to ever have lived.

In warm response to his love, I intend to be with him, learning to be like him, living my life as he would live it if he were I. Through the Holy Spirit I intend to do the necessary and appropriate things (means of grace) for apprehending and opening to this new kind of life.

I do this for the sake of God and the good of my own soul and the good of those around me;

to work with Him and participate in Him, as he extends the loving rule and reign of His kingdom throughout my life into others’ lives.

I do not do this to earn or merit anything; rather, it is my simple but passionate cooperation in Trinitarian Life, Presence and Power.

Miscellaneous Related Affirmations

I will trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding, wisdom and resources; In all my ways I will acknowledge and submit to him, trusting in him to make my paths straight and life-giving. I will not be wise in my own eyes; forgive my arrogance, Lord!

I will fear the Lord and turn from evil, trusting him to meet every single one of my needs, to bring health to my body and nourishment to my bones (adaptation of Proverbs 3:5-8).

I let go of outcomes, large and small, as well as leaving in his hands everything that concerns me.

I let go of doing things in order to be seen by others; as best I can with Jesus’ help I will do all things with a simple and fond devotion to God.

I surrender to the goodness and love of God, the atmosphere of “Abba” that surrounds, saturates and satisfies me.

I stand with these particular feet in God’s unshakable kingdom, as a disciple in whom Jesus dwells and delights.


Proverbs 3:5-8; Psalms 16 and 23; Matthew 5-7; John 13-17; Colossians 1:9-23; 3:1-21; Romans 5:1-4; 12:1-2

Brother Lawrence, Practice of the Presence of God

Dallas Willard Articles:

How Does the Disciple Live?

Living a Transformed Life Adequate to Our Calling