Sunday, May 26, 2013

Direction, Clarification...Example!

Originally I was planning to skip church today – church as in a conventional church service at my stepson Jason’s church – complete with big screen projection system and no couches, recliners or big pillows on the floor, like I’m used to. I needed to get in my last long training run before next Sunday’s Minneapolis Half-Marathon.

But Jason and his wife Erika invited us, enthusiastically, several weeks ago to join them any Sunday. But with my long run already planned and my disdain for “regular church”, I opted to stay home to run and enjoy a little Scott-time while Minda and Andrew joined them in Eagan at Chapel Hill Church.

But almost immediately I felt conflicted and convicted. No doubt, we could all use an infusion of God-time; since stepping away from our home-church to follow the mission God has set before us, we are often times “wandering and wondering” what we are supposed to do in this mission of “loving people. Plus, we wanted to honor Jason’s heartfelt invitation and support Erika in her new found trust in Jesus. What better way to “love people” than to love Jason and Erika?

But real church? Yuck!

I love Jason. Jason the man is as interesting and likable as Jason the boy was challenging and dramatic. Seeing his faith – which was apparent even as a 10-year-old boy – grow rock solid is inspiring. His heart is big, and he loves God and His church home in Eagan. And to see him lead his new wife to Christ, as his mother did with me, is exciting and heartening.

But till  I went to bed Saturday night planning to run the next morning. And then I had this dream.
Like most “God-dreams”, the context was vague, the preamble sort of fuzzy, but what I remember was flipping through the pages of a notebook and then pointing to one page and telling whomever I was showing, “See, God told us that this commandment was above all the others: Love one another.” And then I promptly
awoke. God does that; He knows if He doesn’t I’ll probably forget the dream by morning’s light.

As we sipped our coffee, I told Minda that I could map out a running route through Eagan that ended at Chapel Hill Church to get my 6 miles in and she could bring a change of clothes for me. Ever the pragmatist, she suggested I run immediately and grab a quick shower at home before we headed out.

So I ran, showered and we headed to church. “Real church.”

We pulled into the parking lot to be greeted by the marquee – Love is God. Hmmm.

And then there was the program, with the quoted Scripture of John 4:7-9
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.)

And then the service began – focused entirely on…loving people. The “sermon” was 5 minutes of instruction – “stop talking about it and start loving people” – and then we spent the next 20 minutes greeting and talking and sharing with people we had never met. And it was good, warm, sincere greeting and meeting and loving God’s children.

How much reassurance did God think I needed to know that was what He wanted me to understand!?
First the dream to clarify and magnify His directive. And then an example and practice session in a real church that didn’t feel like a real church.

It felt like a home church. And I'm really glad I listened to God's latest direction: "Go to church today."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Must Read - Many Times

This is so profound and simple and emotional and true:

Tamara's post.

I wish everyone could see that this IS how Jesus truly is.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened at Ikea

God is relentless! I thought we had reached a happy place in our (His) quest to make me bolder. You know, I agreed I needed to work on stepping out boldly, living my life more on faith and less on knowledge. And I made a few forays into boldness, but like I said, I was working on it. Jesus, I'm not done yet.

But He had to ramp it up a notch on Saturday morning.

So we're sitting there in the Ikea restaurant, sipping on mediocre (but free before 10 a.m.) coffee, waiting for the 10 a.m. mad dash into the store when it opened. We were discussing the new direction God has pointed us in, a new mission we have started calling "the Eleventh Commandment mission". We were wondering what the next step God might have in mind for us to take. I glanced out over the sea of breakfast diners and soon-to-be-shoppers, and noticed a woman heading toward our general vicinity (on her way to the condiments counter behind us). She looked to be in her early 60's, wearing a bright yellow and green floral bandana cap such as a chemo patient might wear to hide her hair loss.

I made eye contact and glanced away and immediately sensed God telling me to look again. I did. And God told me, "You need to tell her I think she's beautiful."


I tried to ignore the instruction, drown out the voice, but that only resulted in tears crowding into my eyes. Why, I don't know. Minda said something about God's plans and I said, reluctantly since I knew it would make it more difficult to ignore, "God just sent me a message."

"What is it?" she asked.

"I'm supposed to tell that woman over there that she's beautiful."

"I hope her husband doesn't mind!"

"No! I'm supposed to tell her God says she's beautiful."

"Why are you still sitting here?"

So, we stood up, and meandered in the general direction of this woman, who was sitting at a large table rapidly filling up with her family members. I secretly hoped Minda would head out to the store instead, or someone would trip me and I would fall to the ground unconscious, or a fire alarm would ring and we would stampede to the exits - anything to avoid stepping out of my comfort zone and talking to a strange woman about something that might be a hot button for her.

But no, Minda stopped a few feet from the woman's table and waited for me with a half-smile on her pretty lips.

So I stepped over and rested my hand on the woman's shoulder. She looked up and I said, "This is a little weird for me, but God told me to tell you he thinks you are beautiful." She looked stunned, sort of smiled and said, "Thank you."

I turned and walked away and was washed with a rush of God love, feeling so strongly that this obedient son had just pleased his Father. The tears threatened again and I smiled at Minda as we waited for the store to open.

One more step forward in boldness...