beauty and brokenness

“But a certain sign of grace is this
From a broken earth flowers come up
Pushing through the dirt”

Wholly Yours by – The David Crowder Band

I’ve been involved in church since forever.

Not like a little involved but deeply entrenched in the church since the day I was born. My father was a fantastic minister (you’ll hear more about him in the weeks to come) in a thriving church. My mother was heavily involved as well.

My older brother was the youth pastor there for many years, with whom I volunteered for 9 years, and is now a senior pastor a thriving and growing community church.

So when I say that I’ve been involved in church, take me at my word I’ve been involved in church.

Over the years my opinions and my revelation of who God is and what He is calling us to be has changed. One of the biggest changes has been in relation to ministry. My whole life I was taught and encouraged that ministry was important and necessary for a mature Christian.

Weird twist I noticed over the years. I would talk with people about ministry, or compassion whatever word you want to use, and there was one theme that came up a lot.

To be clear it never came from my mother, father or brother but was just a part of church.

The theme was one of getting healthy before we serve. The idea that we need to get to a specific level of personal health and intimacy with God before we could really get out into the world and live the great commission.

People would say things like “I just need to get closer to God first” or “I’ve got some things God and I need to sort out before I can get into service.”

Somewhere along the way it became the norm of a large portion of Christians to think they need to whole and complete FIRST. That once they were whole and once they were really connected to God they live the compassionate life.

I think we’re really missing the point here.

I love the lyrics from the song at the start. The idea not just beauty in brokenness but beauty from brokenness. Then to take it a step further and say; beauty can come from brokenness because of grace.

That is marvellous.

That is life changing.

That is never be the same kind of revelation!

Why?

We don’t have to be whole! We don’t have to be fixed or all sorted to serve. We don’t have to be perfect or totally connected to God to start.

We can be broken and still share beauty.

I think we’re often told either directly or indirectly to get ourselves clean up and sorted, then go and serve. Once you’ve gotten good enough you can because to share love and grace and God.

I’m telling you categorically you can do it today. You can do it in brokenness. You can do it in darkness. You can do it right as you are this very moment.

And here is the best part. If you really want to be whole, if you really want to be connected to God, then love others.

Share God’s love and grace and you’ll find some of what you’re looking for.

The excuse that we’re not whole is part of what is holding us back from being whole, from being what we were made to be. To love and live in community and the share the life giving grace and experience of knowing Jesus.

When we wait to be whole we are taking away God’s chance to let Jesus burst forth from the brokenness of our lives.

only if

We make an awful lot of choices in a day. We probably don’t think too much about most of them.

Should I go the same way to work I always do? Yes.

Should I drive on the right side of the road? Yes.

Do I want coffee this morning? Yes.

Do I want 5 coffees this morning? Of course!

Do you wish there was a faster way to make the 5 morning coffees? How could I not?

I may be drifting but I think you get the point.

We make lots of choices that just happen without a lot of thought.

What I want to look at is WHY we make choices. What are our motives and do we gives them any real thought? We make lots of choices without thought but when we do think about it do we graze over some important parts of the process?

I was chatting with someone about an interesting experience they had with motives and compassion.

They we’re going about their work day as usual. During the course of the day a person they came across noted how much they wanted a cup of coffee. He tucking this in the back of his mind he kept on with his day.

When he returned later that day he brought with him a day saving cup of sweet dark nectar (or however you see coffee).

“Thanks.”

That was it.

Just, “thanks”.

It was almost a passing thanks. Almost a no-existent thanks. It was as if he didn’t care at all.

The man I was talking with carried on with some exceptionally clear self reflection. He talked about how his mother would be so over the top any time he did anything. Praise upon praise for doing the right thing.

The conversation continued and he noted how he didn’t WANT to do it for that reason and didn’t even THINK that the praise and validation he didn’t get was at all  part of why he did it.

But he noticed its absence. Almost upset that it wasn’t there.

How often do we do this? How often do we get upset, become jaded, and vow to never do something again because the person we were trying to love didn’t react the way we wanted them to?

Did we do it to just love them or did we do it as a means to the end of a reaction/change/growth that WE chose for THEM.

I think we stop because we don’t get what we want. I think we often don’t even realize that’s why we stop or why we’re upset. I think we don’t act compassionately and actually hold back our love because the other person won’t do what we think they should with it.

Our motive isn’t what we think it is. We make a choice to not love without even thinking about the true reason why.

What are your motives?

Why do you love?

And perhaps more importantly, honestly, why don’t you love?

bounus content: give presentation

A few years ago I was doing some writing encouraging people to be more generous. The idea was that people could be generous once a day. Slowly start a revolution of generosity.

So I made a presentation about why we should be more generous and what that might look like.

In light of yesterdays idea of looking at ourselves this presentation came to mind. There’s a call for reflection, action, and perhaps a push to give in areas you might not have considered before.

We’ll come back to our discussion of what holds us back from giving and living the compassionate live we are called to tomorrow and Friday.

Today, I hope you find the presentation interesting, challenging and again a call to look at how your beliefs about compassion and who you are do or maybe don’t line up with your actions.

 

 

 

this might suck

This week we’re looking at what holds us back. Why we don’t live the life of compassion that Jesus has called used to.

There will be themes that you will hear over and over and over and it may be super repetitive, but it’s important and I’m writing so I get to choose. Most of these probably won’t be new to you if you’ve been following along with past posts.

Over the past number of months I have begun to grasp to the idea that our actions are our beliefs. That what we do says more about what we believe than what we say. That all the right words and thoughts in our mind only matter when we action them out, when we live them out.

That is over used theme number 1, action. Love is not felt but acted, compassion is not thought but done, grace not wished but given.

Think about it like this. If I tell my wife everyday that I love her deeply but my actions continue to show something different which would she believe? At some point she’s going to stop trusting my statements of love and look for me to actually LOVE her. She would look for me to be patient and kind. To not be jealous or boastful or proud or rude. To stop demanding my own way. She would watch for me to not be irritable, and to stop keeping record of being wronged. She would want me to stop giving up on her, to never loses faith in who she is and what she can accomplish. She would want me to be always hopeful, and to not let the circumstance dictate the way I act towards her.

It’s those actions that will bring meaning to my words of love.

So moving forward with the idea that actions are belief, to know what we believe requires over used theme number two, self reflection.

Reflection, action, reflection, action, etc.

So let us reflect.

Who are you? Or better put, what do you think you believe? What did you come up with on Friday when you thought about where you were at and what you believe?

What do you tell yourself you believe?

You’re a good Christian, you love your neighbour, you care about the poor, your family matters most etc.

Ok, now look at your actions.

Seriously, step back and take an inventory. Pull your calendar and actually look, I got nothing but time.

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That was quick.

Now pull up you bank statement.

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It’s a process, just trust me. Go look.

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What do you actually believe?

Where has all your time actually gone? Where has all your money gone?

Do you believe that work matters more than family?

Do you believe that your new TV matters more than the work of the church?

Do you believe that sports/reading/Pintrest/Facebook are more important than your spouse?

I’m not asking do you THINK these things I’m asking do you believe (your actions dictate your beliefs) these things.

Self reflection sucks.

It sucks a LOT!

But we have to be honest. We can’t move forward if we don’t even know where we are or what direction we’re facing.

I’ve done this a lot.

It sucks.

It sucked the time I sat at home and realized that despite all the years I said it, I didn’t care about my community or neighbours.

It was brutal the time I sat at home and learned that I can place TV before my son.

Self reflection requires us to look at our brokenness, our deficiencies, the places we are weak. But it’s our mind set that all that matters are our thoughts that holds us back. Our understanding that belief is in the mind. That thought that we can love our neighbours without getting into their lives, without their messiness becoming our messiness.

But since we are in control of our actions, we can change our beliefs.

I can see that I have placed TV before Nolan and decide that I will never do it again. And then never do it again. Telling myself I’ll never do it again doesn’t matter to Nolan. Me never doing it again matters. Me spending time with him with my undivided attention matters to him.

Do we slip back, sure.

Do we choose not to love, of course. But sometimes, and hopefully a growing number of times, we can choose to share God with someone. We show them love they’ve never known.

We commit to and set out plans, lots to come on ways to do this, to love people. Love our co-workers, neighbours, the waiter are your favourite coffee shop.

Look back and be honest. Be honest about where you’re at.

Then spend some time thinking ‘what do I WANT to believe’ ‘what does GOD want me to believe’?

You want to believe that the poor matter and we should love them?

FANTASTIC!

Now we have a direction and action/belief to work towards. We can start to find, define, purpose ourselves to actions that show the belief that the poor matter and that you do love them.

But let’s not run ahead of ourselves.

For today find where you are and give some thought to where you wish you were, where God wished you were. Like I said at the start, action is a theme that you won’t be able to miss.

This time don’t miss the call to look at ourselves.