Friday, September 29, 2017

Day 11 - What Does It Mean to Be Blessed?

Read Matthew 5:3-11

I've been studying part of Deuteronomy 28 this week, and it strikes me how similar yet different these two passages are.  Deuteronomy 28 basically says "If you obey all these commandments, everything you do and everything you have will prosper and be blessed"; while Matthew 5 is so counter-cultural (and by that I mean counter to the Jewish culture).  Jesus didn't say everything you had or did would prosper.  He said blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, the insulted. 

Where do you fit in that list today?  Are there people who are in that list that you don't like, that you don't want to see blessed?  Are there qualities listed there that you need to work on today?

Jesus, help me to see where I am lacking today in character.  Form me, Lord Jesus, into your likeness.  Amen.

Day 11 - What Do I Need Jesus to See Today?

Read Matthew 4:23-5:3

Jesus has just invited disciples to follow him, in spite of cultural norms.  He and his new disciples are taking huge risks.  Now Jesus travels around and preaches and heals; and people from all over everywhere are coming to hear him.

When He saw the crowds....

It's hard for me to read this and not feel disappointed.  I have dear friends who are sick, who are hurting in their bodies or their souls or both.  I have joined with hundreds, maybe thousands, to pray for miraculous healing for one suffering saint that did not receive it on this earth.  Why those but not this one?  It feels sometimes like Jesus doesn't see the crowds who need him right here, right now.


What do you need Jesus to see today?

Jesus, I kneel before you today broken and waiting.  I trust you.  I know you.  But today I am asking for you to see and act.  For all those who are suffering, perform miracles; if not by your Spirit and power alone, then through your people.  Cause us to move in generosity, courage and compassion to bring your healing to the hurting.  Show us how.  Miraculously move your Church to act.  For your sake I pray. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Day 10 - What is Jesus Inviting Me to Do? To Leave Behind?

Read Matthew 4:18-23

At this point, Jesus has already faced enormous temptation and started preaching a radical message.  He walks past fishermen, who actually made a decent living with that vocation*, and invites them to follow him.  They very likely had heard his message preached, and knew he was not just a random passerby.  His message carried weight.  But his invitation was more powerful than usual because most Jewish Rabbi's did not invite disciples to follow them.  Rabbi's were followed by the disciples own choice*.  

The Rabbi invited Peter and Andrew to follow him.  They left their nets IMMEDIATELY.

Then Jesus calls the sons of Zebedee who then also IMMEDIATELY left their father and everything behind.  This would have been recognized in both Jewish and Greek culture as a sign of radical discipleship, and it could have led to dishonor for James and John as they abandoned their family to follow Jesus.

Read the passage again.

What does this passage tell you about the kind of man Jesus is?
What kind of disciples were these fishermen?
What kind of promise or calling is it to be a "fisher of men"?

What could Jesus be inviting you to do today?  What might he be inviting you to leave behind?


Jesus, I think today you are inviting me to leave behind worry, anxiety, and fear.  I think you are inviting me to choose gratitude and to look for gifts of beauty and hope in the every day things that can feel so meaningless.  Help me to relinquish my desire to be in control and instead leave behind what is comfortable to embark instead with you on a people-focused mission.  My life is yours.  Amen.



*IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, (IVPress:1993) p. 55

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Day 9 - Where Do I Need Light Today?

Read Matthew 4:12-17

A prophet is quoted again!  This time the passage chosen from the prophets shows the focus of Jesus' ministry: light to the Gentiles.  The heart of Jesus' message? - Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near!  These were very strong words from a new King in an occupied nation.  Israel was not exactly in charge of it's own affairs.  They constantly had another nation looking over their shoulder and bossing them around.  For Jesus to declare that a kingdom is coming....let's just say it probably wasn't the safest thing to preach.

How do you think the very nationalistic, proud Jews felt about the prophecy that Matthew brings up?  If Israel is God's chosen people, then the Gentiles are clearly not the chosen people.  Why would the Messiah come to include them?

Lord, shine the light of your love and truth on the dark places of my life where I refuse to see people as you see them.  I surrender my will and weak flesh to your sovereign authority as the true King.

Day 8 - What Shortcuts am I Tempted to Take?

Read Matthew 4:5-11

Jesus' whole mission was to show his authority and rescue his beloved world from the enemy's grasp.  Knowing the work, endless days of walking and healing, and the final tortuous death that awaited him -- I can imagine how tempting it may be to show the world Who he was and then have his world safely under his rule and reign. 

But it was not worth giving the actually glory and authority over to the accuser, Satan, for a false rescue of the ones He loved.  No short cut could actually do the work He came to do.

What tempts you to take short cuts or backtrack instead of pushing ahead toward the call God has placed on your life?

Jesus, I'm pretty sure I prayed this same thing yesterday, but my flesh and will are so weak.  I often chose the easy, immediate over the wise, more difficult.  Help me to remember and be obedient to your Word that is hidden in my heart.  I surrender my selfish desire to do things my way in my time.  Your way is worth it.  Amen.

Day 7 - How Tempting is the Word of God?

Read Matthew 4:1-4

Ok friends, it's time for me to be absolutely honest with you.  I hate being hungry.  I know that's a very privileged, ungrateful attitude. 

Have you ever fasted?  I have.  I've never made it past one week.  Three days is usually my limit.  Can you imagine fasting for 40 days?  FORTY DAYS???  Jesus was famished?  NO KIDDING!  I know Jesus is God, but at that point it seems like a miracle that he would say his food is God's Word.  Mad props, JC.  

What are the things that are hard for you to say "no" to?  What would it mean for God's word to be more important, more filling, more delectable, more tempting to you than those things?

Jesus, I am so so so weak when it comes to the simple desires of my flesh.  Help me be mindful of the millions of my neighbors who have no food, or no warmth, or no safety, or no freedom.  Help me understand what it truly means for your Word to be my food, my sustenance.  I surrender my selfish desires and hungry tummy to you.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Day 6 - Delight

Read Matthew 3:11-17.  Read it slowly, and read it aloud if you can.

Was there a word or phrase that stuck out to you?  Take a few moments to think or write down your reflections.  Why does that word/phrase strike you?  

Read the passage again, slowly, aloud.  

That word or phrase that stuck out to you, ponder it again.  What could it have meant to the person who said it, or the ears that heard it?  What does it mean to you, today?

Read the passage one final time.

Talk with Jesus about the thing that stood out to you the most from the passage.  Ask Him if there's anything He'd like you to hear from him, or remember, or do.  



Jesus, as I read this section about John and you, I was struck by several things; but the one that stood out to me the most was what you heard from your Father.  "This is my one dear son in whom I take great delight."  My mind is constantly full of all the things I know I do wrong, or poorly.  I constantly fight a battle in my mind to not speak ill of my self and what work I might accomplish each day.  Too rarely do I ask you what You say about me.  Help me to hear the words of my Father.  What would you speak from Heaven for me to hear?




Friday, September 1, 2017

Day 5 - What Fruit Follows Your Actions?

Matthew 3:1-10

I had a long conversation with a friend the other day about parenting and motherhood and why I chose to have kids.  (I have several friends who long to have kids and have not physically been able to, so I feel like saying that "I chose to have kids" isn't entirely true.  I never longed to have kids; but I did choose to try to have kids biologically and it happened to work for us.)  My friend is struggling to find a desire to pursue motherhood; in the meantime her husband is longing to be a dad. 

I processed some thoughts with her about my own spiritual formation as a parent and learning to love like God loves and dying to my own selfish desires.  Our conversation left me also pondering the effects that my parenting has on our children.  I wonder how my actions and attitudes influence my sons?  Do they know a Mommy who recognizes she is not super human but needs help?  Do they hear me talking about Jesus?  Talking to Jesus?

Go back to your Bible and read verses 8-10 again. Repentance is pointless if my life doesn't change. Confessing Jesus as my Lord and Savior isn't a true confession if my attitudes and actions don't continue to conform to Christ.  


Jesus, help me see how to live daily a life of true repentance that even my children can see and feel.  What can I do or say today that will help them see what a life of repentance looks like?  Thank you for your grace again, day after day, to learn to walk with you.  I love you.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Day 4 - Who are you Listening to?

Read Matthew 2:13-23

So many parts of this passage seem significant.  Again, Joseph responds in obedience.  Herod reacts with awful violence and children die...children the ages of my own.  God protects Joseph and his little family.  They are saved and find a home town.

Three times in this passage, however, the prophets are mentioned.  I called my Son out of Egypt, Jeremiah's lament, and He will be called a Nazarene.  Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophets had something to say; and their words were important.

Whose words am I listening to?  What voices encourage me or affirm me?  Are there people (or media) that I should stop listening to?  Are there other voices that I should listen to instead?


Father, forgive me for filling up my soul with others words and not your own.  Show me how to filter wisely.  Help me hear the voices that are perhaps ignored by others but should be heeded.  Help me live the words that others need to "hear".  By your grace and love, amen.




Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Day 3 - How Far Will You Journey to Give Your Gifts to God?

Read Matthew 2:1-12

I'm struck by a theme I've noticed so far since beginning the book of the Matthew. People are willing to be obedient to God in extravagant, amazing ways.

The wise men traveled who knows how far and how many months to meet Jesus to give him their gifts. I wonder how far I would you go to worship God. How far would you go? I don't mean how far will you drive to the church that has the best worship leader or how far will you travel to find a church that suits your needs. I'm asking how far are you willing to go give Jesus whatever he's inviting you to give to him?

Jesus, I get weary of trying to find you, sometimes.  I know you have given me gifts and talents to steward and give back to you.  But it feels like it takes forever to figure out what that means.  Help me to stay the course until I find you and can lay those treasures at your feet.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Day 2 - Compassionate Courage

Compassionate Courage

Read Matthew 1:18-25

When I read this part of Jesus' story, I feel like God is saying:
"Ok Joe. I know you're trying to do the noble thing here and protect Mary's reputation as much as you can, but I want you to do the crazy thing instead. Put your reputation on the line and go ahead and marry her. Adopt the baby. Name him. Yep, you heard me right. This little miracle is going to save everyone."

How would that strike you? How could you respond to such a crazy thing? Joseph doesn't seem to wrestle with the idea at all. He just does it. Courage, faith, compassion, obedience.

What do you see in God's character from this story of Joseph? What is important to Him?

Is there a crazy thing God is inviting you to do? Something that seems to go beyond common sense or even wisdom? What is God inviting you to take a step of compassionate courage toward?

Pray with me:

Jesus, I'm so thankful Joseph took care of you and Mary. Thank you for that example of selfless love. Show me today how to follow your call to live life with reckless love. How shall I love you well today? How shall I love others well today? My day, my time, my life belongs to you. I love you. Amen.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Just a few minutes with Jesus - Day 1



My friend, Tara, and I were commiserating this week about how difficult it can be as moms of very young children to make time to be with Jesus. And even if we do make time, our minds are often so scattered and tired that focus in near impossible. We read the same scripture over and over and nothing sticks or barely even registers.


So I thought I would try to write up some little reflections as I read through the Gospel according to Matthew. Tara, I hope these are helpful. If you have any ideas to make them better, or things you'd like to see included or changed, please comment!


Enjoy a little time with Jesus.



*******

Lord, what in me is waiting for redemption?


Read Matthew 1:1-17


Look back over this genealogy. What women are mentioned? (If you don't know their stories, go ahead and look them up if you have time). Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, the wife of Uriah, and Mary. Tamar was treated unjustly and consequently prostituted herself to her father in law. Rahab was a prostitute who risked her life to save Hebrew spies. Ruth wasn't even Hebrew at all. The wife of Uriah is unnamed, emphasizing the fact that she was someone else's wife. And Mary is lumped in with these....heroines of the faith? She is the wife of Joseph. Mary who birthed Jesus.


Of all the women Matthew could have included in Jesus' family tree, he picked these. Why? I don't know. I'm sure I could do some research to find out. But until then, this is what sticks out to me: God is not afraid or ashamed to make something remarkable, beautiful and redemptive from things that are unseemly or painful.


What darkness in your life, or your past, or your family is waiting...perhaps longing to be redeemed? Is there a way that part of your story could be brought to the light and used to show God's remarkable love and immeasurable grace?


Take a few moments to think about or write down what in your own story is waiting to be redeemed.


Pray with me:


Jesus, thank you for claiming Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary in your family. Thank you for also choosing me despite my history. Show me today how to be part of your work of redemption in my family, my community, and my world. For your glory, Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

I wrote this poem after meditating on Mark 16 back in 2015. I don't often write poetry, but for some reason this one stuck with me for a long time and I kept thinking about it for months afterwards. I remembered it today as the Church celebrates the Resurrection. I hope it blesses you.


Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

Early I rise to lie spices
upon your rotting flesh
Sweet scent to smother stench

Distracted by distraught
I remember late, already on my way
the stone, too large
Blocks this anointing aroma from piercing the darkness.

Who will roll away the stone?

Sun still sleeping.
No one yet risen.
No one alive. 

Who will help me?

Not a small thing, this rock.
Stone the weight of my heart's sorrow.
Mass of sadness and dashed dreams.
Immovable.

But.......moved?

Light shines from the tomb!
Darkness should be there.
Disintegrating hopes, decomposing flesh.
Instead light composes melodies of wonder.

Hope rises

Stone of my heart rolled away!
A stranger testifies, offers peace.
FEAR NOT
Feel not shock of emptiness
Feel joy in fullness 

Go! Now!

Re-directed passion
No longer hasten to the tomb of sorrow in the darkness
But hasten to my brothers, the disciples.

And Peter.            
Hasten to Peter.
Tell him it's a race and "I'll beat you there."

Risen Son, you always "beat me there."
On my way to death you got there first.
And everyday you go before me to
Roll away the stone of my heart.

KLF
4/7/2015

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Missing Her Voice


Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move on the earth.”

     God created humankind in his own image,
     in the image of God he created them,
     male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27 New English Translation


God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
     reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
     the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
     and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
     he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
     He created them male and female. 
Genesis 1:26-27 The Message


I've been prayerfully wrestling with my calling the past couple week.  As a young teen, I felt a very clear call from God to ministry; but the only framework I had for such a calling was either to be a missionary overseas or some kind of counselor here.  Women couldn't be pastors.  Ok they could in some denominations, but even so there weren't very many of them.  I only recall meeting one or two during my family's traveling music ministry days.....and I could feel how uncomfortable it was for my Dad (who falls much closer to soft patriarchy than complimentarian in his views on women). But if I were a missionary, I could plant a church or pastor a church, or do any number of things overseas.  

Instead of that little girl's missionary dream, however, I am here at seminary pursuing a MDiv degree and eventually a Ph.D.  This week I invested most of my studying time to preparing my Rule of Life for the Spiritual Formation in Ministry class.  I had to wrestle through questions such as: 

What are my spiritual gifts?  
What are my natural talents?
What's the vision and mission for my life? (ie the thing I am most passionate about)

Now, I've wrestled with all these questions before, but it had actually been quite a while since I considered them all together in concert.  What does it look like for me to be a good steward of the gifts and calling God has given me?  Honestly, I was a bit surprised at what I discovered and how I felt about what I discovered.

My top gifts are administration, hospitality, and teaching/wisdom/knowledge.  
My greatest desire is to see women and men equally equipped and released to fulfill their callings in the world and in the Church.

I don't know about you but that sounds like it could be a pastoring kind of job to me.

I'm not at all certain that God is calling me to be a pastor, much less the lead pastor of a church; but this revelation suddenly hit me.  If I were to pursue a career that is something in the realm of pastoring, it would be so helpful to know some really solid women pastors!

Thankfully, I knew exactly who to talk to about this little revelation.  Part of the requirements for the Masters of Divinity degree at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is Mentored Ministry, four semesters of involvement in a church or para-church ministry that gives you practical experience and the wise direction and counsel of a mentor there.  I'm supposed to make a plan this semester for all the kind of Mentored Ministry positions I want to experience over the next couple years.  I knew I needed help sorting out my options so I met with Dr. Singleton, the director of the Mentored Ministry program.

After hearing my story in brief and my latest conclusions about my gifts and vision for my life, Dr. Singleton shared that working with a woman pastor would be an excellent way for me to better understand that particular role and my own calling.  Unfortunately, he continued, there aren't many nearby.  If I could take the time to drive into the city I would find more; but up here there are only a few to choose from, and only one of them is a head pastor.  

As we continued to talk through my options I was struck by the thought that pastors play an important role in the lives of their congregants.  Theirs is a voice of authority, wisdom, instruction, and hope.  A woman's voice is different than a man's; it's not better or worse but it is different.  I've heard many authoritative male voices in my life, teaching me how to follow Jesus.  But I've heard few women.  I wonder how different the body of Christ would be, especially in the US during these days of political division, if we heard a woman's voice from the pulpit as often as a man's. I wonder how our perspective on the scripture would change.  I wonder how our actions might change.  I wonder how we as a Church might better reflect the image of God, since women are just as much made in that image as men, if woman and men equally shared the burden of pastoral leadership.

The need for women in pastoral leadership was evident to me this week when I attended a panel by three faculty on campus about "Forming Pastoral Identity."  All three faculty had been pastors for a number of years.  They had lots of experience and wisdom to share.  And they were all men.

I never knew until now how much I miss her voice: the voice of the woman pastor who should have been part of my spiritual upbringing.  I hope I will enjoy the privilege of hearing her voice soon.  Perhaps someday....her voice will be my voice.

 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

"I didn't know girls could go to seminary."

A little more than a year ago we told our church small group that we were moving away from Ithaca to attend seminary.  As we shared the story of how we came to that decision and it became clear that both Charles and I were going to be in the MDiv program my dear friend Heather looked confused.  She confessed,

"I didn't know girls could go to seminary."

Heather grew up in the church, has evident pastoral giftings, and is a passionate worship leader.  Her comment launched a discussion in our small group about women in the church, women in scripture, and the apparent lack of opportunity for them and their gifts to be developed in the church.  From that evening until this week something has been stirring in my heart that I couldn't quite verbalize until now.  

Heather, this blog is for you.

And for Jenn. . . And Bethany. . . And Debbie. . . And my Mom. . . And all the women in my life who never considered seminary, never even knew they could consider seminary, and don't know how it would be remotely possible to attend seminary.  My heart is stirred up for you to grow.  This blog will by no means replace the experience of seminary for you, but my hope is that here you can 

learn along with me and be inspired to keep learning, practicing, and growing in love for God and people

With that in mind, please please please comment and ask questions and (respectfully) dialogue with me and others here.  My goal is to share every week at least one thing that I learned or experienced.  Let's grow together!


I enjoyed this first week of classes, even if it was stressful to manage homework and home life (especially since Leo's been a little sick).  Charles and I are taking two classes together: Spiritual Formation in Ministry on Mondays and The Practice of Worship: Advanced Studies in Worship Planning, Leading and Congregational Formation on Thursdays.  I also have a one credit class on Mondays that is the introduction for the practical ministry training requirement here at Gordon-Conwell, Mentored Ministry.  

This week I want to share a few notes from our Spiritual Formation class with Dr. Pfizenmaier:


***

The average tenure of pastor is 5 years and most people leave the ministry within the first 5 years.  The question is: how deep are your roots?  Are you a beautiful tree with shallow roots?  Without deep roots in Christ, when the storms of ministry come you will be “blown right out of your shorts”.  Ministry is not easy.  When the tree falls, when the leaders collapse people are deeply injured.  The impact of the Gospel is injured.  Our witness is compromised.  The problem is a spiritual formation problem, a character problem. 
It’s not glorifying to Jesus to pretend you are Jesus.  
Christ did the surgery.  We have to do the PT (which is the work of sanctification).

Holiness is humility.
Two truths of our reality:  we are dirt and we are breath (the spirit of God is in us).
Humility is being in touch with our earthiness: being down to earth. My primary vocation is to become a holy person.  In order to become a holy person I must be spiritually formed. 


***


My question for you, my dear readers, this week is 
how are your roots?  What is something you want to work on to grow deeper spiritual roots this week?

And Heather, thanks for giving me permission to share this tiny part of your story.  I love you, and I'm so glad you're in my life!



Links to all Kim's sermons so far

Audio files of 3 sermons: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1GRBa9JIRbjx-H7U3AYXfNsWD-oT7NBV5 Videos:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/8piMxF8K...