Monday afternoon musings…

This morning I observed the normal hustle & bustle of our start to the week – thePastyGangster dropped Mason on his way to work so that Auntie Weezie could take him to preschool. He entered the kitchen in a whirlwind of energy & didn’t slow down. Frank came bounding down the stairs so theBean could take him to school… then rushed back upstairs at least 2 more times because he forgot something. (For such a little guy he sure makes a lot of noise.) iDoey was up & at ’em making breakfast… everyone was headed in different directions at 100 m.p.h. Still, it was a good morning.

The flurry of activity common to our weekday mornings stands in stark contrast to our Sunday afternoons/evenings.  The afternoons are peaceful, quiet, & restful, with only the occasional football game related noise (cries of anguish for 49er fans like me,) breaking the silence It’s a time for rest, catching up on a good book, eating a favorite snack, or just hanging out. The evenings we gather around the dinner table (or counter,) usually with family & friends for a good meal, even better discussion, & time together to be savored. I love it.


I’m really enjoying our current series, “The Jesus Way,” a study through the gospel of John. The thing that really stands out to me is Jesus’ use of the words/imagery of LIGHT & LIFE in describing what He came to bring for any/all who would put their trust in & follow Him. In my studies, I came across the Didache(a.k.a. the teachings of the 12 Apostles,) a document most likely put together in the 2nd century. Like its name suggests, it shares teachings of the early church on topics such as water baptism, communion/the Eucharist, prayer & fasting, etc…

An area that really jumped out to me was the section called “the 2 ways.” In a nutshell, it says there are 2 Ways – one that leads to LIFE (trusting & following Christ) & one that leads to DEATH (anything else.)  It reminds me of Jesus’ declaration from Matthew 7:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide & the way is easy that leads to destruction, & those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow & the way is hard that leads to life, & those who find it are few.


I have been on a ‘soup’ kick for the last few months. Seems like I just can’t get enough. My current favorite is made with grilled onions & garlic, cumin, green chiles, diced jalapenos, black & white beans, chicken stock, & the meat of a Costco rotisserie chicken. Lots of flavor & a little bit of spice. I think I’ve been eating it an average of 2x/day.


In the mornings when Mason comes over, I’ll hear him call out, “Hey Grammy.” And I look, expecting to see a grandmother… & I see theBean. Sometimes this doesn’t quite feel like real life, like somehow I have been transported into a future that isn’t my own. And then I look around for my little kids & instead I see 3 adults… 2 grown men with grown man jobs, & a grown woman who’s working really hard & setting herself up for the next chapter of her life. And I wonder, “Is this real life?”

And then Mason says, “Whatcha doing Poppy? Can I have a doughnut?”

And I remember, “Ah, yes. This is real life.”


Just signed up to be a part of a spiritual direction program for the next 9 months. It’s a 1x/month meeting via Skype & I have no idea what to expect, except that I am expecting good things.


 

I’m convinced that whatever you look for in somebody, you’ll find.  If you’re looking for the good, for the areas that God is at work in & through, you’ll be able to uncover it, even if it’s small. And if you look for the negative, the bad, the ugly part of us that everyone has, you’ll find that too.

On that note, there’s always something in life to be complaining about, but really? Why? Why complain about life circumstances, another person who isn’t meeting your expectations about how they’re living their life, etc… ? It doesn’t help, & it makes it not very fun to be around you. Trust me. I’ve been that guy – & one of the best days of my life was when someone told me, “You are SO negative, & you complain about SO many things. It’s tiresome.” I was forced to look in the mirror of my soul & I found a lot of discontent – stuff that was for me to address about myself… & the complaining & negativity were just symptoms, a distraction maybe, that oriented me towards living as a pessimist/realist/negative Nancy. a real downer who was very critical of myself & others. No fun. Don’t want to go back to that.

Here’s to a great day.


 

 

 

You are the light of the world…

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus declared Himself to be the light of the world… He usually made this declaration as He was interacting with the Pharisees/other religious leaders, or to the curious crowds that followed Him around, wondering what He was going to do next.

But to His disciples, those pledged to follow Him, learn, & become like Him, He said the following:  YOU are the light of the world – a city set on a hill cannot be hidden…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works & give glory to your Father who is in heaven…

With those words, Christ declared one of the core identifiers that would mark His followers – we are LIGHT in a dark world. Meaning, we’re here on earth, created in His image, to do good in His Name. As a result, people notice, & give glory to God our Father.

When we first came to Reno, these verses were at the forefront of what we believed our mission (& the mission of our church) was supposed to be. These verses are the inspiration of the name of our church, Hillside.

Our church community is dedicated to being LIGHT, & to living as a city on a hill overlooking Reno/Sparks, doing what Jesus would be doing if He were walking in our shoes every day.

Let’s let our lights shine today.

Through the Gospels – Matthew 5

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp & put it under a basket, but on a stand, & it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works & give glory to you Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16, English Standard Version


As I was reading Matthew 5 this morning, several “light-related” thoughts came to mind.

    -The first recorded words spoken by God in Genesis are “Let there be light…” (Genesis 1:3, ESV) This creative declaration spoke into being the beginning point for the life that would soon fill the earth & the sea.
    -One of my earliest memories is being in a car driving down the Mt. Rose highway from Tahoe’s North Shore, heading down the twisty, curvy mountain road, with the destination being HOME (which in my case was & is Reno.) I can still feel the feeling of joy & anticipation that rose up in me as we made the final turn in the dark that revealed the lights of the Greater Reno/Sparks Metropolitan area… several thoughts hit all at once. “Home!” “People!” And “Life!” (I may have had worries that one day the world (or at least my city) would end while I was away & I wouldn’t know about it until we drove home…) Bottom line, I equated the LIGHTS with LIFE.
    Vincent Van Gogh, the famous Dutch painter, had at one time been a Protestant minister – he was fired by his ministerial superiors for undermining the dignity of the priesthood, a charge that stemmed from his missional attempts to meet the physical as well as spiritual needs of impoverished peoples. One of my favorite paintings is Starry Night; one of the most striking features of the painting is also one of the most subtle. The painting depicts a “Starry Night” with a sprawling village laid out beneath it. Lights, (representing LIFE) fill almost every home and building… except for the church in the lower middle of the canvas. No lights to be found. And from his experience, no LIFE.

We are the light of the world because we have the LIFE that Christ has given, represented by the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are the light because Jesus was the light first (John 8:12), & we’re following in His footsteps, reflecting Him. The Matthew 5:14-16 passage declares that the light is meant to shine; a lamp isn’t lit to be covered, but to be placed where it can bring light to the dark areas. Since we are the light of the world, we are to LET our light SHINE – not hide it, minimize or cover it. To me, this is a declaration that if I live following after Jesus & loving God & people, & following Him, my light WILL shine; I would have to take specific measures to keep the light from being seen.

And that is the purpose of shining the light – so people can see. Light means, “There is LIFE here.” It draws people towards it. And worked out in our every day lives, it brings glory to God the Father.

LORD, let Your light shine in & through me today. Bring life to me & to others in Jesus Name, for Your glory.