From pain to belovedness

Being away from home can be disorienting. The familiar is suspended for the unknown.

Being at home in the deep places of my heart when traveling happens when I return to the message of belovedness.

New settings may trigger old anxieties.

Being away from home can make me feel like a lost stranger in a new city.

When I return to the voice of love, I see the new place as a gift, one not to fear or resist.

The voice of love helps me to see my own brokenness and lead out of vulnerability and trust.

The voice of self-rejection is self-critical, making many demands of the self and of others that can’t really be met.

An old pain resurfaced this past week that made me get on my knees and wonder what I’d do. It was a few loving conversations where I heard the voice of love calling me back home.

Beloved friendships have the power to point us back to our original identity: belovedness. I don’t find my deep identity in my work, roles, music, gender, or ethnicity. I find it in the voice of love.

I can only long for this home or belovedness because I have been there before. I can only return because I’ve once claimed it for myself.

And when I do return, I am blessed as a child of God. My gender, ethnicity, and gifts now make sense.

Daring Greatly: 12 Shame Categories

I chose to read Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, for a seminary class because shame sucks.  Her work has been so helpful to many, including myself.  Last night, I was recounting how helpful it is to be aware of your shame triggers so that you recognize the patterns.

Brown says that “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”, (p.69).  I describe it as the feelings and thoughts that tell us “something is wrong with me”.  I remember feeling different when I was younger, asking myself “what’s wrong with me”.  It’s an ugly feeling.

Brown lists 12 shame categories to be aware of.  Her books talks about building shame resilience as a way to cope with the shame triggers:

  • appearance and body image
  • money and work
  • motherhood/fatherhood
  • family
  • parenting
  • mental and physical health
  • addiction
  • sex
  • aging
  • religion
  • surviving trauma
  • being stereotyped or labeled

Urbana18: Nothing new in Revelation

[NOTE:  This year, I have the opportunity to play drums for the Urbana conference and be the band chaplain.  From their site:

Urbana is a catalytic event bringing together a diverse mix of college and graduate students, faculty, recent graduates, pastors, church and ministry leaders, missions organizations and schools.

I’m posting thoughts/reflections on being musicians, ministers, and mission-minded that are shaped by scripture, tradition, and our own experiences.  This year, Urbana has chosen the theme “Faithful Witness” and the book of Revelation to discern our role in God’s mission for the world.  I’m also using a rubric of character, competency, chemistry, and culture to organize thoughts and ideas.]


Eugene Peterson says that there is nothing new being said in the book of Revelation.  I found that deeply profound given that my pentecostal/dispensationalist background gave me a sense that Revelation was about futuristic, catastrophic events occurring on earth.  Rapture.  Wars.  Famine.  Earthquakes.  The Anti-Christ (Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, The Pope, Barak Obama, Trump).

So when I read Psalm 93:1,25, I was yet again reminded of Peterson’s adage:  there’s nothing new being said.  God has been saying it “…in the beginning”.

The team has been thinking about Revelation 4-5, which has been dubbed “The Throne room scene”.  What John saw then is what the Psalmist says thousands of years prior:

1 The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;

the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

2 Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.

Why does the Lord reign?  And why is that good news?  And how does the Lord rule and reign?  That’s probably the most important question for me.  In other words, whose in charge and are they worthy of leading?

In the marketplace, a company takes its shape and form from the leaders (those who rule and reign).  The manner of leading trickles down the pike and influences each person.  Leadership is very important.  It sets vision and values which impact the culture of a company.

As Christians, we profess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  He rules and reigns with justice, mercy, and unfailing love.  That’s a great description of a leader!

As musicians leading people in worship, I’m a bit holy-scared!  How and why is that God would choose to use some rag-tag people with unclean lips and impure hearts to lead people into His throne room?  I’m not trying to paint a sad picture of our depravity, but in some ways, God’s presence doesn’t allow me to stay unexposed.  All things are brought to the light and because he rules with justice and mercy, I’m in good hands.

Someone taught early on my musician formation that we play because we motivated and compelled to worship the living God.  When I play at church, people come up to me and say, “I knew it was you playing today…I could feel you.”  That means a lot to me because I want every beat to a passionate prose of worship to the living God.  I’m captivated by this Jesus as King figure!  I’m moved by His love for me and for you.  And I want the music to reflect it.

For Research: Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say : NPR Ed : NPR

This article is a great plan and resource for reducing violence and gun related issues. Posting it for future use.

Here’s How To Prevent The Next School Shooting, Experts Say : NPR Ed : NPR
— Read on www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/03/07/590877717/experts-say-here-s-how-to-prevent-the-next-school-shooting

And, these experts say, you remove the major “environmental hazard” that contributes to gun violence: the guns. The eight-point plan calls for universal background checks, a ban on assault-style weapons, and something called Gun Violence Protection Orders: a type of emergency order that would allow police to seize a gun when there is an imminent threat.

What sets this call to action apart from other policy proposals is not gun control, however, but the research-based approach to violence prevention and response. This is a long haul, say the experts, not a quick fix.

“No matter what you try to do by just hardening the target, we’ve learned that having the armed officers isn’t necessarily going to stop it,” says Matthew Mayer at Rutgers. “Having the metal detector or the locked doors isn’t going to stop it. The hard work is a lot more effort. You’d better start thinking in a more comprehensive manner about prevention instead of reacting.”

Homily – The Shepherd

Readings:  1 Peter 5:1-4, Psalm 23, Matthew 16:13-19

In today’s readings, the ongoing theme tying each passage is Shepherd.  Peter and King David are key figures, with Jesus as the Chief Shepherd.  It’s beautiful how our faith tradition has put together passages like this so that we might see the coherence throughout the biblical narrative.  Two men–King David and Peter–experience God not as an angry, petulant image, but as a loving shepherd who guides and leads us.  These two figures were shaped and formed by the rod and staff, learning to become as their shepherd.  In later years, both figures became shepherds of flocks, attending to them and caring for them, not out of obligation but out of willing hearts.

During this lent season, I reminded of the need to be shepherded.  I need to be guided, led, healed, fed, and restored.  I am prone to deceive myself, become lax in my devotion to God, and to think more highly of myself than I ought to.

When do I sense God’s rod and staff comforting me?  In prayer, scripture reading, and spiritual community.  No matter how out of control the world (or my inner world) seems, in these disciplines, I find how God desires to be near so that He might heal, mend, guide, discipline, or gift us as He sees fit.

I see a difference in my devotion when I engage in rod/staff disciplines.  I’m not “problem-less”, as if I don’t have difficulties BECAUSE I enact these disciplines.  But I do feel more grounded and sober in mind and heart.  The Shepherd helps me to focus, rest, and trust.

May we experience the rod/staff of disciplined love of God today.

Healthy Practices for Pastoral Leaders

To be in ministry for the long haul, I’m learning that it requires some support, vulnerability, and deep devotion to Jesus for sustaining faithfulness.  Rich Nathan (pastor of 30+ years) lists some great practices.  Check out the source page for more details on each practice.

Source:  

#1 Build a rock-solid daily personal devotional life with God.
#2 Choose a prayer partner, who is a peer and with whom you can be utterly transparent
#3 If you are married, schedule a weekly date night with your spouse.
#4 Get financial counseling from a professional financial counselor.
#5 Ruthlessly avoid all compromising situations with the opposite sex.
#6 Take care of yourself physically.
#7 Do not confuse knowledge or skills or giftedness for spiritual maturity.
#8 If you are married, take a great marriage inventory with your spouse and have a professional marriage counselor discuss the results with you.
#9 Join a small group (and if married, join with your spouse).
#10 Cultivate the fear of the Lord and a fear of sin.

The 5-7 minute rule of talking about work with your spouse

The 5-7 minute rule of talking about work with your spouse:

In countless counseling sessions, I’ve heard partners share their struggles with the “work conversations” when getting home after a long day. In the workplace setting, there are conflicts, crises, and criticism which takes an emotional toll.

Naturally, a spouse might want to share their work struggles with the partner because they have a safe marriage. But the problem is that the spouse hearing the lament is powerless to do anything about it. He or she can’t help with the issues and there can only be so much “listening” and “empathy” one can give. And usually, the listener doesn’t have an outlet to share the burden or pain.

All marriage partners need allies–friends, peers, support groups–to confide in so that the marriage doesn’t become the only place to share work struggles.

We’ve tried to have a 5-7 minute “talk about work” rule in our home in order to keep it minimal. Typically, the conversation might happen while we’re making dinner together and then there’s a transition of “Enough about my work…how was your day?”

We want to be a safe space for each other and not burden the other with work issues. Instead, focus on decompressing, having some confidants (preferably a therapist, coach, pastor, or trusted friend) to talk with, and using the evening to fill each other’s love tank.

Keep Calm and Quiet

 

Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

In my 20s and 30s, I often daydreamed of being “great”.  I think we live in a culture that praises heroes and greatness.  We concern ourselves with matters of greatness and big wonder.  We might have thoughts of how we’d run the country, a company, a local city, or implement reform on a national scale.  We say, “Well, I’d do it like this!” and walk off thinking we know what’s best.

It seems that the people who truly effect these great changes are those who have learned to keep calm and quieted their restless hearts.  They’ve learned to listen, observe, and take small steps and actions towards a possible reality/goal.  It’s a slow process.

How do we cultivate a calm and quiet presence?  There are two movements.  The first is to abstain from certain patterns of thinking.  One habit might be to think that we have all the answers and don’t need others to resolve issues.  That’s “haughty and ego proud” thinking.  The second movement might be to practice times of silence and solitude.  I find that it slows me down and helps me to be present to any anxieties or fears that are causing me to be reactive and frenetic.

Reflection Questions

*In the workplace, what might it look like for us to develop practices of calmness and quietude?  Would the company culture allow for it?

*Our culture says to make our voice heard for issues of injustice–and we should.  When are times that we ought to practice calmness and listening?

Leaders Define Reality

Max Depree writes:

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader. Concepts of leadership, ideas about leadership, and leadership practices are the subject of much thought, discussion, writing, teaching, and learning. True leaders are sought after and cultivated. Leadership is not an easy subject to explain. A friend of mine characterizes leaders simply like this: “Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.” The goal of thinking hard about leadership is not to produce great or charismatic or well-known leaders. The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of the body. The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning? Serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Manage conflict?

The art of leadership requires us to think about the leader-as-steward in terms of relationships: of assets and legacy, of momentum and effectiveness, of civility and values.

from Leadership Is an Art

I think of the leadership theory and development because if I don’t, I won’t become a good leader.  Plain and simple.  I think leaders need to make more time to reflect on their leadership practices and habits.

Max Depree offers a great reflection of what leaders, who they are, and how they think.

Reflection Questions

*What do think of the statement, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality”?  One can imagine that it might be a struggle to define reality and have to say the hard things sometimes, acknowledge the losses, or admit failure.  How do you cope with reality?

*Reflect on this statement:  “The measure of leadership is not the quality of the head, but the tone of the body. The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers.”  If the body or team is the primary sign of how things are going, how does that shift your leadership tactics?

*What might be one way that you can define reality for your team this week?