He mediates up

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
-Luke 12:13-14

When I read the above passage, which is a segway into a parable Jesus tells his followers about how they need to be avoiding greediness, I was struck by something in those two lines: Jesus mediates between us and God, not between us and those around us.

So, why are we constantly trying to use Christ as a bat to beat those around us into line?



The path is littered today with broken limbs, leaves and swirled dirt. A storm of some power came through. At places, water covers the path. At others, trees lay across it. But for those who know the path, it is still navigable.


going out

"Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
-J. R. R. Tolkien



"Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight."-Exodus 33:13

If my path is straight and in union with yours for me, Lord, show me further your ways. If I have strayed from the path you would have me take, lead me that I might be with you again. As I step each day along my paths, help me see where the footing is sure and good and keep me from harm. Allow me to be a light to others and not a stumbling block. 


forty days to a closer walk with god ::: online study

Starting in June, I will be offering an online study of the book, Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God: The Practice of Centering Prayer. I will provide daily e-mails beginning on June 17th to guide participants through the book and there will be an online forum for participants to share their thoughts with each other along the way. This forum will only be available for participants, providing a safe space for sharing.

In order to facilitate small group building, participation will be limited to twelve people who are a part of the Alabaster First United Methodist Church community. Please leave me a comment if you would like to participate or see the church's Facebook page for other sign-up options and ways to contact me.

If there are others interested in such a study outside of the Alabaster First community, please leave me a comment and I will explore forming additional groups.




This morning I finally got myself in gear enough to run at least part of my trek on the trail so that I could finish earlier and have some quiet time in my favorite spot. As I sat down, I opened up Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God and flipped to the start of the chapter following the one I had apparently meditated on last time I opened it. The scripture for the chapter was from Ephesians (which we are studying this week in Disciple). Ahem. God thing #1 for the morning.

As I looked around me after reading the chapter, I caught a glimpse of six or seven smooth, flat rocks piled one on top of another on a large stone in the middle of the creek. I instantly thought, "Someone built an altar." That very thought was part of a moving UMW program I was at a week ago based on Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World. The book is about spiritual practices and I can't wait to start reading it. Spying the altar this morning was further nudging in that direction (and was God thing #2 for the morning).

As I am checking my e-mail on my way to my office, I read the following from my Scripture-a-Day e-mail:

That scripture is one that pierced my heart almost a year ago at a women's retreat. Pair that with the picture of a dandelion, on the same day that my black and white photo posting for my 365 project was the one at the top of today's post...God thing #3.

Yesterday, our pastors preached to us about making quiet spaces in our lives to listen for God. And, today, when I carved out some time for Him after some weeks of depriving myself of it, I heard Him.




When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor's gift.-Maya Angelou



There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ.-1 Corinthians 15:21-22



The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.-Thich Nhat Hanh



"And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” -Matthew 10:42



During licensing school, I heard a lot of great sermons by instructors, mentors and fellow students. One evening, Dr. Paul Hillard shared with us a vision of full church parking lots...people clamboring to get inside to hear God's word. A wonderful dream indeed.



Those who live in your house are truly happy; they praise you constantly.-Psalm 84:4

Yesterday, I was honored to deliver the sermon at a good friend's church in North Alabama. And, because it was close to where my family lives, my parents, sister, nephew and niece were there. I sat behind my daughter and my nephew and they sat like you see above most of the service. It made me very happy and, so, it is today's entry for the Lent photo-a-day challenge. Here is my sermon, on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, if you are so inclined to listen.

Oh, and while I'm taking the time to do more than post a picture, I will share that last week as I was living with the scripture in preparation for Sunday, a song by MuteMath that shuffled into my walk one morning hit me squarely between the eyes. This is the kind of synchronicity I actually have come to expect, as I often hear what I need to move me forward in a song. If you listen to my sermon, you will get a better idea for why these particular lyrics drew my attention:

Sometimes I get tired of pins and needles,
Facades are a fire on the skin.
And I'm growing fond of broken people,
As I see that I am one of them.



I'll say this about the Lenten photo challenge: it's made me think more abstractly than I have in past photo challenges. Today's word almost intimidated me out of even trying the whole thing, but I went ahead with it telling myself I could skip a day if inspiration didn't strike me. But...I noticed my shadow on the ground yesterday as I walked into work on one of the very few sunny days we have had as of late. The shadow was long and strong and stretched out for miles and I thought "prophets stand tall". Yes. That will do.

On an administrative note, Posterous, on which I have hosted my 365 photo challenges, is closing down on April 30. And I mean it is really closing...the sites there will not even be viewable after that date. I have moved my two 365 projects to WordPress and the links to them at their new addresses can be found at the bottom of the blog.

On a spiritual note, from sundown today until sundown tomorrow, I will be unplugging for the National Day of Unplugging. I challenge anyone who might be reading to give it a try. I am going to try to make this a weekly practice, not just an annual one, as well. Read about the Sabbath Manifesto and consider how a day a week of rest, however you may define it, could enliven you spiritually and physically as well as allowing you to connect more fully with the people that are right there next to you. 



But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.-2 Corinthians 4:7

"Earthly"/"Earthen"...taking some liberties today but I think the photo-a-day challenge is meant to stretch thinking, so I imagine it will be ok even though there is that rule follower in me that is cringing. (I really love another Biblical translation of "earthen vessels" more: "jars of clay".)


(grace) cover(s and cleans)

I have seen what man can do
When the evil lives inside of you
Many are the weak
And the strong are few
But with the water
We'll start anew

Well, won't you take me down to the levy
Take me down to the stream
Take my down to the water
We're gonna wash our souls clean
Take me down to the river
Take me down to the lake
Yes, we'll all go together
We're gonna do it for the good Lord's sake



Someone wise this past week said that we should live in the moment. It seemed like the right thing to do with this directive was to stop for a swing during my walk today.



I know that the Spirit is in this place.

In papers written.
In the silent meditation of Monday morning worship.
In pastoral roll play.
In between the frames.
In tales of best laid worship plans gone awry.
In a bishop's laughter.
In creative ways to enliven Christian education, enthusiastically shared.
In the wisdom of mentors.
In a vision of church parking lots filled.
In the balm of Gilead.
In hymns and hymns repeated.
In the wind of Pentecost.
In sermons of peers.
In a butterbean story.
In ONE baptism remembered.
In time devoted.
In miles travelled.
And in the laughter and fellowship.
Yes, I know that the Spirit is in that place called Licensing School.
Thank you all.



Evil sometimes sits just below the surface of even good things. Want an example? How about one of those many good things that you say "yes" to that you either aren't truly gifted for or called to and that keeps you from that which you are? Or how about the plethora of good things you have on your plate that adds noise to your life and keeps you from hearing God's word for you...or even knowing Him at all?