Monday, November 17, 2014

Bumper Sticker Theology

I'm going to keep this short so I don't rant...too much.

Today I was out running errands in the lovely snow and wind when I pulled up behind a car at a stoplight.  There I read a bumper sticker that made me start preaching to myself, since there was nobody else around to listen to me.  The bumper sticker read, "God, Guns and Guts made America great."

The Scripture that kept rolling around in my mind and heart was Micah 6:8  He has shown you, oh man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  I would prefer my bumper sticker to read, "Walking humble with our God, acting justly and loving mercy will make America great."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Listening on the Mountaintop

This past weekend seven of us gathered on a mountain top in southern Arizona.  We met there seeking to listen for the whisper of God, reflect on our life's jouney and share our stories.

The first day or two I was there I had to adjust to the beauty and stillness of the area.  We were at the Oasis Renewal Center near Sonoita, AR.  It is so different from the beauty of Holland, MI, and the rest of the midwest.  Scrub oaks and junipers don't compare to the oaks and maples that line our streets.  The rocks and sand and Cacti opened a different landscape before me.  But, by the second and third days I was soaking in the rugged beauty.  I knew that, like Jesus, I had been led to the wilderness; called to the mountains to listen, and to provide a process to help others listen for the Spirit as well.

We came together: a couple celebrating the long awaited first grandchild, and wrestling with what retirement was going to mean, a midlifing woman dealing with a midlife divorce and the big, "What's next?" question, a mom, facing a soon empty nest and a shift in her ministry focus, and a couple (Susan and David) who had heard God's call to open a retreat center in the mountains of Arizona.

We reflected on how God's grace had been active throughout our lives, shaping and forming us.  We shared our stories and encouraged one another.  We looked at those things that bring us great joy, and those that tear at our hearts.  We listened for the voice we are promised in Isaiah 30:21 Whether you turn to the left or to the right you will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

We desired a greater awareness of how "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works, which God has created in advance that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10  We walked in the wilderness, we ate good food, we napped and rested, we allowed our souls to emerge and be touched by the One who had brought us here.

And God spoke in and through each one gathered on this mountaintop.  There was no single teacher or facilitator.  That was the beauty.  God used each one to speak truth and courage and peace, hope and blessing and a future into the lives of the others.  We had positioned ourselves on the mountaintop... we had slowed our pace and entered into the quiet...we wanted to hear the voice of God and feel the presence of Jesus.

By the end of the weekend all of us had discovered or clarified our mission statement for the next season of life.
     Ed and Christine:  To accomplish what God has prepared in advance for us to do by facilitating, nurturing, and sustaining God's Kingdom Workers.
     Lori:  To love and encourage women in a way that will restore hope, dignity and a passion to pursue Jesus.
     Cindy:  To provide training to help recently divorced, widowed and single women be more self-sufficient
     Susan and David:  To provide a retreat center where people can connect with God and connect with one another.  (a place where we could come to the wilderness, pray in the mountains!)

We will keep you posted on the next opportunity(next spring?) to join us...we definitely long to do this again!  But you don't have to live on the mountains.  Gather some friends and let's come together to listen for God's voice.