Category: Body of Christ

LIFE: love II

“Ordinary people have the power to change other people’s lives. This power to meaningfully change lives doesn’t depend on advice, though counsel and rebuke play a part; nor on insight, though self-awareness that disrupts complacency and points toward new understanding is important. No, this power to change lives comes from connecting, on bringing two people into an experience of shared life” (25). Hence, one of the many reasons why in the very beginning, God said that it was “not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Now, a “Gospel community is built upon the shared lives of believers who have given their lives to Jesus Christ and now live for Him. What stands at the center of a New Covenant community are forgiven people who have caught a glimpse of Christ, and in whom the Spirit now uses that glimpse to create goodness within them, a goodness that defines who we are” (11). No longer does our sinfulness define us, because Jesus has taken our sinfulness upon Himself at the Cross and in return has imputed (accredited) to us His righteousness. This is the Gospel.

Simply put, we have traded our sinfulness for Jesus’ righteousness and in the process have been fully forgiven. “When God forgives us for violating His design, He pours His life into us; and that restores our capacity to connect, first with Him, then with others. He makes us alive with the actual life of Christ, so that the impulses that energized Jesus’ life on earth are actually in us. This is what being alive in Christ means” (29). It is no longer we who live, but Jesus who lives in and through us (Galatians 2:20). “When believers can offer one another a taste of the delight of Christ that lives within them, they begin to impact one another in a profound way and they start to change for the better because they touch one another with the transforming power of the love of God. When believers make meaningful soul connections with one another their love grows and deepens because we were designed to connect, first with God and then with each other” (45).

In my book, both greater relational capacity (1 John 1:7) and love (1 John 2:10) are sure markers of life. I know I say this a lot, but love is a relational concept. In order for love to be fully realized there needs to be a relationship in place. God created us out of love, for love and to love, which from my perspective means He created us for relationship. “Connecting is life. Loneliness is the ultimate horror. In connecting with God, we gain life. In connecting with others, we nourish and experience that life as we freely share it. Believers have the capacity to enjoy the wonder of a relationship built on grace that no angel has ever personally experienced because fallen angels are not forgiven and unfallen angels don’t need to be” (45). It’s within this eternally redeemed community that believers experience the love and joy that comes from a loving Savior who calls them beloved. As the old saying goes, “to love is to live.” But, I would add to love one another is to truly live.

So this is my prayer: that the Lord would increase our ability to love, that He would grow and mature us in understanding the Father’s love and that He would place in us a courage and boldness to love in any and every situation and with everyone. Help us Lord to fully embrace the reality that we are Your beloved in whom You delight and are well-pleased with. In Jesus, Amen.

 *excerpts from Larry Crabb, Connecting (1997)

hospitality of soul

Over the past couple months, one of the books I have been slowly reading through is “Radical Hospitality” by Father Daniel Homan and Lonni Collins Pratt (Paraclete Press, 2002). As God’s divine timing would have it, the chapter that I’m on is entitled: companionship and intimacy (the two things that my heart has been longing for in overdrive lately). Reading this has helped me gain a clearer and fuller understanding on both.

“Hospitality is not a call to unquestioning intimacy with the whole world….Hospitality is a call to revere what is sacred in every person ever born” (p.139).

The world equates sex with intimacy. But, there couldn’t be a more shallow misunderstanding of the true nature of intimacy. As the authors explain, “When we confuse intimacy with sexual relations, we imply that sex is the only means to closeness, and we devalue the growing together that two people need to do before they become sexually involved. To imply that our deepest needs are met only by sexual encounters has set up a whole generation to be disillusioned (p.141). I couldn’t agree more. In my own struggles with desiring love and pursuing intimacy that’s how I understood it. But, as I have been learning both through my relationship with Jesus (through the presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit) and through some very deeply authentic and life-giving people in my life today: I am unlearning my misguided notions of love and intimacy.

Intimacy includes so much more than just the physical, it also includes emotions (heart), thoughts (mind) and the will (spirit). I love this next statement, “When I experience genuine intimacy, I know to the bone that I am not alone. This knowing comes through relationship….Intimacy is the deep experience of knowing another human heart” (p.141-2). Some of my fondest memories are the ones where I’ve connected with a person on a deeply spiritual and emotional level, so that when we see each other, without saying a word, there is this unspoken bond and understanding between us. Maybe the reason I cherish these moments so much is because I long to be fully known and fully loved. Isn’t that every person’s heart cry: to be able to tell our deepest secrets without anyone gasping with horror; to be able to share our victories with others and have them truly rejoice; to be able to be in our pain without them trying to rush us through it; to be able to be fail and not feel judged; to be able to make mistakes and still be trusted; to be able to be who we are without excuses.

Intimacy comes when we share all of ourselves with another. But, we must understand that at its core, intimacy is more than just a constant level of relating. Intimacy is the experience of sharing life together. The only way to be fully known is to share your life with someone. Sure, I can tell you everything that I may know about myself, but there is so much more to me, if you just watch me for awhile.

Lastly, “No matter how intimate a relationship might be, that single relationship is not enough to satisfy the human hunger for love. No human being has enough love to meet such needs. Only our passion for God is enough love; only God’s passion for us can make us whole.Most of us will have intimate relationships, but we make the mistake if we think that intimacy is all we need. We also need companions, we need good fun, we need the brief and tender moment when a stranger stoops to help collect the clutter that has dropped to the floor” (emphasis mine, p.136-7). This describes the current condition of my heart. I fully understand that only intimacy with God makes me whole. So, I have been continually throwing myself deeper and deeper into my relationship with Jesus. But, I am longing for more companions in my life. People who will speak Truth and Life to me and allow me to do the same for them as we walk through the nitty gritty of life together.

something’s gotta give…

This past month has been quite a whirlwind, so to speak. As I have been praying and discerning the will of God for my life, God has in His mercy brought some real clarity to my pursuit. If you haven’t been walking with me through this, let me sum up my journey so far. Currently I have been wrestling with the question: Am I to be a pastor or a counselor or both? In the beginning I figured I’d be both by being bivocational. But, what I have been learning is that there are difficulties in managing dual relationships with people. That’s not to say that being both a pastor and a counselor is impossible. It just means that I would need to be intentionally aware of which “hat” (pastor or counselor) I am wearing in my vocational relationships.

But, the more that I’ve been learning about the counseling profession, the more I’ve been challenged in thinking through the place of counseling in God’s calling on my life. I have this tremendous passion to work with the addiction population. But, I also have this tremendous passion to edify and building up the Body of Christ. So, the question that has come up in my deliberations in weighing these two passions is: Does one of these passions take precedent over the other? The simple answer to this is “yes.” God has called me to be a pastor first and foremost and though I do feel like God has also called me to work with the addiction population – the timing and urgency on this calling is secondary to the pastoral calling. Right now I need to be faithful to the pastoral call.

In walking this revelation out, I have decided to begin pursuing a pastoral position at a church and put my pursuit of a counseling degree on the back burners. I’ve also decided to change my degree from a Master in Mental Health Counseling to a Master in Counseling Ministries. God has called me to care for His people and though I do see myself ministering to people of the world, my main concern must be for the Body of Christ. This has been freeing because, quite honestly, I see myself more of as a spiritual director, than a counselor, which definitely fits better under the pastoral calling. Again, though I have this passion and calling to work with the addiction population (and I definitely see myself always working with people struggling with addiction issues), this calling needs to come under and submit to the pastoral call.

I am so grateful for God’s grace in all of this and the reality that He will never ask me to pursue something alone, but that His grace is always available to me. Even more than that, God has really impressed on me that because of Jesus I can count on His grace and that I need to always, always, always factor His grace into everything I do and into every decision I make.


Life has been moving at a pretty fast pace this past month. I feel like there’s always something I could be doing for home, school or ministry. I’ve been especially challenged this past month to keep my Monday sabbath. To be honest, my sabbath days have not been all that spiritual, nor all that restful. Sure, I’ve spend some time in prayer and solitude with God, but it’s been a far cry from what it has been. I understand that I needn’t be so rigid in my sabbath keeping because the sabbath was made for my benefit and not the other way around (Mark 2:27). But, what I’ve noticed is that the receding spirituality on my sabbath has effected in many ways (however subtly) the rest of my week. The tide has been slowly going out . Not so much in the sense of my faith waning, more so in the sense of my passion to be discipled by the Lord. This may be because I am also  in transition right now. 

First, I am transitioning from finishing a Master’s of Divinity degree into beginning a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling degree. I have also been seriously contemplating doing a concurrent Substance Abuse Counseling degree as well. Secondly, I have stepped down from ministry leadership at my church, not for any disciplinary or disqualification reasons, but because I’ve been feeling prompted by the Holy Spirit that my time at this particular church is coming to a close. Let me explain, over the past few years, Jesus has been using me in a very interim pastoral fashion (both at my current church and the one before this one). This fits well with the grace Christ has apportioned to me (Eph 4:7) through the gifts of wisdom, discernment, mercy, faith and healing (Rom 12:6-8; 1 Cor 12:1-14) which are a good combination with the calling He has placed on my life to be His shepherding prophet (Eph 4:11). As one can imagine, Spirit-filled preaching, group discipleship, one-on-one mentoring/coaching and prophetic prayer are huge component in the way that Jesus uses me to bring spiritual formation both individually and corporately to His Body, the Church.

Now, I’ve been slowing piecing this together over this past year (it has been an ongoing process). God is definitely on the move, but I feel like I really need to be pressing into and be seeking after the Father’s heart towards me as He continues to reveal in more detail the work He has prepared in advance for me to do (Eph 2:10). I need to approach the coming season wisely and discerningly, but also humbly with an open and expectant heart. As this relates to my sabbath – sure I have a lot going on right now in planning for the future, but I need to remember that my future is in Christ and the work set before me is the Father’s will for my life. It’s not about me formulating some strategy and coming up with a smart and clever plan, but about me listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice in my life and following His promptings and leadings because He will guide me to where I need to be in order to be better equipped for ministry. He will also lead me to where God wants me to be so that I can partner  in the work Jesus is doing in the world while He takes me deeper into the Father’s heart. Lord, reignite the passions of my heart to pursue You with an open heart and willing spirit. In Jesus, Your name, Amen.

Making room for Jesus

In his book, “The Wounded Healer,” Henri Nouwen has encouraged me to claim my own loneliness as a source for human understanding (85) where “a deep understanding of [my] own pain makes it possible for [me] to convert [my] weakness into strength and to offer [my] own experience as a source of healing to those who are often lost in the darkness of their own misunderstood suffering” (87). The Lord has definitely been drawing me into a season of surrender and invitation. On the one hand, He has been leading me to surrender to His purposes for my life while, on the other hand, He has been encouraging me to invite more of His healing and loving presence into my heart and life: to really press into His amazing grace and unconditional love that He extends to all people.

But, oftentimes, I allow my insecurities, fears and loneliness steer the decisions for my life, rather than the Spirit of God. So, instead of allowing God to lead and guide me through life, I am lead by this internal editor, this control freak, who would rather steer me into hiding or a ditch, than surrender control to God. But, here’s the Good News, our inner control freak has been crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” When I took the time to meditate on this verse and really let this reality sink into my heart, it has been freeing. Because I have been crucified with Christ, this means so has my inner control freak. This means I no longer have to let him (meaning the sum of my insecurities, fears and loneliness) run my life. The more I’ve meditated on this verse, the more I am convinced that Jesus is passionate about living His life in and through us by setting us free into the Father’s will for our lives.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to be part of AXIS (the 20something ministry at Willow Creek Community Church) where I’ve had the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people who are completely sold out for Jesus and passionate about living a gospel lifestyle. It just so happened that they decided to do a video blog series on singleness (this links to the first video in the series). Imagine that. All of video spoke to me in different ways. It definitely was good timing. But, the one thing that I really took away from this series was the need to be part of a community where a person can be fully known and fully loved: a place where I can share the messiness of my life and not be judged, but loved. Doesn’t your heart yearn for a community like this? I know mine does.

But, in order to become part of a community like this, I need to make room in my heart and life for these relationships to enter in (surrender and invitation). Again, I am drawn back to Galatians 2:20. Because Jesus is passionate about living His life in and through us, I believe this means we need to consciously making room for Him in our relationships (because where else do we treasure people, but in our hearts). The more I make room for Jesus to live His life in and through me, the more He will draw me into deeper relationship with the Father and the more He will draw me into a community where I can be fully known and fully loved.

the tender touch of Love

This song touched my heart in exactly the way that I needed. I love when the Holy Spirit leads me serendipitously to a person, a book, a website, in this case a song (at a website) because He knows just what I need to draw me into the presence of God and what needs to happen in order to tenderize my heart towards Jesus. The lyrics of this song released the words that were trapped in my heart – they helped give wings to the longing in my heart to be near my Lord and King. Listening and singing these words (repeatedly) have brought sweet conviction to me by reminding me that to not share and lavish people with God’s amazingly perfect love is truly tragic. I wept when this revelation washed over me, breaking my heart all over again for Jesus. He is so good to me. I can feel the smoldering embers beginning to stir within my heart, igniting within me a renewed passion to love and chase after my Savior and to love people with wild abandon.


I am so grateful for all the members of the Body of Christ that use their gifts and talents to edify the People of God while in worship to King Jesus.

The Importance of the Table

Recently, I had the opportunity to add a post at my church‘s blog which I thought would be good to share here as well.

 What does it mean to eagerly await our Savior to return? (Philippians 3:20). Albert Borgmann in his book, Technology and the Character of Everyday Life, talks about the importance of focal practices where a focal practice has “centering and orienting force” (206). When the people of God gather around the Lord’s Table, it is a focal practice where when we can, not only proclaim the truth of Jesus’ sacrifice, but also of His return (1 Corinthians 11:26). If you’re like me, sometimes it’s really easy for me to reflect so deeply upon Jesus’ death that I forget that taking the bread and cup also proclaims the truth that He is coming back. Now, if we take the time to pause and connect with our Savior through the Holy Spirit in this focal moment, I believe He will not only refresh our faith, but also draw us into the depths of His heart.

 Over the last couple weeks, I’ve really enjoyed gathering around the Lord’s Table, both as a church and in small groups. Doing this has brought to the surface of my heart the deep longing to become the family of God that I know Jesus is transforming us to be. But, in order for this to happen, it means I need to own my brokenness. If you’re like me, then you know just how hard it is to stop denying and running away from the reality that, there are times when I am just plain clumsy at life (some days more than others). But, if I am to be caught up into the family of God, I need to stop projecting the image that I’m cool or that I’ve got it all together or that I don’t need anyone. This means embracing my brokenness, so that God can begin to heal me. It’s interesting how in order to break free of something, we first have to accept it as our own, instead of living in the denial of embarrassment by telling ourselves, “Oh that’s not me,” or “I don’t do that.” When we do this we reject the reality that we even need healing.

 The Lord’s Supper is a focal practice in which the very act of gathering around the Lord’s Table to take the bread and cup centers and orients us towards both Jesus’ sacrifice and His return. To broaden this a bit, Borgmann also talks about how the “great meal of the day, be it noon or in the evening, is a focal event par excellence. It gathers the scattered family around the table (204).”

I don’t know about you, but the fast food, “eat on the go” culture that we live in only perpetuates the scatteredness of my own life. And in many ways reinforces my relational disconnectedness because I am eating alone more and more. Now food plays a very important role in our lives. Eating is essential to human existence and is woven into the very rhythm of life. Not only does life happens around food, but most relationships begin, grow and deepen around eating. In a lot of cultures, most fellowship happens when people eat together. Eating together opens up opportunities for meaningful conversations to happen. Part of doing life together means eating together.

 That’s why I believe it is so important, if the people of God are to truly begin living as the family of God that we gather regularly around the Lord’s Table, as well as around the fellowship table to share more than just a meal with one another, but our very lives. Now, this means acknowledging each other’s brokenness, but also extending to each other as much grace as needed in order to overcome the dysfunction and awkward tension. It means taking a chance and beginning the journey down the road to be fully known and fully loved in which each table gathering can be a moment where we propel each other deeper into the loving spiritual community that the Holy Spirit is building for the glory of Christ. Though the meal may be the focal practice, we must always remember that: ultimately, it is Jesus who gathers His scattered family around His Table.