Open Arms

24 09 2009

Hey guys,

 Hope you’re having a good week despite the gloomy weather.  Here’s an exercise for you…

 Open Arms – Eugene Peterson

Read this passage several times.  As you read, listen for a new perspective on the way life is, or the way God is, that stands out to you today.  Perhaps you will notice that God can have dangerously “hot anger,” yet under other circumstances He is tender and open to a people who have walked far from intimacy with Him.  Maybe you’ll be struck by the pigheadedness that kept some Israelites from taking “God’s outstretched hand.”

 Then Hezekiah invited all of Israel and Judah, with personal letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, to come to The Temple of God in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to Israel’s God… and they sent out the invitation from one end of the country to the other, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north: “Come and celebrate the Passover to Israel’s God in Jerusalem.” No one living had ever celebrated it properly.  The king gave the orders, and the couriers delivered the invitations from the king and his leaders throughout Israel and Judah. The invitation read: “O Israelites! Come back to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so that he can return to you who have survived the predations of the kings of Assyria. Don’t repeat the sins of your ancestors who turned their backs on God, the God of their ancestors who then brought them to ruin—you can see the ruins all around you. Don’t be pigheaded as your ancestors were. Clasp God’s outstretched hand. Come to his Temple of holy worship, consecrated for all time. Serve God, your God. You’ll no longer be in danger of his hot anger. If you come back to God, your captive relatives and children will be treated compassionately and allowed to come home. Your God is gracious and kind and won’t snub you—come back and he’ll welcome you with open arms.” 

(2 Chron. 30:1,5-9 MSG)

 Study the perspective you’ve absorbed, looking at it from different angles and holding it up against different experiences you’ve had.  Do you ever fear approaching God because you worry He might snub you?  Have you ever refused grace?  Consider a specific situation.  Then become aware of God’s presence with you.  Tell Him what was going on during that time.  How does the God of this passage (offering His “outstretched hand” to the Israelites) compare to your image of God in that situation?

 Close your time today by saying the Lord’s Prayer.  Speak the words aloud very slowly.  Picture the righteous but compassionate God described in this passage, the One who is hearing your prayers now: “Our Father in heaven, reveal who you are.  Set the world right; do what’s best— as above, so below.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You’re in charge!  You can do anything you want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes. Yes. Yes. 

(Matt. 6:9-13 MSG)


 Praying for you this week.

 To the King!



Change in the Church

15 09 2009

Hey guys,


So its time for our weekly Sundesmos devotional again.  Let me know if your email has changed or if I need to make any updates with your contact info.  So school has started, Patrick Swayze has passed away, the trees are starting to turn colors already, no health care reform yet, and Kanye West has made a fool of himself once again.  Wow…what fun times we’re living in!


For many of you I know that the last month or so has been full of transitions…







Life is full of transitions…of change.  Thank God.  Aren’t you glad that we get to experience change in our life?!  God is in the business of changing things, making things new.  “What we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons!” (2 Cor. 5:17 MSG) 


God is also changing His Church.


For those of you who attended Western Yearly Meeting sessions this past summer, or heard about them, my prayer is that you have had time to process and pray for this organization.  I’m sure there have been many feelings swirling around about the Church and its purpose and how God’s people behave in His name.  For those of you who weren’t here and don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I’ll be happy to fill you in on the details if you would like.  The Yearly Meeting is in crisis and is experiencing the dire need for change and desperately needs your prayers.  We’ve all had feelings about what our role in the Church should be and what changes need to be made.  I completely understand the desire to run…fast…away from anything that resembles hypocrisy and unauthentic believers, from constant conflict and ineffective ministry, from gossip and slander and pain.  It’s tiring and draining and doesn’t seem anywhere close to what God has in store for His people.  I understand that and completely agree.  Some of you have seen this Yearly Meeting and maybe even your local Meetings swirl around controversy and conflict your whole lives; that’s all I’ve experienced since I came to work here three years ago.  It’s painful and feels like such a waste.  It’s sad to see so little spiritual vitality in a group that has so much to offer our post-modern society.  For those of you who have left the YM or are debating leaving…I understand.  I had to pray a long time about whether God wanted me to stay here after Yearly Meeting sessions and continue to work for an organization that appears to not hold to the basic beliefs they say they do, an organization who blatantly disregards the blood Christ shed for me on the cross for the sake of a façade of unity and love.  I understand.  But…through that process of discernment I was reminded of a harsh quote from St. Augustine as he was talking about the Church, the Bride of Christ.  He said “the church is a whore, but she’s my mother.”  It feels like we as a Church have been unfaithful, that we have caused (and experienced) so much pain and hurt.  That we are dirty and messed up and unlovable.  But she is our mother, the one who gave birth to us.  Tony Campolo writes:

It is she who taught you about Jesus.  I want you to remember that the Bible teaches that Christ loves the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). That’s a preeminent reason why you dare not decide that you don’t need the church. Christ’s church is called his bride (11 Con 11:2), and his love for her makes him faithful to her even when she is not faithful to him.

How we can clean up the Bride and prepare her for her Bridegroom?  I came to the conclusion that God is not finished here yet, He has not given up on WYM and He still has work for me to do here, at least for now. 


My ministry here seems to be changing and I feel the work of Sundesmos is changing.  If you feel like you can no longer be a part of WYM please don’t feel like that means you can no longer be a part of the Sundesmos ministry.  Sundesmos will continue to be a place where Jesus Christ is first and foremost in everything that we do.  I will be doing campus visits this fall and we’ve got a mission trip back down to Alabama already being planned for Jan. 1-8, 2010.  Remember, Sundesmos means that which binds together, a band or bond and that bond is the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. 


This David Crowder song has been truly helpful for me these last few weeks.

The verse at the end of the video is difficult to read but it says:

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
       and in his word I put my hope.

My soul waits for the Lord
       more than watchmen wait for the morning,
       more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
       for with the LORD is unfailing love
       and with him is full redemption.

Psalm 130:5-7


If you want to talk about WYM or if you have a prayer request of your own, please don’t hesitate to give me a call or write me an email.  You guys really are the reason I feel God is keeping me here at WYM.  God loves you so much and wants you experience His love and His call on your life in a truly dynamic way.


Blessings!  Praying for you!


To the King!