something’s coming…

No, I’m not going to start singing West Side Story tunes for you.  (Although we did do that show my senior year of high school…)

I’m just going to let you know that there are some changes in the making here on the blog!  That’s one of the reasons for a post hiatus of two weeks or so. Also, I was in a wedding and Mike almost ran 50 miles. **27 is almost, in my world.

I know this is kind of one of those cliffhanger posts.  In the words of my friend Lauren:

“sorry bout it.”

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surrounded by brilliance

Duke Chapel

Monday and Tuesday of this week, N.T. Wright and Rob Bell visited Durham to speak at the Pastors’ School and Convocation at Duke.  I am SO thankful that Christ Church made it possible for me to attend, and am still reeling from all the wonderful insight that those two amazing people shared with us.

Monday: Tom Wright

I didn’t realize that…

(a) N.T. Wright goes by “Tom” in his pastoral endeavors–and, I’m sure, in everyday encounters…

(b) He is British.  That means he has a British accent, and is REALLY fun to listen to, even if he weren’t saying the most incredible things.

Apparently these things are common knowledge, however, I am not in the div. school, nor have I gotten to read anything by Wright, (gasp!!) so these things are all new to me.

His lectures on Monday were centered around the question, “Why did Jesus live?”  People often talk about “Why was Jesus born?” and “Why did Jesus die?” but he was concerned with the bit between the stable and the cross, in his fun British words.

Wright mentioned something I never had noticed:  In the Apostle’s Creed, we completely skip over his ministry–

“I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord, who was born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontias Pilate…”

Woah!  There is something so central to our faith based in the creeds, but Wright reminds us that if we base our entire theology on those creeds instead of scripture, we lose sight of the Gospel.

Tom later goes on to share what he notices in the Gospels about Christ’s life:  we see the way God is establishing His kingdom on earth through Jesus.

To be honest, I don’t want to write more, because I’m afraid of mis-representing what he said… there was so much, and I need to process it!

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Tuesday: Rob Bell

Ahhhhh!  He was so wonderful.  I felt like an old friend was talking to me.  And he was saying things that I definitely needed to hear!  He focused on an unfamiliar phrase…

Eucharistic Paradox

The heaviness and lightness of Jesus

We must give ourselves in passionate devotion, but hold it loosely.

He shared about being with Desmund Tutu and the Dalai Lama, and how he watched them as they greeted one another.  They hadn’t seen each other in a long time, so they first embraced, and then… began to tickle one another and giggle!  These men had seen their fair share of suffering, yet there is a lightness in their sharing.

The Eucharistic part of that phrase comes from us living out the act of being broken and poured out.  He shared the actual translation of Eucharist, which is good + gift/grace.  He asks, “What does it look like for our church to be the body and blood for our communities?”

There are a great deal of things that are not in your control.

crickets

vs.

“That was the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Sometimes you work on something, let’s say, a sermon, for hours and hours.  You’ve really nailed this one, yet, you preach and only hear crickets.

Then, there’s the week when everything went wrong, you were sick, had to take care of your kids who were sick and out of school, etc… and you feel like this sermon is a homiletical turd. (his words, not mine!)  After THAT sermon, someone comes up to you and shares how it has touched their life like no other sermon.

That’s where the letting go part comes in.

He made three wonderful points, especially for people in ministry:

1. There will always be critics.  (I loved his statement, sheep have teeth.)

It’s not the initial negative comment, it’s you replaying it over and over in your head.  When we are holding what we do loosely, we are in a much better place to let those criticisms go.

2.  Failure.

“What every artist must learn is that even the failed pieces are essential.”

He tells a story of a class of potters.  The teacher asks half of the class to make the most pieces they can in an hour.  He then tells the other half of the class to make the best piece they can.  After the hour is up, the half who were assigned to make the most pieces also turned out the best pieces.  While the other half were theorizing on what would be the best way to go about it, the others were simply trying and learning from their mistakes, and creating great things.

3. Outcomes.

“An extraordinary amount of leaders are exhausted… they signed up for a revolution, and are now managing a business.”

You must take care of yourself.  Is there a day that people can’t reach  you?  If you follow the gospels, you will see that

Jesus speaking to more crowds = more times Jesus withdraws.

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The hour that Rob Bell spoke honestly felt like 10 minutes.  I, and hopefully others around me, felt so renewed and inspired by both scholars this week.  What a great experience, to be learning and surrounded by others who are seeking what you seek, too.  I’m so thankful for this experience!

 

 

 

 

 

some thoughts

If you like this blog for the pictures, than you may want to skip this one.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where God has been leading me (and is continuing to lead), and what that all means.

He brought me to Hope Town, where I was in a job that I didn’t feel qualified for, yet he equipped me to do so much and grow in a way I could never imagined.

He gave me a love and passion for photography that served as a wonderful creative outlet for me there.

He led us to North Carolina, and I really thought he was leading me to start my own photography business.  So much so, that I registered a name (Daylight Photography) and became an LLC.

And then, all of a sudden, he throws me a curve ball:  he puts me in a job where I am doing exactly what I am trained/gifted/created to do… lead others in the musical aspect of worship, and be a part of community.

What???

“So Mary, where’s the struggle here?  You love your job, right?”

Right.

“You’re doing what you wanted to be doing, right?”

Right.

And here’s where my inner 5-year-old kicks in, stomping her foot on the ground.

“But it wasn’t my PLAN!!”

Don’t worry, I will continue to take pictures, and I’ll still be doing some weddings.  Next fall my cousin is getting married, and I am SUPER pumped for their Mexico destination wedding!

But this process is going to be much different than MY PLAN.

And that’s a good thing.

Because God’s plans usually turn out way better than mine…  one time he “messed up” my plans and I ended up meeting my husband.

I just don’t know what this is going to look like.  The full-time business that was in my mind is not going to be a reality.

But ohmygosh, I love my job.

And perhaps God is trying to pry open my fingers of my future, help me let go of this ‘control’ that I think that I have, and embrace the unknown.

Because the unknown, well, that’s a beautiful thing.

Revelation Song

Ok, so there’s a detail that I left out of my last post.  When Francis Chan finished talking about how great and mighty God is, and about all these terrifying beasts singing his praise, they played this song.  It was SO powerful, and I thought I should share it with you guys.

A Heart of Thanks

Warning:  this post is more personal than most.  I don’t even know if it will make sense, but I need to record this before my memory fades.

Ok, you’ve been warned…

April 9, 2010. New Vision Church.

Aaron Keyes.  Francis Chan.

The Spirit of the Lord came tonight.  It was so wonderful and awesome. The worship leader (Aaron Keyes) began the night with silence, then a humble prayer, followed by an acoustic song that built up to glorious hallelujahs.  I was sobbing, and I can’t even say why, except that I was more aware of His presence than I have been since our wedding.  It was so incredibly powerful, and set the stage for an evening of genuine, humble worship.

Have you ever started praying while you were in bed and accidentally fallen asleep?  I know I have, many times.  Tonight, Francis Chan blatantly addressed the dangers of approaching God casually, without the reverence and awe He deserves.  To help us understand, Francis read a description of God out of Revelation, sitting on the throne, shining with winged beasts that were covered with eyes singing “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!” What a wake-up call to think of these terrifying creatures in awe of our Lord.  How could I ever fall asleep speaking to this God?

Tonight, my heart so full of gratitude.  I’m so thankful to the Lord for bringing these humble servants to our little Abaco and encourage new growth and inspire our hearts.  When thanking Francis and Aaron this evening, I couldn’t keep from crying.  I don’t think they will ever know the impact they left with me and many others who were there tonight.

Praisealuia!

To use a phrase of TEAMeffort‘s Doug Jones… Praisealuia!

Ashley Yancey is here this week, along with her roommate and parents.  What a wonderful way for the kids to learn and have fun, and for me to have a little break!  She helped with youth on Saturday, and gave the message at church yesterday.  Whew!

Working in a place where there are very few people your age, (especially who believe what you believe) it’s sometimes all you can do to do your job.  It is so encouraging for Ashley to be here, not just because I love her and she’s helping with youth, but because she’s refreshing my soul.  What encouragement to know someone is praying for me, and has been exactly where I are now.  Since she’s coming from a seminary perspective, there’s so much fresh knowledge and insight that she has to offer both me and Mike.  I can’t wait ’til he gets back on Thursday, so he can experience this, too!

Thank you, Ashley, for a wonderful visit… and it’s only been 2 days!!

golden nuggets from Nouwen

recently, i’ve been reading The Way of the Heart by henri j.m. nouwen.

let me tell you, it will resound with you in a profound way.

anyone, ESPECIALLY folks in ministry, should absolutely read this book.  i hope i’m allowed to say that before i’ve finished, because honestly, i’m only halfway through.  that should show you how fantastic it is already.

the subtitle of the book is “connecting with God through prayer, wisdom, and silence.”  now, none of those things come very easily to me, so i was a bit apprehensive at first.  so much so, actually, that it took me a whole year after receiving the book from my mom (hi mom!) to crack it open.

let me quote a section that really struck me with its honesty.  i mean, was he writing to ME?

“Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry.  Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following.  They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm.  They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be.  This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger, but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake.  It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into a biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart.”

Until i read this, i had no idea i was angry.  frustrated, sure, but i thought everybody hits brick walls sometimes.  and we do.  but i realized this is not how it has to be.  nouwen goes on to describe the desert fathers and their seclusion– and how it enabled them to minister to others.  they didn’t run away from people… the fathers were learning a better way to love them.

armed with this knowledge, i’m noticing my days where i steal 30 minutes or an hour of silence, reading, praying… i am much better equipped to love my brothers and sisters.  i become a better teacher, pastor, wife.  this may strike everyone as intuitive, but sometimes you need to hear old things in a new way to spark a change.