Do You See God In This Video? I Do! (watch before Thanksgiving dinner!)

*At the end of this post PLEASE click on the link to take a brief survey so that I may serve you better!

As you are getting ready for thanksgiving festivities—I thought this video might help to put your heart in the spirit of “thankfulness!”

This video shows the emotional reunion of a Syrian father and his five year old son who he believed had been killed in a recent chemical weapons attack.

The weeping men in the beginning of the video are brothers, uncles and friends of the father and boy. The father and son reunion happens at marker 1:19!

It’s probably not a surprise to you, but when I watch this video I am reminded about the fathers reaction to the return of his lost son in Jesus parable of the prodigal son—Luke 15.

20-21 “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him.

Often times when I read this passage the emotion of the father is lost in the drama of the son’s return and is perceived as reticent, reserved and dignified—he is the father after-all.

I wonder if the reunion that Jesus had in mind for this story was more in line with the video than with how we think a dignified father would react? And, if that’s true—how does God react to us when we turn from self toward Jesus and the Kingdom of God?

If you are curious—the men around them are yelling (in Arabic), “Allahu akbar” (God is great!).

So, as you gather with family this thanksgiving—think about ditching the reserved and dignified welcome and really make sure your family knows how thankful you are to be with them!

Also, if you want to read more about cultivating a spirit of thankfulness—I highly recommend Anne Lamott’s book on the three essential prayers—Help, Thanks, Wow! (affiliate link)

I have one last, and very important, favor to ask you. If you haven’t done so already—would you take 3 minutes to answer this brief survey about my blog? I am really praying about the future of this blog, our community—and would really love your feedback! I am looking for 100 responses and I am getting close. I can’t tell you how THANKFUL it would make me!

 PLEASE CLICK HERE TO TAKE MY BLOG SURVEY!

Where Have You Been? (*Please fill out my 2013 blog survey!)

Oragami Heart

In the end—it’s God’s love that wins!

Please read to the bottom of this post and take my SHORT blog survey!

In the late 80′s, after graduating from High School, I started volunteering for a para-church organization called Young Life. There was something I immediately loved about ministering to teenagers as we journeyed through life and faith together—and it’s hard to believe that journey started more than 20 years ago!

Since those early days in Young Life I have graduated from Eastern University (then Eastern College) received my degree in Youth Ministry, (and Physical Education) and have been serving teenagers and the Church for more than a decade and a half. Truly—I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

Late last year I started sensing that I needed to finish my Masters of Divinity ( I started at Princeton almost a decade ago). So, for the first time since graduating from college, I am no longer a Youth Pastor. I am, in fact, finishing up my Masters of Divinity full time—and I am having a blast! I made the Love Wins origami you see here in one of my classes.

But, now that I have almost 2 month of seminary under my belt, I really would like to spend more time with my blog and you—the community of TOB readers. You guys are great and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all you have done to encourage me and this community. You are a blessing and I appreciate the fact that you read and engage with each other.

Can you do me a small favor? I really want to serve the TOB reading community the best that I can, and I was hoping you would take a few minutes to fill out this short survey so that I might serve you better. It’s only 10 questions and should take you under 5 minutes! It would be a HUGE blessing to me and I am hoping that I can get 100 people to take the survey! I have some really exciting things coming up and I really want you to be a part of it!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO TAKE MY BLOG SURVEY!

UNDEAD! 12 Ounce Interview (and book giveaway) with author Clay Morgan!

UNDEAD!

Last month I had the privilege of hanging out with blogger, speaker and author Clay Morgan. His New book, UNDEAD, is out—and  in a few minutes I will tell you how you can win one of TWO free autographed copies of Clay’s new book! Want to find out more about his book—UNDEAD? Watch this 12 Ounce interview and then keep reading to find out how you can win a FREE copy.

Ok—want to win a free copy of the book? Easy!

1. Tweet, Google+, or Facebook—”like” this post with one of the buttons at the top of this post! So Simple!

2. Leave a comment, in the comments section below, saying that you would LOVE a copy of Clay’s new book—UNDEAD!

3. (Optional) Please click here to subscribe to The Ordained Barista through email or RSS!

If you want to buy a copy of UNDEAD go visit Clay’s web site claywrites.com and click on the “get undead” button at the top of the page! Even if you don’t want to buy a copy of the book please take a minute to go check out Clay’s blog—you won’t be disappointed.

I need to give a huge shout out to Matthew Kim for the new 12 Ounce Interview video and format.  If you know someone who would make a great 12 Ounce interview please feel free to contact me!

Silence!

Silence...

 

A few weeks ago, the Pastors and Directors from the church I work for went away on an all day retreat to the Dominican Retreat facility, in McLean, VA. It’s a fabulous place with a beautiful facility, friendly staff and delicious food.

The slogan/motto for the retreat center is: “An oasis of tranquility serving both the spiritual and secular communities.” And the Bible verse they use on their home page is—”In quite and and in trust your strength lies.” Isaiah 30:15

However, the day we showed up just so happened to be the day they were drilling through cement blocks, directly above us, in order to to run some electrical wires and phone lines through the building. The very friendly staff assured us that the drilling was only going to last 10-15 minutes, at the most, and apologized profusely for the inconvenience. To be honest with you about 10 minutes into the drilling I started getting used to it and almost forgot that it was going on.

But, when the drilling finally stopped (as promised) it was like someone had lifted off a fifty pound weight from on top of my head. The whole room let out a collective—and relaxing—sigh—Ahhhhhh! And I remember thinking how I could actually hear myself think again!

I also wondered to myself if the retreat center, who again their goal is to make you appreciate silence, does this “drilling” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) on purpose? You know—so that you will really appreciate the silence for the rest of the day? It’s actually pretty brilliant!

Have you ever had that experince before? For those of you who have tried to console a crying baby for HOURS (Thanks Annlsey!) you know what I am talking about.

Let me be honest with you—I stink at silence!

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Just like the drilling at the retreat center —I have become accustomed to the noise in my life. So accustomed to it, in fact, that when it’s not there —I miss it. I need it. I crave it. The noise, in some respects, brings me comfort. Noise. Busyness. Productivity. All of these things bring a level of comfort because, let’s be honest, silence/stillness for any extended period of time—is hard! It’s awkward. It’s DANGEROUS!

Yes, Dangerous!

Why?

Simply put—when we are silent long enough to listen to what God has for us it is an act of TRUST! (please click to tweet that last sentence) We don’t usually think about silence in these terms, but when we are silent we are in a position of receiving from God, and when we are receiving from God we have to trust that what we are receiving is in our best interest. We have to trust that God will meet us in the silence. That’s why silence is so darn hard and noise is easier! A lot of noise is self made. Noise puts us in charge, and puts our trust into productivity and effort! Being silent and still puts God in charge! Silence is an act of trust! (please click to tweet that last sentence) Do I trust God enough to be silent with Him? Do I trust God enough to share my thoughts and fears with Him?

When was the last time you had some silent/still time with God? Do you find it hard? Why?

Think about the truth that even Jesus needed time in silence to be with the Father.

“However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”  Luke 5:15-16 (NKJV)

“In quite and and in trust your strength lies.” Isaiah 30:15

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Why simply avoiding sin is NOT the best way to avoid sin.

cut the grass

Lesson from My Lawn #4

By the end of the summer my lawn looked HORRIBLE!

What made my lawn look even worse is that I live in a community where people take “fescue maintenance” VERY seriously.

Rumor has it that there is a secret society comprised of the people in my neighborhood who all have lawns that look like freshly vacuumed green shag carpet—no kidding.

To be honest, I don’t have the time (6 kids and a dog) or the resources (again, 6 kids and a dog) to make my lawn look the way I would like it to.

By the end of the summer I had more weeds than ever before and it really started to bother me.  I know, I know—it’s just a lawn.  But there is something about a nice lawn and big fields of green grass that I just really love!

You can read about that in lessons from my lawn #1, #2 and #3.

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What many people, who hate weeds like I do, don’t realize is that one of the best ways of preventing weeds is to have a really healthy, thick lawn! Simply put—if there is no room for a weed to germinate and take root, it can’t flourish!  The warm days and cool nights of fall make it the ideal season for fertilizing and planting grass seed—so that’s what I did!  My lawn is still not as nice as my neighbors’ lawn—but it’s looking better.

Don’t you think this truth is the perfect analogy for the spiritual life?
There are tons of books, blogs, sermons and study materials on how to get rid of specific sins and temptations out there—“sin avoidance” or “behavior management”—the advice found in these sources are basically “weed killer” for bad habits and behaviors.

The older I get, God has really been showing me that the best way to avoid sin is not to merely “manage” my sinful behaviors, but to live a healthy and growing spiritual life. (Please click here to automatically tweet that last sentence!)
I am learning that if you regularly engage in the things needed to sustain your relationship with Christ, behavior management becomes less of an issue.

Water, fertilizer and sunlight become the best weed prevention in the same way that prayer, the words of God, and being still and alone with God can prevent spiritual weeds from popping up in our lives. Unfortunately we, myself included, spend so much time managing our sin that we spend little time in God’s presence listening for His voice.

I’m not saying that when sin does appear that you ignore that individual sin;  instead, I am thinking about my spiritual practices like preventative spiritual medicine—the healthier we are the less likely we will get sick.

How about you? Do you have a regular practice that helps you strengthen your relationship with Christ?  Do you feel empty when you miss a day? week? month?

 

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