Archive for the ‘journey’ Tag

Coming Home   Leave a comment


Image provided by survivordogs.wikia.com

Image provided by survivordogs.wikia.com

Yesterday I was reminded of the call to come home.  The focus of the Ash Wednesday service was “return”.  This focus led to the concept of the Lord calling to us to come home.  We even sang the hymn “Softly and Tenderly”  which contains these lyrics:

Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling
Calling, O sinner, come home!

I can just picture Jesus standing there with arms extended out and saying these words.  What a great way to start a Lenten journey!

As I have continued to give this message some thought, I realize that now that my parents are dead and the home which I grew up in is sold, I really do not have a physical home from my youth to return to any more.  However, that does not mean that I do not have a home which can be my destination.  If you believe the saying, “Home is where your heart is,” then as long as you know where your heart is, you know where home is for you.

While preparing to write this post, I looked up at my collection of mugs which sits on the top of my built-in bookshelves of my office.  One mug caught my eye.  It is the mug which I purchased when I went out to Newport Beach, OR for the wedding of a very dear and close friend.  While I was there, I had the great joy of touring some lighthouses in the area.  The mug has the drawings of those lighthouses and a few from the Oregon cost.  The lighthouse image also connected with my thoughts of returning home.  The place where my heart is stands as a beacon, much like a lighthouse, reminding me of the way back home.

As I continue to journey through this season of Lent, I will remember that it started with a call to come home.  My true and permanent home is with the Lord.  So I continue my journey to that home.  In the meantime, the Lord has provided me a home in this portion of life, it is where my heart is, and I will always strive to return home.

 

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Searching for Answers   Leave a comment


Image provided by whatgodsaidtonight.blogspot.com

Image provided by whatgodsaidtonight.blogspot.com

There are times that I feel I am on a never-ending quest.  This quest started before I was even aware that it existed.  I have a feeling that this quest will continue until the day I take my last breath.  The quest of which I speak is the quest for answers.  It is a quest that I know I am not on alone.  I am confident that there are millions of other people on this same quest.  This quest can be very energizing and yet at the same time, it can be very exhausting.  This quest contains much joy but still is filled with frustration.  This quest is what drives scientists, religious scholars, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, leaders, and almost every human that I know.  Everyone seems to be seeking answers.

One of the amazing aspects of this search for answers is that there are so many questions.  The questions are based on our perspective, our experiences, and our current circumstances.  In fact, part of the search is a search for the “right” questions.  It is impossible to find answers when we do not even know the question.  So our quest begins with determining the question which we desire to have answered.

Another amazing reality on this quest is that there are so many sources trying to provide us with “the” answer.  There are ancient writings and contemporary discoveries.  There are experts from every venue to offer us input.  There are books, podcasts, articles, television programs, TED Talks, and the internet.  In fact, there is so much input that often it seems even more difficult to find answers because sorting through all the data just creates confusion.

I must confess, there are times I wish that someone (preferably the Lord) would just give all the answers to all the questions and I could be done with the quest.  However, that is not how the world has been designed.  When God created us, God chose to give to us an inquisitive mind.  God placed the first question in our thoughts and much like a flower opening to the sunlight, we continue to blossom with answers and new questions.

So the search continues.  I have learned that I must accept that for every answer I think I find, there will be at least three more questions that come from that discover.  I have learned that this quest for answers is the force that moves life.  I have accepted that there will be energy, exhaustion, joy and frustration which I will experience on the quest.  I am grateful that I make this journey not alone but with other humans and, most importantly, with my Lord.

What Do You Offer?   1 comment


Image provided by edelman.com

Image provided by edelman.com

Individuals who are contemplating starting a new business have to consider what their business is going to offer.  So they may do some market research in their area and compare that to what they feel they are capable of providing before making a concrete business plan.  Companies that have been in existence over a period of time often arrive at a time when they must evaluate if what they are offering to the general public is something that remains of value or if they need to adjust and offer something new.

Now I am not one that believes that the church should operate identical to a business.  In fact, I see a whole variety of flaws in this type of thinking and approach.  The church is not a business and using all business practices in a church setting leaves out space for the Holy Spirit.  However, there are some aspects of business behavior that can shine some light on the decisions and activities of the church.

One place that I find might be helpful for the church to adopt some business-like approach is in regards to what we have to offer the general population.  The easy answer to that is that we have God, as known through Jesus Christ, as the item that we have to offer.  However, I am not always convince that many churches actually do offer that to people.  I also think that the ones that attempt to offer God to the people need to re-evaluate their methods for doing such offering.  Sometimes I feel that the church offers their human concepts and approaches much more than they ever do God’s.  At other times, I find the offering of God to be according to the church’s interpretation of God and how they feel God should behave.

I am finding it more and more important to realize that God does not have to be offered by the church.  I strongly believe that God does a perfectly fine job of marketing and presenting God’s self to the world.  Instead, I feel the church should be offering opportunities for people to explore and discover God.  Exploration means that we do not define or judge a person’s discoveries but instead, we provide support for them along the path.  We cut down the branches and move the boulders so that they can safely journey toward God.  Along the way, we demonstrate that love of God which provides the nourishment and encouragement necessary on what can easily become a difficult journey.

So I would have to say that I do not believe the answer to the question that headlines this post is GOD, but instead it should be a partner on the journey to discover God.

Removing the Plank   Leave a comment


English: human eye

English: human eye (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A conversation that I had with a friend this morning caused me to think of this passage from the Bible:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5, NIV)

How easy it is for us to make statements regarding the behaviors of others.  We forget that we look at only the surface.  Many times we forget details that we know about the person.  We are not privy to conversations and situations in the person’s life.  Yet we often feel we can pass judgment on the person.

Jesus reminds those around him how big of a problem this can be for us.  He reminds them that we all have issues that we have to deal with and situations that impact our actions.  Many times we act superior to others and fail to remember that we have shortcomings.  Other times we do not have all the background and information that would lead us to making an informed judgment.

For me, this is a reminder of how important it is to see a person as a person and not an object.  The only way that this differentiation can occur is if I am in relationship with someone.  Even if I am in relationship, I still may not know enough to make a judgment regarding their actions or words.  I am also reminded that life is a journey that I can walk with others but must remember that I carry my own baggage and my own issues as much as the person who I am walking with carries.

So I am reminded today to remove my planks, only then can I be helpful to the sojourners in my life.

Don’t Stop   Leave a comment


Sometimes in life and in leadership, it can become a struggle to keep believing that where you want to go is where you will end up arriving.  There can be days when you feel that the forward motion has ended, the vision is fading, and there is no hope of achieving what you have set out to do.  Then you have days when situations come together and you realize that you can, and are, moving forward toward the destination you had planned out.

Today as I reflected on recent events that have renewed my hopes for the visions in my life, I experienced great joy.  I began to think about what would have happened if I had given up on the vision I had in the leadership areas of my life.  I thought about what would have happened if I had given up on the vision that I had for my life as a whole.  These thoughts led me to a phrase in the lyrics of a song by Journey entitled “Don’t Stop Believing”.  So this is my theme song for the day.  I hope that it gives you some inspiration as well.

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Questions and Answers   1 comment


Certainty

Certainty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I was looking at a church website recently and discovered this statement listed in their vision statement:

 

“Find more grace in the search for meaning than in absolute certainty, in the questions than in the answers.”

 

This is one statement that they used to describe themselves.  I thought how this seemed to dovetail the post that I wrote yesterday.   It affirms the value in wrestling with questions versus having certainty.   Now I know that most of us are not wired in this way.  I think we want certainty because it provides some level of control.  However, the more I explore my faith, the more I realize that encounter questions much more frequently than certainty.  After all, Scripture reminds us that faith is confidence in what is not seen, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

 

So once again I am reminded of the great importance of questions rather than answers or certainty.  I am also reminded in the statement above that it is in the search there is grace discovered.

 

Let’s keep searching!

 

 

It’s In the Dialogue   1 comment


Cover of "The Answers"

Cover of The Answers

Somehow in the Western culture we have placed a high emphasis on coming up with the right answers.  I am not really sure how or when this began but we have become a people who only find achievement in obtaining the correct answer.  It doesn’t matter what the topic or the question, the goal is always the same.

Now there are benefits in seeking out the right answers in life.  I think that much of the success that the Western culture has achieved over the last century can be attributed to individuals and groups working to obtain the right answer.  This goal has allowed us to make great advances in medicine, technology, and business.  Without a goal, there is very little clarity in direction or motivation.

However, I find us often overlooking the even greater values of the journey.  There are many instances of people and teams who are striving to find a specific correct answer to a specific question and end up discovering a new concept, product or approach to a problem.  Many times these discoveries are achieved through the ongoing dialogue that take place between individuals.  Allowing different viewpoints and approaches to collide and to adapt to one another provides an opportunity for new realizations and concepts to come forward.  When a person is on a quest for an answer, it is easy to get tunnel vision.  The person can easily focus on a list of expectations and lose sight of other possibilities.  However, when a dialogue with another person or group of people takes place, the tunnel vision can be reduced and/or eliminated.

As a believer, I know that there are some answers that are not obtainable to me at this time.  But I am also very aware of the value in dialoguing with others and journeying together in the quest for an answer.  I know that this is how the Lord reveals new understandings and insights.  I know that the Lord expects this to happen in community and not isolation.

As a leader, I also know that I am much more successful when dialoguing through a situation with a team of individuals than I ever am trying to obtain the answers alone.  In the midst of discussion and debate, I experience different ways to address the situation and different understandings of the situation.

So I encourage everyone to treasure the dialogues, realize the goal is not always a correct answer, and grow in the process.