Monday, October 19, 2009

...A Quiet 2nd Blogiversarous

It has been a very long summer and this wee purple abbess has been very, very busy tending to her home and family. It has been good to do this, after being so very limited these past nine years. I have set myself a deadline of Christmas to have gone through and made each room "orderly" ... not to be confused with "pristine" ... and I am happy to say that I am well on my way.

In addition to bring order to the physical house, I am endeavoring to bring some much-needed order to the character development process with my three growing boys. It is wonderful to see the progress ... it really is exhausting work (no wonder I have been so hit and miss all these purple years).

I am hoping to gain a sense of balance between all the areas in which I have the opportunity to exert influence ... and am hopeful that Papa will grant me both the grace and the wisdom to accomplish that which is necessary.

It is almost impossible to comprehend the things I have done these past two years following the Seabeck conference. But they have all brought me to this day, and I am grateful to be where I am.

Mostly, I am grateful to have come across Wayne Jacobsen and learned a bit about what it means to live loved. I am hopeful that I will be able to share more of what that means in my third year of blogging ... and I will have to schedule some time for that processing.

In the mean time, I have much to do concerning the practice of living loved. It is a kind of daily office for me, but one much different than I experienced at Seabeck....

Before living cHesed, before living the Jesus Creed, before living Missional, before living CovenantClusters ... there must be a true and deep and pervasive sense of living loved by Papa -- just as I am right now ... as I am actively being perceived by The Perceiver who holds all things together.

I do not know how this primary reality has gotten lost ... and I have learned, instead, to live condemned, disappointing, unworthy ... unable to hold on to his love long enough for me to be filled -- and so unable to overflow onto the dry and thirsty land all around.

Living loved seems, for me, to take the form of being more quiet. And that means less talking in general and more listening ... not necessarily to the many I've been listening to in the past, but to the still small voice of the one who completely and utterly loves me.

Leaning into the reality of Papa's love is the foundation for everything else. It is the provision for all needs. It is the power for all actions. Without it there can be no true cHesed for others ... and there can be no true Good News:

For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son -- so that those who believe in him might have eternal life; for God didn't send his son into the world to condemn it, but that the world, through him, might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
Blessings to those of you who have been Abi's friend over these two years ... she is counting on your prayers as she continues to walk with Papa (and Jesus and Sarayu, of course) into the unknown. It will all work out ... I still don't know how ... it is the Divine Mystery, indeed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Fields Are Ripe For Harvesting...

This wee abbess is very happy to again be involved in the wonderful collaborative effort knows as The Wikiklesia Project! Please do take a moment to look at the page for Volume Two and see what we're up to with this --
Join us as we consider the impact of women in the the Kingdom Fields!

Friday, July 24, 2009

On Being Grounded....

I have been spending a lot of time journaling in a couple of notebooks ... and I find that things I think I have blogged about, um, I actually haven't. So, to remedy that, I will be going through those notebooks and bringing out some of the things that continue to resonate.

One that I will get to soon is my personal "ah ha" moment about "living water" and just what it is. But before I do that, I want to talk about feet and holy ground and grounding and perichoresis. No, really, it's must easier to understand than it is to explain. Really.

For those of you who know me better, you will know that I have been learning a lot about resonant frequencies and their importance to health over the past 12 years or so. And while there is a lot of nonsense written, there are some gems to be found by those willing to dig and sift diligently.

While some have chosen to discredit theories of "electromagnetic/electrostatic pollution" over the years, the science is beginning to be collected about these subtle, invisible fields and their effects on life forms (human, plant, animal).

Quick disclaimer break: I am so not a scientist, but I do have significant doses of common sense and intuition and have read some important books about this. You will have to go and do your own study without being unduly prejudiced by the nay-sayers. Take a look at this interesting article for more pondering about this.

Okay, here's the bottom line for this meandering post: the best way for humans to discharge their accumulation of electrostatic charges is to "ground" themselves by walking barefoot on the, um, ground -- grass, sand and dirt are the best. Going barefoot also allows the body's diverse neurological systems (especially the brain and digestive tract) to become better entrained to the earth's resonant frequency -- which is tuned for relaxation and harmony. Which means, of course, that wearing shoes interferes with this connection.

All of this has come into focus for me as I pondered the wonders of walking on the beach and standing in the surf and allowing my feet to be buried in the sand ... and how much better my feet and ankles have felt as a result. When I mentioned this to my chiropractor, she said that I had been experiencing the ultimate in "grounding" therapy.

So, today I was out working in my garden ... and decided to bury my toes in the pile of sand that was left over from tilling sand into our clay/soil in preparation for planting. And as I was wiggling my toes and settling my feet into the sand, this thought popped into my head. "This is why God required Moses to take off his shoes by the burning bush -- God did not want there to be any interference from his connection with Moses. He wanted Moses to be fully grounded and entrained to God's resonance." There was nothing "unholy" about Moses' sandals that required that they be removed. It was God inviting Moses into a special relationship -- one that turned into an amazing "friendship" -- of Moses being called the friend of God, who talked with him "face to face".

I imagine that God had a similar relationship early on in the Garden with Adam and Eve -- walking in the garden together in the cool of the evening....

Being barefoot is the quintessential state of being comfortable, isn't it? I love the thought that our loving Father wants us to walk with him in such a way that we are able to "ground" the "static" we collect all around us and be entrained to the calming resonance of this wonderful earth he created as our home.

But more than being physically barefoot, Father invites us to dance with him and Jesus and the Holy Spirit -- a dance free of shoes that hurt our spiritual feet ... that desensitize them from being stepped on or stepping on another ... that make it easier to trip or twist an ankle ... that even take over the focus with brands and colors and styles of shoes ... that track in dirt or mar the floor ... that make such a clunking and clinking racket.

So I'm going to go to the store and buy a couple of bags of "sandbox sand" and pour it into the wading pool on our deck ... and I'm going to take off my shoes and stand in the water and let my feet sink into the sand. I'm also going to think about ways I can take my spiritual shoes off so that I can dance more freely and more in tune with the music of the Great Dance.

Join me?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Time Travel....

While sitting on the volcanic rocks down the beach from our "Turtle House" this morning, I was basking in the sun--and The Son--and this is what occurred to me as I was attempting to distill down some of what I've been processing about "living loved" from Wayne Jacobson's book "He Loves Me"...

My days may be measured in Chronos time...but I choose to live them in Kairos time.

In the days to come, I will be unpacking more. In the meantime....

Be blessed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Abi on the fly...Part 2

Yeah, well I don't know how I expected to get anything done in two days between trips....

The Abbess is processing some interesting experiences from the trip to Texas and is gearing up for some more interesting experiences in Hawaii, Lord willing. She is joining her four sisters on the North Shore of Oahu for a week of no responsibilities. Bring it on!

We are gathering to celebrate all our birthdays ... in honor of my oldest sister's 60th birthday. Her's is the first one of the year, in June. Followed by mine (today) and Amy's (who would have been 56 on Friday, but has now graduated to eternity -- where they probably don't track birthdays in years anymore). Then there's Becky's in August and Carol's in September and Wendy's in November. I'm not sure whether we're going to celebrate one each day -- or all of them all seven days! ;^)

I have, however, been processing some very interesting things about living loved of late ... and they are profoundly impacting all of my relationships. I expect that this time with the sisters will be ... well, perhaps I will be content to live in the expectancy that God will be there with us and do amazing things in and among us. I am fortunate to have a wonderful family.

But before I fly off tomorrow, I have to get my driver's license renewed ... and get laundry done ... maybe squeeze in some lab work ... and get my youngest son packed for his first Cub Scout camp this weekend. There truly is never a dull moment here!

If it occurs to any of you, do keep my family in your prayers. Husband's back is on the mend, but this is a lot of time with Wife/Mom gone.... And all my lovely organic lettuce and spinach in my garden is not getting made into green smoothies ... sigh :^( I hope someone else eats them ... they're so pretty!)

Be blessed!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Abi on the fly....

Well, it has been a very eventful couple of weeks since my last post:
  • The kids have gotten out of school (it seems more like a month)
  • The garden has been growing (and I haven't been as good at weeding as I'd like)
  • My precious husband hurt his back and has been on bed rest
  • We got a new bed (a knock-off of the Sleep Number type) -- which I had ordered BEFORE the back injury, and it arrived three days after. Very timely, indeed....
  • Our SYB small group had a little mini-retreat with Wayne Jacobsen with BIG implications for this Abbess!
  • My precious brother lost his wife to the brain cancer they have battled these past 10 months just last night....
So, it's been challenging--but God is more than faithful. I'll be out of the loop until I return from the memorial service ... but I will have AMAZING things to share, so stay tuned.

Be blessed....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Abi and Anger....

Anger continues to be something that I find is not well processed -- in the world, generally, and by Christ-followers, specifically. I struggle with it because I grew up believing that I was not allowed to be angry about things that I could not control.

I have come to understand, over the past 25 years, that anger is an emotion. And, as an emotion, it is morally neutral. We are angry because we are having an emotional response to something we have experienced. This is just the way we have been wired. It provides us with the opportunity to act out cHesed by responding in such a way as for the best interest of "the other" to be served.

Exactly who do I mean by "the other"?

Well, sometimes, the other is God. But more often than not, the other is my neighbor -- whether that be a brother or sister in Christ or any human in close proximity to me. Someone whom I intersect with in an experience that was not just, not loving or kind, not humble -- pretty much the opposite of Micah 6:8!

But just like all the other emotions, we are called to be restrained in our response -- lest our reaction cause us to sin -- to break covenant -- against God or Others.

I was smacked pretty hard with the whole restraint thing lately. I talk a good story about restraint being a foundational aspect of God's character. I'm just so very thankful that They are so much better at doing it than I am!

So far to go on this path....

I have, however, begun the journey from the dark side of love back to the light. How does the saying go? The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step?

One of the challenges of living the Purple Martyrdom is the ever-tempting thought that suffering or pain or sickness or frustration or exhaustion can ever excuse a response to anger that breaks covenant. It can help to explain it ... but not excuse. Sorry.

Anger that leads to sin can only be confessed, repented of, asked forgiveness for, reconciled and restored ... and that is a relational challenge that too often eludes many of us ... or, at least, this wee purple abbess.

So, I've been reading a book that is challenging me to rethink my situation. Or, rather, really think it through. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you will know how important the books on the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman have been. Well this book on anger is one he has written to answer the many questions he's received over the years about how to handle it in a healthy way. (It is basically an updated version of the previous book.)

As with all issues of thinking clearly, this book requires that we take a look at the terms and the assumptions and ponder the difference between good and bad anger before we even get down to how to manage a proper response. Indeed, I really like this definition on page 23:

God's purpose in human anger ... is ... to motivate us to take positive action when we encounter injustice.

Abi will, consequently, be processing here what she is, er, processing about anger as she reads this book and allows the Holy Spirit to transform her broken, purple, angry heart into one that keeps -- rather than breaks -- covenant.

...and purple glasses will be required for reading, of course!


Blind Beggar in Need of Prayer!

Just in case any of you have not already heard about our fellow Seabeck blogger and MT Instigator, Rick Meigs, please read Brother Maynard's post about his motorcycle accident on Saturday.

He is currently in stable yet critical condition in Boise, ID. Broken right arm and collarbone and a few ribs on the mend; ruptured spleen removed, liver looking okay; punctured lung still requiring ventilator; no brain or spinal column damage detected.

Lord, have mercy on our dear brother ... be near to him and his family ... touch them all with your love and grace and mercy -- healing body, mind and spirit.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thinking is Mandatory!

Sorry, friends ... but we have minds so that we can think. There are many of us so that we can sharpen each other's thinking through a variety of methods. Even if we do not know as much as someone else, we are still required to process what we do know to the very best of our feeble ability. We are to ask questions ... always. We are to questions answers ... always. We are to challenge that doesn't make sense ... always.

God is not afraid of our questions ... but some of his self-appointed "handlers" are. Jesus said not to worry about what they think ... worry about what God thinks!

Thinking is difficult because it is a complex process and requires a lot of effort if it is to be done well. There's the rub, eh? M. Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled & Beyond, begins with a chapter on Thinking. It is worth the price of the book by itself! He claims that all problems are a result of failure to think well.

A few highlights ...

The common errors Peck says are related to the failure to think well:
  • simply not thinking
  • making assumptions in thinking--through the use of one-dimentional logic, stereotypes, and labeling.
  • the belief that thinking and communicating don't require much effort
  • assuming that thinking is a waste of time (as if quick action without thought is better)
His section of chapter one titled "The Point of Having a Brain" has some more important, er, points I'll paraphrase or quote:
  • the frontal lobe of the brain is involved in our ability to make judgments, and it is here that the processing of information--thinking--primarily take place
  • when dependency needs and feelings rule our lives, the root is a disorder related to thinking--specifically, a resistance to thinking for ourselves
  • "...there are profound ways in which society actually discourages us from using our frontal lobes, promoting one-dimensional, simplistic thinking as the normal way of functioning."
  • institutions (family, church, mass media), in their failure to teach or demonstrate how to think well, set people up for thinking simplistically
  • when institutions are seen as modeling good thinking and truth, they have the power to fool and manipulate -- setting forth cultural norms as assumed normal and correct, when they discourage our growth because they are often based on half-truths as well as outright lies ... the biggest lie being that we have the right to be happy all of the time.
Skipping a few sections (not because they aren't good...) to "Common Criminal Thinking" brings these gems:
  • most common criminal thinking is simplistic and one-dimensional
  • those who always see themselves as victims do not take responsibility for their choices
  • living primarily in the present (poor perspective on time) lends them to not consider the future or the consequences of their actions
  • an extreme sense of entitlement that is cocky (often from inferiority complex) leads to justifying violating other people or their property without regard for their rights
  • the sense of entitlement that arises from superiority complex assumes they should always be first and are due anything they want -- even if it means taking it from others
...and that doesn't leave many of us too far from turning criminal, does it? Only by the grace of God, says I!

* * * * * * *

One thing that wasn't really known at the time Peck wrote this book: the frontal lobe is not fully connected neurologically until the early to mid 20s -- especially for males. BUMMER for this mom of the boys! The "can I?" doesn't align with the "should I?" for much longer than many want to believe. I repeat myself: BUMMER!

This fact makes me want to raise the age of adult accountability (and with it voting, driving, and drinking) to at least 21 years! Let more of the young people take public transit or ride their bikes during high school and college.... Require them to learn to think well before being able to vote (not sure what to do the with over 21 folks who won't learn to think well, but at least the next generation will be farther along that road less traveled, eh?) ... and before they have killed off too many of their brain cells with alcohol!

This would also increase the age for joining the armed forces, which is also a good thing! Of course, thinking for yourself isn't exactly encouraged in the rank and file of the armed forces ... maybe that is part of the problem?

Okay, don't get me too riled up!

* * * * * * *

Well ... that's just scratching the surface -- and challenging me to take the time to read this chapter again. You should find this book and read it for yourselves, you know. Because waiting for me to do your thinking is not good for you!

And those folks who talk about tolerance all the time need to remember that part of tolerance is being patient when you don't get your own way all the time. Just had that discussion with my 10 year old this morning, as he was reading the chapter on Tolerance in our well-worn book, The Family Virtues Guide: Simple Ways to Bring Out the Best in Our Children and Ourselves.

Abi says you should get this book ... it is priceless!

* * * * * * *

Thanks to Jonathan and Bill for making me go back and get Peck's book off the self ... and rant about it here.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finally ... Abi's 40 Days of cHesed charts!

Back during my 40 Days of cHesed series, Matt Stone brought to my attention that some of my charts were not coming through. I have finally gotten around to figuring out how to get them in their full versions to you.

Day 9 was the first one. Day 29 was the second one. Day 33 was the third one.

Here's the link to the pdf. Hope it works....

Sorry it took so long.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Women Silenced for ... aargh ... want of Quotation Marks?

Fellow 'gator, Bill Kinnon, had a link to a great piece about Women in Ministry from Rebecca Groothuis. What a wonderful article. And the video from NT Wright, which I've seen a number of other places, is worth watching more than once.
But I just have to say that both the article and the video, while wonderfully supportive, are missing something that has been foundational for me for the last 29 years of processing this debate. And, come to think of it, I have often wondered how Scot McKnight has missed this, too. It would have been perfect for inclusion in The Blue Parakeet....
So, Abi is going to stir the pot a bit ... and she's going to use Online Greek Interlinear Bible and Today's New International Version of I Corinthians 14: 26-39 (below) to do it. So read it all the way through now, as a starting place. Do your best to empty your mind of preconceptions about how you've read it before. You can do it, if you will just give it a try.
Good Order in Worship
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church; let them speak to themselves and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. f]">[f]

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If any think they are prophets or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. 38 Those who ignore this will themselves be ignored. g]">[g]

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Okay, now you all know that I am no Greek scholar. I do, however, know quite a number of them. And it interests me that so few of them have considered what I'm about to pass on from my favorite scholar for your consideration. Serious consideration, now.

This entire pericope (passage) concerns orderliness. The entire book concerns orderliness, really. And Paul is addressing issues that have been brought to his attention concern a lack of orderliness among the Christians at Corinth.

What I wouldn't give for a copy of the account to which Paul is responding ... and I really do wish that Koine Greek used quotations marks, so Paul could have made this beyond question ... but enough whining. Back to the task at hand....

I have chosen this translation because it does two very good things. First, it keeps all of verse 33 together. Which helps tremendously. (I'll wait while you scroll back up and read it.) Because when it is added to the front of verse 34, it changes the entire meaning of what follows -- rendering it very confusing.

Now, my friend, who has been known to read aloud from the Greek NT and translate into English on the fly (and does the same with the Hebrew OT), reads this in such a way as to make it absolutely clear what he thinks Paul is doing. He reads verses 34 and 35 in a different voice, as if he is quoting someone -- and with a tone that sounds a bit "superior."

Now, go back and read verse 36 (I'll wait for you, go ahead.) and see that the first word is rendered "Or."

What Dr. Bartchy does when he reads that verse, after finishing his "quotation" presentation of verses 34 and 35 is this. He pauses and says "What?" As in, "Are you serious?" Then he continues with "Did the word of God originate with you?" and the rest of the verse.

Clearly, this reading suggests that Paul is quoting back what had been reported to him. There were some who were having trouble letting the New Covenant supersede the Old Covenant. (Their descendants are, unfortunately, still alive and well today!) And rather than approving of the quoted text, Paul is saying that it is not to be accepted, but that what Paul has taught and written is to be considered from the Lord ... and those who will ignore this will remain ignorant and unregarded.

Reading these verses in this Greek/English Interlinear will be helpful in showing how Dr. Bartchy is not the only one to read the text this way. I'm not even going to attempt to discuss why this is not the common translation.... Sigh!

However, when you read it this way, so many of the troubles that commentators struggle with concerning apparent conflicts with what Paul wrote just a few chapters earlier, and elsewhere, disappear. It makes ultimate sense.

To this Abbess, that is.

And I decided I couldn't keep silent about it one more day....

A Primer on Abi's Purple Martyrdom

My mate, Matt Stone, recently suggested that I post a page describing the Purple Martyrdom for newcomers to my blog, since it is referred to so very often. What a great idea, Matt!

For those who want to wander through the 58 posts tagged as concerning the Purple Martyrdom, click on that tag on the left or this link. Otherwise, the remainder of this post will give you the quicker answer as well as a path to understand the process by which this idea developed. Here goes....

Not coming from either a Celtic or Catholic church tradition, this wee abbess was woefully ignorant concerning the fact that there were three kinds of martyrs recognized in the church. This is good to acknowledge because it gives an opportunity to say that the word "martyr" actually means "witness" ... and became associated almost exclusively with those believers whose steadfast and open witness concerning their new life in Jesus Christ lead directly to their death ... usually by the most dispicable means imaginable.

But there are more kinds of witness -- which I came to learn during my time at Seabeck in October of 2007, during which I decided that I was more of an abbess I had previously thought. Each kind was associated with a color, and I wrote the following in that post:
At Seabeck this week I was introduced to concepts of the Red Martyrdom (shedding of blood and death), the Green Martyrdom (deprivation and isolation) and the White Martyrdom (forsaking the comfort of hearth and home).
Then I began to ponder these witnesses ... and wondered whether there might be another one to add to the ranks. there another? A mixture of sorts? Where physical brokenness is evident without actual death … where deprivation and isolation exists in the midst of suburban consumerism … where the call to serve others matches the call to serve one’s own.
...or where forsaking the comfort of hearth and home is a call to live simply and responsibly in a culture dripping in idolatrous excess. I concluded that there was, indeed, room for this kind of witness. A witness that each of us is called to embrace as a type of martyrdom. And since physical brokenness is so often accompanied by brusing, I chose the color purple for this fourth martyrdom.

But purple is more than the color of bruised flesh. It is the color of royalty ... perhaps of a royal priesthood? And while the robe of our sin-stained human nature has been washed pure as snow in the crimson blood of the Lamb of God, we are now to put on Christ as our covering. I see this as the over-coat that covers the linen sheath. But these images are just that ... images. They help me process the metaphor of having a spotless white spiritual linen sheath over which I am to put on the purple cloak as I follow Jesus. That purple cloak speaks of royalty, yes, but not one that rules in strengh ... but, rather, brokenness, submission, suffering and weakness.

Not many of us in the West have been called to the Red Martyrdom (although many brothers and sisters in the East daily bear that color of witness). The history of many of the monastic orders over the centuries tells of those who have been (and are still being) called to variations of the Green Martyrdom of isolation and deprivation. It seems to me that the missionary efforts of the past 100+ years have been under the banner of the White Martyrdom, as they embraced the forsaking of the comfort of hearth and home to take the Gospel to those who have not yet heard.

It also seems to me that, for too many Christ followers, these three paths of witness have not particularly resonated. They are for "others" who have been "called" to serve. But this wee, virtual abbess begs to differ ... offering each and every Christ follower an invitation to join the Purple Martyrdom.

More than anything else, those who follow Christ have been called -- yes, called -- to pick up our crosses and follow the Suffering Servant as he ushers in the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom where the Holy Spirit lives in each of us, empowering our witness in the midst of our weakness. A Kingdom where God gets the glory because we are utterly dependent upon his power to both equip and enable us to do his will. In each conversation. In each relationship. In each activity. In each setback or injury. All day. Every day. Until the day when we move beyond the frail flesh in this mortal vale and are transformed with Eternity's immortal body. On that day, we will not longer have to spiritually "put on" Christ every day. We will have finally put on the imperishable body that will be like Christ's resurrected body.

And I have no idea what colors we will wear on that day ... that will probably be irrelevant.

So, I hope that you will consider yourself officially a member of the Order of the Purple Martyrdom. It is the Everyman's Martyrdom (excuse me sisters, but "Everyperson's" just does not have the same literary connotation), where the simple witness is consciously dying to yourself and living for Jesus. Whatever that means to you in your daily circumstances.

Maybe I see things in a purple-kind-of-way because of those purple glasses I wear, eh? Yes, those are my purple cHesed glasses. I wear them to help me perceive more of what God does. They need regular cleaning ... on the inside ... they are frequently spotted with salt-encrusted tears.

Be blessed in the midst of your brokenness today, friend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Abi on the cover of Next-Wave!

Well, well, well ... as I live and breathe! You just never know where things will end up, eh?

May has been an interesting month ... more about that another time, maybe. But I did get into a very interesting series of conversations about many purple things. And as we were launching the invitation to participate in Taking Flight, I was primed for other discussions about setting the sisters free to serve in the Kingdom.

And it got my wee purple article on the Cover of the May 09 issue of the Next-Wave ezine.

It's all Sonja's fault ... hehehe.

So, please do click the link and take a look. All the links for the background are there. And the lead article is the perfect follow on. You'd think God knew what he was doing ... ;^)


Monday, April 27, 2009

A very Purple update....

Those of you who have been with me for over a year will remember this post about the funeral of my friend's precious wife. How many times have I thought of him and prayed for him....

I wondered how he would weather the anniversary of his wife's tragic death -- and struggled with how I might even reach out to him with consolation when my emotions about it are still so raw after a year. The answer is here ... and I urge you to read it. All the way to the end. And be sure to take a good look at that picture.

God have mercy....

Actually, God has had mercy -- and Jonathan's framing of that love and mercy are precious.

Suffering is a very real part of the deal, friends....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Taking Flight...An Invitation to Soar!

Today, as I'm hoping you've already seen a dozen times, is the launch date Volume Two of The Wikiklesia Project. I woke up with Bette Middler's voice in my head singing "Wind Beneath My Wings"...and I would embed the YouTube version of it if I had more brain cells firing....

Anyway, this Abbess wants to invite those of you who think for a moment about a sister who brings that song to life. Someone who has been the wind beneath your wings ... "beautiful face without a name, for so long..." It's time to tell the stories of what the sisters have been doing in the Kingdom--and how we can re-imaging what the oft-neglected feminine half of God's Image already is and could be doing to build the Body of Christ.

Read the Announcement/Invitation here, if you missed it above, and then send the link to this post to all your friends (and I do mean ALL of them!). We're going to have a great time reading and discussing the chapters as they come in over at Missional Tribe, so get over there and join, if you haven't already.

If you've ever said that the sisters need more voice or visibility or support, now is the time to step up to the plate and put your heart in writing! Here's the details for proposals.

...I can hear the flutter of wings....


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Does God Suffer?!? -- Heretic Watch!

Scot McKnight, over at Jesus Creed, has been working through a book on heresies. This week's heresy concerning whether God suffers. The gist of it goes like this:

The Church, our collective faith, has held to the "impassibility" of God: "God can't be changed from without and that he can't change himself from within" (61). God can't change from a better to a worse state -- that's impassibility -- and if he did that would be suffering.

... well, you really need to read the post and the comments to understand what Scot thinks the author meant. Really, read all of it!

Here is my comment:

Very interesting discussion, everyone!

Dan, I'm finding your comments are triggering my best thoughts. Thanks for commenting so frequently! ;^)

For those of you who have been around Jesus Creed for a while will know, the primary context I use for everything biblical is one of covenant, and consequently, hesed. The nature of God is covenant maker and keeper. God is therefore completely faithful to the terms and conditions of the covenant ratified in the blood of Jesus on the cross. In this there is no thought of change. It is, as it were, a done deal.

However, covenant keeping is relational -- that's also part of the perichoretic nature of God that the Spirit is drawing us into. And there is no way to be involved relationally without suffering.

I do, however, agree that the kind of suffering that God does is not the kind that "changes" their nature, as in making more mature or more open or more anything. When we suffer, we do change -- we become more like Christ!

This Christ-like suffering is not something that God considered "beneath" their sovereignty. Perhaps it is part of its very fiber? The suffering of Christ as human was, in part, to provide for us an advocate who has suffered in all ways as we do.

The point of the divine being associated with this suffering is not to "damage" God, but to help us remember that we matter to God -- and that God is at all times actively working in and through all of our suffering to bring about that which is best for us. This is the very nature of hesed: acting so that the best interest of the covenant partner is served.

The point is that Christ, the human, knew that the suffering he was going through would be made glorious by the Father. And we need to remember that Christ was right.

The Abbess asks: Purple Martyrdom, anyone? Very interesting discussion, everyone!

And I'm grateful to be reminded, as we close out Holy Week, that the suffering of our Savior was something Papa and Sarayu participated in ... without making anyone a heretic!


The Abbess of the Purple Martyrdom

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Jesus Creeders ponder Hesed!

Abi hasn't had much time for commenting on blogs lately, but Scot McKnight's Friday is for Friends post is by Matt Edwards and talking about ... cHesed!

Having just recently finished my 40 Days of cHesed -- and being very sorry to have missed the conversation on Friday -- I chimed in late on Saturday, if anyone was still following.

This is what I said:

Scot -- woohoo! A post on hesed!

The Abbess is totally bummed to basically have missed this conversation, but I'll jump in and make an observation or two about the nature of hesed, if I may....

I believe that the point of hesed is faithful covenant-keeping -- with God and with others in the covenant. This speaks to hesed-as-agape, where we are to faithfully have deliberate affection for one another (Jesus Creed!). It also speaks to hesed-as-charis, where we are to faithfully provide grace needed rather than what might be deserved. And it also speaks to hesed-as-eleos, where are to faithfully provide mercy that initiates that which the other needs in order to be able to keep covenant.

These attitudes motivate proper response. Love responds to the other with submission -- restraining my want to their true need (not their want). Honor and respect are needs we all have, eh? But submission cannot be made when it is not supporting the other's ability to keep covenant. We cannot support covenant breaking activity -- and this is where speaking the truth in love enters.

Jesus honored Mary and Joseph in so many ways throughout his life, but he did not honor them above his Heavenly Father's will. So, the Temple at 12 and Mary and the family coming to "take Jesus home."

Grace responds to the other with service -- working for their best interest to be served. Humble service that enables another to keep covenant is a treasure.

Jesus lived a live of service to others -- and it is the indwelling Holy Spirit's grace that serves us at all times so that we may be able to keep covenant.

Mercy responds to the other with leadership -- taking initiative to help the other success in keeping covenant faithfully.

Jesus showed mercy that risks by taking the initiative to lead others toward obedience and faithfulness -- sometimes by turning over tables and taking the Elders on head to head, and sometimes by touching the untouchable and healing on the Sabbath.

Hesed is a much bigger concept than most grasp -- or, it is quite simple to comprehend (if one will take the time), but it requires the presence of, and submission to, faithful covenant-keepers around us (and the Holy Spirit within us) to help us practice this foundational faithfulness ... one relationship at a time!

Great conversation....

Blessings, all!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Take a few moments to help out....

My friend Mark sent The Abbess a link to Wayne Jacobson's blog ... where he invites readers of the amazing best-seller to take a survey about Paul Young's book, The Shack.

I have ... and encourage you to do the same. I will be interested to see if they do make the book into a movie. There are lots of pros and cons. What do you think?

And I am amazed that there are now over 7 million copies sold. WOW.

Hmmm ... I may have to read this book (that would make three times) again here soon.

Be blessed,


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Praying with St. Patrick

Green and purple are interesting together -- if done thoughtfully, now -- so this Celtic-inspired Abbess thought it might be good for us to pray with our brother, St. Patrick, on his day!

A Prayer of St. Patrick

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Abi is trying to do some reading....

I have become convinced that time goes by twice as fast for me as the rest of my family. That seems to be the only explanation for why I just can not seem to get things off my "to do list" ... or not.


But I'm still trying to live in each moment -- to be as fully "present" as I can. It is not an easy thing to do....

In the meantime, I have three new books. One I have finished (and loaned to a friend -- hi, Sue!), the second I have begun and a third that must wait just a bit longer.


The first book is what The Abbess considers a "must read" because it is the first book on "leadership" that has been truly "fresh" in a very long time. It is called Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence. I am hoping that I can find a group that will process this book with me, because I don't think it can be properly internalized without live, gracious and honest feedback. I agree with Len Sweet, who praised it at the Recalibrating Concepts of Church conference at George Fox last month ... get this book! I am grateful that they included MaryKate on the speakers panel. More on what I thought later (when I get my book, with my notes, back ;^) ... no hurry, Sue!)

The second book, which I have already begun, is Organic Leadership: Leading Naturally Right Where You Are -- and since the other books by Neil Cole have been so resonate and influential with me, I was fairly confident this one would be to. It is looking like it will not disappoint ... again, as with Organic Church, it seems like Neil has been thinking the same thoughts and seeing the same movies as I have.

The third book is ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church, by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost ... and, like Neil, Alan's work has always resonated with me ... and I owe so much to Alan's kindness and generosity of spirit from my early blogging days at TFW -- from which sprang The Abbey....

...but I do not think I will get to any reading today.

Sigh. in the moment, being "present" to that which the Spirit sets before you, does not result is dynamic day-planning sessions -- but that's okay with this wee, purple abbess.

Shalom to you....

Monday, March 2, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 40

Day 40 Living with Purpose

Can you believe our 40 days are over?

The great news, however, is that the journey has really just begun—and that is cause for celebration! So, share the story of your journey with someone—and know that you are welcome to stay connected here for the next stage in Abi's journeys.

Today’s Look at 1 John

We hope that you have gotten to like reading the Bible through an entire section without stopping. We hope that you have been able to feel the flow of John’s thoughts and have a better understanding of John’s words. This is one habit to keep for the rest of your life!

Read 1 John chapter 5. Listen to the wonderful description of God’s amazing actions and attitudes toward us. Remember that it is God’s power continually at work in our hearts through the Holy Spirit that keeps us on target!

Keep Breathing!

Look at the amazing transformation that you have allowed God to make in your life. Treasure the intimacy you experience in your friendship with God.

Allow yourself to feel the strange sensation of joy that has no words—only silent tears streaming down your face. That is what God is feeling right now. He would welcome your company so you can share his joy.

Friday, February 27, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 39

Day 39 Balancing Your Life

Balance is about remembering who you are and what you’re supposed to be doing right now. It is about understanding God’s purpose and what drives God—in order to understand your purpose and what drives you. It is knowing that in the midst of temptation, God always provides a way out—if you will look for it!

And so balance is about being in covenant with God and faithfully keeping covenant with God. God always does his part—we must do our part. If we don’t, we will lose our balance and fall.

Learning to ride tandem with the Holy Spirit has shown us the importance of balance. Life on a carrier in the open sea requires balance, too. Without balance, even the most seasoned member of the crew can stumble and fall. That’s why there are handles and railings in reach everywhere—so there is always a way to steady yourself when the water gets rough or when you’re getting tired.

Let’s end our imaginative life on the carrier HESED with one more peek at the life of her crew. How do they keep their balance? Let’s sit in on a training class for some of the newer members of the crew—after they’ve been on board long enough to hit a bump or two. Feel free to take notes as the instructor covers these three balance-related topics.

    Crew Insignia

    The crew insignia is more than a pin to be worn to show that you are an official member of the crew. It represents your personal, intimate relationship with the Captain. He is always there with you 24/7/365—whether you are in training classes, serving at a station, in Sick Bay, in the Mess Hall or relaxing in your quarters.

    It is his presence with you that gives you the power and ability to do what you need to do. That’s why forgetting his presence is the root of all problems—because it robs you of your power and ability to accomplish the mission. Forgetting his presence leads to problems with your actions and attitudes. So be sure your communication link is open—check it right now!

    Don’t just polish the pin so it looks good on the outside—experience the presence of the Captain on the inside!

    Processing Challenges

    Occasionally, there will be individuals who do not follow standard processing protocol—for any number of reasons. The crew works to accommodate each individual on a case-by-case basis in order to help everyone get processed and become fully functioning members of the crew. There is no acceptable processing failure rate.

  • Some individuals rescued from the water prefer to stay in the S&R craft instead of boarding the carrier. While this is discouraged, no one is to be forced to board the carrier. Every effort is made to encourage further processing.

    • This can become a problem for the crew of the S&R craft, as they are not prepared to meet the long-term needs of these individuals.

    • The crew are encouraged to receive special training in order to learn how to encourage prompt boarding of the carrier.

  • Some individuals, even after boarding the carrier, do not complete their processing through to initiation. They may still attend all training classes and observe all service stations—participating in most. They may not, however, be assigned formal leadership duties.

  • Some individuals complete their processing very quickly, having attended only basic training and having observed only a few service stations in their short time on board. While they are fully initiated members of the crew, their lack of training and experience usually prevents them from being assigned formal leadership duties. This is in the best interest of the individual as well as the mission. Their status will be monitored regularly and will be upgraded when they are ready.

  • Young or weak/ill civilians (either born on board or rescued) are encouraged to participate according to their strength and ability.

  • Some individuals complete their processing but do not participate in on-going training or continue to rotate through the service schedule. This can be a serious drain on carrier resources and must be guarded against continually. They cannot, however, be forced to help—all participation is voluntary.

    • They may attend training and observe the various service stations—without actually serving with any regularity.

    • While they are fully initiated members of the crew, their lack of training and experience usually prevents them from being assigned leadership duties. This is in the best interest of the individual as well as the mission. See above.

    • Frequently they attempt to function as leaders by giving direction to the crew. These attempts are not usually well received—by the crew or the leadership. Crew leaders are expected to show the crew what to do—working along with them—not just give directions. The Captain must coordinate all attempts to correct this situation, so seek his involvement early on.

    Service Challenges

    Even among fully functioning members of the crew, there are challenges as they serve on board the HESED. These challenges result from the on-going process of building dynamic, authentic community. They are to be expected and require frequent attention. Remember:

    • Authentic community is built on the foundation of the Code of Conduct for the crew—found in the very name of the carrier: HESED.

      • Hesed is about taking the proper action (serve, submit and lead) with the proper attitude (love, grace and mercy.)

      • The Code of Conduct is simple enough for everyone to learn and understand—but requires disciplined effort and the power of God (an open communication link) to practice and do well.

    So, if there is a service problem, these are the questions to ask:

  1. Do I have a problem with my actions?

    1. Am I faithfully serving to meet the needs of the crew and its mission?

    2. Am I completely submitted to the needs of the crew and its mission?

    3. Am I taking the initiative and leading by example?

  2. Do I have a problem with my attitudes?

    1. Am I able to have real affection for each member of the crew as I serve, submit and lead?

    2. Am I able to express favor and goodness to each member of the crew as I serve, submit and lead?

    3. Am I able to act with kindness to each member of the crew as I serve, submit and lead?

    Honestly answering these questions will identify the vast majority of problems with balance at sea.

    Working through these questions takes a desire for growth and change because it requires that all parties practice openness, honesty, generosity, humility, accountability and responsibility. The Captain has an “open door” policy and is always available to work through the process with every member of the crew. Go ahead...try it!

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John chapter 4. Hear John echo the instructor from today’s carrier class…the only way to keep your balance in life is to live a life of love!

Keep Breathing!

Let God feed your soul with the amazing, awesome scenery that is flying past you. Tell God of your love again—and again. But be prepared to stop along the way to share that love with those who need it.

Because the ride is part of the privilege—and the stops are part of the purpose.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Moral Decisions: Individualist or Collectivist?

Scot McKnight asked an interesting question about moral decision making being individualist or collectivist -- read the brief post here.

This was my comment:

Interesting, Scot...what's the name of the book?

I think this is the problem folks have when they don't understand covenant (and I mean the NT covenant in Jesus). Covenant is all about collective, or community as we say. (Collective makes me think about the Borg Queen, resistance is futile and all that....)

The strength of the individual position must always derive from the strength of the community. Hence, we are one body made up of many parts. Listen to the Shema ... the LORD (the eternal three) is ONE. There is no focus on the individual that does not intertwine with the ONE.

It cannot be either/or; it must be both/and. Individuals must become part of the community in order for the individual benefits of the community to be received. Privilege always has a purpose -- and it is other-oriented, not self-oriented.

The important distinction in the New Covenant is that this is to be a community where each are connected to and looking out for the best interest of the others to whom they are connected (hesed). That's where our American Rugged Individualism has often not served the Church particularly well, imo.

Take a read through the New Testament...ponder the 50+ "one another" texts. The life of the Jesus-follower is definitely to be "other" oriented.

Very timely concerning our series. The HESED surely is a collective ... and I'm not talking Borg. ;^)


40 Days of cHesed—Day 38

Day 38 Becoming a World-Class Christian

The amazing thing about being in God’s family is that you become instantly connected to God's Kingdom in heaven and on earth—that’s more than being part of a global economy. It’s a universal economy!

We’re going to spend today at the center of that economy—our other front—the aircraft taking off and landing 24/7/365. It is the ministry of prayer—and its pilots are our prayer warriors.

The Captain’s post may be officially located on the Bridge, but he is present with each member of the crew at their post and connects them to himself and to each other by the power of prayer.

This amazing feat is accomplished by utilizing the most important system on the carrier—communications. Not limited by transmission lines and electronics, the indestructible crew insignia functions as an open communication link to the Captain—and through the Captain to any other member of the crew. No satellites, no radios, no phones, no beepers, no internet—no nothing. The Captain’s power source is unlimited and the enemy cannot interrupt his signal. (Although each crewmember is responsible to make sure their unit is always on!)

The aircraft represent the power and practice of unified prayer. Every crewmember working on any part of the aircraft, or any process necessary for their missions, performs each task under the direct supervision of the Captain. Once built, serviced and deployed, the HESED’s aircraft cannot be shot down or destroyed. The enemy cannot jam their instruments or communications. Their targeting systems are not dependent on any third-party satellite. If the pilots receive and confirm their orders and their target’s coordinates with the Captain, they do not miss their mark. [This is, of course, an over-simplification of prayer...don't let that get you off track with the point.]

What kinds of missions does the Captain ask the pilots (our prayer warriors) to undertake?

  1. They go on search and destroy missions against the enemy to protect the carrier, the crew, the flight squadron and the fleet of ships from every form of attack.

  2. They go on reconnaissance missions for the search and rescue fleet, locating those in need of rescue, communicating exact coordinates, and providing cover during the rescue process.

  3. They go on training missions, keeping our pilots in top form and providing opportunities for observation and practice for new crewmembers.

  4. They even fly in amazing formations sometimes to lift the morale of the crew and inspire the civilians to want to fly!

Those planes can’t go up unless we all do our individual jobs building them with our prayers. So work as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God! Then the stability of our universal economy will be unshakable!

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:18 through 3:10. Thank God for clear communications with no interference!

Keep Breathing!

Ride on…feel the wind in your face—hey, look up! That white streak came from a HESED jet!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Your Personal Story

[Originally found in Day 37, I've broken this exercise out into a post of its own.]

Your Personal Story

A helpful exercise for this stage of growth is to write out your story of reconciliation with God – how you came to accept his offer of covenant relationship through Jesus Christ – and the impact it has had on your life. (This is what many call a testimony.) Sharing our personal story is the most powerful hesed tool for developing community life as well as for evangelism.

Sharing stories is a way for people to get to know each other better. It is a way of sharing deeply personal information that encourages growth. Keeping covenant with one another means that we promote each other’s best interest. In today’s language this means that we are accountable to one another for doing what is right. When we share deep spiritual things – like our stories – we are then able to ask to be kept accountable. This can be especially helpful in those areas of our lives where we are most vulnerable.

While writing your story is very personal and very individual, it might be helpful to have a brief outline – just to get your thoughts together. If you need some help getting started, perhaps this will help you:

  1. Write down two dates: the date (as close as you can remember) you accepted God’s offer of adoption (If you have a vivid memory of the exact moment of decision, write down as many details as you can.); and the date you were baptized. (Assuming you belong to a tradition that baptizes; try to remember as many details as possible.)

  2. Make a list of those persons and events that were significant to your journey.

  3. Write down significant changes (in your actions and attitudes) that have happened in your life as a result of deciding to follow Jesus. These could be in your personal life or at home, school, work, church or the community at large.

  4. Write down signs of growth and maturity that you have seen – or others have mentioned seeing – since deciding to follow Jesus.

After you’ve had an opportunity to brainstorm through these four suggestions, ask God to help you put it all together in a story that you can tell. Write your story down on one page, if you can. Try to tell it in less than five minutes. Be prepared for it to take much longer…sometimes the Spirit calls us to share more, depending on the circumstances.

From time to time, re-read your story. You will find that it will encourage you, too…and that it calls for regular updating!

40 Days of cHesed—Day 37

Day 37 Sharing Your Life Message

The purpose of God is summed up in two passages in scripture known as The Great Commandment (which we have also come to know as The Jesus Creed) and The Great Commission. Let’s take a closer look as these two passages.

The Great Commandment (See Matthew 22:37-40) tells us that we are to love God totally and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Great Commission (See Matthew 28:19-20) tells us that we are to share God’s offer of adoption with everyone—helping them become “like Christ”.

The key to these passages is in the word neighbor.

For those who understand Hebrew ideas like target and covenant, the key to knowing whom your neighbor is may be easier. Otherwise, it seems a bit vague. So, before we get to our slice of carrier life, let’s talk about neighbors.

The Hebrew word for neighbor refers to an associate—one who is more or less close. In Greek the meaning is one who is nearby. So our image of neighbor is one who is near, with whom we have some association. Now for the Christian, there are essentially two kinds of near ones:

  1. Those near to us who have already been adopted by God; who are part of the family of God in Christ. (On the carrier, we call them crewmembers.)

  2. Those near to us who are potential family members—to whom we are to extend God’s offer of adoption in Christ. (On the carrier, we call them civilians.)

You will notice that this image is both very inclusive and somewhat exclusive.

  1. For the first kind of near ones above, it is inclusive in that everyone who is “in Christ”—from every spot on the globe—is our brother or sister. What a family! But it is somewhat exclusive in that we have a primary responsibility to love those who are in our local Covenant Community.

  2. For the second kind of near ones above, it is inclusive in that everyone who is not “in Christ”—from every spot on the globe—is our potential brother or sister. We love them by sending missionaries to get near enough to them to extend God’s offer. But it is somewhat exclusive in that we have a primary responsibility to love those who are in our local community—wherever you happen to be.

It is inclusive in that God wants everyone to accept his offer. It is exclusive in the fact that none of us are associated with everyone. And so, we must focus on those who are near to us—those with whom we have some kind of association.

This is the foundation of incarnational/missional evangelism. Your Christianity can’t be contagious unless you get close enough to someone for him or her to catch it from you!

Did you notice that when we carry out The Great Commandment, we are also fulfilling The Great Commission! Wow—you would think that God knows what he’s doing…

Now, let’s board the carrier and take a peek at how Search and Rescue (S&R) is done.

[Remember to stay with the image here ... your faith tradition may look different. This is Abi's view.]

Every day, the carrier deploys its fleet of small boats. Some are rowboats—for short distances. Some are high-speed racers for urgent missions. There are even houseboats for longer tours. The variety is amazing—every possible type of craft is represented. Our crew is very creative!

Part of the S&R crew rotates during each return to the carrier—to prevent fatigue and provide training and mentoring opportunities between more experienced crew and less experienced crew. Each boat’s crew complement varies, depending on the size of the craft. There must always be room, of course, for at least one or two more—those who may be found and rescued!

Today, we’re going to spend the day at the front with one of the S&R boats. So let’s take a look at what the instructional manual says is supposed to happen.

Search and Rescue Procedures

  • Search and Rescue operations (missions/evangelism) basically launch and sweep ahead of the carrier. They look for people in the water—extending the Captain’s invitation to board the carrier and join the crew.

    • Sometimes a larger ship will be deployed on a longer-term operation to a location too far for daily interaction with the carrier. We call them missionary ships and they replicate carrier life on a smaller scale.

  • Those who accept the invitation are hauled out of the water into the boat. That’s when the processing begins:

  1. Get them out of their old, wet clothes.

  2. Dry them off.

  3. Give them a standard issue crew "uniform" in their size (clothed in Christ, remember).

  4. Give them a hot cup of whatever suits them—coffee, tea, cocoa, soup....

  5. Secure them in the center of the craft—well away from the sides—and give them the Captain’s welcome, answering their questions, while they observe the continuing mission—including any rescues.

  6. When it is time to return to the carrier, all of the new recruits are taken on board and given a tour—meeting the crew and observing them in their stations performing their duties, as well as in their leisure time.

    1. The authentic community on the carrier among her crew is the first line of influence for those considering enlisting. (See Code of Conduct in Day 36 and today’s Reflection.)

      1. Evidence of crew morale include actions we do together: marching in formation, drills, songs learned in boot camp to help keep our spirits up and remind us of important principles, reciting memory verses, etc.

    2. The recruits are given instructions concerning the mission and what it means to be part of the crew. Extensive Question & Answer period provided.

    3. They are then asked to make their choice: do they want to join the crew (be born again), or do they want to return to the water. (Sometimes this takes place on the S&R craft before they get to the carrier.)

      1. Those who want to return to the water trade their uniform for civilian clothes and are respectfully allowed to leave the carrier. (It is a sad, quiet time for the crew. They may have a chance to join later—they may not.)

      2. Those who want to join the crew are welcomed with great celebration and prepared for their initiation with further instructions.

        1. Crew initiation process (covenant-making) includes:

          1. The presentation of individual enlistment papers, which are signed by the King—in his own blood.

          2. The public acceptance of the papers through the initiation ritual (confession of faith and baptism).

          3. The receiving of the crew insignia from the Captain: a white dove (the symbol of the Holy Sprit’s presence) attached to the left pocket. Only the Captain can give out this insignia—it is not for sale.

      3. Those who aren’t sure whether or not they want to stay and join yet are allowed to continue to observe and learn.

          • Young or weak/ill civilians (either born on board or rescued) participate according to their strength and ability.

          • Note: Those born on-board the carrier to members of the crew are considered civilians and must go through the same training, service and initiation process as those rescued from the water. There is no other way to become part of the crew and receive their crew insignia.

So, what do the crewmembers say to the civilians in the S&R boats and on the HESED? How do they explain what carrier life is about? They start by thinking on purpose.

The best way to influence your neighbors for Christ is to know your own story—and be able to share it in a natural way. The next post (a few hours after this one) provides an opportunity for you to write out your story. It will be a blessing to you just to go through the process. It will be a blessing to your neighbor when the Holy Spirit prompts you to share it!

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:12-17. Be encouraged by the power of God in your life—be challenged to keep out of the water and on target with God!

Keep Breathing!

While you’re riding along behind the Holy Spirit today, ask him to show you your neighbors—all of them. What an amazing sight! Get ready to love them as yourself. You can do it—with God’s help!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 36

WEEK 6 – Evangelism: You Were Made For a Mission

[Not only will this "week" start on a Tuesday, but it is really only five days long! Day 40 will post on next Monday, March 2nd.]

Day 36 Made for a Mission

Life on the HESED can seem like an end in itself! So much for so many to do—just to keep it running. While we know our final destination transcends this life, we cannot forget that there are two critical mission efforts which all those thousands of tasks support each and every day: the dozens of planes in the aircraft squadron and the hundreds of boats in the search and rescue fleet.

We call them the front line because, well, that’s what they are. And every member of the crew takes regular tours of duty at the front—so that they remember the purpose for what they do on the carrier!

As we prepare to take you to the front these next few days, the Captain (the Holy Spirit) wants us to share the mission statement and goals of the HESED:

  • Every function on board supports the mission—directly or indirectly.

    • While some functions and crewmembers are more visible, there are no functions or crewmembers more important than any other—all are necessary for successful completion of the mission.

      • Every person on board (crew or civilian) has some task to accomplish each day.

      • Civilians receive their crew insignia after being properly initiated.

      • Every member of the crew takes regular tours of duty at the front.

  • Each duty station provides an essential training exercise for the crew—foundational to the process of building dynamic, authentic community. Cross training is highly encouraged.

    • Authentic community is built through living each day by the crew’s Code of Conduct—summarized by the name of the carrier: HESED.

      • Remember, hesed is about taking the proper action (serve, submit and lead) with the proper attitude (love, grace and mercy.)

      • That code of conduct is simple enough for everyone to learn and understand—but requires disciplined effort and the power of God to practice and do well.

Today’s Look at 1 John

These last five days, we’ll re-read each week’s passage—one each day. Read 1 John 1:1 through 2:11. Consider the importance of understanding this passage to accomplishing the goals of the Mission Statement and for living by the Code of Conduct.

Getting In Shape

We are almost finished! Five weeks down, five days to go. So, how’s your conditioning? We’ve been praying that you’ve been getting stronger each week:

  • That the level of intimacy in your relationship with God has deepened.

  • That your spiritual muscles are strong yet limber.

  • That you are getting more comfortable with riding in the back than driving.

  • That you’ve connected with others and experienced the power of authentic community.

  • That God has begun to show you the simplicity and power of his covenant purpose.

Now is the time to put what you’ve learned into action. Share the joy of riding with the Holy Spirit driving. Let others know there is a seat waiting for them, too – add a trailer on to your bike and give them a taste! Teach them the things you’ve learned about getting in shape to ride with God. Because we’re not alone on the road. God’s got a caravan riding to Glory – and he doesn’t want anyone to get left behind!

We’re at the top of the long hill we’ve been climbing. Now it’s time for a glance at the panoramic view of our journey—what a sight!

Are you ready for the rush? Here we go—hang on!