Following Jesus and Busy

Last night at our community vision night our speaker Tyler Miley taught us that the sense of stress & anxiety grows as the distance between our responsibilities and our  capacities grow.  Finding the right balance for life in order to reduce that space and to find our individual and even seasonal balance is essential.

I was reminded me of another reflection I had on the growth of the church in Philippi. In Acts 16 we hear about a business woman named Lydia:

13On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

 

Lydia was a business woman.

She ran a household. And was clearly influential  — she created the space for others to hear the Gospel and respond.

Her expensive purple cloth business was likely quite successful and connected her with the upper levels of society.

As there was not a synagogue in Phillipi (it required 10 Jewish men) they had a place of prayer.

 

Lydia was probably a busy person. But her pattern of life created the space for thoughtful engagement with God. Her pattern of life was influenced by the Sabbath and she created space for rest. Her pattern of life included her extended family and community so she created space for support. Her pattern of life had margins so she was able to extend hospitality.

 

And now God had opened up her heart to Jesus and brought salvation to her and her circle of influence. She says, “I am a true believer in the Lord.”

 

I wish we could observe in the Scripture what the pattern of her life looked like in the days following her baptism. But this thought remains with me: to think I’m too busy for Jesus misses the mark.

You and Your City

On our 10,000 KM journey from Vancouver and back we went through a lot of cities: Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Odessa, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco.

From the road its difficult to appreciate them. To know them and enjoy them one has to exit and stay a while. It helps too to meet someone in the city and find out what they enjoy. The longer one stays with the “real city people” the more possible it becomes to get into the “flow” of that city.

During our holiday I read through the book of Acts. Its possible to map the movement of the Gospel via people as they left from Jerusalem and went to cities all around the Mediterranean.  When they “landed” in those cities people like Luke and Paul got into the flow of commerce and accepted cultural dialogue. It seems that they kept a positive posture toward the city and its inhabitants. Here’s what it was like when they landed in Philippi (Acts 16:11-13):

11We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15She was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

What’s your posture toward the city or the community you live in?

Love it? Hate it? Avoid it? Live it?

Here’s a recent tongue-in-cheek- commentary on what its like to get into the flow of Vancouver.

God’s Plan

God’s Plan

9God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.12God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him. Ephesians 1:9-14

God has a plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ–everything in heaven and on earth.

When my plans are not working out… God has a plan.

When tragedy creates big holes in my heart… God has a plan.

When death feels so final… God has a plan.

When I experience joy anyway… God has a plan.

When achievement is not enough… God has a plan.

When I hold my kids… God has a plan.

When I love my wife… God has a plan.

When the scale of greed overwhelms… God has a plan.

When I know I’m not like Jesus… God has a plan.

When God has a plan…

He’s going to get it done!

We can praise Him!

Did Jesus feel the danger?

“Fear of people will prove to be a snare.” Proverbs 29:25

When Jesus came from the communion

of the Father and the Holy Spirit

He entered into the relational field of relationships

that we share.

With God.

With people.

With self.

With the stuff of earth.

He was Truth wrapped up in a person.

One day He took up the Scripture He inspired,

And gave voice to it.

Then, He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down.

All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.

Then he began to speak to them,

“The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”  Luke 4:20-21 (NLT)

I wonder:

Did His pulse quicken as He stepped into the danger?

Did He say a quick prayer to the Father as He gave voice to the truth?

Did He revel in the truth of His identity?

Did He feel the separation that is attendant with Truth even before it is uttered?

As the conflict enveloped Him did He feel the shadow of the Cross?

No matter what He felt, I’m glad He did it.

I am a beneficiary of His mission:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the bling, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  Luke 4:18-19

Jesus and your “I have to be in control” sickness

31“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.34“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  Matthew 6:31-34

We were in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Ontario, when we spotted an antique store on one of four corners.  I was driving and we blazed past. Ellen was copiloting so we turned around. It was a pickers heaven, if you like knick-knacks.  It was packed with stuff.  And the aisles…were made for mice. The longer we stayed there, the more nervous I became, sure that at the next “turn and grab,” Mica and I would end up laying on top of a lot of broken stuff. Instead of enjoying the place, I started to worry. I needed to be in control. Sick. (Well I just considered it good parenting at the time!)

Hanging out with Jesus can do that too.  Listening to Jesus creates an unsettledness.  Encounters with Jesus can create disequilibrium. From a “I need to be in control perspective,” applying His Word seems impractical and sure to create more trouble. And that’s when the worry sets in. I wonder if Jesus saw it in the eyes of his disciples during his “sermon on the mount.” So he starts in on worry and encourages them to trust, to seek His Kingdom Today.

When the unsettledness comes, its probably a sign that we need to take a deeper look with Jesus, repent and move forward with faith.