Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Keri and i have been thinking a lot about friendship this last year. From young to old, the presence of friendships makes such a difference in living a healthy life and even in devotion to God. 

Have you every thought a friendship is a way of caring for your soul? What can you learn about the state of your soul from your current friendships?

Friendship is necessary, but it arrives in many ways. Some types of friends are:

1. Everyday Friends: easy access, easy venting, easy enjoyment

2. Far-away Friends: less contact, more catch-up, better insight

3. Similar-Interest Friends: always fun to talk about things you love with someone who loves talking about the same things

4. Work Friends: somehow a forced friendship moves beyond the office to the daily life

5. Ministry Friends: serving alongside and suffering alongside; bonding in the trenches.

6. Heart/Honest Friends: honest venting leads to honest feedback leads to deep appreciation leads to heart connection

7. Stop-Start Friends: rarely see them, rarely plan them, but always seem to see them and start just where you left off

8. Spontaneous Friends: met them once, but love them forever.

9. Crazy Friends: call them only when attempting something crazy; they are always up for crazy!

10. Old/Young Friends: more then 5 years older or younger, but enjoy them as if they were your age and stage.

11. Family Friends: known them from birth, in home videos, they don't share blood, but they've shared most of your childhood.

12. Family to Friends: forced to spend time with them, but surprisingly you enjoy them!

13. Friends of Friends: friends invited them, you're still getting to know them...but you've got a good feeling about them.

14. Long-Forgotten Friends: yearbook friends, you haven't seen them, but still love and think them friends.

Usually these types of friends blend into more than one category. And certainly friendships move in stages over time, transition, need and growth. A friend cannot satisfy every area of life, so it is a gift that friends come in all sorts of ways.

What friends come to mind for you when you read these? Do you have other categories?

What needs do you have in friendship right now? What friends can you get to know deeper?

Who among these friends needs to be supported or prayed for? What would it look like to do that right now?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fat and Rich Food

We love food. People love food. We even Instagram about our food. There is something so satisfying in taking a juicy bite of steak, a succulent swallow of sweet fruit, and satisfying a delicious craving of the moment. How cool that being satisfied by food can shed light on the way in which the Lord satisfies our souls.

"My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on your in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:5-8

God, thank you for satisfying our souls like you satisfy our appetites. You remind me so often of your presence when I am lying in bed. You bring me to a sweet place of surrender and relinquishment, then drift with me to sleep where I am out of control and You can establish the work You have done! Bring me to meditate on You when I encounter sleepless, restless nights, Holy Father!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Being With God...While Letting Him Be God (Part 1)

Have you ever slipped into the pattern of a pocket Jesus? A little figurine who stays in our pocket until life gets tough. We pull Him out like a watch, and instead of checking the time, we check our conscience. 

For others, relationship with Jesus is like a Redbull or 5-hour Energy shot, just take a sip when spiritual energy gets low.  It is good for us to rest in Jesus as our friend, but if we neglect him like a friend, the something is amiss...

This is a crucial tension in the Christian walk, to walk with Jesus as a friend while allowing Him to remain our God.
A key to embodying this tension is knowing and experiencing God's transcendence and his immanence. 

God's transcendence is His bigness, His beyond-us-ness. A place you might experience this is on top of half dome at sunrise, or staring up at a night into a star studded sky.

His immanence is His closeness, His always-with-us-ness. A place you might experience this is in the answering of a specific prayer or or in seeing God's faithfulness in a personal struggle through a friend.

Recent spiritual formation in the church has emphasized being "with" God. I.e. "being with" God throughout daily activities, rather than "doing" more. A now common phrase is "we are human beings not human doings". 

This view which is pervasive not only because of it's catchy sound, but because it is meeting the need for rest, simplicity, and relationship which is at such a deficit in American culture.

parents and children spend only 14.5 minutes per day talking to each other. That is less time than a football quarter and certainly much less time than most people spend commuting to work.*

“The average workweek is now up to 47 hours, four more than two decades ago. A Gallup Poll found that 44 percent of Americans call themselves ‘workaholics.’”**

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 60% of marriages are dual-career. Not surprisingly, “lack of time” is cited in one study as the biggest challenge to their marriages.**

So, "being with" God has become a common way in the Christian culture to deal with the daily stresses of a frantic schedule. It also is a balm for the individualism which can hinder substantial relationship, even with those closest to us. And yet, this beautiful reality of being "with" God also needs to be paired with being "without" God, His mystery. 

This does not mean God abandons us. He loves us completely and is committed to caring for us. 

But consider this: 
"being with" God necessitates a God who can be with everyone at all times, in every way, without barriers, or borders. He must be a God who transcends time, space, knowledge, emotions, fears, hopes, etc. 

The immediate presence of God that a Christian hopes to enjoy while "being with" Him, must also recognize that this God's presence and life transcendent too. 

The Christian Scriptures and the church figures who have most profoundly influenced the faith have certainly experienced God in the present moment. They even encourage personal relationship with God. 

But their experience of God's closeness has arisen from the belief that God is transcendent and beyond us, and therefore able to interact and impact all places, at all times. 

And as we seek to emulate Intimacy with God in spiritual formation, we must remember that He is only so close and so loving because of His transcendence. 

Being with God requires letting Him be God: He is beyond us so He draws close to us.

We'll take a look at some of these church figures in the next post...