Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I like shortcuts.

These days I spend a lot of time walking through the University of Minnesota looking for short cuts to buildings in order to lessen the time and effort I need to spend in getting from one class to another. Since efficiency is high on my value list, I'm always looking for ways to streamline my day and my walking routes to spend less time in transit. I have found some routes that may save me a couple of minutes, or shave a few hundred feet off my path, but not enough to make that much of a difference in the end.
Frankly, the time and the energy I have spent trying out those shortcuts has actually had the opposite affect, and caused me to waste valuable time! No efficiency in that!

Although I'd like to think its all about efficiency, all this shortcut finding probably has more to do with laziness. I simply want an easier way. One that requires less effort from me.

Especially for those of us who are Americans, we highly value the "quick and easy" routes in everything from cooking to disseminating information.

Well, I hate to rain on your parade, but God doesn't seem to put the same value on shortcuts as we do. Ask the poor Israelites! They didn't get any shortcuts, but instead wandered for 40 years in a dry, hot, rocky desert! They are a great example of God leading their journey of discovery in KNOWING God into a longcut - (if there were such a word, but of course their isn't, because no one values taking a longer route to get somewhere and therefore create a word for it!)

In simple, organic, and missional life in Christ, you don't get shortcuts.

In fact, compared with the traditional structured Christian experience you may of had previously, this journey in Christ and fellowship requires A LOT MORE from you. It's a longcut!

Whereas before, spending a few moments of morning "devotional" reading was seen as sufficient time in the Bible. Or memorizing a verse or two from time to time was sufficient to allow you feel that you really knew the Word!

In O/S/M life, if you don't spend a large amount of time in your Bible on a regular basis, you dry up like a fig on a rock on a hot day! There simply is no short cut to the time you need to spend with the words of Jesus in His Word.

I recently had a discussion posted on my Facebook page where it was inferred that I was "duped" by a certain author and Christian leader. Before I could respond, a reader of that posting wrote what I wanted to say (probably better!). She wrote that if a person is in the Word regularly and diligently, it is not so easy to be "duped" by what anyone says. If your NOT in the Word constantly, but rather rely upon a meager portion of it, or what others TELL you it says, you will find yourself unable to know the truth from error. Hebrews 5:14 is pretty clear about this; "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

No shortcuts.

Maybe you used to depend on the shortcut of listening to a 40 minute, hit or miss message, once a week to get instruction. A sermon to get a "new insight" to ruminate upon about that someone else determined you needed to know. You walked out surprised, saying something like; "I really got something out of that sermon this morning!" Or, just as often; "I should of stayed home today!"
In O/S/M life, you have to figure out your own lesson for the week, month, or season of your life. You figure it out by listening to the Author Himself, and hearing what is important to Him in your life at this time. After all, He is invested in you. He is the One with the Plan. He is the one who directs your paths. He is worth listening to and obeying.
This means you are in constant dialog and with an "ear to hear" - all the time! Prayer is not for intercessors or widows with a lot of time on their hands, but it is the vehicle of communication of a loving and involved Father into the lives of His children. Why would we want any shortcuts to that interaction!

There are certainly no short cuts to fellowship. No way! If you want fellowship, YOU have to take the mature initiative to get involved. Either by starting your own simple church, or connecting regularly with folks in a manner that can be all the way from structured to fluid. The form matters less than that you actually get together with folks for the "one anothers". That takes a lot of work. Relationships that live out life together 24/7 takes time, effort, energy and commitment.

Worship? No short cuts there. Where you used to simply show up for a 30 minute set, and participate in it if you were interested in the current worship team leading, or the songs that were chosen, now you have to design your own worship LIFE! Sing, play, write, paint, dance, pray, meditate - worship is up to you!

For a lot of us, we come from backgrounds that teach us short cuts in our expressions of Christianity. I get asked many times for the short cut "formulas" to organic, simple, missional church life. Of course, people don't use those words, but the meaning is clear..."I want and expect this to be easy, quick, full of fast returns, etc., how do I do this?"

There are no streamlined pathways of efficiency in your relationship with God. He calls us into a relationship of depth, quality and intimacy. That is a lot of investment. A lot of commitment, and a lot of time.

Nope, no shortcuts.

Longcuts! But longcuts to an incredible journey of depth!
Are you in ?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Every Day Opportunities

What am I doing here?, I though to myself as I gazed around at the young faces in my college classroom. I'm old enough to be the mother of all those sitting here!

I was suddenly and painfully aware that I am on the downward curve of life, whereas these young people sitting around me are just beginning their adventure! I felt old.
Discouragement began to seep into my spirit. I pushed it away, and turned to the young woman sitting next to me and introduced myself, striking up a conversation before class started.

I was surprised to find her immediately opening up to me with quite a bit of personal information. She was a young single mom, working, going to school full time, and trying to make a life for herself and her young daughter. Alone. She began to share how she found it hard to identify with those around her at college, which resulted in her feeling even more alone. Whereas they could hang out in the dorms, go to parties, do homework with each other and enjoy the college scene, she had a far different life. The duties of a mother with a young child, maintaining an apartment, cooking, cleaning, keeping a part time job, etc. all came before homework and any social life. As she spoke, her voice quivered with the emotion she was holding back.

I listened to her pour out her struggles, to me a stranger, and I ached for her. This was the sort of thing she should of been sharing with someone who had known her much longer than 3 minutes! Maybe even someone like her mother!

I smiled, nodded, asked questions and all the while silently prayed the Lord would come alongside this young woman with all that she needed. She needed a lot, and only He would be able to do it!
I affirmed her commitments to her child as a mother, trying to get a college education to better her job prospects, and the inner strength she had to even attempt it all. That was all I could do before the professor began the class and our conversation was cut off.

I have prayed for this young woman ever since. I can't get her out of my mind. I am looking forward to other encounters she and I will have in the days ahead and how the Lord would want me to reach out to her and introduce Christ into her life. Even if I don't have any future encounters, I know my prayers WILL impact her life because I serve and pray to a God who is an impacting God!

The Bible tells us to always be ready to share with those around us the faith we have in Jesus. To look and see the fields ripe and ready for harvest. To be fragrance and light to those around us EVERY DAY of the great love and presence of Jesus. Whatever the context, He has prepared those around you to be receptors of Him. In some way, in some degree....we have opportunities before us. Are you looking?

I was so glad the Lord forgave my moment of self pity and refocused me on what really matters. People. And in this case, this young woman, who needed someone to care about her life and listen to her struggles.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." John 3:16-17

Being old enough to be like a mother to these fellow classmates, actually, isn't so bad after all!