Communities, Gangs and Orphanages

This morning I opened Facebook to see what was going on in the world…because that is the best source for what is going on in the world, right? I always check the notifications associated with that little red number first. You know, the number that begs you to check Facebook every 5 minutes because that number MUST contain something very important that just can’t wait!

This morning it DID contain something very important. It contained a notification that I had been tagged in a post by my friend Karen De Armond Gardner who had written this post on her blog. Really, take a couple of minutes to read it. God is an incredible weaver of stories and you might just find that He has something for you in this post, or some of her other ones…you don’t have to stop with just one!

So what was so important in this post for me? Besides the fact that I was there when Karen first received the word that jump starts the post? Besides the fact that I got a chance to hear, “the rest of the story”?

I’ve pondered connection and community a lot the past few days. I’ve actually been pondering those things for a good while on one level or another. Do you think you can have one without the other? Can you be connected without community? Can you have a community and not be connected? I’m not so sure you can be connected without a community. You really do need at least one other person besides yourself. But, can you be in community without connection? Can you be a part of something and not be connected to it? Can you be a part of a community and find yourself alone? (And all of a sudden I have more than I can fit neatly into a single post)

The following is the paragraph in Karen’s post that set my mind to pondering this morning:

My sense of not belonging rooted in an orphan spirit. We all want to belong, to know we bring value. The gang community grows as more fathers abdicate their role and mothers take on the burden as providers. Leaving the young to fend for themselves and search for a place to belong.

Gangs…we’ve all heard that people are drawn to gangs because they are looking for a place to belong. They endure harsh initiation rituals in order to belong. They do evil things to others in order to prove their right to be a part of a “family”. They accept the often unacceptable in exchange for connection. But, without a father, they are still orphans.

What about you? What about me? Are you part of a gang or a family? Are you connected to a community or just occupying space in it? Is your community connected to the Father or are you all just a bunch of orphans trying to get by the best you can? Have we settled for an orphanage when God is calling us into His family? Are our rituals based on Kingdom principles or are we living out a gang mentality and calling it something else?

I’ll let you ponder that a while…I’m going to go take the dog on a walk and get some fresh air.

 

 

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Ink with Wings

Have you ever been in the middle of reading and something just flew off the page and into your head and you couldn’t get it out? Has that ever happened while you were reading something familiar as if this was the first time you had ever seen it? Has it happened with a truth that seems so common sense that you aren’t really sure why it never hit you like that before?

Did Oprah call those lightbulb moments or was that Al Gore?

That is what they feel like to me. Those moments feel like someone reached over and flipped a switch and all of a sudden I see or understand something more clearly than before. My handsome fella is always saying he is going to write a book of common sense. I think the thing that flew off the page at me today might fit somewhere in that book.

“A sword is not a real weapon when it is still in the sheath. It must be taken out and used as needed!” – Beverly Sawyer, HeartQuest devotional

Sounds pretty common sense, huh? Anyone older than two could probably tell you you have to take the sword out of its case in order to be able to use it properly. I suppose you could whack someone in the head with it but that isn’t exactly what a sword is designed to do.

It’s just a common sense quote until you read it in context and THEN…THEN it spreads wings and flies. It comes alive or it did for me.

What happens when you read that sentence in the context of spiritual warfare? What happens when you find out that quote was referring to the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God?

Here it is in context…

“This is “Rhema” – the “living Word”; Stay in the written Word and in close relationship with the “living Word”. Allow Him to show you how to apply the truths you read. A sword is not a real weapon when it is still in the sheath. It must be taken out and used as needed!” – Beverly Sawyer, HeartQuest devotional

Until fairly recently, the past few years, the bible was pretty dry for me to read. I read it. I went to a Christian University and attended the bible classes. I owned more than one. I owned more than one version. I have more than one Bible app with more than one version on each one. I frequent websites on my computer that make it handy to read the bible even when there isn’t one handy. Big deal. It still seemed dry.

And then something happened. It started coming alive. It started to matter. It started to make a difference in my life. I began to see things I had never seen before in stories I had read or heard all my life. God began to highlight scriptures that I needed for particular circumstances in my life. Bible stories began to take on a form other than flannel.

The bible became more than a book to pound people over the head with. The words began to leave the pages and make their way past my eyes and into my heart. The word became the Word in my life.

I’ve got a long way to go. There is much I’ve read but haven’t “seen”. There are promises I struggle to believe are for me. I could write a whole new post about people in the bible who believed the promises without living to see their fulfillment yet they still believed and we got a front row seat into the fulfillment.

Today His Word and word have become much more dear to me. His word has become much more alive. My desire to take his words out of the book and apply them where they go in my life has become much more real. I no longer want to see the words in that book left in their cover. They don’t belong there. They weren’t meant to stay there.

They were meant to fly!

A Mighty Little Princess

Have you ever stopped to wonder what Jesus must have been like as a little boy? This time of year it’s pretty easy to imagine him as the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes but we don’t have much to go on when it comes to the rest of his early years. What did he play with? Who were his best friends as a little boy? What was it like for Jesus growing up? I’m sure we could look into the customs of his days and how other little boys grew up and make some educated guesses about what it would have been like.

I got to church a little early tonight and was sitting in the auditorium quietly contemplating the events of my day and talking to God about some stuff. I was watching the intercessors making their way around the auditorium praying and inviting God’s Presence to fill the place and the hearts of those who would arrive to worship. I looked up and saw the cutest little girl standing eyeball to eyeball with me. She looked at me and with a smile asked if she could pray for me. I was not about to turn down a prayer from such a precious and pure heart. That little girl prayed the most beautiful prayer of identity and God’s love for me. So precious. After she finished she smiled, gave me a sweet hug and made her way to pray for others.

The services then began and we worshipped and listened to a message on Peace and my mind wandered back to the things in my life that could use an infusion of Peace. My mind doesn’t actually stray very far from the circumstances of life and the things that threaten my peace right now but that isn’t what this is about.

The message ended and it was time for communion. We got the elements passed out and sat back down to commune. That is when my mind drifted back to the little girls prayer, but this time I was imagining Jesus as a little boy laying hands on people and praying for them. I wondered if he must have done that.

I thought about all the times we talk about Jesus living inside of us and how we are His hands and feet. I thought about Jesus living inside of my little friend and how much of Him she was pouring out onto others this afternoon. I love the way Jesus flowed thru that little girl today. I love the way her prayer continued to bless me as I remembered what Jesus did for me by coming to this earth as a man. I love that she helped me imagine what it must have been like to know that young King. I’m thankful to know a little Princess in His Mighty Kingdom.

Thank you my little friend for sharing a bit of the Jesus inside of you with me!