Friday, January 13, 2017

Engagement with the Beatitudes - Part 1

As Ecclesia Colorado Springs engages The Sermon on the Mount, we first come to what theologians have titled The Beatitudes. This week we are look at Jesus' words from Matthew 5:4-5:

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."

Consider the following as we meditate, pray, and more importantly, live out these words, not as precepts, but as community instruction for us today...

What do we see in El Paso County that should cause us to mourn?

What comfort can we as God's people offer those who are mourning these things?

In what ways has the search for serenity infected our community with a spirit of meekness?

What can we do to wake up our friends and neighbors and even ourselves to the world of possibility that God has offered us?

Who do you see in your neighborhood and workplace, in your homes and on your commute, whose grief needs comforting?

What comfort can you offer them?

Where do you notice an absence of shalom in your life? In your relationships? What blessing can you offer to the people around you?


May God grant you the serenity
to accept the things you cannot change,
The courage to change the things you can,
The wisdom to know the difference,
The faith to celebrate what should be celebrated
And to mourn what must be mourned,
The conviction to set aside the search for serenity,
and to seek the shalom of your family,
your friends,
your neighborhood,
your community,
your city,
your country,
and your world—
The resolve to love your neighbor as yourself.
The blessing of being a blessing.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Happy Gap

Last night, Ecclesia began a journey that will likely not be a fun one. We are going to spend the next several weeks going through Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, found in Matthew 5-7. Most people, when thinking of the Sermon, think about the Beatitudes...."Blessed are the...." (Happy/Fortunate are the...).  This beginning of the Jesus' teachings in these chapters are the reel-in to get you listening, then Jesus unleashes what seems to be the barrier to ever becoming a Christian.

He goes through statements about adultry, divorce, how the law is still in effect, loving your enemies, and more. As you read his teaching, you'll find yourself slumping down in your seat. Why? What's going on here?

I think it has to do with our "Happy Gap."  You see, when we feel an emptiness in our life, a place where there is a hole, a gap between being totally satisfied and where we are now, we must fill it. We're not happy or satisfied, so we need to fill the gap with something. What we tend to gravitate toward are little gods we can bow to. I do it, everyone does it. But Jesus wants to free us from that need. He wants us to fill the gap in our life with Him and his presence.

Eugene Peterson, in The Message, writes Matthew 5:3 this way, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." I believe Peterson has really hit on something here in his transliteration of this verse. We when are empty in some area of our life, when we feel the gap not just physically, but in our very soul, we get a choice to fill it with something...a little god like lust, greed, or anger...or we can fill it with more of God and his rule. Our need to be happy (Blessed/Fortunate) will likely drive us one direction or the other. 

So the next time a gap comes upon the peace and calm of your life. Ask yourself the question, "what do I want to fill it with?" Will I fill it with a little god or with more of my Father and his Kingdom? We won't always get it right, so thank God for grace and his unending love for us as children. Our failures should not crush us, for He is there is to usher back on the path of repentance and faith. However, as we mature spiritually, hopefully we can keep our gaps filled with Him and his presence more than other idols or gods that lead to sin and destruction.

We will all face a happy gap...maybe even today. Fortunate are you that come to the end of your rope (whatever that rope is), for there is more room in your life for God and his Kingdom! Be blessed.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas ...Walking with Squinty Eyes

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!  Isaiah 9:2 (the Message) 

This morning, I walked into our coffee shop with the lights out. It was pitch black outside at 5:00am and the staff had done a great job of turning off all the lights. A couple of thoughts came to mind as we engage Christmas in two days:

  • Have you ever walked into a dark room, or maybe have been outside at night, and your eyes adjust to a point where you can see pretty good in the dark? You can't quite see everything, or see really well, but you can make out enough to walk around without hurting yourself....most of the time. If there's something on the floor in the "deep shadows", we can find ourselves tripping and maybe even falling. It may just result in an injury that takes time to heal. Such is walking in the darkness of life. We can certainly choose to walk in darkness, and our eyes (hearts) might even adjust to a point where we seem to be walking pretty well. Every once in a while, we may miss something in the deep shadows and it may result in a fall or even an injury. Turning on the lights allows us to see things more clearly.
  • After being in the dark for awhile, it hurts our eyes to turn on the lights, doesn't it? You know...that squinty thing we do with our eyes when hit with sunbursts of light after being in the dark for awhile. Scientists call this "Adaptation." What's interesting is that it takes longer to adjust to darkness than to light. Going from dark to light though, causes a shock because our eyes are straining to see things in the darkness. So the open cornea of our eye takes in to much light when a bright light invades the darkness we've adjusted to. If we truly see this great light that has come in Jesus, it may actually hurt at first, especially if we've been living in darkness. It may feel like "LIGHT!, SUNBURSTS OF LIGHT!" as Peterson descriptively puts it. The good thing though, is that after awhile...adaptation...we will walk with a view that is clearer and safer from the falls and injuries in life.

My own prayer and desire, this season and this coming year, is to walk into the light and let adaptation fully take hold of my heart and mind. May you also find the light of Christmas. It's not under the tree, or in any wrapped box, nor even in the presence of family. It is found by looking up and seeing the what the angel announced as the star appeared:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  Luke 2:11 (ESV)

To walk in light requires that we see Jesus not just as a holiday, but as Savior, Christ, and Lord of our life. Merry Christmas, may we all walk with squinty eyes.