...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wake Up to God's Love

It's time to wake up
But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise-- let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy-- your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead. Isaiah 26:19

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise.... Ephesians 5:13-15

The act of de-cluttering our lives begins in receiving the light, the joy, and the renewal that only God can give. Trusting the living Christ now and receiving the promise of being like him in the resurrection is apart of purgation, according to I John 3:3. even before we walk, we choose to do so. We want and will to move in God's direction.

We repent and change course, if at first only in our thinking. But it begins in knowing ourselves as loved. 

Becoming known and loved in the deepest sense is God's gift to give. For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. I Cor. 13:12. That kind of seeing, here and now, is a promise received through faith. 

The best news is that it is much easier to know God, whose intentions are clear from the beginning, than it is to know ourselves. We hide behind the false, ego - created self. We sculpt something else that we think will give us a better chance at having love, security, power, or happiness. We do not see ourselves for who we really are. We have trouble knowing and accepting and loving ourselves as we really are.

But God doesn't have a hidden agenda. He creates life out abundance, without needing to, and calls our creation very good. Our God-image and birth right is rooted in being created and loved by God. Simply put, it really isn't your opinion of yourself that matters so much anymore. Rather, it's God opinion of you that matters. We regard no one, including ourselves, from what St. Paul referred to as "a human point of view." 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Joining Church: Is a Disclaimer Needed?

I'm often reminded of what the great comedian Groucho Marx said about membership in a group: "I refuse to join any organization that will have me as one of its members."  Would admitting our flaws protect us against ourselves?

In groups explaining church membership, I find it helpful to admit that every day, someone is going to say or do something stupid because after all, that's what human beings do. See also Beginnings: An Introduction to Christian Faith.  

This is how Al-Anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics close many of their meetings. It's a wise disclaimer stating that even our best intentions are not always apparent to those who aren't insiders:
In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here were strictly those of the person who gave them. Take what you liked and leave the rest. The things you heard were spoken in confidence and should be treated as confidential. Keep them within the walls of this room and the confines of your mind. A few special words to those of you who haven’t been with us long: Whatever your problems, there are those among us who have had them too. If you try to keep an open mind, you will find help. You will come to realize that there is no situation too difficult to be bettered and no unhappiness too great to be lessened. We aren't perfect. The welcome we give you may not show the warmth we have in our hearts for you. After a while you’ll discover that though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way - the same way we already love you. Talk to each other, reason things out with someone else, but let there be no gossip or criticism of one another. Instead, let the understanding, love and peace of the program grow in you one day at a time. 
If we incorporated parts of the above, would we have a better chance of nipping any grandiose expectations about Christ's Body? Would there be less disappointment with our corporate and individual brokenness? Less incongruity between our words and where we actually live? At the very least, we would have a better chance at honesty about who we really are, and a movement toward more, not less, authenticity. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Try Love

If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, 
I’m a clanging gong...I Corinthians 13:1  

Jesus' ministry was a miserable failure by any standards we hold so dear in churches: bigger budgets and buildings to hold more behinds in pews.

Effectiveness? I have to smile every time I see another training manual that touts Jesus' ministry as a blueprint for how to do just about anything successfully, from evangelism to corporate leadership. They talk about how carefully Jesus chose his followers and how, after living intimately with him for three years, they would be prepared to spread the word to all the world. The flow chart forms a holy pyramid with geometric growth.

Really? The success coaches never talk about how every one of Jesus' disciples ran as fast as they could as far away as they could once Jesus was taken into custody of the Temple authorities.  Mark 14:50. They may point out that Jesus chose Judas Iscariot, the disciple who turned Jesus in, as an exception, or as simple human error. If so, Jesus, who had keen insight into people to begin with, realized, perhaps early on, that he really blew that one and could not undo it. John 6: 70-71

Any way you look at it, it's not a good idea to choose an untrustworthy son-of-a-gun into your circle of trust, is it? But Jesus ministry, including his suffering, death, and resurrection, is not about having God's little rule book for prosperity and leadership. Anyone who thinks this is the way to the life Jesus offers will end up as crushed as the disciples were when they were confronted with the truth that the top for Jesus was crucifixion, not their equivalent to the corner office.
The true north of Jesus' ministry then and today, is not the way of following all the right rules or catching pixie dust from the gurus. Instead, it's all about an amazing love- how God creates us in love. And how the love between Jesus and his Daddy becomes our never ending source of love- for God, love for the lives we share, for the world, and the universe.

That's the epicenter that grows into ministry with others, with any possible sound and light shows following.

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Why Clergyspirit?

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Houston, Texas, United States
Welcome! I serve Chapelwood, a United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Clergy are frequently present for others, but no one can offer what they don't havee. That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. Hopefully, the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement.

Making Good Decisions

Prayer of Discernment

By our own reason and strength, Lord, we cannot find our way. There are too many paths and we do not know where they will lead us. Show us the way, Jesus. You know our path and our way home. Amen.

The Moravian Daily Texts 2011

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