Monday Morning Mindset #nccumc #weare3dm

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The unforced rhythms of grace

It’s the little things.

One thing that can make Monday morning a little easier is to realize we do our best work when we concentrate on the little things – the good word, the small adjustment, the attention to detail that complements the big picture. Over the last couple of weeks, I have preached on the parables of Jesus from Matthew 12 and 13. There is such richness there.

One of the main things I am taking away from the text is the smallness, the relative insignificance of the change agent that Jesus describes. That change agent is the seed sown by the farmer in these parables. It’s also the tiny mustard seed that grows into a large plant (on in the Message – the pine nut that grows into a tall pine tree, something very common here in eastern North Carolina) and the tiny spores of yeast that are given nutrition and structure with flour, sugar and water to power incredible, dramatic growth.

For me, the practical application of theses parables boils down to one question: What are the small things we can do that make people ask questions to which the only answer is Jesus? Not the dramatic things, not the loud and brash things that draw attention to me but the small and powerful things that can only be motivated by the One who is the Answer.

Sometimes, all that means is simply showing up. Or the bowed head over a fast food meal. Or the quiet word that refocuses a raucous conversation. Small actions take as much courage and prayerful thought as big, drastic actions. Yet, they have more potential to point toward the Holy Love that motivates them. Practice of spiritual disciplines in our lives: prayer, fasting, study, silence, solitude, celebration, fellowship, holy conversation, worship – are the starting places for these small actions. They ARE the actions for which the only answer is Jesus. When we live our lives in the rhythms of Holy Love, we are the seed that is planted by the Master Gardener.

When we pay attention to the small things in us, around us and for us to do, Holy Love spreads its roots in the world, people begin to ask questions and the answer is the one we are most able to give: life following Jesus in the unforced rhythms of grace.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message)

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Laughter and forgiveness #nccumc #weare3dm

God, we believe, accepts us, accepts all men, unconditionally, warts and all. Laughter is the purest form of our response to God’s acceptance of us. For when I laugh at myself I accept myself and when I laugh at other people in genuine mirth I accept them. Self-acceptance in laughter is the very opposite of self-satisfaction or pride. For in laughter, I accept myself not because I’m some sort of super-person, but precisely because I’m not. There is nothing funny about a super-person. There is everything funny about a man who thinks he is. In laughing at my own claims to importance or regard, I receive myself in a sort of loving forgiveness which is an echo of God’s forgiveness of me. In much conventional contrition there is a selfishness and pride which are scarcely hidden. In our desperate self-concern, we blame ourselves for not being the super-people we think we really are. But in laughter we sit light to ourselves. That is why laughter is the purest form of our response to God. – From Tensions by H.A. Williams

 

I call to you, O Lord, from my quiet darkness. Show me your mercy and love. Let me see your face, hear your voice, touch the hem of your cloak. I want to love you, be with you, speak to you and simply stand in your presence. But I cannot make it happen. Pressing my eyes against my hand is not praying, and reading about your presence is not living in it.   But there is that moment in which you will come to me, as you did to your fearful disciples, and say, “Do not be afraid; it is I.” Let that moment come soon, O Lord. And if you want to delay it, then make me patient. Amen – From A Cry for Mercy by Henri J.M. Nouwen

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Inspiration – July 17, 2014 #nccumc #weare3dm

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Stop playing God…read more here

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Don’t worry about missing out #nccumc #we are 3dm

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Breathing In...Don’t worry about missing out…read more here

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Monday Morning Mindset #nccumc #weare3dm

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As many of us begin our work week here in the Western world, it has become  habit for us to approach Monday with dread and loathing. This can be true for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons  are valid and some are just excuses to slide away from the healthy discipline of work. The answer to that dread and loathing is simple on the surface: doing what you love, loving what you do.

Fifteen years into a career for which you were well-educated and have paid your dues – literally and figuratively – is no time to pull up the tent stakes and start over somewhere completely new.  Or is it?  Since the economic recession of 2008, many of us had to do that anyway and not by our own choice. The need for financial security for our families and ourselves dictates the reality of our work lives no matter how we might feel about it.

There is a way through, to a Monday Morning Mindset that is fruitful, effective and yes, even deeply joyful. It requires brutal honesty and playful, creative answers to two questions:

  1. If you could do anything you felt was important and for which you are uniquely gifted AND you didn’t have to worry about financial security or what other people thought, what would it be?
  2. Where is the place in your life you can clear a little space and start doing that TODAY?

The temptation here is to stop reading, close this screen and walk away. “Impossible,” we think, “life just doesn’t work like that.” No, life doesn’t . But the kingdom of heaven, the realm of influence of Holy Love DOES work in exactly this way.

What do you love? Books, dogs, cooking, carpentry, Australian rules football? Whatever that thing is, you can clear a corner for it in your everyday life. In that open space, you can begin to really live, dreaming about what God has for you in this vocation to which He has called you.  It may even be that the job from which you currently take home a paycheck is the perfect springboard into this new life. Introducing kids to the joys of great literature, working with dogs in animal-assisted therapy, cooking a fine meal in your home once a week with like-minded gourmand friends, the list goes on and on of possibilities. That is the place where your unique and loving life intersects with the power of the Holy Love to transform the world one joyful, peaceful day at a time.

Perhaps Monday is a good place to start.

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