Soul Rain ... Kelli Sorg

a little rain refreshes the soul

Tag: grace (page 2 of 9)

Being a Superhero

 

Superman is invincible except for the little matter of kryptonite. Wonder Woman has her magic bracelets that deflect bullets. Batman has the cowl that protects his identity, the Bat Cave, the Batmobile and his sidekick Robin. The Wonder Twins have each other and the ability to change into any animal, vegetable or mineral that is needed to save the world. When we think about Jesus the Christ , we assign him superpowers as well.

Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, and proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor. He came to set the captives free, to cast out demons, and to save us from our sins. It seems a little offensive to lump Jesus in with the Saturday morning cartoons and the Justice League of America but our unexamined actions tell a different story.

We think so often as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross, his giving up his life in that moment of eternal justification. What if that is a place we may be missing the point? Did Jesus live a daily life of sacrifice, giving up the things that other humans had? Did he give up the things that mark our humanness and can so easily be trusted? The things that Jesus seemed to live without are the things that can so easily be twisted into idols-money, sex and power.

We assume that Jesus traipsed through Galilee and Samaria like some sort of Robin Hood with his band of Merry Men. Yet perhaps we don’t see are all the private daily temptations. We only see the big ones at the beginning of his life and at the end. Since we don’t have the power to multiply loaves and fished or cast out demons, we think we can give up on following Jesus because we just don’t have the right stuff. Jesus had no permanent home, no wife, no children, no steady source of food and financial security Those are all the things that we think are important in life. It seems that we assume that Jesus was above all that. The sermon to the Hebrews tells us that we have a high priest tested in every way just as we are. The daily tests and trials were part of Jesus life also. How does that realization shift our paradigm of Christ incarnate, Christ made human, just like us?

It’s easy to dismiss Christ’s earthbound life as if he had some sort of secret superpower. He was the son of God so ultimately he didn’t need to work and worry and wonder. Yet I think that’s too simplistic. Jesus said he relied on God for everything: for power and his ability to do miracles, his very life. Jesus didn’t command the father, it was the other way around. Just like us.

Jesus incarnation, being among us human as we are, changed everything. The resurrection and ascension finished and sealed the work. Then, the question becomes: how does the reality of the incarnation change our lives today?

It means that we don’t go anywhere that Jesus hasn’t already been. Even in our technological world of email and cell phones, smart phones that are smarter than we are and a 24/7 work life, the way of Jesus has much to offer us. The rhythms of work and rest, the comfort and intimacy of relationships that make us whole and make us holy, the companionship with God and with each other all bubble up from that spring of living water.

The life of Jesus Christ: his conception, birth, life, death, resurrection and continued life are not a work of fiction or of artful wishful thinking. God’s justice, God’s shalom is wiser and more courageous than human justice. God alone is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of all that we are and all that we will be. We don’t need to hide behind masks, wear fancy jewelry or continually change to be what other people need and want. The superpower of life lived as a Jesus-follower comes from the grace that is Holy Love. It is the grace that calls us to a gentle and strong humanity. In partnership with Holy Love we don’t need to be anything that we are not and we have the opportunity to grow into more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Inspiration – Forgiveness

Breathing In – Forgiving ourselves and other people, September 9, 2014

SPProdigal   Artwork by Brooke Summers Perry

Holding on to unforgiveness is like preparing the poison of revenge for another person and then drinking it yourself.

 Kelli: I have been preaching a lot about forgiveness lately. I finished the sermon series last Sunday, so today I want to finish up with the quotes and ideas that I found useful and practical. Forgiveness is part of the very nature of God. When we are called to be like Jesus – to take on his competency and character – forgiveness is the key that opens the door to grace.

Although disagreement is inevitable and forgiveness is hard, forgiveness brings in our healing and peace. (I don’t know who said this first because I found the magnet hanging on my refrigerator with these words printed on it).

Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. Romans 12:18 TLB

 Larsen and Hegarty, Days of Healing, Days of Joy: We need to rebuild the bridge. People, like islands, need ways to see and reach and touch hands over all that separating water. Making connections is the only way. Unless we can hear each other singing and crying, unless we can comfort each other’s failures and share each other’s victories, we are missing out on the best that life has offer. The only real action takes place on the bridge between people. Today, I ask my Higher Power for the courage to build another bridge.

         Kelli: We can only build those bridges when we are willing to forgive ourselves and each other.

Thomas Merton: The one thing necessary is a true interior and spiritual life, true growth, on my own, in-depth, in a new direction. Whatever new direction God opens up for me. My job is to press forward, to grow interiorly, to pray, to break away from attachments and to define fears, to grow in faith, which has its own solitude, to seek an entirely new perspective and new dimension in my life. To open up new horizons at any cost. To desire this and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. But really to desire and work for it.  September 21 and 22, 1959, Journal III. 331.

       Kelli: In preparing the sermon series on forgiveness, I relied heavily on Ev Worthington’s work on forgiveness and reconciliation. His REACH method of forgiveness is a practical way to put forgiveness into action in our own lives. I wanted to sum it up here because I find it so useful. Forgiveness is like so much of Jesus’ teaching. It’s not hard to understand, it’s just difficult to live out if we try to do it all by ourselves.

 

 REACH:

R is for Recall. Recall the events and the hurt as accurately and objectively as you can.

E is for Empathize. Try to understand what happened from the point of view of the person who wronged you.

A is for the Altruistic gift of forgiveness. Recall a time that you hurt someone else and were forgiven. And offer this gift to the person who wronged you.

C is for Committing yourself to forgive publicly. Write a letter of forgiveness (whether you send it or not), write in a journal, tell a trusted friend, or, if you can, tell the person who wronged you.

H is for Holding onto forgiveness. Forgiving is not forgetting. Memories of the wrong and feelings will come up. Remind yourself that you have made a choice to forgive.

        Kelli: Two books of that I would highly recommend for anyone who struggles with forgiving themselves or someone else are: Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past and Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope. They are both available form Amazon and as Kindle books. Also worth reading is the world of Miroslav Volf and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. All three of these men have lived though unbelievable suffering come though it healed and holy by the grace of God. It is our great privilege they have taken the time to write it down for the rest of us.

This is where forgiveness brings us in the end – an entirely new perspective and new dimension – where we live into our own forgiveness by Holy Love and, out of gratitude for that grace, we find unlimited freedom.  My identity and behavior choices bubble up out of forgiveness and grace instead of my human intellect or emotions.  But my intellect and emotions are not useless or inconvenient. It is through my human intellect and emotions, I become a partner with Holy Love in the world and the world is transformed by forgiveness and grace. My life has purpose and meaning and I can live without fear of other people or the grave. Death and meaninglessness have been swallowed up by Life and Abundance.

P.S. On the Musical Expressions page of this site,

there is a track from my first album . The song is a cover of The Judd’s Love Can Build A Bridge. I hope you will take the time to listen.

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)

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

sunrise with tree

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

When God’s grace…#nccumc

“When God’s grace comes into people, they become relaxed and controlled. They are easy to know. You are not afraid of them.” Charles L. Allen

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