Sunday, April 1, 2012

Compassion Glows

I've been wanting to change the name of my blog for a some time. Even when I came up with "Compassionate Hope" I didn't love it. Yes, it combined two of my favorite things "Compassion" and  the word hope, but it still didn't quite capture what I was trying to say. Once in a while I'll think of a name, type it into blogger, and find that it's already taken. So much for creativity. This morning while making my bed, I had a moment... you know the kind that makes you all tingly with hope? Well, I thought of the name: compassionglows. It's perfect - for me.

So if you want to keep following my blog go to:

I've also included all my old posts from compassionatehope on the new blog.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Called, Equipped, and Ready to Serve

Yeah, right. When does that ever happen? It isn’t often that we feel called, equipped, and ready to serve all at the same time. The “stars” rarely align our desire, abilities, and free time. Even if you feel called, you may wonder when you’ll ever be able to fit one more thing into your already busy life. Perhaps you might have some spare time but be scared stiff  because you lack the knowledge of how to actually accomplish what you hear God asking.

It is important that we don’t rely solely on ourselves or our calendars to make the decisions as to how, who, what, where, and when we will serve. Of course personal discernment is a helpful tool in figuring out how best to love others. God gives each one of us specific passions and insight for particular types of ministry. It’s valuable to take a good hard look at our schedules and make healthy choices.

But I often wonder how many times we wait, dismiss, or don’t even investigate the possibility of service because we don’t feel called, equipped, and ready to serve all at once? At the risk of pushing ourselves beyond what is comfortable, we say “no.”  Sometimes “no” is absolutely right. At other times I think it hinders the work that God wants us to do in the world, our city, our church, our home, and in us. I’ve seen that what matters most in a great volunteer, parent, or spouse is a willing heart and an attitude of obedience to Christ.

Much of what I am called, equipped, and ready to do at NFC is encouraging people to try something outside of their comfort zone. I admit it...this ministry gets lonely and frustrating sometimes. Just because I am called, equipped, and ready to do the work doesn’t mean I always get it right.

I also have the sheer pleasure of watching what happens when people say “yes.” It’s in the “yes” that VBS, Girls and Boys Camp, Women’s Bible Fellowship, Tilikum day camp, Sunday school, Godly Play, K-2 and 3:4-5 Fun Night, 3M, and parenting small groups happen. It’s in the “yes” that you will have the honor and privilege of seeing God at work in the lives of those you serve. It’s in the “yes” that you will find God calling and equipping you. Choosing to be outside of the comfort zone is a sacrificial gift we give to others, ourselves, and most importantly to Christ. The benefits are eternal.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but it is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 2 Corinthians 9:12

March 2012 - From the Children and Families Newsletter that I put together each month. Not a typical blog post, but since my work/ministry is a big part of my life, I think it makes sense to include it here. I worked a long time on it...making sure this article said what I wanted in a way that spoke hope not condemnation, the truth without whining, conviction not guilt. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Take a Break

This past week the snow fell and my morning responsibilities fell away right along with every flake. As I laid in bed soaking up each delicious minute of a two hour late start for my girls I realized how deeply I needed a respite from the daily routine. Late start for our public schools = no WBF (Women's Bible Fellowship). WBF is a study group of about 40 women that I help facilitate September through May.  I look forward to what God brings though these amazing ordinary women. Every Thursday morning our church social hall is transformed into a sacred sanctuary where tears, laughter, song, and story flow freely. My responsibility level is quite high on Thursdays and I usually lean into this without hesitation. But as the snow blanketed the ground in glorious white, I felt as though God said, "I know you're tired, l've got it covered." So I snuggled with my daughters, found a work project I could do from the comfort of my bed, and let my mind delight in all that I was released from doing at church that morning.

Now it's spring break and for the past two days the sun has been shining and the daffodils are beginning to thaw. Yesterday I ran for 5 miles under blue sky with a gentle breeze. I went out to dinner with friends and wore sandals. My hope is set high for warmer temperatures and a change from the gray dreariness of our NW winter. I'm sensing the theme of a break from the routine.

Which brings me to the Parable of the Growing Seed, Mark 4:26-29.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

This morning's message at church was titled "One Who Brings an Unstoppable Kingdom with Power." Whew, that's a mouthful...and a mindful. Gregg shared that Mark 4:26-29 was about hope. Jesus was in essence saying, "relax, don't worry, I've got it covered." In the parable, "A man" scatters the word and the kingdom of God is able to grow independently of our personal response but instead by the power of Christ. Jesus will be faithful to complete what he began. This breaks the routine of what we usually hear when it comes to the "Christian life." We often make The Story about our response instead of depending on kingdom power.

Verse 27 is my favorite: Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. If "he" in this verse is Jesus, does that mean the power of the kingdom is so great that even Jesus doesn't know how it works? Whoa...that's some mighty big power! Or perhaps "he" refers to you and me. If we have scattered faith in God's Word over our lives, then no matter what we do, we can be assured that even though we can't figure out how it happens, if we are patient and wait on God's timing, the kingdom will inevitably grow. As I read and reread the Parable of the Growing Seed I become more and more confused as to who I am in the story. Am I a man, the seed, or some soil? One thing remains clear in each scenario; God's power enables me to rely on him and take a break.

God's power can be frightening even when it is for our benefit. We rely on clocks, schedules, routines, and calendars to help us feel in control. We want to know when, where, and how things are going to happen. And here's a parable that flat out says, "He does not know how." Frightening goodness...yes please. My train of thought has brought me to the cross. To fully experience God's kingdom growing in my life I must be willing to live with the unknown. I can't comprehend the cross. How did one man, who was also God, die for the sins of all humankind? I can't imagine triumphing over death for all eternity. I can't grasp the concept of eternity. Although this possible train-wreck of a post has been about taking a break and letting God do his kingdom coming thing, I believe we do hold some responsibility in the kingdom. Or at least how we acknowledge, enjoy, and experience it. So whether the routine of daily life is disrupted by a snow storm, or spring break, as we approach holy week I'm delightfully frightened by the power of the cross. Am I willing to watch Jesus die to see him rise?