What Are We Doing and Why? {Mark Labberton Quotable on the Church}

I updated my Reading page today with the books that are currently occupying my time. Take a look. I’d love to hear what books are challenging and encouraging your walk of faith.

The Church is a burden that weighs heavily on my heart with both hopeful expectancy and frustrated irritation. I know you’ve been reading the blogs and papers; you’re aware of how  much our humanness gets in the way of our living as the people God intends us to be. You’ve heard about the big and little fallings of notable of leaders and of compromise in the ranks. It’s saddening. Sometimes it’s downright pound-your-fist-on-the table maddening. Often it is personally convicting–my house is made of thin glass.

I’ve been reading Called: The Crisis and Promises of Following Jesus Today, by Mark Labberton. It is both soul salve and a swift kick in the Levis.

Here is a quote from my reading today:

Sometimes the church is just odd: habits, speech, attitudes, potlucks, whatever. Every church is something particular, and you smell it the moment you’re on the premises. The point isn’t whether a church is odd, but whether it’s odd because it imitates Jesus Christ. Does the church live that vocation? Surely this plain and unadorned questions is the one that people inside, and certainly outside, the church want to have answered. If the response is anything but yes, we have to ask ourselves what we’re doing and why. 

Few outside the church measure it by a standard of perfection. What they seek is far, far more achievable: authentic people whose proclamation of their trust in Jesus is backed up by their ordinary but self-giving acts of grace, justice and compassion.”

What are we doing and why? I’m stewing on this answer. I hope you will too.

No Time Like the Present {For When It’s Time to Change}

I’ve been neglecting my blog while I’ve been busy attending to my soul. There are some things in life that aren’t done best as a multi-tasked action items. Souls needs sabbaths from routines; they need rest to listen carefully in the quiet of life.

But the season is changing and autumn ushers me back into the rhythm of doing stuff I always do.

In the listening, I have heard it’s time for a change.  The old has to go; the new is already present and invites me to attend to its possibilities. The quiet awakens hope and urges me to embrace change.

In the quiet I have heard three clear calls for life:

1. The composed life is cowardly. I have worked to near perfection my keep-calm-and-carry-on skills.  Sadly, I use them everywhere it matters the least. I’ve no problem freaking out if my sweet husband forgets something trivial or if one of the dogs brings mud in the house. Man, I am all over that piddly stuff. Real stuff though, like people who need an advocate or dark places that need a light bearer, yeah, those places will mum me up so fast. I don’t like the consequences, particularly the social consequences, of making waves. I’ve become an observer boring.

It’s fear and I know it. Crusaders get shot and I find all kinds of clever excuses to leave the leading to others. Falling in behind rank is just a deceiver’s way of using others as personal shields.

It’s stupid. It’s not me. It has to end.

2. Cool love is really not love at all. Circumstances over the last few years have forced me to be in some really uncomfortable and unfamiliar places. I’ve been mostly detached. It has seemed like a really safe strategy–safe that is for my heart; and I’ve been all about protecting that baby. But when was Jesus ever uninterested or cold to others? When did he ever leave the loving to someone else?

Again, fear has been winning.

This too is stupid. It’s not me. I’m over it.

3. The life that Jesus invites us into is really pretty crazy. It’s far from the ordinary little existence I’ve been living. It’s a life that’s bold and brave. It’s throws the status quo overboard and turns the boat straight for the water falls. I’ve been thinking so much over the last couple of months how often Jesus was getting crazy on the Sabbath and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many of his followers are I am so ho hum.

I don’t know if Jesus is calling me to some crazy “thing” or just to live a life that would actually require trusting him. I do know he’s calling me to stop ambivalantly following the prefabricated model of institutionalized, mostly white, male-directed, suburban churchianty. I’m hungry to be where his presence is pressing people to see his goodness and love. I’d say I’m even a little agitated with how sterile, disconnected and inconsequential we I have made following him to be.

I’m a little nervous about what these changes are going to mean for me. And by ‘nervous,’ I mean excited; I’m excited to trust Jesus more and to see him more fully known in my life.

How about you? Are you feeling like the Spirit is pushing you to leave the comfort zone and step out/up?