Tag Archives: Flow

An Executable Plan

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”
Numbers 2:1-2 (NIV)

If you want something organized and done well, put my wife Wendy in charge of it. I don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. I have been married to this woman for nearly twelve years, and from our New Year’s Eve gala wedding to countless weekend trips to the lake, from running a box office to a successful string of community theatre awards dinners, she is gifted when it comes to organization, planning and execution of a plan.

I thought about Wendy in the quiet this morning as I waded through the second chapter of Numbers, which had all the excitement of an army field manual. In essence, that’s what it was. The Hebrew tribes had no home. They were about to embark on a giant, traveling encampment with over 600,000 able-bodied fighting men, their wives, their elders, their children, their big-top Tabernacle, and livestock to boot. Talk about an organizational nightmare.

Along this life journey I’ve come to realize that people eventually tend to admire, or to shun, those gifts and abilities that run opposite theirs. Unlike my ezer kenegdo, Wendy, I am a big picture, take-it-as-it-comes, go-with-the-flow kind of guy. When Wendy starts making a meal plan for our weekend at the lake a week ahead of the trip, my natural bent is to roll my eyes and say, “Seriously?! Do we have to figure this out now? Can’t we just figure it out when we get there?

But, I’ve learned over time when you’re at the lake with two to four other adults and no plan, the conversation goes like this:

Person 1: “What are we doing for supper?”

Person 2: “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Person 1: “I don’t know. What about you, honey?”

Person 3: “I don’t care. Whatever you want to do.”

Person 1: “I don’t care either. It’s whatever you guys think. Right, dear?”

Person 4: “We could go out, or we could stay in.”

Person 1: “We went out last night.”

Person 4: “Which doesn’t mean we can’t go out again tonight.”

Person 1: “No, it doesn’t. I’m not saying that. We can go out, or stay in. What do you guys think?”

Person 2: “Whatever. We don’t care. We’re okay going out. Aren’t we, dear?”

Person 3: “Sure. Or staying in. Either way is fine with us.”

This conversation can go on in circles for hours, which is not only maddening but also squeezes out actual time having fun and enjoying meaningful conversation.

When Wendy starts asking about a meal plan a week before our trip to the lake, I choose in. I’m still not good about anticipating and initiating a plan on my own (but it’s a growth opportunity for me!) Things run more smoothly and everyone enjoys themselves more when there’s a well executed plan.

This morning I’m thinking about a boring chapter laying out an executable encampment plan for taking the population of the entire Des Moines area on a sustained wilderness march. Sometimes the message is not in the text but in the context. Life is full of daily, weekly, monthly and annual events which run more smoothly with an executable plan. The untold story of many of history’s greatest victories lies in the quartermasters and gifted planners who were able to successfully and efficiently move armies and supplies at the right time in the right way. That’s not my gift.

I’m reminded this morning of the blessing of peace and flow in life that exists only when you have a person with the giftedness and authority to anticipate need, create a workable plan, and execute that plan. I get to experience that blessing because I’m married to such a person.

 

Love and Life; Hatred and Murder

 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother…

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:11-12a, 15 (NIV)

Once again yesterday we citizens of the U.S. were shaking our heads in disbelief at the unfathomable event that took place in Las Vegas late on Sunday evening. While this event was unprecedented in its scope, there is a repetition that I feel when these tragic events unfold.

The endless press coverage. The same video clips played in a ceaseless loop. The scramble to learn everything possible about the perpetrator and the victim. The press conferences with law enforcement. The statements from world leaders. The eyewitness interviews on the street. The outcry from every side of the political spectrum. The talking heads giving psychological profiles and “expert” opinion.

We’ve been down this road before. Here we are again going through the same motions.

This morning’s chapter provided some synchronicity for me. John makes a direct connection between love/hate and life/death. It caught me off guard when John reminds me of Jesus’ command to love others, then immediately switches to the word picture of Cain (If you don’t know the story, see Genesis 4) who murdered his brother.

Whoa. Wait a minute. Hold the phone. How do we get from “love” to “Cain?”

John answers this at the end of the paragraph:

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

So, here’s what I’ve been meditating on in the quiet of my walk around the hotel parking lot this morning:

Jesus said He came to give Life. Life is the goal. Increasing Life, abundant Life, eternal Life, fullness of Life.

The conduit, the flow, to Life is love.  Love God. Love others.

When we refuse to love, we shut off the conduit. We shut love down like a valve. The flow stops. Things back up. Stop the flow of water in the eco system and everything dies. Stop the flow of blood and the body dies. Without the flow of love there is a very real spiritual and universal death that  naturally occurs.

When we choose into hate, we are consciously, willfully choosing to stop the flow of love that allows for Life.

Hatred is cosmic murder.

One can say that it’s not the same thing as the physical carnage on the Las Vegas strip, but that’s the very point that John was making in his connection between hatred and Cain. In an eternal perspective it is very much the same. There is direct correlation between hatred and murder.

And, that leaves me with some very serious personal questions to mull over today.

 

Out With the Old; Embracing the New

See, I will create
    new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
    nor will they come to mind.
Isaiah 65:17 (NIV)

This past weekend Wendy and I began a large clean-up campaign in our basement storage room. It’s time go through all of our stuff, and I mean really go through it. So it was that I found a number of large boxes of financial records, taxes, mortgage documents, and receipts. Many of these were much older than the recommended seven years you’re supposed to hang on to things in case of an IRS issue. It felt so good to be rid of them.

I have found on my spiritual journey that there is a continual process of recreation. In yesterday’s chapter we unpacked the word picture of God as a master Potter, constantly molding us, shaping us, fashioning us. If you’ve ever watched a potter at work you find that when one thing doesn’t work out the Potter goes back to the lump and begins again. But what is fashioned out of the same lump may look very different the next time the Potter goes to work on it.

God is an artist, and artists are always creating. You can’t stop the flow of ideas. It is quite common for artists to take a canvas with one image and cover it with an altogether new illustration. A media piece that was meant for one creative urge will be suddenly be used on another. Those who dare tap into the flow of creation know that it is a river that never stops running and those who dip into it are constantly being swept away in new directions.

If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation. Old things pass away; Behold, new things come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5

In today’s chapter, Isaiah has a vision of Creator re-creating things on a grand scale. It’s the same vision that John is given at the end of his Revelation. Things are made new. The Creator is at work recreating. Old ways are gone. New ways have come.

This morning I am so grateful for the places following Jesus has led me. As I disposed of all those old receipts I felt such gratitude for the ways God has continually molded and shaped my life, constantly creating new in me. I literally felt old things passing away. As a student of history I appreciate the past and what it can teach me about my present, but appreciating the past and being mired in personal, spiritual stagnation are two completely different things.

Drop me in the deep waters of the Creator’s artistic flow. I can’t wait to see where it leads me, and what continually recreated life looks like downstream.

Dead Sea to Living Water

israel floating in the Dead Sea cropped

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.
Ezekiel 47:8-9 (NIV)

The Dead Sea is one of the more amazing places I’ve visited in this world. Located in the desert southeast of Jerusalem, it is the Earth’s lowest elevation on land and the water is 34 percent salt which is almost 10 times as much salt as you find in the oceans. The saline content is so high, in fact, that you float on the surface which is a surreal experience. It’s hard to stand upright in the lake if the water gets much higher than your waist.

Because of the salt content, the “Dead Sea” is aptly named. Nothing lives in it. It is too salty to sustain life. Which provides context for the remarkable vision the ancient Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel, is given in today’s chapter. His heavenly host shows him a small stream of water flowing out of God’s temple in Jerusalem. The waters grow as the stream descends from its Source until it is a giant river. The river flows downstream to the Dead Sea and floods it with Life.

I am reminded this morning of Jesus’ conversation with a woman by a well. Striking up a conversation, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus spoke of a personal, spiritual transformation that parallel’s Ezekiel’s vision of the Dead Sea. A flowing transfusion of living water that brings Life where there had previously been death.

Water and Life go hand in hand. We need water to physically survive. We need living water to spiritually survive. Without it, we become as spiritually lifeless as the Dead Sea. When tapped into the Source, we experience Life that wells up in our spirits and resurrects lifeless parts of our soul.

Today, I’m thankful for experiencing the Dead Sea. I’m thankful for the Water of Life. I’m praying for a deep draught from the Source and an infusion of life.

Chapter-a-Day John 4

Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Photo credit: Darin House)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (NLT)

On Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, a nice long boat ride from our Playhouse, you’ll find Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It’s an annual summer destination for us. Park the boat at the dock and walk down the winding path along the banks of the cove. Deeper and deeper it goes as the cove narrows. Eventually, you arrive at a natural spring where water continuously flows from deep inside the Earth. I’ve stood there many times watching as water ceaselessly flows from that spot, seemingly out of nowhere.

Today, as I read Jesus’ words I thought about that spring in the Ozarks and all the water ceaselessly bubbling out of it. We call it a “source.” The place from which water flows. What Jesus told the woman at the well in today’s chapter was that He was the Source of Life-giving, spiritual thirst quenching, eternal flow.

What is the Source of flow in my daily life? That’s the question I’m asking myself today. Where is it that I seek after energy, acceptance, peace, esteem, provision, healing, or anesthetic? Am I seeking after the Source in a bottle, a relationship, a walk-in closet, a paycheck, a gadget, a job, or a jackpot? It’s interesting how Jesus contrasted the water the woman wanted to give Him with the flow about which He was speaking.

You know you’re seeking after the wrong source if after a taste it always leaves you thirsty and seeking for more.

Chapter-a-Day John 1

Calling of Saints Andrew and Peter, by Caravaggio
Image via Wikipedia

Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them.

They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day.
John 1:38-39 (NLT)

There is a certain flow to the experience of being a follower of Jesus. Everyone has a unique story, and yet there are similarities with which I believe every other follower identifies.

As I read in today’s chapter about these first followers in John’s two thousand year old account, there was something oddly familiar to their story. I remember that curiosity in my own life. I remember following behind; following at a distance. I recall looking, and watching, and wondering.

The turn. The look. The smile. The question.

“Come and see,” He said.

No demand. No rule. No zeal required. No selling of the soul. No signing on the dotted line. No commitment. Simply an invitation: “Come and see for yourself.”

Chapter-a-Day Hebrews 3

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.
Image via Wikipedia

Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts….” Hebrews 3:15 (NLT)

We all know about heart disease. Exercise and healthy eating is what keeps our heart and arteries from getting hard and crusted over until the blood can’t flow freely through our bodies. When we are motionless and continually take in unhealthy things, the opposite occurs occurs. Our arteries harden, blood can’t flow properly, and we eventually die when the heart can’t operate.

So it is with our spiritual hearts. When we remain spiritually sedate and feed our souls on selfishness, greed, anger, hatred, gluttony, gossip, and the like, then God’s life giving Spirit gets choked out and can’t flow. There is a build up of muck in our soul and our heart eventually becomes spiritually hard, constricting the ability to feel and hear God’s Spirit within us. When God tries to call to us, we are deaf to His still, small voice.

Today, I’m not only thinking about my physical health, but my spiritual health as well. I want my heart, both physically and spiritually, to be healthy. I want to feel Life flowing strong and free within my veins and my spirit.