When We See the Bottom

There are times when I feel like I am sinking into a well.  No matter what I do I can’t seem to stop the free fall.  The truth is, life can sometimes be overwhelming.  We all know what it’s like to struggle and face obstacles.  I think this is part of being human.

I believe that what saves me from absolutely hitting the bottom is the elasticity of the love of God.  I am talking about the amazing power of the Holy One; who will save us from a feeling of hopelessness.  The one who offers us shelter when the winds and waves of life seem too strong and too deep.  This is the good news of our faith.  The same Jesus who walked on water opens his arms to rescue us from drowning.  The storm will eventually subside, but we will be comforted through the roughest parts.

This is where the rubber meets the road in my faith.  I believe that the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit claims me in the middle of all my stuff and offers me security.  This is the basis of my hope, and one of the most intimate parts of my understanding of God. I will not be alone in my journey.  That is the best of news.

Today I am thankful for a God who promises to catch me when I fall.  I am grateful for the strength of relationships that breathe life into my soul.  May we continue to draw strength from each other.  Let us share the hope of God with a world that is desperate to hear the Good News of salvation.  Praise be to God, who gives us the final victory!

The Shame Game

I am currently reading a book that addresses the nature of shame.  I must admit that this issue is one that I have struggled with for most of my life.  I was raised with a belief that I should be ashamed of who I am because I am not athletic.  All of my interests were directed towards creativity and the performing arts.  As a little boy growing up in the South, this was an abomination.  The message was perfectly clear; something was wrong with me.

I embraced the shame of my particular situation and learned how to mask it.  I survived by learning how to deflect the shots aimed at my heart.  My truth became something that I held fast to.  I did everything that I could to protect it.  I thought that the people around me never really wanted to get to know me, because if they did they would never like the real me.  This was how I navigated my world.  Shame was the driving force that guided me in most of my decisions.  I felt as if I had no agency.

My healing came as I started to reclaim my voice and allow God to come into those places that I felt that no one could enter.  Slowly (and I do mean slowly) I began to embrace the little boy inside of me that was frightened and ashamed of simply being himself.  The Spirit began to heal those deep wounds and I have grown to appreciate my younger self.  The person who secretly struggled with just about every area of life.

I admire that little boy’s strength that could keep going, even when everything around him was calling him inadequate and useless.  What amazing strength this boy possessed.  His unwavering commitment to never give up.  To keep moving forward.  To never quit believing that the amazing God of the Universe lived within him.

Today I am grateful for being set free of the constant shame that controlled me.  As we invite God into the darkest recesses of our spirits we will began to see the act of creation within ourselves.  We will be changed.  Slowly but surely.  We must be patient and do the work that we are able to do one reveal at a time.  Praise be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

Embracing the Sacredness of Tradition

I asked my son to come and help prepare the church for tonight’s gathering.  We will honor and remember the ancient custom known as Stations of the Cross.  As our fantastic Youth Director guided us through the preparation, my son mentioned to me that this was a lot of work for one night.  I explained to him that our practices and customs are very important to us and that if just one person experienced the resurrected Christ in a new and profound way, then our work was not in vain.

I can take it a step further; even if no one’s heart was changed it was worth every ounce of energy that we all utilized to finish the beautiful reminder of God’s incredible gift of freedom from spiritual bondage given to us.  It is overwhelming to think that God offered humanity the most incredible of all presents knowing full well there was a tremendous amount of risk involved in His offering.  Jesus’ followers could have run away and left without giving their rabbi another thought.  All could have been lost.  The light of the world could have been diminished and snuffed out before it ever defeated the darkness.

I am very humbled by the thought that God carried out this incredible sacrifice to ensure my salvation.  The Divine poured out amazing love that falls down on us from heaven in the gift of His very own Son.  Every once and a while I think of the holy risk given to call my heart and fall down in worship because I am loved in a way that can never be fully put into words.  We have been redeemed or called back into right relationship by God.  Our souls are restored to a holy and loving heavenly presence.  Not because we deserved it, but because God chose it for us.  This night I only think, “Praise be to God, who has the victory over sin and death!”  I thank God because if just one person experienced the resurrected Christ in a new and profound way, then the work (our gift of salvation) was worth every moment of heavenly labor.

christopherjoiner

Some Thoughts Along the Way

Cazandra Campos-MacDonald

We take our journey with love and hope.

Perseverance Runner

Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

strugglewell

That marriages in crisis will find Biblical solutions and reconciliation

jefflust

Reflections on leadership and what it means to be the church God intends for the 21st century.