Thursday, May 28, 2009

Live Openly & Expansively

This morning, I took some time to reflect on yesterday and I have to be honest that I am a little sad and my heart is broken a bit. I am not sure if it should be, but at the present time it is and there was a scripture that came to mind. I am going to share that scripture with you and then I am going to share a little bit about what occurred, what I observed and what ticked me off. But, first, the scripture. Please read with fresh eyes:

Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help.

Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don't put it off; don't frustrate God's work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we're doing. Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn't fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way. I'm speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!


Maybe my bolds interfered with you reading it freshly. But, the bold is what stood out to me and that I needed to scream.

Yesterday, we had our Guiding Coalition ( Board of Directors ) meetings on the Bridges out of Poverty. Overall, it was a very good meeting and the updates from the family meetings ( there have been 3 ) were fantastic. I cannot wait to be at the meeting tonight, meet the families going through the support system and hear their stories. From what I gathered, they have already taken big steps and that is just unbelievable and rockin' news.

The part that turned my stomach however was the report from the faith community and their lack of response in my opinion or the strings that they want to attach for them to be part of the partnership.

I really wish that we, as a faith community, would see this "program" as an opportunity to help 10 families who are willing to commit to make a change and get out of poverty. We are not asking a great commitment from you. But yet, you want to raise numerous yellow and red flags and you want your hands ( it seems ) in the program for interior motives which just makes me want to go ugh.

The aspect that I guess that makes my heart break is that as I look around the room and see all the folks working on this program and the bad taste that they are getting in their mouth about churches, Christianity and religion. That is sad.

There was a letter that was read/outline about why some of the churches are not willing to help. I have to say that I did not "react" to the letter too well. I asked the board if I could address the letter and comments that were given as a person who is a "paid-staff-person" in the faith community.

I may have given a 5 minute rant, I am not sure. There were numerous shaking of the head in agreement. Which is good and bad. The reason that it is bad, I wish there would have been stop sighs going up saying, "Jeff, no that is not how we see the faith community ...."

I am really not even sure how to put this feeling down, it is very odd. Also, I have been getting flack from some locals when I put things on my blog or facebook status about the faith community in our county.

We, I believe, are putting up walls that we do not need to be putting up and I am afraid that the walls that we are putting up are hurting our image in the community and to me that is sad. Let me "list my bold highlights"


please don't squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.

Friends, God has given us a great life. Too many times, I think that we squander it away and we focus and put time & energies into things that do not really matter. I want to encourage you to take a look at your life and ask the question: am i squandering my life away?

People are watching us as we stay at our post

Folks are watching us and they are making decisions and determinations about Christianity, religion, church and spirituality based on what they see in you. I can tell you that there are a lot of people who are turning their nose to the church because how they see us reacting to community issues. I know that there are many that say, " but we are called to focus on .... " All I am saying is that people are watching; let us try to make sure that we are not the reason they do not want to give Jesus a chance.

I can't tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life.

I think that is still the case today but too many times we are in our gated fence, we do not live out the call to wide open spaces.

Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way.

As Paul says, these are simple words and pretty straight-forward. Our lives are lived so small, so many times and that should just not be the case. With Christ living in us, our lives are large, live large.

Live openly and expansively!

I just want to close my eyes for a few minutes and dream. Dream what our lives would be like, what are friends lives would be like, what our churches would look like and what would happen in our communities if every Christ follower lived openly and expansively.

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