Tag: invitation (page 1 of 2)

When Everyone is Looking For You

Yesterday I was shopping, cleaning, cooking – preparing for family who would arrive from out-of-town for a week-long visit. I multi-tasked, prepping everything along with all the regular “stuff” of life like meetings and writing assignments.

Creating time and space to connect with friends or family takes discipline and intentionality, but as we sat with dessert on the patio last night, I thought, how sweet the rewards.

It’s easy to go on “auto-pilot” with relationships, especially with Jesus who is so…polite. He never pushes His way in. Never demands time with us. He waits for us to come to Him.

Last week I introduced some devotional cards a friend and I have created around this theme, “Come”.

This morning, here’s the card I sat with.

If you are a mom of toddlers, or a boss, or a planning an event, I know you can relate to these words!

This verse comes after a very full 24 hours of ministry. Jesus gets up early and goes off alone to pray.

In Mark1 there are three places Jesus uses the word “Come” – each of them very different in context, but each of them speak to me of a reason why it was so important for Him, in the midst of crazy busy, to be alone with His Father. Here are three reasons for us to come to Him too:

  1. Imitate and Model

In Mark 1:17 Jesus calls the disciples, “Come follow me.”

Jesus invited (and invites) people to follow Him, but even He needed to be replenished in order to continue to lead.

People are watching us. They are following us. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul writes, “So imitate me, watch my ways, follow my example, just as I, too, always seek to imitate the Anointed One.”

2. Power up

In Mark 1:25 Jesus defies evil, casting out a demon, saying with confidence, “Be quiet! Come out of him.”

When we spend time with Jesus we are reminded that this same authority that gave Him power, lives in us through His Holy Spirit. We may be weak, but “greater is He who is in [us] than he who is in the world.”

3. Remember

In Mark 1:38 When the disciples find Jesus He says they will all head to some nearby villages for Him to preach because “That is why I have come.”

Time alone with the Lord grounds us and reminds us of our purpose. As I read God’s Word He tells me again who I am and whose I am.

Which of these do you need most this morning?

Do you know a graduate or a friend who might like a month’s worth of cards inviting them to  come away with Jesus?

 

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Invited, Part 1

One of my favorite times is in the hours before guests arrive at our front door and shed their hats and boots.

Some are nervously wary, like deer in the woods, others eagerly expectant, diving into hugs and conversation like happy golden retrievers.

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Before they arrive, I love the prep, the anticipation – the chopping of veggies and lighting of candles, the prayer that each person would feel our delight in them, the strategy considering flow and food.

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Hospitality is a gift I relish. I love connecting people around a table with thoughtful questions and laughter and meaningful conversation.

But whether the idea of opening your home makes you want to do a jig, or curl up in a fetal ball and hide, it’s still a spiritual practice.

We practice inviting because Jesus invites us.

As we include and gather and host, we mirror the image of God in us, welcoming all around His table.

Recently at a prayer gathering, we did this exercise. Continue reading

Love Invites

I’m kind of bummed at the decline of real paper-feel-in-your-hands-discover-in-your-mailbox invitations. They just seem special – like someone thought, “Oh I can’t wait to see this person!” as they hand-wrote your name on the envelope.

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I love getting invitations. I love being included. I love the feeling that someone wants me around.

You do too. Don’t deny it, even if you’re shy or an introvert.

But it’s one thing to receive an invitation; it’s another thing to reach out with one.

Our new church mission statement is, “To boldly extend the invitation Jesus makes to us, to everyone.” 

These Jesus invitations rarely fit in embossed envelopes though.

They are personal, face-to-face invitations  extended to neighbors, family, and friends, which can be scary because, well, what if they reject me? (That’s what it feels like, right? Rejecting ME, not Jesus, not the church, not just my invitation) What if they slam a door, literal or figurative, in my face?

Love invites, because Jesus invites:

  • “Come, follow me,” Mt. 4:19 (and a bazillionty other times)
  • “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt. 11:28
  • “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” John 1:39
  • “…go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” Mt. 22:9

“Eighty-two percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited.” –Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door.

But Jesus invites us into relationship, not religion. Continue reading

Soul Food for Halloween

Halloween is one of my husband’s favorite days of the year.  I know, odd for a pastor, right?

The pc answer should be Easter,right?  And yes, it’s the most important, but honestly, I think he likes Halloween because it brings him so much joy to welcome kids at our door with enthusiasm, handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single costume like they were the one and only.

He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

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Last night he took it to a new level.  He carried his rocking chair outside and our firepit along with a jack-o-lantern and a big basket of candy.  As I was watching him it struck me how much his posture towards the kids is like God’s towards us, only we usually miss it. Kind of like the dad waiting and watching for the prodigal son to come home. Continue reading

The Fool’s Bench at Easter

It’s early Easter morning as I write this at Starbucks.  Husband John has already come and gone to church to proclaim, “He is risen!” at the second of six services (The first was last night.  Weird, but I guess it was already Easter somewhere in the world)

 

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As I sit here, some come in dressed in their Easter best – pastel and fancy.  All patent leathery.  Others wander in their scruffy Sunday morning grunge – either clueless or apathetic or defiant.  I wonder which as I watch them.

Last night John got an email from some friends who have had no use for church.  It started, “You probably hate those ‘dicks’ who just show up at Christmas and Easter, but ___________(his wife) has had a rough month.  Her dad died and she may show up at your church tomorrow.” Continue reading

What I’ve Learned About God at Halloween

This is a re-post from two years ago.  I hope it’s an encouraging reminder this Halloween.


I think that Halloween is my husband’s favorite day of the year.  Odd, I know for a pastor.  The pc answer should be Easter,right?  But honestly, I think he likes Halloween best because there’s not much that brings him as much joy as handing out candy and oohing and ahhing over every single kid’s costume.  He looks forward all year to parking his chair by the front door and waiting for kids to come.  Even though he’s terrible at figuring out what the costumes are, he greets each kid as if they were THE most amazing, creative, delightful goblin of the night.

Continue reading

5 Things I’m Learning Around my Scarred Table

Tuesday we had a large group of people over for a BBQ in our backyard.  It was truly the perfect Minnesota summer evening.  Dry, 78 degrees, miraculously mosquito-free.  (for a minute I looked around thinking Jesus must be coming back).

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It was a delightful evening of good conversation and laughter, but it’s not like everything was perfect.  John burned most of the brats and 7 (yes 7!) people cancelled within an hour and a half of our start time.

It’s not like everything is always coordinated.  I’ve been known to use a hodgepodge of leftover holiday paper napkins.  Other times we’ve planned for outside but at the last minute rain has blown in or it’s been so hot and muggy we’ve had to frantically un-set and re-set for Plan B, everyone preferring to crowd in our small, but dryer, cooler house.  And I don’t always  usually handle this well.  Often I’m just a stressed out hot mess about change and flexibility.

Continue reading

Saving a Place on Fearless (Good) Friday

This morning I sat down at Starbucks at my table next to the fireplace with Phillip.  He’s like Norm of Cheers, friendly and fun.  Except that he’s tall and he’s from England.  He’s here every morning at 5:00.  He knows everyone and chats with all.

Today he wanted to talk about God and church and how he didn’t think God could love him.  And I wanted to listen.

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Underneath the jovial facade, what I heard was fear.  A fear that all of us have if we’re honest.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not having a place in community where he would be loved and accepted.

Continue reading

Invitations of the Scary Kind

I wrote yesterday about how I don’t see myself usually as the cowabunga-bungee-jumping for Jesus type.

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But I am trying to be a person that responds to whatever God invites me into.

Sometimes that’s leaning in to hear a whisper and being obedient in one of the million small invitations from God in daily life.

But sometimes there are big scary invites that take us off-guard.

They are as clear as a public marriage proposal booming over the loud-speaker at the Twins Stadium.  And that can be the most disconcerting kind.

So when I got a request to go teach a class to seminary students in middle-of-nowhere-rural Northern Kenya I wanted to put on Bose head phones to drown it out. (Yes. They are clearly desperate.)

I’ve never taught a seminary course and I’ll be alone without John, my best coach in all things challenging.  So the refrain in my head is “Ican’t/I’mnot/Ican’t/I’mnot…”

But like I’ve written before, I’m not, but He is.  And I really can’t ignore this, even though it makes me quake in my boots (or in my TOMS as the case may be).

And I’m inspired by some friends of mine who are responding to an much bigger crazy invite…adopting two orphans from the D.R.C.  You know, Congo, where there’s been horrendous gender violence (that means rape and worse) and warfare and the perfect storm of natural disaster, poverty, and evil.  And yes, you read right.  Two, yes two kids, with two more at home.

This is a big invitation that God has confirmed in both their hearts from the time they were dating until now.  Through scary developments and uncertainty they are trusting God to knit together a loving family of American born biological kids with Congolese babies abandoned out of desperation.

But there are also invitations of a different kind.  Big invitations to rest, that come in the form of end-of-your-rope-exhaustion and require you to say “no” may be just as scary and as the invitations to jump.

Here’s the thing…I don’t think we’re ready to say “yes” to any of the “bigger”, riskier things unless we’ve said “yes’ on the days of small things.

Would David have been ready to say “yes” to God’s invitation to fight Goliath, if he hadn’t said “yes” to the ordinary, boring, everyday stuff of protecting his sheep before that?

Would Elijah have had the courage to say “yes” to a showdown with the prophets of Baal if he hadn’t trusted God to provide food and water before that?

Would Daniel have been prepared to defy Darius when push came to shove if he hadn’t quietly been honoring God daily before that?

So as I prepare to send the email responding to the loud scary-big invite in my life, I’m trying to say “yes” to the whispers of today.  And I’m praying for my dear friends on their journey to respond to Jesus’ invite to come pick up two toddlers in Congo.

Are there ways you’ve seen God use everyday whisper invitations to prepare you for loud riskier ones?

Invitations and the Three Things You Need

I’m not that person.  I’m not the sell-everything-move-to-the-slums-of-Calcutta-like-Mother-Theresa person.  That’s not the invitation I’ve sensed from God.  Yet.

I’m an ordinary girl trying to follow Jesus where He’s put me and getting it wrong a lot.

But if there’s one passion I have, it’s responding to the invitations God extends, as crazy as they might seem in my ordinary world.

The thing is these invitations rarely arrive in a giant Oscar-like envelope with a red seal screaming “THIS IS IMPORTANT!  PAY ATTENTION!”

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We long for invitation, but sometimes we have to lean close because the invitation is a whisper not a shout.

Recently, Bob Goff wrote,

“Jesus won’t try to speak over the noise in our lives; love whispers so we won’t be confused about who’s doing the talking.”

Sometimes it’s a whispered invitation to stop.  And do something you’ve never done before.  Something a tiny bit scary, or uncomfortable, or potentially embarrassing.

The whispered invitation may come right in your cramped apartment, or in your dysfunctional family, or on the road to work.

The invitation might look like a Jamaican cleaning woman stranded on the side of the road needing a ride,

or an injustice that begs for a note to your congressperson,

or a kid who could use a mentor or a meal.

The other day I saw a friend of mine who responded to the quiet invitation from God to take her aging parent for a delightful afternoon tea out, giving her mom loving attention and a listening ear no matter how confused she got.

Here’s the thing though.  I believe three ingredients are needed if you’re going to respond to these gentle, holy invitations.

An eye, an ear, an hour.

An eye for those in need, an ear attuned to the whispered prompts of God, and the time to respond.

I guess maybe the fourth thing that is needed is a willingness to actually do the work of responding, but the element that I think is most often missing in our lives, the thing that prevents us from responding to God’s invitations, is lack of margin.

A mentor of mine always said, “If you’re too busy to take a pot of soup to someone in need, you’re too busy.”

I know, I know…in some seasons margin is beyond our control.  And maybe the person in need is you.  You’re the perpetual care-giver who, like Elijah after an intense season, needs to respond to the whispered invitation for a snack and a nap.*

Then do that.  Pray. Rest.  Replenish.

But whether God whispers an invitation to be part of some kingdom work, or kingdom rest today, which element is most likely to get in the way of you responding?  An eye to see the needs, an ear to heaven, the guts to respond, or the time to do it?

God, show me where You want to work today, and invite me to be a part of it.  I’m trying to pay attention.

*1st Kings 19

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