Transformation

Transformation

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day Seven ~ Leap Day

Today is a very special day.  It is a day that only arrives once every four years and then only on a very complicated schedule. It is the culmination of Leap Year!  One more day to praise the Lord!

I pray that you might see your Leap Day experience as a great gift of a very special commodity.  Time!  It is another day to serve, another day to share, another day to be present with one another and with our Lord.  One more day to carry out the Scriptural mandate of loving God and neighbor.  Use it well!

It is also a day when special requests can be made.  Years ago it became a day when women could offer proposals to men.  Then a guy called Lil Abner showed up on the comic page and Sadi Hawkins day was born.  So ladies...

Now, back to our Lenten journey.  I am praying that I will be able to see Jesus in the face of every person today.  I will be with our preschool kids, I will spend time with our staff, and I will see folks in public places.  I will visit the hospital, talk with people on the phone, and endeavor to see Jesus in their eyes and hear Jesus in their voice.

Rich and poor will come my way.  I may not know the difference by outer appearances.  I may find myself making some assumptions based on outer appearance.  I might be wrong.  I might be right.  But my goal is to make no assumption.  Because the assumptions of culture, cash, and custom are just outer images.  The Lord sees the heart.  The inner soul is the important image.

So I invite you to use this unique day to see the people you meet in a unique way.  Set aside the things that create barriers and filters...look deeply...do things differently.  It's Leap Day.  A day the Lord has made!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day Six ~ Dr. Russell West

We welcome Dr Russell West to our conversation today. Russell is a Professor of Christian Leadership at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He shares from his personal journey.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Five~ A Day of Thanksgiving

We have been invited to consider the simple things around us and be thankful. Chris even invites us to take time to write down a series of items for which we are thankful.  Let me share just a few of the items that are on my list:
  • My family and my household that includes my wife and daughter
  • Good health 
  • The blessing of medical care for our daughter
  • The joy of having a place to serve
  • The privilege of watching people grow in their faith and service
  • The new day that will unfold and the opportunity to pray for this day and the people who will inhabit these 24 hours within my connected sphere
  • For children around the world and the people who care for them

These are just a few, my list, like yours...could continue for a long time.

For now, be thankful and take time today to learn more about the people around you.  Especially take time to discover the plans, programs, and people who serve the poor in your area.  Perhaps you will discover a new ministry that excites your spirit or meet a new person how challenges your faith and adds a new circle of relationship to your journey.

Life is indeed a journey!

Video Note:  Please forgive the limited abilities that are demonstrated in the video.  It is apparently very hard for me to tell how tall I actually am or to know where the camera is really pointing.  If the truth were known, I have been concerned about my receding hair line so I just decided to do away with it...apparently along with my forehead.  Sorry.   I think you will get the point in spite of my 'less than Academy Award chromatography.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday ~ A Feast Day

Within the 40 day pattern of Lent we will naturally have a series of Sunday experiences.  Traditionally, the Sundays are not counted as a part of the 40 days that flow from Ash Wednesday to the celebration of Easter.  As a result, Sundays are always uniquely celebrated.

Within our sequence of fast days, we find the joy of a feast day.  Take a minute and re-read the material in Chapter Four of A Place At The Table so you can capture the rhythm of feasting and fasting as a part of the Kingdom sequence.

Remember, feasting in not about going to a buffet and trying to out eat the price tag!  It is about celebrating the presence of God and enjoying the natural cycle of life that God endorsed at creation.  It is about sabbath, sequence, and celebration.

It is also about worship.  This is a day to feast on the Lord in a very real way.  It is a day that provides us the corporate and individual opportunities to be refilled and refueled through acts of worship.  God wants to fill you to overflowing!

Wherever you are, I pray that you will worship well.  I pray that you will 'taste and see that the Lord is good' throughout the day by meditating on the Word you read or hear today in worship.  Gather your friends, talk with your family, spend time together as the Body of Christ to allow the fullness of today to enrich your journey.  Call 'home' to touch base.  Connect with someone you love. Contact someone who needs a voice of encouragement.  Receive and share, that too is the rhythm of the Kingdom.

May the Lord be present and known to you on this First Sunday of Lent!   Amen

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day Four ~ Staying the Course

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to get off course?  This is only Day Four of our Lenten commitment but (for some) it can be a day of struggle.  Let me invite you to stay the course.  Not only because today is Saturday and tomorrow is a feast day...but because our knowledge and experience with God becomes richer when we demonstrate faithfulness.

Faithfulness is a wonderful gift that we offer to ourselves and to others.  In relationships we think about faithfulness as the key to developing trust.  In the spiritual life it is a central gift that we can give to God.  It demonstrates our trust in the Lord and it allows our heart to be open so the Holy Spirit can flow in.  Perhaps the faithful people of Scripture come to mind.  You can refresh your memory by taking a look at Hebrews chapter eleven.  You won't see them all, but you will be encouraged because ordinary people offered themselves to God in a spirit of diligence and trust.

Trust!  That is a key to the spiritual life!

On this Saturday I trust that you are placing yourself in a posture of obedience.  A willing offering of yourself that includes engagement with Scripture, a willingness to pray, a continuation of your fast, and a spirit of excitement about your opportunities to serve others.

Personally, I will be traveling to the southern part of Denver today.  I will spend most of the day facilitating a conversation about spiritual leadership and goal setting with a congregation that is anticipating an upward swing.  Your service might be a one-on-one conversation with a friend, a deed of unexpected kindness, or a word that you speak as a gift of love to someone who needs encouragement.  Whatever it is, consider all that God has given to you, and be grateful.  Then serve out of that spirit of gratitude. 

I pray that the Lord will bless you as you take a few minutes to watch the video.  Don't forget to check in with author / pastor Chris Seay at www.chrisseay.net.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day Three ~ The Cold and Snow of Winter

Today is a day like no other day.  It has never happened befroe and it will never come around again in this exact form.  It is a gracious gift to you.  And it arrives ready to unwrap at this particular moment.  Enjoy it by being a blessing to someone today.

If you are a 'Grand Sweep' person (our congregational effort to read through the Bible in 2012) you have been rediscovering the life and ministry of Moses over the last couple of weeks.  Chris Seay teaches about Moses today and connects the life of Moses to the invitation of Jesus to 'come unto me'   I am just wondering, are you ready to come?  Is your life drawing you closer to Christ.

If you are connecting with the comments you heard the question about what God is teaching and how long will it take.  Can we learn it over a long period of time or can we expect something sooner?  In truth, it is a day by day discovery.  It is like a great painting on a beautiful stand but it is draped for now but the grand reveal is happening moment by moment.  It is not a tease...it is just always ready when we are ready.  Lent is about getting ready.

Blessed are those who ....


May the peace of Christ and be blessing of warmth be yours today.  Care for those who seem to have neither blessing or warmth.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day Two ~ Solidarity

Today is a day of thanksgiving.  We celebrated Ash Wednesday.  Our journey has official been launched with a spirit of repentance and fresh commitment.  It is a joy to walk with you as we discover more about what God has in store for us as a group and as individuals.

Please watch the video and then be sure to add a comment so we can all discover new ways of serving together.  The comments will thread so you can engage others who are taking part in our journey.

The blessing of Jesus be yours!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day One ~ Ash Wednesday

Welcome to Day One!  We are off to a good start.  The starting line is one thing ... but remember ... our goal (in all things) is to finish strong.  Stay the course and God will expand your discipleship journey.  Thanks for being a part of the team!

Please leave a comment below if you would like.  We would be interested to learn what you are doing to engage poverty and how you are shaping your season of fasting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Introduction to A Place At The Table

Today is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the marking spot for the start of a spiritual season we call Lent.  Lent is a journey through time that will take us over a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays) as we make our way to the great celebration of Easter.

Easter is a wonderful gift to the Christian community.  It is the day of Resurrection, a day of great hope, and a time of renewal for our faith.  To arrive at Easter is only dependent on our ability to cross off enough days on the calender.  But to arrive at Easter with a heart that is prepared...that is another matter!

It is a journey that is well worth the trip!  Our trip for 2012 will involve the development of a greater sensitivity and awareness of poverty in our own communities and around the world.

There will be four basic daily steps to our Lenten process. (1) get a copy of A Place At The Table by Chris Seay.  Read the first four chapters and be ready on Ash Wednesday to start with the Day 1 devotion. (2) log on to www.chrisseay.net to view the daily video that corresponds to the daily devotion.  (3) Check in with this blog (randyjessen.blogspot.com) to reflect together in written and video form. (4) engage a fast that will challenge your spiritual life with your daily journey.  Read Chris's suggestions about fasting and feasting so you are on target with the process.

In the meantime, learn all you can about the issues of poverty in your own community.  Engage, pray, learn, grow, and discover a new edge to your journey of faith!

Before we start...my apology for the face that launches the video.  Who knows what lurks in the heart of a person...sometimes in all comes to the surface in the first frame of a video!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lenten Journey of Faith Development

Friends:

Here is the detail I promised about our Lenten experience of solidarity with the poor!  The process will unfold with four primary features.

  • First, is your own personal commitment to read, discover, reflect, and engage the journey with a heart that is open and prepared by prayer.  This will include a personal commitment to discovering ways that you can fast by eating the foods that folks in poverty around the world eat every day (or when ever it is available).
  • Second, is the daily reading we will do together from A Place At The Table by Pastor Chris Seay.  Each participant will be responsible for obtaining a copy of the book.  It is readily available on line, in Christian bookstores, and in electronic form.  I have a hard copy that we purchased at Ecclesia and I have an electronic Kindle copy ready to go. 
    •  The daily readings will begin with Day 1 on page 51 of A Place At The Table.  Day 1 will be Ash Wednesday February 22, 2012.  Remember, Sunday is always a Feast Day!
    • Prior to Day 1, you will want to read the first four chapters to understand how our fast will unfold.
  • Third, I will be inviting you to log on to www.chrisseay.net (click on Daily Videos on the top banner) to watch the short video that Chris has recorded for each day.  The videos are clearly marked for each day of the reading in A Place At The Table.
  • Fourth, I will also be inviting you to log on to this blog page to watch a video that I will post or material that I will share daily.  You will also have the opportunity to post a comment and to connect the comment thread to your daily prayers.
Note: Even though our official start is Ash Wednesday...I will post a preview video on Tuesday February 21st.  Some folks call this Fat Tuesday (a literal translation of the French Mardi Gras) but it really is Shrove Tuesday which identifies a spiritual day of confession and preparation.  It has become a eat-drink-and-be-merry day of celebration but it is actually a day that launches us forward to a time of personal renewal, sacrifice, and reflection.
    It is my prayer that our journey will not be a burden but a blessing.   Pray daily for the poor in your community.  Get to know where they live, what they do, and what they eat.  Engage the various parts of the world that will become the focal point for each day.  Eat only what you need, conserve your resources and support your favorite food distribution center with a wonderful blessing.

    Lent is a time of reflection and discovery with a focus on growing closer to Christ.  As we draw close to one another...as we develop a heart for our neighbors...we will discover the love of God and the heart of our faith.  That heart belongs to Jesus Christ who is Lord of all the earth.

    Let's journey together.

    Lord, we ask that you would start now with the inner preparation we will need for this journey of faith.  Do your work within us.  Open our eyes to the needs of others.  
    Teach us how to pray, how to serve, and how to be your people.  Walk with us Lord.  
    For this we ask in the name of Jesus, the name that is above all names.  Amen

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    A Place At the Table

    I want to invite you to join me in a Lenten journey of faith.  Our focus will be on understanding and living in solidarity with the poor.  We will do more than just pray for the poor in our communities and around the world.  It is essential that we pray, but we will do much more than that.  We will eat what they eat, we will walk where they walk, we will learn about their needs, and we will hear from Scripture as we discover a new calling for our Christian journey.

    We will be using three different tools for this journey.  First, we will use the book A Place At the Table by Chris Seay.  Second, we will use a series of videos that Chris has produced to help introduce us to the issues of poverty around the world. Third, I will post a daily video on this blog site to help us think and pray together.  I hope you will join me on this journey.

    I will post more detailed instructions and web locations in the next few days.  For now, I invite you to get a copy of A Place At the Table.  Read the introductory material and the first four chapters.  That will set the stage for a unique time of biblical discovery, personal learning, and a fast that will shape our journey.

    You can obtain a copy at your local Christian bookstore or online at your favorite Internet retailer.  It is available in hard copy and for electronic readers.  Get a copy today so we can begin our conversation about a fast that just may change your life.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    The Grand Sweep

    So here we are, it is week number 6 of the Grand Sweep.  We are about to move out of Exodus and into Leviticus.  Here is my best advice, whatever you do...do not get stuck in Leviticus (or anywhere else for that matter!).

    Years ago, Sue and I were working with mission teams that were serving in the Four Corners area through Four Corners Native American Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Shiprock, New Mexico.  We had a great time with the people and found wonderful joy through that ministry experience.

    At one point the Four Corners ministry was building mobile church buildings on the frame of a double wide mobile home.  They would build the facility and then tow it to a location in the middle of nowhere in the Navajo Nation to provide a regional place of worship.

    I remember one traveling church facility that left Shiprock and headed for Chinle, Arizona.  On the way the tow team ran into an unexpected and quite rare rainstorm.  The rain created a classic flash flood along with mud galore.  The mobile home frame sank past the axles in heavy mud.  Every effort was made to dig it out, but it was stuck for good.  As a result, the folks just looked around and said, this must be the place God intended to plant a church.  To the best of my knowledge, that church is still there and has been serving as a place of worship for over 25 years!

    The moral of the story seems to be twofold.  First, don't get stuck!  But (second) if you do get stuck, make sure you provide a place for the Lord to do his thing!

    Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy...here we come!  Use four wheel drive whenever you need it!  Shift down, climb that hill, and make it happen.  God will bless you as you go!

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    New Reading Materials

    I just finished two books that really spoke to my heart.  The first is a new work by Reggie McNeal.  Many of you will recognize Reggie as a prolific author of incredible value.  His leadership, church change, and missional work is remarkable.

    This one is called Missional Communities: The Rise of The Post-Congregational Church.  It outlines the primary missional conversation and then provides real life models of missional community in action.  The two that spoke to me were the Future Travelers and the chapter on Mission Houston with Jim Herrington.  Incredible.  See Will Mancini's post about Future Travelers and the work of Alan Hirsch.  http://www.willmancini.com/2010/02/movement-making-with-alan-hirsch.html

    The other book is actually a wonderful resource for the 40 days of Lent by Chris Seay.  I had a chance to touch base with Chris at Ecclesia last weekend.  I can tell you, his teaching, writing, and vision process is really remarkable.  Like the Advent Conspiracy, this work helps us understand and walk with the poor of the world.  A Place At The Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor is a wonderful tool for engaging your personal faith with the daily experience of the poor around the world.

    The heart of the missional movement beats with several different rhythms.  Sometimes it feels like the conversation needs a pacemaker to keep it in alinement.  But, in a strange way, the beauty of the movement is the variety that it produces.  Some simply  denounce the attractional or church growth model while offering little to take up the slack.  Others focus on a radical lifestyle that becomes neo-monastic and harsh.  Still others try to look at leadership traits and discover the DNA of a congregation.

    In the end, it is about doing church differently.  It is a movement away from building good church folks who understand, support, and participate in the structured organization.  It invites us to identify, adopt, and live fully into a Kingdom mentality.  In this process we discover new ways of loving God and serving our neighbor.  We discover that the church is really bigger than a set of doctrines and a stable of rules.  It is about worship that shouts 'I am not ashamed of the Gospel' and then moves into the streets to smell the reality of life.  It is the mission of God that becomes the ministry of the people.

    These are books that will offer a head-lamp unto your feet.

    BTW: if you have not seen 58:The Film (http://live58.org/thefilm/) now is the time.