Sheri McConnell: September 2006

Saturday, September 23

This Post

really struck me and thought it was worth mentioning. I found it on Kathryn Scott's Myspace page (she is the writer of the song "Hungry" from the UK). Thanks Kathryn... may we be women and men who choose to live at the foot of the cross daily.


WHEN IT'S A DISAPPOINTING DAY...

From time to time, dreams that we had, hopes that we held, people we trusted, things we thought, don't quite turn out the way we thought they would. When it's a disappointing day, what I'm learning to do is come back to the cross again. It's there that I remember that God knows the power of pain; the burn of betrayal - it's there I can so clearly see that He understands the brokeness of dreams shattered, that His grip on reality in all it's harshness is firmer than mine. And it's there that the promise of redemption, of resurrection, of a sure outcome breaks in. We serve a God who chose brokeness to demonstrate His great love for us - who has walked the road before us - who has the power to change the most disappointing days into the most glorious tomorrows.
Sheri at 9:26 PM
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Thursday, September 14

This Week

Has been a week of focused prayer and time with the Lord.

I think the thing that stands out for me in these "set apart" times is the clarity that comes in just settling the heart posture to the still small inner voice who calls us to come. A time to remove distractions, the pulls which call to each of us constantly. Perhaps a time of 'self-cleaning' and re-focusing to the essentials - a de-cluttering of sorts.

I also love to see how in these times of the uniqueness in the ways which the Lord speaks. Not always in the familiar/usual ways yet the timeliness of His Word and life which come alive in depth and simplicity, touching the core of who we are.

This has been a good week so far. A much needed time for so many reasons. Yesterday in my inbox came this reading from the Henri Nouwen Society which again I found timely (see below) -one of the things that I have felt similar sentiment to and passion about. Again a timely message to my heart.

I want to encourage all of you who read this entry ...to take even moments today to settle those busy, anxious places into a time of focus on the one who really does bring life, peace, love and freedom.

And then say that those times of contemplation, meditation and focus are not just for 'self' gratification but to then cause us to look outward to those who are in our life, being a clearer reflection of Whom we center our life towards. In my life that is - JESUS.


On the Journey to Becoming Friends
written by DOUG WEIBE

Friendships are mysterious. They often begin and end when we least them expect them to. We sometimes become friends with people we are not initially drawn to. Sometimes we don't develop the kind of friendship we desire with someone we are attracted to. Some friendships take a lot of work, while others are as natural as breathing.

Friendship is a gift waiting to be revealed with every person I meet. With just a few people, the gift of covenant relationship will be revealed. With very many people, the gift of friendly waves and weather conversations will unfold. In between are the gifts of healthy working friendships, close lifelong friendships, friendships born in crisis, celebration, a shared passion for coffee, golf, children, faith, travel, et cetera.

Friendships are life-giving when we accept, nurture, and celebrate the particular gift that is present in each. Friendships are draining and difficult when we reject the gift by either not accepting the intimacy offered or trying to make the gift more intimate than it was ever meant to be.

These gifts of friendship are scattered like ripe fruit in the gardens of our lives, waiting to be tasted and enjoyed. Each gift is given by a loving God, who knows what we need and who desires a friendship with every one of us. Therefore, while we may choose our friendships, we do not create the gift of friendship. We can work on our friendships, but we cannot change them into something they are not gifted to be. This is the pain and the joy, the poverty and the incredible freedom we experience on the journey to becoming friends.
Sheri at 10:30 AM
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Saturday, September 9

A Refreshing Read

Thanks Matt for the link! I found this particularly refreshing. Article found on www.dwillard.org (Dallas Willard's site)


How Does the Disciple Live?
Previously unpublished.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How the disciple lives naturally comes out of who the disciple is.

As Jesus’ disciple, I am his apprentice in kingdom living. I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if he were I. It is my faith in him that led me to become his disciple. My confidence in him simply means that I believe that he is right about everything: that all that he is and says shows what life is at its best, what it was intended by God to be. “In him was life and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4 NAS)

Being his apprentice is, therefore, not a matter of special “religious” activities, but an orientation and quality of my entire existence. This is what is meant by Jesus when he says that those who do not forsake all cannot be his disciple. (Luke 14:26 & 33) The emphasis is upon the all. There must be nothing held of greater value than Jesus and his kingdom. He must be clearly seen as the most important thing in human life, and being his apprentice as the greatest opportunity any human being ever has.

When this orientation of the whole life has come upon us and been accepted, then the grace that brought it can begin to move throughout every aspect of what we are and do. Grace is God acting in our lives to bring about what we do not deserve and cannot accomplish on our own. But we are not passive in this process. We are commanded to put off the old person and put on the new. (Col. 3:9-10; Eph. 4:22-24) We are told to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18) This is something for us to do, and , although we cannot do it on our own, it will not be done for us. Being alive in Christ means that we can do whatever it is we need to do to increasingly take on his character and live in his power.

The ultimate outcome of this process is expressed by Paul the Apostle: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Col. 3:17) And again: “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Cor. 10:31) My entire life is to be caught up in the life that Jesus Christ himself is now living on earth and will continue throughout eternity. And that is why being his apprentice is the greatest opportunity any human being ever has. That is how grace possesses our whole life. That is how those “saved by grace through faith…are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10)

Living as Jesus’ disciple, I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens everywhere I am, in every activity I engage in. There are three dimensions of this learning.

First, I am learning to do the things which Jesus explicitly said to do. It is quite literally nonsense to call Jesus “Lord,” and not do what he said. “Lord” means nothing in such a case. (Luke 6:46-49) But because I do accept him as Lord, his instructions on behavior are my treasures for living life. Of course I cannot do what he said by just trying. I must train! I must, through appropriate courses of action, become inwardly transformed by grace to become the kind of person—in my inmost thoughts, feelings, attitudes and directions of will—who will routinely do the kinds of things he said to do. I will then not be governed by anger, contempt or lust. And I will be able to bless those who curse me, love my enemies, and so forth, because I am one in whom the character and power of Christ has come to dwell through the processes of discipleship to Christ.

Second, I am learning to conduct the usual activities of life—in home, school, community, business and government—in the character and power of Christ. Jesus himself, of course, spent most of his life on earth as an “independent contractor” or businessman. Jesus could have led the ordinary life of the ordinary citizen in all of its legitimate respects. He can show us how to live now, as a mother or father, banker or computer programmer, teacher or artist, in the Kingdom of the Heavens. His character and power and personal guidance will lead us into life as it should be in all of these areas of human existence.

Third, I am learning to exercise the power of the kingdom—of Christ in his Word and Spirit—to minister good and defeat evil in all of the connections of earthly existence. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38) Apprenticeship to Jesus means that, in tiny steps, we learn to exercise this power seen in Jesus. Growth in character is primary, for power requires substance of character if it is to be used for Christ’s purposes. Christ had no character problems, but we do. Prayer, in its aspect of training for Kingdom life, is primarily a matter of learning to exercise power in a way that is both profitable and safe. Through it, in the usual case, we take our first steps in “receiving abundance of grace” and “reigning in life by One, Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:17) So character is more important than power for us, but it does not replace power. The fruit of the Spirit (thoroughly Christlike character) flourishes only in a context of regular communal manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit. And this manifest power of the Spirit in life is not something restricted to “church services.” In this matter also, Jesus is our example and our teacher. He acted with the Kingdom wherever he was. The “rivers of living water” which, as he said “shall flow from the center of the believers life” (from his “belly,” John 7:38), will continually flow from us, as it did from him, wherever we may be.

Now growth in grace—in God acting in our life—is something we must plan for by regular engagement in activities that enable us to receive God’s grace in all areas of our spirit (will), thoughts, feelings, body, social relations, and the deepest depths of our soul. We have been thoroughly “occupied” by sin—which is mainly just exaltation of “me,” and the consequences thereof. Our intention as apprentices of Jesus is to become the kind of person who lives in the character and power of Christ. We must, then, do those things that will enable us to become that kind of person, from the inside out—through appropriate actions and practices.

Such actions and practices are “disciplines for the spiritual life.” They are well-known from observing Christ and his people. They include such practices as solitude, silence, fasting, study, worship, fellowship, prayer, etc. There is no complete list of such practices, though some are more well-known and widely practiced than others, because they are more central to breaking the power of indwelling sin and increasingly filling our life with grace. Disciplines are, in essence, activities in our power that enable us, by grace, to do what we cannot do by direct effort—by “just trying.” We cannot, by just trying, succeed in loving our enemies and heartily blessing those who curse us. But by a wise practice of disciplines in the presence of Christ, we can become people who will routinely and easily do so.

In disciplines we need to be informed and experimental. They are not righteousness, but wisdom. We must be practical with them, and not picky. We must not be ‘heroic’ or think we are earning anything from God. Disciplines for the spiritual life are places in which we meet with Jesus to be taught by him, and he is our guide into how they are best practiced. We should not be overly concerned about how others do them. In a very short time Jesus will lead us into the practice of them that is best for us.

The crucial thing is that, as disciples, we have a plan for carrying out the decision we have made to devote ourselves to becoming like our Master and Lord—to increasingly living in the character and power of Christ. Disciples are those who, seriously intending to become like Jesus from the inside out, systematically and progressively rearrange their affairs to that end, under the guidance of the Word and the Spirit. That is how the disciple lives.
Sheri at 12:46 PM
2 comments

Wednesday, September 6

thoughts running through my head ...

Questions ... random thoughts which have been stirring in my mind sparked by words I have read or conversations had. Not looking for some perfectly poised christian 'answer'. Just reflections ... To reflect is to hopefully cause us to better understand our own souls, motivations and perhaps faith discovery.

A few of my mental rants ... WARNING :: BEWARE this is very honest material below.

Why is it that as believers in our even most noble pursuit of faith and community, we are so motivated from a myopic soul conciousness. Our view of "church" and/or "mission" is so consumerized ... "what can I get out of this community...?" "This community has not met my unspoken, yet hours upon hours of stewed contemplation of frustrations, needs and cries"... Why is our relationship to faith, the Lord and others always so motivated by 'self'.

My Needs ... My Wants ... My Honesty ... My Emotions ... My Service ...Me, Me, Me. Why is it such a struggle to see through the selfless lense, to look through and slowly strip our conciousness of the human 'selfish' struggle. To look at how we can build into something, love someone, give away service ...give away of myself with no secret expectation or motivation in return. PURE SELFLESSNESS.

Perhaps we wouldn't always feel so ripped off by "church" and/or "community" if our pondering thoughts and conversations were more focused towards what I can give, contribute and build rather than what do I get out of this experience or person.

This experience is "failing" me!!! WHAT? What is failure really? Does it really exist? Does the Lord look at that which He gives daily to us as failure? hmmm... or is it more because it doesn't fit with what I think - I need, I want, I desire or I believe to expect. I, I, I...

Why is it ... so often as people the same grace we expect and even at times demand to be given towards ourselves, is so far from that which we are willing to give others in our life. We easily want to cry out for justice in every part of life and yet forget about our own dier need of mercy and grace ... and how we need to initiate that towards others ...?

Why is it that leadership is so dang hard, frustrating and heart wrenching most days. Even when you try to do right of those whom you lead and ultimately before the Lord - you are secretly (and at times not so secretly) judged, maligned, verbally accused and/or scarred all for the sake of personal "process" or "honesty".

Why is it that people often think we don't bleed, feel or hurt. That the verbals and non-verbals can be like a severe sting over and over again. "To be understood" only goes one direction. Why is it so easy to project your own issues on to everyone you meet making it theirs to own and yet really it has nothing to do with them at all. But all about you.

To "listen" through my personal filters and lense or to truly listen from the heart and Spirit? with purity not bias or ambition?

Does the pain of caring for others ever stop? Why does caring feel more painful than joyful?

When will people commit to push past "labels" defined or not in each other to see rare beauty and treasure that is so beyond our human value system. When will we want to discover something new in a person rather than just being content to thinking we have them all figured out and now slotted into our perfect little compartamental world.

When will we choose to see the way Jesus sees - not as the ways of our world.

Can one ever truly love unconditionally from a human form? Or is that only for the divine?

When will we look at others as gifts in our lives -to be cherished and cared for. Valued. Not used and then discarded once we have played long enough with the gift. Time to move on to the next. Relationships - why do we treat them like commodities valued only based on how they make me feel. When that feeling is gone -so are they.

Contentment. What does that really look like? Im realizing that Im not very good at that but, definately long to live from that place ... Then again what is that really ... all I know is that I long to posture my life towards and from that place.

'Loneliness' is it really different than 'aloneness'? I say that all the time but then I stop and ask myself will it ever end?

Fickle Relationships ... Content with shallow understanding -WHY? God help me - I really don't want to be that way!

Brokenness or Barrenness? Is it really either or? How about both and...?

Why does it feel as of late more about constant sacrifice than seeing blessing and provision? Sacrifice because of obedience is way easier for me in some odd way than choosing to believe in the blessing and provision of the Lord. I know it's there but honestly, it's wearing me down. Perhaps, Im just tired of fighting for my elusive dreams? a thought.


"The seeds that are planted in my liberty at every moment, by God's will, are the seeds of my own identity, my own reality, my own happiness, my own sanctity. To refuse them is to refuse everything; it is the refusal of my own existence and being: of my identity, my very self.

Not to accept and love and do God's will is to refuse the fullness of my existence.

If I never become what I am meant to be, but always remain what I am not, I shall spend eternity contradicting myself by being at once something and nothing, a life that wants to live and is dead, a death that wants to be dead and cannot quite achieve it's own death because it still has to exist." - Thomas Merton (Seeds of Contemplation pg.33)


My last thought ... Kingdom Struggle or perhaps just Human Contradiction. One of the same or different? hmmm...
Sheri at 10:29 PM
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Monday, September 4

To Blog Or Not To Blog ...

I have been finding it difficult to write about anything more than these humourous and fairly pointless fun quizzes as of late. Perhaps the novelty of blogging is wearing off somewhat or I just haven't felt inspired to tell the random world out there (whoever reads this...scary thought;) the happenin's of my current life.

Since coming home from Canada beginning of August ...everything has been in summer mode down here which means alot of relaxation and kick back times. Routines and schedules haven't really kicked in just yet however, since we are coming to the close of labour day weekend - life as normal as it is here will then kick into gear fairly quickly.

Last week was a celebration of my dear amazing Grandmother's life. Grandma passed away last week and is dancing up a storm with Jesus and Grandpa in Heaven right now. Grandma was a beautiful lady whose legacy stretches beyond human comprehension to the divine. She was a woman who walked out life with a generosity that I have never seen modeled and lived like no other. Grandma I love you with all my heart and know that you are in a beautiful place. I hold onto all that you were and will always be in my heart and life! Thank you for being a woman who knew how to fear the Lord in such a pure way and one who loved unconditionally sharing from a place of contentment every part of your life with grace and joy! I love you always ...

So, the end of summer is coming to a close quickly and perhaps the beginning of a new season in more ways than one is upon us.

Don't forget to LOVE DEEPLY ... LIVE GENEROUSLY to all and LAUGH ALWAYS through the good and bad. LIFE is WORTH CELEBRATING on the rough road and through the smooth roads. There is always someone and/or something right in front of us worth being thankful for which is a gift in our life brought by the Lord. The rarest treasures are that which take time to uncover and discover. Be willing to explore.
Sheri at 12:24 PM
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