Word of the Week

If there's anything I know for sure, few people like to talk about lying.

Bad people lie. Criminals lie. You and I never, lie, right? We are good people! We just might tell "creative" stories or "white lies" sometimes and then laugh it all off.

But this morning, I want to sit with the opposite of this word: truth.

Truth: the facts about something rather than things that are imagined or invented.

In a world where what happens and what is believed are opposites, talking about truth can be a tricky reality. What is even the truth anymore? Yet, I continue to believe that soul work and truth-telling go in the same sentence.

To care for your soul (so that you have the capacity to bring more goodness and love and light and all the best things into the world) begins with the truth.

So today I'm wondering: what true about you? (And what do you want to hide?)

I have learned in my own journey that when I don't feel safe around people or a situation, I much more likely to skate around the truth for protection. I have learned to have self-compassion for myself in this way because safety is a basic human need and we can't bear our souls to everyone.

BUT, when you are safe, how might your soul be asking you to grow in the practice of truth telling?

Here's one suggestion. Think of some of your most trustworthy friends/ family members. How can you talk about what is true with them?

Recently I have encountered the work of Poet David Gate. (You can find more of his work here). In one of his recent post he offers this:

"The first thing in knowing yourself is to realize that you cannot really be known by your own eyes alone. We need to heed what those close to us perceive, because we are too good at the art of denial and afraid of being as naked as the lies we tell ourselves."

What I love about these words is that Gates points to that self-deception can easily creep into all of our lives if we don't surround ourselves with those who are kind and wise enough to mirror back to us what is REAL.

Of course, not everything others see or say is an accurate reality (we're all human after all and mistakes are made), but so many times it is!

Those who know and love us well have truth to share. And the truth will set us free!

So, friend, this week, in your pursuit of more truth filled living, may just the right people offer grace to help you see.



How many long-term relationships do you have in your life in the present day? Do you still talk to someone from high school? Do you have a sibling who is more like a best friend? Or a cousin that is your soul sister?

Relationships for the long haul can be some of the best gifts to the human experience-- people who can know and love us well over the decades. Yet, this isn't always the case with everyone. We move. People move. We change. People change.

Our Facebook culture has given us this idea that we have to be in touch with everyone we ever met! (It's crazy, right?)

Sometimes we realize, "This person was in my life for a time and it's over."

To this plight enter this week's word: freedom. Freedom defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

To live your life in freedom is to intentionally think about the question of WHY. Why are you saying yes?

Freedom in relationships means to say NO to obligation and YES to what is life-giving.

Freedom in relationships is what can lead us to the people we need right wear we find ourselves.

Freedom in relationships moves us away from guilt and just doing stuff because we have to do it. Or because we might let the person down if we don't keep things going.

Moving into freedom with people around us can be painful though. Often expectations don't align. People want us in their lives but it's not an experience we need. Other times, we want to be closer to folks who simply don't have time for us.

But the ancient wisdom I always go back to is this: the truth will set you free.

Freedom helps us honor the truth of others. Freedom helps us honor the truth about ourselves (often the hardest truth to offer). Freedom gives us this gift of letting go what is not ours to have. And, settling into freedom can feel so good! Do you know what I mean?

So, this week, I would love for you to spend some time thinking about the most important relationships of your life. How are you spending your time lately?Maybe what might emerge for you is a person or persons that you are spending time in that you just need to let go. No hard feelings. No drama. Not even some big talk. But just let be what is: freedom. Live your life in your lane where you need to be.

Freedom, you see, is this beautiful gift God gives so so that our life can open up to more beautiful things-- the things that are most life-giving for us!

Here's hoping for a week filled with joy for you-



militarygirlsExcerpts of a sermon preached at Springfield Christian Church from Malachi 3:1-14 and Luke 3:1-6

I can imagine that many of us know a teenager (if not two or three) that has gone through a period in their life of rebellion. Slammed doors, snarky looks and secret keeping become the norm of existence with such teens who have declared their parents and all things  “uncool.”

Several years ago when one of our closest friend’s daughter turned 13, she really turned toward rebellion big time.

Lying, sneaking out of the house at all hours of the night, failing classes (though she was a smart kid) were just a few highlights of her rebellion story. It was bad, really bad and our friend, the mom was really at her wit's end, fearing her daughter not make it out of her teen years without being on drugs or pregnant.

So Kevin and I wanted to do anything we could to help encourage positive living. So one weekend when we all went away to West Virginia.  Kevin and I gave our mother friend the afternoon off to relax and we took the 14-year old girl and 12-year -old boy out to hike and for ice cream. As we finished our walk and sat around picnic tables licking our ice cream cones, Kevin surprised me with how directly he started talking to the kids.

He told stories of what he’d seen with other teens friends of ours who made poor choices for their lives.

And the first word out of his mouth was “military school.”

Kevin went on “Be prepared: your mom might send you there. Lots of parents do it!"

Then, Kevin proceeded to talk about how structured each day was, how little sleep you got and of particular interest to the girl—how you had no control over what you wore (and that the clothes in military school did nothing for your figure). And you could see the FEAR come over her eyes. Though she didn’t admit it aloud, you could tell what she was thinking: “Oh I could never go there.”

We later learned from her mom that on the way home from the trip the two kids were talking about Kevin’s speech in the backseat of the van. And the teen girl said, “Oh I’ve got to reconsider my choices.” We were so glad to hear. 

There’s a reason, you see that the “military” or “military school” is often used as the last resort for troubled kids needed a boast to see life for what it’s really like. For in such an institution a rookie is forced to realize life is not about one person but rather about being on a larger team and giving back to a cause greater than themselves.

And, in a similar way, the prophetic message we just read from Malachi chapter 3 was a wake up call.

For the community gathered to hear this text was in need a re-boot, a re-orientation, a re-positioning in their approach to life, as was the case with my friend’s daughter. The community needed to hear a message of instruction about how their choices weren’t living up to God’s best for them. They needed to lay down their posture of rebellion and move toward the better life that God offered.

It wasn’t an easy word to hear but it was a necessary piece of instruction for a verse 1 points to: the “Lord of Hosts” was 4446359_f496coming.

Depending on what translation of the Bible you use, the number of times the Hebrew word tsebha'oth gets translated to the English “Lord of Hosts” differs. But here’s what we need to know from the Hebrew: the word “hosts” is a military term. The phrase Lord of Hosts can be translated, YHWH, he creates armies. Interesting, huh?

So for this word of the Lord to draw upon imagery of the heavenly arms coming down is to show the serious nature of this message.

Spiritual military school 101.

But how?

The first phrase of verse 1 gives us a clue. “See I am sending my messenger to prepare the way.” Or in other words, making this much-needed change is not something I’m going to ask you to do alone.

I am going to send you a helper.

I am going to send you a voice.

I am going to send you a person who will speak directly to your hearts so that you can hear. And this messenger will prepare the way for me to come.

Or in simpler terms—I’m sending you an opening act, a warm-up show that is going to help you get ready for the main event.

This my friends, is God's grace!

I have a friend who is epitomizes truth-telling in my life.

Several months ago, as my friend and I shared a conversation which I thought just was your average coffee date, catching up, sharing stories, musing together about the future, she stopped and turned directly toward me. “Elizabeth, I have something to tell you” she said. My ears perked up to listen. I knew she didn’t talk this way often.

As she started to recount some particularly painful details of an experience in my life she knew a lot about, she then looked me directly in the eyes and said:

“You’re angry, and it’s hurting your soul.”

Whoa! Was my first reaction. But before I could go into all of thoughts in my mind of “I can’t believe she just said that” my friend went on.

“Elizabeth, hear me say, you’ve got so much love to give. Now let the anger go and start loving as God made you to love.”

Now I would be lying if I told you that I liked what she said in that very moment. Or that it set well in my gut in the hours that followed. No, I didn’t sleep for a couple of nights trying to process what I heard.

But as the days passed, Holy Spirit would not let me move on. My friend's words laid the ground work for my ability to welcome more of God into my life. She was right and I needed to change.

In our New Testament reading for today, we read of another messenger. It’s the story we 1280x720always hear read at Advent, the tale of John the Baptist, Jesus’s cousin.

One word I’ve heard used to describe presence of John the Baptist on the religious scene is “an interruption.” And that he was!

John fulfills his calling by being “a voice crying out in the wilderness” offering a baptism for the repentance and the forgiveness of sins to those gathered in Galilee. John offers the people a new way to both live with God and one another.

John comes on the scene not as the main event, but as the opening act—the one preparing the way for Jesus’ ministry to begin. They too haven't been living right. And now is the time to prepare!

Good things, you know are only birthed out of times of preparation.

But appearance of messengers, as was the case with John the Baptist is that messengers do not always come in a package we might naturally gravitate towards (remember John was a burly character who ate bugs and honey) AND they might not say what we want to hear (no high points on the warm and fuzzy encouragement scale for prophets like this) but regardless they speak God’s words.

And we truly want more of God in our lives, we must listen.

God's messengers are gifts that keep on giving to us.

And this week, this month, this year a messenger might just find you across a meal table.

A messenger might just find in the break room at work.

Or a messenger might emerge in the face of one of your children. Hear me say truth-telling messengers can appear to us in thousands of ways, and usually not when we expect.

And our only responsibility is welcome the word and listen.

Of course this doesn’t mean that every person claiming to have a word of the Lord for us is actually of the Lord. A spiritual practice is always discernment! But that when we do discern that the word is for us, we listen and ask God to help us change.

For only when you and I face the truth of our circumstances, our emotions, our relationships and all the other parts of our lives can we welcome more of God in our world.

And isn't that what Advent is all about anyway?

Thank God for messengers. Oh, how we need each other!