Running

I’ve been running for a really long time. Almost four years it seems. I know, running is a silly word choice for someone who uses a motorized scooter. But we can run too! I am not even sure if this post will make it onto the internet. Here I am, though, typing anyway and seeing what comes of it.

No tea, no writing music, I’m in bed and not in a creative space. I am just tired of excuses. My thoughts were cluttered and super difficult to pin down so I decided to de-clutter my physical room as a symbolic exercise to declutter my mind. I know, super New-Age. But it seems to have worked.

So much has happened in the last 12 months. I started my first serious dating relationship. I quit seminary. I started working as a researcher for disability rights. I went back to counseling. I made a commitment to be all in on writing and speaking. I created and launched a Non-profit Disability Ministry. I began speaking at conferences and events about disability and inclusion. I started making videos. I found a home church. I met my biggest fear face to face and broke my ankle. I went to rehab. I moved back to New Jersey. I fought hard for four months to recover and get back to Nashville. I clawed my way, with help, out of the darkest pit of my life. I fell deeply in love with my partner, and someday wife. I moved back to Nashville. I launched my first video to get a decent amount of views (12k). And now here I am in mid-November hesitating where to motivate my legs to take me next.

While I have seen so much progression in my own life over the last year I am also painfully aware of the intense division that has consumed what seems like everyone in our country. But I don’t believe for a second that 2016 created all this discord and division. I believe whole heartedly it gave a voice to what was already lurking quietly in the background of our hearts. It was already there, now it has been clearly uncovered.

Maybe this is why I have been so afraid to post and write words for others to read. I DO NOT want to be another voice adding to the calamity and corresponding grace-less, unloving, polarized bickering that is controlling our hearts. Call it what you want. The truth is that our country is not one built on Jesus. It is built on the self-consumed, self-loving, self-seeking, self-indulging, self-proclaiming, self-preserving, self-deluded, selfish wants of our selves. Not one of us is free from that truth.

Harsh. Ouch.

And if you read what I just wrote and say to yourself “that’s so right! If only those (liberals/conservatives) saw how selfish they were!”

Then you literally missed the point of what I just wrote. I have never ever written a blog that pointed any direction but towards myself. I hope you can read these words in your own voice and take a beat from your overwhelmed emotions to consider this.

There will be no unity when the self is lifted above others. If we claim that it is not “the self” we advocate for, but those who look and sound and share views like us. I promise there is no difference to be had.

And the reason I have not written in four years with the conviction and depth and power that has always been in me is because I myself am self-seeking. self-preserving and selfish.

I am the man who took his talents and buried them away. Because surely, if I cannot lose any of what I have then I can keep it unharmed, unbroken and what I consider whole. I can show my Master that I have protected his gift from seeing the light of day. There is no weathering to be found. It has not been stolen or abused. It is the same as the day that He LENT it to me.

I cannot speak this next part to those who have not vocalized that they are a member of the Body of Christ. But I will write it so everyone can read it.

Our job. As the Bride of Christ. HAS NEVER been to use what has been given us for our own protection, preservation or provision. Those things. Those are God’s. Your job, our job is to be all in with every gift we have to offer.

We no longer bring our offerings to the altar to be burned before God. We take our offerings, our gifts, our talents and we hand them out freely to the Other. We share. No matter how much we are afraid it will hurt. We take scars and bruises along the way. And we give out what we have BEEN GIVEN freely.

Then we stand next to those we have shared our hearts with, we put our arms around them and we point to the Heavens and explain. “This is the God who gives and takes away. This is the Lord who so freely gives in abundance that we need not want, instead we are spurred on to give.”

We no longer burn offerings. No. We are the gifts God has poured out in abundance.

Turn your eyes, Oh Child of God, turn your eyes outward. Look at those who are not you. Those who are calling out in fear and in pain. Look to your hands. Look at your feet. Why are you not already running to those who are not you. Why are you not bringing them God’s gifts. The Spirit’s Gifts of love, patience, kindness, self-control, forgiveness and so on?

Will you stand in the gap? Will you show those in the world that there is a love greater than the self can ever muster? Run to them Dear Ones.

Much Love

BGTF

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The “To Do” List

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to this series on Colossians 3.

Today we are going to look at verses 12-14.

First, though, I want to touch again on verse 11. Because before we move onto the list of what things to bring into genuine Christian Community we have to start with the basics. And as Paul makes it clear, the basics here are that if we share the commonality of Christ we share everything. In Christ there are no divisive labels to box us out from one another. There is only Christ and he unites us. That’s how the body of Christ is supposed to work. In relation and with love for each other. So step one to what to bring into community… You are all in the same boat. You share the greatest commonality in all of history: the love and adoration for the one true King. He is first and he is what makes us who we are. Adopted children of the one true God. And that’s the bottom line, all that remains in Christ are sons and daughters (or daughters and sons if you prefer) of God.

Now that we have the basics, let us dive in,

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

This is how we are to live in community with one another. These are the trump cards we have to bring to the game every single time. In fact our hand should only have these cards to share.

Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Dang.

Compassion: empathy, sympathy, understanding, self-sacrificing. These are the things of compassion. When you see a broken friend, do not turn a deaf ear to them. Christ lives in them. They deserve your time and your attentive care. Let Christ’s light shine through you. Allow him to heal through you.

 

Kindness: hospitality, encouragement and generosity for the sake of being generous go such a long way. The pureness of kindness promises no return, but rather a self-giving because you have excess in your heart to give. Christ has filled you to the brim with kindness. You have more than enough to share. You never know how a simple “You look beautiful” a free lunch or an extended hand could literally change the direction of another person’s life.

Humility: You are not the most important person in the room. Lay down your need for attention and affirmation. And stop for goodness sake trying to be right just so that you can be right. Pride has no room in the Kingdom of God and neither in the Body of Christ. Get yourself in check friends.

 

Gentleness: Sometimes people do need a swift kick in the butt. But you better friken know that person like the back of your hand. If you don’t, you should probably save your harsh and abrasive attitude for another day. Gentleness gives you the chance to get the whole story. You may very well only be seeing a part of every thing going on in someone else’s life. Offer the gentleness you desire to see in others.

 

Patience: If you struggle with patience you probably skipped ahead to this part of my blog. Okay now back up and read the other parts… Okay? You ready to move on? Good. If you cannot have patience in community, get out now. It is not always easy to be patient. Especially when you are watching someone you love deeply in a very rough spot. You may just wanna smack them in the face. But most often people need us to extend the same patience that God offers us, His disobedient and wandering children. Like the humility piece, it isn’t all about you. Swallow that and digest that, because when you lack patience you lack humility and gentleness and compassion. It is probably why Paul listed it last.

 

Now that those subjects have been briefly covered, it is time to see what Paul thinks the most important pieces to the puzzle are. Without these two every other piece is a waste.

Forgiveness and Love.

Forgiveness is up first: Paul wants us to bear with one another. That means more than just put up with one another. That means STRUGGLE with one another. Strive on together fight on together, grow together. This cannot happen without being able to forgive each other. I promise you. Because you will get hurt and you will hurt those that you love. Deal with that fact. I do not care how perfect you try to be, we are human and we mess up. If we were perfect we would not need Christ to live in us. We would be good to go. But we are FAR from perfect. We are broken mirrors of the intended image we are supposed to be bearing. So forgive one another. Even when you really really do not want to.

Because, well. The offenses you have brought against God are WAY more horrid and unforgivable than the ones your community has brought against you. Yet He has forgiven you, He has forgiven the whole world. There is no wiggle room here. I am sorry. There may be something in your life you feel like you cannot forgive, but that is utter poop. Feeling does not denote truth. Forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven you. Forgive, like the LORD has already forgiven YOU.

And now for the last piece of today’s series: Love.

Check out 1 Corinthians 13.

Paul says community is a heart issue. You do not do all these things above just because you are commanded to. You are called to LOVE these people you are in community with. Love spurs us on. Love asks for intimacy and it beckons for vulnerability and authenticity. If you have love the rest of the “To Do List” is pie. Bind all of these things together with love. Start there. Start by loving. Do not give me that “Sure I love them but I don’t have to like them” crap. Stop being an idiot.

That wasn’t too gentle I guess. But hey, there is a time and a place for blunt words.

I love all of my readers dearly and hope that we can enter into conversation and relationship if we are not already.

Until part 4 of this series,

Much Love

BGTF