Tag Archives: process

Embracing the Middle: Thoughts on Culture and Gospel

Our time in Guatemala was fantastic. My two oldest children had a blast. Even though we were in a completely different culture, we seemed quite comfortable. For some people culture shock happens on the way into a new culture. For others, it happens on the way back to their culture of origin. Our team in Guatemala discussed this the night before we left to come home. This reminder helped me to navigate the cultural differences.

Part of our conversation that evening was on how the new culture affects us. Shawn Smith, our mission director, illustrated this by calling the culture of origin, square, and the new culture, circle. If someone from a square culture spends time in circle culture, he will begin to appreciate some circle ways of doing things. His experiences in the circle culture will change his perspective. He will know that he is not a circle, but he may also feel that he is not quite square anymore either

squircleIn our conversation, we coined a word, squircle.

Living as a squircle will have its challenges and benefits, but either way it will be a new normal.

As Christians, we are in some ways a squircle. We have experienced the love of God. We’ve received the grace of new life. We have seen the example of Jesus’ earthly life. We have embraced the hope of the gospel — all things put to rights and all things made new.

These experiences change us. We don’t fit any longer in the world as we know it. We are still in process toward becoming like Jesus. This is the now and not yet of the kingdom of God. We find ourselves in the middle. It’s in this middle place that people of God can make the most difference (granted we don’t wall ourselves in to preserve our “squircleness”).

With all cuteness aside, my prayer is that when we find ourselves in this in between place, we will realize that we are not alone. This is where we find Jesus and his people. Remember, we love God best when we love other well. This can only be done from the middle.

Grace and peace,

Embracing Presence, Part 2: Thin Places for Thin Times

On a regular basis I hear friends and family comment on how busy and tired they are, and I wholeheartedly lump myself in with them. Those comments, which are not always complaints, remind me of Bilbo Baggins’ remarking to Gandalf in the book The Fellowship of the Ring,
“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

bread and butter

Image courtesy of Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know not everyone is in this place, but I do know that a lot of us are. It is in such places that we need a sense of God’s presence, but we tell ourselves that due to our tiredness and busy-ness we have failed to draw close to God, and thus don’t deserve the comfort of God’s presence.

I also believe that with Jesus’ giving of the Holy Spirit to the church the kingdom of God is here with us now. In this holds the promise of God’s kingdom breaking in on our daily lives in life-giving and life-changing ways. These can be called holy places, and, if I understand correctly, the Celtic Christian tradition calls these “thin places.”

Jesus started his rabbinical career with the message,
“Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (Mark 1:14)
It was to a thin time that Jesus made the invitation to break through at the thin place. God’s presence is here now, and as I shared last week, God’s presence is experienced when we make ourselves apparent to God.

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus understands thin times. He isn’t looking for us to work our way to God. He is inviting us. The thin times will not always stay thin, but the thin places are as available as our willingness to turn toward God. The hope of the kingdom of God is that as we experience the restorative presence of God, we too will become “thin places” for Christ’s  salvation to break through.

Grace and peace,

Embracing Process: It’s OK That Things Just Take Time

As I have been exploring the concept of embracing, I have been coming up with a lot of different ways to apply it. Actually, I’ve been stockpiling them, but this is the one that has risen the surface most prominently. We must embrace the value of process.


There are two things I have been thinking about lately that brought this into focus for me. The first is the creation story, and the second is the healing capabilities of the body (human, animal, etc.). They both speak to me that God designed process into the human experience.


In the first chapter of Genesis after the account of each of the six days of creation we have this phrase, “There was evening and there was morning: the first (through sixth) day.” This communicates to me that in creating the universe God took time to do it. Even when the “work” was done, God rested as a part of the creation process. If God used a process to bring about the creation as we know it, then we can expect process as an integral part of the earthly experience.


I am regularly amazed at the healing capabilities of the human body. In a home with five children, we see our fair share of bumps, scrapes, and cuts. All of which heal quite effortlessly, because God created our bodies to do it that way. 


The other night, I got to explain to my four year old about scabs. He was curious as to why we get them. I explained that they were God’s bandaids, protecting the wound as it heals underneath, and when it’s done healing, the scab falls off. It seemed to make sense to him. To me it is a testimony to God’s natural “miracles” found in the processes of life. It also reminds me that if we circumvent the process, we end up forfeiting the benefit the process was designed to provide (antibiotics, anyone?).


I share all of this in contrast to our “instant” society, in which everything should “just work,” “get done,” and we should “just do it.” The foil to all our advancements is process. It’s ok that things just take time.


What process are you needing to embrace? I pray God’s grace be with you as you seek to embrace the process before you.


Grace and peace,