It’s Monday November 28

We launched our Advent series this weekend, The Art of Faith, by celebrating the visual arts. Local artists, Duarte Brown and one of his students, painted throughout the worship services bringing together the Advent promise of Jesus coming to live among us with the everyday reality of our broken lives. That is the gift of the artist who can masterfully blend multiple realities together in a single brush stroke In doing so they invite us into God’s creative work. Tobi Zausner reminds us that good art is a participation process not just a spectator event. “Every time we look at a work of art, we become co-creators with the artist because it is our response to art that brings it to completion.”

I wonder if that is what God had in mind when God made us. We would not just gaze at one another or the creation or the creator like spectators at an event. We would participate in the ongoing work of creation and re-creation by responding to our creator in love. Yes, the world is broken. Yes, we experience pain and loss and disillusionment. Yes, it is easier to throw up our hands in despair than to extend them in service. But, Advent, like good art, reminds us that God entered this world in Jesus and invites us into the process of re-creation. In this masterpiece of God’s imagining, we find the courage to say no to an addiction and yes to life. We gain new insight into who we are and what we could be and then move forward, even at a cost. We extend ourselves in forgiveness and breathe wholeness into a fragmented relationship. We empty ourselves in loving service, infusing hope into another’s life. We become co-creators with God as we respond to God’s work of love with our willingness to love.

It’s Monday. God’s magnificent work of art—your life—is a participation process not a spectator event. How will you respond in love this week? Peace. Kai

It’s Monday–November 21

Family holiday gatherings—the best of times, the worst of times. It is that time of year. The much anticipated, for some, or long dreaded season of family gatherings begins. As I’ve lived through the seasons and/or heard stories from others, I’m reminded of how habitual we are. We crave tradition and normalcy even as we revolt against what we’ve always done. We can predict, with a fair degree of accuracy, the aberrant behaviors of uptight uncles, crazy aunts, rebellious kids, and obnoxious friends. We know which buttons to push, which topics to avert, and which situations to avoid. Even knowing all that, we push buttons, engage hot topics, and enter into delicate situations. Family holiday gatherings—the best of times, the worst of times.

We do, though, have choices. Though we cannot control the behaviors or decisions others make, we can choose, in advance, how we will react. We can even choose, in many cases, the environment that we would like to create. John Ortberg tweeted this last week—“ U r a collection of habits. Tru change means-not more willpower—but new habits.” Rather than clenching our teeth and grinding it out, is there a new habit, a new ritual that can shift the center of conversation? In worship this past weekend we had an open mic where people had an opportunity to share their gratitude for life. It’s amazing what you discover about one another when you begin at that point.

For some of you, the gatherings of family and friends will be long awaited, incredibly nurturing times. If so, say that to one another. What a gift. If you are anxious about the times together, think through both how you will respond when what always happens, happens again. Then, think through a new habit, a new ritual, a new game, that might open all of you up to experience something new.

It’s Monday. You can decide what your time will be like this week. I hope it is blessed! Peace. Kai

It’s Monday–November 14

Measuring movement on your journey of faith is a precarious exercise. How do you measure a more faithful heart, a more loving spirit, or a more compassionate attitude? In this season of Generous Love at Peace, how do you measure a more generous posture toward life? Is it possible to grow in your generosity?

Generosity grows along a predictable progression. If you want to become more generous, begin by:

• Giving: Give something. Give thoughtfully. Look for opportunities to give.
• Give consistently: Find a focus for your giving and give consistently. We become what we habitually do. Make a habit out of giving.
• Grow in your giving: After building a habit, reflect on your life priorities. Are you giving to what you value the most? If not, why?
• Establish goals for giving: Biblically the standard was the tithe–10% of your income. Though it is somewhat difficult to translate that 3000 year old imperative to our modern world, it remains an important benchmark. Goals inspire action. What’s a goal for your giving this year?
• Give Generously: In the end, becoming generous is not about meeting legal demands or goals. Generosity is a state of your soul. Generous people seek out ways to give so that others may live.

Generosity originates in the heart of God and comes alive within us when the rhythms of our hearts mirror the rhythms of God’s heart—a generous heart, a heart of love.

It’s Monday. Where do you find yourself along that spectrum? If you want to become more generous, look at the next stage and ask yourself “What will it take for me to move to the next stage?” Peace. Kai

It’s Monday–November 7

It’s going to be one of those days. As I was making breakfast for myself, I offered to get a bowl of cereal for my daughter. I opened the refrigerator door, spied the container of milk and, simultaneously, my mind started to wander through my day—what needed to be done and how I could fit it in. With my mind focused on the day, not the cereal, I reached past the gallon of milk and grabbed the orange, banana, mango juice which I proceeded to pour over the Honey Grahams without flinching. Not until I returned the juice to the refrigerator did it dawn on me that I had covered the cereal with juice rather than milk. Though it was an adventure in taste, we decided to start over and focus on the task at hand. It’s going to be one of those days.

After I dropped my daughter off at school, I proceeded on to work. When I pulled up to church, I wondered how I had gotten there. I realized I had made the journey from my daughter’s school to church on auto-pilot, ticking off the tasks of the day in my mind, while not paying attention to the drive. Scary. I wondered how often that happens to each of us. I couldn’t help but think, it’s going to be one of those days.

Yet, as I sat down at my desk, I thought “Why would I let a half hour of distraction determine twelve hours of living?” So, I did what I have discovered is an essential discipline for me-I sat down in a corner chair, breathed deeply for a few minutes, and re-calibrated my mind, my spirit, and my day.

As easy as it is for our minds to be distracted, we have the capacity to re-focus, re-calibrate, and re-enter the flow of our day. I don’t know what works for you but you probably do. So before you get caught in the “it’s going to be one of those days” thinking, take a time out, remind yourself of who you are, how much you are loved by God, and re-enter the day with new eyes. It may only take five minutes to shift the outcome of your day. If so, it’s worth it.

It’s Monday. What will you do to make it one of “THOSE!” days, rather than one of “those?” days? Peace. Kai