Here is a recent post from my new blog site “Beautiful Question”

Beautiful Question

“If I… can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, … but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2)

Recently, my husband and I set out to do something very simple: open our home to friends and family weekly for a meal. The meals would be simple ones that we could make a lot of and keep warm, which in turn would allow people to come when they could and would accommodate whoever happened to show up. While we have kept our hearts open to where this may lead, our idea was not to have some sort of “church meeting” but rather to create a place of community, hospitality and love where all were welcome.

This gathering is really a very small beginning, and we are learning about how to create a place of community, and have much to learn, but very quickly it went from simple to complex…

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So, I moved my blog, but some folks seem to find there way here anyway, so re-blogging my latest blog here.

Beautiful Question

Recently I was reading this blog post entitled “a letter from an exhausted/exasperated young person who has a complicated love/hate relationship with the church” by a blogger named Ron.  As I was reading, I started thinking about the many people I’ve talked to and  blogged with who have experienced similar frustrations to Ron.  What hit me as I was reading is the the theme I hear again and again, which is people looking for authentic, genuine community.  Ron speaking of his own generation put it this way:

…there are a couple things young people simply won’t tolerate. They will not put up with what they deem to be a lack of community and/or authenticity, and they will not abide anything that appears to simply be going through the motions or the semblance of just being part of some spiritual/religious club. They aren’t interested in towing the party line that has…

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I’m Moving (on)….

Well, I decided I wanted to change my blog name, but I didn’t want to break  any links to this blog, so I’ve created a new blog “Beautiful Question” and imported this one into that one (all except this post). The name “beautiful question” comes from a piece of e.e. cummings “prose” (an introduction to a collection of poems, prose is in quotes because, well, it’s e.e. cummings after all.  It might be called a “prose poem”), where he says “Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.”  My own reflections on that quote can be found here.

Why am I changing the name?  Well, I started this blog because of some dissatisfaction in my experience in faith communities, and a sense that there was something “other” (or alternative) that I was not experiencing.  However, the very word alternative has as it’s point of reference something you are moving away from… it’s an alternative to something.  But such a perspective is limited.  It’s point of reference is always what you are not.  Defining oneself by what you are not can be a good first step to recognizing needed change, but if we stay there we actually become reactionary rather that forward moving.  Actually, when I first started this blog, I wanted another title, a more positive one, which was my own term I had made up in my own mind to describe what I was seeking in church community — it was “Organic Church”… but the blog name was already taken, and later I found that many others were already using this terminology too.  In fact, it’s become so used, and so defined in the minds of some people that I very quickly lost interest in it for a blog name, it felt too restricting.

I suppose all names are restricting in some sense.  The very fact of naming something and defining that name begins to restrict and differentiate what is from what is not.  However, the idea of a beautiful question by contrast feels very open and alive to me.  A question is full of possibility and defies a narrow definition.  This is what this blog has been for me from the beginning, a place for me to explore my questions…. these questions may not always have question marks at the end of them, not all questions do, you know, nor do all questions end in a rising tone of voice.  Nor do all questions mean the person wants a prepackaged answer.  There are answers, but real answers come not in words but in people, and those people come with actions that show they are answers.  We are too quick to offer words, and too slow to offer ourselves.  This is a common condition of our fallen humanity.

So, I’m out of time for writing, but I want to get something up here for my two readers (okay my comments alone show there have been more than two, just kidding.  But it may be down to two since I’ve not posted in so long).  I may edit this later, and I think I’ve started some good thoughts here which I hope I can expand on Beautiful Question.

Love Practically: the Dynamics of Heart Opening

Authors note: another unpublished post from the past.  This one was drafted November 24, 2009, but never published.  As I read it over, I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t published it.  Only made minor modifications.

About a week ago, I had this experience.  I was having an interaction with someone, and in the middle of the interaction I heard the Spirit of God speaking quietly into my own spirit “Will you open your heart to this person?”  The interesting thing was I wasn’t aware of my heart being closed.  The person was someone I liked, enjoyed spending time with and considered a dear friend.  I would have expected such a question if faced with someone whose need overwhelmed me, but though like all of humankind this person had needs,  I didn’t feel overwhelmed by their need or like they were asking something of me that I wasn’t willing to give.  So, the case was not one that I would have expected a challenge to open my heart.

Yet as I heard this question whispering gently in my heart, I knew my heart was not fully open.  So, I made a conscious effort to open my heart.  Two amazing things ensued.  Not immediately, but sometime later, the person opened their heart more fully to me.  No “deep dark secrets”, but sharing important stuff — questions, thoughts, hopes, longings.  And the second thing was later that evening at home alone, I found myself drawn into the presence of God, and experienced His heart opening up and pouring out to me, and I was suddenly amazed to realize my heart was more open to God.

The experience gave me a deeper revelation of what I already knew, which is if I open my heart to my brother and my sister, I open my heart to the Lord.  An open heart is an open heart and a closed heart is a closed heart.  I can’t decide to open my heart to God, and not open it to my fellow man, and I can’t decide to close my heart to one without closing my heart to the other either (1 John 4:7-8, 1 John 3:17).

But the experience held another lesson as well.  I’ve thought about it and prayed about it in the days that have passed since.  God was asking me to open my heart to much much more than simply human need.  I think before now I’ve always linked opening my heart to other people to opening my heart to their need, and yes, that is a part, but if I only open my heart to the need of the person in front of me I have still not opened my heart to the person themselves.  The Lord is asking of me so much more: to open my heart to the fullness of the mystery of that person.  It is written that we are created in the image of God.  This God is an infinite, eternal God.  In the image of this God we are created! Wow, what an amazing thought!  Each person is intricately and amazingly made, and yet so often when we open our hearts only to our own image of that person, only to our expectations of them, only to our thoughts of what they can do for us, even if it’s only making us feel better about ourselves for helping them.  But what would it mean to open our hearts fully to the person themselves, to the things that make them fully human — for instance their creativity, their free will.  To open my heart to someone with a free will, either God or man, means to open my heart to a mystery.

Experiencing Authentic New Testament Christianity

Author’s note: Sorry to have been away so long.  The better part of this post was actually written last May, but the last year turned out to be very eventful, so my musings got put on hold.  This morning, I woke up with some thoughts that I wanted to put down in writing, but found the draft of this post instead, and realized it said a lot of what I had on my mind.

In my observation there seems to be a huge upsurge of people within the both the evangelical and charismatic Christian traditions seeking something more authentic in their Christianity.  Many are looking to the 1st century church and asking themselves: does what we do line up with what they did?  Does what we are doing look like what Jesus meant for the church to look like?  These are good questions, but at times I fear in our quest for “authentic New Testament Christianity” we may miss the point. Here are some of the points I hear from various different camps looking for authentic Christianity:

  • We should meet in houses, because that’s what the first church did
  • We should have spiritual fathers, like Paul’s relationship with Timothy
  • We should have/recognize modern-day apostles like there were in 1st century
  • We should be experiencing miracles like the 1st century church
  • We should be experiencing church growth like the first century church
  • We should have church structure that matches the first century church
  • Our church government needs to match the first century church

I don’t wish to argue the validity of any of the above statements.  They may all be true, but my concern is that all these points miss the main point.  And if we miss the main point, then our perspective on every other point (which includes those above) will be be wrongly skewed.

So what’s the main point?  When the first century church started out they didn’t know how they were going to do any of those things.  They had only three things, (1) Jesus had loved them in a way that completely broke them to the core, and ruined them for all else, (2) He had told them that they were to love one another in this same way (!), and (3) they knew they will completely and utterly incapable of doing so in their own power!  Point #2 ought to alarm us!  If it does not, than we do yet have a revelation of the depth and power of God’s love.  As I have said on other posts, the greatest miracle on Pentecost was not the tongues or the miracles that followed, but the fact that this group of misfits who just a few short weeks before had been vying for position, now miraculously began to love one another to the point that they were “selling their property and possessions and sharing them with all as anyone had need.” (Acts 2:44-45)

So, it seems to me if we want to experience a Christianity like that which was experienced by the first century church (and I’m not sure we fully do, but that’s another subject altogether), we need to experience the same kind of love they did, and if we want to experience the same kind of love, then our only path is to gather together in prayer with others of like mind and ask Him to send His Spirit into our midst and empower us to be like, and to love like Him. (Acts 1:14)


Lately I’ve been reflecting on the root causes of loneliness, and have realized that, for me at least, loneliness is caused by feeling myself to be alone in my thoughts.  The thoughts may be ideas, hopes, dreams, plans, aspirations, or revelations.   When I realize that those around me are either unable or unwilling to enter my inner world long enough to understand these thoughts, it is then that loneliness often ensues.

What is the opposite of experiencing loneliness?  Perhaps is to experience fellowship, for it is in those moments that another has truly seen and understood even a small part of my inner world that I feel the opposite of lonely.   The more authentic fellowship I experience from even a few, the less those who don’t understand matter, the more I am able to love those who even willfully misunderstand.  It was Jesus’ perfect fellowship with the Father that empowered Him with grace to love and forgive both disciple and pharisee, prostitute and priest.

Love Practically: Loving the Real Person

“Love… rejoices with the truth…” (1 Cor 13:6)

I cannot love the way God loves until I fully see and embrace the other.  I cannot fully embrace the other without embracing those things that make him or her fully human, including the free will of the other.  When I struggle against the free will in another, the end result is I objectify them.  In my mind, in my imagination, they become an object to overcome, rather than a beautiful creature created in the image of an eternal God.  When this happens their free will becomes an object of annoyance, frustration, and even anger.  I may not immediately identify my issue as being with their free will.  “If they would only do this instead of that!” I tell myself.  But my language gives me away.  I want to bend them to my will.

Indeed I am beginning to realize that all sin against my fellow man has at its root the objectification of those who are created in the image of an eternal God.   There has been a lot of discussion  about how women become objectified through the sex trade, but this is not the only sin that objectifies beautiful amazing mankind.  Let’s take selfish ambition and jealousy for instance, God’s beautiful image becomes nothing more than an obstacle to overcome.  The glorious gift of a free will becomes something I need to manipulate to my ends, not something to be respected and honored.  Indeed as I have considered, I can not think of a sin that does not involve treating either God or man as an object rather than a Person.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)

Loving each other as He loves us means loving the free will in one another.  When God finished creating mankind, in which He had placed the glorious gift of a free will, His declaration over His creation was that it was “very good” (Gen 2:31).  He said this even knowing the trouble free will would cause.

As Jesus sat at the last supper, it says that “He loved them to the end…” (John 13:1).  He loved them knowing that their free will cause them to betray Him, deny Him and abandon Him.  He loved them even as the fruit of their free will unfolded in death.  Jesus didn’t love all the choices they would make, but He knew this same free will was a beautiful gift placed in each one by the Father, and thus “He loved them to the end”.

Thinking about love and free will in this way has changed the way I see.  I have found myself repenting of thoughts and attitudes that heretofore I accepted.  I have come to understand in a deeper way what it means to truly love my fellow man.  And I have found my heart suddenly full of delight as I gaze on God’s crowning creation, humankind full of the sublime gift of a free will.

“Let us love one another…” (1 John 4:7)