Benediction of Powerlessness

Friend of mine shared this blog post which I thought was really good and worth sharing here.

Benediction of Powerlessness

Imagine how you would feel if, at the end of worship, the minister asked you to receive a benediction which began like this:

May all your expectations be frustrated.

May all your plans be thwarted.

May all your desires be withered into nothingness.

You might not want to receive it, and you might wonder, “Just what kind of benediction is this?”

Jean Vanier, who founded L’Arche and has given his life to care for the developmentally disabled, once offered a benediction which began with those surprising words.  They don’t seem, at first, to do what a benediction is supposed to do, which is to bless the people of God with an affirmation of God’s presence, to encourage them for their lives in the world, to lift their gaze to the possibilities rushing into the present from God’s future.

Vanier’s words sound like a description of life as it already is, instead of a promise of what life might become.  Many people live too much of the time with frustrated expectations, thwarted plans, and withered desires.  A lot of people know more than they want to know about unfulfilled dreams, unrealized visions, and dashed hopes.

As Thoreau said, “The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or a temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.”

When we let ourselves feel what we really feel, we sense the pain of disappointment, the embarrassment of unreached potential, and the shame of failure.  These wounds alienate us from ourselves, isolate us from others, and distance us from God.

If Vanier had only said, “May all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, and may all your desires be withered into nothingness,” there would be no blessing in his words.  But he also said: “That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

It is a blessing to learn that we are, in fact, powerless and impoverished—to know that we cannot create love or generate meaning or manufacture hope or originate joy for ourselves.  We can only receive them as gifts from God who sees us and cherishes us as children.

There are some things our hard work, our incessant striving, and our constant pushing cannot make happen; and they are the graces we most want: forgiveness, acceptance, rest, freedom and purpose.

Learning about powerlessness and poverty of spirit helps us to acknowledge, as Anne Lamott puts is, “the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little” (Help, Thanks, Wow.) 

Because we are so loved, and because God, who does not cause our struggles, will work with us not to waste them, there is blessing in the darkness, mercy in our brokenness, grace in our failure, and courage in unwanted but unavoidable change.  There are good gifts wrapped in hard circumstances.  There is a loving God who meets us and sustains us in the desert of difficulty.

(you can find the original post HERE)

Feeling Old

The longer you travel the journey of life the more things start to make you feel old.  Recently at our middle school group I introduced them to Simon, a popular toy from my childhood.  I asked them to raise their hands if  they had ever heard of it and over half of them had not.  This got me thinking there is alot that makes me feel old:

  • Students I had in middle school ministry getting married
  • THIS Radio Shack commercial
  • “Throwback” Mountain Dew
  • You can no longer ride the Demon Drop at Cedar Point
  • Working with students who were born in the year I graduated High School
  • Everyone in your family says you look just like your father
  • My phone has more memory than the computer I had in High School
  • It has been 14 years since Y2K
  • This blog is a decade old

What about you? What stuff makes you feel old?

Broken Vessels

Loving the new Hillsong worship album “No Other Name.” As usual there’s usually one song that rises to the top and is constantly on repeat. Check this one out: Broken Vessels.

Floating Thoughts

  • Had a good holiday weekend up north with friends…as usual it went by too fast!
  • Ministry expectations have to shift during the summer…while you would think with students out of school they would have more free time…I have found their attendance is much less predictable.
  • THIS is my next smartphone…out next Thursday.
  • Been shooting the past couple of weeks. My goal this summer is to become proficient with my handgun. I still am thinking about getting my CPL license.
  • Finished A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Reminded me a bunch of meeting and hearing him speak at a Men’s Retreat years ago while he was writing the book. Best was disc golfing with him and Austin.
  • I cannot believe it’s the middle of July…summer is going by sooo quickly.
  • We got a bunch of hand written thank you notes from residents we met during Impact Week at Grace Centers of Hope. So thoughtful and I couldn’t be happier with our team.
  • Seeing Hillsong Young & Free at Northridge on August 5th…want to join me? Get tickets HERE.
  • Read this in my daily reading this week…powerful when you think about it. Might blog about it someday soon:

    They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.  2 Kings 17:15b

4 Years Ago

Was recently introduced to the TimeHop app from a friend which is great…it uses your social media accounts and shows you stuff you shared over the past few years. This week it reminded me of it being four years ago when I left Wildfire & Sunset.  Crazy it’s been that long…but in another way it feels like sooo long ago as well.  Few weeks go by where I don’t think of Oregon and my friends there…cant wait to visit next month.  Here is my goodbye video which features a bunch of students and volunteers.

Impact Week: POST

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Wow what an awesome week serving at Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac! Everything went so smoothly and I was beyond impressed with this organization and our students.  We met prostitutes, drug addicts and homeless people. We met Godly men and women who work tirelessly serving this community: feeding them, clothing them, housing them, teaching them and preparing them to live on their own. God is good and I am excited about new opportunities to serve this community in the future.  No doubt God is at work in Pontiac!

 

Impact Week

GraceCentersOfHope-LogoThis week I am serving at Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac with a group of 20+ students and adults. We will be doing a variety of things from: VBS, serving lunch, repairing homes/landscaping, cleaning, participating in a church service and more.  Appreciate your prayers for safety and that God uses us to make an impact in this community and also in our hearts.

 

Prayers I Pray

Personally it has been helpful to have some prayer formulas to help me regularly connect with God.  The challenge is to keep your prayer life fresh rather than solely focused on asking God for stuff.  I have four prayers I pray, really two prayers and two prayer formulas.

ACTS -

This goes way back, probably the first prayer formula which I learned as a young believer.  It is an acroynom designed to structure your prayer time.

Adoration – Praise God for His character

Confession – Tell Him the sins you have committed

Thanksgiving – Share what you are grateful for in your life

Supplication – Ask Him for help, for stuff (tends to be our default prayer mode)

PALMS

Another structure for prayer…this one begins with placing your palms down towards the floor. In this posture you release things to God, asking Him for help with whatever is troubling you…releasing it to Him.  Finally you turn your palms towards the ceiling and take a posture to receive from God.  You might ask Him to give you His love, wisdom or simply sit in silence listening for a prompting from Him.

Kurt’s Prayer

Each morning while in the shower I pray a modified version of the “Lords Prayer” which I came up with years ago.  I had someone teach me to mold the prayer into my own words and then memorize it. After all Jesus told His disciples this is HOW they should pray not WHAT they should pray…there is a difference. It is a valuable exercise if you haven’t done it I encourage it.

My dad in Heaven, perfect is your name

Your will be done, on this planet as it is in Heaven.

Give me today to do exactly what you want me to do.

Forgive me and help me to forgive others.

Keep me far from temptation, even farther from the Enemy

             Amen

Serenity Prayer

I pray this one occasionally,  on an “as-needed” basis. Made popular by Alcoholics Anonymous, I think it has wide application and all of us can benefit from releasing control over stuff we cant control anyways.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

 

What prayers do you pray? Any formulas that have helped keep your prayer life fresh?

 

Let it Be Jesus

Really digging this song right now…

Should I ever be abandoned
Should I ever be acclaimed
Should I ever be surrounded by the fire and the flame There’s a name I will remember
There’s a name I will proclaim
Let it be, Let it be Jesus

Floating Thoughts

  • Man it has been a really stressful couple of weeks…between moving grandpa, work stuff and medical issues…whew glad a bunch of it is in the rearview.
  • Tis the season for grad parties…going to 9 this year.
  • Speaking of parties got an all-night party this Saturday night! Years ago I swore I would never do one again…but whenever you ask middle schoolers what event they wanna do it always comes back to the allnighter! Prayers appreciated.
  • My back is much better…thanks to those of you who have prayed for and encouraged me.
  • A dear friend of mine got the news recently that his cancer is back…few things bring me to my knees quicker than praying for a friend with cancer.
  • Getting excited to visit Oregon at the end of August. Speaking at my friends summer camp and will be in town the following week: 24-29th…would love to see as many as I can!
  • Finished reading “Waking the Dead” for the third time. Great book! Highly recommend it!
  • My phone upgrade is now just a month away…this is most likely my next phone: LG G3