A Good Friday Encounter

Good Friday is my favorite holy day. It’s always a great opportunity to reflect on Christ suffering for us, as us. He put to death our sinful, egoic nature once and for all — and we now get to live in unbroken union with God.

All that said, I really wanted to mark today with some kind of recognition/appreciation of all it stands for. Clearly, however, there were not a lot of options for doing that in any traditional ways with the world’s current circumstances…

As I was driving through Kirkwood tonight, I had the thought to stop in and visit a Catholic adoration chapel that I’d prayed in several times before. I wasn’t sure if it would even be open, but I figured it was worth a try. Turns out, the chapel had been closed and a larger, remodeled one had opened across the yard from it. It was unlocked and almost entirely empty, and the new room I entered was beautiful! It was such a godsend, on the perfect day of the calendar to find it.

I SO needed this quiet, sacred space to engage with the Lord. My practice of contemplation has been seriously lacking this year, and along with that I haven’t felt very confident that I’ve been seizing each day for what it’s worth like I could lately.

With the Body and Blood present before me, and a journal in my lap, Jesus met and spoke to me there. Here’s what I felt His Spirit whispering to my heart… Maybe it will speak to yours as well:

“Life and life more abundant. Joy and bliss. Rich relational fulfillment. Good memories, new experiences, exciting adventures… Learning, growing, discovering and connecting… This is what’s ahead. This is what I have in store for you, every leg of the journey — as my GIFT to you. 

“It has nothing to do with your hustle or grind or perfection of diligence. It’s freely available, regardless of merit, in every season of life.

“Your days will be marked by My goodness. I’ll not disappoint you. I adore you and have pre-planned so many great moments for you to step into.

“Yes, be attentive to Me. But recognize that I can get your attention even when you are silly and get distracted. My grace is too big and expansive and generous to let you stay in an empty or confusing place without any wake up calls. I will always whoo you into the awareness of My Glory.

“Life is to be savored. The enemy cannot stop you from enjoying it. Really hard circumstances cannot stop you from enjoying it. Even you cannot ruin My plan. I’m too good to put that kind of burden on your shoulders to carry….

“Your destiny is in My hands, beloved. I’m writing your future with, through and FOR you. Expect the best to haunt you — even when your expectations are low!

“As you grow you’ll see, it only gets better from here.”

Happy Holy Week, everyone!

Who Rules the Universe?

I had such a great time leading this discussion on Revelation Chapter 5 last Thursday! It’s all about the meekness and trustworthiness of the God who rules and judges the world. I think it can really give some perspective on the disruptive crises that face our nation and the globe… Take a listen!

“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals…

And… I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…”

 

A Christmas Rant

I’m going to go on a long, wordy, run-on-sentence kind of rant, because I can’t not… I just think we don’t consider the endless implications of the Christmas event nearly enough.

Most people of all faiths have a fondness for Jesus of Nazareth, born 2000ish years ago. I’m not sure we really get all that he represents though… Jesus is a legit gift to ALL of humanity (“peace on earth,” as the angel is said to have proclaimed), but he is a universal blessing precisely because he is also an equal opportunity offender.

Jesus came in confrontation to everything we had backwards, and he continues to come with the same modus operandi. Wherever there is self-righteous religiosity, wherever there are systems of shame and control, wherever performance-orientation and an imposter syndrome is encouraged, wherever formulaic legalism and moralism reign, wherever egotism and unhealthy competition abounds, wherever retributive justice is “just the way things are” — he comes to graciously and persistently subvert the established order. Time and time again, he moves in perpetual defiance and brings holy disruption any and everywhere it’s needed.

As Isaiah prophesied, “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” All on the playing field are left equally humbled and dignified as Jesus insists on making the counter-intuitive will of God enfleshed in our midst.

There is no holy book, no message, no prophet, no philosophy, no code of ethics, no dogma, no avatar, no system of government, no personal idol in the human heart that carries or manifests perfected Love quite like this incarnation of the Divine. No one who literally and metaphorically overcame the systems, ideologies, patterns, social structures, spirits and sin of our collective community quite like he did (and like he continually does). The more we search out his story, his accomplishment and his ongoing active Presence in our lives — the more we discover new layers and depths of moving beauty and redemption at every turn.

God’s most profound logic is revealed in this one mythic but historical Man. As John the Beloved wrote, “The Word became human flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory — glory as of the only begotten from the Father, FULLY embodying grace-truth….”

Christ’s light shines into darkness wherever it is found, and darkness can only retreat before him. If we have eyes to see it and the wisdom to participate in his plans, we’ll recognize there is literally no one his coming is not good news for. He is the hope of the nations.

Follow me at @destintweets.

?@davidkpughphoto

Quick Book Review: “Unpunishable”

 

Yo . . .

Buy this book.
Read this book.
Underline the heck out of this book.

• Really great, counter-cultural relationship advice (applicable for all settings) from a professional counselor with high-level expertise.

• Really great perspective for how to deal with the failure of leaders in a way that’s deeply restorative and Gospel-informed.

• Really excellent, thorough theological work on how punishment/retribution/manipulation/insecurity deserves no place in our lives in how we treat one another or how we seek to respect God properly under the New Covenant.

Every disciple 100% needs this kind of perspective-shift.

> See on Amazon.com!

(No I am not getting paid to advertise…haha.)

R E A L

Not everything happens for a reason.

Messes are real.
Chaos is real.
Injustice is real.
Lots of sh** is real,
and it doesn’t all need a meaning ascribed to it.

In that though, substantial hope is still available.

Instead of offering trite answers to broken situations, can we just acknowledge plainly when things go wrong? Can we stand in solidarity with each other and help those around us legitimize some of their pain? Then, together, we can also look to the Redeemer who’s there with us, fighting for us.

He’s more real than anything else.

? = @jaredgravatt

p o n d e r i n g . . .

 

    What does it mean to be prophetic? To live a life overflowing with edification, exhortation, and consolation? To embody THE Prophet in the lives of those around me?

    I don’t want to just be good at giving words. At offering compliments. I don’t want my role to be limited to telling people, “You should do that! You’d be so great at that!”

    I want to literally call out the gold in others. I want to haunt them with encouragement and tangible support to the point that they manifest their inner glory in ways they didn’t even dream were possible… 

     I want to see people move beyond the barriers they’ve been held back by, whether it was from their own discouragement or just by innocently not having the fullest picture of what it could look like for them to walk in greatness.

     I want to see trajectories changed, destinies beginning to materialize and hearts overflowing more visibly with confidence, creativity and influence. And (selfishly?) I want to play a crucial role in unlocking that potential.

|

 

@destintweets

Staying Curious

Stay curious.

Hunger for revelation.

Be open to changing your mind
. . . and changing it again.

Give yourself permission to be wrong sometimes along the way too. It won’t be the end of the world.

At the same time, don’t be in a hurry to throw out all the traditions, creeds and boundaries that gave you guidance in the past. Many of them are there to serve you, to add value to your life, to guard you against errors that would rob you of your experience of goodness and beauty. If you stick with them, you may just find that some of those old, well-beaten paths still lead straight to the best views.

“DRIP, DROP”

There’s an ache
It won’t go away
I carry it
Or it carries me
And the heart bleeds

(Can they see it?)

Years it’s been now
The reasons change with time
Is it their fault?
Or have I brought this on myself?
Carved space for what does not belong?

Do I like the pain?
Maybe
There is a certain reward
At least I know I can feel
I’m alive
Enough to hurt, that is

But still it seems foreign
An intrusion
Always unresolved
Always distracting

Some say embrace it
Aim the longing at Resurrection
Call out “Maranatha”
Until all tears are wiped away

Others say resist
Stand up
Accept no apathy
This is not abundance
This is not your portion

So I try it all
To no avail
Wondering if I’m at fault

Drip
Drop
Welcome or not
The ache persists
And blood yet leaks
Ever crying out
Silently
Heal me.

Answers remain
Evading

 

— Destin Michael

@destintweets

Christ’s Friends and Family

A wise woman recently told me it’s important for someone who’s going to marry you to know your family and friends well too. “Otherwise,” she said, “they don’t really know and love all of who you are.”

I can’t help but think about how that relates to our relationship with Jesus.

We can claim to love Him, but how well do we really even know Him if we are unfamiliar with the rest of His family and friends?

I’m convinced that without even noticing it, and to our own deficit, we far too often cut ourselves off from the knowledge of God by our lack of connection with the saints who worship outside of our theological traditions.

There is SO much more of Him that’s available for us to see and understand, and so much of that revelation is buried within the hearts of the very people we don’t recognize enough or want to associate with.

follow @destinmichaelstl

Out of Control

Life is constantly teaching me the same lesson:

I am not in control of anything other than myself.

This is truly difficult to accept sometimes, but it is the only way to actually walk in legitimate faith. Faith requires trust. It requires risk. It requires out of control circumstances and a firm confidence in God’s commitment to care well for my soul’s deepest needs.

I prefer to gain security from stable conditions, but no one is actually promised such a privilege on this side of the Resurrection. This early stage of our glorious, eternal life is filled instead with adventure. Drama. Heartache. Weakness. Failure. And don’t forget those surprising victories, breakthroughs, miraculous moments of provision and the peace that surpasses any reasonable explanation.

God is our anchor through it all, but we don’t get a pass on the hard parts of the journey.

One day my vehicle is working just fine, getting me everywhere I need to be on time. The next day it won’t start and I don’t know why (nor do I have the money to do major repairs on it). One day I’m getting a steady income that covers all my basic expenses. The next day I’m told that the situation has changed and I need to find other ways to fund my work. One day all my closest friendships feel so solid and reliable. The next day I find out that some of my dearest loved ones are making major life decisions and I have no idea how they will impact my own life in the future. Ultimately though it’s not my place to make the decisions for them…

My family experiences ongoing relational tensions. My spiritual community goes through some shaky conflicts. My housing situation is currently good but tentative in the long run, dependent on factors I cannot predict. Recently I created a couple pieces of media content on controversial topics and have no idea how the public might respond to them. Let’s also not forget that my physical health is a constant hot mess.

The only thing that is guaranteed to me is my access to the Presence of God, where I can come to receive the grace that I need to face my next big decision with courage instead of panic.

I always have have options, I am always empowered, and I always have the ability to practice self-control. That is, despite the fact that there is so little around me I can actually determine for sure. This is always the way it is… and Jesus is always more than enough.

I’ve constantly got to let go. Over and over, I’m challenged to embrace the uncertainty. Yet I find Unchanging Love right there, proving Himself trustworthy day after day. I’m learning to accept that this is just how things are going to be.

Lord, help me surrender…

Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.”

— Jesus, Matthew 6:34

 

follow @destinmichaelstl