Adventures AWAKE

A pithy little blog encouraging creative adventures of the Christian spirit

Meditations of Super Cow June 11, 2009

O.K. today I’m letting you in. You are going to see the inner-workings of my creative thought process. (Don’t judge me…and try not to worry).

 supercow in a pasture

It all started on this peaceful morning in Colossians 1. There I sat meditating on the passage, minding my own business when something in verse 11 jumped out at me. “Strengthened,” it said. Hmmm. I thought, “Strengthened?” Strong’s Concordance #1412- “dunamoo. To make strong, confirm, enable.” That’s when my right brain flashed with the image of “Super Cow.”

A cow in a field is easy to overlook. But take one ordinary, heifer– nothing special — throw a cape on her, whisper in her ear about her untapped powers to sustain others and stand back! Then, it hit me: I AM SUPER COW!

Faster than a sleeping bull. More powerful than the fence that binds her. Able to leap tall hay bales in a single bound. Look! Out in the pasture! It’s a dog? It’s a horse? It’s Super Cow!

Yes, it’s Super Cow – strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Super Cow – who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with her unopposable digits, and who, disguised as Amy Pierson, mild mannered writer of a personal blog, fights the never ending battle for Truth, Justice and the Jesus Way.

All that from “dunamoo.” Really.

But read on, gentle reader…read on.

From this insipid place in my bovine-fixated brain, I proceeded to learn something substantive: The root — duna— is “power.” Words like dynamo, dynamic, dynamite and dynasty come from the same base. And again in the Greek, power words like dunamai (to be able), dunamis (supernatural power), dunastes (ruling power), dunatos (powerful) and dunateo (to be mighty) are out there.

Today dunamoo is my war cry! As God leads, I will “make strong, confirm, enable” all those who cross my cow path. True Super Cows don’t get the glory as they do whatever cows do…God does. Next time you feel like you are not outstanding in your field (wherever that may be) remember Super Cow! And, know that you are mighty through God.

 

Want an adventure? Read and reflect on Colossians 1. Recognize the power of the ordinary. God’s power is perfected in the weakness of it. Listen to His whisper in your ear. What is it that He’s calling you toward? (It’s more than just a life leading up to some good steak on the table). What bulls are sleeping nearby? What fences are hemming you in? What hay bales need leaping? Believe in your “super powers” and wear the cape proudly (on the inside, please) as you go through your days.

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Wind farms and faith June 9, 2009

Driving through Kansas last week, we saw an almost surreal sight. All along I-70 for as far as we could see there was an endless forest of wind turbines. A wind farm of mammoth proportion. Massive in structure, synchronized in movement, these wind-whipping monoliths are other-worldly. Surveying the scene was like being dropped into a scene from War of the Worlds (as in, we humans are about to be taken over by some alien life form). Somewhere along the line, somebody noticed that this wild, midwestern countryside was a place where the wind could really howl. 

All this is in place because of the wind.

WindTurbines33In reality, these modern-day windmills have tremendous ability to generate power. Get this: In energy terms, a Tetra Watt (TW) is one TRILLION watts. The entire globe uses 15 TW each year. Wind power could be commercially harnessed to produce 72 TW of power annually. WOW! In light of our current world needs, the potential is little short of revolutionary. Apparently, Denmark clogs the tar out of us with this technology producing almost 20% of their energy this way.

More tidbits of wind technology: Turbines like the ones I saw along I-70 are three-bladed (coincidence with the Trinity? — you decide). As the wind changes, they are adjusted by computer to point into the wind. Their tips spin six times faster than the actual wind speed — making them exceptionally efficient and reliable. Each blade is somewhere between 65-130 feet long, each tower roughly 200-300 feet tall. An impressive sight, yet they’re intentionally painted gray so they vanish against the clouds. Blade angles can be remotely adjusted to collect the maximum amount of wind energy for the time of day and season.

Spiritually-speaking, most of us have trouble giving ourselves over to the whims of the wind. However with some deeper thought, I’ve decided that I want to be Denmark. By recognizing the wind of the Holy Spirit on the horizon, I want to be light-years ahead in my faith journey (and, if I can’t be Denmark, I’ll settle for Kansas — a wide-open spot where the wind can really blow). There’s no denying the prospects of profit. I yearn to be moved by the breeze (or the bellow) of God on a daily business; a weather vane of His activity — responding to turn with Him in directions that energize the lives of others. Each minute, I want His adjustments to make the most of every life season. By harnessing this potential in my own life, I can help the lives of those around me to love Jesus and light the world.

 

Want an adventure? Pause long enough today to notice the breeze. Which way is the wind coming from? — going to? Sit still for a minute and feel it brush by.

See yourself as a 300-foot turbine of faith. Blow people away by your quiet, consistent revolutions of Spirit. Through intentional prayer and meditation, put yourself in the path of the Holy Spirit’s wind — centering your day on which direction He is leading you. Once you get used to this way of being, life is a breeze. John 3:8

 

 

Boxing with God June 8, 2009

“Young man, young man, your arm’s too short to box with God.”

~James Weldon Johnson

Today, there are a lot of things that make me feel like taking a swing: 

  • Cancer
  • Judgementalism by Christians, toward Christiansboxing gloves
  • My own inconsistency
  • The Lakers

Thankfully, my fist will never reach God but my prayers will.

 

Want an adventure? Start the week praying for what you feel like punching. Really rage at whatever is wrong. Then, wait for God’s Spirit to meet you in your corner and coach you through your concerns. Read: Genesis 32:24-27.

 

Jesus is a purple cow June 7, 2009

At the risk of being crass, I want to talk about marketing and Christianity. I come from an advertising background so this concept is intriguing to me. In Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, he talks about the importance of making a remarkable product NOT asking “how do I get people to talk about my product.” It’s a marketing question. The ultimate marketing question: How does tPurplecowhat fit with faith? Is the demonstration of my faith remarkable?

Jesus is the ultimate product. If people experience Him — His rhythms and ways — they can’t stop talking about Him. Getting people to talk about Him is not enough. The pharisees and saducees of Jesus’ day had intellectual ascent to a Messiah King of the Jews, but because He came “packaged differently” than they expected, they shopped elsewhere. They needed experience.

Paul, on the other hand (the “jew among jews,” persecuter of all who followed the Jesus way), was literally knocked off his ass (o.k., as in “donkey,” but it is funny!) by the blinding light of reality…an encounter with the Holy Spirit of God. His knowledge was mowed over by his experience. This spiritual take-down changed the course of his life as well as the western world.

Jesus didn’t ride into Jerusalem on a purple cow, but he might as well have. Love Him or hate Him, once encountered He is the purple cow that people can’t quit talking about. If I am representing him well through a lifestyle of love and serving, a bunch of words aren’t even necessary. People will start asking questions. People will find The answer. 

Face it: Jesus is different. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. Based on the principles of Purple Cow, I’d say the people of Christ need to take a serious look at the Truth our lives tell. I want to be compelling for the Cause. Like any other offer out there, if our lives don’t stand out we may as well be invisible. The claims of Christ are remarkable…shouldn’t we be? I think it’s time we all get off our religious high horses and start riding purple cows!

Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage. Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:13-16 The Message

Want an adventure? Look at your life. Is Jesus seen for what He is through it? Ask Him to break the mold. Don’t look for ways to re-package Him so people talk about the external, live a life that allows others to experience His Truth and how it has changed you. Give them a look at the “purple cow” of Christ and they’ll never forget the experience.

(P.S. If you enjoy creative thinking, especially as it pertains to marketing/technology/social networking, you will enjoy Seth’s blog).

 

God seems silent June 6, 2009

I believe in the sun even if it isn’t shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when He is silent. ~ Unknown

sun

This week, I have received discouraging news about the physical struggles of two incredible women. The world needs the rich example of their faith-full lives, and yet that is exactly what is at stake…their very lives. Family and friends are reeling with unanswered questions and unresolved pain on their behalf. At this moment, so am I…

But in the seeming stillness there is a plan in place. I believe in God even when He is silent. Right now, I want a bullhorn of His direction, a broadcast of His healing. But on the surface, all is quiet. Or is it? Most of us can think of stories where God’s glory has sprung from the ashes of heartache. For now, it is enough…

He was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.

~ Isaiah 53:5

Want an adventure? Spend time silently before Him. Do you believe? Ask Jesus who needs you to stand and believe with them. Identify their need. What is Isaiah 53:5 speaking into their situation? Does that mean prayers for healing? — peace on the path? — time at their side? God’s “silence” can be your opportunity to make Him heard.

 

Charming gardeners June 4, 2009

We Piersons are waging a road war from Colorado to Florida. For the last few years it has become an oddly enjoyable tradition. Sure, we could fly…but what’s the fun in that?! This way, the route is never quite the same but — by virtue of geographical necessity — we always wind our way through the South and its many adventures.

Last year after dodging a Texas tornado, we saw some wonderful, old Denver friends transplanted to Ft. Worth. We had a great time catching up and marveling at the record-breaking speed with which time has hurdled our families forward, not to mention all that God is up to! We went on to the fun of some young friends’ beach town wedding in the Florida panhandle, saw our oldest sing in their wedding and then — after some Triptiks tap-dancing — arrived at our final destination on the Southwest Coast of Florida.

This year is it’s own adventure. We pointed the family truckster East. After nearly launching our cartop carrier mid-Kansas, we delivered our oldest to what may be her last year of kamp in the Ozarks before continuing — once again — down South.

As always, the further toward the equator we go, I find myself in awe of the lushness of the landscape — the dramatic difference of the climate, the denseness and beauty of what grows here! Amazing! Magnolia trees, gardenias, hydrangeas, purple queen…a horticultural riot of color. Forget the wonders of MiracleGro. Having a confirmed “brown thumb,” I couldn’t grow this stuff in a carefully staffed greenhouse — let alone expect such lush success in the wild! (Flashback to my advertising days. A tagline.) God: Master Gardener. Growing in glory since Adam. (Weak, but let’s keep going…)

hydrangeasandlaceAnyway, once again this year has again been highlighted by the hospitality of dear friends along the way. When we rolled into their Birmingham driveway after 23 hours on the road, the whole family rolled out their Southern hospitality — as deep and comfortable as a pillow-laden porch swing and an icy glass of sweet tea. The most bonnie part of this voyage — underlined by the landscape — is captured by Marcel Proust’s quote:

 

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our soul’s blossom.

 

Our souls blossomed in Birmingham.

Just as God has grown these Southern surroundings (and friends), so He sows the seeds of friendship throughout my life. But I must learn to tend the garden! Friends are the “charming gardeners” who God plants to guide me in my growth and in whose crop I have a vested interest.

Mostly, my garden fails because I’m lazy…but if I’m honest, in some cases — usually where the landscape has the most potential — the task can be overwhelming (I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t want to get dirty). If I let it become overgrown, the neglect will choke-out the potential of its beauty. At God’s direction and with the help of an honest companion or two, I can learn how to “dead head” the spent blossoms, or prune back the wild growth in my life so my friendships can establish themselves to the degree  they are intended.

Looking back on the year between our last roadtrip and this one, there have been a lot of lonely days; rich in experiences but solitary from a relational standpoint. Have you ever seen those seed packets that come with a mix of wildflowers that you just scatter and water to grow? Well, my life is blessed with many people I would call “precious varieties in the seed packet of my life.” But, the message of my heart as these miles roll by (and there are still many ahead) is to cultivate what has been planted. Spiritual friends — the ones who I can connect with on a deeper than surface level — develop one another through nurture, pruning and watering of faithful prayer, discerned wisdom and devotion (a few weeds in my dirt don’t put them off).

Despite my lack of skills, I need to develop the garden of my friendships. I need to train my watering and my weed-pulling skills (a good gardener can separate the plant from a weed — and when the weed is pulled, she can get the whole root). I need to know how to feed a plant. And then I need to do it.

One thing I am sure of: This year I’m going to have a beautiful garden!

 

Want an adventure? Too many of us are on a lonely road. Become a gardener with me this summer. Pray about the relationships God wants you to tend during this season. (Jesus chose 13 to feed, water and prune for the harvest). It’s up to me whether it is a chore or a joy. I choose joy. Think of it: This time of year just lends itself to laid-back walks together, a run around the park, a glass of wine on the porch, or even laying out by the pool. All are great opportunities for time together in unforced conversation and prayer. That I can do with joy!

Decide and cultivate that relationship(s) a little each week…whatever you can do. And stick with it until the beauty takes root. At the end of the summer, look back and see what you’ve grown (Mark a date on your calendar). What worked? What didn’t? Prepare the soil for next season.

 

Blood on my shirt June 1, 2009

OK it’s Monday…and I’m diving right into it.

 

Jerry Seinfeld has a very funny shtick on laundry detergent. In it he talks about how laundry commercials confuse him. Like when they say “EVEN GETS OUT BLOOD STAINS!” He goes on to quip, “if you’ve got blood stains on your shirt, don’t you have bigger problems to worry about?”gain

 

As people who love God, I’d say the same thing to us.

 

Sadly, yesterday one of the country’s few late-term abortion providers was gunned down in Wichita, Kansas. While attending church, no less. Now, while I can’t on any level agree with his decision to practice what I would call barbaric medicine, it struck me not as a blow to “his side” of the ethical and political argument, but to the cause of Christ. The Christ who loved the most unlovely (of whom I include myself even on my best days), who willingly gave up his life when he could have called down heaven to take many in his own defense, would have played “human shield” for Dr. Tiller before allowing the man to be shot. Remember, this is the same Jesus who stopped a sword-wielding Peter and played reconstructive surgeon for the soldier who came to the Garden to escort him to the pharisaic clown court. He knew the injustice – heck, he knew the end before the beginning – but he didn’t “live by the sword.”

 

How sad he is when even one sheep is lost. I believe that includes the doctor, the man accused of his murder, and the billions of babies never known outside of heaven. Whatever your belief about abortion, your experience with it, don’t you think God’s heart is broken with yours on the topic? Anger results from pain.

 

My goal here: To stir up your heart to love, NOT to choose a side. I think side-choosing is unproductive. The priority of love must rule over all. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (I Cor.13:6). And, who holds the Truth? You? Me?

 

Want an adventure? Do what I did. Look at I Corinthians 13:4-7 from the Message translation (parentheses mine). Really meditate on it in light of the blood on the shirt of the Kingdom. Put that in perspective…it’s not just on your shirt or mine! Our loving, right and compassionate response can change the heartbroken and the heartbreaking to the mysteriously redeemed. Remember: God works all things to His gain.

 

 

 Love never gives up. (think of the cause)
   Love cares more for others than for self. (consider their desperation)
   Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. (what exactly am I feeling entitled to? – even righteously entitled to?)
   Love doesn’t strut, (how have I been “strutting” my agenda?)
   Doesn’t have a swelled head, (what don’t I know in the situation?)
   Doesn’t force itself on others, (look through their eyes)
   Isn’t always “me first,” (put Jesus in that place)
   Doesn’t fly off the handle, (humble emotions for a minute)
   Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, (have I been doing that?)
   Doesn’t revel when others grovel, (try groveling with them. feel the pain of  the family and friends)
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, (gaze upon God’s flourishing Truth)
   Puts up with anything, (anything?!)
   Trusts God always, (always?!)
   Always looks for the best, (what is best here…now?)
   Never looks back, (am I bitter with what’s behind? what needs to shift in my own heart about that?)
   But keeps going to the end. (what does that mean for me, in light of this tragic episode and my life purpose?)