Director of Youth Ministries at First United Methodist Church, McAllen, Texas
Religious Institutions | McAllen, Texas Area, US
Minister and Organizational Consultant that creates and curates spaces that enable individuals and communities to discover and nurture their unique callings to follow and serve Jesus Christ with their whole lives.
This is something I wrote during Lent a few years ago. It’s about Ash Wednesday, so I’m re-posting it here today.
It happens to me every year. I am prepared for Lent - I know what I’m sacrificing and what I’m picking up as a discipline. And then I am imposed upon…
When I hear the phrase, ‘Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,’ while receiving the imposition of ashes - all bets are off. In that moment, in the midst of having ashes brushed on my forehead, I’m stopped in my tracks, and I’m haunted by those words for several weeks…
Because contemplating my mortality is an imposition.
Each year, when the season of Lent begins, I am forced to consider the finiteness of life in light of the infiniteness of God. This reflection is good for me, I know, because it forces me to ask questions of myself: What have I done this year? Did I grow? Did I regress? How have I hurt others? Am I trying to become an intstrument of Grace, Love, and Hope?
In the midst of the busyness and messiness of life, trying to engage these questions with a level of depth takes time - so that’s why I’m writing about 2 weeks later.
Truly, this imposition, albeit an inconvenience, is good. It stretches me. I grow as a result, and each year after I have taken stock of my dust, I am grateful that as I try to prepare for Lent, I am unprepared for Ash Wednesday. I am grateful that I am imposed upon by the ashes. And, in a season where we remember the humanity of Jesus and the embodiment of the God who Loves, I am thankful that God has chosen to make beautiful things out this dust - parents, husbands, children, friends, jokers, villians, soul-searchers, truth-tellers, wives, and healers.
Each year, following Ash Wednesday, I am happy to have the truth that God makes Beautiful Things out of us imposed upon me.
Whenever we are left without any choice but to take something on faith, doing so practically mandates that there is the necessity of both being aware and leaving room for “I don’t know.” When we can admit to ourselves that “I don’t know (and yet remain confident—or not so confident),” we are more likely to make room for others in their faith commitments as we are more able to empathize for our fellow humans. And faith is not just for the religious and/or spiritual; It is one of the most basic constituents which contribute to the very essence of what it means to be human.
Today, I ask myself “Do I know the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of heaven and earth?” Some days I answer with a confident “Yes! I know the Lord and He’s doing amazing things in my life!” Other days I am more intellectual “Well, I know and believe the lord exists, there are plenty of teachings to back it up, but I don’t really feel it today.” Then there are the moments where it seems impossible that there’s a loving God amongst the pain and chaos and although this is when I need the Lord most, I begin to doubt. Each of these states spurs me on to know the Lord better, to build a stronger relationship with Him and to be in touch with the Lord’s care of my life.
The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
Ministry is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions of immortality and wholeness. It keeps reminding others that they are mortal and broken, but also that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts.
Made it through my 2nd full workout at CrossFit. I’m yelling at it so I can motivate myself to master it. I’m not doing much weight yet, so I can focus on learning proper form.
Warmup: 5 x 5 dead lifts (coach had me use a kettlebell)
3 rounds @ 21 | 15 | 9 reps for each skill.
- Thrusters (bar only)
- Burpees (my form sucked after a while, but they got done)
- Box Jumps (coach had me do step ups)
My time: 19:25.
Get After It!
We’ve all imbibed the culture of unrest so deeply. We just cannot believe that we could be respected or admired or received or loved without some level of performance. We are all performers and overachievers, and we think “when we do that” we will finally be lovable. Once you ride on the performance principle, you don’t even allow yourself to achieve it. Even when you “achieve” a good day of “performing,” it will never be enough, because it is inherently self-advancing and therefore self-defeating. You might call it “spiritual capitalism”.
So I’m trapped in an elevator right now, & it is all this kid’s fault. It’s a good thing I love this kid. #youthministry #hertoeisbroken (Taken with Instagram)
In an age of information overload, when a vast variety of media delivers news faster than most of us can digest - when many of us have at least two email addresses, two telephone numbers, and one fax number - the last thing any of us need is more information about God. We need the practice of incarnation, by which God saves the lives of those whose intellectual assent has turned as dry as dust, who have run frighteningly low on the bread of life, who are dying to know more God in their bodies. Not more about God. More God.
The definition of success: to laugh much, to win respect of intelligent persons and the affections of children; to earn the approbation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give one’s self; to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm, and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived … this is to have succeeded.