Saturday, April 30, 2011

Righteousness revealed

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
   righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
   and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
-- Psalm 85:9-11
"The nature of everything involved in the life of God in us is only discerned when we have been through it and it is in our past."
For all that might be said about the holiness of living "in the moment" -- i.e. not worrying about tomorrow, not regretting the past, just being grateful for what one has, etc. -- there is a certain blindness that is present in the present.  It is difficult to have enough perspective to see the present moments we're living in the scope and magnitude they actually occupy without the benefit of some hindsight, or for that matter anticipation for where events are going.  Sometimes events feel huge at the time we're going through them only to find them to be virtually insignificant later, or vice versa.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Serving Others With Our Lives

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” - Philippians 2:5-8
 The Apostle Paul uses the example of the relationship between God and Jesus as a model for us to use in our relationship with others.  That's kind of a lofty approach to human relationships!  There are not many of us who would consider ourselves holy enough to place our relationships on a par with Jesus' and God's relationship; though, among our relationships there is the one between us and God.  I've known Christians who considered themselves better than others because they deemed their relationship with God to be better or higher than others.  From this passage we see we should not be arrogant or boastful about our special relationship with Christ; we should not use it for our own advantage.  In all our relationships we are called to be servants.  What would the world look like if we all were intent on serving others?  What would we give another whom we knew?  Would we "become obedient to death" for another with whom we were in relationship?  

Thursday, April 28, 2011


12 Wealth and honor come from you;
   you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
   to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
   and praise your glorious name. 
-- I Chronicles 29:12-13
 There are so many invisible things that we take for granted.  My daughters frequently don't see all the transportation and support their parents' supply, and often they complain that they aren't getting anything.  We often don't see our materialism or our privileged positions unless we lose all through some process.  We lose a job.  A diamond wedding ring falls down the drain.  We're wiped out by a tornado or earthquake.  A serious illness lays us out for months.  We're robbed.  The Chronicler recognizes from where all things come.   He points us all in the direction of not taking God for granted, but to give thanks and praise for all the wealth, honor, strength that we possess. God deserves this praise.  Spend a few moments listing what you have and sharing your appreciation with God.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rest Before God

"Never doubt.  Have no fear.  Watch the faintest tremor of fear, and stop all work, everything; and rest before Me until you are joyful and strong again.
Deal in the same way with all tired feelings....
Do not seek to work for Me.  Never make opportunities.  Live with Me and for Me.  I do the work and I make the opportunities."  -- A.J. Russell, God Calling
I have to confess.  I don't know how or what it is to "rest" in this way.  I have an overactive thinking kind of brain that if I'm awake, it's working.  So, I don't know how to get it to rest.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Change is a Grinder

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
         From where shall my help come?
    2My help comes from the LORD,
         Who made heaven and earth. 
-- Psalm 121:1-2
There is a monotony to change that sometimes feels like one is in a life grinder.  I was lying in bed this morning lamenting in my head about why things have to keep changing.  Just when all the pieces seem to be aligned and things are sailing gracefully along, some glitch occurs and all the pieces bounce into a chaos that lingers for longer always than the graceful part lasts.  I was praying about this - wishing out loud in my pitiful prayer voice that it wasn't this way - and God put His big foot out and tripped me.  On PURPOSE He tripped me!  Boom!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Holy Saturday

8 To you, LORD, I called;
   to the Lord I cried for mercy:
9 “What is gained if I am silenced,
   if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
   Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, LORD, and be merciful to me;
   LORD, be my help.”
-- Psalm 30:8-10
The sun rises on Holy Saturday where it begins with the silence of the night before, with the empty cross and lifeless body of Jesus laid in the tomb.  Hope and mercy dead.  The Apostles' Creed says he descends into hell.  Today it looks like all is lost.  We should spend this day thinking and praying about how our own sin, our own silence, our own lacking of love causes His time in hell to take longer.  We should dwell today in the silence of the pit with Jesus and make amends for all we've done that sent him here in the first place.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Day the Lord's Prayer Came to Life

'Our Father who is in heaven,
         Hallowed be Your name.
    10'Your kingdom come
        Your will be done,
         On earth as it is in heaven.
    11' Give us this day our daily bread.
    12'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.] Amen.  Matthew 6:9-13
Today is recognized as Maundy Thursday in the Western Christian Church.  Maundy is from an Old French term that meant, "it is commanded."  Maundy Thursday is the day The Church recognizes as the occasion of the Last Supper of Christ with his disciples.  It was when he washed their feet and declared himself to be their servant.  It was at the meal that he revealed Judas' plot to betray him to authorities.  It was the same meal at which Christ foretold of Peter denying him.  It is where The Church traces the first act of communion and Christ providing the remembrance of him through the breaking of bread.

This prayer, known as the Lord's Prayer, reveals the whole of this week.  The culmination of Christ's life once he entered Jerusalem lives out all of the phrases in the very prayer he gave us.  I do not want to presume the words God might give you by giving you mine here.  I'd like to invite you to place all the events of Christ's last few days on a table beside you while you slowly and thoughtfully read through the Lord's Prayer and see what it was he was pointing to through the prayer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Awesome Responsibilities

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  -- Matthew 18:18

I'm going to be sharing for an unknown number of blogs here in the days to come some incredible responsibilities that we, as Christians, hold.  When we think of them they might give us serious pause to think what we are doing in our lives and relationships.  The first one is this verse from Matthew 18.  I had a discussion this morning with someone whether there even is a heaven.  I guess if you're one who buys into the absence of heaven and hell, then this verse probably doesn't mean much and you can go on your merry way doing whatever it is you do.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Create in Me a Clean Heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
         And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
-- Psalm 51:10

Today is Palm Sunday in Western Christiandom.  It is the religious observation of the event in Jesus' life where he entered into Jerusalem for the "final showdown" with the limiting and cacophonous voices that were driving a wedge between the people and God.  The story is that Jesus sent his disciples out to find a donkey and it's colt.  They brought it to him and Jesus got on the donkey

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wisdom from Heaven

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.--James 3:16-18
Today is the Day of Silence -- I don't even know from whence this day of observing gay people rights arises.  I just know that it puts a trouble, a thorn of irritation in my side, a vexation in my soul -- perhaps, now that I think about it, ALL controversy and conflict does this to me.  This particular observation every year puts me in the difficult and odd place of finding myself between people I care about who feel PASSIONATELY about their position on the gay issue; and they are not in agreement.  I have been listening to all the voices on it for a very long time - in the church, in science, in my family, amongst my friends, in society.  My conclusion has come down to this -- it is a complicated issue, too complicated for a human meeting of minds.  Within the controversy swirls a multitude of other deeply personal and spiritual nuances, interpretations, beliefs, and attitudes.  Many hold such beliefs and attitudes to be "self-evident" and absolutely essential for coexistence with other human beings.  I do not have any answers.  Being caught between people I love with fervently opposite views is a painful place.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Walk On

I don't deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God's church right out of existence. -- I Cor. 15:9
This verse follows a listing by Paul of nearly every Disciple who met or saw the Resurrected Christ.  He lists himself last and then writes this verse about being undeserving.

I have occasionally pondered in my life why exactly Paul was chosen as the sole outsider to be pulled into that inner circle by the Living Christ.  I have always

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Who's in the way?

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; -- Romans 5:1

Christian or religious folks perhaps do not think so very often about how much at war with God we once were (are?).  Obviously, atheists in particular are warring with God all the time, and you kind of expect them to be.  But, how often are we?  I think we fight with God subconsciously or subtly or overtly a good part of the time.  We fight with God when we're working hard to monkey wrench our way through the prayers to which we want our answers.  We fight with God when we think God isn't listening or isn't hearing.  We fight God when we feel sorry for ourselves and sponsor lonely pity parties where we only invite ourselves and cry, "Woe is me."  
Yet, this one very small verse proclaims that there is a peace, an armistice with God by virtue of our justification by faith -- a justification that God ALSO provided to each of us who just take pause to note that Christ died even for crazy old me.  If we feel like we're in a wrestling match with God to get what we want, or to go where we think we should be going then the battle is not coming from God's side; it is coming from our side, and doesn't that make the battle with our own ego, with our own self?  Why do you stand in your own way to feeling the peace of God that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Holding One's Tongue

Sin is not ended by multiplying words,    but the prudent hold their tongues. -- Proverbs 10:19
The dear American life that we have evolved into, thanks in large part to the lousy examples of living seen hours and hours a day on television, is that giving a curt piece of one's mind to everyone is admirable.  I hate to swim against the stream, but it is not admirable.  There is no reward in any heavenly book for having a pithy comeback line to every negative thing that happens to us.  There is no reward for walking around with anger on our hearts or a chip on our shoulder.  My dad used to say, "A chip on the shoulder is a sign of wood further up."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More About Doors

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.  -- Revelation 3:20
Keeping ourselves in the love of God involves waiting, often at a locked door for a long time.  But, as this verse from Revelation points out, we are the ones with the door closed/locked, since it is we who are told to open the door and let Christ in to eat with us.  Christ has blessed us with the power to control the relationship with him.  If we are feeling pushed out of life and that Christ can't get through all we're going through we should remember that it is we who are keeping Him at a distance, not Him!  

Friday, April 8, 2011

What color is your faith?

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.  --Jude 1:20
This advice is given by the author of Jude after he has spent most of the book talking about the infiltration of the faith community by those who are perverting the teaching of the faithful.

Do you have a "most holy faith"?  Do you think of your faith as being "most holy?"  How do you protect and guard it as such?  Stay with this thought and really think hard about it.  Does your faith need protecting?  Probably it does.  That was the author's concern for these Christians who had wolves among the sheep soundly condemning even the angels.  But how would YOU go about protecting your faith?  I think our faith is under assault more than we might even begin to suspect.  So if I say, "Watch out!"  Where would you begin your watch?

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Blessed are those who listen to me,
   watching daily at my doors,
   waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life
   and receive favor from the LORD
-- Proverbs 8:34-35
"Waiting at my doorway..."  This phrase brings to my mind two life images. The first one is the homeless people who slept in the doorway of the church in Kansas City, KS.  The church council of the church was quite disturbed by the homeless people's choice of sleeping location, and discussed all ways to discourage this behavior because they felt it was a poor reflection on the church to have "that kind of people hanging out" there at night.  The other image is when I was going through an intensely depressing time in college and I found my way down to the church in Cheney.  The door was locked and I sat and cried in the church doorway.

Waiting at the doorway, in both cases, carries the powerful reminder that God is present to us even when doors are locked.  It also works in reverse.  Whenever we start thinking of our life as being locked and stuck God is still there, less locked away from us than we can even  realize at that moment.  When we wait in the doorways and listen for God I do think that God hears us and the favor of God is present, even when we may not feel it.       

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;  -- Hebrews 3:14
 There are some days where one simply doesn't know what to think or where to look for ambition or motivation.  My dad used to call those kind of days-- blah days.   Without inspiration one just slogs through the day and hopes for something brighter to come about tomorrow.  Rumor has it a lot of people in Seattle feel this way on many of the endlessly (it seems) gray showery days.

Spiritual connections ebb and flow.  Spirituality is tied in with tiredness and diet, in addition to one's emotional world's ups and downs.   Sometimes, a lot of times probably if one kept score, instead of being psyched and "up" we are more simply plodding and waiting.  Waiting on the Lord might be a good terminology to use.   If we looked at the "down" times we experience as "waiting times" maybe we would feel more active and engaged -- like we were actually doing something, even if we feel like slugs.  Waiting times can be moved into active praying times, and though we may not feel like doing anything, we CAN always pray.  There is no shortage of prayer needs, and I believe prayer reminds us to hold on as steadfast partakers with Christ for the care of the world.

Oh God, when sloth and disinterest take hold of us turn our minds and hearts toward those less fortunate and give us the words to pray.  In your name.  Amen.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Feeling Irksome About Life?

 For God so loved the world...

In addition to attending a worship service of your choice today, think about this:
The end for which we were created is to enjoy God's love.  For when we are bereaved of this, we live to no purpose; and having lost the end to which we were created, our life is cumbersome and irksome to us.   -- Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations, London, 1908

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Special Assignments

St. Francis statue on watch in my office window
I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God's master plan.  Together with my friend Timothy, I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse.  May everything good from God our Father be yours!  -- Colossians 1:1-2 (The Message)
The scene out my window today is wet.  Rain pouring, river rising and turning from green to brown as the mud and silt is churned up from the melting mountain snows.

I grabbed a Bible lying here and just started reading at where it fell open.  I read these verses and went no further.  "...Sent on special assignment as part of God's master plan."  I got stuck watching raindrops fall and asking myself two questions:
     1) What is God's master plan?
     2) Should I be hearing I have a special assignment?  Or, am I already on that assignment and does sitting here pondering deep thoughts while it rains do anything to accomplish that assignment? Or, was it ONLY Paul who got the special assignment?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Enduring IV

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,  
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?  -- Psalm 8:3-4
 Meister Eckhart (c. 1260-1327) has supplied us with a sick man who refuses to ask God for healing.  The man has given three reasons for enduring his illness without divine intervention.  I've covered his first two reasons in parts II and III.  The man's third reason for not asking for help for himself has to do with him being too small to warrant God's help.  The man explains his insignificance like this:
...I am reluctant to ask the rich, loving and generous God for something as insignificant as this (his illness.)  ...Supposing I traveled to see the Pope one or two hundred miles away, and as I stepped before him, "Holy Father, I have made a difficult and costly journey of two hundred miles to see you and I beseech give me a single bean."  Indeed, he and everyone there who heard me would justifiably say I was a fool.  (Meister Eckhart: Selected Writings, p. 92)