Tuesday, March 27, 2012


For great is thy loving-kindness toward me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Sheol.  -- Psalm 86:13 (Darby)
I would call this passage a "coin verse."  It is a passage worthy of being placed in the palm of your hand and studied, or pondered; taking time with each side and slowly turning it over and over.  On its two sides rest all the basic tenets of faith. On one side is me, the personal concern for my future/my soul.  On the other side is the basic nature of God and the covenant relationship between me and God.  

Let's put a light on loving-kindness as that word speaks to what God has with each of us.  The word loving-kindness came about late -- in the mid-16th century.  One definition is "tender kindness...expressing affection." (Dictionary.com)  Other translations use mercy, love, or promise.  One could add agape or deep marriage-like covenant.  What do all of those words connote about God's greatness reaching toward us?  Turn the coin...

My soul slips from the grasp of this merciful hold occasionally, sometimes frequently.  It's been known to fall quite precipitously in bad moments to a Sheol.  Sheol is more of a dark or empty place.  Sheol is a term bound up with ancient Hebrew culture -- a place of afterlife, though more like a shadow-filled non-place/non-existence.  (Only more modern interpreters throw foreigners' cultural conceptions of a fiery hell into the mix.)  My sin, my preoccupations with myself, my worries will replace God's loving-kindness if I allow them to take over my thinking.  Deliverance from myself, from my penchant for thinking about me, me, and me comes about by turning the coin from myself back to reflection on the greatness of Loving-kindness toward me.  What worries, what selfish attention is occupying your words/thoughts pulling your soul from the grasp of Mercy?  Loving-kindness, deliverance, covenant, my soul...

My soul gives glory to my God for all the bountiful mercy and kindnesses extended through blessings on this sacred ground.  Hold me tightly in the sway of all the great promises bestowed by grace alone.  Amen.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Completed Love

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  I John 4:8

This is a brief encapsulation of the mystery and crazy depths of Christian faith.  Take a few minutes and just work through this one verse phrase by phrase.  Use what's called the Lectio Divina method where you simply breathe consciously and listen intently as you mull over what each phrase means and implies about life.
I recognize the intrusiveness of throwing in my own thoughts, so you need go no farther if you wish to do this process on your own with God.  But, if you wish to hear some inadequate ramblings of my listening carry on.

No one has ever seen God... I get so weary of arguments that wage over non-existence of God simply because no one (living) has seen God.  Yet, I know we can and do discern the Living Presence of our Divine Lord.  We CAN know God is there by a partaking or drinking in of The Spirit that creates and makes moist the dry places in our lives.

IF we love one another... Loving others is a choice.  We choose how we're going to walk out the door in the morning -- will we put on our galoshes intent on tromping right on through all the stupidities and insensibilities of which others are vastly capable, willingly wrapping the cloak of forgiveness around the shoulders of these same whacky children of God?  Or might we be bitter and angry toward the "idiots" castigating them as subhuman?  IF is the word there's a choice to be had... choose wisely.  To violate the IF clause negates the THEN clause and here you lose something huge.

(THEN) God lives in us.... Are ye able to open the door by loving intentionally to welcome into your very being the completeness of God?  What would it mean to you for God to be fully and completely alive in you?   Alive in others?  Alive throughout the world in every living soul?  It is prevented from happening simply because too many reject the IF you love one another part.

His love is made complete in us... When we think of God's love we think of something so large and encompassing that it fills not just our world, but that of the universe as well.  "Let there be light" was a love pronouncement that emblazoned itself upon ALL creation; and yet, the power and range of love from that moment onward is in us and propelled onward from us into those around us, into those not yet born, and perhaps even into those who have gone before us.  Complete love knows no bounds of time or space; and it IS ours in this promise from scripture.

God, through your loving our loving brings you to completeness.  Help us to not fail in making you a real and living presence in every aspect of life on earth.  Amen.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hope You Have

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. -- I Peter 3:15 (KJV)
Scripture is so deep because of the implications and hidden assumptions.  In this verse this assumption is that you are demonstrating so much hope that someone else could notice and ask you about it.  How do you demonstrate hope?  Belief in Christ does provide a capability of looking to the future unafraid.  The future has been handled once and for all.

Hope is defined as "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best." (Dictionary.com)  People demonstrating hope can sometimes be obnoxiously Pollyanna.  You know the kind of person.  They are the ones who no matter how bad things are they say things like, "It will all work out in the end."  "Don't worry, be happy."  It can be a superficial optimism in some.  In others it is based on a sincere belief system that gives them a true trust in all things working out for those who love Christ.   Because of the admonition at the end to explain your hope with gentleness and respect, it IS possible to be just blatantly irritating with your bubbly hope and well-being, or to be so forcefully evangelistic about it that the person turns you off quick as a light switch.  The future has been handled by a God who became human and took our guilt and sin with him when he departed.  What can hurt us now?  He sits at the right had of God and we are His.  So spread this hope gently and respect the gift Christ has given to all.