Thursday, May 28, 2020

Get Muddy!


5-year-old Jude had a hard day.  He'd managed to be in 3 timeouts by 2:00pm.  The usual pleasures offered him, he turned away with disdain:  no blow-up pool could substitute for the new pool at his house; the park was mundane and not worth the walk (even though I offered to drive us).  He had hoped for the company (distraction) of the neighbor kids, but they were gone for the day.

He decided the sprinkler felt good.  The bubble maker was a good choice:  he could have the bubbles all to himself.  Then, he was reminded of the place behind the garage where he could get dirtiest and engage his imagination unfettered:  the sand path lined with stones.

With a "digger" in hand and some sand toys, he could devise cities, individual lives of sea creatures or totems to an underground army.  So, he dug, buried stones, piled stones.  He and his grandfather, who leisurely accompanied Jude, discussed whatever possibilities existed in the day. I half-listened from a bench nearby.

Suddenly, I pay attention to a question Jude asks:  "Is gravity everywhere?"
"Yes," I answer.
"Well, not here," he says.  I look up to see him lightly skip-dancing down the path.

He found his happy place.

He was wet and sandy. Holes were dug in the path.  Rocks were half-buried in the path.  Muddy handprints on the garage.  It might be not be pretty, but it was beautiful.

He had found his happy place.

Where might we find our happy place in a day of discontent?  Do we need the discourse of our Father?  To dig deep into the usual well-kept parts of our lives?  Make a mess? Get dirty?  Find your happy place.  Be sure to get a good hosing afterwards.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Welcome!

"Look, you scoffers! Be shocked to death!
For in your days I am doing a work,
a work you will never believe, 
even if someone tells you plainly!" (from Habakkuk)

Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave the synagogue, but the people wanted to hear more and urged them to return the following Sabbath. As the people dispersed after the meeting, many Jews and converts to Judaism follow Paul and Barnabas.  Paul and Barnabas continued teaching them privately and urged them to remain steadfast in the grace of God.  The next Sabbath, it seemed the whole city had gathered to hear the message of the Lord.  But some of the Jewish leaders were jealous when they saw these huge crowds.  They argued with Paul and Barnabas about their teaching.

Paul and Barnabas responded with great confidence:  It was only right that we should bring God's message to you Jewish people first.  But now, since you are rejecting our message and, by doing so, identifying yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to outsiders (Gentiles).  Remember the Lord's words:

I have appointed you a light to the nations beyond Israel,
so you can bring redemption to every corner of the earth...."

Acts 13: 41-52

Paul asserts that the good news is for all.  Jesus came to complete the work of the Jewish nation: salvation for all.  They failed; He prevailed.

I am sometimes like the Jews, presuming the message is personal, when it is also universal. This causes me to question myself.

Do I take for granted that the salvation message is for me and mine, for getting the universality of God's intention?  Do I look on certain groups as outside the circle of "privilege" of being a member of God's household?  Do I keep others out with my exclusivity?  Let it not be so!  

Help me to provide comfort where ever it is needed!  Let my life be an example of Christ's offer to come into the family!

Welcome!

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Abound



2 Peter 1:3-8


God’s divine power gives us everything we need…
What!?!?  How did I miss this?  Everything?  I need?  I need to understand the fullness of the fact that God is working toward my good and knows what I need most.


to reflect God’s true nature and to experience the holy life, a godly life
Ain't  that a caution!  I have been trying to do it all along by following rules, doing all the religious things, but God’s power connects me to life in him, the kind of life I have been trying to achieve all along.  


we have received all of this by knowing him, who has called to us by his glory and virtue…
I love this.  I love him.  That is to be my pursuit: knowing him.  When I see him and see his glory and virtue, I am drawn into the relationship circle of God, Father and Spirit and enveloped into his true nature. (Jesus says this in John 17)


and this is a great and precious promise that enables you to share in his divine nature…
Divine nature.  That holy and righteous life that, with exposure, becomes who I am.  Becomes my nature, too.  I think of it like having a mentor or coach.  The more I go to practice, the more I get in on the planning and practice, I become part of the team.  In this case, part of a team which overcomes sin, overcomes corruption.


so make every effort to respond to God’s promises
So, I grasp the promises.  I make the promises part of my mantra, my purpose, my being.  I bring myself as close to these promises as possible.  It’s like winning the lottery:  I have to go to the store and claim the promises.  And with fervor:  with haste and with due diligence.  

Then Peter gives very specific instructions about the steps for claiming this victory:
…To achieve this, you will need to add virtue to your faith and then knowledge to your virtue.  Then add discipline and to discipline add endurance.  To endurance add godliness, and to godliness add affection for your brothers and sisters in faith.  Finally add love.

If you possess these traits (in your nature) and multiply them, you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with Jesus Christ… 

The NIV says, The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of, your relationship with Jesus Christ.

You will ABOUND in your relationship with Jesus.  It will be full and plentiful.  You will relish and grow these traits because they are the vehicles towards a full relationship with the God of the universe.  You will be rich in the resources of the relationship with Jesus for a holy, godly life.
I never thought I lacked perseverance, but these markers of progress really give me a measure of life in Christ.  As I keep my emotions balanced through these disciplines, I remember God and his intent for me.  In the end…in the end…these become evidence of my life with Jesus to the end.

Anonymous


Holy One,
there is something I wanted to tell you,
but there have been errands to run,
bills to pay,
arrangements to make,
meetings to attend,
friends to entertain,
washing to do...
and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you,
and mostly I forget what I'm about,
or why.
O God,
don't forget me, please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Eternal One,
there is something I wanted to tell you,
but my mind races with worrying and watching,
with weighing and planning,
with rutted slights and pothole grievances,
with leaky dreams I keep trying to plug up;
and my attention is preoccupied
with loneliness,
with doubt,
and with things I covet;
and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you,
and how to say it honestly
or how to do much of anything.
O God,
don't forget me please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Almighty One,
there is something I wanted to tell you
but I stumble along the edge of a nameless rage,
haunted by a hundred floating fears and...
I forget the real question is that I wanted to ask,
and I forget to listen anyway
because you seem unreal and far away,
and I forget what it is I have forgotten.
O God,
don't forget me please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

O Father in heaven,
perhaps you've already heard what I wanted to tell you.
What I wanted to ask is
forgive me,
heal me,
increase my courage, please.
Renew in me a little of love and faith,
and a sense of confidence,
and a vision of what it might mean
to live as though you were real,
and I mattered,
and everyone was sister and brother.
What I wanted to ask in my blundering way is
don't give up on me,
don't become too sad about me,
but laugh with me
and try again with me,
and I will with you, too.
What I wanted to ask is
for peace enough to want and work for more,
for joy enough to share,
and for awareness that is keen enough
to sense your presence,
here,
now,
there,
then,
always. 

Amen