Monday, September 26, 2011

note to whole self

why do you worry, o my soul?
the master will do his work.

already, he is moving in you
driving that first step forward.

why are you anxious, o my heart?
the lord is shaping you, even at night.

already, you are becoming
the same person all of the time.

why do you despair, my flesh and bones?
when you fall, simply get up.

rejoice, for your trainor is the
cleansor, the provider of freedom.

he will make you invincible.

Cross posted at Daily Prayer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

the jesus kinda love

My little daughter is dying. Please come put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live. MK5:23

It was the end of a long day. Jesus had crossed the lake twice, driven out demons, amazed the people. Now a crowd pushed against him. And a man breaks through to plead “My little daughter is dying.”

What crossed His mind first? Perhaps he saw an opportunity to raise his own status with Jairus, a synagogue leader. Unlikely. Perhaps he saw the humility, courage and faith Jairus exhibited by falling at his feet. Possible. Maybe he just closed his eyes and saw the girl… a 12-year old shivering on a small bed… helpless… afraid… dying.,, alone… and knew that worldly love alone would not be enough to save her.

So he went.

There were no ambulances. There was no mad-dash-out-of-my-way scramble. Even in this life-or-death time of urgency, the Lord never lost awareness of those in his view. He could take on a mission to save a dying girl and still find time to love along the way.

A woman had been bleeding for twelve years—the lifespan of the girl who lay dying—so surely she could wait an hour… a day… a week… This little girl grasping onto the thread of life must take priority. But no. The Lord stops. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Be free from you suffering. Jesus looked into her heart and could see it was not selfishness that drove her to his feet, but rather hope and faith. Her shackles—which some would say paled in comparison to the ordeal faced by the young girl—created the same sense of helplessness. Loneliness. Fear. And Jesus loved. He stopped in the middle of loving, to love.

Arriving “too late” at the home of Jairus, he went to where the child was, took her hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” And she did. Then Jesus turned to her parents, and told them to give her something to eat.

Yes, I think earlier back on the road, tired, crowded and overwhelmed, Jesus’ first thought was about the girl. And who else he could love on the way. It certainly wasn’t about himself.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

there's no i in god

You wake up one day and the idea that you are overweight, out of shape and off-track gnaws at you so much you need to act. So I tell my friend TK that I need his help. Can’t do this alone.

So TK gives me a book. Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice, by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson. Typical TK – he knows me well enough to know that the only way to change my outer physical shape is to start within… by changing my heart.

Each chapter is only two-three pages, but it takes me a few days to let a chapter sink in. So I think about what it means to linger on the beauty of God and God’s Kingdom. Asking God to show me the small steps in my life that will quietly and certainly lead to inner transformation. And whether I can rely on the love and divine grace of Jesus Christ to transform me into the man I was mean to be.

Here’s the big take away from week one: in the past, whenever I would spend time thinking about my relationship with Christ, I spend most of the time thinking about me.

What prayers can I put before God?
How did I fall short of His will?
Where did I need God’s help?
When was I obedient, when was I not?
What does God have to say to me? Can I hear Him today?

So this week I am trying to shift the focus, not worry about me, and simply enjoy the awesomeness of God. Or what Willard and Johnson call “dwelling on the beauty of God and the Kingdom life.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 thanksgiving

crossposted at Daily Prayer
It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Rev 21: 6-7

On September 11, 2011 more than 47,000 people were safely evacuated from two burning towers. It probably ranks as one of the greatest rescue operations in the history of the world.

Yet salvation comes at a cost. On that day, 403 firefighters, police officers and paramedics sacrificed their lives.

A few millennia earlier, one man gave his life to save a people. And when he breathed his last, he looked to heaven and declared, “It is finished.”

Tonight’s prayer is one of thanks, for the victories of 9/11. And the life everlasting these heroes now enjoy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

the good samaritan

I spent a few hours down at the rail trail this afternoon, handing out water and lemonade to the joggers, walkers and bike riders.

So I am talking to one guy in a red t-shirt, and he says "you're a good Samaritan."

And as he left, I wondered. This man was comfortable making a NT reference, but to him, seeing a simple act of kindness brought to mind a Samaritan and not a follower of Jesus. Could you imagine a person in a similar situation saying "you're a good Christian"?

About five minutes later, another man makes the same comment, "You're a good Samaritan."

So when I get home tonight I do a little reading. I was surprised to find out that Samaritans believed in God and the Torah. They considered themselves Jews, though they were detested by the "mainstream" Jews. (One writer compares this to the rift between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.) In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells the tale of one man who rises above this bigotry to help a man in need -- exemplifying God's call to love your neighbor as yourself.

Today, the term "good Samaritan" is used as a common metaphor and applies to any charitable person, especially one who, like the man in the parable, rescues or helps out a needy stranger. My guess is that it represents a term acceptable in a secular society, where as any reference to God or Christ may be off-putting.

So while these guys weren't giving Christ any credit for me being out on the rail trail today, the fact that my presence led a few people to reflect on Jesus' words made me feel good.

But when a third guy came by and asked "Who can I thank?" I decided to clarify the situation.

"God," I replied. "You can thank God."