Monthly Archives: August 2013

What Do You Need?

“I’ve taken refuge in you, Lord. Don’t let me ever be put to shame! Deliver me and rescue me by your righteousness! Bend your ear toward me and save me!” Psalm 71:1-2 (CEB)

This Psalm was written by an older person; someone who had experienced much and grown closer to God with the passing years.

He speaks of God as a reliable refuge; we needn’t feel abandoned even during the silence. He calls out to God to deliver, to rescue, to listen, to save. God does all this and more. God delivers us to a new place of insight and understanding. God brings us to a better understanding of our creator.

With the passing years, the psalmist experienced growing trust. You don’t gain trust all at once. It comes in stages.  When we trust, we look backwards.  We see God’s activity in the past and we know that we can, once again, trust.

If trust looks back, hope looks into the future.  It seeks out and imagines something better than what we see in front of us.  Trust and hope work together when we allow God in.

These are easy words for me to write.  I believe them because I’ve experienced God bringing me through difficult times.  I have experienced God setting me down in a new place with new possibilities and insight.

Yet, I wonder, over and over and over again.  How do people cope without knowing that God is there?  How do people who live on the fringes of society get through even a single day without understanding trust and hope?

They see it all around them: in the food pantries and the soup kitchens; in the free clinics and the rehab units.  They see people of faith serving tirelessly because they know about this stuff; that it’s real.  And they serve tirelessly because they no longer want to hide in God’s presence.

And so they go out to serve.  They build the relationships.  They spread the gospel wherever they go.

And sometimes they use words.

All glory and honor be to God.   Amen.

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Baptism by Fire

“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, I have come instead to bring division.” Luke 12:51 (CEB)

As I read this passage from Luke’s gospel, I realize how easy it is to slip into the habit of “taming Jesus.”  I want to know “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild.”  I want to read about Jesus who healed the sick and spoke up in defense of the poor and side-lined of society.  I don’t want “my” Jesus to turn over tables in the Temple or divide my household.  

I want him to be nice and agreeable.

Or do I?  

Reading this reminds me that Jesus came to show us how we allow society to rule our lives.  He came into our broken world and pointed out that brokenness.  And then he offered himself up in his own baptism by fire in order to save us from that broken condition.

What this text points out to me is my own sinful condition.  Though Jesus does his best to point to those facets of society that are out-of-order, I discover that I’m a part of the problem.  

It takes courage to live out our faith; to stand by what we believe is wrong in our world.  It takes courage to step out in boldness for God’s kingdom.  We risk stumbling and falling; we rise failure.  

But, it isn’t really failure, is it?  After all, the greatest “failure” happened in Golgotha 2000 years ago.  And we haven’t been the same since.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


A New Perspective

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.” Colossians 3:1-2

How many conversion experiences have you had in your life?  Was it the one time when you “got it”? That moment when you can say you were saved?  Or have you never known a time in your life when you weren’t a Christian?  Whether you’re in the first group or the second, I believe we all have many conversions.  These are moments when we see things differently and turn closer to God.

Perhaps it happens during worship or Bible study.  Other times God whispers our name until we finally stop and listen.  Then there are those moments when life brings us to our knees in pain.  Or we hear something that shakes our faith.  Working through it, we fall more deeply in love with God.

Each of these moments is a conversion experience.  And to give it full meaning, we would do well to stop and pay attention.  Conversion means repentance.  Sometimes it’s easy to make that 180 degree turn.  Other times we do it only after going through a difficult time and coming out the other side feeling like Jacob wrestling the angel in the wilderness.

The good news is that Christ is with us through it all.  Christ surrounds us with love, yet grants us space to do our work.

I find it hard to believe that Christ died for me.  He died for you and the rest of the world.  But, for me?  That’s heady stuff.  Not only did Christ die for me, I died with him and I’ve been raised to new life with him.

How can we not live as Paul challenged the Colossians to live: act like one raised with Christ; quit shuffling along gazing on all the bad stuff; look up!  Look at what Christ has done and is doing in the world.

Every time we repent we experience a conversion moment: a moment to be changed and transformed; a moment to fall in love with God like never before.

All glory and honor be to God.

Amen.


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