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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” (Deut 6:4)

The essence of love: One
The essence of perfection: One
The essence of the universe: One
The essence of our God: One

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48)

How?

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

And what does Jesus pray?

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22)
 And our prayer for twenty-one-one:

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
May we be one as You are One. Amen.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Flaming Sword and the Fruit of Life

“So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden
He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword
which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life”
(Gen 3:24)


“We have sinned,” say the blind,
“so we must wait for the Afterlife
or the Second Coming
to come to the Tree of Life

and eat of its heavenly fruit.”

“Yes, sirs,"
nod the blind following the blind,
"May the Lord have mercy on us
while we wait to eat the Fruit of Life.”

And, together,
the blind and the blind following the blind
pray for mercy and patience,
while they wait to eat the Fruit of Life.
And, together, they fall into a pit
because they have not eaten the Fruit of Life.

“The Fruit of Life is good,”
say the Israelite spies.
“But we must not take it.
Those guarding it are big and strong,
and they will certainly devour us.”

“Yes, sirs,"
nod the blind following the blind,
"May the Lord have mercy on us,
as we wait for a safe moment to take the fruit,
so that one day, in the future,
we may eat the Fruit of Life.”

And, together,
the blind and the blind following the blind
wait and wait and wait
for a safe moment
when the Tree of Life
is free of the flaming sword.
And, together, they fall into a pit
because they have not eaten the Fruit of Life.

But Joshua and Caleb
see the guards before the Tree of Life
and they say,
“If the Lord is pleased with us,
He will conquer it for us.
The Lord is with us.
Do not be afraid.”

And the blind do not listen to those with faith.
But the Lord gives those with faith
a chance to face the flaming sword.
And He is faithful with the faithful
and they conquer the flaming sword
and they eat the Fruit of Life.

Then a Messiah comes
and faces the Cross of the flaming sword
and says, “I am the Vine
and you are the branches.
Abide in Me
and the Fruit of Life is yours.”

But before the fruit is eaten,
the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,
and many are surprised by the fiery trial they suffer,
the cross they face,
and the flaming sword guarding the way
to the Fruit of Life

May we press on
and run the race to the Tree of Life
with endurance.
For it is impossible
for those who have eaten the Fruit of Life,
who have tasted this heavenly gift,
this goodness of the coming age,
who have shared in the Holy Spirit,
to lose the Life they have tasted.

May we have courage
to face the flaming sword
and trust in the One who has led the way
to our victory.
Amen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Love into Solitude or Community?

The following was composed about half a year after my awakening in the struggle to work out the complexities of love.


“Love the Lord your God,”
and we’re drawn to solitude
“Love your neighbor,”
and we’re drawn to community
“Love others as yourself,”
and we’re drawn back into solitude

Solitude or community?
How do we find them both?
Must loving our neighbor
always draw us into community?
Or, can it also draw us into solitude,
into prayer,
for neighbor to discover on his own?

Loving neighbor is a tricky mystery
Love guides into wholeness
Wholeness means surgery
But neighbor refuses surgery
and wants a drug

Love doesn’t give drugs
so we offer surgery
and neighbor cries,
“You don’t love me!
Love doesn’t hurt like that!”

Oh, but love hurts
Love is the supreme hurt

December 3, 2005

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Unforgiving Usurers

Once upon a time, a certain king in a land of ease wished to settle accounts. Usurers who owed billions were brought to him. The Usurers had bribed the gullible into burdensome loans they knew the debtors could not repay. Floundering beneath the loans, the debtors scoured nickels and dimes to pay what they could. Since the debtors could pay neither quickly nor substantially, the Usurers added new fees and even higher rates of interest.

 When small lenders worked kindly with those seeking loans, the Usurers anted up their bribes and squelched the small lenders. They even bought out the loans of the small lenders, forcing those who had avoided the Usurers into debt with them anyway. Before long, most of the citizens of the land were indebted to the Usurers.

Eventually, the burdens of the debtors were so great, they crashed and could pay no more. The Usurers’ game had boomeranged back to them and they were no longer winning the game they had invented. Seeing their own debtors’ prison before them, their eyes grew wide with terror.

So the Usurers went before the king and said, “Have patience with me, and I will repay you everything.” And the king felt compassion on the Usurers and bailed them out. But the Usurers went and found their debtors who owed thousands and seized them and began to choke them, saying, “Pay back what you owe.”

So the debtors fell down and began to entreat the Usurers, saying, “Have patience with me and I will repay you.” The Usurers were unwilling, however, and went and took their houses, their cars, and all their belongings, and threw them out into the street.

For a time, the king permitted the Usurers to mistreat the debtors and did not require that their bailed out new wealth trickle down to the debtors. So the Usurers returned to their bribes, and they lured in new debtors. And the process started all over: the Usurers grew rich again, the debtors floundered again, and they stopped paying again, but now, the Usurers owed trillions.

But this time, the king, who had been paid by the indebted citizens, was also broke. For a time, he had a magician make money under a funny euphemism no one could pronounce. But it sounded something like “calculating easier,” and, naturally, everyone in the land of ease liked the sound of that. Eventually, the people discovered the euphemism only meant that the king’s money was worthless, so his wealth and his coveted bail-outs came to an end.

Many had loved the land of ease and, when the ease turned against them, they met with despair. A few had sacrificed their citizenship in the land of ease for the rocky quest into land of the cross. Once ease turned into trial, those who had taken the rocky route were hidden.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The spirit tells me

My people tell me,
I am an heir of a great civilization
We are strong
and have shaped the world

As an heir of this great civilization,
I am strong
I am powerful
I am important

As I live into the destiny of my people
My pride grows fierce
I knock all who question my people
I fight for my people

One day, a spirit tells me
I am not an heir of this great civilization
I take offense at the spirit
“We are strong,” I reply,
“and we have shaped the world”

I grow anxious at the spirit's message
If I am not an heir of a civilization so great
I may not be strong
I may not be powerful
I may not be important
My pride grows fierce

One long night, I fight the spirit
As we fight,
I tell the spirit
“I fight for my people”
The spirit says,
“No, you fight not for your people,
You fight for your pride”

The spirit knocks me
He breaks my pride
He gives me a limp
But I wake the next morning
and walk away a new man

The spirit tells me
I am an heir in a divine family
We are strong
and we have shaped the earth

But our strength is hidden
And we walk in humility
No longer does my pride grow fierce
For I know my place
and the destiny of my family

I watch many in the civilization of my youth
fighting, they say, for our people
but they fight for their pride

May the spirit I met come to them
and fight with them
and reveal their divine source

“Which civilization is that of your youth?"
You ask, thinking you know

You realize not
The civilization of my youth
is in every time
every place
every culture
and every religion
It is your civilization

May the spirit I met come to you
and fight with you
and reveal your divine source

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blessed are those who Mourn

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted"
(Matt 5:4)

Why do we mourn?
Because we see

Why are we comforted?
Because we see

Why do we see?
Because we sit in the lap of the Father

Why do we sit in the lap of the Father?
Because we mourn

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Hurdles


                In a moment of tired frustration, I returned to my habit of wrestling with the Lord.  “Why,” I asked, “are women doing all the work and, yet, they are the ones told to stand back?”  During my argument with God, I noted my observations in the churches and explained, “If the women weren’t doing so much behind the scenes – in other words, if the women weren’t ‘hidden leaders’ – nothing would get done!  Why, then, Oh Lord, are they told to back off?”  Finally, with a tone of cynicism, I asked, “Do You really wish death for Your churches, Lord?”

                A few months after my inquiry, I had the following dream:

                A bullet fired off for a race to begin.  Many runners, both men and women, started running together, but once the hurdles came along, the women took the lead.  I saw the women leaping over the hurdles.  These were the usual brand of hurdles, about as high as the runners’ hips.  After the women, I saw the men running behind them, trying to catch up.  They were approaching their hurdles, but these hurdles were not the usual brand.  These hurdles were higher than their heads!  Next, I saw a great hand come forth from heaven toward the hurdles, ready to take the hand of any runner.  But the men did not see the great hand, and they kept struggling, unsuccessfully trying to leap over the hurdles above their heads.  Next, I saw the women stop running, turn around, and cheer the men on.  Then I saw the women see the hand in the sky.  Then, the women began to scream to the men, while pointing to the sky, “The hand!  The hand!  Grab the hand!”  Some men heard the women, looked to the heavens, saw the great hand, and took the hand.  The hand pole vaulted these men over their hurdles and the men continued running.  Other men saw what happened and took the great hand too.  The women cheered and waited for the men to catch up.  Once the runners were all together again, they all continued the race.

Today, my understanding of these issues runs deeper than the dream conveys.  At the time, however, the dream gave me the liberation I needed.  Perhaps it can do the same for other women now.

May we all learn to run the race together.  Amen.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

From Babylon to New Jerusalem


Much of today is marked by grief, and grief trumps resolve in this moment.  In mourning, may our hearts move to Christ and to the love He taught.  May He then turn our mourning into dancing.

The following poem is a revision of one I wrote shortly after Katrina.  The original version further blended the two events and expressed deeper sorrow over the inadequacy of "resolve."  

We could say the word for this poem is "Paradox" for it calls us into love and harmony, while it also looks at ourselves in a way that could draw a few into anger.  But transformation can only come through facing those areas calling for it.  May we be willing to  carry the humility that leads to the New Jerusalem.  Amen.


“Grieve”
The word we thought we'd cry
as we watched our towers of pride
Fallen!  Fallen!

“Resolve”
The word we embraced in its place,
swearing to move forward
in our own direction of pride

“Repent”
The word that resists resolve
by choosing to turn around
and move in a direction of humility

“Confusion”
The word God chooses
for those who rely upon themselves
and not upon the Lord

“Help”
The word the victims cry out
when their leaders choose resolve
and forget their plight

“Mercy”
The word we cry
for healing in our land,
brokenness of our pride,
sadness for affliction,
grief not only for harm done unto us,
but also for harm we have done unto others,
and a change in our own hearts and minds

“Love”
The new word
for a new time
when harmony will reign

Monday, August 30, 2010

One of the Days of the Son of Man


House-sitters watch over a beautifully constructed home.  While the walls pulse from the beat of the music, some eat, some drink, some laugh.  One cleans.  Instantly, the floor quakes, the walls and windows clatter, objects fall and break, and a powerful wind rushes through the building.  All but the one cleaning are thrown to the ground.  Desperate, they cry in terror. 
The wind blows open the curtain of the window and the Master peeks through the window.  Still standing, the one who had been cleaning sees his Master.  The Master winks.  The servant winks back.  What glory it is to be found standing on “one of the days of the Son of Man!” (Luke 17:22)
When the clattering calms down, those on the ground cry out, “What was that?!”  The servant smiles.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Misunderstood Bridegroom

“and the disciples did not understand him"
(paraphrase of Lk 2:50, 9:45, 18:34; Mk 9:32; Jn 12:16 & -- you get the idea!)


This often repeated refrain hints to me a mystery within a passage that confuses many in the churches:

"The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.
Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.
When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.
Then he said to the tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.'
And his disciples heard him say it. . . .
In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.
Peter remembered and said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!'"
(Mark 11: 12-21)


I love this passage. Jesus is so real. So human. So able to get upset just like me! Wedged right in the middle is another favorite passage of mine -- when Jesus over-turns the tables of money-changers in the temple. Whoo hoo! Adios, Religious Capitalists making money at the expense of God!! Again, Jesus is so real. So human. So able to get upset just like me!


But I'm also intrigued by the symbolism of the fig tree and the season. What might have made Jesus hungry? Maybe he was hungry for disciples who understood Him. The fig tree, representing Israel, gave Him some hope: did it bear fruit? ANY fruit? Was there any fruit on the fig tree to show that a few were ready for His message? Apparently not: "it was not the season for figs." It was like God was teasing to His Son through the fig tree: "Sorry, Son, you arrived too early. Israel isn't ready for your message. Even your own disciples aren't ready for the Messiah!" Instead of chuckling along with the Father, Jesus took the hint and cursed the tree.


But did he truly lack hope? Not according to the next passage, which really isn't an answer to Peter's statement. Instead, it seems to be Jesus muttering to Himself His own response to His own frustration: 'Have faith in God,' Jesus answered. 'I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.'" (Mark 11:22-25)


Here we have Jesus' hope: faith in God; his solution: pray and believe; and even his repentance: forgive to receive God's forgiveness. Jesus had to forgive his entire generation for its lack of readiness.


Still, Jesus' coming was hardly in vain. After he rose, he showed himself again to His disciples and "then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures" (Luke 24:45).


Even today, many disciples of Jesus "do not understand him." And even today, many of us are experiencing radical, surprising moments when He "opens our minds to understand the scriptures."


May our Bridegroom continue to open our minds. May he be making us ready for the Wedding. May our generation be the Bride who is finally ready to understand the Bridegroom! Amen!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gold man sacs


Conclusion to the previous post:
The rich and powerful may think they have the last word, but . . .


If the gold man sacs the little guy
and, in trying to hide it,
babbles on,
what is hidden will one day be revealed
and the fate of the gold man
is fallen, is fallen

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2+2=5


Once upon a time, Company landed upon the secret to the formula 2+2=5.  Armed with its secret formula, Company trained its employees to turn many 2s and 2s into 5s, and, for this, Company enjoyed exceeding benefits.  Company flew in personal jets, sailed on luxury cruises, ate luscious meals, lounged in deluxe resorts by the sea, and dressed in gold, silk and diamonds.

Then one day Union came to complain.  “While you lounge on resort beaches, your workers are turning your 2s and 2s into 5s, and they can’t pay their bills!”  “Injustice!” cried Union.  “Ah ay!” cried the workers.  “We want job security!  We want strong salaries!  We want health care!  We want vacation pay!  We want sick leave!”  Company was hesitant to pay its workers more, but Union had a trump card: “we’ll announce your secret formula: 2+2=5.”  Under such black mail, Company signed contracts for job security, increased wages, strong health coverage, and solid vacation and sick leave.   The workers were happy, but they wanted more.  Company was happy, but it wanted more.  Many more 2s and 2s were turned into 5s, and both Company and workers increased in wealth. 

But they continued to fight.  Company wanted to release some of its excess employees and it wanted to pay the remaining ones less.  But Union wanted more for its workers.  So Company kept giving as little as possible without losing its secret formula and those who were trained to produce it.

Then one day, the alchemy of Company’s secret formula no longer worked.  Its positive numbers turned negative and it lost a lot of money.  Now Company had to lay off workers and Union could do nothing to stop it.  There was no arguing against Company’s dismal balance sheet.  So Company laid off workers.  Company also increased the workloads, reduced the salaries, and diminished the benefits of the grateful-to-have-a-job employees who remained.  Union knew if it tried to stop this trend, Company would present its balance sheet and ask, “Would you prefer more lay-offs?”

Investors saw the balance sheets and took away much money from Company.  By punishing Company, investors also punished themselves.  Both Company and the investors lost their wealth.

Thankfully, Company was too big to fail, and Government came to the rescue.  In time, with Government’s money, production resumed and the balance sheet turned positive again.  By now, Company had discovered it could produce just as much at a much lower cost.  It had released its excess employees, and it had demanded more for less among those who remained.  In its Annual Report, Company proclaimed “productivity” had “increased” and profits were on the rise.  Stockholders rejoiced and rewarded Company with more money.  Investors added to this reward.  Once again, Company had landed upon the secret to the formula 2+2=5.

Armed once again with its secret formula, Company turned many more 2s and 2s into 5s, and, for this, Company, once again, enjoyed exceeding benefits.  Company flew in personal jets, sailed on luxury cruises, ate luscious meals, lounged in deluxe resorts, and dressed in gold, silk and diamonds.

Then Union wanted to complain.  But Union could do nothing.  Company was one of many, and all had laid off workers.  Workers wanted jobs and were willing to work for small salaries.   Company delighted in this new freedom to profit with ease.  Investors agreed and rewarded Company mightily.  Together, the rich and the powerful regained their wealth.  They returned to their jets, cruises, meals, resorts, and gold, silk, and diamonds.

It is the old story we all know: the rich got richer and poor got poorer.  Even the not-so-bad-off got poorer.  But the powerful knew if it were revealed as the old story, the existing poor and the new poor would get together and revolt.  Meanwhile, the powerful wished to calm the concerns of the rich.  For a time, you see, the rich had lost their wealth.  Could they lose it again?  So instead of revealing it as this old story we all know, the powerful gave the rich a codeword to let them know their wealth would not die.  To calm the anxiety of the rich, they renamed the old story: the “jobless recovery.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tranquility


Trembling by night
I cry
“Take me away!”
I cry again
and again
and I cry loud
But silence triumphs

Distraught by day
I scream
“Take me away!”
I scream again
and again
and I scream loud
But fear prevails

Nothing changes
No one rescues
Only increasing torment
win each day and night

Then one day
I amend my plea
from rescue to calm
No longer do I cry
to be taken away
Now I pray
“Tranquility!”

Day and night
in humble prayer
I faithfully whisper
“Tranquility,
Oh Lord, Tranquility”

Then one day
The Lord hears my plea
He hears me pray
for tranquility

No longer do I cry
To be taken away
Now I live in
Tranquility!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Is God a God of Mystery or Exposure?


“And he answered and said unto them,
‘Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,
but to them it is not given’”
(Matt 13:11).

                We often say “God is a God of Mystery.”  If this is so, then how ought one to live?  How, in a world designed by a God of Mystery, may one know how to live?  The paradox is that God’s Law is exposed, while God and His mysteries are hidden

According to Jesus, the entire law and prophets are summarized in two commands: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself'" (see Matt 22:36-40 and Luke 10:25-28).

The Wisdom of Solomon:

Though the Law is hard to follow, the commands are clear.  With a basic understanding of the law, one can live well.  Solomon had this basic understanding, and his wisdom was world-renowned.  Solomon’s wisdom was practical: do these things and you will live; do those things, and you will suffer.  And his wisdom was timeless: from his day to our own, one who faithfully follows his precepts is likely to live with more health, more peace, more joy and the modest prosperity of a well-satisfied soul.  The scriptures express the fame of Solomon’s wisdom: “And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).  So well known is this scripture that even today, we take it for granted that Solomon was wise not only among kings, but also among other Biblical heroes.  Rarely do we wonder whether others may have had greater wisdom . . .

The Heart of David:

                Perhaps we can consider Solomon’s father, David.  Solomon was known by kings for his wisdom, but, according to the scriptures, David was known by God as “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).  Which of the two might have greater wisdom: the one known by kings for his wisdom or the one known by God as being a man after His own heart?  Given that few ever ask or reflect on such a question, most consider Solomon to have held greater wisdom.

While Solomon had great “wisdom,” David knew and understood the things of God.  Reflect on this remarkable paradox: although David was King of Israel, his psalms spoke from a spirit of poverty.  He wrote about the humble man verses the man of wealth and praised the humble man.  “Men of rank are a lie,” wrote David, “In the balances they go up; they are together lighter than their breath. . . .  If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them” (Ps 62:910).   Such verses were written by a king?!  Only an extraordinary, deep-level revelation from God could lead a king to muse such thoughts. 

Unlike Solomon who gained his wisdom through a life of “vanities,” David did not have to learn the hard way.  He already had the spark of Christ’s hidden, knowing ways within him.  Without the hard lessons, David gained the deepest secrets of the Lord through the exposed nature of God: the Law.  As David wrote, those who love the Law gain a glimpse of God’s mysteries (Ps 25:14).   He “delighted in” the Law (Ps 1:2) and praised it as “perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps 19:7). 

                Why was Solomon’s wisdom world-renowned and David's was not?  Perhaps for the same reason that God hides His mysteries!  Just as God and His mysteries are hidden, so are His prophets and the depth of their wisdom.  Prophets have entered into the Lord’s deeper wisdom, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

Solomon had the kind of exposed wisdom that is clear and available to anyone who opens his eyes.  Therefore, people the world over marveled at Solomon’s wisdom.  Now David’s wisdom, by contrast, was so far superior to Solomon’s that people couldn’t see it.  They couldn’t grasp that kind of wisdom.  God’s hidden ways are hidden from the world, and David was privy to such deep-level wisdom that he missed the fame his son enjoyed.

                In fact, the wisdom of David appeared as foolishness to man.  Even David’s own wife Michal, his first wife, who loved him deeply, couldn’t grasp David’s deep-level knowledge of God’s ways, born of his passion for God.  So when David, out of this passion and knowledge, danced before the Lord and all of Israel in celebration, David’s wife rebuked him as “foolish,” unbecoming of kingly behavior before the maids of Israel (2 Sam 6:20).  But David rebuked her (6:21-22), and God seconded David, by withholding any children from her (6:23).  Perhaps Solomon knew how to answer two women who claimed the same baby, but would Solomon have known how to answer Michal?  David’s answer to her was as follows: “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel; therefore I will celebrate before the Lord.  And I will be more lightly esteemed than this and will be humble in my own eyes, but with the maids of whom you have spoken, with them I will be distinguished” (2 Sam 6:21-22).  David’s answer is prophetic, as it requires a revelatory type of wisdom that surpasses logic.  Somehow, David knew how women who he had never met would perceive him.  According to Samuel, in the very next verse, God concurs with David.  Solomon didn’t offer prophetic answers like that.

                So is God a God of Mystery or of Exposure?  Both.  Read Solomon and you see the God of Exposure.  Follow Solomon’s instructions on godly living, pray with a humble heart, and then read David.  If you dawn a humble heart and pray for divine revelation, then you will begin to discover the God of Mystery.  What a thrilling journey you will embark upon!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Cookies are Gone


Mom leaves a plate of cookies
on the kitchen counter and leaves.
Child enters and eats the cookies.
Mom finds the cookies gone,
and severely punishes the child.

Who is really to blame?

Americans cry, “Drill, baby drill!”
“Drill and drill cheap!” they cry, and leave.
Oil company enters and drills cheap.
Americans find corners were cut for cheap drilling,
and they severely punish the company.

Who is really to blame?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dancing in the Rain


The Kingdom of heaven is like a man dancing in a rain storm. A multitude in expensive business suits in a busy urban city is caught in a rain storm. Drenched and miserable, they cry out, groan, and run to shelter. The multitude crowds together, lining up beneath a narrow awning along the sidewalk.

Suddenly, all eyes turn to one man dancing in the rain. He moves to the beat of the thunder and strikes his limbs with the lightening. When he discovers he has the typically crowded street all to himself, he stretches out his arms, raises his head to the sky, and swirls through the street, beaming in delight. He calls to the heavens to further baptize him. Bullets of hail hammer down, and he dances with increased fervor.

All in drenched business suits stare, laugh, scoff and gossip. Their scoffing pleases him: it proves he is not of this world. Though he must wait for his true home, he knows that even here, he has been given a street to himself, where he can dance in the rain.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Samaritan Angels


            A woman went away on a journey to the land of her birth, witnessed a remarkable sight in the heavens, returned to the town where she had been living, and asked her friends to join her on the road to the Land of Awe.  But they chose to stay, so she went alone.
On the road, she was attacked by the enemies of the Land to which she was heading, and they left her half-dead.  When she cried to her friends to help her, they wondered what neurotic impulse had come over her and encouraged her to see a psychologist.  “Can you at least look at my wounds to confirm they are real?” she pleaded, but they passed on.  Her family reminded her of how much they had done for her in her absence and went back to town-life.  She called out to her pastor who believed neither that she had been attacked, nor that she needed prayer, but to appease her, he sighed out a quick prayer.  She called out to the leader of another church, who rebuked her for her sins and gave her a repentance prayer to pray.  She called to a third pastoral friend who told her her fate had been determined and left her.  She wrote to the people she met from her journey, and they replied they love her, were praying for her, and were wishing her goodbye.  She contacted the leader of her journey, who commanded her to never have any further contact with anyone related to her journey ever again.
Finally, divine healing arrived.  To the great delight of her young children, who saw them with their own eyes, four angels from the Land to which the woman was heading arrived to minister to her.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Awake in a land of sleepers

When we find ourselves awake
in a land of sleepers,
the rebels are brought to drugs,
the sensitive to despair,
the comics to cynicism,
and the ordinary to insanity.
But the bold in God
are brought to life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Feet in the Kingdom


Many walk with both feet in the world
and they think their life of misery
is a life to celebrate

Some see their misery
and put their first foot in the kingdom
and they think their straddling of two worlds
is the natural one this side of heaven

Few cling to Christ
crying for his divine arm
to draw their second foot into the kingdom
so they may join the prophets
and walk with God

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Obey or Wrestle?


Noah obeying God:
“And Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.
Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth.”
(Gen. 7:5-6)

Jacob wrestling with God:
“Then Jacob was left alone,
and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.
And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him,
he touched the socket of his thigh;
so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated
while he wrestled with him. . . .
‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel;
for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.”
(Gen 32:24-28)

Abraham wrestling with God:
“Far be it from Thee to do such a thing,
to slay the righteous with the wicked,
so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike.
Far be it from Thee!
Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
(Gen. 18:25)

Moses wrestling with God:
“Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said,
‘O Lord, why doth Thine anger burn against Thy people
whom Thou hast brought out from the land of Egypt
with great power and with a mighty hand? . . .
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel . . .
So the Lord changed His mind about the harm
which He said He would do to His people.”
(Ex. 32:11-14)


Which takes more courage: to obey God or to wrestle with Him?

Which best demonstrates that we love God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and with all of our strength?

Which best demonstrates that we love our neighbor?

Which takes more love?  Which takes more compassion?

Once we have demonstrated our capacity to obey, perhaps God tests our love for Him and for our neighbor by appearing to command the opposite of His character.  If we truly love Him, will we not “wrestle” with Him and call upon Him to live into His merciful promises?  Such an act takes great courage.  Consider the courage of Abraham: “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes” (Gen 18:27); and again, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak” (v. 30); and yet again, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once” (v. 32).

Given the courage it takes to wrestle with God, we must trust passionately in His mercy, His love, and His promises.  Only with deep trust in the character of God can we put on the boldness to face the Lord.  This boldness demonstrates our love for Him -- His true self – and His promises.  When we come out boldly and wrestle with God, we pass a test.  We demonstrate our love for that which God most loves.

And if we “obey” rather than “wrestle” when the Lord “commands” us into an act contrary to His character? 

He “saves” us, but we may end our life here on earth drunk and naked: 

Noah, toward the end of his life:
“And he drank of the wine and became drunk,
and uncovered himself inside his tent.”
(Gen 9:21)

Having learned obedience, may we now enter into the heart of God and show our willingness to wrestle with Him.

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