Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Growing Young

With thanks to Gary Brookins' comic strip, Pluggers, let me celebrate this particular truth.

Truth is...one of the greatest blessings on this planet is being able to spend time with the children of your children.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What's a Ragamuffin?

Back in the days when I was getting paid to minister to and with young people, the small pastoral staff of which I was a part would normally get together on Sunday mornings to pray about the day to come. One particular Sunday, we had talked a bit before getting down to the business of praying, and something had struck me as being pretty hilarious. So, of course, I laughed.

It ended up flowing kind of like this: "Oh man! Ha ha ha! That's funny! Hee hee! Okay, then, let's pray. Father God, thank you so much for this beautiful morning. You've given us so many reasons to praise you and..."

Afterwards, I was asked, "How can you go so quickly from laughing so hard to praying so deeply? It seems like one or the other can't be sincere."

Press pause on the scene.

I've just started reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Brennan Manning; Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God. I can't even get past the preface without getting out my highlighter and going to work. The following paragraph not only answers the question posed in this blog-post's title, but the final five words touch on the answer to the question about my laughing and praying.

Who and what are the ragamuffins? The unsung assembly of saved sinners who are little in their own sight, conscious of their brokenness and powerlessness before God, and who cast themselves on his Mercy. Startled by the extravagant love of God, they do not require success, fame, wealth, or power to validate their worth. Their spirit transcends all distinctions between the powerful and powerless, educated and illiterate, billionaires and bag ladies, high-tech geeks and low-tech nerds, males and females, the circus and the sanctuary.
Truth is...my answer about how I can laugh and pray so closely together was then, and remains today: there's not as much space between hilarity and holiness as some people think.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Political Prayers

In the interest of not letting evil triumph by being a good person who does nothing, I have taken a few opportunities on Facebook recently to decry the state of American politics. I have expressed shock and disgust at the level of support Donald Trump’s campaign to become the Republican nominee for President has garnered. I have called out the childishness of Senators who refuse to do their Constitutional duty of vetting the President’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice.

More privately, I have been quite clear about my opinion of Hillary Clinton’s level of truth-bending and Senator Sanders’ morally-honorable but fiscally-shaky economic ideals.

It is time for me to stop griping about these folks and start praying for them instead...

Lord God, bring honor and glory to yourself by bringing about amazing changes.

Speak to Donald Trump. If he has ears to hear, let him hear the Holy Spirit whisper how The Art of the Deal is not a close second to the Bible in terms of being A Great Book. Convict him about paying lip-service to Christianity while demonstrating an allegiance to Pride and Vulgarity. Humble his heart by showing him your greatness.

Speak to Hillary Clinton. If she has ears to hear, let her hear the Holy Spirit whisper how there are more important things than being The First Woman President of the USA and that even if it was that important, the ends do not justify the means. Teach her that truth matters more than the advancement of her personal agenda. Humble her heart by showing her your greatness.

Speak to Bernie Sanders and Ted Kruz and Senator Mitch McConnell. If they have ears to hear, let them hear the Holy Spirit whisper how your love has motivated every great thing you’ve ever done on behalf of mankind. Not laws. Not power. Not one-upmanship. Show them that true revolution involves the changing of human hearts more than the changing of systems or house majorities. Humble their hearts by showing them your greatness.

Truth is...Father God, I need you to speak to me. If I have ears to hear, let me hear the Holy Spirit whisper how the world’s hope does not reside in Washington D.C. Heal me from my own Pride and Vulgarity and Deceit and Attempts To Control. Grant me wisdom. Humble my heart by showing me your greatness.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hide & Seek

It started in Eden, these attempts to hide from our creator. The instant we step away from God by choosing OUR path instead of his, we create distance and division...and we try to keep God from noticing.

Ha! As if!

But David realized how futile that is and wrote about it in Psalm 139:1-12.

God, investigate my life;

    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Rich Mullins had a moment of realization about this as well, so he rewrote this psalm as the song Nothing Is Beyond You (sung here by Amy Grant).

Truth is...The REASON God keeps such close tabs on us? Love. And why would He love us? Huh. "I cannot explain how You came to love me except to say that nothing is beyond You."