Author Archive: PSOM

Praise the Lord and Pass the Kleenex

Just got back from the drugstore looking for the magic cure for a cough. Shelves almost bare, line too long, more cooties than the hospital.

It’s that time of year. Time to buy Kleenex stock and call around town lookin’ for chicken soup.

Even the most spiritual mystic finds himself on the toilet with cramps or hacking up a lung with the flu. The vast majority of every prayer list going around every group is requests for physical healing.

“Brother Ass,” St. Frances called his body. I must concur.

Tell that Donkey of a body “no” and it whines for a sweater or a fan, chocolate or coffee or wine. Tell it “yes” and it eventually tires and disappoints, sometimes with scars.

Even people whose bodies no longer operate properly are stuck with its demands. My first quadriplegic patient years ago always asked me to scratch his nose for him. And those with amputated legs were still plagued by “phantom pain.”

I saw a television documentary once of a severely brain-damaged young man, almost blind, palsied, unable to speak or walk. His aging mother carried him on her back from place to place, taught him to play piano. Loved him, fed him, taught him the gospel.

Most of the program was narrated by the interviewer, asking questions of the sweet little mother herself, not really including the young man, as he was incapable of speech.

At the end of the interview the narrator did turn to the young man and ask: “What does ‘love’ mean to you?”

He struggled to the piano bench, leaned his head back, face toward heaven, and played “Amazing Grace” as beautifully as I’ve ever heard it played. I still get teary when I remember that scene.

Yes, our bodies are a challenge. Yes, the Lord has His ways.
There are several design “flaws” I intend to bring up with the Lord someday: Why couldn’t he have made teeth removable? The dentist would be a wonderful thing if it was a shop where you could drop them off.

And why is the place we swallow our food right next to the place we take in air? Choking is an ever-present danger.

Which is not to mention the unfortunate placement of our private parts, life creating functions laughably close to excretory ones. It’s almost as if our Creator wanted us to be humble, not take ourselves too seriously.

He must have His reasons for leaving us here with our disappointing flesh until the day we are freed to live with Him without it.

Maybe to learn to walk by faith. Or the spiritual virtue of humility.

Maybe our “forever” is being worked out by our choices here in the desert.

We cannot know. We can only have faith. And faith does not mean faith in us, in our faith. It means faith in His reasons, even though we cannot know them. Faith in His love. Faith in accepting that our finite little brains cannot hold the whole truth, but that His does.

And faith that He really WILL “turn it all to good.” (Romans 8:28)

After ten days layin’ around the house, wheezing and blowing my nose, too puny to do much, I WAS able to listen to scripture verses on my phone. (Hey, God’s got His ways). Heard some hope and beauty that my whiny flesh has not heard lately. Received some gifts I will keep close to me now.

For one, a new love and hope infused by this ancient Psalm (103). A way to receive hope AND give thanks…both of which I’ve needed. A LOT.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget none of his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

OOOoo yes. Thank You, Lord, and amen. Bless us, keep us, heal us, use us. THANK YOU for Your promises and a million little mercies. Even the Kleenex.

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Broken Heart, Sacred Heart

 

 

Reporting LIVE from the Dark Tunnel !

So far NOT the “Happy New Year” we were lookin’ for?

Some things we just can’t FIX. Can’t even think what WOULD fix it. Don’t even know WHAT to pray for. We feel the pain in our actual physical heart, JUST like thorns.

Took me this long to crawl back to the computer and share what I’ve learned from the Lord’s own ever present mercy. Hope it helps you somehow too.

Early in this recent dark tunnel, reeling from shock and despair, I poured my heart out to a friend. “I don’t even know WHAT to PRAY for!” I sobbed.

God spoke through her straight into my heart. “Well, how did Job feel when he lost everything? What about Abraham’s gut pain when God told him to kill his own son? Did THEY know what to ask God for?”

No. They didn’t either. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone.

Misery DOES love company. And such good company! Two icons of the Bible right there, hopes dashed, hearts broken, no clue what to ask God for.

Like us.

That gave me the strength to sit before the Lord WITHOUT any “answers” of my own. WITHOUT a request for a specific thing. Just with my broken heart and confused faith. Was able to OPEN myself to Him and WAIT for the “why” and the “what.” You know…TRUST HIS LOVE.

The Lord led me to a scripture that reassured me and shocked me at the same time. Isaiah 41 where he promises His love and care, then His judgment against faithless perpetrators. As people of faith, none of us being hurt were fighting back. We offered love and help and forgiveness every way we knew how. All rebuffed. Leaving us shocked and dismayed. But never seeking revenge or knowing what to do at all.

Spiritual mentors for hundreds of years have called these hard times the “dark night of the soul.” We feel alone and wonder what we did wrong. The World says “get over it” and some say “be grateful” and friends say “get even” and none of it works in the darkest places.

We feel shame because our faith doesn’t instantly fill the void with peace and joy. We even try our own toxic little cures: food, drugs, sex, shopping… Nope. Nuttin’ works. I felt shame because I had a hard time loving someone who could do those things to us. Felt like I should try harder to accept them, get help for them.

On the ninth day of our stunned suffering, the one wounding us did it to themselves. Revealed themselves to everyone, did the one thing that gave us peace to walk away.

God protected us while they did it. Got us the help and affirmation we needed.

It was like a popped pimple. Pus all around and complete healing yet to come. But opened in a new way I never knew to ask for or expect. Only the WORK of healing yet to do. Not the fear of what or why or how. Because God did what needed done. Like He said.

And what am I learning?

–Well, not to ASK so much as TRUST. Was more into BEGGING before. Figuring it out myself and begging God to do it. This one I couldn’t figure out. Good to know, Lord! And thank You!

–Learning to quit worrying what other people think of me, sit before the Lord and ask Him instead. His “Beloved” answers my “ashamed.” Huge. Try it.

–Learning He does, indeed, “turn it all to good.” Even the impossible seeming things. (Romans 8:28)

–Learning to walk in a new FREEDOM … we don’t have to have the answers. Don’t have to be theologians. Just have to choose His way, do the best we can, trust His love. “It was for freedom Christ set us free” Galatians affirms. And there’s all kinds of freedom.

–Learning a bit more about “good vs evil” too, I don’t mind saying. Those NOT laying their lives before the altar of God’s Truth and love are handy tools to the spirits NOT of Him. We tend to think the devil is just a joke in a red satin suit for Halloween. Uh….no. Him and his fallen cohorts are still here, “prowling around like a lion, seeking someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8). Whispering to some more than others. But GOD is still in control.

–And that we do not have to be PERFECT. He sets our holy GOALS and we study and admire them. But only He was ever perfect and came down here to take us across that rickety bridge because He knew we couldn’t.

–Mainly, learning to trust that God is is doing the very thing we ASKED Him to do when we CAME to Him in the first place—shaping our SOULS to live with Him forever. A high and holy thing. And sometimes very painful, like any surgery.

So what do we do, when we wash up on the shore of that lake of tears? What DO we do with our fragile faith?

Same as ol’ brother Job, from the top of the ash heap after he lost everything—children, money, health: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)

Praise Him ANYWAY. Hope and pray. Wait.

When we reach around the pain, He is there. Slowly the darkness lifts. We hear His voice: “There is now no condemnation.” What? Not even our own? We AREN”T bad? He loves us ANYWAY?

The tears still leak out, but we let them cleanse, not drown us.
Feel that pain? The holy shaping of an eternal soul. WHEW. NOT all for nothing! All for EVERYTHING!!!

So take heart, my fellow pilgrims. The dark is very confusing at first. Hard. But when our eyes can ONLY SEE GOD and NOTHING ELSE, it opens a new treasure in our souls.


All that we have and all that we offer
Comes from a heart both frightened and free.
Take what we bring now and give what we need.
All done in his name.

(Gary Ault, 1969)


I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11 “All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
13 For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you. Isiah 41:9-13

So we do not lose heart. .. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison II Corinthians 4:16-17

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; Colossians 3:12

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

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What Are YOUR Top 3 REGRETS?

We don’t have room to list ‘em ALL do we? So here’s the top Three:regrets

1. COULDA

2. SHOULDA

3.  WOULDA

Older n wiser now, we have that killer 20/20 hindsight.

Know we COULDA finished school instead of partying, picked a better mate, had that baby, eaten better, lost weight, been nicer, taken better care of ___, gone to…Well, a million of them, aren’t there?

We kick ourselves cuz we know we SHOULDA quit drinking earlier, been more careful driving, gone to the doctor sooner, paid the bills on time, …….yeah.

And the odious WOULDA…Woulda done them all better if we hadn’t found a million ways to lick our wounds, many lying ways to “cheer” ourselves. Eat, drink, smoke,”use,” sleep, our way through the dark.

So even when we know the Lord and kneel before Him grateful for His forgiveness, His guidance, part of us knows we missed the mark a million times and feels guilty for it. Inside we wonder, tremble a bit, cry when we could sing, afraid He’s disappointed in us. Cowering in fear we will mess up again and ruin it all.

God is not like that. People can be. God is not.

A favorite blogger sums it up perfectly:

bread

“If you feel like you’re late to the party, just know that we are ALL late to the the party. It’s been going on for 2000 years now, there’s just nothing we can do about it, this is when we were born. Come to the table, bring your stale, brackish, dirty water. Because Jesus is waiting to turn even your murky water into the sweetest wine. The feast must go on.”

John Lewis (“Not for Punks” on wordpress.com or healthy-people-don’t-need-a-doctor.com)

I wish I could take back every day spent watching TV, every night on the town, shopping spree and 99% of what we did in college. Would spend it another way now that I know what I know.

But the Bible doesn’t talk about REGRET when it talks about miracles and new lives and His wisdom. Joy in Heaven when we come to Him, that’s all He talks about. We can FORGET what lies behind, and just press forward to the eternal prize.

Because the party doesn’t start until WE GET THERE! And once it starts, it lasts FOREVER.

….forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,

                       I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

                                                                        Philippians 3:13

 

 

 

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God’s Most Dangerous Gift

free-will

 

Can God USE a sinful misfit?

 Noah got drunk

Abraham was too old

Jacob was a liar

Moses killed a man

Gideon was afraid Samson was a womanizer

Rahab was a prostitute

David had an affair and was a murderer

Elijah was suicidal

Jonah said no to God

Peter denied Christ 3 times

Martha worried too much

The Samaritan woman fooled around

The Disciples fell asleep while praying

Yes, I think so.

So we don’t have to be perfect? What about the bad things we did when we were young and ignorant? When despair makes us lose hope? When we…

Our lists go on and on. Things we feel guilty about, wonder, fear, regret. Easy to forget why we NEEDED a Savior in the first place. Hard to believe He actually LOVES us, imperfections and all.

It is all because He wanted us to be FREE. You can’t LOVE someone if you aren’t free NOT to love them, can you? So He made us free. Free to choose. Free to fail. Free to look up, even while we are falling.

There’s plenty of stories in the Bible about sinful people He loved and used. King David—a “man after God’s own heart” and lineage of Jesus? Had a guy murdered so he could commit adultery with his wife. Beloved disciple Peter? Who knew Him right away, then DENIED Him three times? Beloved. “On this rock I will build my church.” The prophet Elijah wanted to DIE he was so scared and miserable! And yet….

So take heart when you wonder. About yourself. Or someone you love. His mercy is beyond our comprehension. His GRACE what it is all about. “Grace” means UNMERITED favor. His BLESSING that we know we don’t deserve. His SALVATION we realize we could never EARN.

Those of us who are broken, who know we deserved it the least, will be filled with His glory the MOST.

Those cracks are how the light gets in!

 

 

 

 

 

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Beginner’s Prayer

Beginners Prayerprayercloset

We hear about the “sinners prayer,” but what a lot of us need is “beginners prayer.” If our mommies n daddies didn’t pray with us when we were little, where would we have learned how to talk to God? Now we are embarrassed to ask. And awkward around the One we know we need.

No matter where we started out in life, our prayer life is going to echo those early years.

I can still remember my first feeble attempts many years ago, in a darkened clothes closet. I had started reading the Bible, maturing in my faith for the first time. But when it came time to actually talk to God, I was shy. Not even sure if I should address Him as “God” or “Jesus” or even “Sir.”

I tried them all out in that dark closet, my children playing in the other room. “God, Sir” when I started out. “Jesus” when I had more scripture under my belt. (You have to be braver with that one, because the world’s been trying to ruin it, make it a cuss word.)

And He met me there in the dark as my eyes slowly adjusted to the tiny crack of light under the door. Our eye pupils won’t open any faster no matter how much light we have. He whispered to me that my spirit was the same. That all I had to do was share my heart with Him and He would then share His with me.

And it soaked in and “showed” me things in my soul. Ways to hear what He wanted me to think, do, choose. I remember like yesterday touching my own ears and crying to Him, “I see!” and feeling His gentle “nod” in my spirit. I knew, from then on, that hearing from Him was as simple as wanting to, choosing to, being still and listening. And understanding that it wasn’t going to be audible, not “heard” with my physical ears. “Heard” in my soul. The rest grew from that, because, frankly, there was no one else I trusted enough to ask back then.

Scripture is plain that He doesn’t care how or where we pray, just that we DO pray. Talk to God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. All one. The only “rule” I’ve seen in scripture is not to pray to show off in front of others. (Matthew 6:7) He means it to be a loving relationship. Our best one, for sure. Maybe our first one.

He must love us perfectly, to be so patient and humble. Takes some of us longer to realize it because we never had it before.

 

Pray without ceasing I Thessalonians 5:17

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

…we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes

for us with groanings too deep for words   Romans 8:26

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.   James 1:5

 

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Broken Heart, Holy Heart

1c

Remember scratching your initials into the wet concrete of new sidewalks or house foundations? That’s what trauma does to our souls. Some things we just never “get over.” Never “heal.” They change us forever.

You know if you lost your precious child.

Or your innocence.

Or your hope.

Some things are set in concrete.

What do we do with pain like that? Even past the “WHY?” and the “Are you THERE, God?” we are crushed by the void. Life never the same as it was. Never what we hoped it would be.

Think of the Lord’s own mother, the joy when the angel Gabriel announced she would bear God’s own son…then in the Temple with her infant, when Simon knew her beloved baby was the Messiah? Joy beyond imagining.

Then 33 years later, the stunned horror watching Him carry His cross on his bloody back to His own death. Weeping at the foot of His cross. Her life never the same. The Bible says she lived “many years” and traveled with His disciples. So she knew. Knew what it was like to live on anyway.

And her cousin Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, thrilled to be carrying a baby when she thought her chance was gone with age. Beyond joyful when Mary visited, carrying the Lord in her womb, and her own child leapt in HER womb in His presence!

Where was she when, many years later, his head was served to Herodias on a silver platter? Broken. All hope dashed.

What IS there for a void like that? No more joyful youthful hope.

Mary Magdalene knew. Jesus cast seven demons from her, removed her from her life as a “fallen” woman, made her a holy one. A follower, mentioned twelve times at least in the Bible, more than some of the apostles. She knew. She washed His feet and dried them with her own hair, anointed them with expensive perfumed oil, gave Him everything she had, followed Him the rest of her days. Was the first to find Him risen at the tomb that first Easter morning.

Job knew. Lost it ALL. ALL his children. ALL his possessions. Sat on the heap of ashes while his friends made him wonder if it was all his fault. Mourning, weeping, in an agony of suffering, he answered them in faith:

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;  may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)

Then, when he answered in faith, trusted God with his very life, the Lord restored his treasures, gave him more children. Turned it all to good. Like it was? No. But holy beyond the pain.

All of these women and men, many more unnamed, recovered an unspeakable holiness as they went on to serve in spite of the horrors and losses of their lives. Walked on to build the “Kingdom” Jesus came for in the first place. Found the “why” in the holy journey. Like He said in the first place: “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” (I Corinthians 10:24) Cuz SOME things ain’t NOTHIN else gonna cure.

The world only offers “therapy” to heal wounds like that. The comfort of friends and fellow mourners might be an occasional mercy. But never the same again. We know that.

Different. Changed. Struck down. Like the broken clay pot of scripture fame. Fashioned by the Lord who watched as our hopes were dashed. Then broken into a million jagged pieces.

There IS no cure for that kind of pain. No. Nothing that will make us like we were before.

But there is the unspeakable hope of seeing them again, the one we lost. The trembling curiosity “what will they be like?” The daring hope: “What are they doing now? What is it like there?” We chew the words of Jesus promise: “I go to prepare a place for you.” And a glimmer of light. Find a new joy in the known innocence of a child we lost too young to find anything but glory there, never sullied by mistakes or bad choices. Develop a new patient hope for the day we will be made holy and be with them again.

And the Lord Himself sweeps up the splintered pieces, lets us dare to hope again. Shows us ways to take the pain and let His light shine to others through our jagged broken wounds. Shows us it is HIS light that goes in now. Not the fake Vegas light we fell for before. Not the empty promises of the things we sought before. A different light now. His light.

2 Corinthians 4.6-7: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

SOME OF US JUST WEREN’T MADE FOR THIS WORLD. We fan the flames that light the glimpse of that OTHER world. Determined now to share that light with as many as we can, tell them about the real glory. The prepared place that Perfect Love fashions from our soul’s hard journey here.

We join these holy ones. Know their pain, their loss, their despair. Then we know HOLY when we see it. Know Holy when we do it. Know to cling to the source of all Holy. Begin to sense the “why” and start to walk in the “how.” Find a new kind of joy, clinging to Him like the Magdalene, following Him the rest of our lives, giving Him everything we have. Knowing He keeps it safe…and holy…with the treasure we have lost.

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Mad at GOD?!

 

madatgod

 

Life is hard. Sometimes we realize we have been mad at God for a long time. Maybe we blame Him for our lives not turning out like we hoped. Or wonder where He was when the Bad Thing happened. Maybe we even quit praying, leave the spiritual journey entirely, when our prayers aren’t answered our way.

Maybe—I confess here–even throw a little fit, have a little pity party, when we don’t get our way.  It happens. Our flesh continues to want what it wants, circumstances disappoint. Our prayers do not bring what we asked right away.

For a long time, I thought I needed to dream up what was best for me then beg God for it. Slowly, I came to see that is not what “prayer” is at all. Not even a “conversation” at that level. Just begging.

We want to tell Him what to do with our prayers, instead of trusting Him to do what’s best. Which, if we think about it, is like a baby trying to tell mommy how to mix his formula from the crib. Mommy knows what baby cannot know yet. We have to trust God to know more than we do.

Let me tell you about a saint I know from the streets. Born a hermaphrodite– physically, both male and female. Abused sexually and psychologically by a violent father. Diagnosed as Schizophrenic. Lived in mental institutions and on the streets. Now identifies herself as a woman in spite of the stubble of beard and gangly height. Nearly toothless from years of neglect. Yet the Lord is her shepherd. She has a peace and generosity of spirit that is downright holy. And gratitude! Weeps for joy for a favorite song. Prays “Lord, bless us, we love each other” over a hamburger lunch. And the rest of us are moved to tears. Her path in this world has been stony and hard. But she will be one of the “lesser” who will be “greater” in Heaven, I assure you. We are blessed for having known her, having held her hand in prayer.

WANTING is from the FLESH. LOVING is from His SPIRIT.

When I was 2, I wanted to take off the hot plastic pants I wore over the soggy wet diapers.

When I was 8, I wanted the Miss Elizabeth doll with the tiny shoes and purses and bride gown.

When I was 13, I wanted a pink and black motorcycle and matching pink and black outfit.

When I was 17, I wanted a hot pink suede cape. And a boyfriend.

When I was 21, I wanted a job that didn’t scare me.

When I was 23, I wanted to have a big wedding.

When I was 30, I wanted to travel.

Not one of those things do I want anymore. Some were blessings, some stupid adolescent ideas. Some were fulfilled, some weren’t. Some made my life better, some nearly tanked it.

I’m just sayin’…we always want stuff. Sometimes we even get it. But we never know what’s best until later.

God’s BEST is “later.” And it is FOREVER.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

 

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Talk Back to the Devil

warfare

 

The wounds from early childhood made me very susceptible to the lies of the world and whispering spirits from…somewhere else, shall we say. Renew your mind,” the Bible urges us (Romans 12:2 and others. I found it verrrrry difficult to choose higher, holier thoughts when engulfed in depression and anxiety. I mean, it’s HARD to get the part that is the most BROKEN to do the work that is most IMPORTANT.

At first, it was only tiny little mewling cries of memorized verses (“I have been crucified with Christ”—Galatians 2:20) or longings (“He will never forsake me”—Hebrews 13:5 and many others) or days of tears without the energy to speak at all.

Over time it became a braver choice. More insistent. (“Put on the full armor of God”—Ephesians 6:10-17) and more efficient (“Tear down strongholds”—II Corinthians 10:4)) as I began to see His way was better. Then, over the years, bolder. Never able to “fight” before, now able to confront the one who did NOT want God’s best for me. Learned to talk back:

Bark away, ornery flesh. You are not my boss any more. God is bigger than you, more powerful than my genes. Nibble at my edges every day, you jealous demons. I will press forward in spite of you. Nothing you do can take away my soul, my eternal Spirit. Rob my peace, sometimes even ruin my testimony, but fold when you see the inevitable glory that awaits me. I feel sorry for you, lying demons, but I cannot help you. You are lost. I am saved. Bound for heaven.

This cross I carry is the one He gave me. It fits. I would even have to say I am used to it. I believe Him that it has been for my own eternal good. I have not seen one I want to trade it for. I believe the blind will see, the lame will walk, and I won’t be sad and scared anymore. I trust His love.

That is the only thing that broke the strong-willed horse within. Tamed it. Guided it instead of being carried away by it. Never perfect. But more and more.

So, if we really want to change–or really want to change the WORLD!—then we have to change our thinking. “Renew our minds.” Find the old worn ruts in our brain that parrot the devil’s lies, plant scripture there instead.

Science is discovering more and more today, that even gets right down into your physical brain and fixes things we thought were irreparably broken. God knew better.

I call that a miracle.

 

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ONE Body? Or WHICH Body?–Branding Worship

crossOne Body? Or WHICH Body?

“Branding” Worship.

Christians are agreed on coming to JESUS CHRIST for salvation. From there, we tend to differ on everything. That’s probably the main thing that makes the lost world dislike us most. Hey…if WE can’t agree on anything, why would they think we are right about JESUS?

Jesus Himself was very clear. On His KNEES, his most fervent prayer to God the Father was that “those who will believe in me … may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17)

Guess He could see, even then, how it would go.

I’m not a theologian and have no desire to go toe-to-toe with one. But do you really think God despises any of the many ways we come to Him through Jesus? I love people who worship in mysterious incense filled room, and people who trudge to him in sturdy oxfords serving soup, and people loud and jolly dancing in His Spirit, and some silent and demure in prayers of their heart.  In every “brand” there are Spirit-filled followers.

Yet many of us still throw rocks at those in other “rooms.”

So let us hope and pray and do our small part to light the way to the One who set us free. Then trust His Spirit to lead us to the room off the entryway where He wants us to worship. And love our brothers and sisters in the Lord enough to see they have their own journey.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

There’s just one Jesus. Just one cross.

We can cry about the way it is now. Or we can laugh. Here’s a little humor to defuse the tension:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said ‘Stop! Don’t do it!’ ‘Why shouldn’t I?’ he said. I said, ‘Well, there’s so much to live for!’ He said, ‘Like what?’ I said, ‘Well…are you religious or atheist?’ He said, ‘Religious.’ I said, ‘me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?’ He said, ‘Christian.’ I said, ‘me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?’ He said, ‘Protestant.’ I said, ‘me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?’ He said, ‘Baptist!’ I said, ‘Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist church of god or Baptist church of the lord?’ He said, ‘Baptist church of god!’ I said, ‘me too! Are you original Baptist church of god, or are you reformed Baptist church of god?’ He said, ‘Reformed Baptist church of god!’ I said, ‘me too! Are you reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?’ He said, ‘Reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!’ I said, ‘Die, heretic scum,’ and pushed him off. –Emo Phillips

 denominations

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The First Bonfire

 

The First Bonfire

Once we surrender to the Lord, it is like a fiery swirl of bonfire in the night.

First we gather the things we know need burning. The easy part. By then we know only too well.

Then we add what we know will consume and destroy those things that are destroying us. Telling the truth about our own secrets and settin the blaze of God’s own Truth to it all like a match.

We try to surround ourselves with others who know and care to watch the blaze.

A million kinds of bonfires, but always the same match. Life doesn’t get easy. But it gets beautiful, meaniful, purposeful. We lose the need for revenge or secrets or all the lying bandaids we’ve used and watch the beauty of the sparks swirling to heaven.

I remember the first time I read the story in the Bible of Jesus healing of the little girl, Jairus’ daughter:

He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Child, I say to you, get up!”).   Mark 5:40-42

“Talitha, koum.”

Child, get up. Come.

Jesus spoke His word to the little girl and she came back to life. She was dead and He spoke her back to life. She got up and walked around, the Bible says.

Yes.

“Speak to me,” I told Him two thousand years later. “I am dead.” And I very nearly was.

And He did. Through the Bible I devoured, through the prayers of a trusted few, through the counsel of a Godly man, the preaching, the singing. And through His Spirit into mine, consolations in the night.

“Talitha, koum.”

And I got up. And began to walk. Faltering baby steps.

I was a slow learner. Maybe it goes in deeper that way, a slow drip. No presto renewed-o for my bent mind. No instant healing for my brain. I was alive, but I had a lot to learn.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. Romans 10:9

I didn’t know exactly what “saved” meant, entirely, but I wanted it. I chose it. I walked the aisle for it.

We start living when we believe. But it is kind of like when you quit smoking. Yes, there is one day you quit, give it up, swear off. The start. The choice. But from then on you quit every day, remain faithful to your decision. Once you put your faith in Jesus, you are “in.” Justified. Reconciled to God. In the “family.” Then there is the daily walk. Not always easy, but always worth it.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Matthew 9:13

At first mine was just obedience. Trying to be a good child. Trying to learn the do’s and don’ts.

Baby steps. A little girl walking about.

But learned that what we do or do not do, once we decide to do things God’s way, is like a small child’s gifts to its parent. A rough crayon picture, a daisy plucked from the lawn. He does not need it or require it. But He loves it.

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6

I learned He is more interested in our relationship than our behavior. Scripture does say what we were created and called to do. Keeping score? No. Buying our way into Heaven? No. Just our appointed mission from God, once we know Him well enough to listen.

Having your LIFE saved? Even more spectacular than fiery embers against a night sky surrounded by people you love.

That first bonfire is our REAL birthday.

 

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