Saturday, December 31, 2011

Notes to the Lord--Words and Wood

Mark One

At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 

Lord Jesus--There is so little that is recorded about you before you came to that river bank of the Jordan.  There is the incident in the temple when you were left behind by Joseph and Mary.  I can imagine long days in a carpenter's shop with wood in your hands.  Somehow ironic that wood and nails were something you knew so well and yet would know even more painfully. This is the end of those quiet years.  I wonder if you ever longed for those days again?

The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”

But this moment like a few others that were recorded,  are  shining examples of openness of the Father's love... for those with eyes to see.  There is affirmation in these words...the one who had seen stars created spoke with clarity of his love.

I wonder if you held on to these words as the nails were driven into the wood.   Did the sound of the hammer drown out the Father's words from your heart and head.  Not a chance, no hammer's ring of iron on nails was loud enough.

Lord Jesus--Remind me in this day that affirmation is something to hold on to in the times when   hammer hits never leave me alone.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (pp. 1791-1792). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Notes to the Lord--Remember Who the Star Is

Mark One
[1.7-8] As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
Lord Jesus--It is so easy to get the wrong picture of where we fit into life.  So often, I get it somehow twisted in my head.  John was able to keep the focus.  In the middle of an active ministry and a busy life John kept his eyes and his heart on the place that had been given to him.  He was not the point.  He knew his ministry and his work was transitional to the next step of your plan.

Really, all of it this side of heaven gates is transitional and are only important as a means to your end.  So much of what I hold on to so tightly will all to soon end up memories.  They will become memories of what could have been held in my hands if I had been able to listen better.
The crowds came to see the guy who was coloring out side of the lines of the religious suppose-to-be's.  They came out to see a prophet who was willing to talk about the need for repentance and changed life. The person who was willing to stand up to speak truth to power

As I read this thoughts of the role of place and the role of the temple swirl around in my head.  This was the kind activity that should have been taking place in the temple...the place on earth where God was supposed to meet with his people.

Even in the temple worship had lost it's focus.  The point, the only point is change, repentance and a life lived out in light of that commitment.   So John reminds me today who is the star.

Lord Jesus--You are the star of this drama of life.  You are the priority, you are the focus. Anything else is not worthy of the time or the energy.  John reminds me that you are the star that continues to change me from the inside out.  All the rest of it in life is really stage hand work.  You seek to see changes that spring from the heart and that then naturally evidence to what takes place in behavior.

In this day that will begin when I close this the star. Live in me and through me in this day.  Shine within me Light of the World. 

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1791). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Note to the Lord--Live the Message

Mark 1

[1.4-6] John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

Lord Jesus--I am thinking about John and his short, Spirit filled life/prophetic life. His life and his message were the same for him.   John's fashion statement was just that...a part of his message.  It was a part of his  presentation as well as his diet.

The people saw something in John...what was it?  They saw that he was using many of the same themes and rituals.  They were used to the need to be ritualistically cleansed and the need for repentance.  But he presented it uniquely in the wilderness away from the temple and all that it represented.  The people knew that his desire for repentance had nothing to do with making his living.   The parallel could not be missed with Elijah...and his message.  Repentance in the middle of apostate religious and national leadership.

The people were looking for something that would  speak to their soul need...they looked to the values of the past in the context of the time that they found themselves.They saw in John authenticity...a person whose life and message were of one piece with his relationship to you.  He was the best of what they saw worship and relationship with God to be, lived out in real life.

Beyond the prophetic themes of national repentance and judgement,  there was the reminder to the people of their personal need.  Change is the middle of transitioning times when it seems that the purposes of God are in question.  Faithfulness to the message is possible for regular people not just scholars and the elite.  In fact faithfulness starts right here in this river...with the mud of the real world between my toes.

Lord Jesus--That is really what you call me to isn't?  Live the the message...change is possible...everyone can live out the call of God.  The Highway built by God that Isaiah preached about runs by my door and though my heart.  All that I have to do is open the door and remember to stay within the guardrails.

It is a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
Tolkien, J.R.R. (2009-04-17). The Lord of the Rings (p. 74). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

Lord Jesus--Today, Help me to be the message in the middle of the mix...with grace and hope lived out in the real world. Give me the grace to keep my sense of direction today fixed on you.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1791). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Notes to the Lord-Work Where You Can Find It

Mark 1

[1.1-3] The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you; He’ll make the road smooth for you. Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!

Lord Jesus--The good news of your coming was centuries in preparation.  Isaiah when he spoke of you often and even in this prophecy he was starting to do the work of preparation for your coming and your message. 

The call still needs to be listened to.  There is the need to watch and listen and obey. You are still preparing hearts to listen to the message of hope, the message of good news.  You want to clear away the rubble and the debris of the past.  You want to make a highway in the desert. It is interesting that it is a highway in the desert that is being prepared.  The Ancient Near East knew a lot about deserts.

As I think of the proclamation of Isaiah and of John the desert that surrounded them was not just a sand with-no-beach kind of desert.  There was the desert wanderings that was a part of the DNA of the soul of Israel.   There was the desert of a long history of disobedience and rejection of the message by God's people.

There are ways that the desert surrounds me at times...even seeps inside of me.  Lord Jesus--You called for a road to be built from heaven gates right straight through all of desert wanderings of your people. 

Up Close and Personal

The preparation that needs to take place for your arrival
is a task that you called your prophets to...and you have called your people to.  Where are the areas that need road work done in my life Lord for your Kingdom message to be effective?  One step builds on the what is the next step?  Continue your leadership, Lord Jesus.

Why is it that I think that you call only to green places?  Here there is dry, hot work that is kingdom work that needs to be done.  It isn't where all the people are and there is a lot of attention, but it is where the Spirit of God is on the move.  More than anything in this coming year, I want to be where the Spirit of God is working with power, grace, thunder with results that last.  Lead on King of Glory...

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 1791). NavPress.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Notes to the Lord--A Hope That Endures

1 Peter 3:14-16 New International Version

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

Lord Jesus--Peter was a down to earth kind of guy...someone that was impetuous and public about his mistakes. He was capable of great insight and of great folly...sometimes in almost the same breath.

Here, he reminds me that hope springs up in the most precarious places. There is reason for hope even when times are hard and suffering for right could be around the next corner.
For these to whom Peter was writing post traumatic stress was a luxury. They were in the middle of persecution, because of their choice to follow you. They were not "post" anything. Correction...they were "post" pagan. Their lives had been changed by you. The choice was to be hopeful or terrified by the forces that were arrayed against them.

Hope is more than an emotion...more than a quality developed by spiritual is something that is also tied to rationality and reason. Hope is a choice, a rational response in light of the evidence that surrounds me.  It is a choice that you call me to again and again.
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Lord Jesus--There was a reason for the hope that these people facing a hostile pagan world clung to. There was no reason for fear even if death was just around the next corner. The tomb was empty and they knew it.

Hope is something more immediate then an anticipation of the culmination of all things at your return.  But that is part of it.  The upfront and personal part is simple.  If you are Lord, then you know where I am...and you knew where these good people that Peter was writing to found themselves.

In the moments of life you call me to the choice of an openness to your grace within each of my days and interactions. There is a an approach to life that you want me to learn and lean approach based on hope and anticipation that you will act with power and grace.

I don't need to be in control of the themes that resonate within my days. In the middle of the mix and confusion of life you are at work within the fabric of this world and in the fibers of my heart and life to an end that is affirming and grace filled. My job is to learn how to say "Amen" be it...and let you work.

Lord Jesus--These are turbulent times. Times of great choice and larger the middle of it there is hope the endures...teach me the lessons of enduring hope.

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Notes to the Lord: Hope that is Bold

2 Corinthians 3:12 (NIV)

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

Lord Jesus--There is a boldness to the hope that you bring into my life.

As I write this it is Christmas time and the signs of the season surrounds me. The Christmas season is a time of friends and family. It is brightly packaged time that is waiting to be unwrapped. Children have such anticipation of what will be waiting for them this year under a Christmas tree.

There is official end to the war in Iraq so much blood spilled for what end? A tyrant has been deposed, that is a very good thing. But is there lasting hope based on military power? As a nation we can be proud of what was accomplished, we will see what lasting change this conflict has brought. In so many ways, we are left with more questions than answers.

Lord Jesus-- The boldness that you bring into my hope has nothing to do with military power or of an anticipation based on gifts brightly wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. Hope has everything to do with ongoing change. You are not content with leaving me where I am at. You push me to move beyond the comfort of the known to the edges of where I have been before. You invite me to participate in a hope that propels me to spiritual formation that impacts the world around me.

There is no need for fear because of the hope that I have in you. It is a hope that has pushed beyond death to a place where hope has no limits. Hope is not limited just like grace and love are not limited. More accurately, they are limited only by my willingness to accept them and be transmuted by them.

James 2:26

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead

For my faith to live it pushes me to action. I am left changed by your love, changed by your hope...change by the faith that you give life to within me. All that I have to do is accept the change...cooperate with the responsive to the need for ongoing response.

So in this day that will begin in just a few hours, use this day to change me

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Notes to the Lord: Hope on a Thursday Morning

Hope in the middle of a wash and wear kind of day...

2 Corinthians 1:9-11 (NIV)

9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Lord Jesus--Paul was such a hero of the faith...someone whose life experience really is much different than mine. He repeatedly went from frying pan into fire. All the time knowing that he was yet again putting himself in the middle of the fray. He life reads like a travel log. Mine is much different.

His church planting work was in the middle of a foreign culture and in a pagan environment. I can say all that I want to about living in a post-modern world, a world in so many ways that is "anti-christ." But the reality is my world still remembers you for the most part at Christmas and Easter. You maybe a cartoon character to many, but they know your name. For others you may be a picture cut out of life size proportions to have a picture taken with as a souvenir.

Today Lord Jesus, my description of life is not so dramatic. I am not risking death for the faith. My call is to move people from that cartoon cutout section to a place where faith is real. That transition is made only one way, and Paul assumes it in this passage.

It is a mixture of grace, that is experienced by faith, within a context of love. That is a transforming combination. That is the task that you have called me creating opportunities where grace mixed with faith and love can come into contact with people's lives. For Paul that was what he was willing to risk everything to experience.

Lord Jesus--Thank for the entrance into people's lives that you have given me...I am thinking of the people of Living Springs who are on this journey with me. Lord, give me a creative heart and mind that is able to find places to engage people in relationships where grace mixed with faith and love can come in contact with their lives. That is what is worth dramatic risks. Paul and I as so different, and yet my hope is found from the same source as is found in you, Lord Jesus.

Thank you for everyday Thursday mornings and the chance to see you work in this day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Quote for the Day

Instead of prayer being the “tool” that will refine my marriage, Peter tells me that marriage is the tool that will refine my prayers! Peter tells us that we should improve our marriages so that we can improve our prayer lives. A man might be able to preach a sterling sermon, write inspiring books, and quote the Bible front to back. But if he hasn’t learned how to be a servant to his wife, to respect her, and to be considerate of her, then his spirituality is still infantile. His prayer life—the lifeblood of his soul—will be a sham.

Thomas, Gary (2008-09-02). Sacred Marriage: What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? (p. 76). Zondervan. Kindle Edition

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A late reflection on Vacation

Hebrews 11 Amplified Bible (AMP) 1NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

My Thanksgiving vacation with family is coming to an end. There are soon going to be good byes to be said and leaves to be taken from loved ones who will be missed again instead of embracing them.

In the middle of this vacation thoughts of hope and faith have been ruminating in my mind and heart. Hope, faith and love are the triples that Paul again and again links together. The three are linked in the life that surrounds me...talking about one will in time lead to the other.

Lord Jesus--You remind me that hope can be found in the middle of good byes. The reason I hope is the simple fact that the tomb they put you in is empty. The Kingdom has been put into motion. Your life at the right hand of the Father right now in intercession is evidence of the beginning of "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."

Sometimes that is a bigger hill to climb than others. When family and loved ones are safe it is easier, but all of them this year are looking at challenges in their own way. Some are facing physical challenges, some are facing emotional challenges, some are facing spiritual challenges, and some are facing relational challenges. 

Let's face it, Lord Jesus so am I. Challenges that make the hill of faith and hope appear much bigger than it is, much more intimating that it really is. You are able no matter what.

FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not learned one step at a time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hope Among the Leftovers

Lord Jesus--Useless things...drift wood and sea shells washed up on the sand.  Being at the shore always puts me in a reflective mood.  Maybe it is the sound of the waves or maybe it is the way that the wind and the sea come together with a kind of  grace  that reminds me of You.  All these are are useless things.  Washed up on the sea shore in this case on the side of a OBX in North Carolina vacation land for those too tired or too cheap to make it to Florida.
I am not sure why they reminded me of you as I walked along with Jason, Sarah, Maddie and Jenny on the side of the Atlantic.  It was a tree that must have had roots somewhere in the Carolinas at one time or another.  Now it found itself on the side of the ocean within sound of the waves.

The thought grabbed me that there was a rugged beauty in these things that in one sense were useless and just a bit of float-some on the side of the eastern edge of America. You watched this tree grow with its roots deep in the soil of some wind swept beach front.  You watched and its life was known to you from sapling to wind storm that brought it to this place.  It's journey to this place was known to you, Lord Jesus. 

 Lord Jesus--As these thoughts were ruminating in my brain, they were pushed aside by the sights and sounds of the people who were walking up and down the beach...each of them much like these shells and drift wood driven along by forces which are out of their control.  I met a dog named Winston whose owner's name I never caught.   But Winston loved to play catch the ball on the side of the ocean as he danced in the ocean waves.

So where do these thought leave me?
Psalm 147:11 (NIV)

11 the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in hi
s unfailing love.

Those who put you in a place of awe and who trust in your unfailing love are your delight.  There are no useless things of beauty in your economy.  You know then all and see the beauty which one day will be a way that will honor the past and will redeem it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Hope Lives On

Lord Jesus--As Paul was writing these lines the early church was going through a transition of sorts. There were those who had died. By this time the church in Jerusalem had seen many die in one way of another. They may have gone underground for the most part. It isn't clear, but there had been successive waves of persecution that had swept through the church. But Nero hadn't even come to power as Paul was writing this.

Each wave of persecution had pushed the church to "go to grow". The church growth movement of the 1 century was in response to local persecution.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14  (NASB)

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
Lord Jesus-- The losses must have accumulated as they went along. Grieving must have been a way of life at times. They keep their eyes fixed on a hope not in better living situations, but in the One who spoke the conditions into existence in the first place. The hope of these early Christians had feet to it with hiking boots on.

My hope does not depend on the weather, or the time of year or the season of change in the world that surrounds me. It is a hope that is sure and lasting. The Kingdom has it's start in this world in your death and resurrection.

Let the hope that secures me today, Lord Jesus, be a hope that has feet and work boots on...ready for the hard work that your Kingdom come implies.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hope:From the Valley of the Shadow

Lord Jesus--Death came knocking in my family's world this week. The emotions were raw and the hope so clearly seen scrubbed clean of all the ways that hope can be encrusted by lesser things.

There was a sense of sadness and loss that was real, but there was also a sense of victory.  There was a celebration  of a life lived in the middle of a world of brokenness to the glory of the Father.

I hold a faith that is familiar with death, crosses and an empty grave.  So where is the hope in the middle of this hurt?  It is found in your words from the cross to a man who was hanging there with you...a man you met just in time. 

Luke 23:43 (CEV)
Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise."

It was a promise, nothing less. From a cross made out of wood with sweat and blood mixed into it.  You reached out with one of your last gasps of breath to offer hope to a thief that was next to you.  Thank you Lord Jesus for hope that is found in the most unlikely places. 

Thank you, Lord Jesus for making a cross a place where hope can be offered and found. Thank you for turning funerals into a place of hope...thank you for being a part of a family that your story has been lived out in over make that four generations and counting. 

Lord Jesus--Help me to live a life that counts for your Kingdom in the middle of this brokenness and blessing that surrounds me here in this place you have called me to.  Help me to keep my part of the circle of faith unbroken.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hope in the Middle of the Not Yet

Lord Jesus--One of my friends is watching the current crisis in the financial markets and the mounting debt in Europe. He and I have been talking about the implications of the growing debt and the way in which everyone including the United States are in debt to China.  Our conversation often runs to the hope that you will return soon, Lord Jesus. I am sure that the present situation can not long endure. I find myself caught in the middle of the already and the not yet.

There is something just wrong with the money that comes from the efforts of under paid labor in China financing our national debt. The efforts of people who have so little is used to pay for our inability to manage our national budget? I know that there is little an average graying North Country person can do...but the questions run around in my mind. What would you say to us Lord Jesus? How do I live out your kingdom come with integrity and have hope living in my present tense?

In the middle of these thoughts there is irony laced through out. I am writing this on a computer that was made in china by slave labor? How can I know? The Ipad was invented by Apple and built in China. As I drive by bridges and public works project that were supposed to be shovel ready I wonder if a sign should be erected..."Built with american labor and Chinese yauns."  So are these thoughts of an aging baby boomer or are they the signs of the times? Where is the hope in the middle of the not yet?  

1 John 3
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.

In the middle of the not yet, you remind me, that this world is not my home. Your love has changed me. That change is in so many ways incomplete and fractured...inconsistent at best. But the changes are given and accepted changes everything it touches.  It changes my mind, my heart and my emotions.

2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

As much as I wish I was a finished product, that is not the way that I am supposed to be. I am never going to be finished with this stuff in the middle of this "not yet." This side of seeing you face to face Lord, I am always going to be in between.

In the mean time, can you show me how to live out a Kingdom life with integrity?

John knew you and and seen you a thousand times. As he wrote these lines, late in life, I wonder what picture was in his mind. Was it the Jesus that he had follow down the dusty road leaving his father's boat behind him? Or, was he thinking of the returning King in glory and power that he saw from Patmos?  The thought of you brought him to the place where hope was alive in his heart. We shall be like him...and we will not longer be not yet.

3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

In the mean time, I have to do the work of preparation and bring as much of your Kingdom come as you give me the strength to bring into being. 

Lord Jesus--Give me your strength and grace to work in the in-between.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hope Surrounds Us

Romans 8

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Lord Jesus--Your word does not try to sugar coat the reality that surrounds us. Paul's journey was much different than mine. The circumstances of his life were tied up in travel, church planting and conflict. Yet, the comparison between the present circumstances and the future glory still holds.

19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

Lord Jesus--Paul's point here is that sin has impacted all of the created order. Creation waits for the next step. Sometimes, on a quiet day in the forest with the wind through the pines...I can almost sense the anticipation.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope

Lord Jesus--The futility of creation...what some have celebrated as the cycle of life is really twisted? It was never meant to be survival of the fittest. All life was meant to be a reflection of your grace and glory. Life was to be a celebration of the your creativity.

21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Lord Jesus--Paul was pointing to the fact that somehow our destinies are intertwined. There will come a time when all of the created order will be free to be in a way that humanity has never seen. I wonder what that will be like. I have a feeling that the food chain is going to shift, the cycle of life as I know it will morph into something so much more than it is right now.  A cycle of ...grace maybe?

You will be reflected all of the relationships of nature in it complexity and diversity in a way that I just can't get this side of your coming back.

Lord Jesus in this day, help me to live as you would have me some small way let me be a reflection of your grace.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Prayer for Hope

Ephesians 1:17-19 (NASB)
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

Lord Jesus--Hope really depends on my ability to see the world around me as you see it . It is fall outside as I write this and the early morning darkness surrounds me. From this vantage point, I can not tell if it is early morning or the middle of the night. It is just a bit after 6 am and it could be mid-night.  It is before the time change, dark outside. If it weren't for the sun that will rise in just a few minutes I would be left wondering.

Hope is like that so much of the time. It is only by the power of God working in my heart that hope is visible.  It is by the work of the Holy Spirit expressed in this heart wide open to your grace that I can get a glimmering of the hope that you want to show me. Revelation comes in all kinds of packaging. 

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Lord Jesus--Sometimes, I feel like a puppy that just isn't ready to see yet. Eyes not yet fully formed waiting for for the first time to see the light of day. The piece that catches me by surprise is that these eyes are sealed shut at times that are unexpected. I am thinking that I get it and then just as quickly it escapes from me. I find myself struggling to see what was there just a few minutes ago in clarity.

Or maybe the feeling is more like a baby that is just struggling to open their eyes for the first time in the bright light of planet Earth.  It is strange, wonderful, and cold all at the same time.  Even babies with time gain understanding of the movements and meanings of the images that surround them.

The prayer of Paul for this infant church in the middle of the pagan Roman culture that surrounded them was simple. Give them open eyes so they know clearly the hope that is tied to the fact that they have been called into a relationship with you.  The rich textures and colors of the glory that awaits.

19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might...

Lord Jesus--The same power that raised you from the grave is at work in this heart of mine in your revealing power to show me again hope.   You don't have to wait for the sun to rise for hope to finds its place in me.

So the point of Paul's prayer for this church in Ephesus is that the same power that raised you from the dead will show them the limitless horizons that await your people...your called out ones.

Lord Jesus--Help me to live out this kind of vision of hope in the day waits before me.  In the middle of it all you are speaking words of grace, glory and hope to me even when I am too new to it all to really understand it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hope in the Everyday

 Lord Jesus--Hope in my everyday world is something that seems in short supply of right now. The things that I thought were secure seem shaken not just stirred.

It may have started out with the fall of the twin towers, or maybe they were an iconic moment that summed up what was already a part of our world. It has continued with an ecomonic dislocation which has found me wondering about the future. Wall Street which seemed rock solid was seen for what it is at it's worst: greedy and selling what doesn't really exist.

When I do a simple word search for hope in your word 135 references come up...

Lord Jesus, of all the places that I could start to do a study of hope...this passage is the one that I have memorized. It feels like home to me.

Romans 5
  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Lord Jesus--There is reason to be hopeful, because I have a peace with the Father that rests on what you have already done. This is just the start of great things. I stand in a place of grace...wherever my feet are resting, grace brought me there.  There is reason for celebration whatever the weather or the location, wherever the arc of your grace leads.  There is also the enduring hope that the course of my life will bring me to the time and the place where your glory will be revealed...right here on planet Earth as it is in heaven.

3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

So as I sit here thinking about funny hats and wondering about the future, you remind me that Jesus followers always land on their feet.  Might I just say, that it doesn't always feel that way?

Celebrate in the middle of hard times? Why on earth would I want to do that? Because your grace wants to find expression in my life?  In the silly hat, times? the I am picking myself up off my back side again...kind of times?

Hope, more than anything, is a process that is experienced over time and in the multi-leveled situations of life in the everyday.  Perseverance...patience can only be learned over time in the middle of the mix of real life.  Patience leads to proven character that knows how to endure through the times when I feel like I have a silly hat on in the corner.

In the middle of it, hope grows.  Hope grows even during a time when it is not rational for there to be hope.  Why? It is so simple that it hardly needs to be said if you have experienced it.  The Holy Spirit is so present that there can be no doubt God is at work.

Lord Jesus--In this day that has already started, let me be a refection of your hope...hope in the everyday, hope in the middle of the mix, hope that is real, relational, and relevant to a world that is hurting.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Bounce House, Really Good Fudge, and Hope...

Lord Jesus--Saturday was spent either in preparing for Harvest Fest or in participating in it...there was a lot to do...and all with the threat of weather cancelling much of the plan.  It wasn't much of a prayer as prayers goes...simple direct, no King James language at all.

It went something like this..."Lord, You said ask and it will be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened. I am asking for no snow or rain until after 5 o'clock." Now, this was a walking most of mine are.  I was walking the dogs as the bounce house man was dropping off the bounce house.  I was thinking what if it rains and snows and this $200 is wasted, and this work is lost.

Being a child of the 60's didn't help at this point.  All I could think of were the old Woodstock recordings of people shouting..."No rain, No rain, No rain!"  The sediment was the same...who knows maybe for some of those who shouted out those lines in the mud it was a prayer.  A bit of a stretch but maybe...

Any way with thoughts of Woodstock in mind,  I brought my prayer to you.  There were reasons that we had planned this event.  It was meant to be a way to just participate in our community...a way to show Jesus..a way to be of service for a time to those who surround us.

It was going to be about...bounce house fun, food to eat, people to meet, kids and a hayride.  It seems as if it was also going to be about an answer to a walking prayer.

You know as I prayed this prayer...thoughts of the work and preparation that had gone on was in my mind...the work of hands that could have been doing other things.  There was sacrifice and hope in the work that had been done.

It was going to be a day of face painting and fun.  It was going to be a day about treats...about fudge with candy corn in it.  It was about treats made with the motivation that they were going to be used by you, Lord Jesus.

Those thoughts led to a simple prayer.

Sometimes I can get way off the beaten track.  I can miss the point so easily.   I can think that your work is about grand themes and miss the fact that it is as simple as making fudge...and as complicated as hope that weather patterns for just a few hours will be altered over Saratoga.

Can you answer those kind of prayers, Lord Jesus?

This is just a few words of praise for a prayer answered.  So often I pray, prayers and then never thank you for the answers.  Thank you for snow that started just as we were ending.  Thank you for the way in which simple things were used to show your love alive within Living Springs Community Church.  Thank you for each of the people that you have brought into the life of this church on the corner of Washington and Pine.