Thursday, September 29, 2011

Notes to the Lord: On a Rainy Thursday

Another Thursday morning and rain.

Lord Jesus--Thank you for this day. It is a day that is a bit beyond the middle of the is a grey day and it looks like I will be traveling west in the rain today. Work within and around this Thursday, a day in the middle of the week. This is a day that is strategic and I know that you want to use it.

I want to live on this corner, Lord.
There are people that will surround me today that don't know you...let me be a prayer that pushes them along the path that lead them to you. Let me be a smile and a kind word in the middle of the storm...let me be you to those I come in contact with today.

Help me, Jesus because that person who will sell me coffee needs to know you...that person who will make funny gestures at my driving needs some peace...(Ok, You are right. My driving could stand with that too!)

In this rainy Thursday morning help me live out this simple verse with Jesus style and grace...

1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray continually,

Why? Remind me, is really so simple because prayer changes things. It changes people, it changes events, it changes the heart of the Father, it changes me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Random Thoughts on Grace

 We spent the day Saturday apple picking.  It is fall and the apples are just at the point of perfection.  It is all about timing with apples, so off to Vermont we went. A blue sky day and a full tank of gas, was all that was needed...and the call of the open road.  A Saturday with Sweet and Kayla in the car.  Good music not to mention lunch on the road awaiting.

A reflective thought or two kept rattling around in my brain.  Note to self: almost always the marvelous and the mundane are side by side.  Spectacular mountains with wind, water and sky were all right there. The Adirondacks on one side and the Green Mountains on the other side of the car...the leaves just starting to turn colors.  The miraculous surrounded me and yet at the same time the mundane, the usual, the Thursday morning make it to work was never far away.

A strip mall, or shopping plaza is never far way...with asphalt and guard rails forming the boundaries just in the back ground of this beauty.  If we could pave right up to paradise we would in 21 century America...I think this as I am driving along a beautiful section of Lake Champlain.  There is beach, sky and let's not forget apple trees.  There is such blessing, and such garbage in the mix.

I ran across this quote in some reading I am doing... 

All beauty is gratuitous. So whom can we blame when it seems to be taken away? Grace seems to be at the foundation of everything. 

Rohr, Richard (2011-04-01). Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (p. 78). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.

Maybe that is it in a nutshell. Why question the beauty...or even when it seems to be getting eaten up by subdivisions and sprawl, asphalt and guardrails?   In other is a bonus enjoy it, thank God for it... recognize that grace is at the root of it.  

Water, sky and a boat, so beautiful...and grace is what supports it...and somehow it reminds me of Jesus.  There is  God right in the middle of an apple-picking, ferry-riding, family  fun day.
So Lord, what was that camel we passed trying to say to me?  "Hey, Silly Man don't miss the grace along the is what we are all here to experience?" 

Grace is the foundation of everything...absolutely!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Praying the Psalms:Mountains and Angels

Psalm 24

[24.1-2] GOD claims Earth and everything in it, GOD claims World and all who live on it. He built it on Ocean foundations, laid it out on River girders.

Father--Your claim to the world is clear.  It is written on the blue sky and on the surface of the water.  You made it all and you own it all.  The structure you know better than I will ever guess.

So much of the time I float only on the surface not looking at ownership or at source. I enjoy the ride.   Remind me in the middle of my day of your superintendency of this world that I experience so fleetingly at times.

[24.3-4] Who can climb Mount GOD? Who can scale the holy north-face? Only the clean-handed, only the pure-hearted; Men who won’t cheat, women who won’t seduce.

The mountains where you live can only be reached by a journey of the heart that does not depend on ropes or pitons driven into sheer rock cliffs.  The journey instead depends on my heart being in-tune with yours. It is a mountain climb of the soul that I am on as I follow you, Lord.   What can I expect? Hard work, Yes. Expanding vistas of grace? Absolutely. Clear cold streams of living water? I am sure.  But the hike takes the next step...lead with the right...bring up that silly left more step. Grab the next rock pull...

 [24.5-6] GOD is at their side; with GOD’s help they make it. This, Jacob, is what happens to God-seekers, God-questers.   [24.7] Wake up, you sleepyhead city! Wake up, you sleepyhead people! King-Glory is ready to enter.

Father--You remind me that I am not on a forced march nor a meandering Sunday afternoon of walking the dogs.  There is intention in every step and I am not alone.  Every footfall you are with me willing me on and encouraging my sometimes wandering focus.  "Kurt, Will you please keep you eyes on the path ahead? Son, you are going to take a fall.  Are you sleepwalking again?"  

In the middle of it all the King of Glory is about to make his entrance. 

[24.8] Who is this King-Glory? GOD, armed and battle-ready.   [24.9] Wake up, you sleepyhead city!Wake up, you sleepyhead people! King-Glory is ready to enter.   [24.10] Who is this King-Glory? GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies: he is King-Glory.

Father--Jesus is right with me isn't he?  The image here is so striking...and I so easily forget it here in sleepy Saratoga Springs.  The king is here in full battle dress, ready for the battle.  The battle rages all around me...strongholds of Satan falling around me...angels watching and fighting an unseen battle.  The telltale signs of that battle going on are all around an impression that comes from nowhere to pray, in a prayer answered, in an expression of encouragement and love given but un-looked for.
Lead on King of Glory!

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 735). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Growing Edges: A Carpenter Works with Wood and Nails

For Jesus, it was a great wager of faith and vocation. It meant leaving the security of home, family and job because his Father was calling him to a new job. He called the fishermen to become fishers of men. He himself, the carpenter, was called to take wood and nails to accomplish the real Exodus, the real defeat of evil. Calling God `Father' was not simply comfortable or reassuring. It contained the ultimate personal challenge.

N. T. Wright. The Lord and His Prayer (Kindle Locations 126-129). Kindle Edition.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Praying the Psalms:Places of Darkness and Light

Psalm 23 (part two)

[23.4] Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.

Father God--Sometimes the valley stretches out before me and I know it is coming.  I can even see it miles away.  When I am on the mountain seeing death valley laid out before me I wonder if I can make it through to the other side.

It is as I put one foot in front of the other then the evidences of your presence becomes clear to me.  It is in the dark of the valley with ghost-like fears surrounding me that I depend on your hand, and find it. The valley's are when the sound  of your footfalls are so much more clearer right next to me.  I wish I had lofty visions, but most often I find you right next to me ...sweating with me...reaching with me...passing me the hammer and nails.

I am writing this as the ten year remembrance of 9-11 is just concluding. The image of an aged Paul Simon singing The Sounds of Silence was haunting and somehow iconic of our age. America knows of loss that is senseless, and continues to have courage to look for something beyond the silence.  Speak with clarity to this age, Father. 

[23.5] You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.

Father God--When I am open to your leading...when I can let go of my fear, anxiety and dread, you are able to create in the most unlikely places and times a table of peace.  How do you do that?  It is not occasionally that this happens but consistently as I am open to your leading and not closed in on myself.

 [23.6] Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life.

Father--Thank you for the beauty and love that finds it's way into everyday...simple things a song, a smile, a conversation, a good meal, the love of friends and family. A church on a hill reminds me that you are never far from me. There will come a time when loss, darkness and silence will end.  We will see each other face to face, prepare me for that day. 

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 735). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Praying the Psalms:Meadows and Quiet Pools

Psalm 23
[23.1-3] GOD, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.

Father God--The quiet pool that I found myself next to when I took this picture was in a park on vacation watching Abby and sliding down the slide with her. 

Times that feed the soul come in many forms, sometimes something as simple as lunch at the park with family deeply loved is more than enough to remind me that your blessings stretch on from generation to generation.

You guided my parent through war years and you will guide me.  You looked after my education and you will look after the eduction of my children's children.  You are a God who does not forget and your mercies are durative over time, space and everything in-between.

True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.  

Father God--Simple things you can use to help me catch my breath and to continue to follow after you.  A camp fire with friends in the back yard making smores is more than enough.  You are a God that delights in surprising me with grace unlooked for but none the less experienced in unlikely places and times.

Father in the day that will begin in few hours lead me in your way everlasting and keep me mindful of your grace each moment.
Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (p. 735). NavPress. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pictures and Prayer Along the Road

Sometimes I don't get it right away. The road leads from right where I am to where you want me to be.  Sounds so simple and yet so complicated. All at the same time...

You taught me that you can use me right where I am and that openness is really the only precondition in the lessons learned along the road with you.

So it was on this street that I met Mr. White.  I have no idea if that was his real name or not. He told me that it had been a hard day for him.  I am not sure why he thought he could talk with me. Was it that I made I eye contact with him?

Jesus was it that I had prayed a prayer as he past and he sensed it?  That is something that I have been practicing lately. Just a short prayer of blessing and sometimes of intercession.  But this time Mr. White stopped and talked with me.

He told me of a separation that he was going through and a child that he had visitation with...he told me that he hadn't eaten.  I had no cash and there wasn't the opportunity to take  him to get a sandwich everything was closed.  A prayer beside the road was all that I could give.

You reminded me on that sidewalk  that any moment can be a God moment...a moment that can be connection with you and with those that I allow myself to be open to along the road.

This morning the road goes on just outside my door, Lord.  Let today be an adventure in learning how to be open and aware of your movement in my life.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Praying the Psalms:Songs to the Savior

Psalm 9 (part 3)

[9.13-14] Be kind to me, GOD; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs;the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

Father God--David writes with his hand on death's door knob and yet he anticipates praise. I can almost hear The Salvation Army Band playing...on the corner of Main and First in anticipation of what you are going to be doing. David would tell me to sing no matter what. Salvation songs could be the title of David's next CD release. In so many ways praise is a release...

[9.15-16] They’re trapped, those godless countries, in the very snares they set, Their feet all tangled in the net they spread. They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.

Father God--There is justice here...the coping skill becomes the trap, the strength reaches around to become a weakness. I can't see it from where I am but like David I am going to start to hum the songs of salvation even while it is still dark.

[9.17-20] The wicked bought a one-way ticket to hell. No longer will the poor be nameless— no more humiliation for the humble. Up, GOD! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting? Expose these grand pretensions! Shake them up, GOD! Show them how silly they look.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (pp. 719-720). NavPress. Kindle Edition. 

Random thoughts on a Tuesday P.M.

Father God-- It is just a normal day and yet sometimes it feels like a tightrope walk over alligators with me just inches from their gaping jaws.  As I watched this little one walk the bricks, I started to wonder about where life leads us and where small steps can take us.

She was so proud when she reached the end of stones.  My accomplishments seem so important to me.   But Father I wonder if they are just like these stones walked in an afternoon with loved one's surrounding.  An accomplishment?  Yes, but one that is limited and only useful as a part of your plans and goals.

Father God--Just another house on a street in anywhere America...and yet it was once a house that kept safe a dream and ignited a passion.

Why do we settle for such small dreams like houses on anywhere street?  Instead we could have changed the world and captured a generation for Your Kingdom.

A stairway...not to heaven but to a walk up in Greenwich.  Stairs are like stepping stones with more risk.  They lead to a new level and the possibility of falling.

Father God--Climbing the stairs will lead me to a clearer view of my surroundings and  a vision of what the next direction should be.  Don't let me settle for the safe,  Father.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Praying the Psalms: Personal and in the Night

Psalm 9 (part 2)
9-10 God's a safe-house for the battered,a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you're never sorry you knocked

Father God--Your house is a safe place. In hard times, I know that there is a place of safety and peace. When you arrive there is also worship and witness that is apart of the story as well. Worship that brings me back to your house again and again in grateful expression of your mighty acts of love.

 11-12 Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God,
tell his stories to everyone you meet:
How he tracks down killers
yet keeps his eye on us,
registers every whimper and moan.
Father God--I love the thought that you keep you eye on me...I remember growing up and my mother would always use that line. It was both a comfort and a call to accountability at the same time. I suspect that I need both.

You are the one who tracks down killers...but you also hear the whimpers of your people. You are at work in creating an environment of safety but also a place where grace and love are experienced in my heart and life.
As I write this Father, I realize that it sounds so...I don’t know...religious and somehow distant. Yet, a whimper and moan are such personal expressions of hurt and mourning. Tonight as the rain falls outside, I realize the personal, intimate and up close and personal nature of your love for me. You remind me of hope that can be present in my life just because you listen and act. 

Act in those places, Father, where I hurt tonight...where your people hurt tonight. Work Father. 
In the day that begins in just a bit, Father lead as you see fit. Help me to include you in my inner conversation as the moments tick away, call me back to conversation with you. A conversation that never needs to end....

Praying the Psalms -You are in Control

Psalm 9

1-2 I'm thanking you, God, from a full heart, I'm writing the book on your wonders.
I'm whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I'm singing your song, High God.
3-4 The day my enemies turned tail and ran,
they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.
You took over and set everything right;
when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.

Father--You are acting on behalf of your people. The timing is in your hands. The reality is that you are working in power right now on my behalf...on the behalf of your people. David identified your actions on his behalf and could not hold back his praise for your mighty acts.

5-6 You blow the whistle on godless nations;
you throw dirty players out of the game,
wipe their names right off the roster.
Enemies disappear from the sidelines,
their reputation trashed,
their names erased from the halls of fame. 

Father--The image is of you overlooking and engaged in limit setting and overseeing the activities that occur in the world. Sometimes the “game” seems out of control from my perspective. Here, David is clear that you are the umpire. There is no one who is beyond your ability to kick out of the game.
7-8 God holds the high center,
he sees and sets the world's mess right.
He decides what is right for us earthlings,
gives people their just deserts.
Father--There is justice that is coming. As I think about your justice, I am reminded of my need for grace. Grace that is beyond my ability to understand is always a prayer away.

As I look forward to this day Lord remind me of your control and grace that sustains me.