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