Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Friends in Darkness and Light

Mark 9

[9.43-48] “If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell. [9.49-50] “Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames.

Lord Jesus--This is one of those spots that the words get twisted and the message gets lost.  The message is of the importance of focus on your kingdom not on body parts thrown away.  The focus is on your kingdom not necessarily the church. The focus needs to be on the message and on the interactions with that message among the people we meet along the way.  Anything that distracts or distorts that interaction needs to be jettisoned for the sake of the mission.

My interactions with the people that surround me are important. The relationships are of eternal importance.  This warning is found just after you pointed to the fellow travelers on the road to kingdom come and reminded me of the need to protect those who are just putting their roots down into the faith.

You want me to be a light the shines in the darkness even if the darkness doesn't notice.  There are times when it feels as if the darkness that surrounds is suffocating.    There are also, those times when it feels as if the darkness is intoxicating. Your quiet and reoccurring call to me is to shine without distraction. The call is to focus on you on your life and light, on your grace and hope,  not the darkness that surrounds and at times seeps inside me.

In this day, help me to be redemptively aware of the hope that infuses every moment that I allow myself to focus on you.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30877-30881). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Don't Miss The Friends Along the Way

Mark 9
[9.38] John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn't in our group.” [9.39-41] Jesus wasn't pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down.

Lord Jesus-I am sure that I miss allies all the time because they don't fit into my little view of your kingdom. The more I walk with you, the more I am aware of the inclusive nature of your call. You call me to following you and to being aware of the people who are headed in the same direction.

If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.

Today help me be aware of the cups of water along the way sometimes I miss them because they come in many different forms. A word of encouragement at the right time...a smile at the needed time...

 [9.42] “On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn't  You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.

Lord Jesus--It is a scared trust that you call me to.  To be aware of and encourage the trust of those whose faith is just taking root.  There can be no Crystal Cathedral's in my future.  Just places of grace where fellow travelers on the road to Kingdom Come share the journey.

So in the day that is going to start in just a couple of hours let me be hope, and light in this day for you.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30871-30877). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

First? Right? Left or Down the Middle


[9.33] They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”

Lord Jesus--There are sometimes that the gotcha comes after the fact. They had been discussing pecking order.  You knew it. I wonder if they knew you knew.

[9.34] The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.

I wonder what criteria they were using? Who had done the most miracles? Who had cast out the most demons?  Who had heal the most sick?  How did they parse it out?  How many repented?  Did they keep a count on how many notches they had on their gospel gun? 

The criteria of evaluation is something that is important to you. Isn't Lord?   It is not a standard that is comfortable. All of the activities are not the standard. In the church too long we looked to the wrong criteria   At times we have thought that it about we we have done.  There have been times when we think that the standards are about not doing behaviors and activities. There is always talk about lowering the standards...but really the standard could be any higher. 

[9.35] He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”

The standard that you set was servant-hood. Everything else is out of my control. I can choose to serve.  You choose to bless as you see fit.  Everything else is window dressing on a window that doesn't exist. 

I guess this is where political agenda's of the christian right, middle and left need to come face to face with you.  My political agenda needs to be yours...serving the needs of the oppressed, living out a generous orthodoxy that doesn't throw stones at anyone but serves with grace in the middle of need. 

 [9.36-37] He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”

Lord Jesus--So where does the child come it? Service and love with no thought of reciprocity? So much of the church is about giving with the implication of reciprocity...of receiving at some point in the future. Yet, servants serve because that is what they are called to do.

Lord Jesus--Today help me get this is really so do justice, to love mercy, to walk humbly with you. That is the job description for today, give me the strength and grace for the task.

Micah 6:8 

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Except By Prayer

Mark 9

[9.25-27] Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: “Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!” Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, “He’s dead.” But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.

Lord Jesus--I would not want to miss the happy ending in the middle of thinking about belief and trusting you.  The story of this boy and his oppression by evil end in what some thought was death but was really the last gasping breathes of evil kicking and screaming as it left.

[9.28] After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, “Why couldn't we throw the demon out?” [9.29] He answered, “There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer.”

This incident occurred because the disciples were unable to cast the demon out of this little one.  So they brought him to you after you returned from the mountain. Peter, James and John had seen you revealed in all your glory. I wonder what Moses was talking with you about? Elijah did he talk to you of his days since leaving planet Earth? Did he have concerns about the company that you were keeping? It was a mountain top experience that overwhelmed the boys. I am sure that I would have been the amen section for Peter on that day.  "Tents, tabernacles...sound like a good idea to me...Amen Peter.  Let's get it together."  

They saw  your glory  revealed just as much when you touched this little and restored hope and life to a person who had experienced such oppression by the evil one.  The lesson that the boys needed to learn again and again was that power comes not from doing, but from being connected to the source of power.  Prayer was and still is the only way that spiritual progress can be made. 

You still release from oppression  you still call me to the work of prayer. Why is it that I still miss it from time to time that it is not in doing that real work gets done but in being in your presence?   In this day that is already pushing at me, lead me in ways of grace, and of being a person of prayer.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2006-06-15). The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language (Kindle Locations 30857-30862). NAVPress - A. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"If" Revisited

Lord Jesus--That word "If" constrains me.  It was used by the this father with a son oppressed because he had come to the place where he did not trust that God would in fact intercede on the behalf of his son.

So often that is where I find myself and I allow my understanding of the past to impact your future work in my life.  There is no question that you are trustworthy...there is no question that you love with an everlasting love.  I loose track of the fact that my perspective of the past is twisted.  I am not an accurate reporter of your grace experienced in my life.  I don't see it all and can't understand it all.  Sometimes I can't even see it all.

So the growing edge is to trust even when I don't see it clearly...or don't understand it. Will never understand it this side of the pearly gates.  Trust and praise become the default...not "if."

That is the growing edge. Praise and trust release your work with in me, "if" limits, constrains and confines.