Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dropped Calls

St. Paul writing to the Colossians:

…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (3:12)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…

Lord, I’m rarely overcome with road rage (Thanks be to God!) but dropped cell phone calls usually provoke an oath.

Lots of dropped calls.
Lots of oaths.

Yes, it’s in the privacy of my car - in that isolation chamber on wheels - but I don’t want to be that flailing, frustrated guy with the animated, red face. It’s just a few degrees short of road rage.

Lord Christ, St. Paul taught Timothy that your patience was unlimited, endless.
(1 Timothy 1:16) That’s the standard.

Holy Spirit, intervene in that millisecond where the synapses take paths of anger or patience. I need to work on my “unflappability.” I’ll practice in the car and try to apply it upon disembarking.

…and thank you, Lord: with you there’s never a dropped call. Amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Of Service & Sacrifice

I have recently collected these quotes. Countercultural advice - worth its weight in gold:

God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not by how many people serve you.  Rick Warren

If you seek power before service, you'll neither get power, nor serve. If you seek to serve people more than to gain power, you will not only serve people, you will gain influence. That's very much the way Jesus did it.  Tim Keller

Let no one come to you without feeling better or happier. 
Mother Teresa

…and my prayer:

Lord Christ, Luke tells us you “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”
(Luke 2:52) Those were your teenage years. I’m pushin' sixty and forever playing catch-up. It reminds me of a memorable line from my Bible study: We don’t need more information. We need transformation.*

You set the standard for servanthood and sacrifice. From acts of healing to words of forgiveness. From foot washing to the Crucifixion.

Your words, Jesus:
Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant. Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. (Luke 22:26-27, The Message)

I have come to realize that wisdom grows in the soil of humility, but I have an erosion problem. Service of self intrudes upon servanthood. Sacrifice competes with comfort.

Your words, Jesus:
Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage. 

(Matthew 20:26-28, The Message)

Lord Christ, I’m often held hostage by my bad habits, negative thoughts and selfish ways. I pray for release and transformation. I pray for your Spirit of humility and servanthood. Amen.

* - Colin Sinclair
Artwork credit

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


The music for Pentecost at Church of the Good Shepherd featured a flute and harp. It was beautiful and uplifting. Ethereal. It was, as intended, evocative of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, one’s experience of God is like a fingerprint. Unique. God meets us in different ways, in different places. That’s why the Holy Spirit is variously described as a violent wind or tongues of fire. St. Paul experienced it as lightening, but Jesus received the Spirit as a dove.

Given my broadcasting background, a preferred metaphor for the Holy Spirit is God’s radio station, a divine frequency, transmitting at maximum power, 24/7.

Unfortunately, our antennas are prone to malfunction. Most of us experience (self-induced) interference and static.
We are resistant, but God is persistent in his attempts to reach us. Raise your antenna, find the frequency and tune in!

I reprise a prayer about the Holy Spirit from 2010…

The Holy Spirit, Giaquinto, 1750s


It isn’t lost on me that Acts of the Apostles commences with your Spirit. I note the significance.

The Holy Spirit: Hard to define. Difficult to pin down. But like the wind, we can hear it. We can feel it.

Whatever the Biblical image or metaphor - wind, fire, water, dove - I pray for a full measure of the Holy Spirit…infusing every aspect of my life, propelling my faith and faithful witness.

Lord Christ, let me hear it. Allow me to feel it…that I may act. Dare I ask, that I might act as an Apostle! Amen

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Our LORD of Mercy...or Judgment?

The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

Father, I treasure that description you offered Moses.
It is my testimony, too.

…but I read on in Exodus:

Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. (Exodus 34:6-7)

That was resolved with your covenant and settled for all time by Jesus, but still, the notion of divine judgment makes me squirm.

Some Christians embrace the concept with way too much enthusiasm, confident that you will judge people of other cultures, faiths and political parties. I'm prepared to be surprised by my neighbors in Heaven.

Theologians advise us to hold your mercy and judgment in tension. It's a conflict of the heart and intellect that eludes human knowing. I look forward to an explanation in the classroom of Eternity.

Lord Christ - as I wait (with some frustration and impatience) - I confidently pray that the divine scales are decisively tilted toward grace and mercy.*

Holy Spirit, help me to live that way. Amen.

* - Brent Strawn, Emory University

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Blessing for my Children

Isaac Blessing Jacob, Govert Flinck, 1638

Early in the Bible we are confronted with sibling rivalry, parental partiality, deception and dishonesty - an ancient soap opera. Indeed, the Bible is relevant!

I’m referring to Genesis 27 where Jacob schemes against his brother Esau to obtain their father’s blessing:

May God give you of Heaven’s dew and Earth’s bounty of grain and wine. May peoples serve you and nations honor you.

My children haven’t been conspiring for my blessing, but their well-being is a recurring motivation for prayer. In the Mormon church, the “patriarchal blessing” is a tradition of considerable significance. And this story prompted me to pen a blessing for my children:

May you be always in God’s company...through faith in Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s presence.

May you find your soulmate...and a lifetime of mutual devotion.

May you have children to love and nurture...building a family with strong bonds of love and support.

May you have passion for your faith, family, work and community.

May God bless you with good health and a long life.

Father, I offer this blessing and prayer for my children. Amen.