Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Miracles

Jesus quieted a storm, restored a dead girl to life, healed the mentally and physically handicapped and fed thousands of people from an almost bare picnic basket. Yet his closest associates, his disciples, didn’t quite get it. Are we any different? Do we have hardened hearts? Why is it that we resist his presence despite so much supporting evidence?

Lord Christ,
The headline in my Bible reads:
Jesus Walks on the Water
But the back-story is equally important.

Mark reports that the disciples didn’t recognize you,
That their hearts were hardened.
Is this story about miracles or our failure to notice them?

The Bible says
You went out to them,
Joined them,
And the wind died down.

The next time a squall forms over my life,
I pray for that dialog from the Gospel
Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.

Let us claim that promise
in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit.

From Mark 6:45-56
Scripture Union USA,
Encounter with God, 7/24/09
Sylvia Collinson, Morling College, Sydney Australia

This is a storm that formed on the Rockies at sunset in the vicinity of Gunnison CO. Perspective means a lot here. If you were under those clouds, there was a pelting rain, thunder and lightening. From a wider view there’s rich color and strong light. When you’re in a storm can you see beyond the thunderhead?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Breaking Barriers III


I’ve taken a fresh look at the beginning of Peter’s ministry.
(Acts 9-10-11)

He was a very quotable preacher, but his cross-cultural outreach got my attention.

Early on, he stayed with Simon the tanner.
The man and his occupation were despised by Peter’s people.

Then he visited and baptized Cornelius, the centurion.
The soldier commanded an occupying force.
He was a despised enemy of Peter’s people.

…but Peter exclaims: God does not show favoritism.

The Message translates it this way:

“It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from - if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open…he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.” (Acts 10:34-36)

The challenge persists for “reluctant missionaries” like me:

What boundaries will I break for the Gospel?

Help me, Father, to put prejudice and suspicion aside.
Help me, Father, to see the world through your eyes.

In Jesus’ name,

Credit: From Scripture Union USA’s Encounter with God, 6/24/09, David Smith – International Christian College, Glasgow

Art: Trevisani, 1709

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Independence Day, follow-up...

On Independence Day
I offered thanks for freedom.
In today’s America
that’s “the pursuit of happiness” -
What a blessing!

But in 1776,
it was about freedom from oppression.
That’s still in the headlines,
in Iran, China and North Korea.
Will I pray for those people,
often viewed as the enemy?

And there are other facets of freedom,
like freedom from guilt.
Will I be quicker to forgive,
or to put someone at ease?

And there’s freedom from
poverty, abuse or addiction.
Will I share my
"time, talent and treasure"
for someone else’s freedom?

The pursuit of happiness,
will I confess
that it’s not about me?

I will, with the power
of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

All Saints' Chapel, University of the South
Sewanee TN (photo credit: Melissa Habel)

Friday, July 3, 2009

the Fourth of July: Dependence Day

I'm thankful to be a citizen of the USA. It's a marvelous and complex nation. Founded by religious zealots, adventurers, entrepreneurs and a few criminals, they held freedom and faith in high regard.

...but I'm convinced that faith is the duct tape that holds it all together!

In the Virginia statute for religious freedom, an underpinning of the first amendment, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion.

Where did tolerance run amok? Why don’t we feel free to profess our faith? What’s wrong with a lively, respectful discussion about religion?

Thank you, Lord,
For the freedom we enjoy in the USA.
It would seem to compliment
Your grant of “free will.”

We are free to pursue our dreams,
Free to pursue our faith.
In that tandem,
Life has meaning and purpose.

But it’s not a perfect system.
Freedom turns selfish,
Culture coarsens.
Free will rejects the things of faith,
Values and community.

Here’s where the evangelist shouts:
And it’s spot on.

On this Independence Day
Let’s make a Declaration of Dependence,
On God Almighty, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Let’s profess our belief, reliance and trust in You.

Freedom without faith
Will not prosper or satisfy.


(Steven Curtis Chapman gets credit for the Declaration of Dependence theme.)