Monday, July 26, 2010

Who Really Owns It?

Words of praise, Creator God, from King David:

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

(1st Chronicles 29:11-13)

Father, you got my attention this week. I heard a Muslim philanthropist explain that his wealth was a trust from God, and he was accountable for its use…for his stewardship. Then, a challenge in my Bible study: list all of your stuff and commit those possessions to the Lord.

The home, cars, checking, savings, investments. The toys and creature comforts: the HDTV, iPod, Blackberry, my beloved laptop, even the recliner.

Lord Christ, I acknowledge - with gratitude - that it all belongs to you. I acknowledge - with discomfort - that I have lavished these “material blessings” upon myself with insufficient regard to others’ needs.

Holy Spirit, minimize my inclination for personal comfort. Maximize my concern for others. You have my attention; put those “others” in my path. Amen.

Photo credit

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The not-so-original sin: Pride

Dear God, John Wesley warns us…

“Watch and pray continually against pride.”

As the Bible begins, we are confronted immediately by the sin of pride. Adam and Eve and the builders of Babel - just like us - wanted to be in control.

We seek autonomy rather than your authority. The pursuit of personal power and selfish purposes - that’s our agenda. (It seems appropriate that vanity and humanity rhyme.)

Father, I turn to the 51st Psalm, to David’s prayer of contrition:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

Lord Christ, I pray for a clean heart - a right and willing spirit. Amen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jesus - for ALL & EVERYONE

As his final Passover approached, Jesus is quoted in John 12:32:

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." The Message translation adds a bit more emphasis - I will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.

The ALL and EVERYONE of that verse may have inspired the hymn “When Christ was lifted from the earth” by Brian Wren:

Where generation, class, or race divides us to our shame, he sees not labels but a face, a person and a name.

Thus freely loved, tho’ fully known, may I in Christ be free to welcome and accept His own as Christ accepted me.

(Episcopal Hymnal, #603)

I’m reminded that Christ calls us to welcome His own…ALL and EVERYONE. My prayer:

Lord, I have reached an age where I’m secure and comfortable with my attitudes, views and values.

But it’s quite possible that you don’t share my class, cultural and racial preferences.

Search me, Father, and show me where adjustment or reform are in order. Where do I need to change? Where have I been wrong?

I often ask you to endorse my views, but what I really need to do is seek your will, your way. I need to be a better listener for your voice.

In your love and grace, I can handle the uncomfortable and challenging revelations.

Set me to work today on your priorities…with your attitude, your preferences and your values.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, July 5, 2010

James Bond on Pentecost

There’s a famous James Bond line - about how he liked his martini “shaken, not stirred.”

Pardon the bartending analogy, but there’s a Pentecost theme here: On our faith walk we sometimes need to be shaken rather than merely stirred.
Accept these words of praise and intercession from Acts, offered by the Apostles gathered in the upper room:

“Sovereign Lord, you made the heaven and earth and the sea, and everything in them…enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness…stretch out your hand to heal…”

And in Acts 4, verse 31, it says:
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.”

Maybe I need to be shaken Lord?

Shake loose my pride and the myth of self-reliance.
Shake loose my comfortable complacency.
Shake me…that I may hold ever more tightly to you.
Shake me…that I may see your power and glory.

And like the Apostles, trembling with anticipation in that upper room, may we be filled with the Holy Spirit, may we live boldly for Jesus Christ. Amen.