Monday, August 30, 2010

Ancient Kings - Modern Mistakes

Holy Father,

I’ve been reading through 2nd Kings, and I see a troubling pattern from one king’s reign to another. As Scripture puts it:

They did not turn away from their sins…

They followed detestable ways…

They did not do what was right in the eyes of God.

That was 2800 years ago, and I tend to think of those folks as warring primitives. Are we any better? Could we be worse? So much distracts and blocks our wholehearted allegiance to you.

We, however, have a distinct advantage. You sent your Son to give us what the Hebrew kings could never provide: Your grace and sanctification…reshaping our attitudes and actions.

Lord Christ, I want you to be first in my life that I may love you with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind.
(Matthew 22:37) You are my King!

Holy Spirit, I need your help…to turn away from sin, from detestable ways, to do what is right in the eyes of God. Amen.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jeremiah's Anguish

Nature, faith, life…they are replete with contrast, contradiction, paradox. This photo speaks to the contrasts - the edge of a storm on an otherwise sun-filled day. It sort of captures the tension between darkness and light. One of the most puzzling Biblical contrasts for me is God’s love and wrath. The photo was taken - quite appropriately - at a Caribbean spot called Grace Bay. And where theological explanations prove elusive, I must rely on grace! Pray with me…

Great and Holy God,

I have been trudging through a study of Jeremiah. It is so threatening and depressing, so counter to my understanding of your love.

You know my heart; you know I am having great difficulty squaring your boundless love with your Biblically presented “wrath.”

I’m so convinced that the message of love, forgiveness, healing, guidance and protection is your lead story. But I don’t want to stumble into a “relaxed fit,” new age theology.

Jeremiah reminds me that just as you set before us “the way of life” so the opposite must exist - the way of death. (Jeremiah 21:8) There must be some sort of judgment or consequence for the unrepentant. For those who disrespect you. For those who wantonly refuse to follow.

In my confusion, help me to focus on your holiness, to honor your call to obedience, to seek your mercy, to cling to that nugget of hope in Jeremiah 17:

"…blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

May I become that man - through the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of his Holy Spirit. Amen.

Photo: Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Monday, August 16, 2010


Thank you, God, for your wisdom…found in the Proverbs:

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

(Proverbs 14:29)

A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (Proverbs 15:18)

Father, I noticed that The Message translation replaces the word patience with slowness to anger and a calm, cool spirit.

And St. Paul, in his letters, bookends patience with understanding, kindness, peace, endurance and humility.

Lord Christ, this is all quite elusive. As Fruits of the Spirit go, patience has been slow to ripen for me…or maybe it has just shriveled up.

What are the underpinnings of impatience? Selfishness? Fear? High anxiety/low trust?

Holy Spirit, make listening my default. Give me greater trust in your guiding hand. I need an infusion of calm and cool. Amen.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Taming the Tongue

Words of counsel for the workplace from the Apostle James:

It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke… (James 3:5-6, The Message)

Lord Christ, my tongue can be a problem at work. In modern parlance, it’s a lack of discretion, sensitivity or decorum; sometimes sarcasm; sometimes gossip.

Holy Spirit, I need an be mindful of my speech; to be more thoughtful about my audience; to engage my brain before opening my mouth; and to internalize this Proverb:

Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.
(Proverbs 21:23, The Message)