Monday, October 25, 2010

A Rebuke to Fear

I borrowed the title from my priest, the Rev. Bill Bennett. A recent sermon inspired a few thoughts about trusting the Lord and its antithesis, fear. Learning to trust God is the antidote to anxiety, a rebuke to fear.

Fear is a medium of distortion. Fear, prejudice, hate, inferiority, and so on, are the ingredients of alienation. (Valson Thampu writing for Scripture Union)

Unfortunately, we seem to be wallowing in fear these days. A rebuke is in order. Pray with me...


My nation is afraid. This imposing, broad shouldered, bighearted country is scared.

The decade began with terrorism and the finale was a recession. We’re beset by INSECURITY writ large.

Hate-filled fundamentalists are a hard-to-love, difficult-to-forgive foe, but we’ve gone overboard with our enemies list: Muslims, the poor and immigrants. Threats and finger pointing abound. Political discourse is profane and divisive. Is America’s heart shriveling?

We reflexively trust our military prowess and revered market economy. Surely, that has been humbling during protracted war and sluggish economic recovery. Yet, “In God We Trust” does not come easily.

The prescription is found in your Word:
…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 
(2nd Chronicles 7:14)

That does not require an American theocracy, or a welfare state, or mass deportation. It is, however, a challenge to the Church. We have ample grounds for repentance, personal and national.

Will people who call themselves Christians sincerely, intentionally turn to You? Will they trust and obey? Will they put a generous faith ahead of parsimonious politics?

Only then can transformed human hearts shout a rebuke to fear:
In God We Trust.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Adversity...

Dear God,

I seek comfort and peace from my faith, but I have learned that true intimacy with you comes from the opposite pole.

It's in our episodes of adversity, suffering and discipline that you are “up-close and personal.”

Surely, you desire our worship, service and study, but finding to you in adversity, clinging to you in hardship…

…is where Christian character is developed
…is where Godly wisdom grows
…is where bonds of trust are cemented
…is where your presence is most keenly experienced.

Lord Christ, when I see trouble help me to see you, not dimly, not in the distance or in the shadows, but “up-close and personal.”

Through the power of your Spirit,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Infectious Faith

Recruiting his first disciples along the Sea of Galilee shoreline, Jesus said he would make them “fishers of men.”

The Message interprets his pitch to Peter and Andrew (Matthew 4:19) this way:

Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.”

Jesus’ intent was clear, but there’s wide interpretation over the type of bait we should use. Some opt for fear and shame. At the other extreme are evangelists who promise prosperity. I’m trying to fill my spiritual bait bucket with compassion, comfort, forgiveness and love.

Let’s pray…

Lord, I read a devotion that grabbed my attention.

It stated that we are agents of cosmic reconciliation…that you are at work healing your creation. That’s a big idea. What’s my role?

This reminds me that my salvation is not an entirely personal matter. Indeed, there’s a responsibility to share my faith, to live a life that draws others to you.

I pray, Lord Christ, that you will equip me for that work. (Left to my own devices I’m seriously deficient.)

Holy Spirit, help me to develop an infectious, communicable faith…that I may be your agent in my corner of the cosmos.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Change of Coordinates

I heard this from UMC Bishop Will Willimon on Day1:

All the gospels present Jesus on a continual road trip - God in motion.

…some of Jesus' best words were spoken on the run. So, if you want to know about Jesus, you've got to meet him on the road.

Anybody who wants to meet Jesus, to understand or to be with Jesus, must be willing to relocate.

That relocation might not be a change of address, but it will surely represent a change of priorities, attitude and/or heart. Jesus is our navigator. He is likely to adjust our coordinates.

Lord, we pray your will be done.
(Matthew 6:10)

And we aspire to Christ’s thoroughly selfless standard:
Yet not what I will, but what you will.
(Mark 14:36)

...but we remain stubbornly stationary. We spin cocoons of self-will. We long for predictability. We want things set and fixed.

Change my coordinates, Lord! Move me through your Word.

Maybe I’m resisting something that could be a Godly surprise? Maybe there’s a stranger in my path destined to become a friend?

Standing still or your will? How can I resist the Creator of the Universe who calls me?

Open my heart to your perspective, and put me on your path. In Jesus name, that I might reflect his love and purpose, Amen.