Saturday, July 4, 2015

Crazy Christians

Over 200 years ago 13 colonies took crazy measures to join together for the cause of freedom and liberty. Many among them were Christians navigating very dangerous and challenging waters of that revolution ... in this country and in the church ... to bring about a historic birth of The United States.

Although we live in this nation where we know countless blessings of freedom and liberty, we continually must navigate very dangerous and challenging waters of our times. Recent news events demonstrate this. Yet, as Christians we know the true freedom and liberty in Jesus Christ and our work here is to bless others in our family, community, and nation with that blessing. Now, is the time for Crazy Christians to join together for the cause of blessing the nations.

At The Episcopal Church's General Convention Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry challenged us to be Crazy Christians for Jesus Christ.  
"Mine eyes have seen the glory ..."
AMEN!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Killing Giants, Stilling Storms: Take 2

So, what does it look like to take steps of faith vs. fear? Sylvia Gunter has an excellent email devotional today that answers that question. (My apologies to Sylvia that I could not locate it on her website, The Father's Business, and have copied it here.)

 Praying Psalm 28
A Prayer For Help And Praise For The Answer 

     Has there been a time when it seemed that God was not listening to you? Did you feel as if He was far away? Be encouraged that God sees and hears you. He will renew your sense of intimacy with Him, for He has not moved. Take your eyes off the problems and raise them to praise Him for His loving care. The psalmist said, "It is pleasant and fitting to praise the Lord" (Ps. 147:1).
1 To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. 
     I run to you when things get tough. I desperately need help. Hear me, and don't be silent. Don't turn me away. I am crying from an honest heart. I am struggling and in pain. My trust is fractured, and my feelings are hanging by a thread. I want with all my being to trust that You are my Lord and my Rock of safety.
2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. 
     I earnestly throw myself on Your mercy. I call to You as desperately as I ever have in all my life. By faith I lift my hands to Your holy throne of grace. Answer me, and let me hear Your voice. I need You to be there for me. I need to know You are close. I need Your answer to be clear and tailor-made for my desperation.
3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. 
     Don't let me be ignorant of the enemy's devices. The people I see are not the real adversary. Don't let me fight according to flesh and blood. The workers of iniquity hide themselves behind smooth words. Don't let their destructive intent have its way against me.
4 Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back upon them what they deserve. 5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. 
     I choose to bless the people who are being used to come against me, and I beg You to take Your rightful authority over the invisible powers behind their visible actions. They have set themselves primarily against You and secondarily against me, the work of Your hands. Lord, it's Your battle.
6 Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 
     I praise You for who You are to me. Thank You for Your work in my life. Because of Your character as a committed covenantal Father, You are gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, desiring to bless me. I thank You that in Your mercy You hear the cry of my heart when I plead Your promises.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. 
     You are my strength, or I have no strength to withstand. I hide myself and still my soul in Your impenetrable shield. The habit structures of self-protection do not serve me. You are my refuge, my fortress, my protector, my help, my hope, my high tower to which I run and am safe. Renew my broken trust in the innermost parts of my heart. Enable my heart to lean confidently into You and shout for joy because of the joy of the Lord. I will choose now to give You an offering of songs of thanksgiving.
8 The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 
Abba, I belong to You. You committed Yourself to protecting me. You alone are my unyielding strength and my sure salvation. On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. I stand still in Your fortress to see Your salvation. I will hide my soul deep in the Rock. I am Your special treasure, chosen, anointed, appointed, sealed by Your Holy Spirit.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. 
     Save me and nurture me, and let me enter into all my inheritance of Your blessings. You are my good Shepherd. You will lift me up onto Your shoulders and carry me all the days of my life. So Lord, for today... give me this day the Bread of life that is my rightful portion. You alone are my Victory!
     Write your own personal paraphrase of Psalm 28, as aspects of God's character and works exactly fit your need: He is your rock, mercy, holiness, justice, strength, shield from every danger, faithfulness, help, saving refuge, protection, and shepherding presence. Does your heart fill with joy and thanksgiving over who He is? Do you see how you can turn dire circumstances into a showcase for our praise-worthy God? Always "It is pleasant and fitting to praise the Lord" (Ps. 147:1). 
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Taken from Prayer Essentials For Living In His Presence, Vol. 2, page 78-79,      © 2000 by Sylvia Gunter. Available from www.thefathersbusiness.com.  
An archive of past devotionals is available on the website. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Killing Giants, Stilling Storms

Yesterday we heard about David killing the giant Goliath and Jesus stilling the storm on the Galilee. One commentary I read presented Goliath as the underdog who rose up against the mighty power of God. Hmmm. What a different perspective. Wasn't the storm the underdog as well? What if we were to read these narratives from that point of view? What if we were to stand in faith from that point of view?

When we read about David and Goliath, I venture to say that the film that plays in our imaginations puts David as the underdog against the Philistine Goliath ... all 9'6" of him. From a human point of view his gigantic size, his undefeatable strength, his taunts that deflate Israel's courage ... blocks God from their view. All they see is Goliath. Isn't this true of the storm as well?

When we read about the storm ... the wind and the waves threatening the boat that carries Jesus and the disciples, some of them seasoned fisherman very capable with boat and oar and sail ... when we read about that storm, what do we see in our mind's eye? Again, I venture to say it's the gigantic size of the storm, its undefeatable strength, its taunts that deflate the disciples courage ... and blocks their view of God ... who is asleep in the stern!

So, the questions that kept nagging me: What would it be like if I decided to stand up to the giants in my life with faith instead of fear? What would it be like if I decided to look with faith to the mighty power of my Lord ... who may seem to be asleep as he steers my life's course ... instead of fearing the storm that threatens to sink me? What would it be like for the church to respond this way? Faith instead of fear.

Jesus asked, "How can you be so afraid? After all you've seen, where is your faith?"

David by Bernini
Where is our faith? From what perspective do we see the giants and storms of life ... which, by the way, may be without or within? We talk about God being All-mighty. Perhaps, our work is to begin believing it ... day-by-day, moment-by-moment taking a step of faith toward confidence in God to take down our Goliaths and still our storms. Then, with faith like David we can take stock of our resources, utilize all God has given us, and say, "I stand armed in the Name of the Eternal One, the Lord God of all the armies of heaven."

One smooth stone of faith will do it.