Meditation Monday: A New Psalm

psalm

A New Psalm

Lord of Heaven and Earth

We stand before you vulnerable and confused.

We are overwhelmed by it all.

Lord help us!

Hear our cry, oh God!

Leave us not alone here.

 

We wrestle with all that is going on around us:

The persecution of our fellow Christians,

The bombing of families with children,

The trafficking of women into sexual slavery,

Floods and wildfires,

Large and small scale acts of violence and desecration.

There is so much to wear us down.

 

Yet we know you are God,

You are the Most High.

It is into Your hands we put ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

We pray and You hear.

We listen and we do.

And though it may seem our little acts have no effect,

We believe that a thousand ripples can cause a tidal wave

Of love that can wash away all that is not Your will.

 

Praise be to our God!

Love Is Enough

Love Is Enough

Love Is Enough

A state legislator, trying to justify raffling off an assault rifle at a fundraiser, proclaimed, “You can’t combat this kind of hatred (mass shootings) with overwhelming love. There is only one way to combat this…that’s either to remove or neutralize these individuals.”

Yet being Christians, isn’t “overwhelming love” required of us, even with our enemies?

“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete. Matthew 5:43-48 (CEB)

But is love enough? In a decade of mass shootings and suicide bombers, is love a powerful defense against self-hatred turned outward?

Love was never meant to be a “defense” against evil. Love has always been an offensive action against bigotry, anger and hurt. (Double entendre intended.)

As Jesus tells us in verse 44, love is an action as much as praying for your enemies is one. It is not a weapon. It is a verb.

Love IS Enough

So what does love do?

In a moment of violence love is the mother out with her son for a night of dancing, throwing herself in front of him taking the terrorist’s bullet. In another, love is a teacher shielding her students.

But love is at its most powerful before situations have deteriorated to the point of bloodshed. It is in the act of loving people continuously that we prevent them from becoming so filled with self-hatred that it spills over into hating others.

We must love these people who seem unlovable. It is in loving that we can combat violence and hatred. Love is enough.

This type of love is not a superficial love. We are talking about a deep visceral love that makes miracles happen. Not in some magical sort of way but like the love shown at other nonviolent protests that have taken place and changed the world. The kind of love that brings people together to become the beloved community, taking care of all God’s children. This is the kind of love all of us can exhibit towards each of us. This love is enough.

We must ask ourselves how we could have loved these people before they lost sight of their divinely inspired humanity. Perhaps if we can answer that question, the need for guns will be obsolete.

Should we try?

Istanbul

Istanbul

Pray for Istanbul

First of all we extend our prayers to all those affected by the airport bombing in Istanbul, Turkey. My friend, Thomas Kemper, who is the General Secretary at the General Board of Global Ministries, was in the airport at the time of the terrorist attack. Praise God Thomas is ok!

We mourn with the families and friends of those who did not escape the events unleashed by a few extremists. While it is difficult to do so, we also pray for the families of those who perpetrated such horrible acts because Jesus commands us to do so.

In this time of relentless bloodshed both overseas and on our own soil, we will not be bowed by fear and hatred. We cling ever tighter to our hope and salvation, Jesus Christ and follow his example of faith over fear.

Even in the face of terror, we hold to the hope that light shall overcome darkness, love shall overcome indifference and hate, and God has already overcome all evil acts including the death of His son with resurrection power!

Amen!

Dear God, we pray during this time of anxiety and shock. Help us to remember Your great Love for us and that you call upon us to do good and not evil. Help us to pray for our enemies and not seek to repay them” an eye for an eye”. Help us Lord to follow Jesus’ lead that may seem counterintuitive but is always righteous.

Meditation Monday: Love and Trust

Love and Trust

There is so much distrust in the world. No one is given the benefit of the doubt. Intentions are selfish until proven otherwise. Everybody seems to be out for themselves. Everyone has an agenda.

This same level of distrust exists in the church as it seems to be in many institutions and organizations. People don’t trust their leaders. Leaders don’t trust their people. Evangelicals don’t trust Progressives. Progressives don’t trust Evangelicals. No one trusts the Moderates. Country churches distrust city churches. Small churches distrust larger churches.

Everyone’s motives are questionable, personal and surely not the will of God.

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” John 13:34-35 (CEB)

Can love exist outside of trust? Can love exist inside of distrust?

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Meditation Monday: Lost and Found

Lost and Found

And yet, in the midst of all this darkness, I see some people who will not be bowed. I see some people who will not give up, even when they know all hope is lost. Some people realize being lost is so close to being found. (Archangel Michael, Legion, 2010)

It is easy to get lost in procedure. Trying to remember the meaning of all the rules prescribed and agreed upon can be difficult.

“Point of order”

“Request for Personal Privilege”

“Motion”

“Second”

“Request for Information”

“Argument for …”

“Argument against …”

Seems pretty straightforward but by the time all motions are addressed, what one was voting on can become a little obscured.

In a room with nearly 1,000 people in it, it can be quite easy to get lost.

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Meditation Monday: Conflict In The Church

Conflict In The Church

Conflict In the Church

“Wherever two or more are gathered in my Name, I am there also.”

Often times this verse is used outside of its context. It is usually applied to validate worshipping together. However that is not the situation Jesus is talking about when and where he acknowledges God’s presence is manifest.

Verse twenty is an assurance given by Jesus to those who are in conflict with each other, those brothers and sisters who feel “sinned against.”

Before he reassures us, Jesus lays out a step by step method on how to interact with one another in struggle.

  1. Go directly to the person
  2. IF there is still conflict, bring along fellow believers.
  3. If that fails to resolve anything bring the matter before the whole church.
  4. If the issue persists, let go of that person’s sin.
  5. Know that God is with you from the beginning.

There are several assumptions this plan of Jesus’ makes.

  1. Conflict in the church will happen. Believers will hurt one another.
  2. People must approach one another with love.
  3. A reminder that we are not solitary beings but social creatures.
  4. Forgiveness can come even if you don’t get the apology you want.
  5. God is with us in the pain.

In the coming weeks let us guard in our hearts this message of reconciliation and love.

Dear God, while we may argue with one another, let us do so with positive affirmation and not from a place of hurt and competition. We are a community of people, each enmeshed with one another in a fabric woven by God. Even if we cannot reconcile our difference, we can still acknowledge the faith of one another and sit down to a meal together. And, God, thank you for being with us in the midst of conflict. Let us not forget to behave accordingly with grace and love. Amen.

Meditation Monday: True Inheritance

True Inheritance

It may sound very selfish.

“I hope the church is around long enough to have my funeral.”

For many churches that find their numbers dwindling, such a sentiment is often expressed to clergy as discussion about the future of the church takes place. While the sentiment is a bit self-centered, the need it calls to is deep.

The more important inheritance is to leave a place just as comforting to the next generation as the church has been to us.

True Inheritance

Even as we draw nearer to the time of our death as an individual, our legacy is still influenced by our actions or lack of action. No matter what our age, we as individuals and as a church must continue to look toward the future for those who are following in our footsteps or who have yet to know the freedom of the gospel.

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:12-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Lahore, Pakistan

 

Lahore, Pakistan

In Lahore Pakistan, a suicide bomber blew up a park that was crowded with families. At least 69 people have been killed and scores injured.

Some went to the park with family and friends to celebrate Easter. They had a boldness of faith that led them to witness for their risen Savior, in a land where they are only 1.6% of the population. They have no safe sanctuary, but they worship Jesus in the midst of persecution and suicide attacks. Despite living in a country where bombs blast and mobs attack Christian villages, churches and hospitals regularly, these Christians still met together in public.

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Meditation Monday: Effective Communication

Effective Communication

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2

Communication is so important. Our words and actions deliver messages all the time. Without effective communication, people are lost, even if there is a vision.

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Meditation Monday: How To Pray

How To Pray

In Luke 11, the disciples saw Jesus praying and asked him to teach them how to pray. Jesus responded with a prayer that has continued to shape the prayers of his followers to this day. And so we pray…

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