Monday, October 01, 2012
Then they realize something else. This is not all they are trying to distract themselves from. They are trying to avoid talking to God. Why? They have no drive for the day. They have no hope for the day. They have no daily bread this morning. The manna doesn't seem to have fallen last night. There was no revelation. No miraculous change of circumstances. He's still working a job he hates. Her child is still dead. When they count their blessings this morning, life itself doesn't feel like one. It feels more like something to be endured. They know this is wrong. They know this is a lie. But it's cold and bitter and extra sugar and religious platitudes just make it cloying.
They need something REAL.
Words. Words like Faith, Hope and Joy. They ring hollow. They seem like taunts. Why? "Why Lord?! You have promised us these would be good gifts You gave? Why have i been excluded?" they cry. Ah, finally. Their pain, their suffering finally brings them to the Father. And though they don't hear the words, they somehow hear the answer.
"Why indeed. These are the fruits of the Spirit. Given to all healthy branches." The voice they do not actually hear says.
"i am not a healthy branch."
"This is true."
"Why do you think?"
"Because i have no faith, hope and joy!"
"Isn't that more the sign you are not a healthy branch than the cause?"
"Yeah, i guess so."
"So why do you think you don't have them?"
"Cuz...i guess, you didn't give them mmmhmmme."
"I'm sorry. Couldn't quite make out your mumbling there. Why again?"
"Cuz you didn't give them to me?"
"Right. Why is that, ya think?"
"This is going to take a lot longer than it needs to."
"Cuz you didn't wanna."
"I love you. Why wouldn't I want to give you good gifts?"
"i dun... umm, cuz....i dunno."
"This is true too. But you think you do. Why don't you just say it? Go ahead."
"You won't get mad?"
"Cuz...cuz you're mean."
"Aah, man, we've been dancing around that festered splinter for a while now. Because I'm mean. Yeah. Why do you think that?"
"Well, (You gave me a job i hate and can't get out of.) (You took my child!)"
"Yes, I did."
"Yeah, well, that wasn't very ... nice."
"Am I good?"
"Am I good?"
"Yeeeah, i guess so."
"How do you know?"
"Well, you died on the cross for me and forgive my sins and stuff."
"And have I ever left you? Are you an orphan?"
"No. But I feel like one! Why did you do this to me then if you love me?"
"Why indeed. I love you. I will never leave you. I am good. You don't feel my love. All who remain in my love grow fruit. Yet you don't see my fruit growing in your life. Hmmm. Weird."
"Maybe i am not actually, not connected to your, i dunno, your love...or something?"
"Hmmm. Interesting thought. See where that takes you."
"Well, maybe i was trying to draw life from somewhere else?"
"Well, that would be weird. I am the source of life. Where else could you draw life from?"
"(From work and significance...) (From being a mother...?)"
"And if I blessed that, what would you have become?"
"No, you don't. And i don't ever want you to. It's something terrible. Something I would do anything to spare you from becoming. You are my precious child. How I long to teach you so much more, I long to fill you with my love but you won't come to me. Not truly. Not with your heart. You've been coming to me asking for what your heart actually wants. The broken cistern it's been trying to draw life from. And it's not me."
"I'm so sorry. How do i change that?"
"You don't. You can't. The heart you have will always want what it wants. You need a new heart."
"How can i have a new heart?"
"I must give it to you. I will melt your heart of stone and give you one of flesh."
"Please do that, Lord! When can we start?"
"We've already begun."
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Man hates his life.
Earnestly desires a significant life.
Only a life fully submitted to God brings life.
But if man submits to God only to get what man wants from God he has not truly submitted. He has only tried to follow a formula to get what he wants.
So how does a man love God for God alone?
How does he learn to do this while still getting up every day and living a life he hates?
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Sunday, June 24, 2012
and the charcoal corpses of buildings made with the corpses of trees. One could almost forget oaks and hickories weren't the only residents once upon that time. This used to be home to the organic and the manufactured, music and noise, poetry and prose, the sacred and the profane. The sharp eye safe behind goggled glass however picks out the alien artifacts of straight lines which nature abhors and mankind adores. Scorched metal, broken glass, blackened cement, the swaddled pilgrim stops and examines them all. Some are picked up and wiped with a gloved hand. Only to be discarded in favor of the next. Clearly the Pilgrim seeks something in this murky land. Searching, scanning, looking...
looking for a sign.
Once, this land thrived. Some time ago, it fell silent. The pilgrim has come, looking for a clue as to why. At last the eager gaze falls on a corner poking free of the ash, three letters visible even in the murky light, "OOP". At last! All the Seeker's will is bent upon the bent metal sign yet the Wise one thrusts forward exactly the way an archeologist would. With all the speed of a bomb disposal expert discovering a landmine, the gentle glove brushes at the accumulated ash and dust, glorying in the shards of glass and nuggets of rusted steel testifying to what lies beneath the paddle sized moccasins. More letters are exposed, a "C", an agonizing blank space, then an "N", the hand quickens, "E, K, C" appear. Holding back eagerness no longer, the pilgrim pulls the sign from the earth and lifts it above the cloud of anxious ash. It reads...
you might be wondering where i've gone.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
This is a requested reprint of a worship service i wrote many moons ago. i have left it as is except for removing the song titles out of it. It not only shows us through the story of Jonah that God can use even the unwilling but that He loves all His creation, not just his 'chosen' people. God's chosen is anyone who will listen and humble their hearts before Him... and that includes prophets...
Welcome to New Life at Five Points. Welcome visitors, welcome back family. It is good to be here. The world gets one hundred and sixty-six hours a week to preach its message. Here we give God two for counterpoint. Ordinarily that thought would depress me. But God has given me a message this week that allows me to say that with a wry smirk. Yeah, that’s not just my normal expression. At least not today. For today I have a tale to tell you that has lifted my heart every time I thought of it this week. The service today might sound disjointed, the music may not seem to jive with the story. But it does, oh yes, it most certainly does. For no matter what we see going on around us here, no matter how dark it gets or how hard the tempest rages. No matter how far, how distant, how mythical, how impossible it can possibly seem:
God is in control. Jesus is on the Throne. The Spirit is with you and the worship of God never ceases.
I know, you’re skeptical. That’s fine. As you are about to see, God doesn’t need your full cooperation. But with that mustard seed of doubt firmly planted, the Not-Quite-Ready-for-Picklehead Players present…
The story of Jonah.
So the Moral of the Story is…do what God tells you to do or He’ll kick your butt. Yeah, maybe. But you know what God showed me this week? He told me that He loved a bunch of scruffy sailors. And that he used Jonah to present the Gospel to those sailors. He showed them that they needed to be saved. He showed them that their gods couldn’t do that saving. He told them that someone had to die for them to be saved. Still they tried to do it on their own, well-intentioned works! No God, killing is wrong! We can try harder! We’ll be good! But in the end, someone had to die. Someone willing and those sailors got it. And He got all that done, not with some great champion of the faith who lived a blameless life, but with a grumbly, disobedient, self-centered jerk. And I find that very encouraging.
Monday, February 20, 2012
(Found this while i was checking old material for anything publishable. This is a framework i did for a scripture reading at church one day. i dressed pretty scruffy, not quite homeless, but close. In other words, the way i would normally dress if i weren't in church. i didn't stand up front, i came from the back and started talking before they knew i was there. i stayed among the congregation the whole time so i spoke loud. i also was channelling Samuel L. Jackson the whole time performed. Don't know if i sounded like him but i since i heard it in his voice the whole time, i figured you should too. Don't remember now why i thought i could get away with all this but it started a whole season of my life writing skits and performing monologues for worship. So without any more useless preamble... the way it all began.)
Not many people know what that is anymore. Not that many ever did.
Fewer still with the brass to whisper any of it aloud.
Elijah. Lotta folks have quoted God. Not many know his shoe size from lying face down before his kicks. Elijah came, swished the Truth around, poked a few hardcases with it and caught a flight for home. But he didn’t stay gone. When the Truth squeezed into the world in blood and amniotic fluid, Elijah was there again saying, “Surprise! Dad’s coming! Your room had better be spotless!” Little while later and he was untying the Truth’s Chuck Taylors so the only guy in the whole history of this vile, filthy cesspool of a rock who didn’t need a bath could take one. Elijah knew the Truth!
You would think that would make him popular. You think Ellen would ask him, “So, what’s the Truth like? Does he have a girlfriend? Why is the Truth a He?” No. Barbara Walters doesn’t want to interview Elijah. The ten most interesting people are factories of fiction not The Truth. Folks who know the Truth don’t get invited to parties. While the world watches Lettermen interview Oprah, the friend of the Truth gets taken away, quietly locked up and buried in two separate graves.
You think I’m kidding? You think I’m exaggerating? Would you know the Truth if you heard it? What if you run into me in the atrium of the mall and I’m saying,
1 Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! 2As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil, your coming would make the nations tremble. Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! 3When you came down long ago, you did awesome things beyond our highest expectations. And oh, how the mountains quaked! 4For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him.
Would you praise God? Or call Security?
Sunday, February 19, 2012
i often hear that it is rational to have doubt. That it is not only logical to approach faith with skepticism but it is functionally the only way to faith. "Faith is believing in something you know ain't so," according to Mr. Twain.
But is this true? No offense, but i approach that line of thinking with more than just skepticism, i downright call it cuckoo in the cabeza. And here's why...
If God is talking directly to you and telling you exactly what He's going to do, like, i dunno, destroy a couple of cities with fiery hail and you even see Him do it and you go and try to make his promises happen another way cause you think He needs you to help Him out... that's nuts.
If God totally tells you how He's going to systematically decimate a country, bring you out of it, through the Red Sea and destroy your enemies in it and you see Him do it and then you whine about Him not giving you water when you want it... that's ludicrous.
If God sends fire from heaven and destroys a sacrifice and altar right in front of you to prove He's God and you continue to ignore Him and worship rocks, sticks and metal, that's stupid.
If God shows up in the form of a man, teaches the most amazing things you've ever heard, calms storms with a word, heals every disease known to man, drives out demons and you don't believe He can feed a few thousand people when He says to, that's willful blindness.
If God thought you up, gave you life, gave you sunshine, seasons, rain, food, breath, family, friends and all kinds of other things you don't ever think about coming from anywhere; and He did not think just being God was good enough cuz you were lost but He gave up His Godhood, became a man and died in your place just so you could rise from the dead and be with Him forever and you doubt His goodness or His love and devotion to you because you're not sure where the money's coming from or you've gotten sick or some folk treat you mean...that's just goofy.
It is not doubt that helps us get out of the boat and walk on water, it's not doubt that let's us trust when all earthly evidence fails, it's not doubt that saves or teaches us about love, it's not doubt that enables us to follow a fiery pillar or go into battle with a thousand to one odds.Can you be a son or daughter and doubt, sadly, yes. You can profess with your lips what you don't actually believe with your heart. But why would you want to?
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
When does the reminder become the rite? When does response become religion? Or put another way, when does a good thing become a bad thing? A desire become a distraction?
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
i heard a man say again today that there are many paths to God. He believed that maybe in four or five generations that Man was going to get it right. We were all working toward harmony apparently. Aside from this being completely antithetical to the Bible... it's Pollyannish Denial on a Psychotic scale. This guy cannot be watching the same news i am.