Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Talk Talk Talk

I used to think adults were joking around when they couldn't remember, on demand, how old they were. That is, until my church's women's retreat this weekend.

 While there, I was asked several times how old I was (I'm often mistaken for a high school student, and then told I'll be grateful for that someday). Each time, not remembering if I was 23 or 24, I had to pause and think, "How old am  I, anyway?"

My Kindergartners know how old they are. We don't let them forget it! We're always asking them how old they are, and making a big deal about turning 6, and just bringing it up into conversation with them. But as we get older, it becomes more socially impolite to have those conversations. Suddenly, we age to the point where we stop getting asked quite so often what our age actually is. And so we forget.

We remember what we talk about.

And so God commands Israel, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise."

I'd always imagined God intended these conversations for the children, but as I reflected on my own forgetfulness I thought perhaps God gave this command for the parents, too.

God knows our forgetfulness. And, goodness, if I forget something like my own age it's pretty unlikely I'll remember God's commands, or how He has provided for me, protected me, forgiven me, and loves me.

So get talking this week. Find something God has taught you, some way God was present to you, or something God revealed to you in studying His word and talk with someone about it, be they your child, a parent, or a friend. Or better yet talk about it with all three, keep calling it to your memory.

Don't forget.

Talk.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Those Dangerous Green Eyes

There's this awesome moment in Acts when, although people are cautious about joining the Way because it is evident the Spirit knew each person's motives, "more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number." And crowds kept gathering to be healed, and Peter was so filled with the Spirit and His power that even his shadow was healing people. His shadow.

Now the religious leaders had a couple choices, among them the choice to believe this new life that Paul and the other believers testified about through words and power. But in order to believe this new life that Paul preached they would have to believe that Jesus rose from the dead-- and the Sadducees don't believe in the resurrection of the dead. 

And they aren't about to change that.

So instead of admitting the error in their tradition, the Sadducees have the apostles arrested. They are jealous-- they don't like the thought that these unschooled, ordinary men have such a following. In the end, they decide not to risk the possibilities of fighting against God, but they do try to curb the message preached by the believers. 

It was similar jealousy that lead to Joseph's brothers selling him back in Exodus, and even to the Jewish leaders so desperately wanting Jesus to be killed. Even Pilot saw the root of it was jealousy.

There is another story, later in Acts, with similar gravity. It begs the question that, if God were to begin to work in ways that were contrary to everything you believed, would you let jealousy fester and fight this new move, or change your mind, embrace it and praise God?

See, even though this group of Jews believed that Jesus was the Messiah and had been killed and raised back to life, they still kept Jewish law.

"So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, "You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them." Starting from  the beginning, Peter told them the whole story" about the vision that taught him that he should not 'call anything impure that God has made clean', and about going to Cornelius' house-- a devout and God-fearing Gentile-- and the Holy Spirit coming on Cornelius and his relatives and close friends. This would have sounded crazy to the Jews because God had chosen them, set them apart, and these Gentiles weren't even circumcised. If there ever was reason to be puffed up with green-eyed jealousy, this was it.

But instead of turning their back on Peter and ignoring  how God was moving, the story concludes like this : "When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying,  "So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life."

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bliss

Keep your bliss, 
your false, selfish bliss. 
Keep your eyes closed
and your ears covered and
your heart hardened like concrete.

Reality isn't changed by your ignorance.
It continues.
On and on.
Spiraling. 
Reality. 

Trees that fall?
They make noise. 
Even when you are ignorant
of their painful, thundering crash.
Reality. 

Knowledge isn't bliss. 
Knowledge is painful and messy and harsh. 
Paralyzing. Overwhelming.
Tear-stained and heart-hurting. 
Reality.

Tears and hurts and groans
that paralyze you.
Or mobilize you. 
(Let them mobilize you.)
Reality. 

Take that knowledge
that less-than-blissful knowledge
and use it. Wield it. 
Don't accept or condone it. 
The lethargy of ignorance accepts and condones.
Good men doing nothing. 
Reality. 
Good men paralyzed into inaction. 
Reality. 
Good men ignorant. 
Intentionally ignorant.

Preferring to pretend
there are no problems. 
Preferring to presume
they can do nothing anyway, so why know?
Reality.

Discard your bliss. 
That sham of happiness and peace. 
Know. Get up. Change reality.
And that?
That is something more-- something greater-- than mere bliss.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flossing and Prayer

Sometimes we pray like we brush our teeth. We polish things up and confess our sin, we have that Fresh Mint taste as we praise and thank the Lord, we brush every tooth- not stopping until it's clean- like we persist in requests on behalf of others. It's wonderful, really. But you can still build up plaque and even end up with a cavity.

We need to floss. The other day I decided to floss (I'm still trying to make it a habit, okay?) and I was surprised at what came out. I hadn't even realized all those little left-overs were hanging out between my molars.

It can take a searching to find the cause of the plaque.

Have you ever asked God to search you and reveal to you your sins?
You may be surprised what comes out if you humbly sit and listen.