Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The New Commandments; Part 2

Those who focus on personal and social holiness as a morality issue often rely heavily on the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament – the preamble of the Mosaic Law. Too often, the Messiah’s Sermon on the Mount is seen as a list of do-gooder ‘suggestions’. What would change if we saw it instead as a second mountain-top legal decree?

You will:
  1. Testify before all as to the glory of the living and active God by how you live your life each day. (Matthew 5:13-16)
  2. Quit picking willy-nilly which of His rules to follow and which to ignore. (Mt. 5:17-20)
  3. No longer spiritually kill others by judging them in haste and hate. (Mt. 5:21-26)
  4. Cease lusting after what isn’t meant for you. (Mt. 5: 27-30)
  5. Marry and divorce in covenant - seriously and intentionally. (Mt. 5:31-32)
  6. Swear oaths only on what you control. You can not use someone else’s collateral! If you live by your word every day, people will start believing you. (Mt. 5: 33-37)
  7. Give mercy and justice freely without measuring and balancing. (Mt. 5:38-42)
  8. Love the un-lovable because you’re pretty darn unlovable yourself. In this Godly act we achieve perfection. (Mt. 5:43-48)
  9. Give your time and money to help others freely and joyfully; not to gain status, control or warm fuzzies. (Mt. 6:1-4)
  10. Pray in this same way. (Mt. 6:5-15)
  11. Reassess your priorities through silently fasting from distractions. Remember to take joy in it: giving up something you don’t need is an opportunity that only those of us who have things to spare can take advantage of! (Mt. 6:16-18)
  12. Then get your priorities straight! Junk is junk, no matter how shiny. (Mt. 6:19-21)
  13. See the world anew with the rose colored glasses of love; what you see is what you get. (Mt. 6:22-23)
  14. Remember you already have a God. Stop worshipping power and wealth at the altar of prosperity. (Mt. 6:24)
  15. Whine not! Pre-emptive worrying is stressful, distracting and self-fulfilling. It also tells God that you don’t trust Him worth beans! (Mt. 6:25-34)
  16. Not judge others. (Mt. 7:1-5)
  17. Not judge God. (Mt. 7:6)
  18. Not judge yourself unworthy. (Mt. 7:7-11)
  19. Not judge yourself worthier. (Mt. 7:12)
  20. Watch out for the tempting path of least resistance. (Mt. 7:13-14)
  21. Bear and share good fruit. (Mt. 7:15-20)
  22. Be aware of beam in your own eye. (Mt. 7:21-23)
  23. Act on the above 22 laws as though your salvation depended upon it – it does. (Mt. 7:24-27)

Monday, November 29, 2010

The New Commandments; Part 1

Matthew 5:3-12 (NLT), the Preamble on the Mount

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Our comfort with our perceived status blinds us from our dependence upon the Source and blocks us from even higher ‘status’. We try to bluff our way through life and not show any ‘weakness’. But if we don’t recognize our need, how can we recognize the need’s answer?

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

It is not enough to be sympathetic: ‘poor suffering slobs…’ To be empathetic, we must first love others unselfishly. God mourns that we do not mourn for our brethren and for what we have done to them.

“God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”

Humility is a living thanksgiving feast for grace. Hubris is the act of stealing God’s glory.

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.”

We rage and lament with the psalmist, and hold God accountable under covenant. We also hold ourselves accountable for our blindness to our personal and social justice inaction. We demand justice as a right for ourselves, while naming it a privilege for others.

“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

The grace of mercy is a gift, not a reward. To be full of mercy is to overflow with grace.

“God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”

We see the heart as the home of love and emotion. The heart once however was seen as the seat of wisdom and the soul – life! We are called to perfection in both thought and deed.

“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

Peace is not the absence of war; not an in-action but an action. It is living in harmony with the rest of the Body as an organic whole. It takes hard work to create and constant maintenance.

“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

If you are not oppressed, then you are the oppressor! Those who avoid the easy way, those who live their faith, those whose priorities lie outside of themselves model Kingdom living for the rest of us because they already live in it day to day. It is not some future promise, but a way of life.

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.”

God loves to see our lights shine forth brightly; light-houses and reading lamps instead of jack-o-lanterns and refrigerators!

“Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”

We are all called to be prophets, not just those with a gift. We all are to speak His Word out loud.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Later Advent, The Second Coming

Matthew 24:36-44

But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.

The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah's. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.

The Son of Man's Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up. (The Message)

1. Why do we try so hard to nail down the date? Is it so we can better time our death-bed conversion?
2. I wish I better knew the root of the source word interpreted here as “taken”. Taken where? Literally taken, or euphemistically so? Novelists and apocolyphiles see one being taken (removed) up to heaven, and the other one left here. But if it is just like Noah’s time, couldn’t it be the opposite? Couldn’t it be one will be taken (killed) to Sheol and the other one left alive?
3. How does it alter our reading of this if we don’t know if we should pray to be taken or left?

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awaken out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in lewdness and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. (21st century King James)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent’s Interfaith Call

God’s Word through Isaiah ben Amoz:

“In the coming days, the Lord will again be recognized above everything else in our busy lives. People from all over will come to Him. Learning directly from Him, they shall all become prophets. No longer will they only understand His infinite voice as filtered by and for finite human ears and minds by a thousand silver tongues. Not through war or shouting, but through these new prophets, will the undiluted Word of love be spread to the far reaches of the globe.

Nations will no longer presume to judge each other. The poor will no longer be without voice; He Himself shall champion the abject. Bombs will be melted down to make tractors, and tanks shall harvest fruit instead of brothers. War will be a forgotten word, a lost skill, an extinct notion.

Come all adoptees into Jacob’s family - let us walk in the light together!”

Retelling of Isaiah 2:1-5

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Homecoming

Psalm 122
I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD."
Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city that is united together, whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, according to the testimony of Israel to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.
For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces."
For my brethren and companions' sakes I will now say, "Peace be within thee."
Because of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek thy good.

 To you and yours this thanksgiving: may peace be within you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

There is No God

There is no god above me.
High. Distant. Unreachable.

There is no god below me.
Yin to God’s white Yang.

There is no god before me.
Goal after a long journey.

There is no god behind me.
Growing smaller step by step.

There is no god around me.
Safely outside my bubble.

There is no god within me.
An infecting foreign body.

There is only God through me.
The hot pneuma breath on the nape.
The striving hands and restless feet.
The psalm of beating heart. Selah.
The blind all-seeing eyes of wisdom.
The gentle tongue of love and hope.
Uncontrollable. Uncontainable. Fire.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Zechariah’s Psalm

Zechariah the Priest sings to his newborn son, John:

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
     because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
     from the royal line of his servant David,
          just as he promised
               through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies
     and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors
     by remembering his sacred covenant—
          the covenant he swore with an oath
               to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
     so we can serve God without fear,
          in holiness and righteousness
               for as long as we live.
And you, my little son,
     will be called the prophet of the Most High,
          because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
     through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
     the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
          to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
               and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Luke 1:68-79

  • How important is an understanding of the Old Testament to understanding the New?
  • Do we serve out of fear of damnation, human judgment, etc or because that is how and why we were made?
  • Do we serve all our days or when convenient?
  • How would we live differently if we thought this lullaby was also meant for each of us?
  • The dawn has broken, so why do we choose to still live in the darkness of fear?

John the Baptist - Hand Puppets Saint John The Baptist

Friday, November 19, 2010

Woe to Leaders Who do Not Lead

“Woe to you politicians and religious elite that divide My people” says the Lord.

“You are the ones who have scattered the flocks you were to tend for Me! You who drove them away from Me and from each other! You who have not loved and cared for them! So be it.

I Myself will gather to Me the widespread strays - the strays I sent away to protect them from you. I will be the one to bring them back into the fold. I will see that they shall finally have a chance to be fruitful and strong.

I will raise up new shepherds who will be true servant-shepherds. New shepherds that will no longer intimidate, abuse and take advantage of their charges’ fears. Shepherds who will care more about the lone lost lambs than about the 99 fat and sassy bleating sheep. The day will come when I will raise up a Shepherd of shepherds - a shepherd from the Davidic line of shepherd-kings. Wisdom, justice and righteousness will return to My pastures. All My flocks will be safe. By this name will you know the One who comes: Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord is Our Righteousness.”

Retelling of Jeremiah 23:1-6

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Playing it Safe?

The least shall become the greatest.
The greatest shall become the least.
The half-assed will always be half.

Bullies are predators. They single out those who seem different, and then separate us from the safety of the herd. Unlike their animal counterparts, human bullies often get the herd itself to exclude the victim from its safety. As a social animal, there is an impetus within us to blend in with the herd and not attract attention. As a cultural animal, there is a competing drive to gain the attention of others, to stand out. These conflicting urges are confusing. Our girls hide their intelligence and strength. Our boys hide their uncertainty and fear. Our children are killing themselves at an alarming rate because they can not be themselves.

“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.”  Luke 8:16 (NLT)

More and more, advertising and politics are aimed at the demographic “norm” - the largest market. Journalism seeks the lowest common denominator and becomes entertainment to gain greater ratings and more advertisers. We've made for ourselves an us world. Our inability to identify with those different from ourselves makes them vulnerable. Instead of standing shoulder to shoulder to defend each other, we throw others to the lions. Our youth are not killing themselves. We are killing them by with-holding our love and acceptance. At a time when they are treading water furiously just trying to figure out who they they, we push them underwater by telling them they are not good enough. Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Not manly enough. We are afraid of being ourselves, so we resent those who try. We are hot blooded people trying to live lukewarm lives to hide from heat sensing rattlesnakes. 

“I know you inside and out, and find little to My liking. You're not cold, you're not hot - far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make Me want to vomit.”    Revelation 3:15-16 (The Message)
Break the mold. Tell the young around you. They are loving. They are smart. They are brave. They are special. They are wonders.

Monday, November 15, 2010