Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Making of a King

Although he had objected to the crowning of a human king over the tribes of Israel, Samuel still mourned Saul's decline. The Lord spoke to him: "How long will you sit there grieving? I have rejected him, so you must anoint another. Go to Jesse of the minor tribe of Benjamin, for I have already provided a king among his sons." Samuel feared what King Saul would do when he learned of the reason for his trip. "Go and sacrifice with Jesse. I will show you what to do."

Samuel blessed the sons of Jesse one by one. The eldest was tall and powerfully made; surely he was God's king? "Don't be fooled by appearances; he is not the chosen one. I do not judge as you judge, I see into the innermost heart and mind."

Six more strong sons passed before Samuel to be blessed, but none were to be anointed. Samuel looked around the tent and saw only Jesse beside him. "Is this it? Was that all of your sons?"

"As the youngest, little David is out in the fields living with my sheep."  Samuel directed Jesse to send for the boy: "We can't rest until I've blessed all the sons of your house."

The boy was small but glowed with good health, his eyes shown with warmth and he was deemed comely by all. Samuel was tempted to pull out the oil, but waited for God's direction. "Rise now my prophet and anoint this lad. This is the one."

Before his elder brothers and his father, David was anointed by Samuel to be king of all the tribes. Then the Spirit rushed into David like a mighty desert wind, and burned hot in him ever on.

Samuel left him there to his thoughts.

(Retelling of 1 Samuel 16:1-13)

  • Do we have trouble moving on because we won't let go of the past?
  • Does fear keep us from our call?
  • What criteria do we use to choose our leaders?
  • Are we tempted to judge for God?
  • Have we ever felt the euphoric rush, only to then feel deserted and lost?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Psalm 23


I am His sheep; fat and fluffy I want for nothing.
I lie in peace amidst His lush green pastureland,
And I walk beside Him along the water's edge.
My worn and tattered soul is restored within me.
My God leads me safely away from the precipice:

Even when I trod fearful ways through deep abyss
I have no fear of Evil for You are with me, God!
Your guidance and Spirit reassure and comfort me.
I break bread at Your table; safe from my enemies,
Because You have anointed my head with royal oil,
And have filled my empty wine cup to overflowing.

In grace, His goodness and mercy are all around me.
I will dwell in my Father's house for all my days. 


Monday, March 28, 2011

Children of the Night

Before today, you were darkness.
Now in the Lord, you are the light.
Live now as children of  lightness.

The fruit that grows in the light
Imbues all that's good, right and true.
Strive to find what pleases your God.

Refute the fruitless works of the dark.
Into shaded corners shine bright light.
Shame lies in such whispered secrecies.

All that lies naked under the light
Reflects that light to the human eye,
Becoming a source of light itself.

Awake you sleepers in the night!
Arise from your living deathbed!
Christ shines upon and within you.

(Adapted from Ephesians 5:8-14)

Still photo from the silent movie classic Nosferatu.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is God in the Tsunami?

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

1 Kings 19:11-12

Is the wrath of God in the event, or is the love of God in the aftermath?

Friday, March 25, 2011


The Tulip

The Rose

The Son and the Samaritan "Slut"

Though once his family had lived here long long ago, over the years the area had fallen into greater and greater decline. Tired, Jesus rested alone in the shade of an ancestor's well as the broiling sun rose to its apex. A worn and tired woman came to the well, hoping to find it deserted at this time of day; the other women treated her cruelly. And the men! She'd had a hard and independent life. Jesus asked her for a drink.

The women was taken back by the request - why would a man approach a strange woman, and why would someone of his faith talk to someone of hers? It was a new thing for her to ponder. Jesus gently teased her: "If you only knew who it was asking you for a drink, you'd turn the table and ask me for living water." Used to deflective bantering with men, she quipped back: "Sir. You have no bucket. The well is so deep it needs a long rope. You have no rope. Where do you expect to get this sweet water? Are you greater than our ancestor who dug us this well? Are you greater than all his children and livestock which have drank from it ever since?"

The tenor of his voice shifted, as he began to teach his new disciple: "All who drinks the water from this well will again become thirsty. The water that I share with those who ask gushes through and from them in a spring of eternal life." Eternal water? She would never again have to come to the well in fear of being harassed and abused? She could live in seclusion and safety. "Sir. Please. Give me this special water."

Jesus directed her to get her husband and return. This made sense to her since women could not negotiate a contract. But the legal turn the conversation had taken gave her pause. "I have no husband", the woman admitted. Her shame and vulnerability were now exposed before the stranger.

"You were right to say so. You've had five childless marriages end tragically, and now the man you live with for protection is not your husband."

This really rocked her. "Sir. I hear God speak through you! Tell me: our common ancestors worshipped in one way, but now your people tell us we must worship another way?"

'The hour is coming when you will worship God neither this way nor that way. You worship that which is unknown. We worship the known. Yet soon, true worshippers will worship in truth for the Father seeks out those who would worship Him. For He is Spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and truth instead of flesh and law."

"Maybe. Maybe not. But when the Messiah comes, then we'll know for sure."

"The man before you is he."

Just then, his boisterous students came in a cloud of dust and inanities. The woman dropped her only water jar and fled. "He can't really be the Messiah can he?" She told the villagers her adventure, and begged them to see the man for themselves. Heretic or prophet?

As Jesus sat teaching his students about their coming mission after he left them, the crowd approached. Even though they would not have believed her before if she told them that the sky was blue, now miraculously, many of them believed in Jesus because of the strength of the witness of her questioning faith. They wanted to learn more, so they asked him to delay his travels and stay with them - even though such was a forbidden act. He stayed among them for two days, and many more came to believe through his words.

The woman was no longer an outcaste. The villagers were proud to be like her, and told her: "At first we believed only through the power and charisma of your passion, but now we have heard the word for ourselves directly from him - this man is truly the Savior!"

(Adapted from John 4:5-42)

Was she really a "loose" woman as is often implied? Check out this from David Lose at Huffington Post:

Let us pray for all the women in the world who face rape and torture every day of their lives, just so they can bring home water to their families.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Romans 5:1-11

 1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.


  • Faith, then righteousness? Righteousness, then faith? Our faith alone, or His and ours?

Having been declared righteous, then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have the access by the faith into this grace in which we have stood, and we boast on the hope of the glory of God.
(Young's Literal Translation)

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness combined with our faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory.

  • If suffering leads to endurance which leads to character which leads to hope, and hope is unfailing because of the love of God - then is suffering good?
  • How much of your understanding of Christianity is shaped by verse 6?
  • Is verse 7 a mistranslation: people will die for a good person but not a righteous one?
  • Verse 8 then says that Jesus died for un-righteous people (us). Should it read "un-righteous" instead of "righteous" in verse 7 too?
  • If it is correctly translated, how is being good so different than being righteous?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Ring

With this ring
I join with thee

This ring is a link
Not in bloody chains
Of bondage and pain

This ring is a link
In a soft necklace
Of melded purpose

This ring is a link
In chain-mail armor
Of  hope and ardor

This ring is a link
That binds you, I
And God on high

With this ring
You join with me


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Between the Rock and the Hard-heads

The People migrated from the Wilderness of Sin in stages that allowed time to recuperate. The place God directed them to camp for this latest sabbatical had no water. Thirsty, they became grumpy and quarreled with their leader Moses, begging him to give them water. As both their patriarch and God's prophet, he answered their pleas: "Why are you getting all testy with me? We stopped here because the Pillar of God's Spirit stopped here - do you think to test the Lord your God?"

But the thirst in their minds was a cruel master; the absent void of an expected blessing. They cried out in their fear: "Why in God's name would you take us away from our safe and comfortable homeland? Are you a monster? Did you take us away from all authority so you could watch the children and livestock die in misery all around you?"

Moses wept over his people and their cares, calling out to God: "What am I going to do with these faithless children? They're working themselves up to the point where they might stone me!"

"Go" said God. "Go to the Rock of Horeb. Go on before the tribes so that they may all witness. Take the religious and the lay leaders with you to show your unity of mission. Go lead by example; they'll either follow or they won't. Go. Go with the staff of My power to reveal your authority. I will be there with you in the Pillar to show My unity with My people. Just strike the Rock, and they'll have their abundance of living water."

Before God and the gathered congregation, Moses did God's will. This place of thirst and fear quenching would no longer be called Horeb, because the Rock was no longer what made the site a landmark. Moses named it "Massah Meribah" - "Is God with us or not?"; Immanuel or man-alone?

(Retelling of Exodus 17:1-7)

Psalm 95

Let us sing for joy to the LORD
Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation
Let us come before him
With thanksgiving and extol him
With music and song

For the LORD is the great God
The great King above all gods
In his hand are the depths of the earth
And the mountain peaks belong to him
The sea is his
For he made it
And his hands
Formed the dry land.

Let us bow down in worship
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker
For he is our God
And we are the people of his pasture
The flock under his care.

Today, if only you would hear his voice
"Do not harden your hearts
As you did at Meribah
As you did that day at Massah
In the wilderness
Where your ancestors tested me
They tried me
Though they had seen what I did

For forty years I was angry with that generation
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray
And they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

(NIV 2010)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Soul on Idle

Composed as sweet idyl
Sheep in green pastures
Living as man's bitter idol
Coyotes in gray suburbs

Friday, March 18, 2011

John 3:16

     1There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. 2One night he went to Jesus and said, "Sir, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you."

    3Jesus replied, "I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God's kingdom!"

    4Nicodemus asked, "How can a grown man ever be born a second time?"

    5Jesus answered:

"I tell you for certain that before you can get into God's kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. 6Humans give life to their children. Yet only God's Spirit can change you into a child of God. 7Don't be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. 8Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going."

    9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.

    10Jesus replied:

"How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? 11I tell you for certain that we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. 12If you don't believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?  13No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. 14And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as that metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert. 15Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life. 16God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. 17God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!"

(John 3:1-17; Contemporary English Version)

We seldom have the courage of Nicodemus. To step outside of our comfort, and ask God hard questions. How many of us live in the paradise of 3:16, and ignore the wilderness of 3:17? How many of us condemn in Jesus' name but do not save in it?