Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On the Theology of the Cross

The theology of the Cross is not about endless veneration of all that Jesus endured for us during his suffering and death on the cross.

Rather, the theology of the Cross is about how God is with us in the world, hidden, so to speak, in the places and situations we’d rather flee: suffering in the cause of the gospel, weakness, pain, failure, persecution, and yes, even death.

A vastly more popular theology is the theology of glory, which finds God in all the places the world loves: wealth, success, acclamation, popularity, beauty, power, and the powerful tribal feeling of “God’s on our side!”

But God comes into our world not with armies and emperors and impressive glory, but in infants who chant the divine praises in their wailing, and in the weakness and powerlessness of the marginalized and broken in order to actually be with us and help us. Only such a theology is a proper basis for the church. And it is what the liberation theologians in Central and South American were helping their people see and live.

“This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
"He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." Matthew 8:17

Pray for the maturity to live your life without reliance on the fantasy of the “Man Upstairs” coming to bail you out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On the “Patience” of God

In the United States we habitually hear the Word of God as addressed to us individually, but in fact, from beginning to end, the Bible is a living word addressed to communities.

We can delude ourselves about our progress in the faith so long as we concern ourselves only with ourselves. As soon as others enter the picture, for example, my family, or my congregation, then another side of us explodes with all manner of ill-feeling, resentment, and most especially impatience. “Why won’t those people see things my way?!”

What we miss is how much God is putting up with—because of us! Because of me! Because of how irritated I quickly become over the disagreements and failures of others. Thus I become an expert on noticing the speck in my fellow Christian’s eye, while ignoring the log sticking out of my own.

“But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:16

Pray for the awareness of Christ’s endless patience with the world, your church, and you.

On Patience

On Patience
In the common lectionary of the church, we are in the year of Luke. Luke’s gospel addresses the issue of communities of faith maturing into faithful mission and service to the world.

It doesn’t take very long before anyone who attempts service and mission to the world to discover how difficult and often frustrating the work is. We make mistakes. Our expectations are too high, or misinformed. The response to our best efforts may be tepid; or, our best efforts may even be rejected. And if there is a positive response to what we have done, we then long for more of the same and become impatient with the ordinariness of our service.

The slog of mission and service can be joyful and mature only if we have patience. Bonhoeffer points out in, A Testament to Freedom, that faith and patience are closely related. He says that the “freer we are from ease and indolence and personal claims, the more ready we shall be for patience.” And, I would add, the more ready we are to receive joy in the midst of even the most challenging enterprise in the name of Christ.

“But as for [the seeds] in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.” Luke 8:15

Pray for the willingness to resign as general manager of the universe.

Pastor David Mullen, Bishop Emeritus of the Sierra Pacific Synod

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Psalm 146: 1-2

Psalm 146: 1-2

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long
as I live;
I will sing praises to my
God all my life long.

Praising the Lord! Good old David....praising God. Good old David who was one of the greatest sinners of all time was intentionally praising God. David had an amazing relationship with God- Yahweh. In spite of David’s sinfulness, David understood Gods compassion and forgiveness first hand. David was literally telling his “soul” to praise God. Wow!
Praising God is a “Spiritual Practice.” Praising God requires intentionality because sometimes we don’t think about intentionally praising God. Sometimes we don’t even want to take the time because our lives are so busy. Take the time and give it a try. Just for today take a couple of minutes, close your eyes, and begin praising God. Breathe deeply several times and begin reading these two verses from the Psalm slowly several times. Now if you really want to try something new and different, try using the first line of the Psalm as a “breath prayer.” First close your eyes, take a few relaxing breaths...then inhale and pray “Praise”, then exhale with “the Lord.” Or inhale “Praise the Lord” then exhale “O my soul.” Pray these “breath prayers” over and over many times, practicing, until they become a mantra. These prayers will make their way to your heart and before you know it you may be praying these verses without even knowing it. It’s a wonderful way to pray scripture and it’s easy. Thanks be to God!

Gracious God,
Thank you for your Word that fills our hearts and lives with hope and peace. As David, your servant praised you, teach us to praise you every day. You, dear Lord, are worthy to be praised. All of creation praises You! Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Luke 7:6-9

Luke 7:6-9

....when Jesus was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy of have you come under my roof; .....only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. ,....When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him,....Jesus said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

The centurion was a person who was most certainly used to taking risks. He was a commanding officer in the military. He was a take charge person, a person of enormous power. The centurion was also a person of compassion because he spoke on behalf of a slave. Obviously a slave he cared for. It was risky business for a Roman soldier of power, sending word to a Jewish Rabbi, asking for help. Who might have been watching? If the centurion lived in this day and age he most certainly would have been followed by the paparazzi. But because he took the risk, Jesus commended him for his faith and healed the centurion’s slave.
Henry Nouwen writes from his book, Bread for the Journey:
“Spiritual courage is following the deepest desires of our heart at the risk of losing fame, popularity, and power. It asks our willingness to lose our temporal lives in order to gain eternal life.”
Thanks be to God!

Gracious God,
Gift us with courage to stand in solidarity with persons who have no “voice” or “power” and People who risk being ridiculed, mocked, and even hated. Make us people who offer a compassionate presence, as your dear Son demonstrated in so many ways. Thank you for your compassion for all people. Thank you for your compassion to me. Help us be your “hands and feet.” Amen.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trinity Sunday

Sunday is Trinity Sunday. Here is a brief story:

St. Augustine was walking along the seashore pondering how God could be One and yet Three. Suddenly he stopped and watched a child who was carrying a cup of ocean water to a small hole he had dug in the sand. "What are you doing?" asked Augustine. The child replied, "I'm trying to pour the ocean into this hole." The Bishop laughed and said, "That's impossible." The child stared into his eyes and said, "It is no more impossible than for you to put Almighty God into your small mind."

“Gracious God … Father, Son, and Holy Spirit … thank you for loving us! Amen!
Pastor Rich Martyn

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Psalm 130

5I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;

Sometimes the best thing to do is to wait on the Lord. Take a moment or moments and stop to listen to the divine Word. Wait on the Lord. Hear and feel His presence. It’s often difficult for human beings to stay still. To sit in the silence. Let alone to actively pursue the voice of the divine. But it’s when we are still, and listening that we can hear the breath of God upon our soul.

Almighty God, help me to hear you today! Amen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Psalm 27

27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

If only we could be as the psalmist and constantly remember that the Lord encompasses all of life. During those times of drought, spiritual or otherwise it is good to remember that God has all things in control. That we need not be afraid of things that may or may not happen. The lord is the stronghold of my life. The Lord is indeed our Light and our Salvation. Take comfort in this truth as you enter into the world this day, and know that God has surrounded you with His light and with His love.

Thank you God for your guiding light and for the promises you have given your creation. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

FTWG Starting up again on 5/17/2010

For those of you who receive the Face Time with God Daily Devotions, you should be receiving them starting once again on Monday may 17th. If you would like to receive the devotion please sign up in the sign up box located on the right hand side of your computer screen.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Kingdom is Not From Here

John 18:36

“’My kingdom is not from this world.’”

Jesus’ strong reply to Pilate goes right to the point. His kingdom is not from here, not from the way things are. It is from the mystery that lies behind all the governments of the earth and behind the cosmos itself. He is in trouble with the authorities because his teachings and the example of his life are a judgment on the failure the world’s ways to be aligned with God’s ways.

Over the centuries, like him, his faithful followers have regularly been in trouble with the authorities, often with the authorities of the institutional church itself! We call them martyrs (the Greek words for witnesses). Against the so-called wisdom of the world, they witness to Mysterious Justice as they follow Christ the King to the Cross.

O God, make us witnesses! Amen.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Psalm 27:11-14

Psalm 27:11-14

27:11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.  I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

God has some strange timing. And I think it’s strange to us simply because God’s timing doesn’t fit our own. I recently led a spirituality class on time and the difference between chronos and kairos. Chronos is the time that we know. The unit of measurement that we order our lives around. Kairos is different. Kairos can’t be measured.  It’s the “right time,” the favorable moment, the critical time for something to happen. We also experience kairos as the fullness of time, a moment or longer, when life is full. We sense that we are doing what we should be doing, what God has appointed for us. Our work is now full of joy, satisfaction and meaning.  So, wait for the Lord! Be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! For God’s timing is the perfect timing.

Gracious God, give me the patience I need to trust in your timing. Amen

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ash Wednesday

"Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Fat tuesday will come and go and should be a reminder to us all, not to over indulge, but that we are all perishable. That life and love and happiness, everything we have and everything we are will pass away. It's on Ash Wednesday, that we hear these words, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return." A reminder that without Christ Jesus, without the work of the Redeemer we are nothing. We are perishable. We are dust.

Gracious Lord Almighty, I thank you this day that you have loved me enough to die for me. Amen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Isaiah 6:8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!"

Every day God puts a call upon our hearts. A call to help. A call to serve. A call to love. God gives us the opportunity by putting us in circumstances which requires us to share God’s love. God placed a call upon Isaiah and Isaiah answered, “Here I am; send me.” How are you going to respond to God’s call this day to spread love; to reflect the light of Christ to others? Will you answer, Here I am, send me?

Almighty God, help me to hear your call and to respond. Amen.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Psalm 29

We have a very big God! A God who is powerful and mighty. A God who created the known universe. A God who knows your every thought. Who is intimately involved with your every breath. To be loved by God is no insignificant thing. It's grand. and it's true. This Psalm speaks to the might and power and majesty of our Lord. It's a song of praise and thanksgiving. But most important it is a song of truth.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Isaiah 43:5

Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;

Why is it so hard to trust sometimes? I find it difficult to trust others. Friends betray. Loved ones fight and manipulate. Enemies scheme. The world breaks down. Nations are out for themselves. Even our pets occasionally choose others. The world is broken and trust is hard to form. And yet God tells us not to fear because He is with us. If we can’t depend too much on the stuff of this world, then how can we depend on God? The first step on the road to Trust is the hardest step to take. To actually put yourself out there on a limb and say, “Okay Lord, I trust that you will help me out here,” is frightening. Faith is trust in God. There is nothing easy about it. But the more you cognitively make the decision to trust God with circumstances in your life, the easier it becomes to trust.

Almighty God, help me to trust you more. Amen.