Friday, May 15, 2015

Christ and Perfection

When I read the Bible, I sometimes get frustrated at the Israelites and the Apostles. I mean, the Israelites walked away from God over and over again. Throughout their long history, they get close to God, receive blessings, forget God, go into slavery, remember God, beseech Him to rescue them, are rescued, and the cycle begins again. Over and over this happens. And I think, “Come on, Israelites. Haven't you read your own history? Look at the pattern!” It's easy for me to think this because I'm reading what they lived. They lived it slow and messy, but I read it quick and tidy-- in a book.
The Apostles walked with God-on-Earth. Jesus, the Lord Incarnate. They admire him and love him and are in awe of him... and they think he is here to set the Romans straight, put them in their place. One more rescue from the God who is there. Jesus continually tells them they are on the wrong track, but they never get it until they see him rise from the dead. It takes him dying himself-- destroying their dreams of earthly power-- for them to realize something bigger is at work here.
Perhaps when Peter told the people, “You have with wicked hands crucified the Christ,” he was also thinking a little of himself-- how his expectations of Jesus had been so low. He wanted earthly justice, but Christ brought love. After he betrayed the Lord, watched him killed and saw him rise, he finally understood Jesus's perspective. This world is not our home. Then Peter stood fearless and meek-- can we be both?-- although persecuted and eventually killed by his earthly enemies. Because it's not about earthly control. It's about God's love.
This life's problems can seem so big. We don't have God's perspective. If there's one thing I've seen in the Bible, it's that life is complicated and messy and requires a God to put in order. Most of the time, that order is not revealed until later, that's why He says to trust Him and do good. As best you can, do good and love and live at peace with others, even if it seems like it won't “work”. What you think is the solution may not be what God intends at all. His ways are not our ways. They sure aren't. I would totally have gone after the Romans. But that was the wrong thing.
Remember this when you mess up. God doesn't expect us to live to perfection. That's what he was showing us with the Israelites-- he gave an entire nation so many opportunities to get things right, and they went in circles. None of us are any better. None of us. Some sin one way, and some another. If you think you are doing a pretty good job staying within the lines, be wary. The law is a continuum with sin on one side, and sin on the other, and a teeny little sweet spot of perfection in the center. And that's why Christ came. Christ is our perfection. We love him, and good comes of it. But it's all Him. Remember.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wisdom and Joy in Trials (from James 1:2-6)

Lord Father in heaven, I try to be joyful, even when I am tempted.
I try to remember that when my faith is tried, I'm developing patience.
But many times I get upset, thinking it is a punishment to have to go through trials and temptations.
I am not like Psyche in _Til We Have Faces_. She faced her trials with calm curiosity and industry.
I want to be like that, Lord.  Help me be like that?
Give me wisdom, Lord. You are a God who loves to be asked.  I am asking for wisdom.  I need lots and lots of it. I need action-oriented wisdom and wisdom that knows when not to act.
I believe You will give it to me.  The only doubt I have is regarding my accepting of it.  Lord, please help me to want what You want.  Help my desires to match Yours.  If You say it, I go along.  
What is better than being in the center of Your will?  
What is worse than being outside of it?  
Shout Your will to me; etch it in stone; carve it in my heart, so I cannot ignore it.
Make me strong for you, Lord.  Make me strong and patient and wise for You.
In Jesus's Name,
Amen

Friday, October 17, 2014

From Ephesians 4

Lord Father in Heaven, I pray that you would guide me and all of us to walk worthy of our vocation as your children.
Help us to deal patiently with troubling situations and people, to be restrained in our responses. I pray you would keep us all quiet, gentle and humble.
Let us each walk according to the gifts you have given us, and use them wisely. Help us to edify your children and glorify you with our gifts until we all agree in faith and understand true doctrine and grow more fully into Christ.
Lord, please forgive me for walking in my own vanity, for thinking I can figure everything out.
Open our hearts to your wisdom and help us to accept and act upon it. Save us from the temptations of this world, from perversions and unclean things. Save us from people who would tempt us to those things. Protect our hearts and minds from the things we see every day that would lead us into lust and greed.
I pray Lord that you would renew our minds and give us your new righteous and holy Spirit.
Give us peace and wisdom regarding financial things.
Help us be honest. Help us to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. Help us identify the devil and put him behind us. Show us useful work we can do to help ourselves and others, and give us gumption to do it. Control our tongues, that we only speak words that build up and edify the hearers. Keep from us bitterness, wrath, anger, confusion.
Lord, help us to please you and not to grieve you.
Help us to be like you who love us for your own Son's sake-- kind, tenderhearted, forgiving.
And Lord, please especially guide me today and every day, that I would not place a stumbling-block in front of any of your children.
In Jesus's Name,
Amen