Reaction (a stream of consciousness poem)

The focus of our time
That which steals the purpose
The substance that could be our reaction
To something divine
Outside our realm of understanding
But fully capable
With infinite potential
To create beyond the scope of our conception
Life abundant
Through grace incomprehensible
Prompting us
If we will let It
To overflow with foolishness
For that is what it is in comparison
To the scales – the units of measure
By which humanity has limited itself
Irrational
God and everything outside of ourselves
Outside of self
Our attention focused on the other
Our attention and time and energy
Spent outside of ourselves
Is equivalent I believe
To Love
To God
To worship God is to let our attention
Let our limitations
Let our reactions and our fear
Loose
Free to run away
and in doing so
Freeing us to trust and place
Our hope
Our time
Our hands
Our feet
Directly on the path that He has drawn out
To reveal His glory through
To love others
To serve others
To focus your attention outside
Of ourselves
Is to love God
To worship God
To touch the heart of Jesus
And to remove ourselves
From our own grip
With which we cling so tightly
To sin and the death
The absence of life
That it brings
Lord teach me in each moment
Of each day going forward to
Look outside of myself
To let go of myself
To release my fear
And grab Your hand
As it is extended out to me
Each day in need
Empty my hands
Oh Lord
So that I am free to react
To focus my attention
To spend my time
Outside of myself
Outside of sin
But, in You
In Love

Chiaroscuro

The gap in synchrony

between my head and feet

Both entangling a soul

though tethered free indeed

My earthbound walk painted

more like a stagger and lurch

Between eternal heights

and a cyclical curse

Ever failing to learn

lessons from missteps made

But for Your favor unearned

I’d end at the grave

Until You return in

this condition I’ll wait

Moving onward and upward

death penalty stayed

Sawdust, Planks, Ducks, and GQ

I was reading over 1 Corinthians 6 this morning and letting it settle on my brain, in the midst of the whole A&E/ Phil Robertson “The Duck Commander” issue, thinking about what it all means to my life, and this is what I’ve come up with: there are a wealth of sins in this world and all of them are worthy of our disdain. But, because every single one of us is guilty of sin in our daily lives, it is far more efficient for me to focus on the task at hand – the beams of wood obstructing my own view and solid standing – before I even consider what may or may not be obstructing someone else.

If I’m truly living my life humbly in love and service for others, as Christ directed us to, I will have very little time or energy left to spend picking at the lives of others. I’ve got enough of my own problems. While each of the different translations makes the same point, I truly appreciate the way that THE MESSAGE interprets verses 1-5 in the 7th chapter of Matthew:

Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

On Grace And Karma

A great post from a friend making a point worth being stated, and restated and….

On Grace And Karma.

Love A Sinner

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Reading this text this morning shed a new light, for me, on how Christians are supposed to relate to other people that, though we are not to judge, we know or suspect are wrapped up in sin. When Jesus told the disciples that they should love one another as he loved them, he was referring to the fact that he had just assumed the servant’s role in his interactions with them by washing their feet. He was making the point that serving others in a humble, selfless manner, is just the manner in which a person should be able to be identified as a follower of Christ.

The most interesting detail that I hadn’t paid attention to before, though, is that at the point when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, Judas Iscariot had not yet betrayed Jesus. Jesus knew that he would, though. Yet, He still knelt down in front of Judas and humbly washed the feet of Judas as a servant would. Jesus could’ve used this opportunity to criticize, rant, scold, and ultimately dismiss Judas from the group of disciples on His own terms, but, he didn’t.

The reality is that, as Christians, we are much more likely to try to separate and dismiss sinners from our clicks, circles, groups, and congregations when we should really be bent down before them, serving them in a sincere, humble, and God-honoring manner. The saying, “Love the sinner, but, not the sin,” I think, applies here and it should apply more in our daily lives: to the adulterer, the addict, the thief, and the homosexual. Because as the bible states, we have all fallen short of the glory of God and His grace is the only hope that ANY of us have.

Take Off Your Clothes

…Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43

In the eleventh chapter of the book of John, Jesus had just been “deeply moved in spirit and troubled,” when he met Mary and the Jews who had followed her from her home Judea where Lazarus lay dead. After reminding the onlookers that their faith would lead to their sight of the glory of God, Jesus ordered that the stone covering the tomb of Lazarus be removed. He then proceeded to look up and pray to God. After He thanked His Father for listening he ordered, “Lazarus, come out!” So, he did. Lazarus emerged from the tomb with his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face.

I can’t seem to let go of the deep, personal implications of this selection of scripture. As a man who is, in a very real way, chained to death itself by my own selfishness, anger, hunger, and fear, I realize that I am no better, and possibly far worse, off than Lazarus was laying dead and cold in the tomb for four days. The emotional ebb and flow of this shell, these grave clothes, that I live in acts as a dead-weight straight jacket on my soul.

Through no merit of his own, but by diving mercy, he has been called out of darkness into wondrous light. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8). Unnecessary emotional suffering – depression, anxiety, guilt fear, and sadness – is vanquished by the transforming power of the love of Jesus Christ. (from DEVOTIONS FOR RAGAMUFFINS, by Brennan Manning, Pp.105)

Hope is graciously found in Jesus Christ’s promise to return life to the dead, like me, regardless of the sin-tarnished costume that I wear so well. By inviting me to turn to Him, He refilled my lungs so that I can carry on for His purpose despite my own continued flaws and shortcomings.

Until that day when I am fully free, I recognize that any good that may come from me is, in fact, in spite of me. Instead of originating in me, any good that seems to come from me is only an appreciative and restrained, yet, poor reflection of the unmerited favor and goodness of God.

His grace urges me forward each day in anticipation of the day when He will finally remove my grave clothes for good.