Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Frighteningly Comforting

"The prophets prophesy lies,
the priests rule by their own authority,
and my people love it this way.
But what will you do in the end?"
Jeremiah 5:31

There are times when I feel like a professional outcast. It seems like there is some key piece that I am missing or some angle that I don't understand. It seems that "success" in ministry (most commonly accredited as attendance and giving) is attained in one of three ways (or some combination).

1. Entertain - If you can put on the best Sunday morning show, you can succeed.
2. Entice - If you promise people what they want, you can succeed.
3. Enrage - If you point out what is wrong with the world outside, you can succeed. (Yeah, I'm toeing the line with this right now.)

If people are dazzled or hopeful or angry, but they aren't any closer to Jesus, what have we accomplished?
Are we just ruling by our own authority?
Are we giving the people what they want to hear?
Are we making them feel better without connecting them to the only God who can actually make their lives better?

That's not enough for me.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Generosity Killed the Cat

I reread the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 this morning. This is one of those stories that always sticks out because it hits close to home.

It is an older brother parable, one that doesn't seem fair. Actually, it is a story that is totally unfair. That's really the point of the story, God doesn't work around what we think is fair. He doesn't operate under a fairness doctrine. He operates under a grace doctrine - a crazy, over-the-top, beyond what we can believe or ever deserve, outside the realm of possibility, messing with your mind grace doctrine.

Today , the second half of verse 15 really stuck out to me. Here it is from several translations:

Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Do you begrudge me my generosity?
Is your eye envious because I am generous?
Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?

It describes what happens when we try to understand grace in terms of fairness. It messes us up. We can become so entrenched in our society's understanding of fairness that our first reaction to God's generosity is envy, grudge and stinginess.

That isn't a fault of God or the grace doctrine, it is a result of us becoming more and more of the world.

How do we rectify the situation?
Make a habit of regularly marveling in that bountiful grace.

Location:Columbia Pkwy,Cincinnati,United States

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Psalm 136

"His steadfast love endures forever"

This line is repeated over and over and over and over in this psalm. Through blessings and curses, victories and defeats, good times and bad, this phrase is repeated.

And it should be. We live in a world of shifting sand, where nothing can really be counted on. Jobs change, the economy recesses, stock prices drop. People pass on, move away, fail in the clutch, and disappoint us. Our hopes and dreams whither and die on the vine, before they have the chance to become reality. We see death and destruction around us, violence in nature and in mankind.

There is really only one constant.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

There is really only one thing we can always count on.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

When our world shakes and trembles around us.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

When we are unsure of our footing.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

When people betray us and put themselves first.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

When we feel lost and alone.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

When all else fails.
"His steadfast love endures forever"

Location:Stanley Ave,Cincinnati,United States