Tuesday, April 14, 2009

After Easter...now what?

The Holy Spirit fell hard on me this Easter.
I attended the town's Sunrise Service with all the other clergy in town. I had to leave my house pretty early to get their so I didn't have a chance for breakfast much less the "proper amount" of caffeine! So I stopped and got an Americano..then on to "that other place" to get an egg sandwich (oh how I miss my days on Long Island...real egg sandwiches!).

I was walking into DD when a guy in his pickup shouted something my way out his window. I didn't hear what he said so I walked right up to him. "Your fingers must have been cold up there!" he had been shouting. He had gone to the service too. I played the music on my guitar and yes, I couldn't really feel my fingers. I noticed he had a fishing reel on the seat of his truck so we talked a bit about fishing and weather and his job and such....hey, are you going in and staying he asked as I headed in. I'll come in with you...and he brought his doughnut and coffee back in.

We sat and talked for about 45 minutes ab0ut everything from his work recycling, to fishing the Naugatuck River, to his dad dying from cancer...so I asked him what brought him to the service. "I don't know. I've never been before. I just had a feeling yesterday that I should go. I don't go to church or anything."

So we talked about God ordaining days, about trout and salmon, gold feebies and cancer, about an empty tomb and Resurrection, trailer parks and salvation. He didn't know the Great Story, and he had been looking for it for a long time. He had been to a couple of churches along the way after being stirred watching TV preachers...but each time he went he felt like he didn't fit...so we talked about New Hope and our vision. turns out he went to the school where we meet along time ago...

...I'll see ya next Sunday, he said. I hope so...I prayed for him before I left.

I was struck as I drove away that the Master had given me an Emmaus Road meeting right there in Dunkin Donuts over an egg sandwich.... what a joy it is to be able to share with all those in "Jerusalem" what had happened so that their hearts might burn...

So Easter is "over" but not really....what are you going to do about the empty tomb?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday; calm in the face of death

This image has been sitting over my desk since May 29, 2007 when it appeared in the New York Times. I have the original clipping and the paper is yellowing and the image is starting to look hazy now, but I find it as striking as the first time I saw it.

To me, it resonates with my understanding of Jesus, especially today on Good Friday. It was the day when in fear all those who had witnessed first hand the power of God unleashed through His son broke in fear.

They forgot that the winds obeyed Him, they forgot that disease obeyed Him, they forgot that Death obeyed Him.

And in the Garden as they came for Him, they forgot that He had come to do His Fathers' will. No one had power over Him but His father in Heaven.

Spend some time with this picture today and ask the Holy Spirit to quicken your heart to the unflinching faith Jesus had in the chaos...the chaos that He entered into to pull you out of the battle.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Malaria Work Update

So I'm off to Tabora, Tanzania in 39 days! Before I go each year I ask my friends if I may please have thier spare change and things around the house. The change I cash in and take with me, the things around the house I sell at a "leftovers for passovers" tag sale. I sell the "leftover" stuff to buy mosquito nets so malaria can "passover"... our goal is 400 this year to be distributed in areas around Tabora, Tanzania. They go to the high-risk population in this order: pregnant women, children under 5, compromised immune system patients. We tell them about Jesus, the "Big Passover"... but no matter what they say they get a net. We also pay for malaria testing and treatment for pregnant women and kids five and under. To date we've enough for 3,447 life-changing tests/treatment and to purchase 299 nets that will cover 1,196 people! Please keep praying for us!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Worship Mr. Potato Head or the God-Head?

... if we're honest, we spend most of our time worshipping Mr. Potato Head "god". He's a "god" of our own creation. He may very well be made with legitimate attributes of the True God, but we put him together in an image to suit our needs and desires with pieces that we pull out of our...well, do you remember where Mr. Potato Head's pieces are stored?

Some folks don't even do this on purpose. They may have had a true experience with an attribute with God, say a physical healing. There is such adoration with that one attribute that the "big picture" is missed. We do that with relationships that are based on our personal needs. Broken people tend to attract the parts that are missing. "I really love that about him!" means "that characteristic makes me feel good or legitimizes my own beliefs".

This makes many churches collect people who see one attribute or picture. Now, I'm not saying there are other "gods" or that we can have many theologies of God, but what I am saying is that we make God to look like what it is we want Him to look like instead of letting God make us what it is He wants us to look like. Why? Because we're afraid that to the world we might look like a messed up Mr. Potato Head!

Well, that's what the disciples thought about Jesus on Good Friday. Their Mr. Potato Head image of God didn't fit on the cross. But God's image of Himself did..... this is the end of Philippians chapter two. Jesus allowed God to have His way with him in complete obiedence. And the world has never been the same. We need to let God do the same us...because when we try to conform ourselves to His image on our own, we end up looking like Mr. Potato Head to God and to the world.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Day 23-29

Philippians 2:25-30
..."but I understood that I needed to send Epaphroditus, my brother in the Christian Family, fellow worker in spreading the Gospel, and soldier in the spiritual battle whose honor is equal to the king, and messenger who is of no great status, and a minister to my needs
for he has been longing to see you all, and has been deeply troubled in spirit because you were all so worried about him because he was ill.
you were right, he was was sick and near death and in fact almost did die, but God had mercy on him and me; sparing him from death and me from more grief than I could bear.
So I am sending him back with special urgency (understand that I am giving my best away!), so that you may see him for yourself and rejoice so that you can be free from worry for him and yourselves as you see with your own eyes the power of God to save!
So receive him in the Lord with all joy and delight, and highly value such people as him! People like him who don't think about themselves, who are free from worry! He risked all danger and even death for the work of Christ...and this was not even the task he was assigned, but the one you could not complete!"

I just returned Sunday night from an event called Remix put on by Rock the World Ministries. The event is a time of prayer, worship and study where High School and College Students are trained to turn the world upside down for Christ in their generation.

One of the breakout sessions was led by a couple who have a passion to help Christians understand what it means to live as free people who are still bond-servants to the King of Glory.

Thier ministry "Free-people-Free-people" follows the life that all our players in the last reading in Philippians led; Jesus was free through His relationship to His Father to pour His life out as a ransom for many. Paul was set free to pour his life our for the Philippians and Epaphroditus did the same for them all....the ones that were set free enslaved themselves to those who were not free yet so that they might be free.

Have you ever heard the Negro Spiritual "follow the drinking gourd"? It's a song that was sung in the slave quarters down South, a freedom song sung to the captives that the way to freedom was to follow the "drinking gourd" the Big Dipper, for it was North, and there is where freedom was to be found.

How did these slaves learn of the song, and of the direction of freedom? Slaves who had realized that freedom was worth dying for risked their lives, literally, to return and show the captives the way to freedom. Free people free people.

Jesus, the First Fruit to break free from sin and death, returned to tell Paul on the road. Paul risked death to tell the slaves of sin that the drinking gourd had come; Jesus, the Well of Life, the Living Water.

Have you found your freedom? Are you still sitting in the Promised Land, or are you going back to free others?