Archive for January, 2009

The Alabaster Jar

January 28, 2009

Jesus, today I read about the woman who broke an alabaster jar of perfume over your feet, and the criticism of the people present who thought her gesture was wasteful, and the money for that perfume could have been given to the poor.   Seeing your response of pleasure at her gift, I discern some more things.  I see extravagance we never see today.  I’ve read the perfume was possibly worth a year’s wages, and it may have been her dowry.  How many of us have hearts like that?  Her motive was pure love and she gave what she valued most.  She may not have plotted shrewdly where her gift would do “the most good”.  She simply gave out of the deepest, most beautiful desire to honor You and show her love for You.  And You were pleased.

Lord,  show me my alabaster jar.  Give me a heart to pour it out at Your feet.

Are We There Yet, God?

January 28, 2009

Sometimes I can hardly stand to read the news.  The wars, rumors of wars, crime, violence and hatred make everything seem so black.  But it isn’t dark to You, is it?  Its as though we’re in a box and someone has pulled a lid over the top, making it dark for those of us living inside.  But outside the box it is light and You are there.  You won’t let the lid stay on forever.  You’ve set the timer for just how long You will allow things to stay the way they are.  And the timer is ticking down.

Where is Culture in America?

January 28, 2009

There has been a lot of talk lately about the demise of the arts in this economic downturn.  People are concerned that the arts thrive only when there is plenty of money to support them.  And I wondered if that is true.   Many people have bemoaned the downturn of really good art, music and literature in the last 50 or 60 years in America.  The thinking of some philosophers is that art is borne out of struggle, passion, longing, love and compassion.  They argue that in a society where instant gratification reigns supreme, there is a dearth of all of the above.  Who can know real passion, love and longing when sex is readily and instantaneously available?  This is, of course, the cheap, tawdry version, where people use each other with little feeling other than the gratification of the moment.  How can such a situation ever allow for real feelings of love and longing to occur.  Can such a person ever fall in love?  How can you be in love with someone so cheaply available?  Can this be true in other areas of life as well?  How can anyone who has never struggled feel compassion?  How can someone whose every waking moment is filled with easy sensual gratification ever seek the beautiful and the transcendent?  How can a soul who is sated with cheap junk ever know longing for something deeper, more beautiful, more costly?   In this sense, perhaps a life containing more struggle and longing, will prompt people to the love, passion and desire for the truly beautiful, that leads to great art.  Great art, literature and music never came easily.  It was never cheap.  It reflects experience that has been a costly struggle culminating in the final triumph which is beautiful.

A Prayer of Thanks to Jesus

January 28, 2009

Jesus, how horribly difficult it must have been for you in your humanity to face all you did in your earthly ministry.  You faced opposition everywhere you went.  Leadership was waiting for a chance to trip you up, dripping with criticism, sarcasm and hate.  The mob had its cynics and skeptics with attitudes ranging from “ho hum another populist” to “show us a miracle–impress us!”  Much of the mob wanted only something for themselves.  Some was legitimate:  people who needed an illness cured.  Many only wanted someone to take care of them so they could give up the worry of taking care of themselves.  And everywhere–sin!  Yet, you served and you loved.  In your divinity you healed people.  In your humanity, you got tired, hot, hungry, thirsty, and frustrated.  It was a trial beyond our understanding, to have to deal with all our sin all the time.  But you did–to the death!  Thank you Jesus!

What is Faith?

January 24, 2009

I have been reading about Abraham in the bible for perhaps the twentieth time.  What really strikes me on this reading is how Abraham was contacted by God.  It seems God contacted Abraham first, and only later and only infrequently did Abraham call upon God.  What strikes me as interesting is the way we humans act toward God and how rarely do we hear of humans who respond to God.  If we are of the Judeo-Christian heritage, then we have the history of a God who speaks to His people.  From the prophets to the incarnation, God is seeking relationship with his created humans.  He has his thoughts, desires and opinions.  And He certainly seems to be a God who values relationship with people much more than the acts of worship or service instigated by people. 

Our human nature, some would say our sinful human nature, values autonomy above all else.  We think up ideas about what “our God” is like, and its little else but idolatry.  Where the primitive peoples may have carved idols, we nonetheless think about and write about a God whom we have “carved” from our own imagination.  How few people, even those who call themselves Jews or Christians, spend time searching the scriptures to find God as God revealed Himself.  We have become so silly in the postmodern age as to suggest that we ourselves have a divine spirit.  We sinners, are actually God.  Imagine that!  I recently looked at a best selling book where we are urged to consult our own divine spirit for the answers to everything.  This is not the indwelling Christ of the Christian who has invited Christ to reside in the soul, but the human soul claiming to be divine.

So, we set up our own rules in the name of our imagined God, and we make up our own plans in the name of our imagined God, and we imagine that God is pleased.  No wonder Jesus said to those who claimed to have done good works in His name, “depart from me, I never knew you.”  We must listen to God first, and we do that through knowing Him.  We must know how he revealed Himself in history, and then how He reveals Himself to us through circumstances and our conscience.  If we see someone in need right under our noses, and we know we have been told to help, we don’t have to plan anything.  We just help as we have been commanded to do.  If we set up some elaborate program, which incidently, we secretly hope will bring us recognition as being the solution to some great problem, and then we offer that to God as our gift, it probably means as much to him as the children who offer their mother a thoroughly trashed kitchen when trying to make something for her.   A good intention, no fruit.

It all starts with knowing God, loving God, watching for God’s work in  life, talking to God, and listening to Him in scripture and in circumstance.  It must be about God, and not about me.  It must be about relationship and not earning points with Him.  It starts with Him and I respond.  It ends with Him receiving the glory and I receive no opportunity to brag except about what God has done.

Dear President Obama

January 24, 2009
Dear President Obama,
 
I was deeply disappointed that you would lift the ban on funding overseas abortions.  I wish you would study what really happens during an abortion.  It is so grievously sad and tragic as well as cruel, what really happens.  I have personally seen abortions and aborted fetuses, and it totally changed my mind.  We can talk about “choice” all we want, but there are all kinds of choices, and people make the most horrendous choices every day.  God has given you so much power to do good.  Please think, pray and reconsider.
Nonni
 

Dogs and Heaven

January 22, 2009

I had a very naughty little dog once, and I loved her very much.  She was usually on my lap or on my bed, and was my constant companion.  However, one morning she got out and got into something really nasty.  She reeked and I gagged.  It was so bad I couldn’t bring her into the house.  I put her into her carrier and took her to the vet (by the back door!)  They were able to deodorize her, but it cost me quite a bit.  I was willing to pay the price because I loved my dog and I couldn’t wait till she was cleaned up  enough to come into the house with me.

Later as I reflected on what happened, I felt the Lord say “Your sin smells like that to me.  I could never let sin into my heaven.  I have to get rid of the odor first.  It cost me a great deal to do that.  It took the blood of my son to cleanse the odor of sin.  We paid the price because we love you and our other children and want you in our home.”

I had wondered why Jesus had to die.  Nothing else would do.  Nothing else would get rid of the stench of sin.  And God couldn’t let that smell into his perfect heaven anymore than I could let the smell of something dead into my house.  My dog could have run off when she saw me, not wanting a bath.  Then she would have been lost and I would have been heartbroken.  Just as I imagine God is heartbroken when a sinner runs from Him.

God and my Stuff

January 22, 2009

I heard a challenge in a sermon recently.  Would I let God re-arrange my stuff.  Wow!  I never liked ANYONE touching my stuff.  I would scarcely let my dear husband into the kitchen.  He surely better not be rearranging it!  I never wanted my crafts, my desk, my closet or my dresser touched by anyone else.  My mess was my mess.  At least I knew where things were and I had control.  OK God, I prayed.  Just tell me whats wrong with my stuff and I’ll re-arrange it myself.  The answer I thought I heard from God really startled me.  “Whose stuff is it anyway?”

A Prayer for America on Inauguration Day

January 19, 2009

Father, I humbly approach your throne of grace in Jesus name.  You know far better than I do, the true condition of America, yet I stand with my people as a citizen of this nation and plead for her.  Father, I am in awe that You have eternally known the histories of every nation.  You have engineered human history to suit your purposes.  No godless group, no false god and no evil government has ever been allowed to continue indefinitely.  They all fall. 

Father, I confess how far we’ve fallen since April 29, 1607 when a cross was planted on the Virginia shoreline and our nation was dedicated to You.  Now You are nearly outlawed and nearly driven underground by those who hate You.  I confess our godlessness, pride, rebellion, hedonism and perversion of all Your gifts.  I confess our gross lack of love for You and others.

Lord, I thank You for Your mercy on us.  I thank You that the church is still strong in some local areas of the country.  I thank You that many beautiful ministries continue to function with very little attention given them.  I thank You for Your graces, Your gifts, Your continuing to reveal Yourself to us.  I thank You for peace within our borders, relative prosperity compared with much of the world, and relative order.  I thank You for loving us all far more than we deserve.

Lord, I would ask for spiritual blessing and protection on our nation.  Let people be awakened to who You are.  Let people repent of their lack of love for You and return to You in masses.  Let our leadership return to You.  Let there be conversions in high places all over the country.  Let the media and opinion makers come to know You.  Let all the proposed laws meant to silence believers fail.  Let all ideas get a fair hearing in our institutions, for truth will always rise to the top.  Protect our military and keep them people of integrity, people of courage and people who pray.  Let idealistic people get into education–people who want all ideas examined and who want to encourage critical thinking.

Please strengthen our families again.  Please give children respect for adults and give adults love for children.  Please give people an appreciation for the sanctity of marriage.  Let divorce become rare.  Let the living without marriage cease.  Let all perverse forms of sexuality which use and degrade people cease.

Let there be unity of respect across the land.  Let people want to put the good of all ahead of their own agendas.

Bring the power of Your Spirit down on this nation and upon its individual citizens.  Lord  You promised the Spirit would be given when we ask.  We ask it now, in faith.  Send forth Your Spirit that we might be re-created and Lord, renew the face of our land.

Amen

Jesus is the Way

January 19, 2009

Recently I attended the retirement of a military friend.  In order to get into the building where the retirement was to be held, I had to ask for an escort.  I couldn’t go into the building on my own because I wasn’t cleared.  It reminded me about Jesus when he said “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.”  Jesus is our escort into our Heavenly Father’s presence in heaven.  We can’t come in on our own because we aren’t cleared.  We aren’t cleared because of sin.  We have to ask for our escort Jesus, who alone can bring us in to the Father.