Thursday, May 4, 2017

Devotion - Wednesday, May 3

The Bible Study suggestion for the fall is to learn the most important stores. When we start to compile the list, the story in Daniel 5 will likely be in the list.

It starts with King Belshazzar forgetting the lessons taught house father (King Nebuchadnezzar) about the might of God. Belshazzar mocks God by bringing all of the holy vessels taken from the Temple and using them at a drunken feast. For this he will pay a terrible price.

The vessels are the golden vases and bowls. God would not/could not overlook such a misuse of His beloved vessels.

I want to make a leap. I want to take God's anger over misuse of vessels and apply it to the misuse of one of God's children. Abuse and exploitation are a horrible misuse. It is s misuse which leaves deep and tender scars.

In my work I encounter way too many who have been misused. I try to help restore the good intentions with which God created us. But it is difficult.

Some misuse is blatant. Other encounters may begin ambiguous. And it is the one exploited who gets to label it for what it is to them.

Belshazzar did not respect the ends for which God had set aside these precious vessels. Let's not make a similar mistake.

Devotion - Thursday, May 4 - Final for the year

I woke this morning caught between two powerful emotions.  

On the one hand (honestly speaking,) I was thinking "this is the last morning where I have a task to accomplish before 6:30 am.  I don't often sleep in, but during the summer I can if the mood strikes me.

But the other (and more powerful) emotion is the sadness of realizing that I won't have this opportunity to be a part of your morning.  Where did the grace come from which lead to your interest in my sharing how God is actively speaking to me each morning?  Folks will often discuss with me how one maintains the confidence that God hears their prayers.  Sometimes those are the same persons who would never pray publicly or out loud.  I know that God hears my prayers when you reply back to me.  Publicly sharing our faith journey allows us to be sustain by fellow travelers.

I will pray for you over the summer.  I ask that you pray for me; that you pray for one another.  Christianity is not a solo religious experience.  It is meant to be shared.

Until the fall term reunites us, be strong in your quest and be steadfast in your reflections on how God is speaking to you.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Devotion - Tuesday, May 2

I John 4 serves as the text for a popular camp song. "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and known God."

The chapter goes on and repeats in a variety of ways Jesus' command to love one another.

This ought not require such a long explanation, or such repetition.  Isn't is simple (and easy) to love one another?

Well, if we are honest, it is neither simple or easy.  But it is of God.

We too quickly find ourselves at odds with others.   We too quickly allow small differences to become stumbling blocks.  

Where there is love among us, it is easy to note the benefits and the joy which follows.

As the text of I John 4 tells us, if we find it difficult to love our sisters and brothers, we will find it difficult to love God and to be able to receive God's love.  There are no conditions on God's love; the matter is being open to that love which transforms us and insists that we become caught up in a series of loving relationships.  God's love is of the type that is experienced and received in the act of sharing.

In may ways, I am preaching to the choir.  The reason you are on this listserve is because we have experienced and shared the love of which I John speaks.  For that, I give thanks.  Let's find ways to broaden this circle of love and care.  Seek ways to express this love in ever increasing circles.  It makes the world a wonderful place to live.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Devotion - Monday, May 1

I am never sure whether Finals Week is the worse week of the semester, or the best.  It is terribly taxing, and stressful.  It is too often the culprit in denying us the rest we need in order to stay healthy.  It is one of the worse weeks we will experience.  

But it is the week we get to hit a restart button.  If we have had a not-so-easy-to-get along-with instructor, that is about to be behind us.  If we are managing to hang on but the material toward the end was getting a bit too complicated, we can hope 70% of the final is on the first 8 weeks. 

My job, during this week, is to remind you that it will end; that it will end soon; and, whatever grades are awarded at the end, you remain a worthy and competent individual.  My job is to make apparent to you the reality of God's grace.

So, I am doing my job by reminding you on this Monday morning of finals week that Jesus loves you, that there is a whole Church out there praying with you, and that whatever happens this week isn't as important as some would have you think.  

There, I have said it; I have done my job.  Now, do yours: study efficiently, get the rest you need to be able to complete your work, and re-read the paragraph above a few more times.

God is with you; and all of us are by your side.