Friday, August 21, 2009

John 14:6 + Amnesia

John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"

A boy wakes up and finds himself in the middle of a city that he doesn't recognize. Amnesia. In this city, there are a million houses with a million fences and a million gates. Which house is home? If he makes his way through the wrong gate, the life in which he finds himself will be a lie. There's only one gate - one way - to his true life, his true destiny, his heart's true home. We live in a world of amnesia and lies, and Jesus is saying, "I am the only true gate to your heart's true home. Come home to the Father through me."

Lord Jesus, my heart longs to discover my true destiny by coming home.


Restarting Devotions!!!

I woke up this morning with a hunger. I've missed writing and some of that time with God in faith. It's truly one of my best ways of devotion. But as cancer and recovery and exhaustion have filled our summer - and as surgery will more than fill our next week (please pray for Mary Louise next Tuesday) - I haven't been able to spend my personal life-giving hour writing. Time's too precious. But not spending time has left me a little empty.

What to do?


Not a whole Psalm, but one simple verse.

I can read a verse in the morning. I can turn it in my head as I go through my morning routine. (That by the way is what "meditation" is - turning a godly thought over and over in your head, letting it seep into and fill and change your being.) Then I can write. No more than 100 words (which was about 30 words ago . so quick, simple).

I haven't made it through the Psalms. That'll be for another day, another season of life. And that's okay. Today's season for me is . meditate . shorter . sweeter . forgive not reaching an old goal . set a new one.

My source for the verse of the day: Sometimes I'll go in order. Sometimes I'll pull from what I'm preaching on this fall. For example, this fall our theme is: The five preachers - Jesus (Sermon on the Mount), James (James), John (1 John), Peter (2 Peter), and Paul (Titus). I might start with the top verses from our first book: Titus.

When will I start? I'll give you a taste today. I woke up meditating on John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (which, by the way, is top verse 3 - it deserves to be up there . I wonder who ranks them!).

But I won't start until after the surgery. Let's say the day after Labor Day - the unofficial start to fall.

Again, please pray for Mary Louise.

In Christ's Love,

Pastor Ed

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Psalm 94

"Holy Superheroes!"

I can't help but read this Psalm through the window of the book I've just been reading. Greg Garrett's Holy Superheroes is a Christian examination of the "theology" behind our most popular comic books. For the most part, these "comics" and graphic novels emphasize two truths: First, evil exists. Second, good must have a code of justice.

Superman is this code's fabled ideal. At the time when the Nazi party was beginning it's dark march across Europe, Superman was first drawn by two Jewish teenagers as, in part, a symbol of truth, justice, and "the American Way."
America, like its superheroes, used, essentially, the old Jewish code of justice: We are compelled to stand up against evil, but we must not cross the ethical line. Jewish justice, for example, did not allow the vengeful taking two eyes in exchange for the loss of one. It drew an ethical line against disproportionate revenge.

That, however, is not the only American story. America also had its wild west and vigilante justice. And Batman is the symbol of this edge of justice. The Caped Crusader has always walked a tightrope on the darker edges of that ethical line. Avenging the murder of his parents is what propels the Batman. In general, then, Batman always flirted with that line ... but stayed just. Newer comic creations, however, have flirted with that line and crossed it in terms of revenge.

Today's Psalm reflects pieces of this comic code. "3 The wicked ... gloat." "4 Evildoers boast." And "6 widows [and] orphans 5 [are] oppress[ed]." Faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive, it's natural to want "1 the God of vengeance [to] 2 arise." We send up "the Bat Signal." We pray fervently. But when "13 relief" doesn't come immediately, do we think that "7 the God of Israel doesn't care"? We wonder, "20 can unjust leaders claim that God is on their side?"

The Psalmist says, "8 Think again, you fools! 9 Is the one who made your ears deaf? Is the one who formed your eyes blind? 10 He knows everything."

There is no easy answer to the problem of evil.
As long as there is sin, there will be evil. And as long as there are people, there'll be sin. Eliminating people, therefore, wouldn't be my first choice for eliminating evil ... because I'd be eliminated along with it ... and so would you.

What's our hope, therefore, in times of trial?

A simple prayer: "22 the Lord is my fortress."

God answers our deepest concerns in several ways:

+ The first is emotional comfort. When we ally ourselves with God, "19 your comfort [O God, will] g[i]ve me renewed hope and cheer." When God is our fortress, we will never be alone, and hope will cheer us.

+ The second is intellectual comfort. The last sentence started with, "19 when doubts filled my mind." How many of us find that the worst part of any trial is the doubts and worries that constantly assail us. We don't want just our hearts to be less troubled, we want our minds to be freed from worry and fear.

+ The third answer to our concerns is discipline. That's usually not our favorite answer; nevertheless, it's one of the most helpful. Evil wants to tempt us toward revenge. Evil wants us to join evil by joining in the dismemberment. The problem is that what we're dismembering is our own souls. Therefore, "12 happy are those whom you discipline, Lord." Being guided back to God's path -- truth, justice and the American, no, Godly way -- is a powerful answer to our concern about evil.

+ The fourth and final answer to evil found in this Psalm is justice. The Psalmist says, "23 God will make the sins of evil people fall back on them." In other words, although it's tempting to have a short-term perspective, faith calls for a long-term view. Why? Because God traffics in the eternal, and good will absolutely and always triumph in the end. "23 Sins ... [will] fall back on ... [the] evil," and grace will abound for the good.

I don't understand evil.
But I do understand
[and trust]
that you are good.
Let me let you
be my fortress
instead of anger
and revenge.