Solid Rock

I love the humble dependent heart that wrote this blog post, and I think you will too. No doubt Jesus does. And while you are checking out this blog, see the Facebook site too: https://www.facebook.com/lafministries

Vanessa's Thoughts

My night job is cleaning a daycare center. I sweep, mop, vacuum, clean toilets and sinks, refill soap and paper towels, clean windows and all things that come with cleaning a daycare. Now, cleaning this daycare every evening is not my favorite thing. I am 43 years old, a mother of 4 children, a wife and my husband and I have a homeless ministry ( About) that we started in 2011. I am busy and I am tired and this is not my career of choice at this stage of my life. But, this is where God has me right now and I will work this job to His Glory!

At this daycare, on the playground the ground is covered in little bitty rocks. A  gazillion tiny rocks. These rocks are tracked in the school. All day long. Every day.  When I go to clean, you guessed it, I sweep…

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Getting Raped At Church Is Kinda A BIG Deal

It’s not just a Catholic problem, but sex abuse by religious leaders is a deeply damaging thing.  First there is the damage done to the abused victim.  I don’t know anyone who isn’t first of all concerned with the damage done to innocent children, to more than a few women, and sometimes even men.  But there is also the damage done to God’s own holy name!  The devastation to God’s own reputation in his world when his own trusted shepherds take it upon themselves to victimize lowly ones and public trust is inexcusable.

Yet it seems the church just rocks along… just chugging along despite this dirty secret.  A lot of cover-up, to the extent it’s possible, and when not, efforts to sweep its importance under the rug with minimal apologies.  Sometimes tearful mea culpa, a parade of apology is deployed, but the church manages to continue almost in a business-as-usual way.  At some point even the public seems complicit!

But then Hollywood begins cleaning house with the expose of Harvey Weinstein.

I really hate that the church seems to follow the culture rather than lead it, but I am glad to see that church leaders are finally dealing with our own sins.  I hope we finally deal authentically with the problem.

Look.  People make mistakes.  I get it.  And sometimes those mistakes are very hurtful.  I am not saying we need to endlessly punish the sinners or shun them with no hope of redemption.  If that were God’s way, then King David would not be a hero of the faith.  But coming clean and dealing with our own shortcomings is so important that burying them instead threatens to take God’s name in vain.

The fact is: getting raped at church is a big deal.  If we don’t put a stop to it and seek the restoration of victims and perpetrators, all the good Bible study, all the tithes, all the glorious sound of worship is vain (Isa. 1:11-17).

For the longest time, the general public has gone along with this mess unaware a problem is even there.  Perhaps at some point along the way even the public is culpable for not looking closer.  That is possible, I think, but stopping short of exploring that notion, I suggest that meanwhile for years and years only the perpetrators, the victims, and a very few witnesses knew there was a problem going unattended.

What damage do you think these sins do to those people and to their witness to God’s goodness in the world?  And for years on end too!  A little like the Penn State football program, a cancer is eating away at the whole school and when it’s finally addressed, the patient is wracked with it!  The ripple effect is not done yet.

I want to end this post inviting you to apply all this same line of reasoning to our treatment of the homeless too.  If we publish headlines about how much we care but quietly kick them out to the cold, what damage is that doing to the perpetrators, the victims, and to the name of God?  And shouldn’t we address this cancer before it spreads deeply into the vital organs?

Getting rapped at church is kinda a big deal.  So is kicking the poor out at night.

When When Helping Hurts Hurts

This just in…

A regular reader recently brought to my attention an update to the Wikipedia summary of the book When Helping Hurts that has a significant development in it.

According to Wikipedia, Brian Fikkert, co-author of When Helping Hurts, confesses that a drawback/regret he finds with his book is a phenom called “When Helping Hurts paralysis”.  It turns out that after reading his book, some people get so keyed up about getting charity wrong that they just stop helping at all.

Ya think?

Actually, there are far deeper problems than just that, but of course acknowledging even that much is a start.  We can hope, anyway.  I won’t get into all of the complexity he could address in this post, but just point out that even the top proponents see the mess they’ve made of loving the poor.  The result is that in trying to act like we really judge our own “misguided” (even if it happens to be perfect obedience to Jesus) way of showing love to the poor, we really wind up judging the poor as unworthy of our love.

How ironic?

Get a smokescreen up, create a fog in people’s minds about giving to the poor, and a significant number will just throw in the towel and quit giving altogether because trying to sort out what is really helpful or not is just too hard.

Wow!

Go figure.  That alone should be enough to send these guys back to the drawing board.  Wish they would spend more time actually watching and listening to Jesus.

Catholic AND Humiliated

I saw a couple interviewed on TV struggling with the shame overwhelming the Catholic Church in recent days.  These people are not accused of any wrong-doing at all, but feeling the heat of guilt (shame) by association.  And what is up with this mess anyway?  Right?  But there you have it.

I am Catholic too.  I am a bad Catholic, but I am certified and confirmed.  I was raised Protestant, and in fact 95% of my worship (more really) is Protestant.  But I am still Catholic too.  I still hold on to hope that Pope Francis will work out what a pope should work out – even if that means resignation.  He has been such a hero of the faith – except for this terrible stain on the church.  And as of yet, I have no reason to believe that he personally has (or has had) involvement in the sex abuse or its cover-up.  But questions along those lines are mounting, and their answers sure seem slow in coming….

Dealing with humiliation for your faith is something new to most of us.  Somehow through the centuries being Christian – even (and maybe especially) being Catholic – has been a source of pride actually.  How ironic is that for an assembly of believers/disciples who follow a crucified Jew?

Sex abuse and rape of children by church leaders, though, is not actually unique to Catholics, and neither is the cover-up.  In fact, I belong to both the Catholic Church and the Churches of Christ, and I have found it to be a problem for both.

Embracing the shame and humility – perhaps not for the crimes and cover-ups (at least not personally), but because of association – is and has been a challenge for disciples since the very beginning of the church.  Jesus gets a pass today on the whole virgin-birth thing, but he is the only one that gets that pass, and that was coming under scrutiny for the first generation of disciples in a deeply personal and humiliating way.  But if we are going to be cruciform, which surely as followers of Christ we should be, then it is time to explore this challenge.

We follow a convict who claims to lead us to Eternal Life.  That is truly ironic, actually.  So ironic that we might suffer humiliation for daring to believe him.

Changing Your Worldview

Imagine with me a moment that you and I act as archaeologists five hundred years from now in the future after some global-apocalyptic crisis and in the midst of a new renaissance.  We know a lot about the global culture from the turn of the last millennium (the present time in which we really are living) because that culture left us staggering amounts of information, but during the return to the dark ages, so much was lost, and our archaeology proves vital in revamping society.

Now imagine we discover football – American football.  The data we collect plainly dictates that an oblong ball is used, and that the goal is for an eleven-man team to enjoin an opposing eleven-man team in an almost combat-like show of physical force to take the ball to its goal and earn points.  In fact we learn quite a lot about the sport, but as yet we have recovered no video footage to actually see it played.

At the same time other teams of archaeologists have discovered a baseball field.  Not as much is yet known about baseball, but the diamond infield, the outfield, and all the bases are fully recovered.  And like before, no video footage depicts the way the game is played.

Now imagine that some of our colleagues hypothesize and theorize that the football is used in a combat-like game where each base and the home plate achieve a first, second, and third down.  They haven’t figured out yet what the baseball bat is for, but it appears to have been a brutal game alright!  These colleagues obviously haven’t got it all worked out completely, but they sense that they are on the right track to understanding football, and they begin to publish articles and books on it presenting this conflated theory about how the game is played.

Assume for a moment that another team of colleagues unearths a newspaper article describing a football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears.  The archaeologists are clued in enough to realize that the names “Seahawks” and “Bears” are symbolic – that its not really birds and bears in a game, but the score at the outcome of the game depicted in the article is hugely despairing.  The Seahawks win the game 87 to 3.  The headline on the story says “Earth Shattering Game in Seattle”.  Some of our colleagues are puzzled that people from that time actually believed that the earth might shatter as a result of the game.

In the above scenario, you and I pretend to be colleagues with these imaginary archaeologists who theorize that the game of football is played on what actually is a baseball field and that people of our time actually feared the earth would shatter if we played this game.  You and I really know better, but in this pretend scenario, our opinion is just that, an opinion – a theory.  We cannot, based on the limited evidence we have, prove our opinion as fact and settle the matter for all to see.

A similar dynamic is at work today in our various approaches in general to the Bible.  Lots of God-fearing, Bible-loving, Jesus-serving people view life in God’s will with deeply flawed worldview.  Like playing football on a baseball diamond, it doesn’t really work, but there are limitations in the data and not everyone is clear even about that.  Plus there are different uses of language(s), cultural idioms, and mysteries about ancient context in which the Bible is written causing some of us to read an idea like “Earth Shattering Game” as literal and others as figurative.

Some of us believe the goal of life, biblically speaking, is to go to heaven when we die; others do not.  Some believe in a Rapture; others do not.  Some see this world burning up in a great Judgment fire in a coming apocalypse; others believe God is redeeming creation itself and that Jesus died as much for the dolphins as for you and me.

I do not intend to iron it all out in this single post for you, but I hope that by describing some of the challenges we face in this way, I can bring into focus better how carefully we need to handle them.  I in no way believe that everything the Bible has to say is just up for grabs, but many parts require us to change our worldview if we are going to understand them.

Changing your worldview is a challenging thing.  Worldviews are not something we typically think about.  It’s been said that worldview is not something you look at, but something you look through.  Like spectacles, you usually look through them at everything else, but once in a while it’s important to take them off and look at them as you clean them and/or make adjustments.

I cannot, in a single blog post, demystify it all or make you see the world the way I do.  But hopefully just inviting you to consider the implications will help us to find better understanding, and patience with one another as we struggle to find better understanding – AND maybe even to generate both motivation and a sense of direction for how to find it too.

 

Soul Asylum At The “Nut Hut”

“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV” – Peter Bergman (1986) in a Vick’s Formula 44 TV ad.

“I’m not a mental patient, but I play one in my mind” – Agent X (present day) in a real life proph-O-drama on the streets of Lubbock, Texas.

(Excuse for myself: I am fully aware that suffering mental illness is almost universally accompanied by stigma as well.  People who suffer various forms of it endure shameful labels, and there are MANY of them which include “retard”, “nuts”, “lunatic”, “crazy” and many others.  Sometimes technical terms become shameful, and eventually even the professional guild jettisons use of them. (“Retard” is a good example.)  And while I recognize there is shame and stigma associated with mental illness in general and with a plethora of terms involved with it, I intend to embrace the stigma rather than shun it or run from it.  It is one small part of my cruciform discipline and vocation.  Thus my embrace of the condition and the labels (which I will limit in reference to myself alone) is no accident.  Some of you will not like it, will find it offensive, and might not give me any further hearing because of it, but I find value in it that I hope you will discover too.)

A bit of my mental background (personal and familial):

My dad was a mental health professional when I was a kid – a marriage and family counselor to be exact.

Several members of both my immediate and extended family have suffered with drug and alcohol addiction (something even I flirted heavily with in my youth).  Some argue that addiction and mental illness are like the chicken and the egg.  Dunno which comes first, but there is little doubt that many mental patients “self-medicate” with illegal drugs and alcohol.

I suspect most of my family members have suffered undocumented depression, and I am aware of a couple of distant family members who died from suicide, and one close cousin died, after years of heavy drug addiction, under suspicious circumstances which some have speculated was suicide.

When I was in my early twenties, my maternal grandfather took me to a doctor (GP) who diagnosed me with Bi-Polar Disorder (this was back when the guild was transitioning away from the term “Manic/Depressive”) and he put me on Lithium to treat it.  However, after several months, I got a second opinion from a real psychiatrist who re-diagnosed me with “Chronic Low-grade Depression” and treated me with Pamelor.  Within a year or two, I stopped filling the prescriptions and did not seek further treatment.

Years later, I got divorced, lost my job, and my mom died all in a three month span.  I began to struggle with a lot of stress and mental fog – deep depression, bad dreams, despair and loneliness, anxiety and even confusion.  It got so bad that I wept at work; I would leave the house and forget where I was going; and my friends could not console me.  Soon I went to another doctor (GP again) and got on some anti-depressants.  One of the side effects of the medication was “suicidal thoughts”, which I was already at great risk for, and sure enough those dark thoughts began flooding my mind in the night.  I began working out a plan in my mind and even sought out a street gang to confront in hopes they would put me out of my misery (a story for another time).  When that fell through I considered more sure-fire options, and then decided I might quit using the antidepressants which I felt were possibly responsible for the new developing problem.

Later, I found out quitting cold turkey like that without medical supervision (which I did not seek) actually makes matters worse.  In the meantime, I called the out patient clinic at the psych hospital.  I went in to visit with a young college student/intern who did an intake interview with me.  I was very curious what help they might offer, but I was also sure I did not want to get stuck as an inpatient.  So when he asked if I was suicidal, I insisted that I was not.  I was truthful about everything else – and actually that question is a judgment call anyway.  I was there seeking help, which to my way of thinking meant I was not in fact suicidal – at least not at that moment.

A bit of my mental background (professional):

It turns out he was not able to offer me any services, except to put me on a waiting list (which I believe I am still on to this day more than a decade later).  Nevertheless, this young man’s visit with me prompted me to take risks with my life in a more hopeful direction, and when I left him, I immediately went out and enrolled in a college program which earned me a second degree a couple of years later!  (Thanx intern dude!)

It was shortly after that when I went back to that psych hospital and this time took a job as a “Mental Health Specialist”.  That was a hoot.  I was still on the waiting list to be a patient there, but now I was going to work for the place instead!  Wonder how it would have worked out IF they had called me in for treatment – CRAZY!

At any rate, I became a staffer working with the inpatients at that point.  And I gotta say, I really found my niche!  I am sure I am remembered there still as a favored part of that staff.  And while I learned a lot about mental illness and the various treatments, I also deeply identified with my clients and sensed a rich connection with most of them.

I became CRAZY.

Well, actually, before I went off the deep end, I discovered that I have an acute awareness of impending suicides.  I am not foolproof, but I have a knack for sensing crisis situations like Radar O’Reilly sensing “choppers”.  This earned me the experience of pulling nooses off of patients who were actively attempting to hang themselves.  I developed a keen sensitivity that helped me to ward it off before it got that far.  I also developed a keen sense for contraband (well, actually, I cultivated a rapport with this one client who was the master at smuggling in and hiding contraband, and I got him to teach me the tools of the trade).   And I found myself bringing Jesus to bear in the lives of some of these desperate souls.  Seriously, it’s amazing how deep Psalm 88 speaks to a suicidal person, yet sharing it is ironically counterintuitive.  But when suicidal clients discover God’s Word for THEM, it’s amazing the impact it has.

Going slightly mad:

I began play-acting with the clients.  I avoided using derogatory terminology, but they did not – AND they used it with regard to me.  But it always came off humorous.  Dangerous humor to be sure, but it proved time and again to be the avenue for deeper relationship.

I told clients in the inpatient facility, “Frankly speaking… It was being Frank with others that got me stuck in here…”  And they laughed and called me “crazy”!

I said, “He just THINKS he works here…”  And they warmed to me, but called me “nuts”!

And when I escorted them off the unit to eat down at the cafeteria, I found myself spouting off the standard institutional rules each time: “Everyone form a single file line.  No one on Red Level can exit this door; If you are on Red Level, please step out of this line.  When we get to the cafeteria, please take only one tray.  Go to your seat and remain there except to get a refill of your drink.  If anyone needs to use the restroom, do so now; we will not return to the unit for the next hour, and there are no restrooms for clients at the cafeteria.”

You know… blah, blah, blah… yada, yada, yada…

Some of our long term clients acted like they were tired of hearing me make the same remarks everyday.  I could see some of them chafe at being told these mundane rules YET AGAIN, and it seemed a little belittling.  It felt like talking to little children.  I mean, it had to be done, but I began to chafe too.  I felt like a broken record.  I felt like a cog in a heartless, mindless machine.

And then one day I felt like an airline flight attendant explaining emergency landings, exits, and oxygen masks.  I mean, if you fly a lot, you can repeat the directions in your sleep.  And that, of course, is the problem.  Complacency.  But when the notion hit me that I was escorting a group of clients off a psych ward to the cafeteria for lunch, the idea of being an airline pilot/flight attendant in everyone’s fantasy suddenly struck me as a fun idea.  Let’s all be crazy together!

I tried it out.

“Uhhh… Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking.  We will taxi off the unit shortly.  Today’s flight will take us to Café Teria.  The weather in Café Teria is a cool 70 degrees, and our flight should take about four to five minutes.  Please use the restroom now before takeoff, as once we are in the air, the fasten-your-pants-up light will remain on until our round trip flight back is completed.  We hope you enjoy your flight with Delusion Airlines…  You don’t gotta be crazy to fly with us, but it helps”.

Suddenly everyone was having fun with it.  By the time we arrived at the locked down lunchroom, I spoke up again as a flight attendant this time saying, “In case of emergency, you will be asked to dump your tray in the trash barrel, place your forks and spoons in the dish window.  As you can see we have two doors marked with ‘exit’ signs, but you cannot use them.  And if you see oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, please talk to the doctor about adjusting your meds.”

Oh, boy!

The next day I was getting requested to be the escort to lunch!

A bit of my psych/theo/ministry background (integrating my vocations):

I never used the term “Nut Hut” before, but that is exactly the favored term for the psych hospital among clients, in my experience.  I never called a client :”schizo” or “crazy”, but plenty of them used those terms and more for me.  It didn’t hurt my feelings; I wore it as a badge of honor.  I think I was subtly diminishing the barriers between my clients and me.  My crazy behavior had limits, but I kept imagining and deploying more and more of these tactics to elicit humorous receptions and did not shy from self deprecation.  It was one small step for cruciform kind, but one giant leap for Agent X.  I did not make myself out to be more important than those I served; I made myself out to be LIKE THEM to the extent I could – or even more to be their servant sent by God.  And I found many of the clients loosened up with me, confided in me, reached out to me.

Did this mean I HELPED them in some special way?

Maybe.  I don’t really know.  But I do know that I found much more interpersonal rapport with this mentality than when I acted like the trainers who trained me without it.

But also during this season of my life, I was spending more and more time on the streets reaching out to the homeless.  And as you can imagine, I found a LOT of my psych unit clients out there (and vice versa).  And when we were on the streets, none of the rules applied there (except maintaining confidentiality).  You can read about one of my encounters with a psych unit patient on the streets on Loiter Larry’s blog.  Find it here:

https://clashofcashntrash.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/john-and-gina/

But the really crazy part is that one time we got this client who was quite a lot younger than me and deeply delusional, but he looked the part as if he were straight out of central casting.  It was the hair that really told its own story.  The guy had some truly wild and wiry locks.  Not too long… well, actually yes… too long, but not tame at all and not past his shoulders either.  But unwashed, straggly, frayed… like he put his finger in a light socket!

Everyone remarked on his hair.  Everyone.

And it dawned on me that I could let my hair grow like that.  I could tame it at work, but when I hit the streets, I could punk it out like his.  So I tried it.

It took months to grow it out, and I never quite achieved the same length, but I did get quite a mop top.  And on my days off from work, when I hit the streets, I would fray it out with lots of goop.  I looked nasty crazy!

This mental patient was my hero.  I wanted to imitate him.  But I didn’t tell anyone.  I just subtly set out to achieve this look.. this look that drew so much contempt from everyone who saw the guy.  The Fat Beggars School of Prophets was still a new group then.  A couple of people noted to me that John the Baptist looked like a wild man, and maybe I was kinda like him.  But I kept thinking of my friend from the psych hospital instead.

I had another friend in the psych ward who thought he was Jesus Christ.  He was a gentle soul, and could have given me cause for pause with his charitable way except he also thought he was “Prince Dark Lord”.  This wasn’t multiple personalities; it was multiple demons-n-deities.  It was a feature of his disease alright, but I couldn’t help but recall George Bernard Shaw’s play about St. Joan and the cross examination Joan of Arc undergoes with the prosecutor.  Joan tells him, “God talks to me.”  And he replies, “That is just your imagination.”  And she retorts, “Yes.  That’s how God talks to me.”

Seriously.  Let that bake your noodle.

And so here I was taking cues from my psych patient friends about how to be a prophet.  They had the stigma I wanted so I could embrace humiliation and be cruciformed.  I come from a church tradition that is quite happy with prophecy being biblical – especially that kind of biblical which is trapped in the Bible!  Any talk of prophecy in our contemporary age is viewed with deep suspicion.  The same kind of suspicion Shaw’s Joan of Arc faces – the same kind of suspicion my friend from the psych ward who has delusions that he is Jesus Christ faces.

But what if Christ really manifests himself in the delusion?  How would the doctor every distinguish?

I became … not a prophet, exactly, but a symbol of a prophet.  I was deluded.  I had to get okay with that.  It is a shameful thing to confess.  God talks to me in my imagination.  That is how he talks to me.

I got some real-world confirmation though.

One day I was heading out to the streets to take communion to some of my street homeless friends that my church friends hardly have the time of day for, and when Mrs. Agent X, my wife, looked at me with my hair like-I-just-don’t-care, she very contemptuously announced: “You look like a psych patient!”

I said, “Thanx” and went on my merry way confident that I was hearing from God.  I was becoming cruciformed.

 

 

“I Hate God”

After reading a blog post published by a believer(?) expressing an honest, though emotional, outburst – a radical expression of his feelings toward God (by ripping apart his Bible and posting a picture of the mess), I began to reflect a bit more earnestly on my own blogging.  I had a visceral reaction to the title: I Hate God.  I figure my reaction was intended.  It caught my attention.  I was arrested… astonished… troubled by it.

Does this blogger really hate God?  REALLY???

After further investigation, I took him at his word.  Not sure his hate is ongoing, I expect it is an expression of his frustration with God – perhaps a very undisciplined expression.  Yet, maybe it’s a passing thing.  Maybe not, but maybe so.

What kind of enterprise is hating God?  Just how far can you go with that?  Where will it get you?

The only positive thing I can imagine about making such a statement is that perhaps you are finally honest and not deluding yourself.  Perhaps in God’s grace, coming to terms with your hate for God will get you both in a new place where you can honestly relate with each other.

It is a very vulnerable place to be.  Maddeningly vulnerable, in fact.  One you cannot sustain indefinitely.  Either God will finally give you up to your dishonorable passions and judge against you (think Romans 1) or you will finally cave to his infinite grace and turn to him with all authenticity of heart, having acknowledged that you began relating to him with hate.  And this latter option is all the more powerful since you come from the depths of your wayward heart without pretense into God’s mercy.

But it is a vulnerable place to be.

Maddeningly vulnerable.

I have no idea that the blogger I encountered makes this move with God.  I suspect there is a shock value in writing such a post.  It gets attention.  And if that is the sum total of the enterprise, then it is just another distraction in a marketplace of ideas.  After all, just where does hating God get you?  What is the prize for it?  If you are genuine about it?

Nevertheless, I find the post inspirational – in that Psalm 88 sense of “inspiration”.  I also find it crazy.  Yes, crazy – insane – nuts.  All of those politically incorrect, shame-filled terms for mental instability.

So much Christian blogging (my own included – often enough) amounts to voicing “shoulds” and “oughts”.  Fair enough.  There are things we should do… things we ought not do….  Talking about them is part of the job.  But blogging like that isn’t very creative or imaginative, I don’t think.  Writing can be powerful, and more of that from more people doesn’t inspire me much.

Ultimately hanging on a cross dying is the focal point of all God’s will for his creation.  The depths of mystery and power at that point are not reduced to matters of shoulds and oughts.  I will not exhaust its mystery or power in a blog post either, but I can open up a new line of thought: it is Jesus’ prophetic dramatization of God coming to be crowned king of his own people.  Just saying that opens up new avenues of theological exploration that holds the potential to gravitate your whole imagination.  This despite the overwhelming repulsion and repugnance of it!

Come to the foot of the cross and behold God made king of your heart and of all God’s people and ultimately of all creation.

That sounds crazy to me.  And vulnerable.  Jarring.  Stunning.  Shameful.  Painful, yet joyful.  Stripped of pretense.

If I am going to continue blogging, I hope to take readers THERE.  And hopefully to minister to the world a cruciform service to a young, Jewish prophet who dares to show us what it looks like when God takes the crown of his creation amid his own people turning out to hate him.  And if you are honest, you will find yourself there in that crowd one way or the other.

A Gospel Confrontation

Thanx for reading with us, Larry. It’s kicking my backside too. I read (and reblogged) Ernie’s post several days ago. And after reading the parable about the rich man and Lazarus, I got to thinking more and more about Luke’s Gospel. I haven’t read it all through like that in three years myself. It is refreshing AND confrontational to me too. I may have to write on it after all…

Loiter Larry

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog.  I think X says what I wish I would have said and says it better than me.  So I don’t have much to add.  But I went to a Bible study with him a few days ago that is changing my life.  He isn’t writing about it, so I guess I will.

We started reading Luke in a small group.  Just reading.  Have you ever sat down and just read Luke?  I never did.

It starts off talking about the Christmas story.  Not the whole thing, but a big part of it.  The part about no room at the inn and all the shepherds mostly.  The three wisemen and the slaughter of the innocents (actually that part gets left out of most Christmas productions) is not in Luke.  It’s all a bit wordy, but familiar.  I got what I expected…

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Seeing The Least of These

A heart gripped by Jesus… gripped by the poor. Read this post and FEEL the love.

Mirroring Jesus

Recently my dad led a group of youth into Philadelphia for a day trip.  Our goal was not to go site seeing, though we did get a few “touristy selfies”, our goal was to serve.  It was sort of a 1-day-missions trip.  Let me tell you, it was an eye opener.

Our group took the train into Philly, and as soon as we arrived, there were people.  Not just people you tend to think live in the city, but hurting, poor, homeless.  My heart broke for these people.  We had brought some bags with toothbrushes, granola bars, deodorant, and a few other things in them, and we had the opportunity to pass many of these bags out to people… we even were able to pray for a few people as well.

We came to help out at an event held in Kensington.  If any of you know where Kensington is…

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My Two Year Old Prays

I do my best to involve my kids in worship – even at church.  I have so many, and they are so young, that I rely heavily on the nursery staff (and I confess, I don’t know how much worship they involve the babies in), but when I can have one or two with me during the assembly, I model prayer with folded hands, bowed head, and I help them to do it too.  I hold them up on my shoulders during the music, and help them clap hands and behave joyously – which they take to like a duck in water.  And from the moment they are old enough to swallow a pinch of cracker and a drop of grape juice, I share communion with them too.

However, at home a daily routine consists of assembly-line diaper changes, assembly-line feedings, assembly-line baths and so forth.  Up until very recently, I have had four in diapers waiting on me for every need.  Anyone who has juggled one, will surely have sympathy.  Just when everything is ready to head out the door, there is a sudden need of another diaper change!  To call it all “assembly-line” routines suggests there is a “line” – an order, a step-by-step process.  But there is not.  It is seething with chaos just beneath the surface.  I was being NICE calling it all “assembly-line”.

So when I was rushing though lunch the other day and getting the first one started with eating while buckling the third one into the high chair, I didn’t even think about stopping to pray and bless the meal.

Nope.

Didn’t even think of it.

Didn’t even make the check off list.

Just completely forgot to seek God’s blessing.

Hmmm…

But then I look over at the two year old, waiting patiently (a rare event), and suddenly he folds his hands for prayer!

God is doing something through me, and doing it in spite of me.  My little agendas are all important and everything, but a bit lost too.  And so God just bypassed me.  The Spirit of God came on this child, and he prayed for us in the midst of our chaos.  And I saw it.

Filled with conviction, I stopped the presses and called everyone in the house together.  We gathered around the two year old and asked him to lead us in prayer.  And in his very simple, mostly nonverbal mixed with baby-talk/tongue of the Angels, he led us in prayer and blessed our meal and our home.

My two year old prays.

Hmmm…