A Pre-Lent Lenten Prayer

“A lenten prayer to avoid entitlement from Richard Rohr:

‘Maybe we all should begin our days with a litany of satisfaction, abundance, and enoughness. God, you have given me another day of totally gratuitous life: my health, my eyes, my ears, my mind, my taste, my family, my freedom, my education, clean water, more than enough food, a roof over my head, a warm bed and blanket, friends, sunshine, a beating heart, and your eternal love and guidance.

To any one of these we must say, “And this is more than enough!'”

Ok, I know we’re not quite to Lent season just yet. I realize that Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday are two weeks away (and Mardi Gras just happens to fall on my birthday this year, which is neat).

Still, this applies to any season of the year or of life. Gratitude is the gift that never goes  out of style and never becomes obsolete. Joy is as much of an art and a discipline as it is a gift because while it’s free, it takes effort and stamina to fully realize and appreciate it.

I should probably at some point tape these words from Richard Rohr to my bathroom mirror so that they are the first thing I see when I wake up. Or maybe I should post them somewhere I will see them AFTER I’ve had that all-important first cup of coffee.

I need reminding often of how blessed  I truly am. It’s easy in a culture that promotes dissatisfaction and envy to look at all that’s missing from my life and all that I don’t have. That can lead to despair.

Joy starts with being content with such things that I have already. Gratitude is the way we see God’s provident hand everywhere working in everything. Even on Mondays.

 

 

In Response to All the Nonsense on Social media

“O God of every nation,
of every race and land,
redeem the whole creation
with your almighty hand;
where hate and fear divide us
and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us
and heal our strife-torn world” (William Watkins Reid, Jr.)

If you’ve been paying attention to social media, you know there’s a lot of hate and fear dividing this nation. It seems to me that both the hate and fear are bipartisan as both seem to exhibit both, but in different ways.

Some days, it feels like there will always be a divide running through the land. It seems like people will never cross the political aisle to at least try to see things from a different perspective.

Lately, there is no middle ground of any kind. The mantra is that “my side is 100% right and holy and just and righteous, and your side is 100% wrong, therefore you must not only be wrong but stupid and evil as well.”

This is where believers step in. Jesus calls us to be one as He and the Father are one. He doesn’t give us any loopholes. This isn’t optional.

It means praying for your enemies instead of bashing them on Facebook. It means loving them instead of publicly wishing them harm. Again, that goes for both sides.

Above all, it means realizing that as a believer in Christ, your ultimate allegiance isn’t to a political party or a platform. It’s not to an ideology. It’s to a King and a Kingdom that will last beyond all the kingdoms and republics of the world, including the one we’re currently living in.

Maybe instead of casting blame, it’s time to look in the mirror and start repenting of hateful attitudes and critical spirits. Maybe it’s time to start being the change we want to see in the world.

And that change starts with love.

 

Impossible = I’m Possible

It’s after midnight and I’m weary and ready for bed. I don’t have it in me tonight to do 100% completely original material, so I hijacked . . . I mean borrowed a guest writer to fill in for me.

This spoke to me the first time I read it way back in 2015. I still cling to the truths herein:

“Hey Soul? Feeling like it’s looking a bit impossible? BUT GOD!
Like there’s not a chance of change? BUT GOD!
Like there’s no hope for a different ending? BUT GOD!
‘But God, who is rich in mercy…’ Eph.2:4
Two Words, Change Everything: BUT GOD!
Change every internal conversation with those two words ‘BUT GOD’ —
and you change your life.
What looks impossible changes —
because when we pray to a GOD WHO IS ABLE —
He changes us & our impossibles into the impossABLES” (Ann Voskamp).

 

Refugees

One of the most disturbing trends is how quick people are to react on social media to news events without taking in all the facts. I completely agree with Denzel Washington’s statement that if you don’t read (and watch) the news, you’re uninformed, and if you do, then you’re misinformed.

That being said, I don’t have a position on the current refugee situation. I don’t know all the details and I don’t necessarily trust all the news reports and how much they decide to include or leave out.

I do know a few things that have been on my mind lately.

I do know that God has a special place in His heart for the poor, the orphan, and the widow. God blesses those who look after the least of these. It’s all over the Bible.

I also know that every refugee is someone’s daughter or son or brother or sister or mother or father. Every single one is a person that Jesus loves and for whom Jesus died.

I remember that the Bible says that one time I was an alien and a stranger to the promise of God’s kingdom, but now I who was far away have been brought near. I truly believe that no one should be denied hearing the gospel of Jesus because of where they were born or what ethnicity they are or what language they speak or the color of their skin.

I remember that God told His people that He desires mercy above sacrifice.

I know that refugees are human beings and not a statistic that we can shut off or deny. The Christlike response is never one of fear or alienation.

I see the Statue of Liberty and I see the part written about giving her the poor, the wretched, those longing to be free.

I’m sure that people on both sides of the issue have valid arguments. I just can’t get away from how the grace of God is not limited to certain races or nationalities or cultures or people groups. It’s for all. It’s for everywhere.

Take it however you want. I’m too tired at this point to make lucid applications at this point. Well, maybe one. If you were the least of these how would you want to be treated. Better yet, how did Jesus treat you when you were one of the least of these.

Then go and do the same.

 

I Love my Jeep

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I recently had to take my 1997 Jeep Cherokee to Fitz-It Auto Repair. Anytime you have work done on an older car, there’s always the possibility– however remote– that the repairs could end up costing more than the car is worth.

Thankfully, all my car needed was a tuneup. Now it runs better than it has in a long, long time. In fact, driving the Red Sled, as I affectionately call my vehicle, is more fun than ever.

It won’t ever get mistaken for a luxury sports car like a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. It doesn’t get the ridiculously good gas mileage of a hybrid like a Toyota Prius. It’s “vintage,” which is another way of saying it’s OLD.

But how many 20 year old cars are still on the road? How many engines are still running after over 300,000 miles?

Contentment is loving what you already have and being brave enough to say that no, I don’t need more to be happy. I have enough. In this day and age, that’s a rare and radical mindset.

I may be an old fart for saying this, but I don’t see very many cars rolling out of the automotive plants these days that will have the staying power of those old Jeeps. Those Cherokee engines practically last forever if you routinely take care of them and do all the regular maintenance (like getting tuneups more than once every 20 years).

I think everyone should have at least one car in their lifetime that’s just fun to drive. Screw practicality and economy and safety ratings and just pick something that you can roll down the windows and turn up the volume on the music and enjoy the open road.

It helps if you have good music to go with your fun ride. That’s also a must.

 

More Declarations of Dependence

“God helps those who cannot help themselves” (Charles H. Spurgeon).

The old saying that got passed around as Bible truth went something along the lines of “God helps those who help themselves.”

It’s often quoted as a verse out of the Bible when it actually is a quote by Benjamin Franklin, who was a deist and didn’t believe in a personal God who was actively involved in the affairs of humans and the world.

I’ve always wondered about the flaw in that statement. If we can help ourselves, what in the world do we need God for? It seems to me that if we’re truly self-sufficient, then we’re our own god.

The truth of the matter that I find out everyday is that I can’t help myself. In every sense of the word. I start out every morning with the best of intentions and end up looking back on a long list of messes and mistakes that litter my day.

God helps those who cannot help themselves, me included. You included.

God hears the cries of and delivers those who know their desperate need for God and proclaim it loudly every day. God is seeking out those who will make a declaration of dependence and throw their whole weight in faith on Him at every possible moment.

God is after blind beggars who cry out persistently for the mercy they don’t deserve but who never give up in seeking it even though everyone around them tells them to shut up and go home.

God is after the soldiers who count themselves unworthy for Jesus to even enter the door of their homes but who know His power isn’t limited by geography.

God is after those of us who never stop clinging to that old rugged cross and never stop holding on to faith in spite of our circumstances and who never quit believing that God is good all the time.

God helps those who cannot help themselves.

The end.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup for the Stomach

I did my usual mecca to Chick-fil-A after Kairos and decided to go with soup because it’s 1) cheap, 2) still considered pre-blessed Jesus chicken, 3) good for you, and 4) the ultimate comfort food.

I got chicken noodle soup. It’s the first time in a very long time that I can remember ever voluntarily choosing chicken noodle soup when I didn’t have the flu or a cold. It wasn’t even that cold outside but just very grey and drizzly.

I was reminded how comforting such a simple meal can be. I don’t know if it’s psychological or not, but I immediately felt better after the first bite. Not that I felt sick or anything. Chicken noodle soup is one of the few non-lethally fattening foods that can give you the warm fuzzies.

I should order it more often.