BUT, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you that it’s a tough read. Legalistic people who care more about how things look are going to struggle with this VERY REAL story. It’s not for the religious faint of heart. It’s messy and somehow I think this might possibly be what Paul was suggesting when he wrote:
Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, The Message.
I truly hope and pray that you’re curious enough to check it out. I loved every minute of that read!
If there is anything that we need to tap into during this Easter Weekend, it should be the majestic marvel of what we too flippantly handle and proclaim as GRACE. The expanse and depth of grace is much too vast to even try to explain or define. Yeah, we like our acronyms but they’re sometimes just too trivial to carry the rich message of such a universally proportioned truth.
I wonder if we really see what is in front of us every single day? Do we recognize the grace that engulfs us? Are we remotely grateful… at all? Is that the banner that hangs over our life?
“GRATEFUL BECAUSE OF GRACE”
A few mornings ago I read a few lines that really stirred me. I’m submitting these words because I think there is supreme value in gratitude for the grace we live in. It’s a game changer about how we present ourselves, how we respond to challenges, how we relate to people who can be ugly to us, or how we see a world that seems to be flipped upside down from some of our most sacred values.
Instead of another chocolate bunny, I give you this:
When Job’s life is about to be taken away from him, he can say one of two things. He can curse God, as he does for a moment, and say, God, why not fifty-one years? Or he can surrender to love and grace and say, God, why fifty years? Why did I deserve anything? When we take on that attitude, we’ve made a decision for grace.
“Naked I came into the world, and naked I will leave” (Job 1:21). What do I have, brothers and sisters, that has not been given to me? All is grace. All is given. Who gave me this hand? Who wiggles these fingers? Who created this eye that I cannot explain or understand?
I cannot even make this hair grow. It is all gift. From beginning to end, everything is grace, everything is given. There is nothing we deserve.
We have no real rights. There is nothing we have to have. When you lose your friend, your lover, your life-giver, you can curse God and say, Why was he taken? Why was she taken? Or you can say, Why was she given at all?
You can say, Why is that love gone? Or you can say, Why did I deserve a moment of love? Why did I deserve a second of this life?
God is creator and I am creature. God created me out of nothing and some years back I did not exist at all.
“Yahweh gives and Yahweh takes away. Blessed be the name of Yahweh” (Job 1:21)
Richard Rohr, O. F. M. from Days of Renewal
Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” John 11:27, NASB.
He Is Risen! Hallelujah! ALL is GRACE!
It’s a fair question. “I mean, Mike, there are hundreds and thousands of needs around us, right here. I don’t have to get on a plane and fly abroad to find ministry.”
I totally agree! BUT, if you’ve never gone to a foreign land for a missions endeavor or spiritual pilgrimage…
YOU NEED TO GO AT LEAST ONCE.
Notice that I didn’t use the words: thrill, excitement or stimulation. I’m not talking about a zip-line adventure in the Amazon. Yeah, your 3-day all-inclusive in Cancun doesn’t count either. There is nothing wrong with any of that, but that’s not what I’m referring to here.
I’m talking about mud huts, sewage in the streets, trash heaps that are home to hundreds, homes where unwanted babies live, children selling their bodies for pocket change, more beggars than you can count, and the emptiness in eyes that are absolutely without natural or spiritual hope. It will chill you to the bone. Yeah, you need to see it, smell it, cry over it… maybe even be a little undone about it.
You’ll find out some things about yourself. But, probably not what you’d expect.
I’ve been going at it a really long time. I have “some” experience. I personally think it would do you a world of good.
I love the story you’re about to read. A good story helps grow your appetite and gets the juices flowing. This is why I believe it is necessary for you to go… at least once.
If you need direction, motivation or insight… let’s have a conversation. I have some thoughts.
* * * * *
Americans come at life expecting everything to work. It always has. I was born with silver spoons in my mouth. I had a strong family and was loved from the beginning. My parents paved a path for me. Do you realize what a head start that is? It’s wonderful.
But there’s a dark side: People from privileged backgrounds expect that path always to be paved; they expect everything to work out. When it doesn’t, they’re not only disappointed, they feel wronged. They think, How dare reality not work out for me! Why should I have to suffer? How dare the air conditioner not work!
That explains the morose, quasi-depressed state of so many affluent countries and peoples. When you go to poor countries, these peoples who don’t have anything and for whom everything is going wrong from morning until night (and if you’ve been there you know I’m not making this up) tend to be much happier than we are!
And our tendency is to look and say that they shouldn’t be happy, they have no reason to be happy. They don’t seem to have an agenda.
I remember visiting the Home for the Destitute and Dying in Jamaica. People lay in rags, with the smell and the lack of food and the sores. I thought, How could anybody live this way?
From my world, it was like hell.
And yet I came as a priest to talk and pray with people. I’d stop and say, “Well, how are you?” They’d say, “Oh, fine.” And I’d want to say, “Fine? You’re not doing fine. You’re doing terribly! How can you say you’re doing fine?”
“Can I do anything for you?” I’d ask.
One woman replied, “Oh, just recite a psalm with me, Father, just recite a psalm.” And here the big Scripture man couldn’t think of a psalm.
This humble lady picked out my obvious embarrassment. Here I am, the great priest, coming to help her, and I can’t even remember a psalm by heart. She sees it on my face and starts singing Psalms 23.
“Just join in with me, Father. You just come along.”
There is a profound message here for our affluent culture. I knew I had met “the first in the Kingdom of God.”
Richard Rohr O. F. M. from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction
The picture looks harmless enough. Though this view comes from one particular origin, it looks like we have options about how we travel and which paths we choose. Thus, one forest with multiple trails.
I love the thoughts you are about to read from Richard Rohr. I used to live in an ultra-conservative spiritual environment. I know the pressure of having to get it right, be right, say it right and demand right from everyone around you.
Every direction you took, every path you chose, was littered with signs of “warning” about the dangers of being outside good doctrinal thought. My quandary has always been centered around the question of who is it that ultimately gets to decide what is good or bad doctrine?
For the most part, we’re all using the same Bible to formulate our stance and forts. In case you haven’t noticed, opinions (which we have lots and lots of these) and even “convictions” (which is the stuff we’d be willing to die for) about what is right and what is wrong are as numerous as the stars in the heavens. Everyone can’t be right and everyone can’t be wrong.
Oh wait, you’re right and everyone else is wrong? Ohhhh… got it. Perfect.
Fearful living is a miserable way to live. I’m convinced the Friar is right. If playing it safe is the goal then stop exploring and just be content with what you know already. Personally, I’m bent that way by training and by rhythm. So I have to push myself to read, think and experience life outside of my comfy box.
If I only choose the “right” path ever time, then the path on the left never gets explored. What if there is a cave to explore over there… a waterfall I’ve never seen… a crystalline aqua-blue pool that demands a skinny dip… a challenging terrain that begs to be climbed above the tree line?
Don’t you want to check that out– at least once? Fear says “hell no!“ (Give me a break… I’m NOT talking morality here! I’m referring to thought, expansion of understanding and spiritual experience.)
Nothing wrong with the “right” path (I spent quite a bit of time and energy writing RAW TALKS WITH WISDOM, hoping to influence our love affair with the right paths of Lady Wisdom’s sound counsel). But, I also don’t want to be confined to only one side of God’s forest.
Oh yeah… one more thing. FORGET hanging out with the Holy Spirit if all you want is “right”, “safe” and “comfortable”. It ain’t gonna happen! HE ain’t scared (especially of you being scared). Cheers mates! -MDP-
We prostituted Christianity when we told our people they had to “save their souls.” That attitude often affirmed the ego “spiritually,” which is very dangerous and deceptive. We called it the journey into holiness, but it was often disguised and denied self-interest.
Saving one’s soul and falling in love with God are two very different journeys. Because we told our people to save their souls, they got into spiritual consumerism, gathering sacraments, holy works, and ascetical practices–all affirming the false self. Now we’ve got these big Christian egos walking around, who are very self-protective, satisfied and conservative in the wrong way. Conversion is not on their agenda. Every preacher or teacher knows what I’m talking about.
An unhealthy conservatism is incapable of exodus, of risk, of passion, and, therefore, perhaps incapable of the living God.
Richard Rohr, O. F. M. from Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction
This is dedicated to all the people I know who are divorced or single; separated and living single; single and love it; single and hate it; lonely, alienated, disenfranchised or discontented and overwhelmed with rejection. This one is for you. HE IS LOVE. -MDP-
Most things that gain momentum in the Spirit start in the natural.
We’ll return to this shortly.
Yesterday was Valentines. It appears that the whole world was involved in the pursuit of or engaging in “biblical” knowing and YOU were totally left out of the reindeer games altogether!
People gave and received giant cards, candy, gold, silver, diamonds, flowers and all kinds of trinkets that said, “I Love You”.
You didn’t get shit.
Then towards the end of the day, the lovers found each other and realigned their connection in the most intimate and beautiful ways known to mankind!
Not only did you not get laid, no one called, no one said, “I love you” and no one held you in a kissing clinch for 5 minutes or 5 seconds, thank you very much! No one seemed to give a crap… AT all!
You didn’t go out for a fancy meal. You didn’t slow dance to Bublé. In fact (ladies), you sat on the couch in your Betty Boop PJ’s and watched another sappy Hallmark movie, lit your lavender candle, drank a bottle of $6 wine and finished off the Blue Bell; or (guys) you stared at your mind numbing Xbox game (or something worse), ate leftover pizza and drank beer until the wee hours of the morning.
Awesome dude… just awesome. Yeah… Woooo hoooo! You be a love machine!
Ok… ok. Let’s back up the trolley for one second! It’s not time to slit your wrist. Take a deep breath and lets think about this.
There are a thousand different avenues we could pursue here. I don’t want to go Dr. Phil on you, so I’m going to stay away from all the stuff that you can read in Men’s Health or Vanity. I want to return to the SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE that I mentioned earlier:
Most things that gain momentum in the Spirit start in the natural.
So you’re asking what this has to do with you getting laid. Can you just hold off on that question for right now? There is plenty of time for that.
Overall, this is a principle that I think we overlook quite often. Ultimately the burning question and legitimate desire is centered in an honest hope that you’ll eventually have a significant other in your life. You hope, we all hope that you will find them and they will find you! That is a righteous desire!
And, if you don’t want one, need one, or are perfectly content without a significant other, then feel free to check out of this conversation at anytime! There is nothing wrong with that posture either.
But the truth is, yesterday was a LOVE day… not just a let’s hook-up and get jiggy day.
And without trying to be too engrossed in the obvious, EVERY DAY IS A LOVE DAY.
So, you were not engulfed in romantic bliss all day. Sorry about that. It does suck. (Some of you have lost your mate because of a myriad of reasons. You’re hurting and we know that. The stuff we’re feeling doesn’t even compare to what you’re going through! Please forgive our whining).
But, is having or not having romance the only LOVE expression that you got going on?
I hear often: I’m ready to meet my mate. Great! But, what are you doing in the mean time to sow some love?
Are you stewarding the people around you, who genuinely love you, with random acts of care and concern? When is the last time you spent your money on someone other than yourself? Are you returning the calls, text and emails of dear friends who have reached out for you or to you? Are you keeping your family notified of your genuine love and interest?
Of course we all want the fireworks of romance and righteous passion! But, is this a fruit that we’re hopefully expecting and praying for, yet we’ve done very little sowing in the fields of need that we walk in everyday?
Personally and very sincerely, I believe that GOD has a supernatural LOVE connection on the docket for you… and we all hate patience regarding that possibility, but supernatural moves of God usually land on moving targets.
How many people in the nursing home would have gone ballistic in joy by your visit yesterday? How many sick kids in the local hospital could have used a balloon and a prayer by you casually dropping by? How many cops would have smiled and freaked out by your handing them a dozen donuts from Krispe Kreme? There were an unlimited number of possibilities to give away and sow expression of His love yesterday.
So, you didn’t get a frikk’n thing other than the creepy stuff left on your desk by some unknown cupid at work? Awesome.
What did you do to sow into LOVE yesterday?
“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.” Matthew 10:7-8, NASB
The red letter stuff is clear: As you go… preach. One is not better than the other. They are inseparably intertwined for those of us who know truth. Going is not enough. Preaching is not enough. It helps to be infused with His power to accomplish both! -MDP-
So the Church has always been afraid of the charismatic, has always feared those who speak of the Spirit because they cannot be easily organized. The Spirit blows where the Spirit will, like the wind: It comes from and goes where you know not. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. from The Great Themes of Scripture.
* * * * * * *
RAW TALKS WITH WISDOM is definitely NOT your granny’s devotional
A devotional delivered everyday to your inbox – for FREE!
Sign Up and then tell a friend!
The little tender man goes off. Dang Gina!
Let’s be honest. We do not like this part of God which is dove, water and invisible wind. We are threatened by this part of God ‘which blows where it will’ and which our theologies cannot predict or inhibit. We, like the disciples in the Upper Room, sit behind locked doors of fear, and still say that we are waiting and preparing for his Holy Spirit.
Fortunately, God has grown used to our small and cowardly ways. God knows that we settle for easy certitudes instead of gospel freedom. And God is determined to break through. The Spirit eventually overcomes the obstacles that we present and surrounds us with enough peace so that we can face the “wounds in his hands and side.’ We meet the true Jesus, wounds and all, and we greet our true selves for perhaps the first time. The two are almost the same. ‘Peace be with you.’ he says again.
from Richard Rohr O.F.M, sermon notes.
RAW TALKS WITH WISDOM is definitely NOT your granny’s devotional
Sign Up and then tell a friend!
I was very moved by Rohr’s statement, the one I included in my last blog post:
When you discover love, you want to thank somebody for it.
This has to be true.
When I first started thinking about doing a writing project, Patti was the main source of chatter that it needed to happen. I had indeed gotten many words about books and writing throughout my ministry years, but none of it really excited me. We were in a transition vacuum (2009) between Texas, Colorado, and Georgia and I had the time to start formulating a plan to write some devotionals. It was an experiment. In all honesty, I didn’t have a whole lot of direction or clarity about who I was writing to when I started the devo project. It was a couple months after writing the January batch of devos that Jon Egan (my son by marriage) challenged me to find my target group. That was easy to do, but I hadn’t really ever thought of it. Once I fixated on my target group, it became easy to speak up and be real. Religious pretending makes us so damn fake. So once I got serious about the devos, I knew I was not writing to “church people” per say. My target was another set of ears. I was fine with “church people” having the stuff, but I wasn’t going to water it down to soothe their pallet.
My natural children and their spouses were reading the stuff and keeping me moving forward. They know all of my nonsense. Their feedback had enormous weight. Patti didn’t say a whole lot, but enough to let me know that she liked what I was doing. It made her nervous, but she liked it. I like her like that.
Then another gift showed up. I don’t remember all the details, but Kayla (Phillips) Hindes found out what I was doing and she asked to read the stuff. Not only did she read every devo I wrote, she gave daily feedback from her own journal. Every single day she shared the stuff she was processing. I’m pretty sure I was more excited about what she was giving me than what I was giving her. The source of encouragement from her literally sustained me through that long season. Every time I thought about tossing in the towel, here she came with unquenchable encouragement. What a gift she has been to me through this process. Thanks babe. I owe you.
I had another group of people, I called the Devo Club, who read my stuff. I didn’t get all the feedback I wanted from them, but I did get a continuous plea that I keep sending the work. They wanted the stuff… and that was good enough to keep me going.
One person in the Devo Club was periodically sending me edits that made my work read better. I started thinking about an editor early in 2012. It had to be the right person. Someone who got me and wouldn’t be offended with the content. Easier said than done. I just watched and prayed and believed all along that Erika Baldwin needed to be the one who handled the edit. A legit “Super Mom” with full days of chasing a toddler, caring for a baby (not Bradley), who had a few things on her plate. I talked quite a bit with Bradley before I ever even approached her. The last thing I wanted was to be an intrusion on their family flow. He was adamant of his support. So I asked. Natural and spiritual daughters might possibly be some of the most beautiful creatures that have ever walked this planet. There are so many facets to their diamond like quality! Erika is no exception! Thanks babe. I owe you.
Pulling off this email project for the devos happened because of one person. The one, the only, Allison Johnston. How she crammed this extra work into her already crowded life is a supreme mystery to me. But, she did it without my ever really touching the details. As I said earlier, I’m blessed with spiritual sons and daughters who think beyond their own comfort. I’m blown away this is really happening. Honey… thank you so much! I owe you.
And you… yeah, you… thank you. I owe you.