Archive for December, 2013


December 19, 2013 4 comments

It was just too much.  Too much temptation.  Too much potential.  Too much opportunity.  Just too much damn money not to play.   Yeah, I bought a ticket this week for the second largest Mega Millions Jackpot ever!  To all of my anti-gambling friends and advocates, please pardon me!  It was just too much.   $648 million to be exact.  After taxes it’s only $324 million… so, don’t get crazy on me.

As I stood in line at the local CEFCO, waiting to buy my ticket, I started fantasizing about what I would do with the winnings.  I thought of ALL the people and ALL the ministries I was going to bless with my new fortune.  How much fun would it be to dress up like a hobo, wander into the BMW dealership, spit tobacco juice onto their leather furniture (I don’t chew… not yet anyway), and order three dozen cars “to go,” like they were donuts or chicken tenders?  Then I’d be Santa for sure!   That would so rock!

MegaI’d sprinkle $10 bills in the streets like frikk’n Johnny Appleseed.  I’d buy a home for the guy outside of Walmart, who’s holding his little cardboard sign that reads, “I have faith in your grace.”  Dude, I’m so gonna rock your world one day!  I’d buy out Jerry Jones, invest in a car wash, build orphanages, help hospitals, finance missionaries, own a tattoo parlor . . . and a classy cigar bar too.  It’s gonna be awesome!

I made my purchase, folded my ticket, tucked it away in my wallet, and headed back to my truly awesome minivan to move on to the next chore.  But in that moment, as I shut the door—sitting in that muffled silence—right before I put the keys into the ignition, HE asked me a question.

The Holy Spirit can so poke into a moment.  It wasn’t brash or even abrupt.  It was like a velvet tongue depressor.  “Open wide son.  Let me take a look here.”


“Do you really believe it would be good for you?”  That was it.  I honestly wished there had been more elaboration, but it didn’t take long to work the metrics in my mind.  He didn’t need to elaborate.  I got it in a moment.

Listen, I’m ALL about wealth and the unbelievable blessings that flow from heaven, humanity, and industry.  Each is capable of incredible means and substance!  Like I said, I’M ALL ABOUT IT!

Generous people with sensitive hearts subsidize most of the ministry that happens in this world.  So, this isn’t a “money is bad” discussion.  Patti and I have seen God make His provision gloriously evident through the love and support of His people.  I don’t believe money is bad for one second.

But the question He was asking me struck another nerve.  The older I get, the more sensitive I seem to feel about the value of dependence upon God’s provision and protection.  Maybe it’s the natural decline of my aging physicality or the loosening grip of having to climb another mountain just because it’s there, but I don’t think I’ve had much appreciation about living in faith for much of anything.  Honestly, I’ve slain a lot of dragons.  But John the Beloved had something most dragon-slayers don’t.  Prophets and priests are much more about the heartbeat than the drumbeat.

Our religious bent is always looking for the big payoff.  The formula.  The easy way through.  And when religious men asked Jesus technical questions about religious technicalities, He rarely answered in the way they wanted, if He answered at all.  It was always so simple and blatantly hidden.

I think it requires another kind of rhythm to really savor the deep waters of trusting God.  In that prayer, the one that Jesus taught his disciples, are things that we still don’t get.

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Honestly, I don’t even know where to start with this part of that prayer.  And, if I don’t know where to start, considering the way that I am now, how far would I be from this kind of flow with the Lord if I had the winning Mega numbers tucked away in my wallet?   “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Talk about blowing up sensitive dependence.  Wow!

stacks-of-moneySo let’s say you won that Jackpot.  $324 million becomes your instant blessing – or devil-racked curse.  What does that do for your “dependency factor” in how you relate to the Lord?  How much of your day would be spent protecting, investing, giving, loaning, stewarding, expanding, building, counting, and enjoying your money?  How many new friends and greedy enemies would you suddenly acquire?  Would you be ready to tackle that kind of responsibility?

I can’t say I’ve done any real research on this, but I did read one time that past lotto winners don’t have a very good track record of maintaining or growing their new wealth.  In fact, it’s not a pretty story… at all.

Do you think you could live unchanged and unchained by that much money?  Do you think you could remain sensitive to His voice, whether in a minivan or your new Escalade?

Hey, don’t get me wrong!  I DID buy a ticket.  Maybe you did too.  Most of us would at least give it a whirl I think.  I didn’t win and neither did you.  But that might be a good thing.  Probably.  Maybe.



(Oh, if you do play again… and win… please remember me when you come into your kingdom.)

Categories: Uncategorized

scratching back to faith

December 12, 2013 14 comments

I’ve never been one to peruse devo material spouting just Advent themes.  The Gospel texts have always provided all the inspiration that I’ve wanted or needed.  But this year… I got crazy.  I’ve been venturing outside of my traditional norms and tapped into a collection of Advent writings that I have absolutely loved!  Coupled with rich reading in the book of Isaiah and a sprinkling of other passages throughout the Gospels have provided a wonderful adventure of preparation and yuletide focus.

The guy (Fr. Richard Rohr) laying it down in this material (Preparing For Christmas – Daily Meditations for Advent) speaks my language and I absolutely love it!  Here are a few examples:

Ricky BobbyWe do the Gospel no favor when we make Jesus, the Eternal Christ, into a perpetual baby, a baby able to ask little or no adult response from us.  One even wonders what the mind is that would keep Jesus a baby.  Maybe it was ‘baby-Christianity’.  We might cuddle or coo with a baby, but any spirituality that makes too much of the baby Jesus is perhaps not yet ready for prime-time life.  God clearly wants friends, partners and images, if we are to believe the biblical texts.  God, it seems, wants adult spirituality and a mature, free response from us.  God loves us as adult partners, with mutual give and take, and you eventually become the God that you love.  Take that as an absolute.”

I would have used the Ricky Bobby video instead of the picture… but I just couldn’t do it.  –smile-

Did you like that one?  Here’s another:

When we demand satisfaction of one another, when we demand any completion of history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or any dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, “Why weren’t you this for me?  Why didn’t life do that for me?” we are refusing to say, “Come, Lord Jesus.”  We are refusing to hold out for the “full picture” that is always given by God.

 touch“Come, Lord Jesus” is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope.  The Theological virtue of hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our Satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves.  We are able to trust that HE will come again, just as Jesus has come into our past, into our private dilemmas and into our suffering world.  Our Christian past then becomes our Christian prologue, and “Come, Lord Jesus” is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of cosmic hope!

See, it’s not the soft-served baby Jesus that we usually sprinkle on our Christmas crumpets.  Let’s look at one more example and then I’ll stop badgering you.  I love chewing on this stuff!

(The context is set here by the author candidly sharing his experiences as a result of ministering to incarcerated women.   I like the images because we all know people in prison (even though they may not be locked up inside of a functioning penal facility).  Vulnerable brokenness fuels a desperate journey back to their foundations of faith—which is what I think we’re all sensitive to—especially now as we near Christmas.)

Women in jail carry a lot of guilt and shame.  They often asked me, “Why am I here?  What is wrong with me?”  The women feel so guilty because their children were at home, and these mothers were in jail.  How could a mother tell her children that she is in jail and let her children think that Mom is a bad person?

jailThese women must dig into places inside of themselves that you and I don’t have to dig into.  Religion of itself is not enough for such women and men.  These women and men must scratch their way back into faith, and when they get there, it’s often the real thing.  We always said that, “Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, or afraid of God, whereas spirituality is for people who have been through hell and ‘undergone’ God.

We nice guys don’t usually have to scratch our way back to faith.  We’re comfortable with external religion and polite morality for a long time.  God will lead each of us, I’m sure, but by a different path, so that all religion one day has to be faith, love, humility, and surrender—or it’s not true religion. “

I’m not sure exactly how it happens for everyone, but most of us look at the broken things in our life and automatically default to a belief that God rejects us because of our defects.  Those thoughts rolled in on me again this morning.

Most of you who read my stuff know that I have spent this last year emailing devos to a small group of subscribers.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times the material has been looked over, edited, screened, washed in spelling and grammar programs, and now the manuscript sits at the publisher and is about to be available for purchase.  But, the last two days, I’ve noticed obvious errors that somehow escaped all the corrective processes, and now it’s too late to make the needed repairs!  IT IS BEYOND IRRITATING!

So, I’m sitting here sulking about it—ranting internally, bemoaning the fact that I’ve tried to do something helpful for others and now I feel like Jed Clampett because my masterpiece is now ruined and everyone will soon know how flawed it really is.  Did I mention how irritated I feel?  Grrrrr!

Then the Holy Spirit speaks, “It’s no different from you.  (What?!?!  What do you mean?)  Why would you expect it to be perfect?  (Because I’ve spent 3 years working on this frikk’n project.  I’m not an idiot.  I’ve tried my best to make it right!  Sorry for the yelling, but I’m upset.)  You’ve got warts, flaws, and broken pieces, and I still use you regardless… I still like you… I still love you.  (Yes, this is true.)  Then believe what you preach son.  (Lord, this is always an awkward moment.  I can’t tell if you’re trying to tell me something simple or if I’ve got other issues working here that need to be addressed.)  Both.  Have a little faith.  (Which means what?)  Surrender your control.  Believe I’m doing some things that you are not yet aware of.  Know that our definitions of perfection are quite different from each other.  (Ok… I’m trying.  Thank you.)  You’re welcome.”

Merry frikk’n Christmas!  lol


Categories: Uncategorized