Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Consider these words from a portion of Handel's Messiah:

For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

Such a simple but life altering truth.The Lord reigns! Here and now!  Advent is a great reminder that the eternal reigning Lord came here among us to bring life and that He will also return again. When we bring our praise to Him alone and align our hearts and thoughts around Jesus - life gets reordered and infused with purpose, value and strength. What a great message for our neighbors to hear.

Instead, what message do they hear during Christmas. While watching football this past weekend as well as the unending parade of commercials, one disturbed me the most. It was an ad for the Target Red Card and was structured around the Hallelujah chorus. At a time when people desperately need to find Jesus as their only hope and delight, they get directed to a store packed with frenzied buyers - a very different kind of Kingdom. I'd boycott Target except for the fact that I can't expect them to know any better.

"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." Matthew 9:36 What a timely picture - people moving through life feeling hurried, harassed, downcast and aimless. What was the response of Jesus? Compassion!

During this time of year, the distortion of who Jesus is and the relegation of Him to the fringes of Christmas usually elicits frustration and anger in me and anything but compassion. Jesus got it right and calls me to the same. Target Stores and the rest of the world may sing Hallelujah to anything  but rather than getting fed up with it I should have a broken heart for aimless people who need to hear the wonder of the Gospel and find the beauty of a life that lifts up hallelujahs to Jesus alone! Lord, may my life declare a hallelujah to You by living the Gospel out with compassion in the midst of a world that needs to see You.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


A brief thought for today... This weekend we are doing something a bit different for our service - we will be singing, reflecting and meditating through the 22nd Psalm. It is an opportunity to enter the places the Psalmist takes us as well as the places Jesus Himself went through as this is a Messianic Psalm.  I was considering that this is not a Psalm we would usually use on a Thanksgiving weekend as so much of the text reflects pain, loneliness and difficulty.

 As I was preparing I was struck with two personal  insights. 1) I am never as forthright as the Psalmist in speaking out my hurts and questions and longings, rather I keep them to myself or even worse, I ignore them all together. 2) My praises are never as intentional as I see here. For me - praise and thanksgiving come from some experience or insight or feeling. In this passage there is a decision to give thanks, a decision to give praise. In one place, right after he describes the coming of enemies upon himself, he says "In the midst of the assembly I will praise You!"

In the end - perhaps this is the best weekend to acknowledge our hard times, enter those dark places of hurt, acknowledge our feeling that the Lord is distant.... and then - Give thanks and praise. As we think of Psalm 22 - it is about His sacrifice for us and even as we take communion - the Eucharist - we are reminded that it means "thanksgiving!"

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Back towards the end of October I had the opportunity to spend some time in solitude and silence out in the middle of the desert just north of Benson, Arizona. God has a way of getting my sttention in those kinds of settings - perhaps that is both a strength of my personality - finding communion and insight all alone with God. It is also a great weakness - the tendancy to go alone and to miss stepping into deepening community.

So the Lord got my attention today at church - our "community Sunday" when we open up the microphone to share how God has been at work. Ther is nothing like the gathering we had today - we lifted up out voices singing, we were packed out shoulder to shoulder, and the testimonies from so many people just kept going! As we all noted - most every sharing involved God's work in lives through other people - it brought me back to the truth of one of our values - "we cannot live out the Christian life without one another!" And even better - when we finally closed our time taking the bread and cup together - we just continued what was already happening outside with a great BBQ. As I looked over all the groups sitting on the lawn, new people finding a place, piles of little kids running all over.... I thought, this delights the Lord!

While in the desert I spent a bit of time in the story of Zaccheus and I was reminded of it today. Here is a man wanting to see Jesus - and He does! And it ends with a story of redemption and new life and closes with a meal! We experienced Jesus today through His very real presence, through one another, through hearing stories of redeemed lives and a meal! So to all of you - THANK YOU!