Friday, April 23, 2010

American Justice

Having had some experience with the American justice system over the past few years, I can tell you that justice may be blind, but it can certainly smell money.  The amount of time you serve for committing crimes in America is directly proportionate to the amount of money you can spend on an attorney.  If you have a public defender, then you are going away for a long time.  It's just the way it is.  The late, great Larry Norman once wrote:

"All men are equal, all men are brothers
So why are the rich more equal than others
Don't ask me for answers, I only have one
A man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son."

Never confuse our legal system with Justice.  Only God offers justice.  That's all I'm saying...

Friday, April 16, 2010


A rumor was making the rounds of Facebook yesterday that President Obama (who according to many wingnuts actually handed Eve the apple in the Garden) had cancelled the National Day of Prayer, which happens each May.  I must have seen it posted at least 5 times on Marilyn's feed.  It is not true (a judge ruled the day unconstitutional; an appeal is expected), but that is really beside the point.  How can anyone, even the President, cancel a day of prayer?  It's kind of like all of the fuss about prayer in schools over the years.  If I, or my child, want to pray at school, who can stop me?  I used to have a button on the the bulletin board in my office that read, "As long as there are exams, there will be prayer in schools."  Sounds about right to me...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm Just Saying...

Why is it our country never runs out of money for wars?  USAmerica only seems to run out of money for things like education and health care...

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Today is the final day of The 40 Day Adventure.  I will post again tomorrow in honor of Easter and the celebration of our Risen LORD!  I hope that during our time together you have discovered something new about yourself and your walk with the Savior.  I hope that you have discovered anew what grace really is and what the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf was really all about.  Our theme scripture from 2 Corinthians 6:11 is once more presented at left.  I hope it means something different to you now than when we started on Ash Wednesday.  Paul was writing to the church at Corinth about how we tend to live our lives in a box.  We so often fence ourselves in by putting God in a box.  God cannot and will not be contained by the things of man.  Don't let this world contain your love and your faith.  Be WIDE OPEN to living large, to changing the world in the name of Jesus.  He said that He came to bring us life- the abundant life, and life eternal.  Rich Mullins used to say "Live like you'll die tomorrow...Die knowing you'll live forever."  And that, my friends, is the definition of living the WIDE OPEN live with Jesus.  Because of His sacrifice, we have full access to the Creator of the universe.  What could be better than that?

Happy Easter to everyone. He is RISEN!  He is RISEN INDEED!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day 37- The Lost Coin

In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables that all illustrate the same thing.  God loves us, God desires that we repent and draw near to Him, and that with God we always have a second chance, and we are ALWAYS on our first try!  Be WIDE OPEN to the message of Jesus that God's love is limitless for those who need it and desire it.  We just need to submit to His will and follow His Son.  Read the Parable of the Lost Coin below.  Have the angels rejoiced over you being "found?"  

Luke 15:8-10  (NIV)
"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one.  Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors and says, 'Rejoice with me;  I have found my lost coin.'  In the same way I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 36- The Next To the Last Supper

Mark 14:1-9 (The Message)

 In only two days the eight-day Festival of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way they could seize Jesus by stealth and kill him. They agreed that it should not be done during Passover Week. "We don't want the crowds up in arms," they said.

Jesus was at Bethany, a guest of Simon the Leper. While he was eating dinner, a woman came up carrying a bottle of very expensive perfume. Opening the bottle, she poured it on his head. Some of the guests became furious among themselves. "That's criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year's wages and handed out to the poor." They swelled up in anger, nearly bursting with indignation over her.

But Jesus said, "Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly."

My old friend Curt Cloninger, the amazing actor and interpreter of scripture, calls the meal Jesus is eating in the scripture above "the next to the last supper."  In Curt's brilliant one-man play entitled Witnesses, he plays a fictional character (Abe the Banana Man) who was present at this meal.  He used to be unable to speak, he tells us.  In fact, he points out, almost everyone there (in Curt's version) was a used to be.  Simon (their host) used to be a leper.  Bart used to be blind.  Lazurus used to be dead!  Curt points out that Jesus most likely ended the party during His speech praising the woman who had anointed His feet with perfume, because He once again announced that He would soon be dead.  The whole evening must have been indicative of the highs and lows of that last week.

We all used to be something before Jesus got hold of our hearts.  Some of us still are things that we would rather not be.  Holy Week is a wonderful time to let Jesus make you a used to be again.  He will- if you become WIDE OPEN to the grace he offers you.  Honor Him this week (and every week) with your very life.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Day 35- Surely God Is With Us

Ever wonder what it was like to be with Jesus that last week in Jerusalem?  Before the dinner in Bethany, before the footwashing, before the Last Supper and before the arrest?  Read the words below.  They capture many of the emotions that must have been present that week with both the followers and the enemies of Jesus.  Be WIDE OPEN to the message.  At what moment would you have realized that God had come to earth to dwell among us?

Surely God Is With Us   by Beaker and Mark Robertson  (The Jesus Record)

Well, who's that man who thinks He's a prophet?
Well, I wonder if He's got something up His sleeve
Where's He from? Who is His daddy?
There's rumors He even thinks Himself a king
Of a kingdom of paupers
Simpletons and rogues
The whores all seem to love Him
And the drunks propose a toast

And they say, "Surely God is with us.
Well, surely God is with us."
They say, "Surely God is with us today!"

Who's that man who says He's a preacher?
Well, He must be, He's disturbing all our peace
Where's He get off, and what is He hiding
And every word He says those fools believe
Who could move a mountain?
Who would love their enemy?
Who could rejoice in pain?
And turn the other cheek?
And still say, "Surely God is with us,
Well, surely God is with us,"
Who'll say, "Surely God is with us today, today!"

They say, "Surely God is with us
Well, surely God is with us"
They say, "Surely God is with us"

Blessed are the poor in spirit
Heaven belongs to them
Blessed are those who make peace
They are God's children
I Am the Bread of Life, and the Way"
You hear that Man, believe what He says!

Tell me, who's that Man, they made Him a prisoner
They tortured Him and nailed Him to a tree
Well if He's so bad, who did He threaten?
Did He deserve to die between two thieves?
See the scars and touch His wounds
He's risen flesh and bone
Now the sinners have become the saints
And the lost have all come home

And they say, "Surely God is with us (Surely God is with us)
Well, surely God is with us,"
They say, "Surely God is with us today!" (Today!)
They say, "Surely God is with us
Well, surely God is with us"
They say, "Surely God is with us today"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Holy Week

Happy Palm Sunday!  I hope you will join me for the last 6 days of Lent, leading us to Easter.  This week we will look at scriptures that describe some of the events of Jesus' last week of humanity.  We will travel to the cross, and then celebrate the resurrection of our LORD.  As you go through this week, I hope your hearts and minds will continue to be WIDE OPEN to what God has to say to you.  Peace be with you.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day 34- The Triumphal Entry

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, a celebration of the day Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cheers and praises of the crowd.  According to to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John, the crowds shouted things like "Hosanna" and "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!"  It was a glorious day.  Here is the account from the gospel of Luke:

Luke 19:28-40 (New International Version)

The Triumphal Entry
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' "
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?"
They replied, "The Lord needs it."
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

It is hard to believe that less than a week after such an entrance those same people would be shouting "Crucify Him!"  This Lenten season we have spent much time seeking to praise God and lift high the name of Jesus.  But we too often turn our backs when times get tough.  In what ways do you turn your back on the Messiah, despite the fact that you love Him?  Have a blessed Palm Sunday, and prepare your heart for Holy Week.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Day 33- A Prayer of Submission & Hope

When Moses asked God who he should say sent him to save the people of Abraham, God responded tell them "I AM" sent you.  Yahweh is the "I AM," the God who was and is and is to come; the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  I am none of those things, and neither are you.  We are but tiny parts of God's plan, like so many before us.  When John the Baptist was asked if he was the promised Messiah, he replied, "I am NOT...but there is one who will come and reveal everything God has promised."  We, like Moses and John and Peter and so many other giants of our faith, are NOT.  But we know the great "I AM."  As you pray the prayer today, be WIDE OPEN to the fact that God is God...and you are NOT.  Open your hearts that God might use you so His will can be accomplished on this earth.  Submit yourself so that Jesus might have His way with you and that you might quit trying to have your way with Him.  Only then can His light shine its brightest.  Only then can Jesus truly be the hope of the world.  Let us pray:

Loving God, today I turn my life over to You.  My skills, my failures, my sin and my joys all belong to You.  I recognize that my life is not about me, but it is all about You.  I realize that I sometimes like to play god, but that I am NOT..You ARE!  Help me to understand that Jesus did not die on the cross so I could accomplish some political agenda or achieve some lofty position on this earth.  Jesus died for my sins, because I am a sinner.  Jesus gives me grace so that I might offer love and forgiveness to others, especially to the "least of these brothers of mine" who are in need and to the lost who think themselves to be beyond His grace.  In the words of King David, himself a sinner of great magnitude, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with in me, so that I might serve You."  Use me, and I will give you the glory.  Remind me daily that I am NOT...but I know I AM, and that together we can offer hope to a hurting world.
                                            In the name of the great I AM,

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Day 32- The Prayer of Saint Francis

Pray this incredible prayer penned by Saint Francis of Asissi.  Don't just read it; PRAY it!  What would it mean for your life to become "an instrument" of God's peace?  What does it mean to know that "in giving we recieve?"  Pray for Jesus to enter your life in new and excitng ways.  Pray that you would be WIDE OPEN to being so full of Jesus that this world seems like a foreign place to you. Who can you bring light, peace and joy to today?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 31- Prayers of Intercession

Pray for the people in your life;  Parents, friends, teachers, co-workers and everyone else you need to bring before God's throne.  Pray for them by name and by need.  Pray for places like Haiti and Chile that have so many needs.  Pray for the people who cause you the most tension and grief.  Be WIDE OPEN to the needs of everyone around you, and bring them before the Creator.  He already knows before we ask, but we must ask anyway on behalf of others and in the name of Jesus.  And be sure to thank God for the work He is already doing in the lives of those you pray for.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 30- A Chat With Jesus

Have a heart to heart chat with Jesus.  Pray to be closer to Him.  Pray for wisdom and strength to let Him be in control in a world that demands you take the power.  Understand that your relationship with Jesus is not based in anything you do, but in His grace and forgiveness.  Be WIDE OPEN to not only talking to Jesus, but to listening for "the still, small voice of God" in the silence.  And be sure to praise God for the blessings you see in your life everyday!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day 29- The Prayer of Jabez

The prayer of Jabez, from 1 Chronicles 4:10, can be found below.  Read it.  Then pray it.  What would it mean in your life for God to "increase your territory?"  What would it mean for God to bless you with a task to do, with a mission for Him?  How would your life be different if God were to "bless you indeed?"  Be WIDE OPEN to the things Jesus is trying to show you, that you would know God's hand is with you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

This Week- Acts of Prayer

2 Corinthians 6:11
Each day of this week you will be given an Act of Prayer to participate in.  Pray the prayers and consider the questions with passion and conviction.  Be WIDE OPEN to the fact that you are talking with YAWEH, the creator of the universe, and your ABBA (Daddy) all at the same time!  Share these moments with Jesus, and remember Him each day as we continue the march to the cross.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day 28- Acts 2:42

Today I invite you to "soak" in one of my favorite scripture verses.   This description of the early church is THE definition of radical, world changing Christianity.  We cannot do it alone.  Are you WIDE OPEN to living in community with other believers?  Are you sharing your spiritual journey with people who love you, challange you and support you? 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Day 27- He Reigns!

Today, proclaim the Glory of the LORD!  No matter who you are or where you are, be WIDE OPEN to the fact that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and that Jesus reigns!  "Death is ended; it is swallowed up in the victory of the cross and the resurrection."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 26- The Thief

Jesus was WIDE OPEN to forgiving the thief on the cross next to Him- the one who professed that Jesus was King.  Do we live in such a way that people know that Jesus is king of our lives?  Watch, listen, read and think.  Be stirred.  Confess.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 25- Jesus' Blood

Listen to the song and read the words on the screen.  Then listen again with your eyes closed.  Be WIDE OPEN to what Jesus has done for you, no matter who you are or what you have done.  "Jesus' love never failed me yet..."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 24- Secret Ambition

Watch.  Listen.  Become WIDE OPEN to the reason Jesus came to die...for you.

SECRET AMBITION by Michael W. Smith
from the album I 2 eye

Young man up on the hillside, Teaching new ways
Each word winning them over, Each heart a kindled flame
Old men watch from the outside, Guarding their prey
Threatened by the voice of the paragon
Leading their lambs away
Leading them far away

Nobody knew His secret ambition
Nobody knew His claim to fame
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away
Questioning those in powerful position
Running to those who called His name
(But) Nobody knew His secret ambition
Was to give His life away

His rage shaking the temple, His word to the wise
His hand healing on the seventh day, His love wearing no disguise
Some say Death to the radical, He's way out of line
Some say Praise be the miracle, God sends a blessed sign
A blessed sign for troubled times


Nobody knew His secret ambition
Nobody knew His claim to fame
He broke the old rules steeped in tradition
He tore the Holy Veil away
Questioning those in powerful position
Running to those who called His name
(But) Nobody knew His secret ambition
Was to give His life away

no, no, no, no
I tell you nobody knew,
untill he gave his life away

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 23- Creed

Watch the video.  Read the lyrics.  Be WIDE OPEN to the message.

CREED-  Rich Mullins
from the album A Liturgy, A Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band

I believe in God the Father

Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried

And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man

I believe that He who suffered was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and on the third day, rose again
He ascended into Heaven where He sits at God's mighty right hand
I believe that He's returning
To judge the quick and the dead of the sons of men

And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man

I believe it, I believe it
I believe it
I believe it, I believe it

I believe in God the Father
Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord
I believe in the Holy Spirit
One Holy Church
The communion of Saints
The forgiveness of sin
I believe in the resurrection
I believe in a life that never ends

And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
I did not make it, no it is making me

I said I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This Week- Musical Adventures

Each day this week you will be presented a song to focus on.  I will provide the video and the lyrics; you provide the interpretation.  I suggest that each day you view the video and listen to the words, then read the lyrics, and then watch it again.  Think about what the song says to you about your faith, your God, and your Savior.  Should the song be familiar to you, be sure and keep your heart and mind WIDE OPEN to hearing something new.  Enjoy this great music, and have a blesses week as we continue our adventure towards the cross and the resurrection!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Day 22- In It, Not Of It

Today's "words to soak in" come from John Fischer's 1988 book Real Christians Don't Dance (Bethany House Publishers). The words are intended to challenge believers to see our place in this world in a whole new way.  Make yourself WIDE OPEN to not only the words of Christ, but the message behind the words.  Have a blessed weekend.

The Ins And Outs Of It
"In it, not of it," the statement was made
As Christian One faced the world, much afraid.
"In it, not of it," the call was made clear,
But Christian One got something stuck in his ear.
"Not in it, or of it" was the thing that he heard.
And knowing the world was painfully absurd,
He welcomed the safety of pious retreat,
And went to the potluck for something to eat.

Now Christian Two, he knew what to do,
He'd show those fundies a thing or two!
How will the world ever give Christ a try
If we don't get in there and identify?
So "In it, and of it," he said in his car,
As he pulled in and stopped at a popular bar.
"I'll tell them the truth as soon as I'm able
To get myself out from under this table."

Now along comes Christian Three jogging for Jesus,
In witnessing sweats made of four matching pieces.
His earphones are playing a hot Christian tune
About how the Lord is coming back soon.
"Not in it, but of it," he turns down the hill
And stops in for a bite at the Agape Grill.
Like the gold on the chain of his "God Loves You" bracelet,
He can have the world without having to face it.

While way up in heaven they lament these conditions
That come from changing a few propositions.
"Not in it, or of it," Christian One thought.
But who is the world will know that he's not?
"In it, and of it," thought Christian Two.
But who in the world will know that he knew?
"Not in it, but of it," thought Christian Three.
But who in the world watches Christian TV?
And Jesus turns to Gabriel, shaking His head.
" 'In it, not of it,' wasn't that what I said?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 21- Love One Another

Jesus calls upon us to love everyone, including those people we may not like very much! 
1 John 4:7 reminds us that if we don't love, we don't even know God.  Jesus said that others will know that we are His disciples by the way we love each other.  So today, show love to someone with whom you have issues.  Be it a co-worker, a neighbor, a sales clerk, a sibling or a spouse, give them a smile and friendly greeting.  Wish them a blessed weekend.  Help them to become WIDE OPEN to the love God has for them by showing them the love of Christ.  They may not deserve your love, but that is the beauty of God's grace- none of us get what we deserve.  We get love instead.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 20- Freak Someone Out!

Today's Act of Service will give you a glimpse into the world we live in.  It will require a bit of bravery on your part.  Stop by your local grocery store.  Wait until you see someone who may need help carrying their groceries, and then offer to carry some of their bags.  Almost certainly you will be told "no."  They may look at you with fear and uncertainty.  In extreme cases they may even call for help.  We live in a world in which random acts of kindness and service are so out of place, so foreign to people, that they strike fear in their hearts.  Become WIDE OPEN to this fact;  understand that it is only by living life with a servant's heart that we can change this.  Be aware of every opportunity to serve others.  Remember Jesus said if you want to be great you must first become a servant.  Keep trying and see if anyone will let you carry their bags!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 19- Do Matthew 25

Jesus taught us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least important people around us we do to Him as well.  Do something today to reach out to "the least of these brothers of mine."  Donate food to a food bank or a soup kitchen.  Donate clothing to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  Go visit a sick friend or relative.  Be WIDE OPEN to showing God's love to those who need it most, and at the same time bringing praise and glory to the Christ.  It's always better to be a sheep than a goat...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 18- A Letter of Forgiveness

Many of us struggle with forgiveness.  Write an e-mail or a letter to someone you know asking for forgiveness or offering forgiveness.  It is entirely possible that you will need to write this letter to yourself, as we often have to let ourselves off the hook before we can truly offer grace to others.  Make sure that your offer is not conditional, but that it is made with your heart WIDE OPEN.  Remember, there is nothing you have done that made God love you less- offer that same kind of love to someone who has hurt or wronged you.  Let go- and let God!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 17- Random Act of Kindness

Do something nice today for someone you know. As you go through the day, be WIDE OPEN to the opportunities God has for you.  Serve them in some way that is meaningful, but don't make a big deal out of it.  Do something you would not normally do.  Show them God's love through your actions. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

This week- Acts of Service

For those of you who may not know, Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent, and therefore not counted in the 40 days of this adventure. Each Sunday I will provide you with the theme of the week to come. This week, each day I will present you with a brief, simple act of service through which you can praise God by serving others. I hope each reader will find themself WIDE OPEN to these opportunites to draw closer to Jesus as we continue our walk to the cross. Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 16- Blessed Are the Merciful

Open your heart and your spirit- WIDE OPEN, of course- to these words of encouragement and inspiration from some very wise men (such as Saint Francis, pictured).  Live your life mercy-filled.

And what does the LORD require of you?  That you do justice; love mercy; and walk humbly with your GOD.
                           -Micah 6:8

You should not let a single person in the world, whatever sin that person may have committed, come before your eyes and depart without having found mercy with you.  And should that person not ask for mercy from you, then you must ask it of him.  And were that person to come to you a thousand times, continue to love them so as to lead them back to the right path.  Always have compassion, for all of us have sinned.
                                                               -Saint Francis of Assisi

I will be my brother's keeper, not the one who judges him
I won't despise him for his weakness, I won't regard him for his strength
I won't take away his freedom, I will learn to help him stand
And I will, I will be my brother's keeper
                                                               -Rich Mullins/Beaker

Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.
                                                               -C.S. Lewis

The bread that you store up belongs to the hungry; the coat that lies in your chest belongs to the naked; the gold that you have hidden in the ground belongs to the poor.
                                                               -Saint Basil

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 15- Quaker Communion

When Jesus was with the disciples in the Upper Room, He broke bread and drink wine with them and told them that from that day forward each time they did that they should remember Him.  The Apostle Paul later began the Sacrament of Communion based on the events of that night.  I love sharing the eucharist with my church family, but in my days as a Quaker I also learned that Jesus was imploring us to to think of Him EVERYTIME we sit down to eat (in fact, Quakers believe communion with Jesus can take place anytime in any situation, should you be willing to be still...).  Bread and wine were not a special meal; they were part of every meal! The message of the Lord's Supper is not found in the elments; it is found in the remembering. So today, I invite you to turn one of your meals into a time of personal communion with the Christ.  As you eat, whatever you eat, remember His body that was broken for you.  As you drink, remember the blood that was spilled for the forgiveness of our sins.  Share your thoughts with the people with whom you are eating.  Be WIDE OPEN to the realization that Jesus is always present, and always loving us- a fact we far too often forget to remember. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Day 14- A Guided Meditation

Read the guided meditation written below, or better yet, ask someone to read it to you.  Close your eyes and soak in the the things the meditation asks you to visualize.  Move slowly.  Be WIDE OPEN to what Jesus has to say to you in these moments.  Remember this quote from Richard Foster as you begin:  "Our adversary (Satan) majors in 3 things:
-and crowds.
If he can keep us engaged in 'muchness' and 'manyness' he will rest satisfied."

Get Behind Me
A Guided Meditation

Stop!  Slow down!  Take a breath.
Recall the events and activities that have filled your week so far.
How much of that time has been spent doing good for others?
How much of that time has been spent doing things for your own
personal pleasure or gain?

Now imagine you have arrived at a peaceful place.  It is a place you know well, a place you love.  You are sitting and resting.  Jesus approaches you.  He sits with you.  He begins to list all of the activities and events from your week.  He takes your hand, looks into your eyes and says "Get behind me."

Now think again of your busy week.  Only this time, imagine that you are following Jesus as He leads you.  Have your activities and choices changed?  Are there things you did or said that you do not want Jesus to see or hear?  Turn to Jesus.  Ask Him what things in your life you need to change so that you may follow Him more closely.

Ask for guidance and courage to follow the Christ.  Ask for direction, that you would know what path to follow.  Tell Jesus you seek to go where He would lead you in life.  Understand that you cannot follow when you are leading... 

Get behind Jesus.
Be still and know that He is God.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 13: Salt Of the Earth

Get some salt.  Taste it.  Read the scripture below from Matthew 5:13.  Now taste the salt again.  When people "taste" you do they get the "flavor" of Jesus?  Salt changes the taste of everything it touches.  Do you?  This world we live in is in need of change.  Are you an agent of change for Jesus?  Or have you already been "trampled underfoot?"  Are you WIDE OPEN to letting God use you to bring a better "flavor" to this world?  Pray this simple prayer:  God, make me salty; make me an agent of change in your world.  Amen

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 12- The Rock of Ages

Today you will need to leave the friendly confines of your computer table and go outside for a moment.  Find a rock.  Any old rock will do.  Hold it in your hand.  Think about how it feels.  Think about how solid it is.  Think about how old it could be.  Try to break it; go ahead, give it your best shot!  Strong, isn't it?  Remember that Jesus is your rock.  He is strong.  He is the same today, yesterday and forever.  He has always been; He always will be.  Be WIDE OPEN to the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, came to die for YOUR sins.  Pray that it is upon the "Rock of Ages" that you will build your life.  Keep the rock by your bed to remind you each night how much Jesus loves you!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 11- Sing Praise!

Today's Act of Worship is simple and basic- shout for joy to the Lord!  Sing praises to Him!  But since not everyone can sing, try this.  Shout out to God by reading aloud Psalm 100.  Read it with gusto!  Read it with your heart WIDE OPEN!  Praise God!

Psalm 100 (New International Version)

A psalm. For giving thanks.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and not we ourselves ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week- Acts of Worship

Our theme scripture from 2 Corinthians 6:11

For those of you who may not know, Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent, and therefore not counted in the 40 days of this adventure. Each Sunday I will provide you with the theme of the week to come. This week, each day I will present you with a brief, simple act of worship through which you can offer praise and glory to the God of grace.  I hope each reader will find themself WIDE OPEN to these opportunites to draw closer to Jesus as we continue our walk to the cross.  Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 10- Ragamuffin Thoughts

Today's "words to soak in" are excerpts from the first chapter of Brennan Manning's classic book The Ragamuffin Gospel (1990, Multnomah Press).  It could also be called The Official Guide to Living Life WIDE OPEN- or maybe that's just me.  Enjoy.

Something is radically wrong.

The Christian community often resembles a Wall Street exchange of works where in the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored.  Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness believed.  The institutional church has become a wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded...  Put bluntly the American Church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice.

Our culture has made the word grace impossible to understand.  We resonate with slogans such as:
"There's no free lunch."
"You get what you deserve."
"You want love?  Earn it."
"You want mercy?  Show you deserve it."
"Do unto others before they do it unto you."
Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if it is only personal discipline and self-denial that will mold the perfect me.  The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is doing.

Our approach to the Christian life is just as absurd as the enthusiastic young man who had just received his plumber's license and was taken to see Niagra Falls.  He studied it for a minute and then said, "I think I can fix this." 

We believe that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps- indeed, we can do it ourselves.  Sooner or later we are coonfronted with the painful truth of our inadequacy and insufficency.  Our sercurity is shattered and our bootstraps are cut.

God of grace have mercy on us- again.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 9- Prayer 101

Matthew 6:9-13
And Jesus said "This, then, is how you should pray:"

Jesus gives the disciples this prayer so that there will be no doubt about what prayer is to be and not be.  It is not to call attention to yourself, by praying on street corners or using lots of pious words.  You should pray "like this" (not necessarily this prayer, but like this!) because God already knows what you need before you ask Him. Give praise to God.  Pray this HIs will be done.  Pray for your needs and the needs of others. There is nothing too large or too small to pray about.  Take everything to the Father.

1)  What does "hallowed" mean?  Do you keep the name of God and the name of Jesus full of meaning, or do you use it too casually?
2)  We know we need daily bread.  What else do we really need?  Do you pray for need, or for want?
3)  When we pray for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, what are we really asking for?  Are we willing to do our part?  It has been said we are God's Plan A for taking Jesus to the people, and there is no Plan B.  Are you praying to be a part of that plan?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 8- The Beatitudes

The late Rich Mullins once called this scripture the condensed version of everything Jesus taught.  Yet most of its concepts are so foreign to us today, even in the church. Our culture is not fond of the meek, the merciful or the peacemakers.  We certainly don't understand being persecuted for Jesus' sake.  Read this a few times.  Soak it in.  Commit these verses to memory.  Only when you begin to understand how out-of-step Jesus was (and IS) with society will you begin to feel WIDE OPEN to all He was trying to teach us, and will you begin to understand why He would go to the cross for us.

1)  Our society tells us we should be powerful, in charge and famous.  What does this text have to say about all of that?
2)  Does our culture value mercy?  Can mercy be seperated from forgiveness?
3)  We are told that the pure in heart shall see God.  What does it mean to be pure in heart?  What does it mean to see God?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 7- Come Follow Me

Matthew 4:18-22 (The Message)

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.

A short distance down the beach they came upon another pair of brothers, James and John, Zebedee's sons. These two were sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, mending their fishnets. Jesus made the same offer to them, and they were just as quick to follow, abandoning boat and father.

1)  What have you "dropped" from your life in order to follow Jesus?
2)  James and John left everything, including their father, to go with Jesus.  They were truly living life WIDE OPEN.  What is keeping you from being a fully devoted follower of Christ?  Will you follow where He leads without questioning where you are going?
3)  Are you a "new kind of fisherman?"  Who are the people in your life that you need to bring to Jesus?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 6- Prepare the Way

John 1:1-14 (NIV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1)  The Word (Jesus) has always been with God, through all of creation all of man's sin against the law, because Jesus is God.  And yet He came to die for us.  How does that change your image of the Christ and what He did for you?
2)  Through what darkness does "the Light" shine in your life?  What areas of your life need more "Light?"
3)  John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus- in fact, he kicked the door WIDE OPEN!  In what ways could you be clearing the way for others to know Jesus?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 5- God Knew It All Along

Isaiah 53:1-6  (The Message)
Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.  He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.  One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.  But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.  But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,  
on him, on him.

Some 700 years before the birth of Christ, the mighty prophet Isaiah wrote these words describing what the Messiah would be like and how he would be treated.  God knew all along that a sacrifice would have to be made.  God knew that we could never be reconciled to Him through the law- that a blood sacrifice would be required to save us.  And yet, when the Messiah arrived, the very people He came to save did not know Him.  The NIV verse 3 says "Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."  Little has changed, has it?  We still hide from Jesus.  We still do not "esteem" His name in our world. In so many ways, He is still the rose we trample under foot. In order to live the WIDE OPEN life God wants for us, Jesus must be lifted up in our lives. I hope as you think and pray about this passage and the questions below, you will share your thoughts and prayer requests with us in the comments section.  Have a blessed day!
1)   In what ways is the Messiah still seen as "scum" in our world?
2)   What does the passage mean when it states "through his bruises we get healed?"
3)   Do you really believe that ALL of your sins were piled on Him?  Do you believe in
      grace?  How does that belief show up in the way you treat others?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Week To Come

For those of you who may be wondering, Sundays are not counted in the 40 days of Lent, and therefore not counted in the 40 days of this adventure.  Each Sunday I will provide you with the theme of the week to come.  This week, on days 5-9, you will be provided Scripture passages to help you focus on Jesus- His life, His teachings, His death and His resurrection.  I will also provide a few questions each day to help you process the text.  I hope you will feel free to post your thoughts and prayer requests in the comment section each day, and I pray that together our hearts and minds will be WIDE OPEN to what God has to say to us through the Word.  Have a blessed Sunday! And please pray for my former youth Kristin King, who was badly injured in a car wreck Friday night in Orlando.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 4- Just Soak In It

Each Saturday I will provide you with inspirational reading- Scripture, song lyrics, poetry or some other devotional reading.  Treat the words like a hot tub.  You don't have to DO anything; just soak in them and let them wash over you. Stay WIDE OPEN to what God has to say to you. Today's words come from Lois Cheney's 1969 devotional classic God Is No Fool.
"Be still and know that I AM God."
The hymns rise and fall.
The organ lifts and uplifts.
The choir is practiced solemnity focuses its praise.
Standing at the sound of prayers, we hear the chants of Scripture fill the nave.
The sermon adds its one-voice contribution.
All, all in reverent noise.
The meeting turns on Christ.
The conversation patters to Christ.
The laughter smiles with Christ.
The daily devotional drowns out the Christ.
All, all in reverent noise.
The first bird is heard.
The baby's cry is heard.
The embarrassed cough is heard.
Who is silent?
Who is waiting for Jesus?
Who is listening to God?
"Be still and know that I AM God."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 3- A Prayer of Preparation

Today, pray this prayer of preparation, reading it aloud:
Dear God, guide my thoughts and actions as I go through these 40 days with You.  May my prayers go deeper and truly seek your will; may I received a new understanding of the scriptures I read; may my actions lead me closer to You.  Help me to toss aside the boundaries I usually place on my relationship with You and learn to live life WIDE OPEN in the arms of your love and grace.  Thank You for the many blessings You have placed in my life.  Thank You for your mercy and for the gift of your Son, Jesus the Christ. Help me to focus on His life, His death and His resurrection. Walk with me through this adventure and I will seek to follow You everywhere You lead me.

In the name of Savior,

Just a reminder that each Saturday will give you a chance to catch up on the week, and each Sunday during Lent I will offer an overview of the theme for the upcoming week.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 2- Liver and Lima Beans

The 40 days of Lent (and of this adventure) are analogous to the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and resisting temptation (see Matthew 4:1-11).  Many Christians choose to "give up" something for Lent as their way of seeking to commune with the Christ.  You may have given up Starbucks, chocolate, soda, TV or something else that you feel is a sacrifice.  Then at the end of the season we go right back to the things we give up.  This is fine, but...

This year, the scripture at the top of the page (2 Corinthians 6:11, The Message) will guide us through the desert.  The apostle Paul is telling us that Jesus wants us to live a WIDE OPEN life!  Don't be fenced in by the standards of the world around you; go for the gold.  For many years I joked that every year for Lent I would give up liver and lima beans.  And I never cheated on that promise.  It was easy- I HATE liver and lima beans!  This may seem like a terrible way to approach Lent, but in some bizarre way I was on to something. Liver and lima beans are not a part of my life.  This year, in addition to whatever you have chosen to sacrifice, consider this:  Give up something you never want to take back again.  Give up your anger towards another person.  Give up a sin that you struggle with.  Don't be fenced in; don't think small.  Pray today about opening up your life to Jesus.  What can you let go of and give to God that you never want to see again?  Jesus came so that we would have life- and not just any life, but ABUNDANT life!  It's time to do a little spring cleaning...