Thursday, October 30, 2014

No God without Jesus

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

Joel said it last night. He startled us with his proclamation, "Well," he said, "you can't have God without Jesus, and you can't have Jesus without God."

Exactly, Lord. If someone asks me what You are like, I tell them, "Jesus." If another asks me how much You care, I answer, "Jesus." Jesus is the incarnation of You, after all. He is Your face here in our world. He is what You look like.

So if we're expecting all power to wipe out every hurt, every disease, every mishap, we are mistaken. And if we want to posit that You are removed from us, we are mistaken. And if we suppose that living rightly will bring material and social success, we are mistaken as well. You don't make human-sense; well, at least not the way we tend to think before we spend some time in Your presence. You make Jesus-sense -- turning what we think on its back.

But, spend some time with You, and we quickly begin to sense what is and what is not truly powerful. We discover the real, lasting power that comes with behaving like and taking on the mind of Jesus. We see He did not fall into more powerful arms; He walked into ignorance and imploded it, offering us a way to shed ourselves of what we think and consider what He thinks, and then laughing and joy-filled take it on willingly and with the courage and grace that accompanies it.

O Lord, bend those arms that seek to keep You at a distance! Instill in them a desire to know You, to seek and find You! For no matter the way -- Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu -- the truth that is found through seeking will look like Jesus, for there is no other way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The power of the word!

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

It is amazing how I can read and re-read Your words, and then suddenly they will hit me so hard in their application. This is from Sirach:
The blow of a whip raises a welt, but a blow of the tongue crushes the bones. Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not as many as have fallen because of the tongue.
Where ever did we get the saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" Oh, what a fallacy! I can heal from breaks in my bones, from cuts to my skin, but the words, cruel words cut so deep and continue their work long after they have been heard (or spoken).

If I speak negative words, not only do they bring down those around me; they bring me down, too. And You know this, Lord...
Happy is the one who is protected from it, who has not been exposed to its anger, who has not borne its yoke, and has not been bound with its fetters. For its yoke is a yoke of iron, and its fetters are fetters of bronze; its death is an evil death, and Hades is preferable to it. It has no power over the godly; they will not be burned in its flame. Those who forsake the Lord will fall into its power; it will burn among them and will not be put out. It will be sent out against them like a lion; like a leopard it will mangle them. As you fence in your property with thorns, so make a door and a bolt for your mouth.
Our mouths have the power to hurt us so very badly, and so we must also realize the power of our mouths (and Your mouth) to lift us up! We all know how deeply cruel and negative words and thinking can depress us and keep us down. We must know, then, and want to discover the power of positive words and positive thinking. And to the negative-trained ear, positive words, words of life, Your Word, Lord, these all will sound weak, inapplicable, fake even, at first, but just at first, for soon, they will take hold. They will resonate with how we are made, and they will create in us flames, indistinguishable, flaming lights that cannot, by any earthly power, be put out!

Oh, Lord, turn us to You, to Your Word. Now!

Monday, October 27, 2014

We Are to Be Bridges

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

The Bridge

It's not easy being a bridge
Spanning such distances is hard
Even an arms' length is difficult
When one side has little will to grasp.

Materials are important
This one steel, this one wood
And each end must resemble in part its hold
Or connections cannot last.

I've got footprints upon my back
Some soft and smooth, weightless
Others pounding, gouging, weighted down
Sometimes I fear that I will break.

But it's not my strength that holds me here
And it's not my grace that will upend
Every sin that blinds and seeks to run
Every wound that refuses His healing wake.

I glory in the Son, my hands hold fast
But I grow used to the deluge I know will come
I welcome it really for miracle visits
And I hang here, I know, supported by One.

I laugh at the physics; there's no way this will hold
It's mud in my fingers and yet I don't fall
My Lord, You are mighty, clothed in our struggle
Our ignorance, our divisions -- they will be undone!

I welcome the traffic, the boots, cleats, and slippers
I welcome the throngs, running to meet
Hesitation fails, suspicions don't matter
For love of Our Lord binds so very tight.

Now land moves to land, continents shudder
Distance between dissolves by His Word
The bridges are rested, cross pieces retired
"My Lord and my God!" I rest in His Light!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The foundation of our hope

Dear God,
This is Kelley.

"When you talk about Jesus, it changes you." Oh, he is right, Lord, Bishop Ed Little. His smile betrayed the knowledge, the knowledge he keeps in a sacred place within, the knowledge we all keep, safely tucked away in colanders within us. It leaks out, of course; that is what it is meant to do; that is what it must do. We just cannot come near and try to verbalize what we've seen without Your Spirit routing, rooting, transforming.

You are powerful, Lord. Your Word is not just word, as Isaiah 55:11 reminds us:
So will the words that come out of my mouth    not come back empty-handed.They’ll do the work I sent them to do,    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.
There is something going on as we speak, as our minds try to look for words, as we go inside and touch that sacred place where You are housed.

We who speak and those who hear are changed. Even when, I believe, our words fall on deaf ears, closed hearts and minds -- when You bump into human obstacle, which of the forces will prevail? This is the foundation of hope, the ground in, unmovable base upon which, upon Whom, we move.

"When you talk about Jesus, it changes you." Oh, yes. And all who hear as well.