Morning Meditation 6.10.2020

Yoke of slavery.  I don’t like using that S word for obvious reasons.  Maybe a truer expression is to be controlled, oppressed.  A yoke of being controlled, manipulated, or made to do something out of threat.  

In all four passages for today’s liturgical readings, there is a whiff of being controlled or manipulated to be someone who goes against your inner fibers.  The people who put in the work to do scripture mashups (which is basically what the liturgy is) had some brilliance.  

In one passage, there is an oppressive, controlling ruler who takes over a city.  He does so by force and many ill words.  But an old man who is quiet and full of wisdom delivers the city.  

As the passages continue, a mashup theme is getting revealed.  The Christ figure says to be mindful of who is teaching you and what they’re teaching.  The disciples are being warned about a group of religious leaders who slant their teachings in a way that distorts God’s true image, which ultimately distorts how we view ourselves and others.  

Paul says to be mindful of “who is confusing you”.  To be confused is to have two or more ideas that are trying to get mingled together.  But they don’t go together.  

A strong Ruler who oppresses // a wise, quiet old man who delivers

Religious leaders who distort God’s image for personal gain // Christ and the Cross

A life devoid of communal awareness // Community relationships inspiring freedom

In a culture of words, pithy statements, broadstroke posts and arguments, God is calling us to slow down and listen.  To be contemplative in a time of crisis is to be communal with Christ and community.  

Father, Son, Spirit, may you guide us into truth-making, wisdom that delivers us and others from oppression and confusion. Make things clear for us. We’re not always the best thinkers and doers. Your words and deeds, Lord Jesus, become our way of defining truth and reality. Amen.

That Time I Spoke/Played To 10,000+ People

[Don’t bypass the + after the number…it gives me more validation]

I should have shaved and cut my hair for Urbana!

When I played drums and led communion at Urbana, I thought I was gonna feel this sense of “I’ve made it”. Luckily, I’ve failed enough times to remember that once you exit the stage, it’s back to normal life.

When I stepped off the stage after communion, I was greeted by friends: my bandmates, new IV staff friends, and the program director (Una). They embraced me (that means “hugged really tight”) and honestly didn’t say many words.

I let the emotion die down and said a small prayer of gratefulness and hoping that students renewed and remembered their commitments to Jesus. That was it.

It feels like our Christian culture praises the stage and those on it. We think stage people are the smartest, most holy, put together people. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I sure fooled them! 😉

Honestly, I want to be really smart and articulate. I want the likes on social media and to be trending. But I want it less now than I did in previous years. [I’m not trying to be trendy or “humble” when I say this! I really want the clicks to hopefully make money!). LOL

And then I read passages where Paul tells the people of Corinth that our life of faith is a response to God’s power, not our smarts or emotional footwork.


There’s this concept of wisdom in the bible that somehow comes from God. Wisdom is personified as a “She” in the old testament and it’s calling out to us all the time. And then we hear things like, “If you have ears to hear…”

But here’s the thing (I hate this phrase but it rolls off my tongue more than I want to admit): I’ve had enough experiences in life to teach me that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

The first step in AA is to admit that we’re powerless. Richard Rohr says,

“God seems to have hidden holiness and wholeness in a secret place where only the humble will find it…You will not learn to actively draw upon a Larger Source until your usual resources are depleted and revealed as wanting. In fact, you will not even know there is a Larger Source until your own sources and resources fail you.”

Rohr, Richard. Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps (p. 2-3). St. Anthony Messenger Press. Kindle Edition.

Why is the pretense to knowing God or having any inclination of wisdom to live life began with humility? I don’t know! No pun intended. Only that if I pictured myself walking around thinking that I was the smartest and wisest person, I’d be centered on my own self as the sole source.

And there’s the problem! I become the source of wisdom but I’ve made enough mistakes in life to realize I’m not the source.

Jesus spends so much time with the “out-of-luck” down-and-outers, the ones who know they don’t have the resources needed to make due in life.

So I confess as much as I’m aware to God as a way to admit my limitations. I pray in the morning, midday, and evening. Read my bible. Connect with others. Tell Christina when I’ve screwed up (she’s one of my confessors). I go see a therapist. I visit a spiritual director. I struggle to belong to a church community but I show up and sing songs of praise to God, listen to a sermon, and work to be part of communal life.

Praying for wisdom today. Praying to remember that I’m limited in my resources. Praying for deeper wisdom and to see the big picture in all things. Praying for God to help me plant a new church (or more that He plants one and that I can be a part of it). Praying to listen well to others, especially those I hang out with the most (familiarity can sometimes dull curiosity). I just try to pray a lot because it keeps me humble.

Love you all!

Playground Story on Patience

There’s a story of three parents at a playground watching their kids and how they each respond (or react) when their kids slip or fall.

Hearing that their child slipped and fell, the first parent runs frantically to see the child.  In panic mode, the parent smothers the child and takes them away from the playground.

The second parent hears the cry of the child and doesn’t move from the bench.  They’re too preoccupied and comes across cold and distant.  The child is left to comfort themselves.

The third parent calmly goes to assist the child and asks in a warm tone, “Sweety, what happened?  Let’s see where it hurts.”  She holds him for a few minutes and then says, “Are you ready to go back out and play?”  The child looks up, nods his head, and runs back out to play.

I’ve thought about this as a parent, but also when I have tough and hard times in my life.  James, one of the early church pastors and fathers, says that when we experience hardship, we are to be like the third parent who turns to Our Heavenly Father for comfort, patience, and wisdom.  We pray for the gift of faith to see how God might be with us, instructing, guiding, and providing.  Like the third parent, God also is compassionate and patient with us.

When hardships come, we can panic, shut down, turn a problem into a crisis, or remain patient as we seek wisdom.  I’ve chosen all of the above.  My prayer has been that as I get older, I remain calm and patient through the storm.  I pray, talk to Christina, seek out trusted friends, and ask for support.  Doing life with a spiritual community of support has been a huge advantage in life.

St. James invites us to be people of faith:  look up to Our Heavenly Father and look away from self (which tends to over-react, shut down, or make mountains).  As look up, may God grant wisdom and patience in abundance.

First Day of School: Prayers and Hopes

Many are starting school today (this week, this month).  We dropped our boys off and just like that, they’re off to learning and growing.  Here are some things I am praying and hoping for; not just for my kids but for all who are starting the school year.

*For Parenting Wisdom:  I am grateful for our teachers.  But I also know that our children’s education is our responsibility as parents and that it’s tough work.  So the prayer is one of humility, asking God to fill us with the wisdom needed to teach our children to be responsible, hard-working, playful, and thoughtful of others.

*teachers and staff members:  teachers pour themselves out so much every day.  Praying they would have the support needed to be the type of teachers that inspire and equip our children.  Praying that parents would get to know their teachers and see what their needs might be.

*a hope for building community:  it’s a hope of mine to build more long lasting relationships and community with parents.  In community we can give and receive support, help meet needs together, and impact the lives of our students and school.

*a hope for children to discover their talents and abilities:  the educational basics are great, we need them.  I also pray that students would discover their talents and abilities, and that we’d learn to value all the different types of ways students think and experience life.

*for those who don’t have educational opportunities:  I also can’t help but think of children (in the U.S. and abroad) who don’t have the opportunities to get the education they deserve because the country might be stricken by war, political upheaval, or poverty.

“Father, we ask to be parents that model Your love and grace to our kids.  We pray for our teachers and school communities–that they would become transformative communities of learning and compassion.  Amen”