Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have been pondering the Desert Fathers understanding about anger being a barrier to prayer. Anger is such a natural response to suffering and if it is a barrier to prayer then how can I be prayerful in the midst of chronic pain?

I got a great insight from one of the guys in my men's group last week. He reminded me of strong biblical tradition of lament. Many of the Psalms are Psalms of lament. This is where the Psalmist brings his pain and sorrow to God through lament. Lament is about mourning and grief and it is not a barrier to prayer.

Lament describes my inner life much better than anger. Yes at times I feel anger and even get angry but it is not the dominant pattern in my life. Lament however is a regular part of my life. It is my constant companion. To have no lament about my pain and loss would be untrue and I would be avoiding what is really going on. Lament however does not exclude joy.

Joy and thankfulness also describe my inner life to the same degree as the lament. I carry within me lament, sorrow, joy and gratitude. I hold these opposites as one and therefore I am not a disintegrated person, I am human.

Perhaps this is the wisdom of the sages, the ability to hold opposites together and to live prayerfully. Lord willing I will be able to hold this tension and from it witness to a deeper reality of God's presence as compassion and hope.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


As I observe the various church fights, either locally or nationally I notice that few people claim to be part of the problem and admit their need to be transformed.

The simple fact is that we are all part of the problem and need to be transformed. It is so easy to project on others the rightness we think that they need to have. The may need to hear the truth but we should hear the truth about ourselves before we starting throwing out accusations.

On most issues both sides are filled with fear, anger, bitterness and self-righteousness. Neither side admits they could be wrong. They might be right but energy brought from anger and fear is still not the right energy.

When we finally admit we might be wrong and that we are in need of transformation then we are not driven by the ego, at this point and only at this point do we begin to get a voice of critique because we realize that we are part of the problem and part of the solution and that only the power of God will transform us and this world.

Having enough votes never transformed anybody.

I could be wrong. I need to be transformed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

His verses Mine

One of the most profound questions to ask is am I mine own or am I His?

If I am simply mine then it is up to me to make it in the world. I need to use my strength, power, smarts and endurance to weave my way through this life and the next. It makes for a competitive rat race type existence where there is never enough and I am always in need.

If on the other hand I am His then he has certain responsibility for me and my life. It is His power at work and not my own. If I am His then I also have access to his power and resourcing in the life and the next.

God has made us his through Christ (see Ephesians 1). It is through our baptism that he joins us to himself through Christ (see Romans 6). We are His and not our own.

This is a wonderful and fearful statement. Wonderful because of all the benefits that come with grace; being an heir in the kingdom of God, a beloved child of God in and through Christ. Eternity itself is ours. Wow...

Fearful too. If I am His then I am not my own and I should live not to my glory but to his. We are to be about the business of giving ourselves and gifts away. This is to be our lifestyle. We do this because our life has been bought with a price and we have a new master.

We pray "thy will be done". Notice that we never pray "my will". Jesus tells us to "seek first the kingdom" (Matthew 6:33). The kingdom is his, not ours.

We forget this at the congregational level all the time. We think that things in the church are "ours". Nothing at the church is "ours" it is all his! If we have given something and still want to exercise control over our gift then we really haven't given a gift to the Lord, we have "loaned" it with strings attached. It would be better not to give the gift than to deceive ourselves into thinking we have given a gift.

Giving ourselves completely is the gateway to life. Jesus says that "whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but however gives his life for his sake will find it". There is no other path to true life than learning that everything is his and learning to live accordingly.