The Trinitarian Prayer

“O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action” (The Trinitarian Prayer of Elizabeth of the Trinity).

Right now, I feel as though I could sleep for 36 hours straight. That might be a wee bit difficult with a tiny 12- week old kitten who will probably want me to play with her and feed her at some point. She’s literally pouncing all over the bed as I write these words.

My prayer echoes the prayer of most of you. I want rest– not sleep but rest. I don’t necessarily want to be lazy and do nothing. I want to have a rested and peaceful mind, as opposed to the rushed and frenetic mind that most of us have that won’t settle down for a moment.

The world is saying, “More! More!” and “Faster! Faster!” It never wants for a second for you to slow down and wonder why you’re racing yourself to death to accumulate more trinkets and plaques. God says, “Slow down and savor and live this one life to the fullest.”

May we be so absorbed by the mastery of the Trinity of God that we forget ourselves and cease to obsess over how miserably we failed last week or how many flaws we seem to carry lately.

May the glory of God be so blinding to us that we can see nothing else and live for nothing else. May every thought, every word, every action, every deed be born out of a deep contemplation of the love of the Trinitarian God for us. May our lives be an expression of that love and may we be the love of Christ manifest and made visible to every person we meet.



Revisiting Revelation

I’m in the middle of a class on the book of Revelation at Brentwood Baptist Church. Actually, I started in the middle of the class after another one I was in ended.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There’s a lot of imagery. Some of it’s pretty, but some of it is unsettling and disturbing.

There’s also quite a bit of disagreement on what it all means. I’ve come to decide that there are people on all sides that are strong believers with solid theology who have come to different conclusions about this book.

There are a few things that most everybody agrees with when it comes to Revelation:

  1. The hardest part of the story is never the last part. There may be a lot of darkness but there are also much brighter days ahead when Jesus truly comes back for his Bride the Church.
  2. The good guys really do win. That is, Jesus wins. Good overcomes evil and justice prevails over injustice. There’s not a wrong that won’t be made right when Jesus comes in sight.
  3. Worship is still the best witness. I don’t mean just singing hymns or worship choruses. I mean a daily life of sacrifice and surrender, of renewal and transformation. I mean a life that declares the worth and glory of God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  4. The end of the story is really only the real beginning. I still love how C. S. Lewis puts it inThe Last Battle where he says that all of history was just the title page and preface while eternity is where the real story begins– a story that gets better and better with each new chapter.

Having said all that, I confess that this particular class still makes my head hurt. I really can’t keep up with all the dragons and beasts and bowls and trumpets and all that other imagery.

It helps to keep in mind that John wrote this book to believers undergoing incredible persecution and torture for their faith. The purpose was (and still is) to show that no matter how bad and hard life gets, God will always have the last word.


Another Great Awakening

“I have heard the reports about You,
    and I am in awe when I consider all You have done.
O Eternal One, revive Your work in our lifetime;
    reveal it among us in our times.
As You unleash Your wrath, remember Your compassion” (Hab. 3:2).

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in and amongst the American churches in general.

We’ve lost the uniqueness that made us different from everybody else. The salt has lost its saltiness and the light has been hidden under a bushel of tolerance.

We know that the Bible calls us to love everybody and we’ve mistakenly believed that loving people means accepting any and all of their behaviors and lifestyle choices. We take the admonition not to judge to mean that we can never ever call out a person’s sin, even when that sin will ultimately lead to their destruction.

We haven’t spoken the truth, and when we have, we haven’t spoken it in love.

We’ve toned down or eliminated from our vocabulary those words deemed offensive by the culture around us. Very rarely anymore will you hear about the wrath of God or hell or sin or any of those topics. We assume that love would never do that.

We’ve tried so hard to fit in and be relevant that we’re no longer recognizable as a separate entity. The love we teach and preach isn’t the Agape Love of the Bible, but a touchy-feely love that is more transient than transcendent.

There has been at least one great revival in every century of this nation. Maybe if enough of us decide that the status quo of nice religion and self-help style of morality no longer works, we will seek with tears and sighs another great revival and not rest praying for one until the fire falls from heaven again.

I know that too often I am apathetic when it comes to God. I also know that I am far from being alone in this. We’ve grown too accustomed to the things of God that we no longer hold them as sacred. We no longer meditate on the glory and holiness of God and we forget that He is the Holy Other, not a bigger, stronger, faster, smarter version of us.

I write this with fear and trembling, hoping to err on the side of grace yet knowing that the church can only blame herself for the state of the nation. I don’t claim to have all the answers or to have it all figured out. I do know that more than someone telling us that “I’m okay,  you’re okay,” we need someone telling us of our great need for repentance.

I do know that I need Jesus. I know that we all need Jesus, especially in these desperate times.



Two Thoughts on a Tuesday

I’m at my laptop, typing away. For the record, I’m still using my old Sony Vaio, so this blog is only 85% as cool as it could have been were I typing on a Mac Book Pro. But seeing as that is neither here nor there, I digress.

Sitting in Kairos tonight, I had a couple of thoughts unrelated to the sermon Mike Glenn was preaching. I do that often. But that’s also another blog for another day.

I had two distinct thoughts:

1) It really is never too late to start over and become who God created and designed you to be. Even if you’re a Grandma Moses at age 70, you can still start over. And there’s no shame in admitting that what you’ve been doing all this time isn’t what God has called you to. It may have been at some point, but now God is calling you to start again.

2) You don’t have to wait until you get where God is calling you to use your job as a mission field. You can start right now with where you are, even if that’s bagging groceries at Publix or sweeping floors in an office. After all, the Bible DOES tell us to do EVERYTHING to the glory of God, even mopping floors and cleaning public toilets.

The more you see your life not as something you’re entitled to but as an adventure you choose each day to participate in, a journey that God leads you through, the more you see that life truly is a gift and a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful even for this old, slow laptop, even as it hinders my cool factor. I remember older desktops that were much slower (and even had dial-up internet connections!) So it’s all about perspective and being grateful for what you DO have (my Sony Vaio) as opposed to wishing and pining after what you don’t (a Mac Book Pro).


The Face of God

I get emails from the Henri Nouwen Society with daily meditations on them. I thought today’s was especially good and reminded me of a blog I’d written a few years back. This one’s better.

I love the imagery and the idea that every believer carries the image of God, but only collectively can the true imago dei of God be seen and truly appreciated.

“A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself.

“That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world.  Nobody can say: ‘I make God visible.’  But others who see us together can say: ‘They make God visible.’ Community is where humility and glory touch.”

I think that says it all. People do see God in us individually, but people see God best when we are living in community. That’s where our unique gifts, talents, passions, and abilities come together to form something that collectively is more than the sum of its parts. That’s the Church.

So think about that the next time you’re gathered together with believers. You’re not just a group of people, but a work of art– a mosaic– displaying the great worth and glory of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

Persecution is a dirty word these days in American Christian circles. In fact, any word associated with discomfort or pain is frowned upon. We are all supposed to be happily pursuing the American dream and finding fulfillment in Christ as He grants our every wish and never puts us through anything that would remotely resemble suffering. Right?

I think not.

Jesus said that if we follow Him, truly follow Him, and do what He said, we will be persecuted. Not maybe. Not possibly. We will. Maybe the fact that we aren’t facing persecution is that we look more like the world than we do Christ. Satan doesn’t spend effort attacking something or someone who is not a threat. The world won’t either. If we are too busy trying to fit in with the world rather than showing the world how it can be saved, we won’t be persecuted. But we won’t really know what the kingdom of Heaven is like or how sweet knowing Jesus can be.

The Message says, “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”

The key word here is commitment. Are we really committed enough to follow Jesus even if it actually costs us something? Like our popularity, success, reputations, health, and, God forbid, our lives. Too many of those who profess to believe will follow when following is easy and when it is comfortable, but not when it gets tough or when it becomes unpopular. The only ones who can see it through are those who have been redeemed, forgiven and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Only those who have the power of the resurrection inside can face death, because they know that that power that raised Jesus from the grave will also raise us up to eternal life.

The kingdom of heaven belongs to us when we are persecuted and persevere. What is the kingdom of God? God Himself. God’s rule and authority and power and majesty and glory. In the book of Revelation, John writes that they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony and by the fact that they did not love their lives even unto death. Only love could motivate anyone to do these things. Only God’s love in us.

God, captivate my heart so that I will be willing to follow You and commit myself to You, regardless of where You send me, regardless of who responds, and regardless of what it costs me. I want to give my life away so that Your kingdom can advance upon the earth and You can reign. Make me your fuel, so Your glory can burn all the more brightly.

As always, I believe. Or I should say in this case I want to believe. Help my unbelief.