Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Lord Have Mercy

"When we discern that people are not going along spiritually and allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block our way to God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede." - Oswald Chambers

It happens sometimes without our even realizing it.

A person we know, we relate to, we care about - comes to an opinion or position that immediately leads us to believe that all is not right between them and God. And lets say, for the sake of my proposal, that their opinion or position conflicts with our own settled facts about the matter.

"Well," we say to ourselves (at least until we can get to Facebook to write some subtle dig, rant, or other "instructive" post that casts us in the very best light and them in shadow), "hopefully God will  convict them of their sin."


I seem to recall an event where a rich and religiously well connected man, and an outcast of a collaborator both come to pray. One takes the time to remind God what a great catch He made when He convinced Mr. Piousity to come on board. The other, shaking as he cried, knowing his sins were as scarlet, and his life itself unworthy, said this, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Jesus, who knew sinners and religious people well, and tended to hang out with the sinners, pointed to the outcast as the one who went away justified.

Friend, you and I cannot walk away justified from a categorization of anyone as a sinner. What we can do if we are led to believe another is walking the wrong direction is pray for them, What we can do is love them. What we can do is live our lives as proof that even a sinner like us can find hope and redemption in Jesus.

Now who are you going to pray for? That is after that "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner" part.

Friday, May 01, 2020

The Questions

There's a old red devotional book next to me here at my cluttered desk. I got it almost 20 years ago at a yard sale. It and I have been in a relationship ever since. There are times when it's a pretty constant companion and part of my daily routine - and even more often some days. And there are weeks, even months some years that I just drift away from it for a while.

Yet within it are some passages and quotes that lift me. That shake me. That probe me and my faith.

Do you have friends like that? Everybody should, I think.

There are so many examples of what I encounter there, by so many writers and sources I could share, but because this morning some people who might be wondering and wandering are on my heart, I'll share this.

"I want to beg you to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try and love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now try to seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you wouldn't be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." 
- From Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

If you could only see how many times I search the Scriptures, break down the text, read the ancient commentators and trace the years through what men and women have written as they too "lived the questions" maybe it would make a difference for you.

What resonates with me about this is the "live along some distant day into the answer."

How many times have you stopped short having realized after many years just why your father or mother did something a certain way. I know marriage and having children of your own bring realizations like that for many.

But walking with Jesus does too.

If you'll keep walking.

Will you please keep walking into the answers?

Your companion on the journey,