Friday, May 18, 2012

Why we don't ask for more

Picture Oliver Twist.  “Please, sir, I want some more.”  And the response, “MORE?!!???!!!”  swat smack push shove swat.  Are we conditioned not to ask for more?

My mom conditioned me out of a sense of courtesy.  My asking for more seemed to indicate that the hostess had not been generous enough and was thus a major insult.  How dare I be so selfish as to want MORE?!!???!!!

There is a generation that remembers the Great Depression  as more than the mood after a break up.  Families struggled to provide just enough for survival and asking for more was being ungrateful and unappreciative of all the work the family put in just to get what they had.  You want “MORE?!!???!!!”

There is a generation that remembers the sacrifices that needed to be made during war time.  What we had to give up so that or soldiers could fight for our freedom was part of or patriotic duty.  “MORE?!!???!!! Why that’s Anti-American.

We live in a market economy where you get what you deserve, what you have earned.  To ask for more without providing more product/service is bad commerce.  If you want more then work harder. Huh, more….

And what about the starving children in Sub-Saharan Africa?  How often have children been told to clean their plates because the food they are wasting could save a starving child.  Asking for more is equal to affirming genocide.  MORE?!!???!!! One might as well where a scarlet M on your chest for Murderer who wants MORE.

And yet… and yet… When it comes to God we are encouraged to ask for more and expect more.  We are encouraged to throw away our conditioning and embrace the sufficiency of Christ.  We can’t and don’t need to earn these gifts.  We are showing our fear that perhaps God is not larger than our dreams, perhaps we are not children of God and joint heirs with Christ, perhaps the Holy Spirit will not resource us to fight the battles ahead.  And fear of so many thing tells us over and over that we should never ask for more.  God however is more than market economies, and countries and courtesies and calamities.  God through the Holy Spirit knows our deepest needs and indeed translates and transmits the strongest groaning hungers of our souls to the kingdom of God.   Read these Words from Luke 11:

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Please, Sir God Loving Abba Father, May I have some more?  MORE?!!???!!!  Why of course dear audacious bold and persistent child.  God’s love for you is endless.  God will send the very spirit of truth and love to live with you and in you, so you can understand how I give and how the world gives, for they are very different.  The world gives and consumes based on many appetites and addictions but the Lord gives so each has their daily bread, sufficient for this day’s journey.  And ll God’s people say, “Thank you, AMEN!”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You want me to what??????

This may seem disjointed and stream of consciousness but I trust you, dear readers, to figure out the message you need to receive. 

p. 46 “We are not called to fear what following the way of Jesus may require of us, but that doesn’t mean those fears won’t crop up.”

1.  Infuse: (v.) 1. Fill; pervade: 2. Instill (a quality) in someone or something:

When our lives are infused with the Holy Spirit, we are filled, a new quality has been instilled.  When a pitcher is filled with water it inherently gets wet; but it has not stopped being a pitcher.  When hot water is infused with tea it does not stop being water it simply takes on a new flavor. 

2. Our identity is one of those truths that we build our lives on.  We understand who we are, but how fragile our lives appear if our identity is challenged or if somehow it changes.  If our lives are infused with the Holy Spirit change is inevitable and every aspect of our life comes into play.

3. What if God refuses to show up?  We are called to trust that God will follow through.  We are called to act as though we know that God will show up.  However all of us have had those experiences where we counted on God but felt that God has not shown up.  I think our fear is not that God won’t show up but that God won’t show up as we want.  We fear losing control.  If we are called to risk then we must know that God will be the safety net we need rather than the safety we want.

4.  What if God does show up? “What if” is such a daunting question.  We seek control and if God shows up that control goes out the window.  Do we really have faith that “everything will be ok?” We are concerned that everything will be ok but ask ourselves “by what standard?”

5.  Expectations:  Will I live into the world’s expectations?  Will I live into God’s expectations?  Will I live into my family’s expectations?  Will I live into my expectations?

6.  Obedience:  What does it mean to be obedient to the Spirit’s leading?  Will I lose my voice if I accept this challenge?  I am concerned for the cost.  Will what I gain really make up for what I may lose?  Am I allowing my fear to out-weigh the opportunity? 

7.  What if we knew with no doubts that God was calling us to put it all on the line?  Where do we go from there?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

King of Glory

Who is this King of Glory?  So much of western culture is infused with information and events surrounding God aka “The Father” and Jesus aka “The Savior” that even the most un-churched person knows enough to call out their names in time of trouble.  The Holy Spirit aka “The Paraclete” is not as well-known and that neglect has been the root of many of the world’s problems.  We have at least two great problems.  One problem is our ignorance of the names and character of the Holy Spirit and the other is or fear of allowing this barely known spirit to have sway over our lives.  The trust we have in Jesus and God is somehow difficult to extend to the nebulous Holy Spirit.  Therefore our exploration of the very nature of the Holy Spirit is necessary if we are to rely on more than our humanity to navigate this world and enjoy the kingdom to come.  How well we devote ourselves to knowing, accepting and responding to this Holy Breath of God that gives life, will be equal to or surpassed by the amazing work of this Holy Fire in our lives.  Jesus himself told the disciples before his ascension that it would be better for us to have the spirit.    Seek this Spirit and know the Father’s love.

Prayer:  Holy Presence of God, help me know you by revealing your names to me.  I am thankful for the diversity of you.  You are never just one thing but many things, as numerous as my needs, as plentiful of my dreams.    Help me recognize your movement in my life.  I want your name to ever be on my tongue so my innermost groans and shouts can be understood throughout the kingdom of God.  To better know you and to more obediently and humble work with you will be my focus and my goal. I pray this through your grace. Amen.

Monday, May 7, 2012

What we believe abot the Holy Spirit??? Really?

An Affirmation of Faith is that what we believe before it has been poked and prodded and scientifically verified s truth.  It is truth that we believe even before we experience it with our senses.  Below is an affirmation of faith that I designed based on The United Methodist Member’s Handbook. See if you agree with my adaptation of George Koehler’s work.  And then ask yourself this:  If we believe what is said, do our lives reflect such belief?

 We believe that the Holy Spirit is God's present activity in our midst. When we sense God's leading, God's challenge, or God's support or comfort, we say that it's the Holy Spirit at work.

We believe that we find evidence of the Spirit at work:

Throughout the Bible   

In both the old and new testaments from Genesis to Revelation God’s Word reveals God’s Spirit

We believe that we find evidence of the Spirit at work:

In guidance, comfort, and strength

We believe that we continue to experience God's breath.  We sense the Spirit in time alone—perhaps in prayer, in our study of the Scriptures, in reflection on a difficult decision, or in the memory of a loved one. The Spirit's touch is intensely personal.

We believe that aware of the Holy Spirit in the community of believers—the congregation, the church school class or fellowship group, the soup kitchen, the planning committee, the prayer meeting, the family. Somehow the Spirit speaks through the thoughtful and loving interaction of God's people. The Holy Spirit, who brought the church into being, is still guiding and upholding it, if we will but listen.

We believe that we find evidence of the Spirit at work:

In the gifts we receive

These fruits and gifts are not of our own achievement. They and others are the outgrowth of the Spirit's work in us, by grace, through our faith in Jesus the Christ. And they are not given for personal gain. Through these fruits and gifts, the Holy Spirit empowers us for ministry in the world. The Spirit gives to all as needs arise. 

We believe that God resources those called into ministry and we believe in the ministry of All believers.  The Spirit is with us, Always. AMEN.

Based on United Methodist Member’s Handbook, Revised by George Koehler (Discipleship Resources, 2006) pp. 84-85.

Holy Spirit
Blog 1:

In the beginning... God hovered over the chaotic waters.  Check out Genesis 1:1-2.  It is the first appearance of the Holy Spirit related in the Bible.  I think that the spirit of the Lord hovering over the chaos but not being drawn into the drama speaks volumes.  First of all, Flying, Floating, Hovering all people literally dream of the freedom of flight.  Dream interpretors will tell you that flying dreams suggest feelings of freedom and limitless space and possibilities/opportunities. (Go flying dreams)   But then if the H.S. is hovering over the chaos is that implying that the Spirit is above it all and is judgy and non-connected to our plight?  I get the feeling that the H.S. is surveying and assessing the palette on top which God will create.  Here is where you picture a classic painter with a splattered frock coat and wild hair studying a blank canvas with his thumb thrust forward.  In our series, we will discover what the bible and various authors have to say about this powerful part of the Trinity.  You are invited to travel along with us.  Let's see; there are several opportunities: The sermon series is at the Steuben UMC in Remsen starting at 9 a.m., then there is this devotional blog, the god-spotting podcast, the Tuesday night bible study (6:30 @ the church), the small group video study(Fridays @ the Haier's), The books: the God I Never Knew and Forgotten God, various internet connections and prayers. 

Here is this week's spirit prayer:
O Breath of God,
breeze into the cracks and crevices of my heart.  I am thankful for your inspiration, comfort, and gifts.  Yet I do not know you as well as I could.  Ignite a fire to warm the parts of my soul that have grown cold.  Show me the sunlit lines of your face as we walk this road together,  By Your Grace -- Amen.