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Always Safe, Never Alone!

Life can feel scary, lonely, sad, and very very empty. “Beyond here, there be Monsters”! Grief from loss, fear from a bad medical appointment, pain from a broken heart and relationship ruptured, heartache from a loved one careening towards disaster, the stress and anxiety from professional or financial reversals…

Worst of all… the teeny tiny niggling nagging fear that sometimes assails… that we dare not even ADMIT because we are… in our own eyes and those of others… people of HOPE…

The worst one… the wee small voice that comes in our darkest nights and lowest moments saying… “It’s all empty you know. You’re really just alone and floating, drifting, randomly… on the surface of time. There’s nothing and no one else, it’s all just a great cosmic joke.”

If you’ve never heard this little temptation, this voice of internal despair, with its message of either “there is no God”… or “God really despises you, you know”… then I applaud you. There’s fancy names for this… “Existential Angst”, among others…

This is very powerful in our world. In fact, this, the “deadly despair” that can arise… the call to action prompted, and the depression and suicide associated with this channel of thought, are costing countless lives both young and old.

The most frightening words we can know?

“Abandoned!”   “Betrayed”   “Unclean”   “Cast Out!”   “Unworthy”   “Alone”

These are “Killing Words”… These are “Murdering Words”…

21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” [Matthew 5]

Strong words, Our Lord uses here. But I think He knew (knows) and could see the sort of harm, the damage, that happens to people when they are isolated, separated, cut off, declared “good-for-nothing” and valueless… in relationships. To be cut off in a relationship is to be wounded, to be judged, to be condemned, and to wither and shrivel.

In our own world, our own time and space, we see people choose to end life, rather than continue in such a state of shadow being. For those who base their hope, their trust, their sense of being anchored and well, in the human relationships around them, there is a danger. People can fail. People are frail and faulty, and sometimes, for whatever reason, we can cut others off… leaving them alone with their fears and concerns. Wrong? Of course! But yet so much a part of being human! So much a part… of US.


I woke this morning with David Wesley’s song in my ears and spirit. It’s not that I am particularly depressed or anxious in these days (as far as I know). Stuff happens, of course, and I have my tense moments… but nothing profound.

Nonetheless, in these times, these days… where we ask meaningful questions like, “What is Church as God envisions it?” “What is a Christian, how do I live that?” “How do we walk in the intimate Oneness of Christ, here and now… moment by moment?”

This song just rang on and on in my mind, my soul, and I realized something incredibly simple, yet absorbingly profound…

When these lyrics wash through you… Here is God’s ministry TO YOU… Here is your hope, your faith, your life, your breath! Here is the embrace… the absolutely unrelenting love, embrace, support, presence, and affirmation of God FOR you! You are Safe! You are Never Alone!

And, at the very same moment, HERE is the Gospel!

Here is OUR grace towards OTHERS! That God’s love through us, never fails, never gives up, never runs out on others. That’s more of a challenge in practice, I know. But just like Sermon on the Mount, or I Corinthians 13, that is nonetheless the Truth of how God touches others through us when we allow.

When we allow…

The answer is love. What was the question?

Enjoy the song again. Now, go love somebody!

Joy, blessing, and grace to you!

The Little Monk

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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The Power of Red Ink

Report CardGreetings, boys and girls. Once upon a time, back in the dark ages B.C. (before computers), THIS is what a Report Card looked like. It was (*gasp*) HANDWRITTEN, had columns for each marking period, passing grades were written in Black Ink, and failing grades were written in Red Ink.

(Now for those of you from the Computer Age, Grade Reports come out in machine generated characters, nearly exclusively in Black.)

Later in life, we associate this color coding with bookkeeping and accountancy. To be “in the black” is to have a positive balance in assets or credit, and to be in debit is noted in red.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Now, I didn’t expect to be writing this post this evening, but it is one of those “I-have-had-enough-of-this” moments, so I thought I’d share. You are welcome to agree or disagree, but this is my passionate feeling here.

Paulfg reblogged a post by The Culture Monk called Too many people are confused about atheism… REALLY??? with some very good thoughts and excellent discussion in the comment section. I recommend it to you as a good and thought-provoking read. I’ll not try to summarize it here. Nonetheless, the point that has moved me is all the rhetoric surrounding the label “Christian”.

There are people who label themselves, with great pride, as being “Christians”, because they attend church, dress up, tithe, carry heavy showy Bibles, grew up in a home where Daddy-was-a-Deacon and Mama-played-the-organ, and they occupy the community/social position of “Christian of the neighborhood block watch and thought police”. These folks are like “legacy Christians” if churches worked like fraternities and sororities. They hold exalted and esteemed positions, are legends in their own mind, and enjoy the privilege of judging and condemning all those they deem as believing or behaving differently than they do. They hold a definitive relationship with the definitive law and list of righteous behaviors, and you can think their way… or else.

Their spiritual ancestors of Biblical times, Pharisees,  had very mixed relations with Jesus. Some believed in Jesus, let Him utterly rock their worlds, and entered friendship with Him. Others did not, and Jesus said “Woe” to them, for missing the point.

I just have this massive problem with “political labeling of ideology” and the word “Christian”. If, by Christian, we mean “a disciple of Jesus Christ”, then Jesus gave us a perfectly clear “litmus test” of that when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) I don’t know a better descriptor than that.

I am drawn to the key words there, “By this all men will know”. THAT is really key to what Christ said, isn’t it? Shouldn’t “Christian” be a label applied to us BY OTHERS? Shouldn’t the very power and unexpectedness of our love be our hallmark as a Christian? How do we ever have the audacity and hubris to apply such a label to ourselves, as though it is some sort of endorsement, award, trophy or honor?

Our identity as a Christian should be a conclusion reached by someone else as they observe our attitudes, fruit, and demeanor. It shouldn’t be some accomplishment or honor we claim by virtue of our righteous deeds or organizational association. Such is my view…

Anyway, back to Black and Red Ink.

There is tremendous power to pulling out the Red Ink bottle. Once upon a time, a child’s whole world could revolve around whether their Report Card was covered with Black or Red Ink. I don’t know that families take such things so seriously nowadays, but there is, or at least was, a significant exercise of power to pulling out the straight pen and bottle of Red Ink. (For some reason, grades had to be marked on these little fold-up yellow manila cards, in bottled ink with an actual straight pen. Ball point would NOT do, fountain nib only, please.)

Is it that residual “fear of red ink assigned to us by others… by superior authority”, that childish dread of Report Card Day… that makes the sheer power trip of “grading everyone else on their deportment and morality” so appealing?

I mean, isn’t that what Pharisees and self-righteous goats DO? Sit with their little clipboards and stopwatches, their lists of rules, regulations and requirements, and “keep score” on all the players surrounding them? Maybe blowing a whistle or calling a time out now and again to harangue someone or other, but basically just scorekeeping and chronicling for the great Books of Deeds to be opened at the end of time?

Oh, yes… I almost forgot. Pulling out their great bottles of Red Ink and grading our performance every quarter or so.

Isn’t that the task of the righteous? Isn’t that the point of ministers and Sunday School teachers and Deacons? Isn’t that the very raison d’etre of the local church itself? To point all around, inside and out, feel good about how righteous WE are and score performance of others on the “Holy Report Card Exam”?

Sad to say… it is precisely that for many. Every day, every week, throughout time, clear back to Jesus’ day… dedicated Church attenders and Temple aficionados love to stand on the street corners, dressed and speaking as an admirable and righteous icon of the holy. Only to find that they are whitewashed tombs, destined to be cast far from a Lord they never knew, as they reveled in their condemnation of suffering broken people… rather than serving them with compassion and love.

Ah, but the siren call of Red Ink is so appealing. So much self-gratification. Such power. Such fulfillment and ego satisfaction…

Must I cast it away? Must I stop scoring and judging? Must I give up my power to grade behavior and progress?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Um, no. Not necessarily. We ARE scripturally encouraged to do some “scoring”, some “marking”, some “judging” and distinguishing… but never of other people. And certainly NOT for the purpose of sorting out the superior from the inferior, or putting down some to make others feel good or big. Not even school scores are intended for that (though all too often that is how they are applied). School scores are actually intended as what they’ve come to be called in more modern times… “Progress Reports”. Grades, properly applied, can give us an indication of where we are making good progress, and where we may want to spend more time, attention and care.

One day, a year or so ago… God decided that I should do a “Self-Evaluation Progress Report”. I should sit down and “score” my own progress and performance on what He considered the only “Performance Evaluation Criteria” worth worrying about. I cringed at the thought… all those rules I care so little about… all those pharisees I regularly frustrate or enrage… all those opportunities for grace and good that I don’t even SEE, let alone engage in time.

But no… none of that was what He was interested in. Rather, He had me sit down and write in a column down the left hand side of a page, the following:

Love is patient,
love is kind
is not jealous
love does not brag
is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
does not take into account a wrong suffered
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but
rejoices with the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
(1 Cor 13:4-7)

I got out highlighters of 5 different colors, and marked through each line from Dark Green (This is REALLY True for me), the light green (Pretty True), blue (True much of the time), orange or pink (true once in a while, not usually), clear to Red (I really struggle with this).

THIS, it seemed, was the only Report Card this Little Monk needs to be concerned with. And once the task was finished, it was actually encouraging to realize that some elements that have been serious struggle in the past, were no longer so. Further, the areas where I still DO struggle seriously, were no big surprise, and Jesus embraces me WITH those flaws. The point was not to put me down or make me feel bad, but to help me focus here and seek opportunities to improve or be aware, that I let grace flow the more freely.

So, Gentle Reader… there ya go! Want to pull out that Red Ink Bottle? Want to experience the awesome rush of “passing judgment” and “evaluating performance”? Fine. Print out this list, grab yer highlighters or a little box of crayons or colored pencils, and see how you score on your own “Love Quotient”.

Here’s the cool part…

Once you DO this exercise, NOW look around at other people and see if the experience changes. It’s amazing how a few minutes in lovely light, makes others glow so readily.

Grace to thee! — The Little Monk

 
7 Comments

Posted by on December 13, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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Journey – Cybernetic Eye

Desert Caravan“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. [Matthew 5:27-30]

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” [Matthew 6:22-23]

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. [Matthew 7:3-5]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This evening as we camped, Our Lord appeared towards the end of the day with a spring in His step and sat down across the fire from me and a couple friends.

“Well done, Little Monk,” He began, confusing me a bit (which isn’t that unusual). “A couple weeks ago, I made you a promise. It was about ‘judging’. It was about how you ‘see’. You finally understood how, where, why the sin of ‘judging’ resides so deep in you, you tried to ‘stop’ and realized you could not gaze upon something without evaluating and measuring it. You tried your level best and got totally frustrated when you realized that… of yourself… it seemed you had only two alternatives: to look upon something, or to close your eyes altogether. ‘Judging’ or ‘blindness’ seemed your only alternatives… judging was in your very DNA, your fallen nature and you could NOT rid yourself of it.

“Once you realized this fully, after trying for a number of hours, you flopped down on your couch, furious, and gave up. And I was pleased, and I said so. We could not be here today to do THIS, if you had not made the effort and had the experience of being there trying to do THAT. I told you that now that you had surrendered on this, now that you had come to understand through the renewing of your mind about this, that now it would be up to Me to transform. I cannot give you the experience of transformation, until you yourself have walked through the effort of surrendering your body, and renewing your mind. It’s not ‘My rule’, it’s just how experience works.

“So, NOW, Little Monk, go to your pack and bring Me what’s on top.”

LocutusSo I did that, and I found a tech device. A cybernetic device. An optical sensor… in short… a robotic eye. It was dead and artificial. Here you see a Borg eye, but the one from my pack was much more sophisticated. It was dense and heavy, a rather human-looking eyeball, but clearly a “device” rather than a living organ. Grid lines and small symbols marked it as I turned it in my hand. I looked up, to see the Lord watching me.

“Go ahead and open it, Little Monk. There’s nothing messy about it. Go ahead and look inside.”

So I obeyed, and inside found complicated measurement and computing chips. It was an identical model to my own eyes. Size, color, perfect.

“That, Little Monk, was one of your eyes. It was organic, flesh and blood, while you had it. But it was just as artificial, fallen, and lifeless then as it is now. I have REPLACED and transformed your eyes. You NOW have the eyes I always intended for you… eyes with Light to them… eyes that no longer must “judge” and “evaluate” and “score” all that they see. But these eyes, your new eyes, can now “discern” as I intended them to, that you may look upon another and see their needs that you may meet them.”

“Simple, isn’t it? Your nature, your DNA, your fallen nature, your legacy from the Garden, kept you from experiencing what it is to see with MY eyes. That makes it harder to touch with My hands and the rest I call My children to.”

“Letting Me be Me in you… ‘You in Me and I in you and together we in the Father’… will now be vastly easier, if you chose to bring this to its proper close. THIS is what I want you to cast aside this evening… rid yourself of your ‘false eyes’, your ‘lifeless eyes’, now that I have replaced them that you may truly SEE much more closely to how I see.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I looked at the lifeless thing in my hand, this precision instrument, endlessly measuring the comparisons of elements with no significance whatever… and I threw it off into the brush without a care. I could now SEE so much better, with such better colors and vibrance… no comparison.

All I could say was, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you for transformation, for healing, for new eyes that can see with life rather than gridlines. This is wonderful.”

“You’re welcome, Little Monk. I could not do this, replace your very eyes, until you finally reached a moment that you were willing to go without sight, rather than continue to sin in your vision. That flash of surrender, that moment of your frustration, makes this possible. It is My joy to gift the Father’s children… always.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“If your eye offends thee…”

I never truly understood what He meant by this until today. And there is nothing, nothing at all, like transformation. Even one small bit at a time!

Grace to thee, Gentle Reader! — The Little Monk

 

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Who, Then, is Sacred?

Good Sam GlassIf you have read much of this blog, you know that I have come to the conviction that for me, in my conscience, “sin” has acquired a fairly simple definition. It could best be expressed as, “I ‘sin’ when I treat any sacred person or object, as less than sacred.”

Well, today I was riding down the road alongside a colleague, and shared a “strange thing” God showed me yesterday, that I had never noticed before. While reading through the tale of Paul/Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, God stopped me dead in my tracks at the words, “a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ (Acts 22:6b-8)

And I tried to move on, and the Lord stopped me time and again… “No, Little Monk, you missed it… look again.” And so I did, over and over. Until finally the words began to light up for me… “persecuting ME“… I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

It struck me how very strange… how wrong… this seemed. Wait… Jesus was already ascended. Saul never saw Him. Never spoke with Him. Never persecuted Him. Saul was persecuting FOLLOWERS, BELIEVERS… Saul was persecuting what we like to think of as “The Church”, an institution… a corporate entity…

“No,” Jesus replied. He WASN’T… He was persecuting PEOPLE. He THOUGHT he was attacking an institution, a corporation, a movement… he called it ‘The Way’… but he was helping arrest, try, convict, condemn, and execute PEOPLE. He killed them, trying time and time again, to kill ME.”

That was the breathtaking, heart stopping, realization here. “Me”… Jesus… King… Lord… not THEM… not Church… not movement… not follower… not even “precious child”… but “Me”.

If that were true…

If that’s what Jesus really meant in His cry to Saul…

If Jesus meant… JESUS… in Saul’s attacks…

Then… then…

Did that mean that when I offend another… when I attack them… when I injure them… when I belittle, or demean, or judge them… that it is not only THEM I hurt, but JESUS?

This was not a happy thought. I did not like this thought. I sought to push away this thought… and rather than help me with this, Jesus instead just “piled on,” reminding me of Matthew 25:31-46… that whole “Sheep-Goats-Judgment” thing, reminding me, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”

Do you see it? Do you see it too?

Now, Jesus never EVER whines to or at me. But sometimes, not often, but sometimes from time to rare time, His voice will tend rather to ‘yodel’ with excitement or frustration, when He says something like, “WHY, Little Monk! Why don’t they see, why won’t they hear? I am PERFECTLY clear here… but even YOU are only now starting to see My words, that are and were perfectly clear for centuries. I am NOT being ‘figurative’ or ‘poetic’! I am not exaggerating… I am THERE… IN THEM… and yes, when you wound any, with your actions, attitudes, or words… yes, you wound ME! Any questions?”

“Nossir. No questions. I need to process this for a bit, though, if that’s ok.”

“Sure thing, Little Monk. You process away!”

And so I did. And so I have. It has really brought me to slow up a bit, and consider things with a much more wary eye. It’s rather like being in midst of a trip to the local five and dime soft-goods store, and suddenly finding yourself in the centre of a fine china, porcelain and crystal shoppe. Like suddenly everything around me carried “Fragile, Handle with Care” stickers on them.

So, in part of this processing, I shared today with my friend, my colleague. He immediately got the significance of “Me”, and himself mentioned the parallel of Matthew 25. I felt encouraged. He’s a great man, educated theologian, advanced degrees, senior pastor… deep and beloved brother to me. All that. I told him I was yet sort of “letting this soak”, recovering, letting all the pieces of my “deconstructed theology” and personal ethics, and he was kind, and supportive, and helpful… right up until he said…

“Of course, Little Monk, you realize… the Lord wasn’t saying that about EVERYBODY…”

*THUD*

“What? What do you mean?”

“Well,” he went on, “The Lord doesn’t mean that everybody is sacred… that He is in everybody that way… so it’s not like that offending everybody is always offending Him.”

And he started to discuss the theology of the “saved” versus the “lost”, the Children of God versus others, and so on and so on. I didn’t argue with him… dispute or debate. It is far too old an argument. I’ve been through it too many times. I could say only what Jesus allows me to say on all this…

“I know that John and Paul speak of these things in church composition and leadership and such, but I never see Jesus separate people this way as He walked, lived, served, ministered or socialized. I never see Him treat some people as ‘saved’, others as ‘lost’ (except sometimes when His patience wore too thin at the self-righteous, ultra-religious, and theologians)… I just see Him love, everyone, all the time, and serve them. I don’t see Him treat some people as “saved” or “good” (Nicodemus, the Disciples, small children, Zaccheus, the Centurion, Jairus)… and others as “lost” or “bad” (woman at the well, woman caught in adultery, Gadarene demoniac, 10 Lepers, Man Blind from Birth, man lowered through His roof). I just don’t see it. Nor do I see HIM ever suggesting such divisions in our relationships with people. He loves without boundaries. He seems to command us to love the same way.”

Beyond that, even if such divisions somehow EXIST in Him, *I*… not being the Holy Spirit… do not have privy access to that sacred space between a man and God… I cannot see the secret things of he heart… to know “who is who”.

Therefore, rather than “run the risk of wounding Jesus” in my carelessness or misjudgment… it seems my more prudent path is to treat ALL people as “Sacred”, and let God sort it out. Besides the fact that God fashions all as work of His hands, and upholds all things in and through Himself, by the word of His power… and that strikes me as “fairly sacred” on its own… so… yeah.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anyway, that’s how we left that discussion (yesterday, now… I began this post last night, but I wearied, and went to sleep).

At 2:30 this morning, Jesus shook me awake, with a great sense of “having missed the point”, and brought this post to its rightful close. I was still sleepy, fairly groggy, and He woke me stark, cold, up… with the words:

“Who, then, is Sacred?”

I’d sat up, heard this… blinked a bit to figure out what planet I was on, what timezone, what day… “Huh?” I mumbled, articulately…

“Who, then is SACRED?” He repeated, even more firmly.

I groped for my eyeglasses, looked at my empty coffee cup, realizing my rest had ended for now. And said, as respectfully as I could under the circumstances, “What are You talking about, Lord?”

“That is the question you and your friend got to yesterday. And you didn’t answer it. You SORT OF answered it, but you didn’t get to MY answer of it. It is an Old, old question. It is the defense of all pharisees for treating some people as ‘sacred’ and others as ‘profane’. It is the same as Jews versus Gentiles, free versus slave, man versus woman. It is an OLD question, and has no place in Me. Paul dealt with it… I dealt with it… and now, when you were called to deal with it, you missed the ace… you swung but whiffed. You KNEW, you KNOW, but you didn’t SAY… not cleanly, not clearly…”

(* Well at least I now knew what we were TALKING about, as I made a fresh pot of coffee and stood there with my empty cup looking like Oliver Twist at the gruel pot. “Please, sir… may I have….?” *)

“OK, Lord. I hear you. I’m sorry. Now, what do I need to know. What ought I have said?”

And without further ado, He led me clearly first to articulate the question:

“Who, then, is Sacred?” and He left this echoing and repeating in my mind…

As He transformed it, transmuted it, into: “Who, then, is my Neighbor?”

And brought me HERE:

25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.” [Luke 10]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And there ended the lesson, with these words:

“Little Monk, the pharisee, lawyer and scribe, who do not comprehend grace, will always seek to excuse their own judgment of others through trying to draw the fine distinction between who are SUBJECT to their judgment, and who is immune. It is a ‘loophole nicety’ that this lawyer tried to ensnare ME with, and you’ve allowed yourself to be tangled by. The answer, as you intuited, but did not see these verses as addressing is simply… ‘looking upon the needy with eyes to judge whether they are worthy of love’ is WRONG. To ASK the question is wrong… far before attempting to answer it. Sacredness… neighborliness… does not lie in the OBJECT of grace, it lies in the SUBJECT.

“The lawyer of Luke’s Gospel thought I would define whether the beaten up man was a neighbor or not. He was utterly shocked to find that God defines “neighbor” in terms of the GIVER of grace, not its recipient. The same holds true for Sacredness. YOU.. You choose… by how you treat others… ALL others… ALL the time… whether sacredness is your priority. You are the neighbor… You are the conduit of grace… You are the holy royal priest of the sacred. The person you serve, is what defines YOU as neighbor, or worshiper in/of the sacred… not the other way around.

“I… Myself… am ALWAYS there in and with them. Even to ask the question, is to have mistaken the answer. Just as for neighbor, so it is for Sacred. Never mistake this any more, OK?”

“Right, Lord. Got it. Sorry, won’t do that again. My bad,”  and I sat drinking my coffee as I let this sink in, and prepared to meet my friend again today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pray for me, Gentle Reader. Still so much to learn. Still making such simple mistakes! Lol. Our Father is so very patient with this frail and slow-witted child! Thanks for walking with me!

Blessings and Grace to thee — Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

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The Day Before Christmas!

I awoke with this rolling through my head this morning… I needed to get it down and share it with you. Merry Christmas to you all! Blessings and Grace to thee, Gentle Readers!

Twas the Day Before Christmas!

T’was the day before Christmas, and all through God’s Kingdom
His children were pondering how to be right.
So much preparation! The shopping! The travel!
The wrapping of presents on Christmas Eve night!

“This time should be Sacred! A Holy endeavor!”
Declare countless critics, most solemn in tone.
“This shopping is frivolous! Music commercial!
There’s nothing that honors Our God on His Throne!

“The Yule Log, Saint Nicolas, Stockings by Fireplace… all Pagan!” these holy ones sneer.
With voices of outrage, these judges condemn all
The joy and the laughter, to them empty din,
“These people should be on their knees in repentance,
Just muttering thanks that God came for their sin!”

At the opposite end, there are those who’ve forgotten that
There is a God in the heavens at all.
For these, Blessed Christmas is simply a holiday
Break from their workload to party with all.

And here in between there are millions of followers,
Worshipping God as their Father and Friend,
But hearing rebuke from the pious and critical,
Now fearful that Christmas traditions offend.

Now I am a simple Monk, not very bright, I fear…
Studied in all the right subjects, I guess.
All the right “ologies”, customs and languages,
But even this Little Monk, ponder as hard I might,
Couldn’t determine what God sought to bless!

So off to my closet I trudged on this Christmas Eve,
Finally sick of the whining and strife.
I thought, “Surely God will be willing to share with me,
What the Nativity means in my life.”

So down I sat, pouring two coffees and waiting,
When much to my shock, the Great Father appeared…
I started to kneel, He at my little table,
He shook His head smiling, said, “Sit down right here.”

“Don’t be so flustered, My loving but Little Monk,
Jesus has made it quite clear,
that each time you sit drinking coffee across from Him,
you drink with Me.
Son, there’s nothing to fear.

“You want to know, ‘Who is Right’ in this debate of yours?
How do I want to see this time of year?
Those who have lights, tinsel, presents, and parties,
Or those who seek sacred remembrance austere?

“O My dear Little Monk, when will you ever learn?
Though I applaud that you bring this to Me…
It’s not in the forms or the outward appearance,
But what’s in the heart of the child that I see.

“To answer your question of who’s right and who’s wrong,
I tell you quite clearly, you don’t see aright.
The question’s not whether there’s presents and tinsel,
But rather are gifts being given with LOVE?
When gathered in love, peace and joy at His coming,
My Son’s there, in midst of them, all through that night.

“For others who walk with Me daily and deeply,
Who live by My breath and each heartbeat they hear,
The sense of the sacred seems poignant and stately,
They sometimes mistake that all see Me so clear.

“Don’t JUDGE, precious Little Monk, one or the other,
It’s not just a question of ‘wrong’ or of ‘right’,
Like meat bought from temples, a person of conscience
Must simply do what My Spirit instructs THEM,
And no one but Me can condemn them that night.

“The one thing I want you, like any who love Me,
To do as you celebrate My Son’s great Birth,
However you choose to make merry and gather,
Is simply invite Him to join you on Earth.

“Let Jesus take part in your party or service,
Imagine Him sitting there, singing along.
For always He loves to take part with Our children in gathering,
The Gospels show as often He partied as preached,
He spent as much time in the houses of sinners AND Pharisees,
As ever He went to the Temple to teach.

“So there, Little Monk, I have answered your question.
‘Who’s right?’ or ‘ Who’s wrong?’ has no meaning to Me.
‘Why do you gather? Is love, peace, and joy there?
Have you invited My Son there to join you?’
These matter, not whether you tinsel a tree!

“Keep asking your questions, My sweet son, thou Little Monk.
One day you may yet grow up and be wise.
For life’s not a test, that you worry to pass or flunk,
But seeking to please Me is grace in My eyes.

“So much do My children fret, worry, and ponder,
That this course or that is the line of My will.
Their fear can unhinge them, just freeze them immobile,
They seek to be pleasing, they stop and stand still…

“I wish I could tell them, they’ve already done it!
I’m pleased when they look to Me first!
The left or the right path is far less important to Me,
Than asking Me which best or worst!

“In asking, they please Me. I’m simply a Father
who loves them and seeks all their best.
I manage My Kingdom, it does not depend on their
Efforts or strength in the test.

“I seek to be with them, as always I have from before the beginning of time.
Tonight let us celebrate, ‘God Come Among Us’,
(‘Tis one of Our greatest of triumphs, you know)
Quit fretting and judging,” He tousled my hair as He rose,
Then gently He said, “I must go.”

And He walked away, slowly.
I knew that I had to get paper and pen in my hand.
To share such a moment, such comfort and warmth,
On so cold a day all through this land.

I shall celebrate Christmas, the Birth of Our Savior,
With family, and tinsel, and lights,
And sacred remembrance of price that was paid,
For my love, joy, and peace in this Night.

I love you, my Family, all brothers and sisters! Let’s celebrate Birthday of  Jesus the Son!
For one night, no differences as we stand arm in arm, Children the Father’s made One.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Quiet Time, Uncategorized

 

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