Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage; and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. - Psalm 27:11-14 (KJV)
Sometimes religion can be a means of escape from
“Therefore the Lord will give you meat. You shall eat not one day only, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but for a whole month – until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.” - Numbers 11:18-20 (NRSV)
As Grandma used to say, “Be careful what you pray for.”
In the wilderness the people, weary of manna from heaven, demand meat. God, who is just sick of all the whining, gets a little testy. “You want meat . . . okay. You’ll have it
“I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter shaped it into another pot, shaping it as it seemed best to him.” - Jeremiah 18:3-4 (NIV)
Are we more shaped or are we more shapers? Who is in charge of us? Our peers? Our context? Our bosses? Ourselves? Or better put, which part of multiple influences actually directs us?
The potter was just making a pot. We are making a
All you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord … may the Lord bless you from Zion. - Psalm 134:1 & 3 (NIV)
There are those among us who are within the employment category sometimes referred to as the “night help.”
We seldom, if ever, see them. They don’t begin their work until all the spectacular work is done for the day.
These are the people who empty the trash and clean the toilets and dust the furniture and mop the floors … and who, in th
Death’s ropes bound me;
the distress of the grave found me—
I came face-to-face with trouble and grief.
- Psalm 116:3 (CEB)
In an effort to cope under our state's stay-at-home order, everyone at my house employed self-organizing strategies. Mine included a day of baking three kinds of bread and knitting a shawl in cheerful colors. My wife started teaching our 15-year-old son to drive in the parking lot of the church she serves, across the street from our house. That chil
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:18 (NRSV)
The news won’t stop and the death tolls climb.
Light dims on another dream.
Lab tests say it’s time to stop.
The withdrawal can’t happen because the money isn’t there.
Job applications keep receiving a “no.”
Bed seems the only safe space.
Circumstance can feel like there's a foot on the throat of our joy. It’s crushing, this pressure. It leaves bruises we imagine the people ar
“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you.” - Jonah 2:9 (NRSV)
Jonah spoke those words from the belly of a whale. He’d been inside the creature for three days and three nights, after being thrown off a ship bound for Tarshish. Jonah wanted to escape from God’s call to go to Nineveh, so he tried to sail away from God. But as Psalm 139 affirms, even if Jonah took the “wings of the morning and settled at the farthest limits of the sea,” even there God’s hand
God provided a large fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed... - Jonah 1:17-2:1 (NRSV)
Jonah was in a time-out.
He was supposed to convert a city chock-full of notorious heathens, but decided it was mission impossible. So he got on the first ship sailing in the opposite direction.
A professional prophet ought to know the impossibility of running from an omniscient, omnipresent boss. God kicked up a
Jesus told them, “The realm of heaven is like yeast...” - Matthew 13:33
87% of what Jesus had to say was about choosing how to react to your feelings. Have an enemy you hate? Choose to act lovingly toward them. That sort of thing. In the language of 90s-era pop psychology, it’s about moving our choices from our reptile brains up into our human ones; from brain stem fight-or-flight up to prefrontal cortex complexity.
So I have reminded myself in the grocery store many a ti
Christ died, was buried, and was raised on the third day; then he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters. Last of all, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called one, because I persecuted the church of God. - 1 Corinthians 15:3-9, excerpts
Whenever we’re recognizing people for something and coming to the end of our list, we’ll often say “Last, but not