I have been thinking lately about how I see things. Not visually, not the optics of my eyes, but how things go together. Where do they fit? What is the framework?

Usually, and unfortunately, my framework is too small. That might be in distance, in money, or in time.

Here’s an example: you’re walking down the street and you see a twenty dollar bill. You go over to it and pick it up. It’s your lucky day! Now expand the framework – that twenty dollar bill is out in the middle of the road. Different factors apply – maybe you wait for traffic to stop – a red light. More to consider, and maybe you don’t get that money.

Different situation: instead of getting something good, you avoid something bad. Nobody likes pain, and none of us would stick our hand in a fire voluntarily. But each and every one of us would rescue a child who had fallen into the fire. The bigger picture of saving a life overcomes the knowledge of imminent pain.

Hebrews 12:2 says about Jesus “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And Jesus knew the pain, the shame that was waiting. In Luke 22:42, Jesus prays to the Father: “Take this cup from Me”.  It was going to hurt, physically and spiritually, more than we could ever know.

Jesus knew that imminent pain, and He knew the ultimate glory. He saw the biggest framework – eternity.  He paid the price to keep us from the fire of hell. We celebrate his death and resurrection now with the wafer and the juice. Let’s pray.

Father God, I thank You for Jesus, His perfection, His sacrifice, His example. It’s in His name I pray. Amen.

 

Communion meditation October 15, 2017

 

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According to family history, I have thrown exactly one temper tantrum in my life.  I was five years old, and I wanted to watch professional wrestling on TV.  Somebody prohibited me from doing what I wanted to do. Now I’m not going to mention any names, but an adult in my family decided she knew better than I did.

I’m sure that in my reasoned discussions with this adult that I used the phrase “It’s not fair!”.  I may have emphasized the point vocally, at volume.

That concept of “It’s not fair” has tended to follow me through life.  When I get a speeding ticket, I start to complain that the trooper picked on me – everybody else in the fast lane was speeding.  That “It’s not fair!” thing comes up, I start thinking about whether I was, in fact, going faster than the speed limit.  When I don’t get a good seat in a movie theater or a restaurant, I have to remind myself of what my money purchased.  I didn’t pay extra for the best seat in the house, and my “It’s not fair!” feeling goes away fast.

Then I take it up into the church level. “It isn’t fair!” that I get to lock up the church so often, that I have responsibilities that take time away from things I would rather do. I think of others in the church who do much more than I do, and that selfish feeling goes away.

And then at the spiritual level – I grew up in the church, went to a church college, I tithe faithfully, read my Bible and pray daily.  It isn’t fair that I’m not being blessed more.

And then God gets my attention, whispers “What about Jesus?” in my ear, and gives me some time to think about what is really fair and what isn’t.  Jesus, that perfect man, who never sinned, was crucified for His perfection.  They tried to stone Him, they did mock Him and beat Him, forced Him to carry the implement of His own death, and I have the utter audacity to say that what is happening to me isn’t fair?

Not only that, but the death of that perfect man, Jesus, actually paid the price for my sin – both the sin nature that is inside of me, and the acts of sin that spring forth from that.  Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross to pay the spiritual price for my temper tantrum.

As we take the wafer and drink the juice, which all Christians are invited to do, let us not forget that no, “It’s not fair!” – and that Jesus bore the burden for that unfairness.  Let’s pray.

Lord God, thank you for being unfair – and overly generous.  Thank you for the sacrifice of Jesus.  Thank you for the way of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It’s in His name that I pray, Amen.

Communion meditation for 9/24/2017

Time for another list of potentially profound sayings, that other people have created and I have harvested.  Here are the previous six entries.

Aug 16: Cows may not be smarter than people, but some cows are smarter than some people

Sep 16: Don’t get bitter, get better

Oct 16: You don’t have a soul.  You *ARE* a soul.  You have a body.

Nov 16: There is some probability that rational decision is not the governing phenomenon here.

Dec 16: Not my circus, not my monkeys.

Jan 17: When you see hoofprints, think horse and not zebra

Feb 17: Eveyone who overgeneralises is always an idiot

Mar 17: Argue for your limitations, and soon they will be yours

Apr 17: You cannot make everybody happy.  You are not pizza.

May 17: The Venn diagram for age, experience and wisdom is not one of concentric circles

Jun 17: You manage what you know

Jul 17: “Carpe diem” is my favorite saying. Fish are ten cents each.

Aug 17: What you expect, you must inspect

Sep 17: Semper Gumby – forever flexible

I’m going to read a part of a verse of scripture.  This is Jesus speaking, from Matthew 6:9.  You will recognize it.

This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father”

That’s short, but I think you will recognize this from the Lord’s Prayer, or the model prayer.  Jesus is talking to His disciples, and through the scriptures He is talking to us.  He is also talking to His own Father.  Though this is only two words, I think there is some deep meaning here.

The first word is “Our”.  Jesus could have said “My Father”, and he would have been right – God the Father is the father of His only begotten Son, Jesus.  Jesus could have said “Your Father”, and that’s right also, because He is our Father.  But Jesus used “Our” – He included Himself with us – He was fully human while being fully God.  He lived here, on this earth.  He was one of us.  And now He wants us to bond together, so that the “Our” still applies.

The next word is “Father”.  Again, Jesus could have said “Our God” and been correct.  He could have said “Our Lord” – but He didn’t.  He said “Our Father”. A father brings relationship.  A father implies family. A father is many things: a creator – and yes, God the Father is a creator.  A father is a protector.  King David knew this – Psalm 28:7 says “The Lord is my strength and my shield”.

A father is also a provider for his family.  God provides for all our needs.  Luke 6:38 says “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” God provides spiritual blessings as well.  He provided the greatest gift of all, the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. And now we are celebrating Jesus’ death and resurrection with the bread and the juice.  Let’s pray.

Father God, thank You for being our Father.  Thank You for all of the Fatherly things You do, and thank You for Jesus.  He is the perfect gift – You provided exactly what we need. It’s in His name I pray, amen.

Communion meditation for 2017-08-13

A couple bees on a cone flower in front of our house.

Forty seven years ago today, a strange man who went by the name “Tiny Tim” was at the Clinton County fairgrounds in Plattsburgh, NY.

A wire report from the next day read

Tiny Tim Joins N. Y. Jaycee Unit

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. AP — Tiny Tim, the long haired, falsetto-voiced singing star, eagerly signed an application card for a local Jaycee unit Wednesday and was promptly accepted as a member. The performer was rehearsing for an appearance at the Clinton County fair when he was approached by several Jaycees who suggested he join the organization. “His wife filled out the card,” said Sgt. Gary Flaherty, an Army recruiter who is president of the local chapter, “and Tiny Tim signed it.”

I don’t remember whether I saw him – memory says yes, but memory is funny.

Documented from the August 6 papers here and here (lower right corner).  Unfortunately, I can’t find the text of the (almost) unreadable Press-Republican story online.

Not really carpet. We’re making BLTs, and baking the bacon in the oven. 14 slices of Jimmy Dean bacon just fills the jelly roll pan.

Mmmmm. Bacon.

If you are using sharp kitchen tools – a mandolin, for instance – keep your fingers away from the sharp parts. Otherwise you can end up with a bandaid on your index finger.

Or so I’ve heard.

My other revelation from the evening is Lip Blam, useful for when you’re shooting your mouth off.

In big cities, you see a lot of different things. Sometimes these things are *really* different – like a bicycle painted all white. Tires, seat, handlebars, the whole thing painted white. They are called ghost bikes.

GB5

You might see them in random places along the roads, these white ghost bikes, chained to a tree or a signpost or a fence. They are not art, and they are not protests. These white bikes are memorials. You see, everywhere that you find one of these ghost bikes, that’s where somebody died while riding a bicycle. The ghost bike is a memorial to the one who died.  It might have been put there by their family, or their friends, or their biking club.

It’s a symbol, a memorial, of a tragic event that happened. A real person died there.  Not a statistic, not a trend or an average.  A person stopped living, right at that spot.

As Christians, we have our own symbol that is a public memorial of the death of a real person – we have the cross. Some of us wear jewelry with a cross on it, or have a Bible case with a cross, or have something in our homes with a cross. We have a cross on the front wall of our church.  All of that is a good thing – that memorial, that reminder.

And like the bicycles, the cross is empty.  Not because the person – Jesus Christ – is dead and gone.  The cross is empty because Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. Hallelujah!

The cross, though it is an important symbol of Jesus’ suffering, and though we are reminded to take up our cross daily, the cross is not the focus of our faith.  I’m reminded of Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 2:2 when he said “For I decided to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. The cross is in there, but the most important thing – Jesus – remains the focus.

As we take the bread and the juice, and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, let us be careful that we are honoring a person and not a symbol. Let’s pray.

Father God, thank You for the gift of Jesus. Thank You for the gift of salvation. And thank You for making it real, and not just symbolic. In Jesus’ name, amen.

(communion meditation 6/25/17.  Photo cropped from original by Royston Rascals CC BY-NC 2.0)

I like motorsports.  Dialing that down a bit, I like car racing, and NASCAR, and Tony Stewart.  My goal is to get a race-used tire from Tony Stewart and turn it into a coffee table for my man cave.  Ignore for the moment that there’s no man cave, nor money for the tire or glass top.  Those aren’t the point.

The point is that on eBay, I have a “watch” set up for Tony Stewart.  One of the things that came up recently was a tire cover – retail, not race-used, does not apply to me.

I looked to the bottom to see if there were links to anything that would be of interest.  I found this:

mascara

The word was supposed to be NASCAR.  Autocorrect changed it, and the author didn’t catch it.

Somehow, mascara and Tony Stewart don’t quite go together.