Tag Archives: All-powerful God

Trembling Before God

Living in the Spirit
October 18, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 99

The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble!
   He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earthquake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
   he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name.
   Holy is he!
Mighty King, lover of justice,
   you have established equity;
you have executed justice
   and righteousness in Jacob.
Extol the Lord our God;
   worship at his footstool.
   Holy is he! –Psalm 99:1-5

The time is ripe for us to re-acquaint ourselves with the All-Powerful God. The God we learned to cherish as a child, the loving Father, still cares about our every need but we do not consider trembling before that God. I worked with foster parents who lived on a farm and often had as many as five small children in their charge. They had a huge Doberman. The children rode him he was so big. He was as much their caretaker as the humans. I think he sensed their life challenges. I also knew never to get out of the car when I drove into their driveway if the children were playing in the yard until one of the adults came out to welcome me. The Doberman was the children’s guardian angel. Similarly, God calls us to partnership in assuring and protecting justice for all.

Many children of our Mighty King, lover of justice, establisher of equity are living without justice and equity. We should be very concerned about that.

  • People are dying for lack of clean water,
  • Refugees are escaping certain death with no one willing to receive them
  • Vast discrepancies exists among children of color in school advancement
  • The working poor have little or no healthcare
  • Children are being left in unsafe child care settings because their parents cannot afford to pay for quality care
  • An epidemic of opioid drug use exists because companies make huge profits from the sale of prescription drugs.

I compiled this list from one night’s news.

While we can rest comfortably in the love of God, we must answer God’s call to create a world where all experience justice. Evil thrives in inequality. As it grows, it smothers that which is good resulting in more and more injustice. We must get educated and get involved to let the principalities and powers of our world know where we stand on these and other similar issues. We serve a mighty God who has our backs as we do the Lord’s justice. I somehow do not like the idea of standing before God and explaining why I did nothing. God does not expect each of us to do everything; God does expect all of us to do justice.

Prayer: Almighty God, empower us as we do your justice on our world today. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Spreading Good News

Living in the Spirit
August 11, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 10:5-15

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ –Romans 10:14-15

There is a big difference between bringing good news and assaulting people with my personal beliefs. Working together with diverse viewpoints to find the best way to the Common Good is not the same as working to legislate my perception of morality for everyone. Religious freedom is not the same as religious privilege.

As I walked through the ruins of Ephesus, I could almost feel Paul’s presence. Our guide indicated a worn pillar standing in front of the ruins of a building. He explained that the writings circling the pillar were the names of the elites who followed one of the many gods worshipped by the Ephesians. Not included were any names of people who followed Jesus Christ. Following Jesus Christ was the reason for their names’ exclusion. The guide suggested that perhaps the experience of facing such cultural scorn was the reason the writer of Revelation made reassuring references to the names of followers of Christ written in the book of life.

Followers of Christ do not present an accurate picture of him when we use oppressive techniques or assume elitist attitudes. We make him appear like the idols of old for whom we have such disdain. The truth is we can do nothing to improve or protect God or Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. God is omnipotent—all-powerful, omnificent—unlimited, omnipresent—always present. We need to let God be God and work with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength to share the good news that God loves us—all of us and wants us to love one another.

Prayer: God of Love, help us follow the teaching of St. Francis of Assisi who said Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.  Let our love reflect your good news. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

How Angry is God?

Cumulative_induced_seismicityLiving in the Spirit
September 6, 2016

Scripture Reading: Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28

I looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void;
   and to the heavens, and they had no light.
I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking,
   and all the hills moved to and fro.
I looked, and lo, there was no one at all,
   and all the birds of the air had fled.
I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert,
   and all its cities were laid in ruins
   before the Lord, before his fierce anger. –Jeremiah 4:23-26

If we think we are mad, how angry is God? People called to be God’s partners in creating God’s kingdom on earth are nowhere to be seen in Jeremiah’s vision. We are playing roulette with our fingers pointing blame on others while remaining isolated in our cocoons of self-righteousness.

What we usually presume are Jeremiah’s allegories have very real outcomes for some. This weekend at 7:02 am Saturday morning Oklahoma experienced a magnitude 5.6 earthquake, which also impacted surrounding states. One of our politicians quickly announced that we do not know what causes this swarm of quakes while the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered the shutdown of injection wells in the vicinity of the quake’s epicenter. Oklahoma does face very difficult decisions having its major source of economic wellbeing correlating with the increase of earthquakes, but denying reality does not change it.

Some take positive steps. Cities work hard at diversifying their economies. Some oil companies have reverted to using drilling methods that do not require the use of injection wells. Some explore less harmful ways of dealing with wastewater and become savvier at identifying problem spots for drilling.

This scenario plays out in other places with other problems. Poor economies exist in states that have lost major manufacturing jobs. Service industry jobs have increased, but most do not pay a living wage, resulting in people working more and more for less. Such circumstances build resentment against immigrants, documented or not. Our economy would surely tank, if we gathered all undocumented immigrants and sent them back to their homelands. Immigrants do not work in vacuums. Someone is hiring them and profiting from their fragile status.

No easy answers exist. We can stay on the bandwagon of distractions via innuendos and personal attacks and gridlock based on inserting wedge issues in every piece of legislation created. Or we can all, every citizen including every member of the Body of Christ, roll up our sleeves and go about the business of finding common ground for the Common Good.

Prayer: All Powerful and Ever Present God, open our cocoons of self-righteousness and send us forth as stalwart servants. Forgive us for being cowed by fear. Help us hold on to the power of love. Show us your justice. Order our lives to serve you more productively. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Rock of Refuge

All powerful GodLiving in the Spirit
August 17, 2016

Scripture Reading: Psalm 71:1-6

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
   incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
   a strong fortress, to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress. –Psalm 71:1-3

As we struggle to make sense of our world caught in fear of terrorism, racism, bigotry of all kinds, and intractable poverty; I am reminded of Stanley Hauerwas’ wise words, Never think you need to protect God. Because anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshiping an idol.  We read our Bibles as history and as a result discount the parts that do not fit our modern understandings of the world. The Bible is the story of an indescribable, all-powerful God. The early story tellers awe of God prohibited them from even speaking the Lord’s name. The story of Abram’s Covenant with God* describes God’s using a fire pot to consume the offering laid out by Abram. In a similar way Elijah** called on God in Elijah’ joust with the priests of Baal and God once again fired the altar. These ancestors in faith leaned on God as they journeyed in faith.

We serve the same all-powerful God. I fear, particularly, we stubbornly independent disciples, forget at times whose we are and who we serve. Abram and Elijah were just as human as we are. It was their faith in their Rock of Refuge that enabled their ministry. God is still there to do that for us, if we let God.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us when our faith falters. Be our Rock of Refuge as we journey in your service. Amen.

*Genesis 15
**1 Kings 18

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Rock of Refuge

Living in the Spirit
August 17, 2016

Scripture Reading: Psalm 71:1-6

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
   incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
   a strong fortress, to save me,
   for you are my rock and my fortress. –Psalm 71:1-3

As we struggle to make sense of our world caught in fear of terrorism, racism, bigotry of all kinds, and intractable poverty; I am reminded of Stanley Hauerwas’ wise words, Never think you need to protect God. Because anytime you think you need to protect God, you can be sure that you are worshiping an idol.  We read our Bibles as history and as a result discount the parts that do not fit our modern understandings of the world. The Bible is the story of an indescribable, all-powerful God. The early story tellers awe of God prohibited them from even speaking the Lord’s name. The story of Abram’s Covenant with God* describes God’s using a fire pot to consume the offering laid out by Abram. In a similar way Elijah** called on God in Elijah’ joust with the priest of Baal and God once again fired the altar. These ancestors in faith leaned on God as they journeyed in faith.

We serve the same all-powerful God. I fear, particularly, we stubbornly independent disciples, forget at times whose we are and who we serve. Abram and Elijah were just as human as we are. It was their faith in their Rock of Refuge that enabled their ministry. God is still there to do that for us, if we let God.

Prayer: Lord, forgive us when our faith falters. Be our Rock of Refuge as we journey in your service. Amen.

*Genesis 15
**1Kings 18

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Finding Common Ground

feeding_the_homeless_810_500_55_s_c1Living in the Spirit
May 24, 2016

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 18:20-39

At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.’ Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.’ –1 Kings 18:36-39

Elijah had created a situation that looked impossible, trying to burn an offering to the Lord on a waterlogged altar with no flame. He wanted to show those who cast their hope on imitations of power that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel was the one true source of power and God did not forsake him.

We are caught up in world settling for many lesser gods, playing faith groups against each other driving wedges among God’s people. It is time that we who believe there is one God desperately need to become one in God. How do we do that? We certainly, individually and collectively need to pray for God’s guidance and open our hearts to the truth the Lord will provide. We also need to find the few things we proclaim that are similar and worked from those points to find oneness.

The big argument that took place in Jerusalem to deal with issues of what is right and what is wrong in worship and beliefs was very heated. On most issues it seems they agreed to disagree. But they did come to one area of solidarity, the need to feed the poor—not a bad place for any of us to start.

Prayer: Lord love us to oneness. Forgive us when our foolish pride to be right creates wrong actions. Help us find common ground on which to build your kingdom. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Fear

Living in the Spirit
J
uly 23, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Psalm 128 

Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
   who walks in his ways.
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
   you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you. —Psalm 128:1-2

Fear is an interesting emotional state. It can freeze us into inaction or give us the extra adrenaline to do things we never thought we could. Merriam-Webster Dictionary* list several definitions. Let’s look closer at three of them:

  1. agitated foreboding often of some real or specific peril
  2. calm recognition or consideration of whatever may injure or damage
  3. profound reverence and awe

I am somewhat claustrophobic. I never intend to ever have another MRI in one of those closed tube things again. The open sided MRIs were invented for me. Claustrophobia is an irrational fear, not based in reality, and taken to an extreme can be debilitating. I have “talked” myself out of being controlled by the fear when needed in some situations. I think that may be what is meant by the calm recognition or consideration of whatever may injure or damage.  I have also found that by facing the fear over time it has lessened in intensity. I overpower the fear when my need to not let it control me is greater than its control of me.

A lot of fear is not irrational. Soldiers going into battle, fire fighters searching burning structures, and parents trying to dislodge whatever is choking their baby are experiencing real fear. In each situation they have chosen to turn their fear into a tool for the survival of others without concern for their personal safety.

The fear of God encompasses both of these traits. The all-powerful, ever present God is the source of our strength in overcoming irrational fears and the source of our bravery when protecting others. We are privileged to experience flashes of the wonders of God in bits and pieces of our lives. It is almost impossible to comprehend the full force of God’s power and might, but that awe is the only fear we really need.

Prayer: Almighty and Ever-present God, thank you for gracing us with your gifts of strength and bravery. May we use them wisely. Amen.

* http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/fear

 

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.