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Showing posts from July, 2012
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Psalm 121
I will lift my eyes to the hills From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord!
Now I realize I live in a part of the country most people would describe as flat.  Sure, as Wisconsinites we get a bit defensive about that...start talking about topography and rolling hills near New Glarius and the joy that is looking out over a harvested corn field to see for miles and miles and that at least we are not as flat as Nebraska!
The psalmist talks about looking to the hills for help, which for most of us we take to mean that this psalm is about the beauty of God's creation and how God's fingerprints are all over the world.
But something a bit more subversive is going on here. 
You see Psalm 121 was often sung by pilgrims as they were traveling.  Sometimes in places they had never been to before...in a foreign land...in unfamiliar territory.  Now stop and think...if you don't know where you are going and don't have your smartphone/gps/or even a map with yo…

Desert Prayers

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Okay...so my yard doesn't look this bad...yet.

But it has been a dry, hot, desert-like summer in Southern Wisconsin. I have not had to mow for weeks. The only green patches in my yard are weeds. And suddenly a 90 degree day feels cool and refreshing.

And as I was walking across my parched and crunchy grass the other day, I thought about times in my life when it feels like my soul is parched and dry and in need of a good drenching dose of something.

In those arid moments some talk about how God seems distant. For me, that is not quite what I feel like. I feel spent and tired even though I sense God is near. I just feel thirsty even though I am gulping from the well of prayer. I look around at the beauty of creation or hear someone offer me a trace of God's grace and it just doesn't seem to sustain me the way it does in other seasons.

It sort of feels like a few days ago when it did finally rain for about 1/2 hour...but it was just not enough. What happens when in the mids…

Prayer Postures

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Really? 

Part of me wants to laugh...somewhat sarcastically...at such an image.  Part of me wants to cry that what we've turned the Christian life into is essentially a follow the directions, paint by numbers, there is a right and a wrong way to do things kind of checklist.

As best as I can tell, when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he talked very little about the actual posture of prayer...and instead gave them evocative words that stretch the imagination and push back against the ways of the world.

Think about the petitions in the Lord's Prayer:
Daily bread...enough just for today without worrying about tomorrow
God's Kingdom...not our kingdoms which we protect with violence and power and money
God's forgiveness...not revenge

And yet, posture does make a difference.  If I am slouched down in my chair when I try to pray, it clues me into the fact that maybe something is weighing me down...maybe something is so heavy on my shoulders that the gravity of its forc…

Psalm 42

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Over the last week, I have read and re-read Psalm 42.  

What I noticed most is the wonderful tension that is woven into this psalm.  What I hear in these words is the writer struggling and trying to make sense of why it is that she feels so lousy given the goodness of God.  Why does he long for God when just on Sunday (or Friday night given this was written by a Jewish person for the Sabbath) he went skipping and singing into the temple?

We have a shortcut for asking these sorts of profound, deep, almost unanswerable questions today.  Simply put we ask, "Why me?"  A shopping cart rams into our car in the grocery store parking lot and we ask, "why me?"  Our boss piles more and more work upon our already overflowing, messy desk and we ask, "why me?"   The dentist utters the phrase "root canal" and we ask, "why me?"

And here is the point we can't stress enough: it is an appropriate question!  It is a biblical question!  The psalmist …