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Showing posts from August, 2018

Poem prayer

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Fully realizing that the last two posts were definitely NOT swimming in the shallow end of life.

I thought I would share the above photo of clouds for a walk I took the other night.

Cloud, in the flat land of Florida, become our mountains.

Clouds are what we can think of when the psalmist says, "I lift mine eyes onto the hills".

I love the way the light is streaming out behind the clouds.

What do you see in that photo?

What words, hymns, music, smells does this picture awaken within you?

There is something ethereal about this photo for me that becomes a photo poem and visual prayer.

It was a trace of God's grace in my life on that day.

I pray it would be for you today.

Blessings ~~

Stories in the Small Spaces of Scripture

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Once Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more.

Next verse...same as the first.
Anger begets anger begets anger.
It starts to fed and fuel our whole lives.

Now, to be clear, if we glance ahead a bit, to hearing the dream, it isn't exactly like Joseph's dream is going to endear his brothers to him.  But I want to sit here for just a second to shine a light how on how it is so difficult to break out of the cycle of frustration with certain people in our lives.

You know how it is.  Someone says something that hurts...someone does something wounds...someone causes you such heartbreak that it aches.  Yes, I am talking about that person!  And you try to move past it...then they do, say, act in such a way that the scar (which isn't completely healed yet) is jarred.  And you try to move past that...the person does it again! 

But I also know at some point I can get so caught up that I only see the person as a problem and stop seeing the perso…

Stories in the Small Spaces of Scripture

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But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

When we last left Joseph...in the span of three verses we were introduced to Jacob's family, met Jacob's seventeen-year-old son, Joseph, learned they were shepherds by trade, learned that Joseph had apparently witnessed his brothers doing something so heinous that it necessitated a "bad" report (although we are left to image what exactly prompted the "bad" report), and that as a reward or thank you gift or just because Jacob loved Joseph soooooooo much, Jacob gave Joseph a coat.

Whew.

That was four!! verses.  I remember growing up I watched soap operas with my grandmother, that would have been enough material to last two season!  Clearly the Biblical Story teller doesn't know how to stretch out a scene for all it is worth.  Because, in the end, those four verses are really just a set up for what is coming next.  And the…

Prayer Poem

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The other day a glass measuring cup dropped and shattered into a thousand pieces.
Carefully I sought to pick up the shiny slivers.
Starting first with the biggest until all that was left were the tiny ones that blended into the floor,
Visible only when the light caught them just so.

The broken moments of life can cut like sharp shards of glass.
Some moments are easily seen, visible, and well known.
Words someone said...the bad reports.
The hurts and harms that have our fingerprints all over them
because we are continually handling them.
Relationships erupted ended.
Physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental pain we have faced.
Jealousy that that person got that...
Coat,
Promotion,
Prestige,
Privilege,
Power.

What is politics and our current culture than an exercise in unprocessed pain?
Racism,
Sexism,
Blame,
Money,
Jobs,
Those people who are not like us?

We don't have to have been in Joseph's family to know the truth of this story.
We have our own experiences and encounters th…

Stories in the Small Spaces of Scripture

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Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.

A father gives a gift of a special coat to his favorite child. 

Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. 

Your brother who always got the bigger piece of cake.
Your sister who got the new clothes for school and all you got was hand-me-downs.

The new car.
A later curfew.
More visits during college.
Nicer wedding or baby shower.

Theodore Roosevelt was right, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

And yet, what is the malady that ales so many of us in contemporary culture if not comparing our lives to others.  It is no longer just the Jones next door with the car or vacations.  It is our friends on Facebook.  It is that picture or post on Instagram.  It is daily moment we all have the fear of missing out (FOMO).  After all, we know life is short.  And if we don't get ours while the getting is good, we lose.

Why do we see life as a ba…

Stories in the Small Spaces of Scripture

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 Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. 

Tattletale
Snitch
Nark
Weasel

The words flooded the tent where Joseph's brothers congregated.  The words floated around with the frustration that their brother had ratted them out.  The air was heavy with anger as steam poured from his brothers' noses, difficult to know if it was because of the cold night air or the feeling of being betrayed or both.

It really wasn't that bad the brothers tried to rationalize and reason as they walked around the tent unable to sit down with the restlessness of irritation. 

After all what was it really that they had done? 

Let the flock of sheep fend for themselves for awhile while they snuck away to some fun? 

Or was it that they were making fun and mocking their father behind his back?  We all do that, they had concluded.

Or was it p…

Poem, Prayer, Praise

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I know you saw this one coming...

Clearly if I shared a poem four days ago...

Talked about prayer two days ago...

That would leave the word, "Praise" for today.

Often times this brings to mind images of people with their hand in the air.  If that image works for you, I encourage you to hold onto it. 

For others, "Praise" can feel like a shirt that is too tight. 

"Praise" can feel forced.

"Praise" can even feel like something we "ought" to do...which would seem to run counter to the very definition.

For "Praise" to be praise...there is a spontaneity as the sacred surges in your soul.  You cannot contain yourself...you have to make a joyful noise.  You have to let the spirit escape from you in some way.  One of the reasons why I don't mind applause in worship is because it is a way to express joy in worship.  It often comes from such a deep place that we have to share in some way.  Other traditions make use of an, "Am…

Poem, Prayer, Praise

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What comes to your mind when you hear the word, "Prayer"?  Perhaps bowing your head?  Perhaps some pastor droning on and on...because let's face it...the person already had a sermon...isn't that enough?  Perhaps it is uncertainty or confusion.

Who taught you to prayer?
Was it formal or informally watching your grandmother read scripture silently with a peaceful gaze in her eyes?

Prayer is as diverse and unique as our fingerprint.  I could no more describe all the multitude of ways to prayer even if I posted another 500 blogs on this topic.  Prayer is dynamic and does something to us.  Prayer invites us to enter into a relationship with God...a dialogue...an unending conversation.  Notice that if Prayer is about a connection to you and God...at some point you need to hush and let God get a word in edge wise.

So how is your prayer life right now?

Mine ebbs and flows.  There are moments I take time for a few days to silence my soul steeped in the sacred.  Then there ar…

Poem, Prayer, Praise

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This poem has been sitting in my soul since I first read it...

“Some Say You’re Lucky” by George Orr

“Some say you’re lucky
If nothing shatters it.

But then you wouldn’t
Understand poems or songs.
You’d never know
Beauty comes from loss.

It’s deep inside every person:
A tear tinier
Than a pearl or thorn.

It’s one of the places
Where the beloved is born.”

There is a parable in this poem.  It takes our conventional, common sense, cliche that suffering is always bad...and turns it on its head.  If I never struggle, I miss an important part of the human condition.  If I never come across the sharp shards of life, I miss something that tethers me to other featherless bipeds who walk this earth. 

After all, who wants to go see a movie or read a book where there is no plot twists or where our hero or shero doesn't face obstacles.  Would we watch someone who sails through life?  Would we be compelled by a story that essentially said, "Everything is awesome" (which if TheLego Mo…

Ecclesiastes take nine

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

The seventh couplet is a struggle.  Is there ever a time to hate or for war?  Scholars suggest that actually this couplet breaks the mold because it should really read, "A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for peace and a time for war."  This would keep t…

Ecclesiastes take eight

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

The sixth couplet is one that I find to be helpful in so many ways.  There is a time to be distant and a time to be close...a time to speak and a time to keep silence.  We need time alone and time with others.  We need time to talk and times to refrain - or listen.  This …

Ecclesiastes take seven

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Living in Florida means that I see many people face the reality of the fifth couplet.  I witness how people are initially excited to shed their winter gear for the warmth and sun.  I see how they settle into the Florida life there is a sense of relief to be done with the s…

Ecclesiastes take six

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

I find the fourth couplet to be one of the most helpful and insightful.  Gather stones and getting rid of them...embracing and not embracing.  Or as Hamlet said, "To be or not to be, that is the question." 

Stones for me are a metaphor of all the stuff I carry a…

Ecclesiastes take five

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 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  

1. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 

2. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 

3. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 

4. a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 

5. a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 

6. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 

7. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

The wisdom writer certainly starts off big, with major moments.  Birth/life ~ taking life/sustaining life.  I find the third couplet the opportunity to dig deeper.  We cry and we laugh.  We grieve and we dance.  And again, sometimes not only separately, but simultaneously…