Reality Check–Cyber Psalm 15

Our friend, Dan, had a heart attack this week.  Scary.  So that made it doubly cool to get a perspective challenging email from him this morning with this Cyber Psalm from a blog he likes by David Ker, a Wcliffe Bible Translator in Mozambique.   

Cyber-Psalm 15

 NOVEMBER 23, 2007                                                                   by David Ker

What would heaven be like

if books of theology 
were written by children not men?

And what if sermons were delivered by the poor. 


And devotional books were written by the hungry. 


And hymns were composed by the sick and the old.

The Sermon on the Mount requires no interpretation, 


unless you are fat and happy.

If our hope of heaven were colored 


with children’s crayons and felt tip markers.

And our theology of hell were tempered 


by the dying breath of those who suffer.

The hair-splitting and hand-wringing 


of over-educated men in ivory towers 


goes largely unnoticed by grandmothers in their kitchens 


and office workers in their cubicles.

They go on putting silly magnets on their fridge 


And trading forwarded e-mails about heaven. 


Two thousand years of systematic theology 


Disturbs them not a bit!

God is honored and praised  

Hoped for and prayed to 


By myriads who never learned Greek.

Their revelation is not a scroll  

But a hope vaguely imprinted 


On a soul made by God.

The sick and the blind and the poor  

Receive Jesus with gladness. 


The Gospels require no spiritualized application.

Feed us, friend Jesus. 
  

Our stomachs are empty.


You are the one our hearts hope for.

Heal us who are sick. 
    

We ache and we suffer.

Save us in death. 
    

We are dying in darkness. 


Savior Jesus, our hope at life’s end.

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If We Are His Body…..

It surprised me to see all the theological chatter when I tried to look up this poem.  In my simple way, I hadn’t seen this famous poem as being all that complicated.  Rather, I saw it as somewhat awe-inspiring and humbling that God would trust us with being “laborers together with Him” in the world….

 Christ Has No Body

“Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world….”

 Some of the theological chatter said it was blasphemy-that it implied that Christ didn’t ascend to heaven in a transformed body…..bla bla bla.  In my humble opinion, I don’t think the author was trying to yank someone’s chain.  I think she/he/they (there’s some debate on authorship) was trying to make a significant, complex, mind-boggling mystery real, tangible and practical to those of us without MDvs. 

A friend’s blog posed the question recently, “What are you praying for?”  I guess I am praying to recognize Christ in the many ways He shows up- not just in the Bible, or in church, but at work, in the grocery store, on the street, on the docks, at friend’s houses, in the people I meet each day.  I am praying to reflect to those He connects me with that their lives have value because He made them with a purpose and has plans for their good!  I am praying to learn to live out my faith in ways that reflect the miracle that God uses broken human beings to help make grace real.  I am praying that I will learn to be part of the solution and not the problem in the lives of those I am called to love….As I seek to be present in the moment with some friends facing difficult transitions, I pray above anything, “God, teach me to love.”

Global Day of Prayer for Burma

Sunday, March 8th is the Global Day of Prayer for Burma.  

Pray:

  • For political prisoners.
  • For a political solution to the armed conflict.
  • For the pastors, who are often singled out and attacked by Burma army soldiers when they first enter a village.
  • For strength, wisdom, and hope among people of all faiths who live under direct control of the military dictatorship in Burma.  Pray that they will be unified and encouraged by their efforts to serve one another through love and perseverance.
  • For all of the parents who have lost their children due to the Burma army attacks.
  • For the children who suffer the most in the conflict.
  • For a change in the hearts of the Burma army soldiers and leaders.
  • For a political solution to the armed conflict.
  • For those in the areas still devastated by Cyclone Nargis.

Some of our friends from the Karen choir at the Karen church in Kent will be participating in the service at Quest on Sunday.  Below is a translation of the song they will be singing.  Please join them, and us, in praying for Burma.

My prayer

 Alone, I cannot walk the path without you Lord.

All is barren without your presence.

All life comes from you.

Strength comes from you.

Rest my heart

May I rest in you.

Let me know just one thing.

For all in heaven and earth

And my heart is yours.

Let me believe in just one thing

That you will never leave me

And where ever you place me, there you be.

Starfish tossing

I don’t know where the story originally came from, but most of you have probably heard it….the one where the guy is running along a beach in the morning and he comes to part of the beach that’s covered with beached starfish.  There’s a little girl there picking up starfish and tossing them back in the sea.  The man questions her on what she’s doing, and tries to tell her she can’t save all of them-asks what difference she can make.  The little girl responds, as she throws in another one, “Made a difference to that one…..”  Being unqualified, uneducated, inexperienced, and doing too little, too late, with not enough, for too few seems a lot like that sometimes.  But to the one (or more!) that you do get to encourage, bless, walk beside, befriend, help feed, house, care for or educate by the actions you do, I got to believe it makes some kind of difference!  

In the words of St. Francis, “Preach the gospel.  If necessary, use words.”

Jesus is a refugee (poem)

See the mother in the jungle, tiny baby in her arms,
Running from the soldiers who’ve come to rape and kill
She’s tired from the running, desperate, hungry, full of fear—
How can she know God loves her, and that He walks beside her there?

He is there beside her in the dark and in the cold.
He knows what she is feeling, in the Bible it is told
That He was once a refugee. His parents ran to save His life
From the soldiers sent to kill him in Herod’s infanticide.

The way that God has chosen to loose the bands of wickedness
To give bread to the hungry and to help free the oppressed
Calls us to walk beside her in our prayers and in our hearts:
As the body of Christ, the servant king, it makes her burden ours.

But words and prayers are not enough, no matter how well spoken
God’s love requires our presence so He can walk beside His children.
Even though we’re broken, we are His feet and hands.
We stand in need of grace to obey His commands.

Though she sits in darkness, He came to be the light.
Though she now is hungry, He is the bread of life.
Though we turn aside sometimes or don’t know what to do,
We are all called in some way to help her make it through.

He chose to entrust us with His reputation
And to make us His body throughout every nation
As a king become baby, He risked everything
Calling us to embody the love that He brings….

“I was hungry and you gave me bread
Thirsty and you gave me drink
A stranger and you took me in
In prison and you came to me….”
Lord, when did this happen?
His answer is quite clear
“When you did it for the least of these
It was for me, for I am there….”

“Where are your poor?” (poem)

That was the question our friend Rigo, a Nicaraguan pastor, asked when he visited the US for the first time back in 2000.  Where he pastors, members of several warring drug gangs lay down their weapons outside and call a temporary truce before coming into church.  If they come to faith and leave the gangs, there are no jobs.  They cannot support their families.  Unemployment benefits do not exist.  Churches in North America helped raise money to help him start a woodshop where the guys can learn a marketable skill.  They have plans for other projects as well.  

 

“Where are your poor?” our honored guest said.

(I was humbled by his words.

His eyes had observed that our country is rich,

Richer even than what he had heard).

 

In his country many many are poor,

Much poorer than we’ll ever see.

His church gives away what little it has

Just trying to meet their needs.

 

We give a little while they give a lot

(Seems like the reverse should be true).

Forgive us, Lord, for failing to see

How many times we ignore You.

 

Give us hearts to see You, Lord,

In the hungry, poor and cold.

Give us hearts to gladly share

Our lives and the things we hold…

To value our brother

More than our comfort.

To know when we give, we receive,

And that we can never

      out-give Your provision—

Lord, help us live

     what we say we believe!

 

**************************

In Nicaragua, you see the poverty everywhere.  It is not invisible.  Here, it looks like even poor people are rich.  We try to hide our poverty.  But if you look closer, the poor are among us.  God, teach us.

Persistent Love

Today I am celebrating the moment on Sept. 24, 1970 when my church youth group leader came and asked me for probably the 100th time, if I was willing to commit my life to Jesus, and surrender my options to continued self-direction and self-destruction.  Because of what had happened to her, I said yes.  We prayed together on the steps of the CMA church on a Friday night ’cause that’s where she found this hurting lost sheep.   The struggle then went from “Do I choose faith?”  to “How do I live out that faith?”  Huge step….saved my life.  

She had a unique place of credibility to me at that precise moment, having experienced loss of her beautiful 18 month old daughter just two weeks ago in a tragic accident.  I watched her in the midst of her struggle and loss and incredible pain as she chose to still turn towards God, and not, in the words of Job’s wife “curse God and die.”  If faith in Christ could help sustain her, then maybe, as she had said for so long, and so often, God is greater than we’ll ever know and His love is stronger than we can ever imagine.  I also know now, there are some answers to the “why?” questions that we’ll never get.   Grace became amazing that day as the journey towards life and hope began.

So, today, I am grateful.  I was not always a grateful child.  But today, I am grateful to her, and I am grateful to my Dad. 

What does this have to do with my Dad?  Well,  a few years ago, I was asked to come and sing on Father’s Day at the church he had attended for 75 years at that point.  I didn’t want to go. This was a  setting that held some really mixed blessings in my life, and held some memories I would rather forget, but for Dad I went.  And in the doing of the thing, I had one of those moments where the lights came on, and I realized that because my Dad had always taken me to church as a kid, even when he wasn’t sure he wanted to go, even when he wasn’t sure it made any difference, even when he didn’t think I was paying any attention, even when he was tired, or whatever other excuses hardworking grownups can come up with.  And even though the church was way imperfect, God’s Word was taught there, and God was present in the prayers of His people.  And because of this, there was someone in my life who could offer hope and point the way to faith, even when I might not have been listening to Dad.  For this, I am very grateful.