Daily Devotional — What Do You Live For?

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Jeremiah 10:11-24

money-worshipThe prophet warns us that idols will be destroyed, false gods dying before the power of God.   We easily think “well I don’t believe in Zeus, or Mithras, or any god but one” or “I don’t believe in gods anyway”. But what was worshipped explicitly as gods in ancient times were the powers thought to hold the world in sway. The condemnation of idols was a way the living God called us to recognize that those things society says make the world go round and about which we must build our lives are not so. They are often a smoke blowing in the wind, and if we build our lives around them they will be empty.

In our day, we are told that money makes the world go round. So we sacrifice our integrity, time with our families, friendships, and so much to get that next buck. Yet who at the end of their lives wishes for a few more dollars as much as they wish for connection with those people that matter, and peace with God?

People strive to get ahead, to be top dog, as if that is what life is for. Yet it is lonely on top, and often the fight to get there can cause you to lose sight of the best parts of who you are unless in your journey to success you stay true to what ought to remain in the center, the core, of your life.

The media blasts advertisements suggesting our image, our appearance, or pleasures are the point. But all of these are fleeting and a façade if you do not find deep relationships with others, connection to what matters, and something worth holding onto in life once those images shatter as age, illness, and time cause them to.

out with the moneylendersIt is not that any of these things necessarily can be bad. You can earn money, have important positions, look good, and have the pleasures of life without sacrificing your conscience, your family, your spirituality, and your compassion. Yet when we set these things up as gods, making any one of them more important than the threefold command of Jesus – to love God, to love your neighbor, to love your self – we build a shell of a life that will leave us and others empty. Yet as Jesus promised, if we choose to prioritize the values that make life work – compassion for others, care for those that matter, care for the least of these, that deep connection with meaning and purpose expressed in the deepest spiritualities and expressions of faith – we may find we get what we truly need of these other things the world falsely worships and true and meaningful life as well.

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A Week in the Word: 6 Reasons Stone-Throwing Christians May Need To Retire “Go And Sin No More”

For this week’s “A Week in the Word”, I want to share a wonderful commentary on John 8:1-11, debunking some of the way well-meaning Christians often misunderstand and mis-use Jesus’ words calling for us to “go and sin no more”.

I found this message thought-provoking and inspiring.  And with the way in which Scripture is still being brought into debate about issues like GLBT right here in the south-land, I find this highly appropriate for Progressive Redneck Preacher.

You can see this message at the link below:

6 Reasons Stone-Throwing Christians May Need To Retire “Go And Sin No More”.

I hope this commentary blesses you, as it blessed me.

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

Daily Devotional: The God Who Takes Sides

coffee-prayer-scripture

Psalm 43

I amthe oppressed struck that the Psalmist in the face of some kind of oppression expects God not to be unmoved. She or he faces something, whether prejudice and discrimination, being cheated and used, being mistreated and abused, which crushes their spirit.   Yet they expect God does not sit idly be, but is moved. And so they cry out. This is a reminder to me – the God of Scripture is the God who takes sides.   This is the God who called a people sold into slavery my people when telling the powerful of the land “let my people go”. This is the God who elsewhere we are told takes up the cause of the poor and fight for the oppressed. We can know with certainty when we face oppression of all sides that God is will fight against oppression.   That can be great encouragement.

Yet it can be a challenge, can’t it? So often we think “it’s just business”, “it’s just politics”, “don’t have the player, hate the game”.   But if God is the One who does not sit idly by, but takes the side of the oppressed, we must also realize take side with justicewe have a calling to weigh our choices and not make excuses. We are called to not be the oppressor, to evaluate our lives to see in what ways we have compromised so as to support or benefit from other’s oppression.   We need to do our part to side with God for the oppressed and marginalized to ensure we are not siding against God.

I am also struck by how the Psalmist expects God to answer. It is not by magically waving a wand that makes all things better but by sending for truth and light which go ahead and guide the Psalmist on his or her way.   God’s way is not to solve our struggles for us independent of our actions. God’s way is to go ahead of us, calling out us of the familiar into uncertainty. God calls us to take the risk to do a new thing with God, changing our response to the circumstance. This is powerful. Ultimately we cannot change what others do, but we do have the power quote on poverty mother teresato alter our response to situations so that we lovingly push back against injustices, calling forth through our actions for others to recognize our shared humanity and our worth. To do so we must hear the message from the altar of God that we are ones whom God loves, ones in whom God is well pleased, ones in whom God delights. When we know ourselves as children of the King, we will no longer be able to take treatment like abandoned orphan wayfarers in the cold and lonely world.

Daily Devotional: Thirsty?

thirstPsalm 42 pictures the longing for God as a deep and visceral longing, like a thirsty one with dry parched mouth longing for a refreshing drink or an animal hungering and thirsting for its next bit of nourishment. The Psalmist describes a desperation for connection with the Sacred One whose presence and care are the well-spring of life. In the midst of her or his heart-ache, trial, and longing, they know connection with the Living One is necessity not option. It offers something as essential to their struggle as rest, food, sleep.

I’ve seen this happen so much with people even who are not religious in the midst of trial and suffering, change and transition.   Something awakens in them and even if they do not have strong religious beliefs, they know there is a longing that the things for which they have spent their days are not enough. So they begin to explore various faiths, to engage in meditation or yoga, to cultivate a connection to places they have heard connect with the deep wells of life-giving spirit.

deerIn my own life I have found this to be true. Prayer, mediation, contemplative practices like breath prayer, lection divina, journaling, Scripture reading, hymn singing, sitting with nature, all have been places and ways I have found connection with this deep well of life-giving spirit available to all people. Finding this connection has repeatedly given me encouragement in times of distress and sadness, perspective when I felt overwhelmed and like giving up, and new energy when I felt I was done.

I also have found that when I fail to practice in my personal life what gives me this connection with spirit, I find myself begin to lose the perspective, encouragement, strength, and resiliency I need to continue the work for social justice, of supporting the hurting, and of pushing forward in new paths in my own life.

And I believe this deep well I and others who begin to practice spirituality in answer to our deep longing is not just some vague connection with our deepest selves or nature. tree-of-life-river-of-life-05-08Rather it is connecting with that One who holds all things together, who weaves all of time and space in creation into a grand design, the loving God who knows our name and calls us not just into being but into a bright future.   I experience in these moments of deep connection through my spirituality a sense of joining a great dance all about me and deep within the heart of creation, which I know to be in my Christian faith the dance of love the Father, Son, and mothering Holy Spirit have shared from all eternity.   Whether you see this deep connection with spirit in the Christian terms I do or some other, know it is a connection with Love and that is life-giving.   Join me in sitting in the presence of the Holy, drinking deep of the wells of life.

The Heresy of Religious Freedom

I’m sharing a powerful message from another blogger about the danger faced here in the south and other when we mis-use the concept of “religious liberty” to enshrine protections for those who seek to discriminate against others into law.

What is most striking about this author is how his focus is on the spiritual consequences of this choice for believers.

Here’s a link to the message:

The Heresy of Religious Freedom.

I hope it challenges you, on this Palm Sunday.

And I ain’t just whistling Dixie!

Your progressive redneck preacher,

Micah

Daily Devotional: Drink Deep of the Fountain of Life

coffee-prayer-scriptureJohn 7:37-52 pictures God’s Spirit as a fountain of life that begins to spring up deep within our souls. I am reminded of the image Jurgen Moltmann uses for the Holy Spirit: Source of Life. In American history, many explorers travelled far and wide for a fountain of life, yet Jesus identifies the indwelling Spirit of God as the fountain of life. Our practices of meditation, mindfulness, contemplative prayer, and other spiritual practices are ways we learn to find this fountain and drink deep of these waters within.   When we find the reservoir where the life-giving Spirit flows, we identify that source within ourselves and within others where there is a force already at work to bring life in the midst of the death, healing in the midst of brokenness & RiverLifedisease, liberation in the face of oppression and abuse, hope in the midst of fear, inner wisdom in the face of uncertainty and, at time, messages from the culture at large that tear us down or lead us into self-destructive patterns.   The spiritual life is learning to tap into this presence and this power in yourself.   The transformation drinking these waters of life daily brings us is beautiful pictured by theologian Jurgen Moltmann in his book Source of Life:

“When I love God I love the beauty of bodies, the rhythm of movements, the shining of eyes, the embraces, the feelings, the scents, the sounds of all this protean creation. When I love you, my God, I want to embrace it all, for I love you with all my senses in the creations of your love. In all the things that encounter me, you are waiting for me.

tree-of-life-river-of-life-05-08“For a long time I looked for you within myself and crept into the shell of my soul, shielding myself with an armour of inapproachability. But you were outside – outside myself – and enticed me out of the narrowness of my heart into the broad place of love for life. So I came out of myself and found my soul in my senses, and my own self in others.

“The experience of God deepens the experiences of life. It does not reduce them. For it awakens the unconditional Yes to life. The more I love God, the more I gladly exist. The more immediately and wholly I exist, the more I sense the living God, the inexhaustible source of life and eternal livingness.”

Drink deep of this life-giving waters this day, and always, and be renewed.