We Are All Bombers.

Oh America.

I felt so helpless this morning as I prayed for the people in Boston. How Lord, have we gotten here?

They don’t know who planted those bombs but surely it’s the question on everyone’s mind. Was it a McVeigh or an Al-Zarqawi. The answer changes the context but not the bottom line.

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(Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Here’s how you know we live in a civilized nation: As the bombs exploded, cops, firemen and volunteers ran toward the blast, offering brave and selfless effort on behalf of strangers. As Mr. Rogers’ Facebook meme said yesterday, when something scary happens, people always run to help. May God richly bless you public servants and kindhearts everywhere.

Here’s how you know we don’t live in a civilized nation: All of us inflict lesser forms violence on one another every day. Given the ease with which we can do it on-line with no personal consequence, we spew hate on Facebook, slander our President, denigrate other cultures and shoot the bird in traffic, running up on their bumper to make sure they know we hate them for cutting us off.

Is it so hard to imagine that Boston’s bombing is the same behavior writ large? It’s hate. It’s unforgiveness. It’s our unregenerate, unrepentant human selves running the show like we know what we are doing.  Like the coward who planted the bombs in Boston, we hide behind online profiles and wheel of our car. Rarely do we call someone an asshole to their face. We the plant bomb and run.

We are releasing our frustration and negativity into the world, in ways we believe are harmless. But our personal violence has spiritual impact on this planet we don’t even understand.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Evil celebrates every time a bomb explodes or a name is slandered. So when we pray to our God today, thinking ourselves righteous and civilized, asking how such evil happens, pause and consider that it happens everyday in our own hearts.

Friends, the answer is Jesus.

As he was mocked, whipped then tortured to death he said, “Lord please forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.”

We don’t know. We are selfish, fearful, unforgiving little creatures who carry all the potential in the universe to become the love of God. But if we could do it without him, we’d have done it by now. Jesus is the love of God incarnate, the Prince of Peace and the Messiah who came to the world, not judge it, but to save it. John 3:16-17.

It’s still our choice to believe that and live accordingly.

On Skipping Church to Honky Tonk.

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Skipping Wednesday night bible study to dance around in a Deep East Texas honky tonk as Jason Boland blows your eardrums out, is not what some people consider super holy behavior.

But for me it was perfect.

See, I’m no longer keeping Jesus in a separate, holy box and busting him out on Sundays. Nope. I’m letting him have his way with my life – all of it. Since he’s the one who made me love good songwriting and live music in the first place, I think my delight in those things pleases him.

I don’t know that I was worshiping God during the show, but I don’t know that I wasn’t either. I was just being myself and enjoying the life Jesus died to give me. Because I’m starting to understand how free I am in Christ, I can toss out the holy checklist, acknowledging that God doesn’t love me more at church, and less at a concert.

He tells me he loves me because I’m one of his kids, and that makes me love Him back. It makes me want to serve Him and do what I know pleases him. Wood County Cowboy Church is part of that equation, and that’s why I go. Church helps me, but so does live music.

So…

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people. Psalm 149:2-4

mirrorJust to be clear, I’m not encouraging drunken honky tonk prowling. That’s silly. I’m advocating for joy and the freedom to become the best version of the exact person you already are.

Sometimes my joy overflows at church and sometimes when Jason Boland sings. It simmers when I’m on the tractor, making hay with Sam in the Rocky Mountains. I nearly drown in it, when a former meth addict at the LA Dream Center speaks of her restoration at the hands of Jesus.

And when I take time to sit quietly with my Lord, it wells up and spills out of me right there in my chair.

We were built for this. Where do you find it?

Looking For The High Life? Me Too.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to possess perfect knowledge of divine will at all times?

“Don’t say that. Say this instead.”

“Don’t seek that promotion, I’ve got something better.”

“You’re brilliant. I love your work. Try cerulean instead of navy.”

What trouble it would save me to have an ever-present, eternally correct life coach whispering suggestions in my ear. This morning I read something the Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians, and I wonder if those people realized how lucky they were.

We (I think this means Paul and Timothy) continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: Bearing fruit in every good work, growing the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. Colossians 1:9-11

aspenI want somebody to pray that for me.

I want to bear big, ripe fruit and grow into the lavish fullness of my creator’s vision, but I have to do constant battle with my mind for it. After three decades of following my own wisdom and understanding, I’m habituated to earthly behavior. I’m reflexively judgmental and occasionally stingy, I excel at crafting articulate and blistering arguments, and I will throw plates, if necessary.

But that’s all low-life; it’s common, broad path and vulgar, and none of it’s from God. Sadly, without attentive surrender, it’s also the behavior I am likely to choose. So maybe, if Paul were praying for me, I’d set down the plate and hear God say:

“Sure that guy is being a jerk, but you have no idea how scared he is, the alcohol is just an expression of it. Be kinder than necessary, suffer his nonsense, so he can see Me through you.”

According to the gospels, that’s how God thinks and aligning with it leads us into high, spacious places. Lord…In your presence is the fullness of joy. Psalm 16:11

So, I’ve decided to say Paul’s prayer over people in my life. Fearing I wouldn’t remember the words, I posted them on an image I took in the Colorado High Country. You’re welcome to print it up, if you like, so you can pray it over the people in your lives (and maybe me) too. Change the pronouns as needed.

High Life. High Country. That’s where I’m going.