Lenten Meditation 2018: Reflection on Monday and Tuesday of the First Week

Psalm 63:3-7 (ESV)

Because your steadfast love is better than life,

   my lips will praise you.

So I will bless you as long as I live;

   in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,

   and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,

when I remember you upon my bed,

   and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help,

   and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.

A few months ago I started a new lifestyle eating plan, otherwise known as a diet.  It is a plan that provides me enough food to live on and a deep variety all based on blood work and my health.  It has been great.  I feel better than i have felt in a long time.  There are a few  phases in the plan and i am now at a place where i can deviate from the prescribe food list one meal a week.  A celebration meal!?!  I have noticed that when i eat these meals i tend to stay pretty close my prescribed list of foods.  Not much variation.  But when i do go off and really dive deep into the celebration it is very satisfying.  I might not feel great the next day but the joy i have in eating that meal is so tangible.  I love food.  I use to joke that my ideal weight was 350lbs (159kgs) because that would mean ideally i could eat whatever i wanted.  Not healthy but enjoyable in the moment.

What is your favorite meal?  The thing that you would be willing to eat all the time?  This passage says that they are satisfied as with a rich meal.  I have a phrase that pops out of my mouth when i have a great bite of food.  “Oh My Golly!”  It is a spontaneous declarations of peace, pleasure and praise to the one who prepared that bite.  

In the time of Lent, a time when many of us have forsaken something, let us remember God’s everlasting ever pursuing love for us and find satisfaction in it.  It will cause us to shout praise to the one who prepares and presents His love for us through Christ Jesus.  Holy Spirit will move us to the peace and pleasure of His presences.

God,  Your love makes us sing.  Your everlasting love brings us peace and pleasure.  Your everlasting love is all of life to us.  Amen

Lenten Meditation 2018: Reflection on the First Sunday

Psalm 25:1-10 (CEV)

I offer you my heart, Lord God,
    and I trust you.
   Don’t make me ashamed
   or let enemies defeat me.
Don’t disappoint any
   of your worshipers,
   but disappoint all
   deceitful liars.
Show me your paths
   and teach me to follow;
    guide me by your truth
   and instruct me.
You keep me safe,
   and I always trust you.
Please, Lord, remember,
   you have always
   been patient and kind.
Forget each wrong I did
   when I was young.
   Show how truly kind you are
   and remember me.
You are honest and merciful,
   and you teach sinners
   how to follow your path.
You lead humble people
to do what is right
   and to stay on your path.
In everything you do,
   you are kind and faithful
   to everyone who keeps
   our agreement with you.


The Passage above is part of the Sunday reading from the Revised Lectionary.  It can be helpful to have a rhythm that helps us walk along our journey with God. Instead of just opening the Bible and dropping a finger the Lectionary gives guided reading for each day if you desire.  This guide is helpful in direction and recalling.  

We really don’t have an issue recalling something.  Of course we can forget a name of someone, the place we put our keys, the name of our favorite movie.  But when it comes to wrongs done toward us and the wrongs that we have committed we often struggle to move beyond them.  They creep into our minds and hearts as we are falling asleep.  We play the day over and over again in our heads and wonder how we even made it through.  We wake up anxious in the morning knowing we will be hurt and will hurt others.  That we will “not be perfect” and we dread getting up and out of bed.  “If i had only…” will whisper in our ears throughout the day reminding us that we just aren’t good enough.  

In this Psalm  David calls to God to forget each wrongdoing.  I don’t think that David doesn’t believe that God is forgiving or full of mercy.  He sings of those wonderful parts of God’s being in this Psalm.  It is almost like David is saying, “I have a hard time forgetting and if I have a hard time, it might be hard for you.  And if you remember these things, then i am in deep trouble.  Please forget.”  

But don’t just forget.  Remember me and teach me.  Remember who I am to you and teach me to remember and walk in your ways.  Remind me that  You are mercy.  Remind me that You are steadfast love.  Remind me that You are the Truth.  Remind me that You are the One who knows us completely.

We have paid street parking in Fremantle and that means there are folks who walk around making sure you have not exceeded your allotted time to park.  I have watched one of these fine people write a ticket for a car where the owner was running down the street carrying two boxes full of things begging the parking enforcement officer to have mercy.  “It just now expired!”  He did not have mercy.  Ticket issued.  

That is not God.  He is not walking around waiting for the slip up.  He is not recalling the times you have lived outside of your design.  He is not hoping to catch you.  He remembers and He forgets.  Amen.


God of mercy and love.  Teach us to remember your forgetfulness of our sins and brokenness. Teach us to remember your steadfast love and justice. Teach us to rest in our place in Christ Jesus.  Amen


Lenten Meditation 2018: Day 1 and 2

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 23:5-6 (ESV)

You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

John 10:10 (ESV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Two days into Lent and those who have given things up are beginning to anticipate Sunday (only if they practise a celebration day on Sunday) so that they can have a little bit of that thing they have left behind during this season.  Those who maybe decided to add something to their spiritual life are frustrated as they try to rearrange their already overbooked schedule to fit this important thing into their day.  

I have had an interesting and fruitful relationship with Lent for several years.  One year i only drank fruit and veggie juice for the 40 days.  Another year I gave up sugar which is hard when you have an addiction to little debbie zebra cakes.  I also gave up talk radio at one point and that never came back unless you count podcast.  Lent for me was always about giving something up or removing something from the mix of my life.  

For many Lent is about deprivation and having less of something.  Less food, less enjoyment, less noise, less time.  The reality is that many of us live with that mindset all year long.  We believe that we just don’t have a sufficient amount of whatever it is that we need.  When I was just drinking juice I just wanted something that crunched.  When I was without sugar I just wanted something with sugar.  I wanted a zebra cake.  When I was without talk radio I just wanted nothing.  Really no talk radio was pretty great.  We can easily fall into a posture of want.

The verses above remind us that we can be in a posture of abundance.  Lent walks us toward the proclamation of the overflowing Love of God.  The moments of wanting push us toward seeing that God through Jesus Christ has poured out into our lives His Love, Mercy, Truth and Pleasure. Our cup overflows.  He does more than we can imagine.  We have a life abundant or as the Message says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”


Father, you are overflowing with love.  You are all that we need.  In our desire for more teach us that you are the abundance.  Change our posture of want to one of abundance.  And in the abundance of your love let us overflow to all those around us.  amen.

Lenten Meditation 2018: A Reflection on Ash Wednesday

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 (CEV)

Everything on earth
has its own time
   and its own season.
2 There is a time
for birth and death,
   planting and reaping,
3 for killing and healing,
   destroying and building,
4 for crying and laughing,
   weeping and dancing,
5 for throwing stones
and gathering stones,
   embracing and parting.
6 There is a time
for finding and losing,
   keeping and giving,
7 for tearing and sewing,
   listening and speaking.
8 There is also a time
for love and hate,
   for war and peace.

9 What do we gain by all of our hard work? 10 I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. 11 God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. 12 I know the best thing we can do is to always enjoy life, 13 because God’s gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. 14 Everything God has done will last forever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship him.

15 Everything that happens
   has happened before,
and all that will be
   has already been—
God does everything
   over and over again.[a]

As I write this Ash Wednesday has come and gone in both my adopted home of Australia and my birth home of the United States.  I have been thinking about Ash Wednesday quite a bit leading up to yesterday.  Early this morning I received an email from Redeemer Church in Indianapolis (my sending church) with a link to their Ash Wednesday Worship Folder.  It was great to read through the songs and the readings.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent.  There are those who give things up for Lent and there are those who add a spiritual practise during Lent.  Then there are those who are trying to figure out why some many people have dirty foreheads and why would anyone give up something as good as sugar or beer.  

Ecclesiastes 3:20 will be quoted or alluded to in most Ash Wednesday service.  All go to the same end.  You are from dust and to dust you will return.  The beginning of that passage lays out that there is a time for everything.  It would make a good song lyric. Giving things up and taking things on.  Seasons of life.  Rhythm and ritual. Everything has a season and we have a hard time figuring out the purpose of it all.  It may seem like the best thing we can do is just enjoy life.  Eat and Drink and work for tomorrow we may die, as the purveyor of wisdom in Ecclesiastes says.  It can get pretty desperate at times.  We want to fight back and scream at the top of our lungs, “There shouldn’t be a time for that!”  as the news of another school shooting comes across the wire, a politician who can’t keep a commitment to his wife and family is found out, a broken relationship or recurring illness that devastates. “There shouldn’t be a time for that!”  

So we sit in the darkness of our own understanding.  We lay down with heaviness hoping that the dawn will bring brightness.  We desire to pick up justice and put down haughtiness.  We desire to pick up peace and put down animosity.  We desire to put down destroying words and pick up encouragement.  We desire to put down ego and pick up compassion.   And we wonder what is it that a good God has done that last forever. We long to experience and believe that it is His everlasting, always pursuing, self-giving love. And we hope that it will mark our hearts even more than the ash on our forehead.  


Prayer: Father, give us eyes to see and ears to hear your pursuit of us and your song of love that you sing over us.  In tragedy give us peace to rest in your promise and courage to stand against injustice.  Let us know that all is not meaningless.  That Your work last forever. Amen