Five Minute Friday: Mercy

MercyI don’t think I know what this means.

I mean, I think I do. Christians are supposed to know what this means. It’s one of the primary words in Christianese. It’s jargon, A word you toss around when you’re in the know.

But I don’t think I know. And I’m not sure anyone does.

When you know something, it’s because you’re familiar with it. You have an understanding of it. You’re intimate with it. Farmers know about crops and irrigation. Captains know about ships and sailing, the currents of the ocean, and its many moods. Painters know about light, and pigments. As a writer, I know about grammar, and when it’s better avoided. I know about words, and how to employ them.

But what do I know about mercy? What does anyone know about being forgiven over and over? What does any person know about living without the threat of disapproval? The constant reacceptance upon admission of failure? The endless, and I do mean endless, stream of sanctifying grace?

I’m not sure if I do.

But I want to.

*****5-minute-friday-1

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The basic idea is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that), on a prompt that she provides just after ten p.m. via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Enjoy a delightful assortment by clicking on the picture to the right.

Five Minute Friday: Worship

Sunlight WorshipYou’ll know it after it happens, but probably not during.

It could happen anywhere. Dancing in a moonlit grove. Kneeling in a quiet cathedral. Chanting with some Tibetan Buddhists. Washing the dishes.

And you’re caught up in the moment, and the moment is forever, and the moment is a moment, and the moment is God. You’re dumbstruck, or you’re laughing, or you’re crying, or…well, you’re not really sure. You’re…just… worshiping.

Something catches you, and there’s a sense of realization, and thankfulness, and wonder. There’s a sense of stupefaction, and ecstasy, and joy. There’s a sense of inadequacy, and the simultaneous feeling that your inadequacy doesn’t matter.

*****5-minute-friday-1

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The basic idea is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Enjoy a delightful assortment by clicking on the picture to the right.

Today’s Five Minute Friday selection is also, for today only, at the {in}courage website, which is here!

Pull Your Pants Up!

Out of the Blue ThursdaysI really wasn’t trying to look at his butt. It was hard not to, though, since his pants were practically down to his knees.

This is part of living in a large metro area. There’s a lot of diversity, and, for the most part, I really enjoy it. Among other things, some of what’s covered by the diversity umbrella is apparel and personal style choices. Afros to Pentecostal Poufs, ballet flats to Converse, split tongues and pierced ears, it’s all there. Again, for the most part, I enjoy it. God is creative, and part of being created in God’s image is that we all have some sense of that creativity.

Thankfully, it’s not a super popular trend for young men to wear their pants quite so low, but whether this guy didn’t get the memo, or just decided not to cinch up the string on his baggy sweatpants, he definitely could’ve pulled his pants up a long way. We’re not talking low around the hips, we’re talking half way down his thighs.

Believe me, all this visual took was one half a second from ten feet behind him in the self-checkout lane at a store I don’t usually shop at.

I usually don’t consider myself a flippant pray-er, but it was really hard not to just send up a plaintive mental whining. “Jesus, really, would it be too much to ask for You to please get that guy to pull his pants up.”

And at that very second, the guy grabbed for his wallet, and pulled his pants up! All the way up, and even cinched the drawstring. I was surprised the sound of my jaw hitting the ground didn’t startle him.

I almost did a happy dance, right there in line. Seriously, I laughed. But, you know, under my breath, so he wouldn’t hear me. I mean, there’s no point in gloating.

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.

*****

Out of the Blue Thursdays is a group of women who write about surprises in their lives that God has shown them. You can read about it, and join if you’d like, here.

Dreamless

Forest Fire Ashes

My mouth is full of ashes. I’m choking on dust. I can’t breathe any more…

You, there. Yes, you, God. Up in the sky, in my heart, whatever. I’m mad at You. You already knew that. I know that much. I’m not dumb. I never said You didn’t give me gifts, I’m just saying I can’t use them. It never works out. I’m always caught in the starting gate, left out in the cold, stuck on base and never crossing home plate.

“If we persevere, we get the promise.”

Why do we only get the promise in heaven? Why do the evil seem so victorious now? Why are You so far away? I’m so, so, sick of this. Sheesh, these same attitudes are all over the Bible, and things don’t seem to have gotten any bit better. But I’m not taking that well right now. Feeling like the hero of a Bible story, while giving me good company, doesn’t make me feel better, it just makes me feel sick. Yay! “Hey David, and you, Jonah, why don’t you all come and join me and Job around the self-pity campfire so we can moan and groan about God and all He’s NOT done for us. It’s not like you haven’t spent time practicing!” Proverbs 13:12 tells us that it is the deferring of hope that makes our hearts sick, and that the fulfillment of longing is like a life-giving tree. I’m tired of being heartsick. I’m worn out. I don’t feel like I’m getting any of my longings fulfilled.

“He doesn’t hold back because He is not a kind master. He holds back because in the pursuit we become like Him.”

Really? I guess I’m to the point where I can no longer see how I’m becoming more like You. If anything, I’m becoming LESS like You. Grumbling, tired, and bitter. If You’re really on my side, and all things are supposed to be working out for my good, why isn’t that happening? Seriously, I’m forty-seven. How much longer do I have to wait?

You told me, yes You did, right there in Proverbs 37:4, that if I found my delight in You, You would give me my heart’s desire. Yup. You did. Still waiting. Really, do I have to be in a nursing home before anything good happens? What good will it do me then?

I don’t have a God-sized dream. I don’t have any dream anymore. Why bother? Everything is ashes and I’m tired of the sand and dust in my mouth.

What’s Yours?

Calvin and Hobbs ResolutionsEverybody makes ‘em. Nobody keeps ‘em. Yeah. I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions.

You have to admit, they show good intention. People always mention that they want to lose weight, start exercising, manage their budget better, invest wisely, save more money, become a better parent, the lists go on. And on.

Why, honestly, do we bother? I have never yet met a person who made a New Year’s resolution that they managed to keep. Ever. Past February. (If you have, please comment, because I want to arrange a meeting with you and other world leaders.) Given that, I am starting an entirely new style of resolution, which is based on the principal of reverse psychology. It’s a well-known fact that, since the Garden of Eden, people can’t seem to avoid doing either the very thing someone tells them not to do, or just the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

So, my New Year’s Resolutions are as follows:

  • Utterly trash my home and become an unrepentant hoarder;
  • Become a recluse who shuns human contact, especially with my aging parents and any close friends;
  • Gain as much weight as is humanly possible by never cooking or eating anything healthy, let alone by attempting anything that even resembles exercise;
  • Never keep track of appointments or dates and never, ever return phone calls the same day;
  • Avoid anything that smacks of spirituality or any kind of organized religion;
  • Shamelessly prowl Facebook and Twitter All Day Long;
  • Relentlessly pursue anything that might depress me, most notably by staying in bed all day;
  • Spend my money on whimsical items that have no enduring value whatsoever; and
  • Write as little as possible.

I’ll NEVER tell you how that’s going.

Worship

Statue of King David by Nicolas Cordier in the...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not just for Sundays anymore! Or, it shouldn’t be.

In all truth, however, I don’t think I spend a lot of time worshipping when I’m not at church. And that’s something I’d like to change. In the first books of both Kings and Chronicles, we see King David worshipping at so many times, and when in so many situations that it’s obvious that he did it all the time.

I know that in the past I’ve worshipped God when I’m happy, but I tend not to worship when I’m sad or depressed, let alone when I’m angry. But we see David worshipping even after the death of the “love child” he conceived with Bathsheba. (Don’t get me started on that relationship. It’s for another entry!)

I’ve read a number of religiously-oriented books about depression that suggest worshipping when I’m depressed, and I’ll have to admit that when I’ve grudgingly (yes, I’ll admit it) started, it’s been a positive experience and has lifted my mood. The more I worshipped, the better the mood. I’ll also admit that there’s been more than a few occasions where I had no intention of worshipping, because I just couldn’t get there. (A few of those times I didn’t even want to get there! Sad…)

Could that perhaps be because I haven’t made worship a daily activity? Maybe if I was more in the habit of worshipping God every day, rain or shine (especially in the rain?), I’d be more inclined to worship Him when I’m not in the mood.

But what does it mean to worship God? According to the Oxford English Dictionary the act of worship includes:

1. To honour or revere as a supernatural being or power, or as a holy thing; to regard or approach with veneration; to adore with appropriate acts, rites, or ceremonies. b. To regard with extreme respect or devotion; to ‘adore’. c. To engage in worship; to perform, or take part in, the act of worship.

2. To honour; to regard or treat with honour or respect. b. To treat with signs of honour or respect; to salute, bow down to. c. To honour with gifts, etc.

3. To invest with, raise to, honour or repute; to confer honor or dignity upon.

Yeah, all that church stuff. (Odd how it doesn’t include singing!) It’s a lot easier to do this in a ritualized church environment. You’re already in the right place, at the right time, with the right sounds and smells (all these sensual experiences make it so much easier—it’s stuff Catholics like). We see all these things utilized—demanded by God even—in the Old Testament. Almost every religion uses the senses to help create a suitable environment for worship.

But there’s obviously more to worshipping God than the burnt offerings of the Old Testament Jewish Temple and the weekly religious services many of us now engage in (regardless of your religious persuasion).

So what does it mean to worship God at home, right now, in this day and age? For me, it’s a lot about the definition I gave above. Honoring God, calling to mind His attributes and characteristics, listing the many things He has done for me (things I don’t deserve). I may sing (with or without playing the piano), or even dance. Maybe I’ll even bow down!

What might you do?