Monday, March 19, 2018

Christ Is in the Ship

There is one thing we are lacking: to believe that the Almighty God is our father and our Lord. To believe that for God, our greatest cares are like the worries of small children in their parents’ eyes; that God can turn things around and dispose of them in no time at all; for God it’s easy, not hard at all. We must believe that a thousand years in God’s sight are like a day [Ps. 90:4], that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts [Isa. 55:8–9], that God is with us in spite of everything. Let us receive the call of the church once again: You of little faith, why are you so fearful? In the midst of the storm, Christ is in the ship. Away with you, Fear! Let us see you, Lord Jesus, strong helper, Savior!
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let Them Be Caught

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor—let them be caught in the schemes they have devised. For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.  
—Psalm 10:1-3

Thousands of years later and the wicked still arrogantly persecute the poor. Large corporations have packed all three branches of government with their own and those who will do their bidding. The laws and regulations that once protected the downtrodden, the environment, and those who have no access to the halls of power are being dismantled with amazing speed. It's hard not to pray with the psalmist, "Let them be caught in the schemes they have devised." 

What's worse, is that while "the wicked boast," those who claim to be followers of Christ look on approvingly, giving their blessing to injustice, immorality, and oppression. While proudly proclaiming the Lord's Name with their voices, they renounce God with their actions and attitudes. 

Give me faith, O God, to believe, though the wrong seem oft so strong, that this world still belongs to you, that you are the Ruler yet, and that my actions must still conform to your coming Kingdom—not to the evil that surrounds me; in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Psalm 137

I talked about the 137th Psalm today in my sermon, which can't help but make me think of this song from my childhood.

Two Answered Prayers: Yes and No

The Poor Shall Not Be Always Forgotten

The collusion between religious leaders and the rich who laugh at
the poor  will soon  fall apart  like a house  of cards  in a hurricane.

For the poor shall not be always forgotten: the hope of the afflicted shall not perish forever.  
—Psalm 9:18

Rich secularists have always paid little heed to the poor. And when they do, it seems to be in order to use them for their own purposes. But when people calling themselves Christians lose sight of who they are and Whose they are, when they forget that Jesus' ministry was with, among, and for the poor—that Jesus himself was poor!—then how can we not get discouraged? Where is the hope of the poor, if those who are called to identify with them instead ignore them—or even scoff at them?

But the promise of the 9th Psalm is the promise of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection: Though it may seem that the hope of the downtrodden has finally surrendered to despair, that the life of the suffering has ended in death, and that the light of justice has in the end been snuffed out, Look! a new morning dawns: Hope is alive! God has not forgotten!

The promise of Easter is not a new suit and a glorious worship service. It is the promise that the coming Kingdom is at hand, that the tables will soon be turned, and that the collusion between religious leaders and the rich who laugh at the poor will soon fall apart like a house of cards in a hurricane.

Of course I pray that I never forget the poor, O God. But dare I pray for poverty itself—that I actually live like the One whose Name I have taken on myself? In his Name, help me to pray aright. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A Stronghold

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  
—Psalm 9:9
I always find it interesting that nonbelievers often use the suffering of others as their excuse for not believing in God. But those who are doing the actual suffering are the ones who are most likely to put their faith in God. 

I pray not to avoid the troubles of the world, O God, but rather for the faith to place my trust in you when they come. Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What Are Human Beings?

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?  
—Psalm 8:3-4
The universe that the psalmist knew was far smaller than ours, and yet she or he recognized that, when compared to its vastness, human beings were just a speck in they eye of God. Too often, today's people believe all things must serve human life—especially those who call themselves pro-life—for they care nothing for the lives of non-humans or the planet we live on, let alone the galaxies that exist beyond the reach of human power.

Psalm 8 should teach us humility, for truly we are miniscule creatures. But once we have acknowledged this, the same psalm can teach us dignity, for the vastness of God has chosen us to receive love and grace beyond description.  

I acknowledge to you, Lord, my smallness in the scheme of things. Who am I that I dare bother you with my prayers or ask you to take notice of me? And yet, you ask me to come to you, and you do listen. Thank you for your greatness and thank you for your kindness; in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Famous INFP's

Mischief Returns

Their mischief returns upon their own heads, and on their own heads their violence descends.
—Psalm 7:16

Karma is a relatively common theme in the Bible, exemplified by Psalm 7. The psalmist takes refuge in God, but from what? From the violent who would do her or him harm. Those who take refuge in God can expect safety, but the arrogant who would do anything to get ahead will meet the same end that they have meted out to others.

It's easy to blame others for my predicament, of course, but it's harder to see that sometimes I'm the one who gets ahead at another's expense. That's why I need not only to count my blessings, but also to think about where that blessing came from, whom besides God I should thank, and what it might have cost another person or group of people to provide something that makes my life better or easier.

As I count my blessings, O God, help me to be thankful for the hands and the lives of those who make my life easier. Help me to work for a more just society where the labor of the poor is appreciated as much as wealth, and where all are rewarded for their work. Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

π in the Ski

Happy π Day!


The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.  
—Psalm 7:8

All I can say is, "Thank God for grace." For can I really pray with the psalmist that I be judged for my integrity—I, whose heart is so divided between God's values and the values of the world? I am too often so dependent on my possessions that I make an idol of material things and the money used to buy them. And yet, this prayer that exposes me still needs to be my prayer, for I should not be satisfied with things as they are, I cannot settle for life in the dust, and I dare not lower my prayers to bless my current condition.

Judge me, O God, according to my knowledge of what is right and according to the sincerity of my heart. And may your judgment raise me up to life according to your will. Yet through it all, I thank you for the grace that makes me aware of my shortcomings, the grace that forgives me my sin, and the grace that makes me holy, in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Turn, O Lord

Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you.  
—Psalm 6:4-5a

If my greatest happiness is found in God, then my profoundest hope is that, in Christ, death has been destroyed. For in death, there is no knowledge of God, and there would be no happiness beyond life as we know it.  Therefore I pray with Augustine: 

Everlasting God, in whom I live and move and have my being: You have made me for yourself, and my heart is restless until it find rest in you. Visit my heart and make there a dwelling for yourself that you may live in me and I in you, forever and ever. Amen.
Augustine of Hippo

The Monkey

Just 'cause you got the monkey off your back
doesn't mean the circus has left town.
—George Carlin

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Capital Plaza Tower

This building, located in Frankfort, Kentucky, was demolished today.

Pastoral Prayer

Third Sunday in Lent

We thank you, God, for all the blessings of life:
The air we breathe, fresh, clean water to drink,
the food on our table, and the roof over our heads.
We pray for those whose air is dirtied
and who do not have access to clean water,
even as we pray for the grace
to share our food with the hungry,
and to help provide homes for the homeless.

We thank you, God, for the blessing of health
and our access to the best healthcare known to humanity.
Yet we pray for the millions who are sick:
May your Holy Spirit be to them
a Spirit of healing and strength; and for the many millions more
whose access to healthcare is limited or nonexistent:
May we strive for equal rights for all your children.

We thank you, God, for freedom,
and all those who sacrificed that we may enjoy it.
And yet even as we thank you for our own freedom,
we do so in a land that imprisons more of its people than any other,
and whose children are held hostage
by the fear of the weaponry of which we boast.
Help us to see our hypocrisy, free us from a lust for revenge,
and help us to respond positively
to policies that educate and rehabilitate
instead of punishing and incarcerating.

And finally, O God, we thank you for your church and our place in it.
Give us grace to offer one another Christ,
and empower us by your Spirit to offer Christ to the world around us,
that in all that we say and do, Christ may be lifted up.

These things we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ our Sovereign,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, both now and forever. Amen.
—©2018 Sam L. Greening, Jr.


A 1967 hit by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood.

The Serpent in the Wilderness

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.
—John 3:14
Introduction: The First Antidote

There are lots of strange stories in the Bible—several of which I wish hadn’t been included. Near the top of that list is the story of the serpent in the wilderness. On the one hand, I don’t like what it says about the wrath of God: The people complained, and God punished them by sending poisonous snakes to kill them. The problem was solved not by removing the snakes, but by fashioning a snake on a pole that people could look at and be healed of their snakebites. So the original antidote wasn’t a potion of some sort that people drank, it was simply a snake on a pole for them to gaze upon.

That word antidote is an interesting one. It’s composed of two parts—anti, which means against, and dote, which means, not poison, but give. So an antidote is something given against something else.