Scripture: John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Thought for the Day: In his book, Love Wins, Rob Bell writes: “As obvious as it is… Jesus is bigger than any one religion… He didn’t come to start a new religion, and he continually disrupted whatever conventions or systems or establishments that existed in his day. He will always transcend whatever cages and labels are created to contain him, especially the one called Christianity.” I am not ready to ditch denominations or Christianity in general, but at the end of the day, Bell is right. Jesus came to provide the abundant life, the fullness of life. The term Christianity and the individual denominations within Christianity are only tools (some better than others) through which the Holy Spirit uses to bring the abundant life into the lives of human beings. Let us never confuse religion – any religion – with the gift of abundant life, Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Keep me focused on Jesus, O Kind and Merciful God, especially when the institution of religion tries to take his place. Amen.
Consider Inviting A Friend
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 3:20-23
…and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
Thought for the Day: One more thought on this reckless love – because of the risk and uncertainty in regard to the future, it can leave a person feeling a great deal of anxiety. I tend to be a person who reduces as much uncertainty in my life, but that is never fully possible. Controlling the future, when possible, tends to be most people’s hope. This is where faith and trust are so important. My theology does not believe in an all controlling God. Free-will is very much a part of the human experience, and though I believe God knows all the possible choices available to us, God remains One who respects the free-will of every creature. God continues to beckon us toward God’s hope and dream for creation – a beckoning through scripture, the Holy Spirit, Spiritual Disciplines, worship, study – but a the end of the day, God gives room for us to choose something other than God’s hope. With that said, I trust (and have faith) that in the end, God wins out. The pathway of human choices is not perfectly mapped, but God’s creativity and love continue to work with us – helping to make our individual and collective choices more fully resemble those of Jesus. To live the reckless and daring love of Jesus Christ may not feel as reckless and daring to those who trust God and remain faithfully connected to the Holy Spirit. Even when the moment might appear uncertain, and the choices today are risky, I know where this is all going in the end.
Prayer: Let my life belong to you, Merciful God, for I yearn to see my daily decisions representing your hope for the world – even when those daily decisions appear risky, reckless or down right ridiculous. Amen.
Scripture: 1st John 3:18
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Thought for the Day: After yesterday’s devotional, I have been stirring around the phrase reckless love as a way of describing the life and death of Jesus. As an odd side note, I have come to learn that Reckless Love was the name of a Finnish Heavy Metal Band. Aside from that rather unimportant note, I have been thinking about how loving in truth and action requires recklessness, or at least what might appear to be reckless in the minds of most. To tell the truth when it is unpopular or to act when it is highly demanding can be reckless for one’s popularity or profession. It can place a heavy demand on one’s bank account, reduce the hours one sleeps and even put a person among those our current society might be demonizing. It sure appears reckless, though there is a point to it – to follow the call of Jesus, to embody his love and to make him real for others.
Prayer: I do not follow Christ Jesus to increase my popularity. I follow him because of your gracious invitation, O Lord. It is the way to life – true life – that just might feel impulsive and rash at times. But if even one person can encounter your amazing love, then every risk is worth it. Amen.
Lenten Soup For The Soul
Scripture: 1st John 3:16
We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.
Thought for the Day: There is an older book by Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, entitled: The Reckless Way of Love – Notes on Following Jesus. I have always strangely appreciated the word reckless as it helps move us away from the easy understandings of love. In referring to the love of Jesus as reckless, I have used it for the purpose of grabbing people’s attention. It is not soft or feel good, but unnerving. To be reckless suggests we let go of control and slip into the arena of risk and exposure. Yet after taking the time to reread both the Psalms and the Gospel of Matthew recently, I feel as if reckless is not just a wake-up call. To be reckless is to throw caution to the wind when it comes to the concern one feels for others. It is to show no concern for self if what we do can demonstrate genuine love for another. Jesus was reckless, and it got him killed. I’m not suggesting we should be reckless for the sake of recklessness, but when it comes to telling the world about Jesus, maybe a bit more recklessness would be good if emulating Jesus is our desired end.
Prayer: You may not use the word reckless, Mighty God, but in Jesus you showed little concern for self. The fullness of the divine nature took on the form of a humble servant and chose to risk everything for our sake. Thank you for showing us the true meaning of love. Amen.
Have You Prayed
For Your Church
Scripture: Matthew 11:28
And Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
Thought for the Day: A great Buddhist teacher once wrote, “View all problems as challenges. Look upon negatives that arise as opportunities to learn and grow. Don’t run from them, condemn yourself, or bury your burden in saintly silence.” Those closing words about ‘saintly silence’ have alway stood out. There are many people who believe their burdens are personal, and to deal with them Lone Ranger style is what faithful people do. Both Jesus and Paul spoke about the power of the faith community to assist us in carrying the burdens of life. We need spiritual friends who will come alongside with a willingness to share in the struggles of life. Don’t carry your burdens in saintly silence. The saints didn’t!
Prayer: As the old hymn says, “I am weak but you are strong,” and yes, Lord, I believe you love me, and through the body of Christ, you will be my strength. Amen.
Meeting Again This Wednesday
Scripture: Ephesians 5:1-2
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Thought for the Day: We are invited to be imitators of God, yet how exactly are we to imitate the Exalted One? This is where Jesus comes in handy as his life is a bit more accessible for imitating. Of course, what we see in Jesus is not necessarily what we would choose to imitate. Imitating Jesus would require us to love in such a way that we too could be executed for the rebellious nature of this love. Most people are much more comfortable with a love that consists of hugs and eskimo-kisses, but the world is needing to see in us something a bit more risky…a bit more dangerous.
Prayer: Provide me courage and strength to be a witness to your amazing love, O Lord of life and light. Encourage me along the way, especially when my imitation is a bit emaciated. Amen.
TODAY AT CCCC
Scripture: Romans 12:19-21
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Thought for the Day: Tomorrow evening (Sunday evening), Cypress Creek will be showing the movie/musical, The Cotton Patch Gospel. It is based upon the writings of Clarence Jordan, the wonderful Biblical Scholar who translated much of the New Testament from the perspective of the 1960’s racial tensions in the south. A number of years later, Harry Chapin took the writings and put them to music – creating the musical, The Cotton Patch Gospel. In working on the project, Chapin wrote, “If a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died, what one man’s life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world?” I invite us to come and reflect on what one man’s life meant to the world as told through the eyes of Clarence Jordan and Harry Chapin, and then begin to ponder what our lives could be worth if only we lived our lives as Jesus did, giving food to our enemies, providing drink to the thirsty, and by overcoming evil with acts of goodness.
Prayer: Provide me examples of your unmerited grace, O Lord who teaches us to overcome evil with good. Challenge me with the generosity of care you have shown me, a care that I am to share with those who I might define as my enemy. Amen.