We are Daughters and Sons of God.

We are all created by God – but more importantly, we are God’s daughters and sons if we do God’s will. This is not to be taken lightly.  Do you think of yourself as God’s child – really?

Any person who chooses to serve God – and does it, is a “Chosen” person. It isn’t a birthright, but something that is available to people of all nationalities.

Exodus 19:3-6

Moses went up the mountain to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain: “This is what you must say to the house of Jacob, and explain to the Israelites: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. Now if you will listen to Me and carefully keep My covenant, you will be My own possession out of all the peoples, although all the earth is Mine, and you will be My kingdom of priests and My holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to say to the Israelites.”

Note the conditional “if”.  If you listen to the Lord and follow the covenant, then you will be unique among all people of the Earth. The corollary to that is that if you don’t follow the Lord’s commandments, then you will not be special. Your commitment to doing what the Lord commands is what distinguishes you.

John 1:11-13

11 He came to His own,
and His own peopledid not receive Him.
12 But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to bechildren of God,
to those who believe in His name,
13 who were born,
not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man,
but of God.

Note that we can become children of God, namely daughters and sons of God.

Notice the Lord’s Prayer, to be found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. This is the Condensed Gospel rendition, which blends them together –

Jesus was praying, and when he was through, one of his disciples said to him “Lord, teach us how to pray, just like John taught his disciples.”

He said “You should pray like this:

Heavenly Father, we give honor to your holy name.

May your kingdom come soon.

May your will be done here on earth just like it is done in heaven.

Give us our bread for tomorrow,
and forgive our faults in the same way that we forgive the faults of others.

Do not cause us to be tempted, but instead rescue us from evil.

The kingdom and power and glory are all yours eternally. Amen.”

It starts with us saying that God is our Father. This is a bold statement. God is directly approachable by us. If God is our Father, we are daughters and sons of God.

Matthew 12:46-50

46 He was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly His mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to Him. 47 Someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.” 48 But He replied to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.”

If you do God’s will, you are the brother or sister to Jesus.  If you are his brother or sister – you are a son or daughter of God.

Hebrews 2:11-12

11 For the One who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying:

I will proclaim Your name to My brothers;
I will sing hymns to You in the congregation.

Jesus says he is directly related to his followers. 

See Psalm 51:16-17, 1 Samuel 15:22-23, Hebrews 13:16, Micah 6:6-8, Isaiah 58:3-11 for examples of what God wants. 

God isn’t interested in sacrifices.  All the detailed rules in Leviticus are about what kinds of offerings were appropriate in the time of the Temple.  But what God really wants is for us to take care of people. Who cares if you keep kosher or you cover your head if you ignore the needs of your neighbor who is hungry or homeless?

I’ve read before that atheists serve God better than many religious people.  They don’t think there is a divine being who will take care of people, so they know it is up to them. Actions speak louder than words.

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Idola-tree – poem

Strange fruit comes from
the Idola-tree. 
This tree grows tall and strong 
fed with fear and desire
sometimes pretending to be
love. But love doesn’t feed
this tree. It is a strange love
that looks like greed 
that looks like hunger 
that looks like jealousy. 
It is not a giving kind of love.
It is not an open kind of love
that is filled with 
joy and compassion and care 
for your fellow human kind.
No, there is no kindness 
in this tree. 
Fruit of this tree is bitter,
small, and it chokes 
as it goes down. 
The fruit of this tree will not
fill you up will not 
nourish you. 
The fruit of this tree 
never ripens into anything
other than disappointment,
never creates anything more 
than a sick feeling in your stomach.

Soul Cave

A refreshing wave of cool, even sweet air filled her longs. A welcome respite from the oppressive heat outside. And yet, she wasn’t in a cave at all. It was a church, but it wasn’t a building. It was carved out from living rock, a sanctuary in stone.

And yet, it wasn’t. She was at work. From the outside all was the same as it has always been. It was inside that was different. She had done the work, using a spiritual pick-ax to hew out the limestone of her soul, removing the rubble handful by handful. It was the only way. There were no shortcuts with this work. It was slow going, but the other option was not at all. Only by doing this slow private work could anyone attain sanctuary. It couldn’t be found outside, not among the liars and charlatans, the shell games and shysters. Everybody who tried to sell others on their brand of salvation was a false Messiah, no matter how well intentioned.

She was lucky her stone was limestone. Some started with quartz, or marble, or even diamond. Too hard a core was very hard work. Most stopped too soon, barely making an alcove, barely enough to lean in from the rains. Homeless people sleeping in doorways had it better.

Yet others had caves of softer stuff – coal, or even chalk. Softer rock was certainly easier to work, but you ran the risk of the entire structure collapsing in on you. You had to plan ahead, taking out only some, not too much. You had to leave supports, like how stalactites met stalagmites. The best starting material was something strong yet also pliable.

Her soul rock used to be of denser stuff, but living water had softened it.

She thought back to that day when she had finally given up, finally relinquished her vain attempt at controlling her life and the actions of others around her. She gave over control to the still small voice she heard inside her, the voice that was breathed into every person when they were born.

Along with that breath, the first breath, was the quiet voice of the Creator. Outsiders (those who saw only the outside) thought that the child took her first breath, like it was something active, like it was something she did. Insiders knew that God breathed life into everyone, not just Adam. Every single person alive had been jump-started by God. This is why smoking was bad – it polluted that divine gift. This is why carefully regulating your breath was good – you were reconnecting with that gift. In rhythmically breathing in and out, you fell into God’s rhythm, God‘s embrace. You were calm because you had put your trust in the only One who had all the answers – even to questions that hadn’t been asked yet.

She sat inside her cave, just big enough for her, and looked out at the world. From here the light wasn’t so bright, the sounds weren’t so loud. She could experience it all with detachment, not anxiety.

Fear of love – poem

Soon we will know
what it is to be free
really free
of our fear.
But not yet.
We aren’t ready
while we still teach
fear of God
in our churches.
Maybe that is why
so many people have left the church
or never joined.
Maybe that is why so many people
suffer from
addictions or compulsions or perversions,
interacting too much or too little
with the world and people that God created
for us to love.
Lack of love is a terrible thing.
Misplaced love is possibly worse.


For God is love, after all.
God is or should be
our first and last love
and everything in between.


That word “fear” isn’t the original.
The word that the Christian church
translated as fear
means something more like
awe, or respect, or reverence.
But not fear.
Because “perfect love casts out all fear.”
Because how many times did Angels say “fear not” (once for every day).
Fear never healed anybody
but love will do the trick
every time.

The Church chose “fear”
because it leads to control.
Forgive them for they were mistaken.
It isn’t that “they know not what they do”
– they knew.
It was fear of love that made them do it.
Lovers are illogical.
Lovers of God even more so.

Jesus didn’t come to control people
– but to love them so much
that they were healed,
were whole
again.

Imagine

I

Imagine:
The Church no longer has a “worship service”. 
Instead, service to people is its worship.

Imagine all that money and time spent on feeding the hungry, healing the sick, housing the homeless – instead of hymnals, a band, a podcast, a live-streaming service, etc.

Imagine:
a world where we are 
no longer divided by money, 
where all people are seen as equal.

Imagine:
Keeping Christmas in your heart all year long.
Not the commercial Christmas, but the real one.

Imagine:
If Christians were known for their love. 
We must be the change we wish to see in the world.

And I don’t mean any of that “love the sinner, hate the sin” business because Jesus never said anything like that. Just love people, and let God take care of the rest. Love heals people.

Jesus on the side of the road

And then there was the time

Jesus walked up to the man

on the corner.

You know the one.

The guy with the cardboard sign

that says

“Homeless. Please help.”

Or “Will work for food.”

And Jesus

(well not really that Jesus,

but a Jesus,

like a Santa Claus,

someone who is said
“yes, I’ll take on that role”

walks right up, not even in a car

like everybody else in a hurry

on their way to their job,

or the Kroger,

or Starbucks

but never here,

always on the move –  

that Jesus walks right up

and sees the man on the corner

 the leper, the blind man, the lost sheep

and looks him in the eyes and says

”Hey. What do you need?”

And he says

money,

 or home,

or a job,

but really he’s saying

Healing.

Freedom.

Grace.

He’s saying he needs to be

released from this prison

without bars

he found himself in,

or maybe locked himself in.

He forgets.

And Jesus reaches out a hand and says

do you believe you can be healed

(do you think there is hope for you

or have you given up already)

and the man hears the music beneath the words,

sees the light peeking out from the clouds

that have rained on his parade

for so long he wonders

why he keeps showing up

and thinks

maybe,

today is the day

that I no longer have to define myself

as homeless,

or chronically ill,

or abused by my parents,

or widowed

but instead

as a precious child

of God

chosen, and  loved, and whole.

And the healing happens,

right there on that corner,

with all those cars rushing by.

And then Jesus disappears,

 this latter-day Jesus,

this vagabond messiah

and the man

is still there,

on the side of the road,

still homeless,

still divorced,

still without a job,

but now he’s awake

 and he thinks

is this what healing looks like?

Psalm 37 for people in a hurry.

(You can get the gist of Psalm 37 by just reading the first lines of each stanza, up until lines 35-38.  Then the whole stanza is necessary to understand the meaning. )

Do not be agitated by evildoers…

Trust in the Lord and do what is good…

5 Commit your way to the Lord…

Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him…

Refrain from anger and give up your rage…

10 A little while, and the wicked person will be no more…

12 The wicked person schemes against the righteous…

14 The wicked have drawn the sword and strung the bow…

16 The little that the righteous man has is better
than the abundance of many wicked people.

18 The Lord watches over the blameless all their days…

20 But the wicked will perish…

21 The wicked man borrows and does not repay,
but the righteous one is gracious and giving.

23 A man’s steps are established by the Lord,
and He takes pleasure in his way.

25 I have been young and now I am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned…

27 Turn away from evil and do what is good…

30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom…

32 The wicked one lies in wait for the righteous…

34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way…

35 I have seen a wicked, violent man
well-rooted like a flourishing native tree.
36 Then I passed by and noticed he was gone;
I searched for him, but he could not be found.

37 Watch the blameless and observe the upright,
for the man of peace will have a future.
38 But transgressors will all be eliminated;
the future of the wicked will be destroyed.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord,
their refuge in a time of distress.

(translation from the Holman Christian Standard Bible)