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Archive for February, 2008

That’s the question that the girl working at our local gas station and convenience store asked me this morning as I paid for my large Diet Dr. Pepper and a bacon biscuit.

She asked the question in response to the ashen cross that is on my forehead.

We began the day here at GCF at 6am with an early morning Ash Wednesday time of worship, communion and prayer.  The worship room is available for another 25 minutes (it’s 8.35am here) for worship, communion, prayer and meditation.  Some of us will be back here at 5.30 this evening to worship, pray and take communion again.  We worship and pray and receive communion alot.  The ashes are something different.

On the way to school my daughter asked me about the “stuff” on my head.  I tried to explain to her that God created man from the dirt and that when we die, we go back to the dirt and then Jesus makes us alive and all new again.  I told her that the ashes help us remember that without Jesus, we don’t get to have a new life.  “Oh” she said, “so those ashes are like dirt on your forehead.”

I have celebrated Ash Wednesday for many years.  I grew up United Methodist.  Typically, I have wiped the ashes from my forehead after worship, but this year I have decided not to do that.  I’m glad that I didn’t wipe it away.  The ashes on my forehead enabled me to speak about my faith to my daughter and the cashier at the gas station. 

“Are you Catholic?” she asked. 

“No, I’m not.  I go to a non-denominational church.” 

“Oh, I grew up Catholic.”

Ash Wednesday:  we’re not so much Catholics or non-denominational or denominational.  We’re really just “dust” and without Jesus Christ, it is to the dust that we shall all return.

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A GIANT of a win!  Eli Manning had the game winning pass last night, but the victory really belongs to Michael Strahan and the defense.  They did what no other team has done all season and held the Patriots to their lowest score of the entire season.  As Terry Bradshaw said to Strahan last night, “you guys showed us one of the best defensive displays in the history of the NFL.”  Amen, Terry!  You couldn’t be more right.  My knees are still sore this morning.  I was on my feet; about two feet from the television when Eli connected for the 32 yd winning play.  I turned and hit the floor.  Watching football history like that is absolutely amazing!  BTW, I’m glad the Giants helped Don Shula and his ’72 Dolphins keep their record.  This would be perfection:  to see Peyton Manning and my Colts get it pulled back together next season and accomplish the perfect 19-0 that Eli kept from the Patriots this year!  Even better:  a Manning versus Manning Super Bowl?

Mitt Romney and the News Media.  If you stop by here often enough, then you’ll know that I try to keep a close watch on the mainstream media and their chosen narratives.  Here’s one that has emerged in the last week to week and a half.  “John McCain has become the inevitable candidate of the Republican Party.  People don’t like Mitt Romney and he can’t pull it out.  John McCain is having trouble pulling the conservative right of the Republican Party to his side.  On the other hand, Democrats love both of their candidates.  It’s too early to tell which one will win, but the Democrats are going to demand an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket.”  All of this is fine, but let’s own up to the reality that this may be as much the media’s chosen narrative as it is the reality on the ground.  I’m not a big Romney fan, but the media has not been fair in its reporting or its commentary on his campaign.  And Barak Obama, who has exhibited the kind of character that has prompted my respect for him, is simply ignorant if he falls into the media’s plan of coercing him to accept a position has Hillary Clinton’s Vice President.  I think that would make him Bill Clinton’s lap dog.

From Romans.  The following passage in my devotional reading this morning really caught my attention.  As we approach the season of Lent, I am going to carry this passage with me . . .  It’s from The Message.

But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.
     24–25     So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!
     26–27     Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.
     28–32     Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!

Here’s the thing . . . this passage has so often been used to combat homosexuality that we have missed some of the greater implications of the passage; primarily Pauls’ insistence that when we ignore God and the order that is already inherent in His creation then all we get is one big disorderly, chaotic, mess.

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