Sunday, March 27, 2011

$3:00 Worth of God, Please...

Gratitude Journal 3-26-11
1. Rain to wash the pollen away!
2. Spring flowering trees
3. Thank-you notes and words of appreciation
4. Lunch with TMC Buddies
5. Honest people who return lost items...

"And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." ACTS 8:18-20

I would like to buy $3:00 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3:00 worth of God, please.

I first read this short reflection about 30 years ago. I was taken aback by the honesty and directness of the author. Through the years I have returned to this little volume numerous times (now out of print). I am thankful that I was blessed to find it! The sincere probing of the soul is refreshing - although not east some times.

Lord, this day may I be open to finding and accepting truth wherever I find it. Let me be honest with You and myself, so that I may be more open, transparent and honest with those around me.


($3.00 Worth of God - Wilbur E. Rees - 1971)

Monday, March 21, 2011

What if Grace Wasn't Amazing?

Gratitude Journal 3-20-11
1. Spring days - even the time change I like...
2. Visiting differing faith traditions on Sunday
3. Cleaning out and throwing away
4. Time with grand-kids!!!
5. Friends who speak the truth - thanks Wes.

What if Grace Wasn't Amazing?

I have no greater friend than Wes Eades of Waco, TX! We were on staff together, long ago, in a large church in the Kansas City area. He served as Minister to Youth and did an excellent job. He later went on to get a PhD and he became a Clinical Psychologist. He is wise beyond his years and his 'learning'. He is a dedicated man of faith and a wonderful, cherished friend...

In recent years Wes has developed his own blog called Practical Spirituality. When I read this 'edition' (Aug. 2010) I was taken aback by its simplicity and its truth. As usual I was deeply blessed. Even though I have not asked permission I know Wes would not mind my sharing this thoughtful reflection. If you would like to contact Wes about his blog you may reach him at

What if Grace Wasn't Amazing?

What if Grace was just run-of-mill common?

What if we just accepted how broken we all are, and stopped being so surprised when others act in broken ways?

What if Grace just naturally got in line ahead of judgment?

What if we didn't need to spend all those years judging others as weak, or immoral, or self-destructive before we discovered we are all weak, and immoral, and self-destructive?

What if we didn't have to suffer horribly on the way to Grace, and yet still didn't take Grace for granted, as though it were 'cheap' or easy?

What if when we couldn't contain our wounds we easily turned to others for help, and realise that is Grace at work?

I wonder if a place full of Run-of-the-Mill Common Grace would look like that mysterious "Kingdom of God" we hear about.

What if Grace wasn't so amazing?

I guess that would mess with some of our hymns.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grace all around...

Gratitude Journal 3-13-11
1. Flat lands of South Georgia
2. Instant news - available 24/7
3. Miracles in Japan!
4. 3 Day Retreat with Presbyterians...
5. Home and my own bed

Fred Craddock is reported to have said:
"Some folks begin their theology with Gen. 3 instead of Gen. 1..."

Excellent thought! Met lots of folks that seem to begin their faith 'understandings' there, including myself.

If you have spent much time around faith communities you too have probably met folks who have some laundry list of things they believe - in all seriousness - that they/we must do to be loved by God. We 'earn' God's love by not doing certain things or by doing certain things.

The reason this is so very interesting to me is that I know myself to have fallen into that camp too often! My list may not be like another but it is still a list.

I can hear my internal 'messages'. 'Stop swearing' 'Give to the poor' 'Pray more often' 'You haven't read your Bible this week' 'Don't make jokes about people who are different' and the list goes on and on...

ALL these items are good. But they won't get me anywhere special. They just make me a 'good person'. Grace is totally different! Grace is totally free. I don't earn it. Nothing I can do on my own gets me anything more than anybody else. Grace is a totally free gift. God why don't I begin hearing Your message that I (and all mankind) are good? You created us in Your image. We don't have to do anything but accept the love and grace you offer.

To push the ball up the hill and try to have 'perfected' behavior is creating an idol. We can't do it. We can be good (and we should to the best of our ability) but we cannot be perfect. We can love our neighbor as our self - as best we can - and it still won't be perfect. It will only make us feel good. And it may be hard - but it doesn't 'earn' us anything more than any body else.

Father - this day - may I bear GRACE all around and receive Your Grace once more!
Through Jesus Christ I pray -


Sunday, March 6, 2011

What God hath joined together...

Gratitude Journal 3-6-11
1. Weddings!
2. Beautiful Bride (Noelle) and Handsome Groom (Barrett)
3. Immediate and extended families at times of celebration
4. Seminarians dancing...
5. Thoughtful worship at weddings! (THANKS LOYD...)

"What God hath joined together..."

A little over three years ago I met J. Barrett Owen. A young student minister at McAfee School of Theology he soon joined me as Co-Pastor of Union Baptist Church in West Point. We spent lots of time together planning, praying, leading worship and working on bringing together of mission and ministry to this wonderful congregation of thoughtful lay-persons.

Although there are many years between us we became fast friends. I was blessed and challenged by Barrett's eagerness to try new approaches and different ideas. He grew through learning patience and toleration of this 'elder'.

During many hours of sharing it was obvious that Barrett longed for a true 'soul-mate' to join him on the journey of life. On March 5th Barrett married Noelle Spears. We rejoiced with them and their families. They invited us to be a part of this wonderful worship experience and time of great transition in their lives!

For both Barrett and Noelle their beauty is more than surface - they are two folks with deep dedication and commitment to God and now to one another. They come from good stock. We wish them every good wish for a long and joy-filled life together! We are sure God will bless many through the ministries of these two great individuals as they now link their lives together.

Dr. Loyd Allen, professor at McAfee, conducted the worship service. The theme was 'Time with little memory and memory will little time.' If you sit with this thought and apply it to marriage you can easily understand the depth of these truths.

Beth and I give thanks that we have been able to share with this young couple over these past years. They are part of our own story now and we count it a blessing to have been incorporated into their story and families! May God bless their journey...