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Pry Me Off Dead Center: Loder

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This was a great way to start the day, another great poem from Guerrillas Of Grace: Prayers For The Battle

Pry Me Off Dead Center

O persistent God,
deliver me from assuming your mercy is gentle.
Pressure me that I may grow more human,
not through the lessening of my struggles,
but through an expansion of them

that will undamn me
and unbury my gifts.

Deepen my hurt
until I learn to share it
and myself
openly,
and my needs honestly.

Sharpen my fears
until I name them
and release the power I have locked in them
and they in me.

Accentuate my confusion
until I shed those grandiose expectations
that divert me from the small, glad gifts
of the now and the here and the me.

Expose my shame wherever it shivers,
crouched behind the curtains of propriety,
until I can laugh at last
through my common frailties and failures,
laugh my way toward becoming whole.

Deliver me
from just going through the motions
and wasting everything I have
which is today,
a chance,
a choice,
my creativity
your call.

O persistent God,
let how much it all matters
pry me off dead center
so if I am moved inside
to tears

or sighs
or screams
or smiles
or dreams,
they will be real
and I will be in touch with who I am
and who you are
and who my sisters and brothers are.

God Thoughts

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Sometimes my mind simply stops to dwell on, or ruminate upon the reality of God. There are times when God seems obvious and there are times when God seems manufactured. I imagine a world with God and wonder why He doesn’t move differently, or to be more precise, why He doesn’t seem to do things the way I think He should do them. Then, I imagine a world without the grace of God, and I can only imagine what kind of existence we would have if God’s common grace were not suppressing the darkness that it is. Since we don’t truly know how much intervention is already going on, we can’t really imagine what chaos wound ensue if that sovereign hand were removed completely…hmmm, things to ponder.

So tonight I began to look back through some of my collected thoughts and quotes about God. Maybe I was looking through these words to remind myself that God is still moving. Maybe I simply needed a good grid-shift in the midst of some trying circumstances. Whatever the subconscious reason, I invite you to ruminate with me, and just maybe, we all will experience a greater capacity to trust, love and live in a God-reality.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you. ~C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I would rather walk with God in the dark than go alone in the light.  ~Mary Gardiner Brainard

Some people always sigh in thanking God.  ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Surely your longings and feelings arise from the God who created you. They were created in order to be filled, not crushed. Surely we shall find peace not by eliminating desire, but by finding its fulfillment and satisfaction in the One who created it. ~Sundar Singh

I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.  ~Voltaire

You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. ~Anne Lamott

Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion. ~Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child

Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message. ~Malcolm Muggeridge

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”  ~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, 1943

God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done.  ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

A man with God is always in the majority.  ~John Knox

Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Your faith will not fail while God sustains it; you are not strong enough to fall away while God is resolved to hold you. ~ J.I. Packer, Knowing God

Any fool can count the seeds in an apple.  Only God can count all the apples in one seed.  ~Robert H. Schuller

The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.  ~ C.S. Lewis

God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars. ~Elbert Hubbard

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. ~C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

I sought to hear the voice of God and climbed the topmost steeple, but God declared: “Go down again – I dwell among the people. ~John Henry Newman

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Sometimes God allows what he hates to accomplish what he loves. ~Joni Eareckson Tada, The God I Love

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. ~Augustine of Hippo

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

God made the world for the delight of human beings– if we could see His goodness everywhere, His concern for us, His awareness of our needs: the phone call we’ve waited for, the ride we are offered, the letter in the mail, just the little things He does for us throughout the day. As we remember and notice His love for us, we just begin to fall in love with Him because He is so busy with us — you just can’t resist Him. I believe there’s no such thing as luck in life, it’s God’s love, it’s His. ~Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa

The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. ~Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. ~A.W. Tozer

In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own. ~Madeleine L’Engle

There is a deep and natural craving in the human heart that can be satisfied nowhere except in God. Our being in this world is a test, a preparation for the deepest state of spiritual communion. But most of us, suppressing our deepest longings and disdaining God, seek satisfaction from this world. Such a path can lead only to despair. ~Sundar Singh

God moves in a mysterious wayHis wonders to perform;He plants his footsteps in the sea,And rides upon the storm. ~William Cowper, Olney Hymns

We are but a point, a single comma, and God is the literature of eternity. ~Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

Earth’s crammed with heaven,And every common bush afire with God;But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,And daub their natural faces unaware. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be. ~
Anne Frank

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless He has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty. ~
Peter Marshall

God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with. ~
Billy Graham

Things are not as they seem…

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Have you ever wondered what the mother of Barabbas thought, felt or wondered when her son was released and Jesus was condemned? If there is a universal character that represents all of us in the Good Friday story it is Barabbas…we have all been acquitted, set free from our sentence of death because Jesus went to the cross in our place…

Good Friday is the day we remember that life often has dark encounters where we are left wondering if God is real, kind, involved or aware.

Good Friday dares to combat our need to have life tied up in neat little bows…to always have happy endings…to ride off into the sunset…instead, it creates the sacred art of waiting….the holy transformation of not knowing…the necessity for all who follow Jesus to embrace the dark night of the soul where we learn the divine language of silence.

Jesus reminds us that in this world we will have trouble…He doesn’t say, “But if you believe in me I will make sure you experience zero troubles or pain!” No…he simply says ‘don’t be afraid of what you will face…trust me.’

But trusting God is hard when you are experiencing a Good Friday…”where are you God? Don’t you know what’s going on? Don’t you care?”

Like Pilate, sometimes we make choices that are pressured and forced. While we want to wash our hands of painful outcomes, we know deep inside that there is blood on them no matter how hard we try to justify our decisions…we are experiencing Good Friday.

Like Mary Magdalene…perhaps we have been helped, healed and transformed. Our life has been pulled from the gutter. Grace has invaded our world and for the first time we feel that we were valuable, needed even wanted. Our life is changing, our choices are evolving in healthier ways, our existence is becoming significant which is no small thing…and then we run into Good Friday…all seems lost…all seems hopeless…was it all a joke? Just another religious thing? The divine silence is so loud you could cut it with a knife…where are you God?…we are experiencing Good Friday.

Like Peter…perhaps we have been rescued and loved over and over again…we have received grace after grace yet we still put our foot in our mouth. When it mattered most, as someone was asking about our faith in Jesus, we froze…afraid of what they might think of us…afraid of how His name might affect our reputation or status…and in that defining moment, we deny Him, divert the conversation, bail on the one who always bails us out…and we feel the darkness of Good Friday surrounding our heart…Jesus, I’m sorry…

In different ways, by our words and by our actions our voice has joined the ancient chorus shouting crucify, crucify, crucify.

While we long to quickly jump from Good Friday to resurrection Sunday and shout “He is Risen” at the top of our lungs…Jesus asks us to stay here a while, to linger and suffer with Him…it is our own Gethsemane…but will we stay awake with Him just for a little while?

I think the images of Good Friday are flowing from the heart of the Apostle Paul as he says “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”  (Phil 3:10)

The reason why Good Friday is so important is because we can never truly enter into the full Joy of Easter Sunday until we have embraced the absolute emptiness, and despair of Good Friday…We will never exude joy until we have encountered a necessary grace born on the dark night.

Good Friday centers me on the truth that things are never as they seem…it might be Friday…things might be confusing and dark…but God is always up to something, and Sunday is coming..

Here’s a great hymn to close out my thoughts…

Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?

2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature’s sin.

4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.

5. But drops of tears can ne’er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
’tis all that I can do.