As I Am, Not As I Should Be

Good morning, just barely. Today is Monday, May 27, 2013, Memorial Day. I have been up for a while, but chose to go ahead and get the week’s grocery shopping done early, then do my blogging before Rachel and Justine arrive around noon for lunch, games, and stuff. Unfortunately, I ran into a small issue during the grocery shopping. It seems that Kroger’s Pharmacy messed up my prescription refill. Somehow, they requested refill authorization from my doctor for the wrong prescription. Now, at first, I thought it might have been my fault. The two meds come in exactly the same sized bottle. I thought I might have grabbed the wrong one when calling in the refill. However, when I got home, the correct empty bottle was sitting out on the counter, right where I had left it the last time I called to check on the status of the refill, and was told that it was scheduled to be refilled, after keying in the correct prescription number. Now, they have to call the doctor’s office again, to get another authorization for the correct med. They were able to give me five pills to get me through to Saturday, but I had to go back up there to get them. I was more than a little aggravated that there was no acknowledgment of a mistake on their part, nor was there any hint of apology for my inconvenience. I tell you, customer service is a thing of the past, it seems.

Anyway, the rest of the day promises to be good times.

As already mentioned, today is Memorial Day. I won’t bother with any other “silly” holidays today. If you know someone who has served in the armed forces today, give them some love and respect, along with some gratitude.

(From Great Stories from History for Every Day)
The book doesn’t paint a pretty picture of “Jean Cauvin” (we know him as John Calvin), who died on this date in 1564. And, perhaps, rightfully so. In spite of being the author of The Institutes of the Christian Religion, and the founder of a theological system to which I hold dearly, he was pretty intolerant in his day. As he transformed Geneva into a “grim Protestant theocracy . . . the clergy were authorized to spy on men’s private lives to ensure straightforward rectitude, gambling was prohibited, restaurant diners were compelled by law to say grace before eating, and Christmas celebrations were barred. Calvin himself, with his ascetic face and long, straggling beard, ruled the community like an Old Testament prophet, strict, priggish and unforgiving.” He was also responsible for some “ferocious religious wars of half a century later.” Fortunately, we can espouse the better parts of his theology, which “lives with us still in a much more tolerant form,” without following his practices. His character inspired “H.L. Mencken’s famous description of Calvinism as ‘the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.'”

Today’s birthday is difficult to choose, there are many good ones. However, I will choose one of the greatest of the horror actors to ever grace the screen, Mr. Vincent Price. Price was born on this date in 1911, and would have been 102 today. He passed away in 1993. Here is a clip of him reading Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven.”

Honorable mentions go to Julia Ward Howe, 1819, Wild Bill Hickok, 1837, Christopher Lee, 1922, Harlan Ellison, 1934, Bruce Cockburn, 1945, Siouxsie Sioux, 1957, Neil Finn, 1958, Frank Thomas, 1968, Jeff Bagwell, 1968, Joseph Fiennes, 1970, Paul Bettany, 1971, and Derek Webb, 1974.


Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart! Psalm 32:11

Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! Psalm 102:1-2

Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. Psalm 31:5

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Father, I give you praise for my redemption. I commit my spirit to you this morning as I read and meditate on your words. My help, indeed, comes from you. Show me your truth, this morning.

Today’s reading from A Year With God is called “You Shall Go.” The scripture reading is Jeremiah 1:4-8.

Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.”

When Jeremiah is called, his first words are words of resistance to that call. He immediately sees his limitations for the job to which he has been called. Jeremiah probably wasn’t trying to be overly modest when he said, “I am only a youth.” He was probably just being truthful. You see, if we look at the trend, God tends to call people who are “too young, too timid, too old, or too immoral. The story is not about the singular virtues of the one being called. The story is about a risk-taking bold sort of God who reaches in and calls people for divine service, giving them what they need for that service.” (I have a slight issue with the term “risk-taking.” I don’t believe that God ever takes a risk. How can there be a risk when you control all things?) The truth of the matter is that God equips and stands alongside all whom he calls.

Have you often thought that you are “too _________” to be used by God? Well, it’s not true. I’m not too old, you’re not too young, you’r not too timid, and we are most certainly not too sinful. Look at Samson, for crying out loud! There are no limitations that we can use as excuses if God is calling us to a job. Because the one doing the calling is the one who also does the equipping. And he knows us better than we know ourselves. Just look at the first couple of verses of the text for today. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (v. 5) While this is directed specifically to Jeremiah, I don’t think it unreasonable that the same would be true of any calling that God might be placing on our lives. He knew us; he chose us; he consecrated us; he appointed us; and he is in the process of equipping us.

Mercy number 15 in 19 Mercies, by Brennan Manning, is “Freedom from your own contempt.” I bet there are a lot of us who struggle with this one. “Self-hatred is an enormous obstacle to loving other people.” We know that Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. How can we love our neighbors if we hate ourselves. As a general rule (and there are always exceptions to the rule), we “hide behind anger, sarcasm, or judgmentalism because we’re convinced that we don’t measure up ourselves.”

Can you find any place in the Gospels where Jesus spent any amount of time “reinforcing negative self-concepts?” Should we, therefore, get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, “Worm! Maggot! Despicable wretch!” “My capacity to love you lies in direct proportion to my ability to love myself.” There is an aspect of faith that fits perfectly in this quote from Paul Tillich: “Faith is the courage to accept acceptance, to accept that God loves me as I am and not as I should be, because I’m never going to be as I should be.”

We must forgive ourselves as we have been forgiven. In that model prayer that Jesus gave us, he said, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Is it too much a stretch to include that we need to forgive ourselves, as well? If we do not, then we reject God’s love for us and, in short, reject the Cross of Christ!

“Consider this: If Jesus sat at your dining room table tonight and laid out your whole life story–the miserable, recurring sins, the hidden agenda, the skeletons in your close, the dark desires unknown even to yourself–you would still experience joy, peace, and acceptance in His presence.” Now also consider that this is a ridiculous proposition, because, according to scripture, God doesn’t even remember all of those things, because he has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west. However, the point, here, is the value that Jesus sees in us as children of God. Jesus, in effect, says to us, “Your sins go over here. It’s you that I’ve come for, My friend.”

There is a fine line in all of this, that we dare not cross. We cannot afford to fall into the trap of believing that God chose us because he saw innate worthiness in us. That would make salvation have something to do with us. However, we are valuable and worthy because of God’s choosing, because of Christ’s sacrifice, and there is nothing that can take that away from us! That is what we need to accept and believe. We are loved, unconditionally, and we must remember that he loves us as we are, not as we should be, because we will never be as we should be!

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Psalm 51

“If the Lord Jesus Christ has washed you in
His own blood
and forgiven you all your sins,
how dare you refuse to forgive yourself?”
Francis McNutt

Father, teach me to forgive . . . me! Keep teaching me this marvelous, infinite, matchless grace that you have lavished on me and all of your other children! Help us to believe in it! Help us to accept it. Help us to know your unfailing, unceasing, crazy, overwhelming, steadfast love! I may never get past this one thing, and that’s okay. If I have to dwell on this love of yours for the rest of my days, then so be it. My heart’s desire, my singular prayer, is that I can comprehend this love, and then spread this love. Make me a vessel that overflows with your love so that everyone around me gets splashed by it! Most especially, help me to be free from my own contempt. When I fail you, and I will, probably several times today, alone, make me to focus not on that event, but on your love for me, for I am forgiven. No, this does not give me license, heaven forbid that I should think that. But nor do I have the right to condemn myself when There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

I pray for this day today. Give Rachel and Justin traveling mercies as they come to visit us today, and may we have good fellowship as we break bread together. May our day be fun and relaxing, and full of love. I pray for Christi’s doctor appointment tomorrow, that she will be released from the cast to wear the boot for a couple of weeks.

I give you thanks for all the men and women who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Thank you for their willingness to sacrifice their time and, sometimes, their lives for the freedoms that we all hold so dear.

“Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the sky of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky!”

Grace and peace, friends.