Tag Archives: blessing

You can’t make me not be a blessing

If I heard right, Donald Trump said that although Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was great at using the internet, he was not as great as “Donald Trump.” Daniel Byman wrote “And of course, the counterterrorism success had to be about him. Trump noted that the Islamic State is ‘technically brilliant’ and uses the internet ‘better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump.’” So I guess Daniel heard it, too.

Image result for donald trump baghdadi
The information about the terror leader’s more specific whereabouts, the officials cited in the report said, came mostly from Syrian and Iraqi Kurds who continued to pass on the intelligence to the CIA, even after Trump announced the pullout — a move widely perceived to have been an abandonment of the US’s Kurdish allies. — Times of Israel

Donald Trump inspires me to godliness like nobody else, these days. ‘Take them out” he says about lesser targets, “but what I want is Baghdadi” as if the other deaths were of no account if he could not get the “big win” of the leader.  In a serious moment of military success, he makes sure to thank Russia, disparage the intelligence people investigating him instead of finding further targets, and dis Nancy Pelosi. He lies about what he wrote in his own book and complains about not getting enough credit for identifying Osama bin Laden, while taking undue credit for killing a man the United States death machine has been hunting for years.

Trump is an anti-blessing.  Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). With the best trained search-and-destroy soldiers in the world carried in eight helicopters, backed up by aircraft and ships, the U.S. came in to steal, kill and destroy, and, as the president later said, to secure the oil.

Blessing in the face of anti-blessing

When up against anti-blessings, a song usually comes to my mind, since much of what I know about godliness is derived from music.

We sang one prayer at our amazing Love Feast last Saturday that applies:

“Lord stop these wars where blood is spilt for money!”

And, strangely enough the old song Make Me a Blessing came to mind from my days in the Baptist church as a child. This song came from the Moody Bible Institute in the 1920’s and was a surprise crowd pleaser that made it into all sorts of hymnals. It has all the trappings of an insensitive, us vs. them Christianity in which the “lost” are pitied until they receive the message of Jesus and get into the fold. Being out of the fold as a child, I could relate to that. The song has issues, but it also has a prayer that answers the anti-blessings of the world

Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray. Make me a blessing to someone today.

Related imageI probably should not show this to you, but a quintessential “church lady” sang Make Me A Blessing on YouTube and I found it. She is apparently the woman Dana Carvey was channeling on SNL many years ago.

 

I like this no-instrument Church of Christ group from Alabama much more.

The word “blessing” is a bit overused in the Bible as a translation for several words that have a more nuanced meaning. When one speaks a blessing she calls out God’s goodness to fill a person or situation. When you bless someone on the train after they sneeze, it might seem risky, but it is a little act of sweetness retained from days of yore.

More, blessing is an act of identifying the goodness in someone and praising it, or calling goodness into someone or something  to protect or sanctify it. When you bless the food, you are in that territory. Praising the food and calling it into good use should be the basic behavior it is. Applying the same spirit to your children, church , or country is even more relevant. In my case, when I pray “make me a blessing,” I am talking about a defiant act of being, saying and doing good in the face of people and institutions that are bad, tell lies and do evil and call it good.

Living out of abundance

So a questionable song came to my mind and the Lord encouraged me by it. In relationship to Donald Trump, the anti-blessing, I want God to make me a blessing as long as I have life to live abundantly. Why shouldn’t I, who am so blessed by God, live out of that reality instead of reacting to all the nonsense around me?

Here is the kind of stuff I mean by being a blessing:

When my wife, family or friends are going off because they are too tired, too unprocessed or giving in to their worst instincts, I don’t want to take on their distress and feed it back to them just because they irritate or frighten me. I want to be a blessing to them, understanding, caring and feeding back love in whatever form it is necessary.

When my region if filled with trash, full of addicted and mentally ill people left on the streets, filled with anonymous people who are persistently self-protective, I don’t want to hide out or just clean up. I want to get more personal, turn toward, look for the source of the problems and feed Jesus into them in a way that people can receive.

When my country is self-destructing I don’t want to be threatened into silence or pushed to one side or another that is not beside Jesus. I want to note the goodness that is there and speak goodness into the process wherever I can find a hearing. But more, I want to defiantly be good myself, build a community filled with goodness and resist by existing.

You can’t make me not be a blessing.

Let’s count some blessings

Psalm 4:6-8  Many are asking, “Who can show us any good?” Le t the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD,  make me dwell in safety.

I did not grow up in a spiritually rich atmosphere, in most ways. But the atmosphere of the U.S. of my youth, as it still has in many ways, had a lot of spiritual direction floating around. Christianity was the background for a lot of popular culture, even though it was quickly being privatized and beginning to be deconstructed. The old movies that TCM keeps recycling taught me a lot about how to relate to God, even when they weren’t trying that hard. For instance, when I woke up in the middle of the night last night, I had a choice. I could count the undone things that faced me or I could “count my blessings instead of sheep” like Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney (Aunt of George) taught me.

I am not always lulled back to sleep by my blessings, but counting them is a lot better  than counting my anxieties. Last night I was recounting the many amazing people who bless my life with their radical faith, dogged hope and expansive love. Once I got started admiring them all, I realized that I was surrounded and blessed. I was feeling Psalm 4.

Let me just name the top ten people who have blessed me this week, only. I could enumerate the blessings of my great wealth and delightful family, highlighting the good time I had with Josiah and Brendan, yesterday, and how I saw Rachel/Zach/Corie and Randy/Garrett at Seussical. But there are even more extraordinary blessings that should not go unsung. I hope I instigate your own enumeration.

1. Art Bucher and Aaron Dahlstrom, a twofer. They multiplied a cell. As we sat at the Morning Glory Diner, I was kind of too-ebullient, maybe, and acting out a bit, because I was in the midst of the best Coordinating Group ever. It is still amazing to see people replicating more outposts of the kingdom in an organic, authentic way.

2. Joshua Grace pulled Ralph Moore off the shelf and told the Inner Metro Green guys to center their efforts on planting a well-founded, oddly-relevant church in Lancaster. I admire his capabilities. And I was blessed by the audacity of the church planters, too!

3. Jeremiah Alexander took the Psalters to Manor Church on Thursday night to rile up some worship and make some partners for our mission of compassionate service.

4. Rebekah Edwardson took over the Treasurer’s job and began to preside over a brand new team of treasurer’s: Country (oops Courtney) Jones, Danny Bresler-Nowak, Kathryn Seyfried. They are really putting it together with their new remote access technology (when it works) and commitment to fastidious sharing.

5. Annie Kopena and a group of delightful women ushered Alice Puchalsky into adulthood last night with their own rendition of a red tent (which everyone should read).

6. Christina Kallas not only raises money for AIDS awareness and treatment, she has great relationships at Philly Aids Thrift where she tells people about and shows them Jesus. Her co-workers bought her a lily for Easter out of respect born in their unbelieving hearts just by knowing her.

7. Justin Pascale and Katie Linton were so worn out from teaching Thursday they almost fell asleep at our cell meeting. I am blessed by the teachers who pour out their lives for children.

8. Joshua Schnapf is excited about what the Events Team might be able to do. He wants to combine the imagination he gets from working with the Barnes Foundation with his life in Christ. He walks into our space and imagines art flourishing. Lovely.

9. Audrey Robinson jumped into the cleaning rotation and gets to the building even when it is not her turn in the rotation, I understand. You can’t have too many friends like that.

10. Toni Gardner and Kelly Musser both jumped into Rachel Sensenig’s cell to help give the leadership for multiplication. Daring women are what we need.

The more people I named the more I could name. But I decided on ten in advance. Maybe you’d like to add a few to the list yourself. The world can keep you awake at night – it is such a mess. But if we turn our sights on the resurrection life Jesus keeps raising from the dying things all around, it makes it easier to rest.