Thursday, July 31, 2008

Power in a Name

…do everything in the name
of the Lord Jesus.

Colossians 3:17

As a participant on a panel I heard a group of teenagers once ask, “If Jesus was all about love, why have so many been killed in his name?” The question intrigued me, as did the uncertainty of the panelists. In response, I asked, “What events are you thinking about specifically?” One shot back, “the Crusades” another followed with “Hitler killing the Jews.” Their only points of reference were events instigated by Christians from the 11th century and they put them along side a 20th century event perpetrated by a mad man. Now I was the one uncertain how to proceed!

We live in a period of history where the past is muddled for the majority of individuals. Allowing events to flow into each other we’re not able to make distinctions between what is truth and what is fiction. If, as Jesus followers, Truth is our guide then it becomes an absolute necessity in this environment to know what we’re talking about.

If doing everything in the name of Jesus is our compass then we better know everything involving the power of His Name. Jesus sends out his disciples with only His name and they heal, restore; changing lives through the Kingdom message.

The name of Jesus is both powerful and testimonial. Doing everything in the name of Jesus demands our time to intimately know Him and allowing it to saturate our souls, causing a life transformation. Think about the end result, however--a powerful transformation in our world.

I pray that the teenagers will know that transformation.

Jesus, thank you for giving
me the power of Your name.
Be my teacher.
I am committed to learning
more about how Your name
can transform my life and
the world.
The Healing of the Paralytic by Netherlandish (16th century painter) National Gallery of Art

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Food for Thought

While standing at a busy Los Angeles intersection a buzzing noise and then a voice broke through and entered my consciousness--"Lady, it may have sounded like we crashed landed, but the engine is still running, the engine is still running." The light having turned green I quickly moved on, leaving the speaker and his grocery cart of possessions.

It wasn't the first time that some bizarre comment was uttered within my hearing but what has stuck with me, however, is that the comment may not have been that "crazy" after all. As I continued down the street it occured to me that when reading the news or listening to world events we may think that it "sounds" like we, as a creation, have crashed landed. All the evidence is there--war, famine, unrest, genocide, land destruction.

But I believe that God is in control and that makes the Engine still running. We, however, as Jesus followers cannot buy a ticket to the End Times Revue and then scramble for a front row seat. If the Engine is still running our work is not over and we have a responsibility to be a part of repairing what has been broken.

When God says we won't know when He will return we might want to take him at his word. We will be surprised. God is calling us to be diligent workers to the very end. God has given us the earth to care for. Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of people." The Holy Spirit surrounds us with guidance and direction.

Since hearing the street person's wisdom I have had to ask myself--

If the engine is still running what am I doing to help restore what God has created?

How am I reaching out to broken hearts and giving them the promise"it may feel like you've crashed landed, but God is in control, Jesus loves you and the Holy Spirit is with you because, you see, the Engine is still running."

Is my heart and spirit open each day to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing me?

It may sound like we've crashed landed, but praise the Lord, the Engine is still running!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Angel Circles

God’s angel sets
up a circle of
protection around
us while we pray.

Psalm 34:7 (The Message)

The political environment at the time was such that religious freedom had been abolished. There were serious consequences for anyone who expressed or practiced belief in God. Undeterred and yet knowing that their lives were at stake, three young men boldly prayed and committed their lives to God. The next thing they remember was laying face down on a glowing floor surrounded by white heat. Once they realized that they were still breathing they stood up and discovered that they weren’t alone. Walking around them was God’s angel. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego walked out of the furnace whole.

It’s an old story but it doesn’t make it any less true. Google “angel stories” on the internet and you’ll find hundreds of personal accounts where people have experienced an encircling angel. Granted, many of the accounts crave belief in angels while being skeptical about the existence of God. Nevertheless, most people want to believe they have some kind of angelic protection. We can't bear to think that we’re in this world alone.

God, as well as His promised protection, is reality for the Jesus follower. No matter the circumstances or the surrounding darkness He has promised to respond to our prayers with an angel circle. When we're not able to see something with our eyes we can become skeptical about its reality. However, what we can experience emotionally and spiritually as a result of our prayers is a true reality "show"—we can, like Daniel’s friends, walk through fire and come out whole.

Thank you God for Your protecting angel circles.
Help me to understand more each
day that while I may walk through fire
I will come out whole.
The image used with this devotional is from South African artist, Magrit Prigge titled, Fiery Furnace. For more of her art check out

Monday, July 28, 2008

A New Look

On Crooked Knees has received a "new" look which hopefully is easier on the eyes while reading. Your feedback would be appreciated! My prayer for you today is that God would reveal himself in a unique and amazing way.

Unexpected Requests

And as they led him
away, they seized one
Simon of Cyrene,
who was coming in

from the country,
and laid on him the cross…

Luke 23:26

Whipping into a parking space I hurried toward my destination. This was a quick errand. Crossing my path stepped a well dressed stranger. Making a move around her a question stopped me abruptly, “Would you pray for me?” Impatiently listening to her story I promised to “keep her in my prayers.” Allowing my “schedule” to take precedent over her unexpected request I didn’t pray for her in the moment.

When Simon of Cyrene left his home early one morning he never anticipated that by the end of the day an unexpected request would seal his name in Christian history. A trip to Jerusalem had probably been planned for several months. He had made all the appropriate arrangements for his absence and was probably looking forward to the special events planned for the week. But, when he entered the gates he was caught in a hive of hostility with hands grabbing at his clothes and unexpectedly an immense weight was transferred from a condemned man to Simon’s shoulders. It was an unexpected request that would live with him the rest of his life.

Walking away from my “would you pray for me” request I was ashamed by my inaction. My scheduled day had excluded any possibility of a Holy Spirit interaction. I missed an opportunity to nourish a hungry heart. God, in His redemption, offered me another opportunity a few years later. Standing amidst a swarm of people an unexpected request came again. This time I responded immediately and haven’t been the same since.

Jesus, thank you for the
gift of a new day.
With the rising of the sun
You offer a “do over.”
Help me to schedule my day
to allow for, as well as anticipate,
Holy Spirit moments.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On Vacation

These past few days I've been on a family vacation. Now I realize that I just won't be able to continue to write for the next four days. So, look for a new devotional on Monday and if perchance I have an opportunity to write I'll grab it! For today, I pray that the following will be a point of meditation for you today and perhaps for the days to come.

May you know God's blessing today.

It is by God's grace that our feet don't lose contact with the path we set out to follow. We say, 'Here I am, Lord' when He calls. He calls continually to the willing and the unwilling. It is not so much our ability He has need of, but our availability.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Friendly Wounds

And if one asks him, “What are these
wounds on your back?” he will say,
“The wounds I received in the house of
my friends.”

Zechariah 13:6

Privilege and luxury were Malika’s daily life as the adopted daughter of the king. As companion to the princess she was afforded the rights of the monarchy. Besides missing life with her birth family there wasn’t any reason to believe that her opulent life would change. However, a failed coup by her birth father, the king’s general, tilted her world, dumping her into prison along with her mother and five siblings. The king, whom she had considered a second father, became her jailer for the next twenty years.

Betrayal and injury by friends or family is perhaps the most difficult wound from which to heal. There exists a vulnerable factor. Here are people who know you and have seemingly used that knowledge as a weapon. There seems to be no point of return. Forgiveness is improbable.

While in the vortex of emotional pain thinking about forgiveness seems impossible and humanly speaking it is. Left to our own devices we’re tempted to keep the wound fresh opening ourselves to further infection. In our inability to forgive the life of Jesus and his own friendly wounds can become our inspiration. The gift of Jesus’ humanity gives us a “how to forgive” guide when it comes to being wounded by those who know us best.

With the help of His Father, Jesus accepted his friendly wounds as indications that the one who was wounding had a greater need--His Father’s love. Accepting our friendly wounds with the Jesus spirit we, too, will discover that living in the kingdom means opening the gift of forgiveness.

Jesus, thank you for the
gift of your humanity.
Your willingness to be born
into this world of hurt
shows me that I am not alone.
But your life also opens the
way to a life of forgiveness.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Food for Thought

While I grew up in a Christian tradition that emphasized extemporaneous prayers (and I continue to treasure that encouragement) I have, through out the years also grown to appreciate the written prayers of those who have gone before me. Here is another from John Calvin. The language is different from what we may use today, but the thoughts are as pertinent and signficiant.

Almighty God, since we are the work and creation of your hands, grant us to realize that we do not live and move except in you alone. And grant, we pray, that we would be so subject to you that we are not only ruled by your hidden providence but also give such evidence of our willing obedience and submission to you, as children should, that we zealously glorify your name on earth, until we attain to the enjoyment of that blessed inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May you experience God's blessing this weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Food for Thought

For the next couple of days I am on vacation with my family, but, I don't want to break the flow of writing! However, I think that it might be best if I post writings from individuals whose walk with God has formed and shaped my own life as well as millions of others.

When you're part of the Reformed tradition John Calvin is pretty important. He believed that prayer should be thought of as a conversation with God, not a one sided monologue. A conversation, as you know, involves two or more speakers who talk as well as listen. Here is one of Calvin's extemporaneous prayers after a time of preaching--

Almighty God, since you so kindly invite us to yourself and do not cease, even if we are deaf, to extend your grace toward us, grant that we obey you willingly and allow ourselves to be ruled by your Word. And grant that we might obey you steadfastly, not only for a day or a short time, but until we have completed the course of our journey and are gathered together in your heavenly rest, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Marks of a Jesus Follower

A gentle reminder for us all.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfuly expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh wih your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other, don't be stuck up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Romans 12:9-19 (The Message)

Whew! If Christians world wide lived passionately according to these character traits, think what the world would be. Let's pray with all diligence!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

You Choose

See, I have set before
you today life and good,
death and evil.

Deuteronomy 30:15

From the moment of understanding we make choices. Stop sometime and listen to parents “reasoning” with their children—"you can stop crying and enjoy the park or you can keep crying and make yourself miserable." There is, for all of us, a choice between this or that whatever this or that may be. Sometimes our choices are overwhelming and we long for someone else to make the decision.

Taking responsibility for our choices becomes even more challenging, particularly if our choice has been a disaster. It’s so much easier to load the blame on someone else. To admit to ourselves, much less to others, that we made a poor choice, well, that’s like our ability to climb Mt. Everest.

God created us to choose. With it comes a tremendous amount of freedom. But, oh the weight of responsibility that counter balances that freedom when we respond to the call, “Follow me.” From that point every choice defines who we are in Jesus Christ. Every choice matters, but the choice to get up and follow Jesus should change how we make our decisions.

God knows the disaster that will result when He tells Adam to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When Eden is destroyed, with Adam and Eve pointing their fingers, what results is that even “a little evil” erodes the life of a Jesus follower. Consequently, it takes heart, soul and mind to choose to follow Jesus and live according to God’s “rules.” But isn’t that better than death?

Jesus, thank you for giving me life by
Your death on the cross.
Because of you Eden’s
destruction is no longer.
Help me to make choices
that will bring me to the good life in You.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Storm Survival

He made the storm be
still, and the waves
of the sea were hushed.

Psalm 107:29

Most Jewish men in the first century had put to memory the Psalms. With just a trigger any psalm could rise to the surface bringing solace and encouragement, praise and thankfulness. Scripture was at the tip of their tongues, so, no matter the situation they had a Godly word upon which to rely.

I wonder then if the disciples, who were on the boat with Jesus the night the storm broke out while crossing the Galilee, remembered this verse. Maybe fear prevented them from remembering. They probably woke Jesus with “Do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38) more out of desperation and the need for an extra hand on deck. Nevertheless, isn’t it interesting that if they had remembered this verse in the Psalms they might have behaved less frantically?

When the waters are rising around you what is your first instinct? Too often I hear my voice wailing above the swirling, “Why is this happening now?” scrambling to solve the problem in my own way. What I would like my first thought to be is, he made the storm be still and respond to whatever is troubling me out of that promise. But, first I need to have buried it within my being, making it a part of my living.

We keep so many things in our memory, “just in case”—social security numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, birthdays, passwords. They all help us “survive” in the world. But, knowing and memorizing Scripture will help us more than just “survive” it will help us live.

Jesus, forgive me when I panic
and feel like I have to shake
you awake to calm my storms.
You already know and are ready
to say, “Peace.”
Help me to remember Your words
making them a part of me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Loving Help

If you don’t know what
you’re doing, pray to
the Father. He loves to help.

James 1:5 (The Message)

When their child turned sixteen they realized that one of them would need to be the driving instructor! In the ensuing weeks parent/driving instruction was given with minimal questions asked by the child/student driver who took the stance that, while they had never driven before, they knew what they were doing. After the physical driving test had been failed a few times the questions began. And the father was happy to help!

How often do we have an attitude of already knowing? We’re afraid that asking questions reveals weakness or perhaps lack of intelligence and that isn’t our desired image! Consequently, we live pretending that we know what we’re doing. Then something we confidently created, falls apart and we grudgingly admit that we need help.

When God created us He never intended to watch us from a distance. From the beginning it was His desire to be in communion, or in other words, conversation with us. And, because He created everything He knew how it all worked so He made Himself available for questions. Do you think that Eve ever thought to ask God if there was truth in the snake’s words? She seems to have a moment of hesitancy but then plows on and we now live Eve’s choice of not asking God for help!

Whatever you are presently living, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is no weakness in asking, only strength in the received guidance. Your Father would love to help you.

Jesus, You were in continual
conversation with Your Father.
You weren’t afraid to ask for
His help even at the cross.
Forgive me for thinking that I
can do it all myself.
I don’t know what I’m doing!
Please help me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Food for Thought

For over a year of unemployment we had absolutely no options. It wasn't because we didn't try. We sought opportunities through a variety of avenues but road blocks consistently barred the way. And then suddenly it all changed; opportunity pounded at our door and we were given options beyond our imagination.

One evening while sharing our "predicament" with friends one of them felt God nudging them to give us a Godly word--"God has given you all the choices. Not one of them is perfect but He will bless the choice you make."

Over the next few months as we prayed over the decision for our future I pondered over the "Godly word." God does want to satisfy us with our heart's desires but being a jealous God He wants our total, unrestrained commitment.

When we were lost in employment we learned, once again, this valuable lesson for the very reason that we had no where else to turn. Our future was very uncertain and while hope sounds good there wasn't much of it at the time.

A prayerful decision made, we moved and began a new life. Now as challenges arise we find ourselves grasping the promised blessing by staying committed to the God who gives us our heart's desire.

But I trust in you, O Lord.
I say, "You are my God.
My times are in Your hand.
Psalm 31:14,15

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Glass Living

…for if someone does
not know how to
manage his own
household, how will

he care for God’s church?

I Timothy 3:5

In the midst of her numerous reasons she didn’t attend “certain” congregations was a comment that, as the parent of a "preacher's kid", paralyzed my heart. One particular congregation had been nixed because the pastor’s children were "unruly." Although she wasn’t a parent herself, she figured that if the pastor’s children were “out of control” leadership of the church would produce the same results. Here was a Paul aficionado!

Have you ever wondered what would be the tone if Paul were writing to churches in the 21st century? Even in a cursory reading you’ll discover that Paul’s teachings are distinct and clear cut. There is no wiggle room. In the early church there needed to be clear definitions of the faith to set it apart from all the other gods that were clamoring for attention. Is our society any different? Are we not living in a world that is clamoring to divert our attention away from Jesus Christ?

Pastors and their families are living in this 21st world as well. And, there is no debate—pastors are held and should be held to Paul’s high standard. Christianity has suffered its share of hits by the numerous pastors who have crashed and burned due to sexual misconduct, financial abuse and familial distractions. Human nature apparently wasn’t any different in 62 AD.

But perhaps we could remember our own role in helping our pastors be all that is required. They are human but, unlike their congregations, they live in glass houses. Everyone sees everything.

So, put down any stones and lift up a prayer for your pastor, today.

Jesus, forgive me when I
expect perfection in my pastor.
My own sins I keep well hidden
but often I’m quick to notice
the sins of others.
Today I pray that my pastor
will be encouraged by Your
presence and confident in Your call

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Good Working Order

…when each part
is working properly,
makes the body grow
so that it builds

itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:16c

When my car doesn't function properly, I get frustrated! The bane of my driving experience was a car that looked great on the outside but whose inner workings were in constant conflict. Once, while in the fast lane of a Los Angeles freeway the alternator stopped doing its job. Mechanics say that this is a gradual process but not in my car--the alternator went on “strike” without warning and while the battery tried to keep up the result was my “bane” sitting in the way of whizzing cars whose alternators were doing their jobs just fine!

It’s nothing new the importance of working together, but a little reminder is sometimes helpful. From friendships to families to marriages to businesses to churches if an individual goes on strike the entire “system” is affected.

There is an alarming statistic when it comes to church members “striking.” The average time period that a pastor stays with a congregation, across all denominations, is eighteen months! Studies have discovered that five or fewer people in a church deciding to not work properly causes so much disruption that pastors quickly find themselves broken down.

Each part working properly makes a difference in the life of a church. If you are part of a Christian community remember that you have a unique design and while the community’s success or failure depends on the whole of the parts working properly you are part of the whole. A single “strike” can be the cause of everything coming to a screeching halt.

Jesus, You encouraged us
to be in community
with each other.
Forgive me when I try to do the job
designed for others.
Help me to know how I can be
a proper working part
helping my church to
build itself up in love.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Good Jealousy

I magnify my ministry in order
somehow to make my fellow Jews
jealous, and thus save some of them.

Romans 11:13c-14

It’s an odd way to evangelize, making someone jealous. Jealousy is usually a feeling to be excised out of our lives for the reason that it causes only pain and misery. One definition of jealousy, however, makes Paul’s use of the word rather poignant when it comes to faith--painfully desirous of another’s advantages.

If we were to think about following Jesus as being a cause for jealousy it could be pretty radical! More often than not when we think about evangelism, the act of telling another about one’s passion, we become paralyzed by the thought of having to string together enough words that adequately defines our faith. But, what if we were to throw theological caution to the wind and magnify our Jesus life in a way that whoever heard our story would be painfully desirous of the life we live?

There remains one crucial element. In order to magnify our life we have to believe the life story we’ve been given. Understanding the Bible is a life long adventure but being a Jesus follower is a daily process. If we are open to it, we can experience and acknowledge ways in which God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit make a difference in our lives.

Everyone has God questions. Some you’ll be able to answer, others will prompt you to deeper Bible study. But if you want to be radical and make someone jealous and painfully desirous tell them your Jesus story. It’s a story you’ll know how to tell.

Jesus, the way you told Your story drew crowds!
Thank you for the growing life story
You give me each day.
Help me to speak with passion
and without reservation about
what you have done and are
doing in my life.

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Prayer on July 4th

The genius in which You created all that I can see, hear, smell and touch is amazing to me, Father. Earth, sky, water, hang in a fine balance providing what we need to live. Thank you, Father, for Your creation. Thank you for this world in which You intended for us to live, abundantly and content.

Forgive us, Father, for neglecting your creation. Instead we wildly search for temporary and yet unsatisfying means of happiness. Forgive us when we sit proudly in our freedom land forgetting that You are the reason for the freedom. Forgive us when our eyes rest on the flag more frequently than Your cross.

This world that You created for our enjoyment and contentment is in desperate need of Your peace. Your creation is striving against itself and blindly striking out against unknown and invisible enemies. Only You can restore what is being torn apart. Your peace is what we seek and need.

You said that you came that we might have life and live life abundantly. Help us to rediscover the meaning of those words. Help us not to resignedly sit back, with arms folded, waiting for the end. Give us Your eyes to see the kingdom You created and to work towards the healing of Your creation with all our heart, soul and mind. Amen.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Food for Thought

Columbanus was a tireless Irish missionary monk working in Europe and lived during the period of 543 to 615. He was no stranger to hardship, persecution and controversary. If you know anything about the growth of the Christian faith in Ireland Columbanus will be familiar. He was known also for the strictness of the Rule of Life that he and his followers observed; a rule for living that was widely adopted. Here is another of his writings from his Letter to a Young Disciple.

Be respectful to the worthy, merciful to the poor.

It is no sin to have wealth, but it is sinful to be attracted to wealth. It is the love of money, not money itself, which is the root of all evil.

Aidan, dining one Easter with King Oswald, was himself ill at ease with the feast set before them. Just then a servant arrived to say that many poor people had arrived at the castle asking for alms. Oswald with a wave of his arm ordered their own meal to be taken away and fed to the people outside, and the silver plate broken and distributed between them. Aidan was so overcome that he exclaimed, "May the hand that did this never perish."

Any society or "civilization" may best be judged by the way it treats its weakest members.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Food for Thought

It has all the makings of a full week from taking care of the little six year old next door to visits from old friends. This week's meditations are taken from the writings of Columbanus' Letter to a Young Disciple.

Be submissive to good, unbending to evil.
Our society teaches us to be suspicious of what is good, and to listen passively to whatever is evil. It is imperative that we learn to be teachable and submissive if God is to use us. But even the suggestions of the Thief must be given no opportunity to remain. The difficulty may come in deciding which voice is whose. And time spent with the Shepherd is the surest way of recognizing His voice, and of knowing when an impostor is seeking to persuade us. The true Shepherd would not say that, He does not come to steal, kill or destroy.