Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Prayers I've Never Prayed

I have several book titles rattling around inside of my mind. Friends and family tell me I should be careful about saying them out loud because somebody is likely to steal the title, write the book and make a bunch of money. Well, today's blog is me not being careful. In fact, the title is one of those book titles. The difference is the book would have to be written under an assumed name to protect the innocent, the ignorant and the outright stupid. All three of which might just be me.

Have you ever gone to a "prayer meeting" and sat there listening to public prayers and wondered, "Who are we really talking to here?". When the prayer goes something like, "Dear Lord, You see the need of Brother Jones. He is in the St. Dude's Hospital with severe colon seizures"; Who are we really talking to? Wasn't that just a 2-fer moment where we snuck an announcement into the prayer? Or better yet, how about the "Prayer Breakfasts" where we talk about prayer for an hour and offer up 3 minutes of praying to bless the food?

All that aside, my frustration as a pastor is that I have way too much "rascal-randy" running around inside me when I see certain situations, know too much about what's really happening and then have somebody ask, "Pastor; would you just lead us in prayer about this?" (On a side note: have you noticed how it is the nice Christian thing to say the word, "just" in every sentence? JUST pray.....JUST trust the Lord....JUST do your best.....I'm JUST so concerned?) Anyway, rascal randy runs up into my mind and Pastor Randy has to make a decision.....(by the way, in my internal theater, r.r. looks and sounds like Bugs Bunny and P.R. looks and sounds like Elmer Fud). Got the picture?

Do I let r.r. pray? "Dear Lord. You see the incredibly short sighted decisions these people have made. How, when faced with self-preservation versus sacrifice, they have chosen to do what they want without bothering to ask You what You might want. Now that they are backed into a corner, they need You to bail them out. Please ignore the obvious patterns of bad choices they make. Please step aside from Your Holy Mental Health and be a gigantic codependent Daddy and clean up their mess with the least amount of inconvenience to them so that within 90 days of this time, we will be right back where we started. Amen" (carrot chewing noises followed by a long silence).

Funeral prayers by r.r. might clear the room. "O Lord! This guy was such a jerk! Some folks are here today just to make sure he's gone!" Wedding prayers might get r.r. killed. "Almighty God. This couple is clueless. They're saying 'I do' when they should be saying, 'I duh'." And most of what r.r. would pray would simply get P.R. run out of town and forced into the federal witness protection program in another state. Christians rival the Mafia when they're mad.

That's why prayers are NOT 2-fers where we sneak announcements and gossip into the mix. "Prayer Breakfasts" should be called "Let's Get Together and Eat Too Much and Laugh Alot and Pray Short Prayers at the Beginning and the End Meetings".

Thankfully, P.R. has won my internal debate with r.r. for who gets to pray out loud."Just" please pray for me that I won't let r.r. accidently win someday, open my eyes and look at a room full of church folks loading pistols, sharpening knives and thumping baseball bats in the palms of their hands. At which point, r.r. and P.R, better have legs like Bugs Bunny that spin like blurring wheels and make that ricochet sound running out stage left.

Monday, February 06, 2006

When God Attacks

One night, last October I was getting ready to speak at a Saturday night youth rally in the Twin Cities. The band was spiritually and authentically on fire with true and pure worship. I was a wonderful wreck trying to blink through my tears to keep eye contact with the worship leader so I would know when it was my time to preach. I suddenly and without any personal intention on my part, was seeing a vision. If that makes you nervous, I cannot help you. Its true, its lovely and it happened.

I saw a gigantic icy white lion. Not C.S. Lewis' Lion. To date, I still haven't seen the movie, and besides, this vision happened before the fanfare or even the ads. The lion was ravenous, glorious and lasered in on me. All at once I heard God's Voice saying to me, "Randy, I want to attack your soul!" I do not know how loud I spoke back, but I do know I responded immediately by saying, "Please, come and attack me, now!" The lion blurred directly at my face as I threw my arms wide open. When he came upon me I was bathed in his whiteness. When the icy colored fog lifted, I looked in my lap. The lion became an enormous, delicate Lamb. I shared the experience that night and the next morning, at my home church.

Now fast forward 3 months to last week. One of our assistant pastors, Steve, came to me with a book in hand and said, "Pastor, look at the part I highlighted". Here is what I read: "I will not leave you alone. You are mine. I know each of my sheep by name. You belong to Me. If you think I am finished with you, if you think I am a small god that you can keep at a safe distance, I will pounce upon you like a roaring lion, tear you to pieces, rip you to shreds, and break every bone in your body. Then I will mend you, cradle you in my arms, and kiss you tenderly." Brennan Manning, "Lion and Lamb".

I am currently basking in this Attack. Outside of God's ravening brillance I can faintly hear and see the hell that hates God's work in me. Just beyond the glory of God's hunger for me I am also vaguely aware of people who don't understand or like what they see God doing to me. Unfortunately for them, they are too terrified to step into the fray to "rescue" me. I say "unfortunately for them" because if they understood this Attack, they would be the rescued and not the rescuers.

An Old Testament man named Jacob wrestled with God and walked funny for the rest of his life. I expect as a New Testament man, I will come out of this Attack a dancing fool, for the Lamb of God. WATCH ME! If I've said that once in the past 6 months, I've said it a hundred times. WATCH ME!