Book Review: Thirst by Scott Harrison

I had first heard of Thirst, while listening to Rob Bell’s podcast, The Robcast. The author, Scott Harrison has a great story to share with his readers which speaks to our own broken human nature on multiple levels. First, it speaks to the individual brokenness that Scott does not try to hide. Second, it speaks to the brokenness of our own world and the inability that we have claimed to be able to get everyone a clean glass of water to drink. If you are looking for something to stir your soul, this book will fulfill that need.

Scott Harrison starts by sharing his story of the good Christian boy gone bad. He became a club promoter, but realized that there was something more to life that drinking all night and sleeping in until late in the afternoon. He would spend money nearly as fast as he could make it. 

As he began to listen to where he was being called he served on a Mercy Ship and out of that experience started Charity:Water. The lives that Charity:Water has touched and changed is incredible as they reach out to those that do not have access to clean water. The ups and downs of the non-profit industry resonate in the book and it is amazing how quickly it grew. 

Charity:Water is not a Christian organization, but it’s heart reflects that of Jesus Christ’s as they reach out to bring a better life to as many people as possible. This book brought me joy and a greater sense of my own call.

Joy is Enough

daisy-field-in-summer

September 24, 2017

Matthew 20:1-16

I have had the opportunity to work in many different environments over the last twenty plus years. Since my graduation from college, I have worked for seven different companies and churches. I have been paid hourly, a salary, and even by commission. My favorite form of compensation in my management career was hourly. I knew the hours that I put in and I knew what to expect on my next paycheck. I may have a roundabout idea when I was paid commission, but it was always a surprise. When I calculated the number of hours I worked and the salary I was being paid while in the grocery industry, it was depressing.

When we dive into our gospel text this morning, we are met with assumptions and crushed expectations. If you broke down the hourly rate that each of the laborers received, those that were hired first were paid the least. This is something that the U.A.W. would have been all over!

The laborers in question, the ones that have sweated all day in the hot sun, are not getting anything less then what was promised to them. The landowner said that he would give them a fair wage. A wage that honestly, was just enough to live on. No more, no less. They had no problem with this. The laborers agreed to it that morning when they took the landowner up on his offer. So, where is the problem again?

Oh yeah, those that were hired later in the day received the same wage as those that were present when the sun first broke upon the field. The first laborers assumed that after seeing the last laborers receive one denarius, they would surely get a bonus on what had already been promised to them. (I am sure you know what is said about people that assume!) The landowner does not deviate from his promise and in this we have an anger that builds up in those that feel they were shortchanged. They receive what they need, no more no less. In this, we are reminded of the manna in the wilderness that Moses and the people of Israel received from God. God supplies just what they need, and if they horde, it is gone by the morning.

When was the last time you felt shortchanged? Think about it for a minute!

It may have been a time that you feel you did not get paid for the proper amount of work that you had done. It may have been that time you did not get the job that you thought was coming your way; perhaps, you got looked over for a promotion.

While the laborers hired first thing in the morning thought they deserved more, and rightly so, they fell into the trap of comparing themselves to others. While you may have not been able to think of an example where you felt shortchanged, I am sure you can more easily think of a situation when you compared yourself to another person. We are always comparing ourselves to others. We compare jobs. We compare houses. We compare cars. We compare athletic ability. We even compare our children.

When we start comparing everything, we leave no room for joy. The comparisons begin to take over our lives. We are always striving for more. A bigger house! A fancier car! A better job!

And where does this get us? Farther away from joy! If you remember, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. In joy, we are embraced by something greater than simple happiness. It  gets deep into our beings. Joy cannot come from any material possessions.

The laborers that are grumbling in our parable this morning have left no room for joy in their lives. They have earned enough to provide for their families. In this truth they should be joyful, however, they are too busy comparing. In this parable, Jesus is not trying to justify the landowner. I don’t believe Jesus would be please with the fact that women get paid less then men for the same job. Or that people of color get paid less for the same job as those of their white counterparts.

What Jesus is talking about here is the kingdom of heaven! When we come to finally experience the kingdom of heaven, it should not matter what are neighbors earn. It should not matter who has what and who does not. In the kingdom of heaven, God provides everything that we need. This is the promise that Jesus is making to us in this parable. We have a generous God and this generosity is abundant in the kingdom of heaven.

It does not begin in heaven though. God provides for us here and now.

At the table we encounter Jesus Christ in the bread and wine. Are you going to come up and see that your neighbor received a bigger piece of bread and complain about it? No!!! God meets us where we are at in the bread and wine. In the bread and wine we are all fed and nourished in the promise that Jesus made to us in that last Passover meal he ate with his disciples. He promised to be with us in the bread and the wine and in this we are renewed, but more importantly, we are reminded of the forgiven that is granted to us by no merit of our own. In this forgiveness we are able to find joy as it is given to us by the Spirit.

Let us pray…

Lord of joy, we give thanks for the renewal of life that we find every week at the table. In this reminder, may we be filled with joy and carry it forward into the week to come. May we spread it to those that we converse, and may it allow us to diminish our need to compare and rest in you alone. Amen.

Advent Devotions December 22

advent-4th-01

Ephesians 2:13-18

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.

Today is the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. It is the day that we see the least amount of daylight and thus also the point from which the light starts to breakthrough the darkness and our days once again start getting longer.

Many churches on this day, or around this time of the season, will have what they call a Blue Christmas service. For many folks that suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), the short days and the absence of sun heading into the winter can be downright depressing. Blue Christmas can be for these folks. It can also be for  those that simply do not equate Christmas to a joyous time, either there have been some deaths of loved ones that have happened around this time or simply they have bad memories of Christmas past. We must remember that while we rejoice in Jesus’ birth, others are dreading what the memories of the Christmas season may bring.

Let us pray.

Comforting God, be with us on this shortest day of the year, bringing the promise of light to banish the darkness. Be with those whom Christmas does not bring joy and instead an uneasiness. Bless them and provide them peace. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 13

advent3

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The third Sunday of Advent has often been celebrated as Gaudete Sunday through much of the Western Churches major denominations. This includes Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. Gaudete, which is Latin, means to “Rejoice.”The third Sunday of Advent gives us a chance to rejoice in God in the midst of the rest of the Advent season which is a little more penitential.

Many churches have a pink candle in their Advent Wreath for this day. To set this day apart to rejoice in the Christmas to come brings us into an expectation of the light coming into the world. While we still have more than a week before Christmas arrives, it is nice to take a moment to rejoice and not worry.

Let us pray.

Joyous God, we give thanks for the times of joy in our lives. We ask for your presence to direct and guide us throughout the rest of this Advent season. AMEN.

Advent Devotions December 8

adventcandles2

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Are we looking back or are we looking forward? These words of the psalmist can definitely be looking back and rejoicing the time that Zion was restored, and the people of God were brought back to their ancestors homeland. These verses could also be seen as a hope for the future to come, especially during this season of Advent.

To rejoice is to be filled with laughter and the feeling of complete joy. To rejoice lifts burdens that have weighed us down. To rejoice wipes away all of the tears that have come to us during times that we are lost and desolate. To rejoice is healing.

Let us pray. God, we give thanks for this Advent season and rejoice in the little things of life that we bring us joy and healing. May we continue to abide in the hope and promise that is yet to come. AMEN.