Mentality of a Messiah 2

ATMAgain, the long lines here in Buenos Aires provide me with ample opportunities to look into the mind of Jesus. Down here, much of business is still done in hard, cold cash. Many homes are even bought with cash. This makes things especially interesting since the exchange rate is now around 8 Argentine pesos = 1 US dollar. So if you buy a US$150,000 home, you might spend all day counting bills.

The cash based system often makes for long lines at the bank machines. Sure enough, I got stuck behnind an elderly man punching at the keyboard the other day.

He took his card out, then slowly put it back in, pressing the buttons at a rate of one digit per minute.

What did I feel?

Frustration? I was in a hurry after all.

Annoyed? What is the problem with old people anyway?

But couldn’t I have closed my eyes to pray for this man who was slowing down the line and struggling with his old age?

If a person is holding up a line, complaining loudly and selfishly… do I condemn them, or do I lift up my voice silently in prayer and intercession?

We have so many delusions of grandeur about our faith, while the smallest opportunities to practice mercy go wasted.

Be merciful – when it is not convenient – and your mercy is multiplied a hundred-fold.

(Read Mark 5:24-34 to see how the Master did things.)

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Mentality of a Messiah

Police checkpoint, Queens Drive, Swindon (3)We just got back from vacation. While on the road, there were a few police check points which are common here in Argentina.

This led me to think: What might be the different thoughts of people when they see a police car monitoring traffic?

I hope they stop someone else so I can pass.

I hope they don’t stop me.

I hope they don’t stop anyone.

or

I hope they stop me so others may pass by.

Who thinks like the last example? Anyone? Perhaps only one.

Image license & source:  © Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/572431

An hour (or so) at the post office

Here in Argentina there are wonderful things to see and do. Waiting in long lines is not one of these things. When I took my number at the post office, it read “72″. They were serving number 43.  So I sighed and glanced upwards to heaven. From my perch, I observed:

A man who could not stop staring at every young woman that came into the post office. He looked each of them up and down several times. He was fidgety. I know this man. He has been in charge of youth groups and works for an NGO that helps the poor.

A woman wearing a revealing dress. I suppose she wanted everyone to see how great her tan was. (It’s summer down here).

An older disabled man. He held up the line for many long minutes.

A handsome young man, full of life and full of himself. He strutted around as if we should have applauded him.

A young woman lent the disabled man her pen. When her turn was done, she just left the post office and left her pen as a gift to the man.

A middle aged man who complained loudly about the heat and the weak air conditioning.

A pregnant woman smiling at her husband and young son who were waiting outside. Through the glass door she smiled and waved at them lovingly.

The post office worker, who despite the complaints, treated every single person with respect and a smile.

I saw kindness, vanity, lust, struggle, frustration and generosity during my wait. I reflected on my reactions to the actions and appearances of others.

Peeking into the lives of these people, what did I feel?

Did I feel mercy?

Jesus does.

For all.

Never go hungry

Here in Buenos Aires the panaderias (local bread shops) are a great treasure. You find them every 5 or 10 blocks scattered throughout city neighborhoods, and each shop has its own personality. The second best part of them is the smell of the fresh bread baking when you go inside. The best part is eating the bread still warm and soft. The pastries and cakes make deciding all the more fun.

When one of my sons was younger he would cry a lot. Especially when he was hungry. So we would tell him, “You’re hungry. Eat please.”

“NO I’M NOT HUNGRY!” he would cry even though he was starving. We would place a plate of his favorite food in front of him, and he would cry and cry but not take one bite. Finally the smell would win him over and he would eat. The crying stopped instantly.

When I’m hungry all I want is a big juicy steak. I don’t want to watch a movie. I don’t want money. I don’t want a car. I don’t even want a hug. I want meat.

Jesus is the Bread of Life. How many times I cried like my son hungering for this Bread. How many times I tried to nourish myself with other things that were dead.

Living makes us hungry. I went for years and years not eating. Even today I sometimes forget to take of His Word giving me heavenly sustenance. But Christ gives in abundance. This Bread is always there for the taking.

Sometimes all I can muster in my prayers is a simple, “I trust you Jesus.” Just four simple words.

But like that first bite my little boy took from his steaming plate of goodness… it dries up all tears.

My hunger satisified.

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 6:35

Free Brave Fish

I’m giving my books away…

“When I choose to indulge in the luxury of reading, I seek books that are thoughtful, lyrical, passionate and spiritually compelling. I have fallen deeply, hopelessly in love with Brave Fish. Thank you, friend, for sharing yourself.”

That’s what one reader posted recently on my Facebook wall (Thanks Beth!).

On Amazon, Brave Fish reached #1 in “Biographies & Memoirs-Leaders & Notable People” and #2 in “Inspirational Spirituality” during this promotional period.

All my books, including Brave Fish, are free for download on Amazon through tomorrow June 27th.

Enjoy!

Via Crucis; He is never ashamed of us

On Good Friday we walked the Stations of the Cross on the outskirts of the villa. Given the delicate situation, the parish priest decided that it was best not to go into the heart of the slum. As many know, the Stations depict different stages in the Passion of Jesus Christ starting in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending with Jesus entombed or resurrected depending on which version one uses. While I was walking and praying someone asked me if I wanted to carry the cross during part of the procession. I accepted.

Then we came to Station Four: Jesus denied by Peter. Here in Argentina, each station is read at the doorstep of a neighbor’s home…

We recall from Luke 22 that while Jesus was being handed over to the authorities Peter denied knowing Him:
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Here’s the reflection that went at the end of the Bible reading at this station. I leave it in Spanish for those who know it:

Jesús, nos duele mucho cuando un conocido nos trata como un desconocido, especialmente en los momentos de necesidad. Y sabemos que hay veces que te negamos cuando nuestro prójimo nos necesita. Padre, nunca negaste a tu Hijo y nunca nos niegas tampoco. Nunca tienes vergüenza de nosotros.

It says, “Jesus, it hurts us greatly when someone we know treats us as if they don’t know us especially in moments of need. And we know that sometimes we deny You when our neighbor needs us. Father, You never denied your Son and You never deny us either. You are never ashamed of us.”

Upon hearing those words, “You are never ashamed of us”, I imagined that the old woman receiving her neighbors might have been thinking, “I’ve been treated as an unknown many times. But God the Father is not ashamed of me. He is not ashamed of my humble home.” Then I thought of Peter. Perhaps he did not deny Jesus in fear for his life, but rather out of embarrassment. Maybe he was ashamed to be associated with a failure.

But the Father is never ashamed of us. I reflected upon my own shame and failures and upon the loving acceptance that is always there for me in times of deepest need. So at that moment, holding the cross at this family’s doorstep, I felt God’s presence saying, “Behold! These most humble children I exalt today in your eyes. Let them not be ashamed because they are mine and nothing will take them from My Hand. In my Kingdom, those who are first will be last, and those who are last will be first. Blessed are the poor in spirit, who know their need of God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

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JHR