Tag Archives: Sacrifice

Lent is Over. Now What?

During the last 60,480 minutes I’ve missed a few things. That’s 1,008 hours for those of you not handy with math. Forty-two days. That’s how long I gave up TV and radio for Lent. Now several days after Easter, the day Lenten fast’s finish, I’m wondering if I really missed anything.

Sure, news happened, even important news. But did I really miss anything?

Rick Santorum suspended his presidential campaign. Newsman Mike Wallace, banjo virtuoso Earl Scruggs, and painter Thomas Kincade all passed. These were great losses. Looming less large, so did Scottish champion darts player, Jocky Wilson and probowler LaVerne Carter.

Also during Lent, Madonna was banned from a talk show, Lindsay Lohan was released from probation and given a warning by a judge, and Ninjas attacked a medical marijuana delivery man.

Depending on your point of view, I may or may not have missed anything.

Sacrifice is always dangerous. It’s an act of release, opening oneself up, vulnerability. When you give something up or away, you always stand the chance of ending up empty-handed or, worse, hurt. That’s also why sacrifice is powerful.

But often in taking a risk, we discover that our sacrifice also makes room in life for something new. That’s why, in my opinion, I don’t think I missed anything in my self-imposed media ban.

I gained.


My daily thoughts have not been held captive by the commercially driven yammering of some talking head or disembodied voice. I’ve not spent one moment worrying about who the next President of the U.S. might be (though I will inform myself and vote), whether it might rain on my parade that day or not, or what the insane governments in Iran and North Korea might do.

My mind has been free to notice life and people near and around me. I’ve taken more pictures, seen spring fight off the blandness of winter, and my voice memo function on my iPhone is full of ideas for sermons, books, articles, and blogs. I’ve rediscovered music. I feel wildly creative. I started writing poetry again.  And I’m partnering with gifted musician, Cliff Hutchison, in writing song lyrics. I’ve prayed for my friends and family more consistently as God brings their names and faces to mind in the absence of media noise.

I gained.


I simply don’t feel as rushed. Standing in my living room as night closes down the day, I’ve often asked myself what I should do next.  It’s a wonderful, languid feeling. Usually I’d be vegging in front of the TV. I’ve taken longer walks with Dee Dee, my wife, and had spontaneous conversations with her. Gone to bed earlier. I have time to write my novel and I’ve read around seven books. Leif Enger’s novel “So Brave, Young, and Handsome” gets better each time I read it. I’ve journaled almost everyday of 2012.

I’m gaining.


It’s not been all sweetness and light, however. This Lenten silence has allowed me to recognize who I am and who I’m not. I, maybe like you, am a pretty flawed person. The noise of TV and radio often allowed me to cover that fact. My journals are just as full of inanities, complaints, and judgements as they are prayers, poems, and pretty prose. And some things have only shifted. Instead of carrying on an imaginary debate with some TV commentator, I now do so with a Facebook friend. Argh.

The ancient but honest theologian and philosopher, Paul of Tarsus, expressed it this way, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” 

Lent’s Over. Now What?

Still I’m not willing to give the reins of even my messy life back to some advertising executive pulling levers behind a curtain. Monday I watched, or rather slept through, the Colorado Rockies’ home opener. But, I’m not going back. Yet. I’ve gained too much to gorge myself on media again. The silence has been exceedingly rich and I’ve seen living spiritually–for me–cannot happen in a world dominated by media noise.

After  60,480 minutes I’ve found I missed nothing. Rather I gained–even if the most disconcerting as well as comforting truth is that I cannot live spiritually, become a better person, on my own. I must agree with Paul again. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Eugene C. Scott loves listening to the blues, which has nothing to do with this blog, but is worth saying anyway. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.


Filed under Uncategorized

The Question

by Jadell Forman

So, one day, many years ago, I’m waitressing at The Happy Chef…

I have the section by the bathrooms.  I don’t like this section.  My friend/coworker once complained about that section, listed all her reasons, and started me thinking the same.

It’s the place where big parties usually sit (and big parties usually make a big mess but rarely leave a big tip); and if there are kids in high chairs and booster seats, they eat crackers and leave an explosion of crumbs.

At least it’s mid-afternoon, when business is slow.  The hostess, after moving together several tables, passes by and tells me to expect a party of fourteen.

Oh, yippee.

As I’m preparing water glasses, four of the party enter my section.  Three thirty-something men and an older woman, all with jet black, wavy hair, and not from my small town.  Two of the men are clearly brothers, almost identical in appearance, pretty darn cute, and the spitting image of the woman I assume to be their mom.  The other guy is normal height and not cute at all, yet…interesting, in an attractive way.

The other three defer to him, choosing their seat after he chooses his.  He sits at the end closest to my waitress station, with his back toward me, facing the plate glass windows.  The mother sits across from him, facing but not noticing me.  One son sits next to her; the other, next to odd-ball guy.

Immediately after everyone is seated, the woman catches the odd guy’s attention and does sort of an Eastern bow.  She joins her hands in a prayer position, closes her eyes, and bows her head.

And I’m thinking, Now that’s weird.

The odd guy says, “What do you want?”

With her hands still joined, she raises her head, meets his eyes, and says, “Give me your word that my sons will be your right- and left-hand men when you take over.”

Take over!  Take over what? Images of President Carter and foreigners holding hostages come to mind. 

The brothers look at the woman, with huge eyes, dropped jaws, and amused grins, as if to say, Dang, Mom!  That’s ballsy of you! Then they look at take-over guy, eager for his response.

The guy says to the woman, “You have no idea what you’re asking.”  Then he looks at the brothers.  I’m not sure if he’s mad, or considering if these guys can handle the job, or what.  But I expect him to say something.  Something like, Can you handle the job?  Or, Did you put your mother up to this?  He’s looking at them intently. I can tell, because when he and the brother next to him look at each other, I see their profiles.  Then he speaks to the brothers: “Can you drink the cup I’m about to drink?”

Omigosh!  The water. I’d forgotten all about it, fourteen filled glasses, setting on my tray, which I promptly pick up, with a turn toward the table.

“Sure, why not?” the brothers say with a shrug and glance at each other.

As I step out of my waitressing station, I step into their drama, but act like I haven’t.  “Hi, my name’s Jadell…” I glance at the brothers, now in non-silhouette light—and, holy moly, they are cute!  Blushing like all of us waitresses do when Mike the new cop comes in, I set down their water glasses, and their mom’s, while finishing my schpiel.  “…I’ll be your waitress today.  Would anyone like coffee?”  I set down take-over guy’s water, and look him in the eye.

He’s smiling at me, glances at my name tag, and smiles again, as if he knows me.  Everything inside—bones, blood, organs—turns to warm wax, and I want to be his friend, and sit down at his table and talk.  Now that I’m looking at him straight on, he doesn’t look like a take-over guy.

“Maybe later,” he says.

I return his smile, sure I’m his favorite person or something.  And I wonder if he’s heard good things about me from the hostess.  I continue setting down glasses at the other ten place settings.

What a great day.  What a great section.

Pretending to focus on my job, I watch him out of the corner of my eye.  He’s leaning back, with one arm draped over the back of his chair, using his other hand to twist his glass of water in quarter turns while it sets on the table.  Looking, turning, as if looking at different angles of a thought.

“Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup.  But as to awarding places of honor, that’s not my business.  My Father is taking care of that.”

Okay, so, it’s a family business.  That’s safe.  That’s cool.  Nothing earth-shaking.

At this point, I thought I could relax.  But that wasn’t true, because the earth sure shook when the rest of the group showed up.

I’ll tell you about that next week.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Word of the Lord-A Vision to Son-of-a-monkey-wrench

Cartoon rendering of author Eugene C. Scott

The word of the Lord came to me (or maybe it was the spicy pizza I had for dinner).

“Son-of-a-monkey-wrench,” the Lord said (He often calls me that. I’m not sure why).

“Here am I, Lord,” I muttered.

“Open your eyes and I will show you a vision you are to write for your Daily Bible Conversation Blog,” the Lord boomed.

I opened my eyes and raised my head off the pillow. I had read Ezekiel before going to bed and this felt terrifyingly familiar.

“But, Lord,” I argued (usually not a good idea). “I already know what I’m going to write.”

“Behold,” said the Lord as he grabbed me by the hair and lifted me into the stars.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Ezekiel 7:1-9:11

Hebrews 5:1-14

Psalm 105:1-15

Proverbs 26:28

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

Hebrews 5:1-14: The unknown author of Hebrews makes a complicated and brilliant argument about Christ as high priest who alone can intercede between us and a holy God. He tells us this priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek. This must have been a reference his readers understood. Melchizedek is considered a prefigure of Christ (Hebrews 7:3) because Genesis 14:18-20 does not mention his genealogy. Many scholars, then and now, built theological arguments on what a passage does not say as much as what it does. This seems to be the case here. It speaks to a timelessness and holiness human priests cannot claim.

These are the kinds of passages that often frustrate people and their attempts to study the Bible. But don’t be discouraged. The clear foundational truths we need to love God and live our lives are far more plentiful than Melchizedek-type passages. Nevertheless, the author calls us to stop subsisting on spiritual milk and to carve up some meaty theology, to dive into the deep things of God.


The Lord hauled me through the night sky. Below me a light shone on all manner of buildings: tall steepled buildings with stained glass, white, sharp roofed ones too, squat functional edifices, massive sprawling complexes, and tiny leaning buildings marched all in lines. Each different except they all had a cross on the roof stabbing into the sky.

“My church,” the Lord whispered.

Suddenly we swooped down and a tall steepled building rose before us. It had four sides and wide doors, locked with chains through the ornate handles, on each side. “Members Please Enter Through Other Door” a sign read on each door.

“She is fearful,” whispered the Lord. “She believes she must stay safe within her walls.”

Further on, upon a hill, stood a structure bristling with spires, boasting ornate crosses, and faced with glorious stained glass, telling the great story. It was beauty and intricacy beyond imagination, earth touching heaven. Reaching the cathedral, wishing to see the beauty of the interior, I sought to enter but God breathed a strong wind against me.

“This is not My church,” God said.

“Lord, how can that be?” I asked, eyeing the magnificent structure.

He smiled. “It is beautiful, but is made of stone, glass, and wood and is held together by mortar, nails, and steel. My church is grander still. Made of flesh and blood and gathered and knit together by the Spirit of my Son, she is My only bride.”

I slumped against the marble wall, disappointed. God pulled me on.

I laughed, though, as we entered the next church. Here was flesh and blood. Children. Balls, games, toys, and puzzles were scattered across the floor.

What fun, I thought. Then I gaped. Near the altar two boys and two girls sat in a circle cross-legged passing sticks of lit dynamite from one to the other. I rushed over. Meanwhile they laughed and tossed the dangerous package across the circle. I looked to the Lord.

“My church plays at her relationship with Me. She has forgotten how mighty and dangerous is the power of My love,” He said weeping.

A fierce wind rushed through the many open doors and windows of the next edifice. Its pews, rooms, and hallways were empty and barren. Outside busy individuals rushed by. Not one greeted another. Bibles bulged in their pockets and crosses dangled from their necks.

“Each of them have forgotten the other,” God gasped. “They no longer know they were called to live, to serve, to worship together.”

Next we flowed through the open doors of a huge building. As far my eyes could see, sat people in recliners each with a TV screen. A sad blue light washed over each. Some laughed, some cried, some slept, some fidgeted, none looked from side to side.

The Lord spoke, “She thinks I Am just another thing to be consumed and they are easily entertained.”

Our final visit was strangest of all. Inside a long narrow structure sat lines of baby highchairs. Each chair held a cherub-like person with a colorful bib around his neck.

“Feed me! Feed me! Feed me!” each cried to a man in a robe who ran from highchair to highchair spooning food into their open mouths. But the food he provided only made them cry out the more. Soon the man slumped on the altar and the tumult increased.

“They refuse to grow up and eat solid food. They expect My servants to carry them and will not stand on their own faith,” the Lord complained. “Going from place to place, they search for faster and easier food.”

Suddenly we were back in my room.

“My people,” said God in a hushed voice, “have forgotten too much.”

I wiped tears from my face. “What about my church, Lord?” I stammered.

The Lord laughed a great thundering, rolling sound. “Before the foundations of the earth, I created her, through time immemorial, I have cared for her, on the cross, I redeemed her, with My gifts, I commission her, into eternity I call her. Your church, Son-of-a-monkey-wrench? Your church?”

Silence stretched across the night sky.

  1. Which passage spoke most to you?
  2. What did the four have in common?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com


Filed under Uncategorized