Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting back to normal...sort of

“And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee;...”  Holy Communion, Book of Common Prayer.

When I had my stroke ten years ago, I was fixated on returning “to normal”.  The old joke about ‘where normal is.”  The answer is, “In Illinois, south of Chicago.”  No kidding, Google it. :-)

But I live in Minnesota, not Illinois, and life is no joke.

In the ten plus years I’ve lived with the aftermath of stroke, it did not occur to me to head in any other direction.  It did not occur to me I couldn’t.

But one can’t get there without cleaning up the messes of life.  Many times, people change houses (apartments) to begin a new start without dealing with the most cancerous of our lives - us.

Start with your weekend.  How much time is spent preparing our hearts to worship on the weekend?  What does this even mean?  Too often, we are more prone to play the greeter for our friends.  Remember why you are there.  He is the creator of heaven and earth, the Almighty God, not just a President or Senator.

We also need to clean up our relationships.  Stop playing the wounded warrior, and act the Christian.  Forget who started it.  The Christian is the one who agrees to end hostility. (St. Matthew 5:25)  We can be so childish...ARGH! And these are just two simple, not in-your-face examples.

These two are good whether you’ve had a stroke or not.  Are you normal in these two things?  How are you going to make the changes needed?  Pray for me as I traverse the same ice field.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Philippians 4:6-7 (English Standard Version)  6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Prayer isn’t simply something done in private...or in quiet.  Nor are we to focus on our needs alone.

In taking with a good friend yesterday I was reminded of the import of intercessory prayer, praying for the needs of others.  It struck me that I cannot fulfill Christ’s call to follow Him without praying for others.

So how?  And what kind of things ought we to include in our prayers?

It’s something done in private and private; gathering into small groups or large.  I remember hearing an evangelist speak about prayer and how intent we are on our own.  He said, “It’s like saying, ‘Dear God, Bless me, my wife, our two kids, us four, no more. Amen.’”

In one sense I am a picture of intercessory prayer.  Ten years ago, when I had my stroke, word got out for prayer.  Over the next two months, while I was in the hospital and rehab, my wife received emails, cards, letters from all over the world.  She put much of that into a binder so I can remember the great generosity of Christians of all sorts; Anglicans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists, independents, etc. 

Christians worldwide were called to pray for this Gimpy Bishop, and many may never meet me on this side of glory.

I thank God for so many intercessors.  BTW, it’s not about numbers.  Christ reminds us that where two or three are gathered “in My name”, there am I in the midst.  It’s about the intercession.

The other point my friend made was that intercessory prayers aren’t for God’s sake.  He know and works everything according to His will.  It’s to call us to Him, and to teach us His great love for others by asking to to show love to others too.

Pray for my and for my family, for our mission in Fargo, and for the other requests other lay before you.



Monday, January 24, 2011

Junk-mail prayers.

It’s one thing to cry out to God in extremity, it’s another to offer some of the junk we offer in our prayers.  I’ve used the example of the adults the the Charlie Brown TV show as an example...often.  It’s just a blurting trumpet - wha, wha wha.

The kind of prayers we sometimes offer are no different than junk-mail.  Don’t you hate the trash that comes in the mail (or email?).  Do you, as I, take it from mailbox to trash can?  Especially painful leading up to elections.  ARGH!

But can’t our prayers have a similar tone?  As a boy, I used to 'plug in' items to make it sound more spiritual (‘...and bless the missionaries on the foreign fields...” whatever that meant to a 6 year old).  Do you have those kind of ’plug-ins’?  How ‘bout grace before meals, especially away from home.

Remember who it is you are talking to.  We use the word ‘Father’...or ‘Lord’, sometimes without thinking.  He knows His name.  We don’t talk to our friends or family that way - continually using their name, over and over again. They would have us committed.  :-)  Why talk to God that way, unless we don't really think He’s present and listening.

Christ had an ongoing conversation with His Father, sometimes interceding so strongly as to ‘build up a sweat’.  While not calling you to start there, you and I must start somewhere.

Just talk to your heavenly Father as though He was there next to you...because He is.  Keep a prayer list on your person (in an age of iPod and iPads and smart-phones, etc. it’s earlier than ever).  Find times (eating by yourself?...commuting) to remember to pray...for others.

Learn good prayers from Holy Scripture and other places.  I love the Book of Common Prayer because it says things I want to say, and in a better way than I could.  There are so many ways to be helped in our praying.

And, there’s so much more to prayer and praying.  One step at a time. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Putting prayer in it's place - a higher place

"Prayer" is a word lost in the current culture.  It's one of those words used to get one out of a situation.  Plug in "...and our prayers are with you" and you are kept from an embarrassing questions about spiritual life.

Clergy can be the worst.  We intend the best but...  But that really doesn't help you when you are yearning to cry out to God as Father. to Him, right now, in your words.  Be bluntly honest. He knows.  Hold nothing back. Start getting things back in some sort of spiritual order.  Talk to Him!

There are a variety of approaches in prayer. Deal with this first.  Then we can talk about these other ways.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Blog Title - A Gimpy Bishop

I named the blog because of where I am physically.  I walk badly, a gimp.  It's not an excuse, it's just where things are.  There are, however, things I've learned...and am learning, I'd like to share with you.

I also know I am called to serve Christ's church as a pastor.  But nearly pastor has a blog.  What I bring to 'the table' are the hopes and frustrations of 10 years as a disabled person.

I hated to see myself as a 'disabled person'.  I wanted to 'get back to normal' and stop the madness.  But why would God so 'bless' me? WHY?

This answer I got right from the Little Children's Catechism, when the question is asked, "Why did God make you and all things?"  The answer is wonderfully childlike - "For His own glory."  In other words, for His larger plan, that we may or may not learn in this lifetime.

He is the Almighty God.  There is none like Him.  And if He chooses to bless me with a stroke..."Thank you Lord."  It's not like coming into a fraternity - "Thank you Sir, may I have another."

He is no bully or superman...or frat boy.  I needed to learn that His ways are vastly better and more complex than mine.  He is caring for me, for my family, for my parish and denomination in His timing.  And He is also caring for people I will never know...that He still loves.  Read and meditate on the Book of Job.

It's not about you...or me.  It's about the glory of God (an area too few Christians meditate on).  It took a stroke to force me to think like a child, but it was worth it!