Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, February 08, 2013


We have no say on who is appointed to mercy and no say on who is appointed to wrath. All I have is a lively hope, and an urgency every day to seek tokens that my own calling in election is sure. You see, . . . I am no different than any other human in that I am full of sin and without a single merit of my own. BUT, if God would have mercy upon me, I have everything. It is all I care about, and all that I live for. There is nothing in this life worth having or doing except to serve my King, and to pray that his will be done and to ask that I be MADE and FOUND worthy to escape the affliction that is coming on the whole earth and that I be made and found worthy to stand before my Lord.
With a little editing, those words could belong to Mother Theresa or Billy Graham or Billy Sunday.  It's not a 17th century prose style, so it's not Jonathan Edwards, but it could be him  in contemporary paraphrase.  

How about Tim Tebow?  There's a little too much precise Calvinist theology ("tokens of my calling in election") in it to be a kid, but there's enough sweet grace within for it to be Gaby Douglas maybe?

Probably got to be evangelical, however, and the eschatology is feels a little pre-mill ("the affliction that is coming...").  Thousands of Christians, in the Obama era, believe we're now a decade or so away from the Tribulation.  Not just Harold Camping thinks this haywire world  calls for an angry Lord on a flaming chariot from heaven.

Almost forty years ago, a preacher I respected in a sermon I remember talked about walking around downtown Chicago, and seeing some bearded fanatic in a hand-painted sandwich board--you know, "Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand!" or something similar.  Surrounded by all the Gold Coast folks, the preacher said he was embarrassed.  "But if the man prays," he said, "he is my brother in the Lord."  If I remember right, he pounded the pulpit.

I don't know about your memory, but mine is adept at storing things that fester, that remain forever unresolved.  Was that preacher right?  Is anyone who prays my brother or sister?

How about the woman who wrote out this note to her detractors when they asked her a question about the daughters who'd left the family's fellowship and had begun to talk openly about their rejection of their mother's brand of Christianity?  Is she a sister in the Lord?--"There is nothing in this life worth having or doing except to serve my King. . ."

That's A-level testimony.

Her name is Shirley Phelps-Roper, and she's the daughter of Fred Phelps, pastor and founder of Westboro Baptist Church, the glad tidings fellowship that pickets the funerals of fallen GIs and shooting victims dressed in tank tops proclaiming "God hates fags!"  It's her quote, an answer to people who questioned her about two of her daughters leaving Westboro.

Maybe the vital question is not "who is my brother in the Lord?" but "who is my brother?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Baptist or not, one can not earn redemption by doing things for God in order to be assured of salvation. Jesus "paid it all, all to Him I owe." All I am able to do is to surrender my will and my all to His redemptive grace. "Found worthy?" No. Surrender, and rest in God's promises.