When the Devil Quotes Scripture

The Most High will command the angels to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
– Psalm 91:11-12

What do you do when the devil quotes Scripture to you?

That’s what happened to Jesus (according to Matthew 4 and Luke 4) during the time of temptation.

That’s also what happens to us and to others when we throw Scripture in one another’s faces … or have Scripture thrown in our faces … or even throw Scripture in our own faces with a berating tone.

We might be testers and tempters, daring others to prove their faith through the litmus test of Scripture. We might be haters, plying Scripture to cause harm and to wield our own judgments in the name of God. We might be do-gooders, spouting Scripture as an easy-peasy Band-Aid to those who are suffering and struggling.

“Here, this verse will fix everything. This verse will prove I am right. This verse will verify the rightness of your faith. This verse will convict you of your sins and single-handedly convince you to change your ways.”

Before you tell Jesus to jump off the temple; before you tell your neighbors that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life; before you tell your sibling that God has a purpose for their suffering; maybe double-check whether your faith is unnecessarily saddled with the baggage of Scripture-as-litmus-test. Reconsider whether you need to burden those around you with that same baggage.

Even the devil quoted Scripture. The words are only as good as the love and the life-affirming action with which they come.

May the words of our tongues, no matter how biblical, no matter how well-intentioned, not become stones that weigh down and drown our siblings.

written for the Daily Devotional

Choosing Life & Death

Holy and Gracious God:

Today we choose life —
the bloom of hope,
the breath of humility,
the proximity of tenderness.

Holy and Mysterious God:

Today we choose death —
the sunset of greed,
the erosion of pride,
the burial of violence.

Holy and Creative God:

Today we choose prosperity —
the harvest of peace,
the healing of all nature,
the sustainability of love.

Holy and Disruptive God:

Today we choose adversity —
the troubling of wealth,
the disordering of power,
the resistance of injustice.

We choose life,
O Eternal God,
and we choose death.

on Deuteronomy 30:15
cross-posted at RevGalBlogPals

1 Corinthians 13 for Workaholics

For the overworked, the stressed-out, the stretched-too-thin, the full-time-with-a-side-hustle, the workaholic, the can’t-stop-or-the-ends-won’t-meet, and the all-I-value-about-myself-is-productivity, a prayerful reminder:

If I do all. the. things.
but have not love,
I am just a ball of stress,
an incarnate BlackBerry.

If I exceed expectations
but have not faith,
I am just an act,
a cynical Pinocchio.

If I win every battle
but have not hope,
I am just a trophy,
a gambler’s dream.

**On most weekdays, I post prayers like this one on Twitter. Follow me there, if you don’t already.

What Will Destroy Us?

Ahab will come
armed with scripture
and swords and prophets
to say ‘you are wrong’
to say ‘your life
is anathema to mine’
to say ‘it is my
god-given task
to make your life hell’
and he’s right — not that he must
make your life hell but that he can, that he
can choose to destroy
without guilt or consequence.

The mountain too may threaten,
perhaps not with the same conscious intent but
with power and indiscretion
nevertheless:
roaring as a wind
that shouts to be heard
and does not stop
to listen;
breaking as an earthquake
that defies permanence
without regard for
safety;
consuming as a fire
that idolizes its own quick tongue
as the authority on all life
without noticing
the ashes drifting
in its wake.
All these too
will destroy without care.

But as we run from Ahab
as we tremble in the mountains
may hope be found, snatched,
held,
claimed and
proclaimed: that only One
will not destroy
only One will plant broom trees
for shade, only
One
will send angels
whispering “Get up again,”
only One will well up fresh water in
a toxic wilderness,
only One
will bind our hearts
for the long journey, only
One
will love our lives
when
kings and queens
and earthquakes and fires
otherwise rage to destroy life utterly.

What will destroy us? Too many things
but not
the Holy One.
Let mercy find & convict us
where we have lied to one another
in this regard. And may the One
forgive us when we
destroy.

on 1 Kings 19:1-13