Moments of awe and wonder

October 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Such knowledge is too wonderful to me. Ps. 139:6

Sometimes we encounter concepts that we simply cannot wrap our heads around. Sometimes God does things in ways we don’t expect and can’t explain. Sometime God challenges our paradigms and knocks down the sides of our neatly constructed boxes. Just look at how Jesus challenged the expectations of the Pharisees and even His own disciples. Be amazed. Let the miraculous grip your heart. Enjoy wonder. Experience awe. More than the insights that we can process based on what we already believe, what we’ve already experienced, what we already know, it’s those moments that leave us in awe and wonder that cause us to grow and cause our perspectives on God to grow with us.

Lord, thank you for all the wonder in my life.

When you can’t shake it loose, it could be because you are not the one who can

October 22nd, 2016 by Maureen

In your short run of days, have you ever commanded the morning to begin or taught the sun to rise in its place? Under your watch has the early light ever taken hold of the earth by the edges and shaken the wicked loose? Job 38:12-13

When God addresses Job and his friends’ foolhardy conjecture about whether or not Job’s righteousness or failures caused the tragedies that happened in Job’s life, His reasoning falls to His role as Creator and Designer.In the course of His questions He references making each morning and the act of “shaking the wicked loose.” Later in Lamentations Jeremiah writes that God’s mercies are “new every morning.” Paul writes in Romans that Christ was “raised up out from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life.” From very ancient writing about God’s design shows a theme of clean, new, fresh starts brought to us by God Himself. He shakes loose what we cannot shake loose. He never designed us to be able to.

Lord, thank you for this new morning.

In trust and wonder

October 20th, 2016 by Maureen

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! I Cor. 13:9

Through scholarship, observation, experimentation, logic, and perception we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us. We proceed based on what we think we know, and the more sure we are, the greater our confidence in our own decisions. The disconnects and contradictions reveal the inadequacies in our systems and the enormity, complexity, and completeness of God’s. It is in what we do not fully grasp and what we cannot fully explain that we experience wonder of Him. It is in what we cannot predict or control that we experience trust in Him.

Lord, increase my trust, my understanding, and my wonder.

That song that’s stuck in your head

October 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth. Eternal of all the good things He’s done. Bless His name; broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day. Ps. 96:1-2 (The Voice)

Jesus came to teach us a simple love song; a melody to get stuck in our heads and hearts; a beat that sets the rhythm of our footsteps throughout the day. This is the song that set the world in motion, the song the Father, Son, and Spirit have eternally sung. It’s a different song from the hopeless, atonal dirge filled with pride, anger, guilt, shame, and fear that human religion wrote for itself. Nobody can dance to that. When we join in with the song that Jesus is already singing we dance in rhythm with all the good He makes and the good He does with it.

Lord, I love Your song.

You (yes, you) are an amazing wonder in the mind of God

October 16th, 2016 by Maureen

Lord, You have done so many amazing wonders, and yet Your thoughts about us cannot even be numbered. No one can compare to You! Ps. 40:5

The mind that mapped the stars in every universe, the ones we know about and the ones we don’t, also mapped the human experience. The mind that set the revolutions of the heavens, created time and seasons, and the interconnected ecosystems that form the rhythms of physical existence also created the seasons and rhythms of human lives. The pleasure, attention, and purpose the Creator directs toward all the wonders in all the worlds is also fixed on human beings. Most of our perceptions about ourselves and others are limited to the thoughts we can think about ourselves, but there are amazing wonders that God thinks about us all the time…and since God is love, they are thoughts full of affection, abundance, and goodwill.

Lord, help me to see myself and others as the amazing wonders You’ve made us.

Clearer vision

October 11th, 2016 by Maureen

Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.” Jn. 9:39 (MSG)

Sometimes it isn’t what we can’t see that trips us up, it’s what we think we see. We can become convinced that how we see an idea or a person is final, absolute truth. Once Jesus provides us with His vision and enables us to see through His eyes, we recognize how blurred and distorted our own vision can be.

Lord, help me to see everyone I know and everything I think I know through Your eyes.

Love syllogisms

October 10th, 2016 by Maureen

If…The love God has for us is something we can abide in… I Jn. 4:16
Then… we are at this moment present in His love rather than striving for it.

If …God abides in us because we abide in love and that is how love is perfected in us… I Jn. 4:17
Then… we can trust the perfect love He initiates rather than struggling to attain perfection ourselves.

If …Fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love… I Jn. 4:18
Then… we can feel secure in His unconditional love for us and in His power to restore and transform us rather than fearing that our efforts are inadequate, our failures disqualify us, that God is angry with us, or that His “go-to” response is to punish us for our mistakes.

If… we love because He first loved us…I Jn. 4:19
Then… we can love (the verb) because He folds us into Love (the noun that is the defining nature of God Himself) rather than merely offering us behaviors to imitate and impulses to follow.

Lord, I want to be fully present in, and aware of, the reality of Your love as I live this life You’ve given me.

If God is love and there is no fear in love then…

October 9th, 2016 by Maureen

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. I Jn. 4:18

Jesus conquered the most prevalent human fears at the cross: death, hell, and the grave. But living in fear is another kind of death, another kind of hell, another kind of grave. Fear keeps us from pursuing opportunities or deepening relationships. Fear may cause us to retreat into the paranoia and mediocrity of terrified compliance for fear of judgment and punishment. Fear offers the opposite of the peace, abundance, and love. If seeing Jesus means seeing the Father, the loving Father God that Jesus shows us offers transforming restoration.  The Father Jesus shows  isn’t interested in judging or punishing us, but in giving us abundant spiritual, emotional, experiential, existential, and physical good gifts out of love for us. Could an angry god who deals in fear, retribution, and conformity actually be this same god?

Father, please help those who still fear little “g’s” to experience You as big “G” full of love and grace.

Enduring through every circumstance

October 7th, 2016 by Maureen

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor 13:7

Survival and endurance are not the same things. When we see no realistic expectation of change or success, it seems reasonable to go into survival mode and focus on damage control, managing the circumstances and the emotional fallout connected with them, rather than submitting ourselves to the possible disappointments of full on hope. But Christ, beyond all reason and without reservation, chose the seeming hopelessness of death to redeem humans so that even if when we give up, lose faith, expect failure, and accept defeat, His victory applies to our circumstances. His love for us equips our hearts to choose the seeming uncertainty of hope so that we endure rather than merely survive.

Lord, help me to discard my stingy, reasoned love for Your hopeful, enduring love.

Choosing endurance over mere survival

October 4th, 2016 by Maureen

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Cor 13:7

Survival and endurance are not the same. When we see no realistic expectation of change or success, it seems reasonable to go into survival mode and focus on damage control, managing the circumstances and the emotional fallout connected with them, rather than submitting ourselves to the possible disappointments of full on hope. But Christ, beyond all reason and without reservation, chose the seeming hopelessness of death to redeem humans so that even if when we give up, lose faith, expect failure, and accept defeat, His victory applies to our circumstances. His love for us equips our hearts to choose the seeming uncertainty of hope so that we endure rather than merely survive.

Lord, help me to discard my stingy, reasoned love for Your hopeful, enduring love.

Ordinarily extraordinary people

October 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

I thank God every time I remember you. Phil 1:3

It’s amazing to think about how many lives touch our own lives in the course of an ordinary day. Family members, friends, members of our church families, neighbors, co-workers, those we mentor, those who mentor us, business and social connections, etc. may influence us in small but significant ways that positively impact our lives. It is likely that many are unaware of how we are changed by knowing them. None of us become who we are or get where we are by ourselves. It’s amazing to think of the potential connections we might enjoy with others when we choose to be truly present and aware in the course of each ordinary day.

Lord, each one is so dear and I thank You for putting them in my life.

3 Relationship models with the Father

October 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

Is this the way you repay the Lord? …Isn’t he your Father who created you? Has he not made you and established you? Deut. 32:6

Moses suggests that God established something with people that mirrors the relationship of fathers and children, that fathers establish  a legacy through their children, and that this is a reciprocal relationship in which the children owe the Father something to stay in the relationship. The Law built around this model. Jesus taught a recipient model since the Father is the source of everything the children have available and they have no means in which to reciprocate. Even this can be distorted into reward model in which resources are mean of control, manipulation, and punishment. So many relationships with earthly fathers, and with God Himself, are damaged by a distorted view of  what a relationship model with a Father should look. Jesus lived his life in relationship with the Father as the perfect Son. receiving from the Father and responding out of love for Him rather than fear of Him.

Lord, heal relationships between fathers and children.

O what a glorious day

September 27th, 2016 by Maureen

All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Jude 1:25

God doesn’t need our praise to feed His ego, fuel His power, or establish His authority. That is what happens when glory is misappropriated to human beings. But instead of merely acknowledging His superiority and demanding our praise, our Father invites us into His glory. Our responses to His glory reconciles us to the truth and beauty of His nature that is now, always has been and always will be. Praise allows each of us to uniquely experience the glory He has given us through Christ, in Christ, and because of Christ.

Lord, I stand breathless and amazed in Your glory.

Carefully considered but loosely held plans

September 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house. Prov. 24:27

Sometimes there is barely time to wrap up one project before we have to start another. When we do have the luxury of a breather between projects it’s good to use that time to take stock. Doing things better next time takes some evaluation and tweaking of the existing plan, along with honest introspection about personal attitudes, expectations, and distractions. But there are times when all the planning in the world cannot predict the unforeseen…and sometimes that unforeseen, unplanned-for factor is the very one God is all over.

Lord, help me to be prepared and flexible for what this week holds.

God: Stop groveling!

September 25th, 2016 by Maureen

You were ransomed from the empty life handed down from your ancestors, not with perishable silver or gold but by precious blood, as a lamb without blemish or spot, the blood of Christ. 1 Pet. 1:18 (Mounce Reverse Interlinear)

Jesus did not come to recreate a system by which we buy or perform our way into God’s good graces. Over time the Jews developed elaborate traditions of law and a hierarchy of priesthood that traded Friendship with God as Abraham had understood it for interchanges with God the looked more like legal negotiations, business transactions, and lots of groveling. The empty cycle of law, failure, guilt, and sacrifice only awarded precarious, temporary, fluctuating value to humans who used it and distanced its adherents from the love of the Father. Jesus entered the system to upend it. Jesus disrupted the economy of sacrifice. His blood devalued every other sacrificial offering. Jesus restores us to relationship with our eternally gracious Father who loves, values, and supports us because we are His children.

My Father, My Friend, My Redeemer, being with You makes my life full and abundant.

What’s called for is empathy not explanations or egg salad

September 24th, 2016 by Maureen

When Jesus saw her weeping… He was deeply moved and distressed…Jesus wept. Jn. 11:33, 35

Grief and sadness are part of human existence, at least right now. What people in distress need is empathy not explanations, friendship not fixing. Jesus’ response to His friend’s sadness was not to try to cheer her up but to weep with her. Expecting people to power through, equating periods of sadness with lack of faith, or going Job’s friends on the situation and trying to figure out why bad things happen are uncalled-for responses. Then there is the well-meaning knee-jerk Christian response to sadness: prayer and casseroles. While often welcome and helpful, sometimes doing something for our hurting friends is a way of avoiding emotionally engaging with them. Sometimes in the course of being Jesus hands and feet, we are also called upon to be His tears.

Lord, show me how to be with my friends who are hurting not just for them.

Is it possible to care too much?

September 21st, 2016 by Maureen

In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. Ecc. 8:16

We are all busy and because we are so connected through instant-access media and social networks, we also are keenly aware of other people’s busy-ness.,,and their business. While the desire to know, the desire to help, and the desire to pray are all good, we can become spiritually, mentally, and emotionally over-saturated with concerning information. Sometimes caring about everything makes it hard for us to effectively impact concerns in our own backyards. We have to trust that God has it and that He can inspire those closer to each situation to become involved.

Lord, lead me to become involved where You want me, help me to be effective in those areas, and help me to let go and trust You and other people with the concerns that are not mine to bear.

Big shade in endless summer

September 20th, 2016 by Maureen

The Lord watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. Psalm 121:5

When situations get hot and sticky and seem as endless as a Texas summer, God is still right there to restore cool reason and gracious perspective. When the shiny stuff blinds and distracts, God is right there to shade our eyes so we can see what’s really important. No matter what is going on, God is right where He’s always been, right here, right now.

Lord, thank you for always watching over me and helping me.

In each of our beginnings, God…

September 17th, 2016 by Maureen

You formed my inmost being and wove me in my mother’s womb. Ps. 139:13-14

Perhaps we all experienced God in our first awareness as connections fired in our developing brains and we experienced our senses without being able to assign meaning yet to what we were experiencing. Perhaps our need to love and be loved are rooted in vague memory of our First Friend’s deep love and tenderness for us. Perhaps our desire to create and contribute come from an unfocused awareness of our worth and significance to Him. This is all speculative, of course, but what we can know is that He has been with us and for us from our very beginnings.

Lord, thank you for being with me always.

The long middle

September 14th, 2016 by Maureen

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Col. 2:6

Beginnings are exciting, endings are gratifying, but in the long middle seems to play on our weariness and weaknesses, on the distance ahead, the mis-steps behind, and all the bumps in the road. When that becomes our perspective we just have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay on the road. God is no less loving, exciting and awesome than He was at the start or will be at the finish. It’s in the long middle that learn the most about the way He inspires us, provides for us, and cares for us.

Lord, help me to keep following even when I’m not feeling it.