Loud stillness

November 19th, 2017 by Maureen

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as he brought them safely into harbor! Ps. 107:29-30

God calms our stormy thoughts to a whisper and stills the waves of worry. In the harbor of His safe arms we find stillness, rest, and peace. In awareness of His love, in the company of loving friends, in the quiet of prayer and meditation, in the rhythms of His creation is the reassurance that storms pass and that our storms neither define nor defeat us.

Lord, I am grateful that Your love is bigger than any storm I face and that Your stillness is louder than the thundering of disquiet and discouragement.

It’s Thanks-giving season

November 18th, 2017 by Maureen

Don’t just look out for your own interests, but the interests of others. Phil 2:4

Gratitude causes us to pause and to appreciate having people who care about us, a roof over our heads, food to eat, means of communication and transportation, jobs, relatively good health, personal freedoms, and other blessings. As we consider what it means to have those blessings we may also be inspired to want everyone else to be able to have and enjoy those blessings too. This season affords so many opportunities to care of the interests of others. These opportunities for Thanks-giving are also blessings.

Father thank you for inspiring generosity, compassion and empathy through Thanksgiving.

Relationship is the main course at the holiday meal

November 17th, 2017 by Maureen

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers. Phil. 1:4

It’s the people in our lives that matter, not the stuff or the circumstances. Each relationship is a connection of God-inspired serendipity through birth, marriage, work, school, neighborhood, common friends or interests, and random encounters. We tell stories about our shared experiences, some sweet, some funny, and some even disastrous. The history of our relationships with these people affirms that God is indeed love. The people God has put into our lives are blessings and treasures. Relationship is the main course at our Father’s table.

Father, I thank you for Your table of grace. I pray joy and abundance on those who grace my life every day, on those who will sit at the tables in my house on this particular Thanksgiving, and on the larger gathering who sit at the ever-expanding table in my heart.

Peace for the broken heart

November 14th, 2017 by Maureen

Peace I leave you. My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Don’t be troubled or afraid. Jn. 14:26-27

The world offers explanations, programs and campaigns. The world responds with fear and anger. And when it gets to be too much to process, the world offers escapes. The peace of Christ goes beyond trying to stop the hemorrhaging hate or put a band-aid on the myriad and complicated causes. Christ’s peace stems from the power of love and restoration. From Christ’s peace emerge the helpers, the comforters, and the fearless lovers of frail and broken souls.

Lord, give us Your peace and help us to bring Your peace to violent, vindictive and troubled hearts.

The amazing vibe of fruit

November 12th, 2017 by Maureen

The fruit of the Spirit is love, calm delight, peace, fortitude, gentleness, beneficence, and faith. Gal 5:22

I am fortunate to have family, friends, and co-workers who love me, are calmly happy and peace-loving, show grit, treat other souls gently, and are charitable and reliable. Because we are created in God’s image, we each have unique combinations of these expressions of God’s nature embedded in our unique temperaments, but rarely are these traits all expressed by the same person at the same time. That would be one incredible vibe.

To follow the fruit metaphor, the flavor of the Holy Spirit seems to have strong notes of every one of the traits mentioned; but rather than a blend of all these traits as distinct fruits, perhaps this single fruit of the Spirit is the origin of the species. Partaking in God’s nature infuses everything into one amazing vibe that we get to experience and express.

Lord, help me have Your vibe as I approach the delights and challenges this day holds.

Empathetic tears when the bell tolls

November 11th, 2017 by Maureen

Jesus wept. Jn. 11:35

I live where I hear ambulances. At any point in time lots of people are experiencing heartbreak and loss while I experience joy, or at least relative quiet. Sometimes the reality of this hits. Certainly God has all this in His loving hands. But hope and faith does not separate us from the pain that we observe around us, and sometimes experience ourselves. Hope and faith are not meant to stay our tears or our hands.

I love what John Donne wrote in the last part of Meditation 17, “each man’s death diminishes me because I am a part of mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” When we hear the bells toll, it is appropriate to weep. Empathy and response to the pain of others is steeped in Christ’s love.

As a fully human being Jesus was touched by the infirmities of human existence, the pain, the loss, the disappointment. Confronted with the grief of His friends, He wept. Knowing the miracle He was about to do did not erase the pain they currently felt, He wept. Recognizing that His friends’ perceptions of His mission was limited to their personal and local concerns did not diminish their concerns to Him; He wept. We are part of the empathy of God.

Lord, thank you for helping me have empathy, even when it hurts.

Standing in a cloud

November 9th, 2017 by Maureen

For everything is for you in order that as grace extends to so many people there so much thanksgiving and God is greatly glorified. 2 Cor. 4:15

Have you ever walked through a low-lying cloud? It envelops you. You breathe in it’s moisture. It seeps into your pores. Our expressions of thankfulness are unique and personal droplets of thanksgiving. They delight our Father to Whom each child is precious. Yet imagine generations of voices all over the world expressing appreciation to God. This increasingly expanding cloud of thanksgiving and praise integrates into the glory of God. We experience and interact with the ancient and cosmic glory that surrounds God when we give offer thanksgiving.

Lord, thank you that grace abounds, thanks abounds, and glory abounds because of Your love.

 

The premises of grace

November 8th, 2017 by Maureen

Give thanks to the Lord because He is good and His love endures forever. 1 Chr. 16:34

God’s goodness and love are reasons to be thankful. These aspects of His nature are the premises of grace. God isn’t waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. He doesn’t abandon us when we mess up. He doesn’t cause evil. None of this can be inferred if this premise are true. If God is good and God loves then when something bad happens (especially if it was our bad) we can conclude that His response is redemptive and restorative. This is reason to give thanks.

Lord, thank You for being the way that You are.

Singing with trees

November 7th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. And let the trees of the forest sing for joy. Ps. 96:11-12

Though not sentient in the human sense, is nature aware of it’s Creator and responsive to Him in some way that we can tap into? Or does our appreciation of the beauty of God’s creation cause us to imagine we hear the song of trees and jubilation of fields? Perhaps it does not matter. Perhaps we just need to go outside for at least a little while every day to enjoy God’s handiwork. This moment of pause, this awe, is a slow breath, that folds us into God’s own joy expressed in nature. It’s as if the song trees sing was stuck in our heads and our hearts and when we go outside we remember where we heard it and remember we’re a part of it too.

Thank you for surrounding me with so much beauty in nature and for giving me senses to experience it.

 

Contentment and gratitude feed off one another

November 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. Phil. 4:11-12

Sometimes it’s not our perceived needs that create discontent, but the tendency to focus on those things we think are missing from our lives rather than on the blessings we have. Sometimes, rather than appreciating and acknowledging the positive traits and contributions of the people in our lives we focus more on the ways we think they need to improve. The desire for excellence or perfection can cause us to feel the need to wait for things (or worse, people) to improve before we can enjoy them. Gratitude helps us to actively appreciate and enjoy our lives and the people in our lives, just as they are right now.

Lord, thank you for all I have right now. Period.

The flow of goodness

November 5th, 2017 by Maureen

God is mighty and powerful, able to make all grace (joy, sweetness, and satisfaction in life) so abundant and overflowing that in all things and at all times you experience such contentment within yourself (autarkeia ), and from that flows good work. 2 Cor. 9:8

The trajectory of flowing water changes as it interacts with various objects and forces to form individual streams and currents. Impact causes water to splash, moving drops from current to current. Light dances in each splashing drop. We are part of this beautiful flow of God’s own grace. As we becomes aware of living in the flow of His loving intentions for us, and for others, good work naturally results. Moving in His flow brings inspiration and and delight to what we produce and contribute. From Christ in us flows loving kindness and goodwill that splashes over into the lives of others, changing not only the trajectory of their lives, but ours as well.

Thank you for sweeping me along in the flow of Your love. Thank you for so much abounding goodness. Help me to notice and appreciate it in others and to express it myself in all things and at all times.

Participation

November 3rd, 2017 by Maureen

He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4

Jesus came to invite us to participate in the nature of God. We are not an audience watching God be God from afar. We are not contestants hoping to perform well enough to achieve this nature. Our hearts are home to Christ as we live and move and have our being within Him. We are permeated by His Spirit. We are enveloped into the beautiful loving relationship between the Father, Son and Spirit. We might experience transcendent awareness of this occasionally, but most of the time participating in His nature translates into breathing His love and grace in and out. As we open ourselves to giving and receiving His love, surrendering concerns to peace and joy, and seeing through His eyes of grace we experience the flow of the life of God in the lives we live.

Thank you for inviting me into Your nature.

Not all that scary

October 31st, 2017 by Maureen

But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.  Acts 2:24

Life can get scary. The monster problems shrink, the fears and memories that haunt our dreams dissipate, even the reaper is less grim in the light of the resurrected Christ. “Fear not!” is both His battle cry and His lullaby to us. Jesus conquered death, hell, and the grave; nothing we might face is going to scare Him. We don’t have to let fear distort our perceptions or sideline us from our goals. He is for us, with us, and in us, our hope and peace.

Lord, Your encouragement and comfort are enough to help me overcome my fears and keep moving forward.

Just keep swimming…and shining

October 29th, 2017 by Maureen

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness. Jn. 8:12
You are the light of the world…[that] gives light to everyone… Matt 5:14-15 – Jesus

It’s actually kind of difficult to find a place on earth to experience total darkness, perhaps if you go into an unlit cave or dive deep in the ocean at night. The moment someone lights a candle or a luminescent jellyfish swims by the totality of the darkness is destroyed. Whatever darkness causes hurtful behaviors and attitudes like hate, anger, greed, prejudice, violence, selfishness, manipulation, deceit, etc. to seem reasonable, pleasurable, or justified, that darkness are not total and certainly not more powerful than Jesus, the Light of the world.

The best way to light the darkness is to love others and advocate good with much grace. Even when if doesn’t feel like showing love and grace is changing the way people see things or treat each other, love diminishes evil the way a luminescent jellyfish destroys darkness. Just keep swimming and shining.

Lord, help me to reflect Your light when darkness seems prevalent.

Crazy peace

October 25th, 2017 by Maureen

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. 2 Thess. 3:16
The peace that passes understanding guards your hearts and thoughts through Christ. Phil. 4:7

When our lives and our hearts seem to be falling apart, God offers us peace and comfort that just might make even less sense than pain and suffering. When the pressure feels overwhelming, the pain just seems senseless, or we feel helpless to control the situation or the outcome, God offers us peace and rest. Instead of spiraling out into the cold darkness of despair, God’s peace acts like spiritual gravity tethering us to His love and grace, making it possible to live and even enjoy our lives in the middle of hard and confusing situations.

Lord, thank you for peace when peace seems like the craziest reaction ever.

There is no frame big enough for the whole picture

October 24th, 2017 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

If the big picture is supposed to have a frame, it’s not up to us to frame it. God is the creative source of the whole picture, and, at least from our perspective, He is still painting it. Through scholarship, science, and philosophy we seek to understand ourselves and the seen and unseen things in the world around us. We process, decide, and proceed based on our certainty and confidence in what we think we know. We try put a frame around the picture with our knowledge but all we really do is crop the picture, make it smaller, and call it reality.

It’s no wonder the whole picture is hard for us to see. We’re trying to see it while standing inside of it. In recognizing that we open ourselves to living inside God’s whole picture than the one we’ve declared finished and framed. In not knowing we experience wonder. In not knowing we experience the joy of discovery. In not knowing we experience more complete trust in God. In knowing that we experience revelation. And understanding what we do know from a frame-less perspective expands our hearts and minds, expands our interactions with God, and makes the world we experience bigger.

Lord, increase both my trust, my perspective, and my understanding.

Listening is not a fill-in-the-blanks activity

October 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them. Luke 8:18

How we hear depends on our perceptions, our natural intelligences, styles, and temperaments,
our experiences and expectations,
our theological and philosophical positions,
our current circumstances, our physical and emotional states, and
the list of filters goes on…
How we hear might be influenced by what we believe and feel about the speaker or the message.
We can choose to filter a message based on our own preferences or
we can try we to receive that message as the speaker intended it.
Do we make assumptions about the speaker’s both message and purpose
Rather than ask the speaker questions in order to truly understand the message, ?
Do we do that when God is the Speaker?
Listening is not a fill-in-the-blanks activity.

Lord, help me hear what You and the people around me are really saying.

The love that holds us up

October 20th, 2017 by Maureen

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. Ps. 97:18

Unfailing love and support is God’s default response when we lose our footing. Why can’t this be the default response we have for each other? There are times when the ground under our feet shakes, literally or metaphorically and we can’t keep standing without help. And yet there is this misplaced shame associated with needing help. It needs to be okay to call out for support and to offer it without caveat or judgment. Humanity is an interconnected living organism. When we reach out our hands to help restore someone else’s balance, it is also our own equilibrium we help restore. Making life better for others brings heaven to earth and makes us participants in Christ’s restoration that is continually happening within us and around us.

Lord, I’m so glad to participate in Your unfailing love.

Always Check “Yes”

October 19th, 2017 by Maureen

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
Any comfort from His love?
Any fellowship together in the Spirit?
Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Phil. 2:1

(Hint: The answer is always “yes.”) Sometimes the Father shouts “Yes” with a divine, spine-tingling, nearly tangible loving Presence. Sometimes Jesus manifests His “Yes” through the encouragement, comfort, and sense of belonging we give to and receive from each other. Sometimes Holy Spirit whispers “Yes” in the settled peace that we feel when we just know that God is always in us, with us, and for us. Answering “no” might be a temporary perception we entertain because we feel discouraged or isolated, but “yes” is the reality God restored us to live in. “Yes” is the environment in which we thrive.

Lord, let the “yes” ring in my ears and spring from my lips all the time.

“And…” is the door to staying young at heart and mind

October 18th, 2017 by Maureen

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” Matt. 11:24

God puts an “And…” door in every single rigid box we humans try to use to contain our understanding and corral our hearts. His eternal, infinite love and intelligence won’t be contained by our need for definitive statements to explain or control. God’s higher, deeper, wider presses against the door marked “And…” until it bursts open. The nature of Christ invites wonder rather than analysis. We don’t have to fully explain God to experience Him or to invite others to experience Him with us. In fact, not having all the answers is part of the adventure of discovery that comes with being His child. Sometimes “and…?” is the biggest and best question we kids can ask.

Thanks, Lord,  I love being your child.