Archive for February, 2011

Listen up

February 28th, 2011 by Maureen

Then he added, “Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. Mark 4:24

Finishing another person’s sentence before that person is through speaking or thinking about how to respond while someone else is talking is not listening. Learning and really understanding requires focusing on what the other person has to say and giving it some thought. It also helps to want to understand.

Lord, help me to be a better and more motivated listener.

Avoid the drama

February 27th, 2011 by Maureen

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

Following Christ is no easy path and we all lose our footing occasionally.  Unfailing love and support is the default response to a slip. If we learn to call out for support at the first signs that we are slipping and learn to reach out our hands to others who are losing balance all of us are more likely to stay on course and avoid the drama of an outright fall.

Lord, I’m so glad your love is unfailing when I fail.

Putting on the Jesus suit

February 26th, 2011 by Maureen

Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And don’t sin by letting anger control you. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Eph. 4:24-29

Whether we choose constructive or destructive behavior we might feel like fakes because it is impossible to reconcile the new nature Christ gives us with our old habits and impulses which still seem like our real selves. Putting on the nature of Christ is more like a skin graft than a suit we can take on and off when it’s convenient. As we follow Christ and make choices based on his nature, even when we aren’t feeling it, we do begin to feel more comfortable and authentic in our own, new skins.

Lord, help me to do what You would do and to feel like doing it.

Sounds like a plan

February 25th, 2011 by Maureen

But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity. Is. 32:8

Generosity is more than an impulse; it’s a plan. Giving is not just about sharing what we have left over. Generous people approach  every day open handed and open hearted willing to give whatever they have to meet the needs of others.

Lord, help me to echo of your magnanimous grace in the generosity I show to others.

To boldly go

February 24th, 2011 by Maureen

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Eph. 3:12

Certainly we should approach God with awe and reverence because He is, after all, God; but He also wants us to approach Him as a friend and a father.  His whole point in creating us, redeeming us, and making us eternal souls is so that we can always be in His presence. Whatever issue that holds us back from His presence is nothing He can’t fix, or hasn’t already fixed.

Lord, I want to find a place of familiar awe with You.

The art of the chill

February 23rd, 2011 by Maureen

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Prov. 17:27

Even when we are passionate about our message, sometimes we actually say more by saying less. Calm, loving, accepting, gentle, reasonable attitudes tend to create an atmosphere where communication can happen. Listening to others also helps us gain the insight we need to actually be helpful and effective when we do speak.

Lord, make my love loud and my tone chilled.

Unnatural reactions

February 22nd, 2011 by Maureen

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Rom. 12:12

Joy, patience, and faith may not always feel honest reactions to problems but we aren’t being fake by choosing to respond as if they are. As we decide to react to the little things that happen to us in our lives we build spiritual and emotional habits. If we practice joy, patience and faith every day then when some big crisis occurs we are equipped to respond with the character and nature of Christ.

Lord help joy, patience, and faith become more natural for me.

Pit stops not required

February 21st, 2011 by Maureen

But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. Lam. 3:55

Corrie Ten Boom said that “there is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.” God hears our cries when we are in minor pits like traffic, schedules, or budgets and more serious pits involving health or relationships. He loves us and is moving on our behalf even when we don’t feel his presence or see his hand at work right away.

Lord, thank you for helping when life is the pits.

One of the crowd

February 20th, 2011 by Maureen

A vast crowd brought to him people who were lame, blind, crippled, those who couldn’t speak, and many others. They laid them before Jesus, and he healed them all. Matt. 15:30

We all know people who are blind to the truth and those who struggle to find a voice. We all know people who are crippled by their own poor choices or maimed by the impacts of life. Those of us who have experienced Jesus’ healing in our lives have an open invitation to bring our damaged friends into the crowd to receive healing as well.

Lord of daily and ongoing miracles show me how to bring my friends to you and and show me how to welcome the friends that others bring.

Fear and doubt

February 19th, 2011 by Maureen

“Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me…” Luke 24:38-39a

There are times when the resurrected Christ shows up in our lives with an agenda but we retreat into fear and disbelief. Averting the eyes from His hands and feet and questioning whether it’s really God makes it much easier to say “no.” If it looks like Christ and it sounds like Christ and it’s consistent with what He says and does, then it’s likely that our fears and doubts are more about ourselves than about whether He’s behind the mission at hand.

Lord, I do know it’s You so walk me through this because I’m way out of my comfort zone here.

Truthiness

February 18th, 2011 by Maureen

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jn. 8:31-32

Finding the truth in the information we deal with every day and the obligations we fulfill is much more challenging than just knowing the facts and doing the work. Jesus’ teachings help us to see meaning and purpose in the rhythms of our everyday lives. Fears and limitations diminish as we apply the perspective of Christ to how we understand the world around us and how we choose to live our lives.

 Lord, give me a greater sense of your truth and help me to rejoice in it.

Up in my business

February 17th, 2011 by Maureen

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Heb. 10:24

We are supposed to speak truth into one another’s lives and there are appropriate times to get up in one another’s business. Unfortunately what starts out as encouragement sometimes deteriorates into finding fault and assigning blame. Our lives and habits really change when we redirect our energies toward loving, encouraging and helping.

Lord, help me to be a positive, motivating voice in the lives of my friends.

Trust issues

February 16th, 2011 by Maureen

I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.2 Tim 1:12

Anxiety and impatience can erode trust and cause us to forget that God is good, that He loves us, and that He really does know what we need. We absolutely, positively can trust Him with all the unresolved and the unknown in our lives. We don’t have to know all the details as long as we know the One who can handle them.

Lord, I’m waiting and hoping and trusting.

Never give up

February 15th, 2011 by Maureen

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal. 6:9

We’re in this life together. The good things we do and the choice each of us makes to keep doing good no matter what has a positive effect on the people around us and the places we live. When we give up on good things we impact more than just ourselves.

Lord, keep me moving forward.

What love is

February 14th, 2011 by Maureen

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. I Cor. 13:4-5a

Sometimes the way we love is more about making ourselves feel good than about communicating affection and value to the other person. Maybe it’s the safety of knowing we’re accepted, but sometimes the very people we love the most are the ones who bear the brunt of our anger and pride. Love should make the other person feel important and treasured.

Lord, help me love the way you do.

Love doesn’t keep a rap sheet

February 13th, 2011 by Maureen

It [Love] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. I Cor. 13:5b

Sometimes our reaction to being hurt is to add that offense to a mental rap sheet that we are keeping on the offending party. While these rap sheets are especially handy during arguments, they have a tendency to promote bitterness in relationships. The forgiveness and reconciliation Jesus offers includes a shredded rap sheet and the opportunity to heal relationships with others by letting us use His shredder on all those rap sheets we’ve been keeping against other people.

Lord, help me to let it go.

Dream on

February 12th, 2011 by Maureen

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Prov. 13:12

Sometimes our dreams seem to be drowning in setbacks and delays and we may even decide to stop hoping in order to protect ourselves from disappointment. It can be hard to persist through obstacles and stay in it for the long haul if we don’t set some short term goals and celebrate their fulfillment. Of course it also helps to do a God check and make sure that what we pursue really does fit with His purposes and principles and to ask Him for guidance since He has the ultimate big-picture perspective.

Lord help me to stay hopeful and passionate.

Jesus does the math

February 11th, 2011 by Maureen

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Rom. 12:13

It is easy to become so focused on our own legitimate needs and busy schedules that we may not feel we have enough left over to help anyone else. We can never forget that we serve a loaves-and-fishes God who can do some creative multiplication and division when we make our resources available to him.

Lord, help me to live generously and let you do the math.

Vision-driven

February 10th, 2011 by Maureen

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Prov. 29:18 (KJV)

Leaders are concerned with communicating vision and inspiring others to embrace it. Managers are more concerned with organizing tasks, enforcing rules, and getting the job done but it is important to manage with vision too. People who are inspired by the vision are more likely to also embrace the expectations when they can see how they relate to the vision.

Lord, help me to lead when I have to manage and manage well those that I lead.

Analysis paralysis

February 9th, 2011 by Maureen

Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. Ecc. 11:4

Trying to figure out perfect timing and optimal conditions can lead to analysis paralysis. Nothing will ever get done if we wait around for perfection and certainty. When we accept that risk and change are inherent to living life we can begin to live with less fear and greater effect.

Lord, when I freeze up remind me to keep moving.