Archive for June, 2012

Uncertain safety nets

June 30th, 2012 by Maureen

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. Ps. 91:2

Savings plans, generators, medical plans, security systems, prenups, fire alarms, airbags, diet and exercise, or lucky socks are uncertain safety nets. Relationships, mountain cabins, spa baths and special coffee creamers are all unworthy to be called refuges. Whatever benefits these other things may hold, the only truly safe place, the only sure refuge, is God.

Lord, whether my safety nets fail or hold up, I trust You and take refuge in You.

Imperfect job match

June 29th, 2012 by Maureen

Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. Titus 3:14

Paul is more worried about people sitting around and doing nothing than job satisfaction. We shouldn’t only volunteer when the serving opportunity matches our gifts and talents. Urgent needs are often met through basic tasks anyone can do. We don’t have to be good at something to do good; we just have to be willing to do it and learn. Many jobs simply require following instructions and getting dirty.

Lord, when there’s a writing emergency I’m available. Until then…how can I help?

Preamble for debates

June 28th, 2012 by Maureen

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I Cor.13:12

Disagreements should be approached with humility. Most of our debates could use a preamble. Something like: “having considered all the information available within all possible contexts and nuances, having applied responsible processes of scholarship and reason, accounting for my personal agendas and prejudices, and recognizing that reasonable minds and sincere hearts might disagree, here is what I think.”

Lord, help me to be humble and gracious in disagreements.

Stretch and keep stretching

June 26th, 2012 by Maureen

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Prov. 3:3-4

A good reputation starts with how we treat other people. Kindness and loyalty are almost automatic responses toward people we like. It’s not hard to be kind and loyal when we believe somebody’s earned it from us. The stretch is extending kindness and loyalty when we don’t have to or want to.

Lord, stretch my capacity for kindness and loyalty.

Tests of faith

June 25th, 2012 by Maureen

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  James 1:3

If what we think of God is dependent on how nice He makes our lives or how obvious He makes His presence, tests of faith will affect what we believe about Him. It’s not about whether we are strong enough to stand against the tide alone but rather whether we will continue to trust in His power, love, and protection when the waves knock us down.

Lord, I know you are still for me and with me even when I feel vulnerable and alone.

Renewable energy

June 23rd, 2012 by Maureen

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint. Is. 40:31

God is involved in our lives, cares about us and what we face, and has the power to handle all of it. Fear, questions, fatigue, or hopelessness can creep in to zap our strength. Energy spent digging into the truth of His love and power  is well spent. The more we know Him the easier it is to trust Him and be renewed.

Lord, renew my failing strength.

Be it, wear it, do it, live it

June 22nd, 2012 by Maureen

…you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Matt. 23:23b

Justice, mercy, and faith are a big deal. How should this intangible set of expectations translate into individual human actions, attitudes, or policies?  Nobody except Jesus is going to get it right all the time. He didn’t say wait until you’ve feeling just, merciful, or faithful. He didn’t say pick just one. It’s a package deal. Be it, wear it, do it, live it.

Lord, show me how justice, mercy, and faithfulness should look on me.

Mischief managed

June 21st, 2012 by Maureen

Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love. Song of Sol. 2:15

Little offenses can added up over time and eventually damage relationships. Tiny annoyances one after another can multiply until a loving attitude turns sour. A string of disappointments can seem like supporting evidence that God doesn’t care. The Enemy of love tries to eat away at our hearts, one little bite at a time, but God’s love is bigger than the mischief of little foxes.

Lord, I know that You love me. I love You too. I trust You and know that You are good.

Search me

June 20th, 2012 by Maureen

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Ps. 139:23-24

God already knows what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling, and what we are worried about. His searching is so that we can see. When we invite God into our anxiety and surrender our attitudes He reveals faulty, destructive thinking and habits and offers redemptive alternatives. When we  move with Him in the same direction He’s moving the search leads to resolution, peace, and transformation.

Lord, search me.

The only opinion that matters

June 19th, 2012 by Maureen

Your approval or disapproval means nothing to me because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. Jn. 5;41-42

The need for approval can be crippling. Jesus did what He came to do and said what He came to say. Jesus was focused on loving not on winning love. He dismissed the posturing objections of the Pharisees and the more well-meaning concerns of his family and friends because He was confident of His mission and plugged in to His Father. And His is the only opinion that matters.

Lord, help me to live like I don’t care about approval until I really don’t.

Sweating it out

June 18th, 2012 by Maureen

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:11-12

Trying to attain joy is like trying to make yourself sweat while sitting still at a comfortable temperature. If you want to sweat you have to go where the heat is or get up and do some work. Like sweat joy happens because we are doing something that produces it.

Lord, sweat the joy out of my day’s living and loving.

The run of the house

June 17th, 2012 by Maureen

And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Gal. 5:6

Our King He has dispensed with formality. The Creator of the universe, the almighty and everlasting God invites each of us to call Him “Daddy.”  His arms and ears are always open. We are never an interruption to Him. His grace gives us the run of His house because when we are there, we’re home.

Happy Father’s Day!

Isn’t he your father?

June 16th, 2012 by Maureen

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

Moses first introduces the concept of God as Father in the Bible here. He uses the familiar father-child relationship to clarify Israel’s relationship to God. He suggests that fathers establish something for their children and through them, and that fathers are owed something back from their children. Figuring out what that “something” looks like can be a challenge for both fathers and children.

Lord, heal relationships between fathers and children this weekend.

Basic needs

June 15th, 2012 by Maureen

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings.
You feed them from the abundance of your own house,
letting them drink from your river of delights. Ps. 36:7-8

Our view of abundance is often impoverished and limited.  God’s abundance meets  basic human needs: love, shelter, food, drink in an exponential way. The abundance of God encompasses present, future, and even the past. It includes physical, spiritual, emotional, and relational needs. And we are not only recipients but participants in His abundance.

Lord, use me in Your sheltering, nourishing, and loving  abundance.

Engage heart and head first

June 14th, 2012 by Maureen

And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue…James 3:4-5

Spoken words can change the course of a relationship. Before speaking it’s a good idea to ask:

“Should I say this?”

“How should I say this?”

“Should I say it now?”

“Where is saying this going to take us?”

Wrong words cannot be unsaid but better words can restore a relationship to a better course even if its not the direction it was originally taking.

Lord help my heart and head to engage before I speak.

Slugging through the middle

June 13th, 2012 by Maureen

Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 2 Cor. 8:11

Beginnings are often full of enthusiasm and energy while  a visible finish line provides the motivation to push to the finish. It’s slugging through the middle that requires faith and faithfulness. We serve and give with all we’ve got because goals and needs remain the same whether we are personally moved by them at the moment or not.

Lord, help me keep going and stir my flagging enthusiasm.

Image conscious

June 12th, 2012 by Maureen

Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. Matt.6:1

Too much focus on what other people think of us can rob us of rewarding experiences. Concern about getting credit, tax write-offs, projecting an image, looking gullible, looking unselfish, or being rewarded can take the focus away from the person or people being helped. Truly good deeds are others centered. The only image worthy of our attention is Christ’s.

Lord, let my motivation be simply to help.

Ugly feet are no excuse

June 11th, 2012 by Maureen

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,the good news of peace and salvation,the news that the God of Israel reigns! Is. 52:7

Every believer carries amazing, life-altering news. In a world where people are oppressed and depressed, overwhelmed and unloved the message of Christ is so incredibly beautiful. And the messengers who carry this news are themselves transformed by the news. Don’t worry about ugly feet, just walk out the message.

Lord, help me carry news of peace and salvation with me today.

Happy Sunday

June 10th, 2012 by Maureen

The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. I Tim. 1:5

Most preachers don’t preach and most teachers don’t teach to make anybody feel bad about themselves. Most don’t do it to be fun spoilers. And, despite prevailing rumors, most aren’t in it for the money. Most hope to lovingly lead people to connect with Christ and with one another.

Lord, bless those who encourage my heart and my faith. May the outcome of their efforts be people filled with Your love.

Extreme conversations

June 9th, 2012 by Maureen

When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. Matt. 10:19

When relationships or futures are on line talking can seem like an extreme sport and fear can keep us silent.  If God promises the right words to someone who has been arrested because of the gospel, the Holy Spirit, who can see into hearts and spirits, can be trusted to prompt us when we are questioned or confronted. Sometimes people need to have extreme conversations to get at the truth.

Lord, help me stop wimping out.