Archive for July, 2014

When chopportunity knocks

July 31st, 2014 by Maureen

My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Cor. 12:9

Challenges are also opportunities. Let’s call them chopportunities. Hard tasks, complicated relationships, projects gone wrong, and personal quests are opportunities: to learn about trusting Christ even more, to practice forgiveness toward ourselves and others, to reevaluate and reset our priorities, to ask for and receive support from others, and to grow spiritually as we participate in the love and grace of God in yet another way.

Lord, help embrace chopportunities and grow from these experiences.

Stuff friends do

July 30th, 2014 by Maureen

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Jn. 13:34

Jesus loved his friends by showing up for the celebrations and sorrows of their lives. He made wine at their weddings, went fishing with them, and patiently answered their dumbest questions.  He forgave, encouraged, and healed them. Jesus faced down death and hell to save his friends and is currently planning a huge feast. No matter where we are or what we’re going through Jesus keeps showing up. Like friends do.

Lord, help me to love others the way you love me.

Peace out

July 29th, 2014 by Maureen

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16

Peace is available no matter what is happening in our lives. Our circumstances reflect the imperfection of the world rather than the measure of God’s care. He is always with us and always for us.

Lord, thank you for bringing peace to my chaos.

The next Samaritan you meet might save your life

July 28th, 2014 by Maureen

but a certain Samaritan…Luke 10:33

Making the good Samaritan the hero of His parable was like telling a story in a conservative white church in Texas in which an illegal alien or a homosexual is the hero…or like telling a story in a Northeastern liberal campus fellowship in which Rick Perry renders compassionate aid.  It’s much easier to love people who are just like we are, who agree with us on doctrinal, social and political issues, have similar lifestyles, tastes and interests, and share our languages, cultural and ethnic backgrounds; and to simply label the rest “Samaritan.” But Jesus loved social ouliers and cultural rejects. He included them and gave them important roles in the story He came to tell humanity.

Lord, give me love and grace for both the Samaritans and those who label me “Samaritan.”

Communication basics

July 27th, 2014 by Maureen

I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I Cor. 2:2

Being right or smart or creative is irrelevant if what we have to say does not in some way communicate the transforming grace and restorative love of Jesus. It’s okay if it takes some explaining, it’s good to go deep, but at some point we need to connect the dots for the people we are communicating with so that it’s clear that the lens through which we communicate is Jesus; the motive, redemptive; and the tone, reconciling.

Jesus, reveal Yourself in all I say, hear, see and read.

 

Understanding how it works is not a prerequisite for participation

July 26th, 2014 by Maureen

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Col. 1:20

Quantum theory attempts to explain the behavior of sub-atomic particles, waves, and energies, and addresses problems of time and space, all of which cannot be reconciled to the classical laws of physics. Jesus introduced a quantum-level reconciliation that shook up the practical laws and consequences humans believed were the boundaries of their understanding of God and relationship to Him. Through Christ, the fullness – all God is – reconciled all that exists everywhere and at all times to Himself. It’s mind-blowing.

Lord, I don’t fully understand how it all works but I want to live my life in Your peace and reconciliation.

 

 

I’d rather be in fairy tale than a horror story

July 25th, 2014 by Maureen

But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God. Rom 6: 6 (Message)

Following Paul’s analogy, under the law sin gets to impact our lifestyles, choices, finances, etc. because we are legally married to it. We can go with a legal horror story: Jesus is our attorney who figures out legal grounds for divorce and makes appeal to a Supreme Court, but our evil spouse uses legal loopholes to keep a hold on us. Or we can go with this scenario: Jesus rides up on a white horse, engages in a Princess Bride level duel and kills our oppressive, abusive spouse in a decisive victory. Then He scoops us up and takes us to His kingdom where His Father welcomes us with open arms. Eventually He marries us and we live happily ever after.

Lord, thank you for rescuing me. I love that I get to live this true fairy tale called redemption.

God up before you man up

July 24th, 2014 by Maureen

Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Ps. 27:14

When problems arise, we usually expect ourselves and others to “man up” and take action. Waiting or running seems cowardly.  There are times when the solution  is pretty obvious and immediate action is the right call, but sometimes we just have to wait, trusting that God will eventually provide direction about what to do next and attitude adjustment as needed. Waiting is not running.

Oh, Lord, help me to man up and wait to respond from Your loving purposes rather than reacting on my own.

 

Risk management

July 23rd, 2014 by Maureen

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

Boldness and confidence before a holy, perfect God is not something any of us can possibly achieve or deserve as a result of our own actions or merit. God’s love for us makes this relationship possible. We are safe in His arms because His act of redemption has made us safe in His arms. We cannot manage whatever risk we perceive in the surrender our lives and hearts and wills to Him. If we love and trust Him there is no risk.

Father, I love this breathtaking assurance.

 

 

Getting what we deserve

July 22nd, 2014 by Maureen

You should not gloat over your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble. Oba. 1:12

When others bear the consequences of their own stupidity, short-sightedness, or selfishness we may think, even if we don’t say, that “they get what they deserve.”  When we’re the ones who messed up we tend to land in the “everyone deserves a second chance ” camp. Grace has nothing to do with the reward or punishment we deserve and everything to do with the redemption and mercy we don’t deserve.

Lord, am grateful for what I don’t deserve.

Some things you replace instead of recycle

July 21st, 2014 by Maureen

Tell the people, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will put an end to this proverb, and you will soon stop quoting it.’ Now give them this new proverb to replace the old one: ‘The time has come for every prophecy to be fulfilled!’ Eze. 12:22-23

How many old ideas and worn out contexts do we bring into our relationships with God? How much that needs replacing do we try to recycle into the new life He gives us? 400 years passed with no word and then Jesus showed up. Most didn’t recognize Him as the fulfillment of prophecy. Many who recognized Him as Messiah still wanted to follow Him in the context of the old law rather than the new.

Lord, replace what I’ve been recycling with what You really want me to have.

A legacy of inner peace

July 20th, 2014 by Maureen

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  Jn. 14:27 RSV

The context of this statement is Jesus preparing His disciples for change. In a nutshell, in John 14 Jesus tells them that He will soon complete the world-changing mission His Father sent Him to accomplish and return to the Father. He will send His Spirit to be with them, and all who ever believe in Him, in an even better way than He’s been with them. He’ll be back to get them.

Lord, help me believe all things, bear all things, hope all things, and endure all things in context of the peace You’ve given.

Culture shock

July 19th, 2014 by Maureen

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Phil. 3:20 ESV

As citizens who are immigrants, sometimes the culture shock becomes too much and we try to institutionalize Christ’s kingdom into something that is familiar, predictable and controllable. We are used to establishing and enforcing rules but He calls us to love. We are used to being adherents but He calls us to be receptors. We are used to conformity but He calls us to transformation. We are used to obligation but He calls us to privilege.

Jesus, take my hand and show me around Your wondrous and infinite kingdom.

 

 

Immigrants in the Kingdom of God

July 18th, 2014 by Maureen

He rescued us from the tyranny of darkness, and transferred us  into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Col. 1:13 (Mounce)

Our spiritual country of origin is a tyrannical realm of guilt and pain, of temporarily satisfactory diversions and false security. Instead of leaving us at the border Jesus threw open the gates of heaven to the weary and wounded, the bent, the broken and the bound and said “come in, this is home now!”

Lord, I want to be so much a citizen of Your kingdom that I speak and think and dream in the language of Your kingdom.

Vision casting the Kingdom

July 17th, 2014 by Maureen

And Jesus was going about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the reign (gospel of the kingdom NEV), and healing every disease, and every malady among the people, Matt 4:23 (YLT)

Jesus spent a good deal of His time on earth vision casting for His kingdom and reign. Rather than simply amending laws and updating tools and practices He explained its values and purposes. He told stories, demonstrated, called up references, drew word pictures and offered metaphors to help His followers see what it is and what it means to be part of it. We are still trying to figure it out. Not because we are stupid or because Jesus is vague, but for ideas to becomes integral, practicable truth in our lives we need more than information and instructions. We need vision and integration.

Lord, reign over my innermost thoughts, responses, and motives.

 

Faith’s reward

July 16th, 2014 by Maureen

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Heb. 11:6

If we focus on the pleasing and the rewarding we make interaction with God more about our behavior, what we want or what we get from God, and whether we are “doing it right.” If we focus on the believing and the seeking our interaction becomes about His personality, His responses, and His revelation of Himself to us. The reward for believing and seeking is relationship not a trophy.

Lord, I seek greater awareness of Your presence and Your agenda as I experience each moment of  this day.

With all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.

July 15th, 2014 by Maureen

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jn. 11:21 & 32

Some things in our lives look all dead. Not just mostly dead but go-though-pockets-and-look-for-loose-change dead.* There are times we just don’t have it in us to mask our frustration and disappointment when God doesn’t come through the way we expect. We ask God, “Where were You?” and “Why are you letting this happen?” Jesus raised Lazarus even though Mary and Martha thought it was too late. With Jesus everything  is only mostly dead.

Lord, I don’t have raise- the-dead faith but Your love for me has raise-the-dead-power, so thank You for the resurrection I don’t have the strength to expect.

Bonus:  Just for grins and giggles, The Princess Bride reference clip

There is no World Cup of Christianity

July 14th, 2014 by Maureen

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Jn. 5:44

Seeking approval and acclaim from each other inevitably results in competition. Attempts to rank own own efforts or the efforts of other Christians on a glorfication-meter deflects attention from the Source of glory. Nothing we say or do is going to make God more glorious. Instead we are all invited into His glory as we seek Him and respond to Him, looking at Him rather than at ourselves or one another.

Lord, You are beautiful. Your face is all I see.

 

 

Greek word of the day: Tetelestai

July 12th, 2014 by Maureen

It is finished! Jn, 19:28 

Translated from the Greek, “Tetelestai” this means “to bring to an end, to complete, to consummate, or to pay.” It is written in perfect tense which means that the progress of Christ’s crucifixion is complete but the effects are ongoing. The atonement echoes across time and through eternity as the punctuating event that reconciles humans to God.

Lord, I rest in the perfection of Your complete atonement and reconciliation.

This article, Shabbat and Creation  linked the idea of Tetelestai to God’s completion of creation in Genesis 1 and then instituting the concept of rest. Interesting perspective.

Radiant

July 10th, 2014 by Maureen

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I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Ps. 34:4-5

Too often we approach our Father with fear and shame, feeling defined by our baggage. Too often we wear masks, hoping our true faces won’t revealed and rejected.  Too often we diminish our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the work of the cross itself, by using fear and shame to manipulate and judge.

Lord, I want to speak to You and about You with an unveiled face, made radiant by Your grace.