Archive for March, 2015

It’s a free country

March 31st, 2015 by Maureen

I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. Jn. 8:34-36

Jesus came to free us from the captivity of sin. Sin was the prison of our misdirected desires and habits, the chains of guilt and self-condemnation, the barbed wire borders of isolation caused by judgment and condemnation of others. Jesus kicked down the doors, broke the chains and cut the fence, and yet we often return to the prison doors on the border, as though still chained. He continually calls us farther and deeper into the free country that He made our birthright and home.

Lord, thank You for winning my freedom. Help me to live as free as You’ve made me.

Jesus didn’t have a martyr complex

March 30th, 2015 by Maureen

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matt. 26:39

The cross wasn’t suicide; it was both a sacrifice and an aggressive attack on evil. Jesus acted out of love, not defeat and despair. Jesus’ death was precursor to His defeat of death, hell, and the grave. Jesus trusted that His journey to the cross was the only means to accomplish His purpose of forgiveness and redemption for us, but He didn’t want to go. Following Him sometimes leads to loss, to sacrifice, to suffering, and even to apparent failure. Victory is often only evident after the fact.

Lord, I’d rather not go there, but let Your will and Your purposes be accomplished in my life by whatever means necessary.

 

 

God > everything else

March 29th, 2015 by Maureen

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Cor 13:14

Each member of the Triune God informs what we believe about ourselves and encourages how we interact with other people. Our poor choices, conscious and unconscious resistance, misguided efforts, and unshed baggage are no more a match for the power of His redemption than death was against the power of His resurrection. Whether it feels like it or not, His grace carries us, His love surrounds us, and He remains with us because nothing can separate us from Him now.

Lord, thank You for Your grace, Your love, and Your constant presence.

That moment on the roller coaster when you put your hands in the air

March 28th, 2015 by Maureen

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:12-13

Each of us is not only saved from something, we are saved for something. The fear and trembling comes when we let go of the familiar, controlled lives of our own making and step into the unknown lives that God has made for us. Change is scary. Yielding control is scary. Trust requires a lot of letting go. The work happens as we figure out how to embrace God’s good pleasure every day without dragging along the crutches, boundaries, and agendas that made us secure in the lives we made for ourselves.

Lord, I surrender to Your thrilling, out-of-my-control good pleasure.

Sometimes truth moves the cheese

March 26th, 2015 by Maureen

I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice. Jn. 18:37

It was difficult for the Hebrews to embrace the truth of Christ because it meant letting go of some of the tenets and practices that made them feel secure in their faith. Sometimes truth is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Sometimes truth causes conflict. Sometimes truth moves the cheese. As we understand and embrace truth in Christ, we have to be willing to let that truth change our paradigms.

Lord, it matters more to me that You show me truth than that You keep me comfortable…wow, that’s a hard prayer for me.

From full of holes to fully whole

March 25th, 2015 by Maureen

And the Church is His body; it is made full and complete by Christ who fills all things everywhere with himself. Eph. 1: 23.

Even before the world was made God loved us and wanted to make us whole. We tend to look at ourselves and see what’s missing. When we don’t feel whole we focus on the holes – and try to fill them ourselves. A sense of incompleteness often creates a cycle of shame and self-gratification. What would it be like to experience such wholeness through Christ that we felt like nothing was missing from our lives?

Lord, thank you for making me full and complete, to the extent it is possible, help me to see myself as You do.

Your angry face might get stuck like that

March 24th, 2015 by Maureen

Do not be quick in your spirit to become angry for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. Ecc. 7:9

If we focus too much on life’s little annoyances, if we repeat a litany of discontent when we asked how the day is going, if we overreact to small irritants, anger might be lodged in our thoughts, emotions, and reactions, damaging our health and our relationships. Sometimes initial anger works as a powerful motivator in bringing needed change to legitimately unjust situations, but even righteous indignation can turn ugly. Habitually angry people make less effective change agents.

Lord, turn my desire for justice and good into effective and gracious responses that bring about positive change. Help me to put the petty irritants into perspective and to focus on Your grace, love, beauty, and truth instead.

Faithful realism is where its at

March 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

Moses stretched out his hand and the Lord drove the sea back using a strong east wind that blew all night and turned it into dry land. Ex. 14:21

Optimists expect the Red Sea to part every time they reach water. Pessimists expect the waves to fall on them before they pass through. Narcissists think they somehow exert power over the waves. Faithful realists understand that God parted the Red Sea using wind but that He didn’t install a people mover. Life in Christ continues to involve problem solving and decision-making on our part as we trust in God’s sovereignty and His goodness.

Lord, I know I can trust You and expect good from You.

Hiding out

March 20th, 2015 by Maureen

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in times of trouble. Ps. 46:1

When things go wrong it’s common to look for somewhere to hole up while we figure out what to do. God wants to be that place we go to hide and the one Who figures it out for us. God loves us and wants to guide and protect us. This doesn’t mean we can avoid all the evil in the world. This doesn’t mean we can avoid consequences when we choose poorly. This doesn’t mean we can dodge the fallout from bad situations other people create. What it does means is that our disoriented, stunned, fragile, weary selves have a perfect hide-out while our Father carries us through whatever is going on. There is no shame and no fail in that. It just means God is the Father and we are the children.

Thank You, Father, for making Your arms my hide out.

When it’s raining shoes

March 19th, 2015 by Maureen

Don’t worry about anything but in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Phil 4:76

Waiting for the other shoe to drop is an idiom based on the logic is that if bad things have happened before then bad things will happen again. There may be good reasons to worry about the other shoe, but living in fear and doubt is painful as well as spiritually, mentally, and emotionally damaging. Trusting God with our greatest fears and concerns frees us to enjoy our lives even when its raining shoes.

Lord, I believe in Your love, goodness, kindness, and grace toward me and those I pray about. I thank You for intervening in each situation is ways that help and restore. Lord, I believe, help this worry that so contradicts what I know is true about You.

Unsolved mysteries

March 18th, 2015 by Maureen

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Ecc. 11:5

Study and discovery has given human beings more information about weather and human development than the writer of Ecclesiastes had available when this verse was written and yet there are still worlds full of mystery under the sea, in space, in tiny microbes, and in the brain, to name a few. Study, research, and prayer may yield insight into some of our theological questions as well. Delving into God’s mysteries stretches our minds, strengthens our faith, and focuses our hearts and spirits on God.

Lord, lead me higher up and further in to the mystery of living my life in the wonders of all You make and all You are.

Christ with me and within me

March 17th, 2015 by Maureen

This is the secret God tells us: that Christ is in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27

God can be with us and within us at the same time. He guides our decisions and directs our paths yet encourages and counsels us as we reach decisions ourselves. He uses others to communicate His love and care to us and uses us to communicate that to others. In every possible way God communicates the hope and victory of His good news to give us hope, comfort, and confidence because we belong to Him. Perhaps that idea is the inspiration for this part of the Breastplate of St. Patricka prayer traditionally attributed to St. Patrick.

breastplate-of-st-patrick

 

Awesome wonders

March 16th, 2015 by Maureen

But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell you: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto you. Who does not know in all these that the hand of the Lord has done this? Job 12:7-10

Nature is a breathtaking revelation of God as artist, scientist, engineer, poet, musician, healer, and so much more. If man is made in His image, the rest of nature drips with His creativity. It’s good for us to get out into nature. The God we experience there restores a sense of wonder and wonder is a critical aspect of how we approach worship, prayer, study, and theology itself.

Lord, thank you for all Your hands have made.

Blood relatives

March 15th, 2015 by Maureen

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28

It is difficult to discard all the ways we define ourselves as individuals and as individual church bodies in favor of being defined by relationship with Christ Jesus. Membership in His family makes each of us more uniquely and utterly ourselves than anything we might do to distinguish our uniqueness or prove our worth. His blood binds us to one another more completely than any cultural norms we might create in an attempt to build community.

Lord, I am grateful to be defined by Christ.

Seasons change

March 14th, 2015 by Maureen

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecc. 3:1

Not everyone’s seasons coincide. On the same day some friends might celebrate new babies while others bury beloved relatives. Sometimes one person’s season of tearing down happens at the same time as another person’s season of building up. It’s not helpful to bring our demolition days into somebody else’s building days. And it can be nothing short of awkward and irritating when we try to force our sunny seasons into our neighbor’s storms, even if we do so with the best of intentions. The season any one of us happens to be experiencing does not determine the vibe of the whole world.

Lord, give me the spiritual finesse to dance with the dancers, mourn with the mourners, yet still be fully engaged in my particular season You’ve provided for me to experience.

Rest

March 13th, 2015 by Maureen

Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest Matt 11:28

Everybody gets tired. Sometimes we have to soldier on. Sometimes we get breaks. Sometimes we can’t seem to put down the things we carry even during the breaks and even our rest is weary. Fear and caution cause us to rest with one eye open and we never completely relax. The rest that God offers us is weightless and it is safe.

Lord, whatever happens, I know You have it. Thank you for rest that is full of Your peace.

 

Abiding is a state of being not a state of doing

March 12th, 2015 by Maureen

And we know and have believed the love which God has in us. God is love; and he that abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. I Jn. 4:16

God loves us. He has placed His own love in our hearts, minds, and spirits so we are not even dependent on our own ability to love in order to love. Loving people we consider “unlovable” doesn’t mean we white-knuckle it and “make nice” with the knuckleheads in our lives. Abiding is a state in which we exist rather than a thing we do. We get to experience love for others because God loves us and because He loves them. It is His love the empowers us to experience loving relationships with others that are mutually transformative.

Lord, I abide in the love you have placed in me.

It’s hard to smell roses when you’re holding your nose

March 11th, 2015 by Maureen

For who has despised the day of small things? Zec. 4:10

If we view the little interruptions, the distracting details, and the unexpected turns of events as only annoyances that keep us from living “real” life, we might miss “real” life altogether. It’s possible that we might experience genuine God moments in the very experiences we once viewed as interruptions, but this is less likely to occur in a state of irritation. Attitude sets us up to despise or embrace the potential for joy in each moment.

Lord, help me to embrace the day of small things.

Emphasizing the “life” part

March 10th, 2015 by Maureen

I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live even if they die. Jn. 11:25

This is more than a funeral verse. “Even” implies that the living happens regardless of whether death occurs. Each of us has an amazing personal resurrection story to tell, but the life we live between resurrection and death is just as amazing. Believing in Him is even more than a static moment of saving faith or hope for eternal life in a static moment of death. It is participating in eternity every day. Every day Christ invites us to experience the breezes, colors, music, tastes, and aromas of resurrected life.

Lord, thank you for the resurrection, the hope, and the life.

Uncommon sense

March 9th, 2015 by Maureen

He grants the treasure of common sense to the honest. Prov. 2:7a

Common sense requires spiritual awareness and self-awareness. When we know our own desires, influences, temptations, and biases we can approach each situation with the understanding that we want, what we feel, or what we fear at any particular moment is not the sum total of who we are. When we are sensitive to Christ’s Holy Spirit we are more likely to respond as our redeemed and transformed selves because we understand that who we are is rooted in Who Christ Is. Imagine what if would be like if sensing His presence all the time was common!

Lord, help me remember who You have made me.