Archive for April, 2015

We are all Baltimore

April 30th, 2015 by Maureen

I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matt. 5:44-45

From the sidelines it’s easy to take sides, to name heroes and villains, and to give out praise and judgment. But followers of Christ are called to love police, protesters, and politicians, racists, rioters, and reporters, bystanders, and victims. In fact, manifesting His Love helps us eliminate the “us-them” mentality that must categorize, assign blame, and distinguish ourselves from others. Any hope any of us have for redemption lies in the same three nails, the same empty tomb, and the same risen Christ.

Lord, when I don’t understand, when I don’t relate, when I simply don’t have another person’s perspective on the situation, let Your love and grace be my first response.

 

Out of our minds? Now we’re getting somewhere.

April 28th, 2015 by Maureen

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! How vast is the sum of them. Ps. 139:17

Our vision is so often limited to the way that we are, locked into our own assumptions, backgrounds, limited knowledge and thinking patterns. We see ourselves and God from this limited place. What if in prayer and meditation we focused on God’s thoughts about us rather than on our thoughts about God: His love and grace, His wisdom and vision concerning each of us is so vast. We might just need to be out of our own minds to have the mind of Christ.

Lord, I want more of the mind of Christ in my vision, my thinking, and my responses. Help me see things from Your point of view.

 

Plastic patience

April 27th, 2015 by Maureen

May the God of endurance and encouragement enable you to live in harmony with one another according to Jesus Christ. Rom 15:5

We can grit our teeth and force ourselves to be nice. We can engage in the white-knuckling, jaw-clinching kind of patience that just waits for it all to be over. We can just lie down and let ourselves be steamrolled. The versions of patience we create are sorry substitutes for the loving, grace-filled, enduring, encouraging, transforming patience that Christ poured into His relationships with others. Having Christ manifest in us what we cannot manufacture in ourselves isn’t faking it, it’s part of being transformed into His image.

Lord, my version of patience is platic. Fill me with Your version of patience until that kind of patience becomes an organic part of who I am.

April 27th, 2015 by Maureen

May the God of endurance and encouragement enable you to live in harmony with one another according to Jesus Christ. Rom 15:5

We can grit our teeth and force ourselves to be nice. We can engage in the white-knuckling, jaw-clinching kind of patience that just waits for it all to be over. We can just lie down and let ourselves be steamrolled. The versions of patience we create are sorry substitutes for the loving, grace-filled, enduring, encouraging, transforming patience that Christ poured into His relationships with others. Having Christ manifest in us what we cannot manufacture in ourselves isn’t faking it, it’s part of being transformed into His image.

Lord, my version of patience isn’t doing anything to build relationship or resolve issues. Fill me with Your version of patience until what it becomes my very own.

Parrots can only sound wise

April 23rd, 2015 by Maureen

Keep your eyes on wisdom and understanding. They are life to your soul (inner life) and grace to your neck (outer life). Prov. 3:21

God does more for us than simply telling us what is wise and expecting us to parrot it. Through relationship with Him who made us and knows us best, we internalize His wisdom so that we perceive and respond out of insight rather simply acting out of rote knowledge. Life is most satisfying when our inner lives and outer lives are consistent, when we are being our authentic selves, when we are aware of His loving instruction, and when we are able to be confidently transparent with others.

Lord, help my inner life and outer life to be full of Your wisdom and understanding.

What a relief!

April 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:38-39

Instead of “Do all this holy stuff and read this and wear this and knock of forty doors and stop doing this so God will love you” it says “nothing – not one thing in all creation including what we’ve done or might do or didn’t do – will separate us from the love of God. Being loved – securely, profoundly, unconditionally loved – is way more motivating than obedience out of fear that love will be withdrawn.

Lord, I’m so glad I get to follow You because You love me instead of so You’ll love me.

 

To infinity and beyond

April 20th, 2015 by Maureen

You have never heard the Father’s voice or seen Him face to face because you do not have His message in your hearts because you do not believe Me. You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Jn. 37-39

We can never make the infinite finite yet we often approach our study of scripture as an attempt to confirm what we think we already know about God. There will always be more to discover and experience of His beauty, mystery, and truth. Experience and relationship with Him go beyond intellectual understanding and doctrinal positions. God, by His very nature, will always be more than our definitions of Him or He will not be God.

Lord, my heart is open to receive what You want to show me of Yourself today, through whatever means You choose to reveal Yourself.

April 20th, 2015 by Maureen

You have never heard the Father’s voice or seen Him face to face because you do not have His message in your hearts because you do not believe Me. You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Jn. 5:39

If our purpose in studying scripture is to confirm or expand on what we already think we understand about Christ we limit who God can be to us. There will always be more to discover and experience of His beauty, mystery, and truth. Experience and relationship with Him go beyond intellectual understanding and beyond words on a page, even the pages of scripture. God, by His very nature, will always be more than our definitions of Him or He will not be God.

Lord, my heart is open to receive what You want to show me of Yourself today, through whatever means You choose to reveal Yourself.

All I really want in life

April 19th, 2015 by Maureen

O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Ps. 142:5

What is it we really want in life? To have enough? To have more than enough? To be healthy? To have good relationships? To avoid trouble? To enjoy enriching experiences? To learn? To discover? To create? Wanting these things doesn’t necessarily make us self-centered or mean that we’ve lost focus on Christ. He wants to be the source of provision for us. Sometimes He asks us to become active participants in the process of receiving good and, occasionally in redefining good. He created us to be His beloved children living in Him, with Him, and through Him. Our focus of desire is key.

Lord, You are life itself and I desire all that You created me to enjoy and all the great things You wait so patiently to give me when I am ready to receive them.

All who wander are not lost

April 18th, 2015 by Maureen

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Ps. 16:7-8

Emmanuel (God-with-us) is a tangible reality, even when we are asleep. He is with us every moment. The only thing that puts distance between us and Him is our own awareness and acknowledgement of His presence. Wherever our hearts or minds wander He is with us still, ready to renew and deepen our experience in Him. Whenever we seek Him, in waking or sleeping, He always responds with rejoicing, restoration, and reassurance.

Lord, thank You for staying with me even when my heart and mind wander.

 

No reservations peace

April 17th, 2015 by Maureen

My peace I leave you with you. My peace I give you. I give you not as the world gives. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid. Jn. 14:27

So often the peace we make with others is the kind that only feels like a breather. We live dreading the next confrontation and wondering when it might happen. It’s impossible to truly feel relaxed about that relationship, whether it is between individuals, entities, or nations. The peace Christ means us to experience is full-on, wide-open, spread-eagle fearless, worry-free peace.

Lord, take me past my own understandings and reservations and into that peace that You left for me.

Too driven to drive friendly

April 16th, 2015 by Maureen

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Matt. 7:12

This is hard to apply in traffic. People in other cars do stupid things. They are inattentive, selfish and sometimes downright mean. Some days driving to work can make me feel like a gladiator entering the colosseum. Everyone is an enemy. In reality those other drivers are mothers, fathers, students, and friends who need to get wherever they are going safely, just like me and you. Those other drivers might be late and stressed too. God knows all the hairs on their heads too. He loves them too. What if we drove like we knew those things?

God, help me remember Your love for others when others seem like anonymous irritations.

Tax exempt eternity

April 15th, 2015 by Maureen

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

“From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. Matt. 17:25-26

Wouldn’t it be amazing to get a letter from the IRS saying you are exempt from paying taxes? In a spiritual sense this is what happens for God’s children. Jesus gladly exempts us. We don’t owe a thing. We still have to pay the IRS though because they are nothing like God.

Lord, I’m so glad you are not the Tax Man

Spiritual child development

April 13th, 2015 by Maureen

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I grew up I set aside childish ways. I Cor. 13:11

Most theories of child development include ideas that describe children as ego-centric concrete thinkers who focus on what they can do, see, and touch. Children find security in rules, measurement, routine, and structure. While we discard the childish concepts we cling to like spiritual security blankets, we remain child-like in our wonder, trust and dependence on our Father. Freedom and security in this spiritually mature relationship with our Father comes from considering abstract ideas like love, seeking unique personal identity in Him, responding to His Holy Spirit, and discovering the unselfish unity of being part of His body.

Lord, help me to put aside childish faith but always have child-like faith.

 

Love is the oxygen of our home planet

April 12th, 2015 by Maureen

but when that which is complete [or perfect] comes, that which is partial shall be set aside. I Cor. 13:10

This mysterious pronouncement is right in the middle of a passage about the preeminence of love – and it would be hard to argue that this world breathes love. Could it be that utter, complete, perfect love is the pure oxygen that will fill our lungs and course through our veins in the place Christ prepares for us. Could it be that much that we revere in our Christian lives – including our sincere but imperfect religious practices, exegesis, and theology – is simply intended to act as an oxygen mask to be discarded when we are able to breathe nothing but the pure love of His kingdom.

Lord, let love be the most completed thing about me.

God burned down the doghouse

April 11th, 2015 by Maureen

The prodigal son came to his senses and came home. Read Luke 15:11-31 for the whole story.

Prodigal: Father, I’ve sinned against heaven and against you. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.

Father: Put on the robe and ring that bear our family emblem. We’ll prepare a feast and celebrate. My son was dead and has come back to life again. He was lost and has been found. So they celebrated.

The father didn’t put conditions on the celebration like: “clean up first,” “sign a contract to follow my rules from now on,” or “pay me back the money you squandered.” The father didn’t put the son in the guilt doghouse for a couple of weeks before the feast. For the father, his son’s return signaled a change in status from life to death, lost to found. The father was more interested in restoration than reparation.

Lord, in my relationships with others, let the forgiveness I offer and the forgiveness I receive be as swift and complete as the restoration Your forgiveness offers me.

Shameless

April 10th, 2015 by Maureen

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Ps. 103:8-12

We are forgiven through the grace and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We minimize the enormity of His work of grace when we continue to beat ourselves up over our failures or shame and condemn others for their failures. If God, who knows everything and is perfect, can choose to forgive and to forget, through His grace and power so can we.

Lord, help me to stop focusing on my own failings and on those of others.

Worry warts

April 9th, 2015 by Maureen

Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares about you. I Pet. 5:7

There are lots of things that deserve legitimate concern. We can do something about some of them. We have little to no control over others. As we work the problems that are solvable we can do so with peace and confidence because God is with us and for us. God is in control and His love for us is the driving force in His plans, methods, and outcomes.

Lord, I don’t know how this will turn out but I know You are bigger than any problem.

 

Do they give trophies for last place?

April 7th, 2015 by Maureen

whoever would be great among you must be a servant; whoever would be first among you must be your servant; just as the Son of Man came not be served to but serve… Matt. 20:27-28a 

These words were part of Jesus’ response to the ambitious mother of James of John who wanted to assure a prominent place in Jesus’ kingdom for her sons. Jesus countered with a call to servanthood. It’s important to intentionally schedule time to serve others, but the hard work of serving comes when we respond to interruptions with a servant’s heart. Serving is often inconvenient. Sometimes serving involves revising the priority list, putting our own stuff further back, maybe even last, yet still getting it all covered…with grace.

Lord, help me to put aside my own agenda when you put someone in front of me who needs attention. Lead me to serve that person in whatever way that communicates Your love and grace.

Is anybody in their right mind?

April 6th, 2015 by Maureen

The spiritual person discerns all things and is not subject to anyone’s scrutiny. Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to advise Him? But we have the mind of Christ. I Cor. 2:15-16

Seriously Paul, saying this has the potential for abuse of power and general organizational mayhem, especially if you take away scrutiny. Can we align our minds with His through intellectual pursuit? Can His mind be discovered through application of what we think He said? Is the mind of Christ something we must apprehend or something we already have? However we choose to interpret it, is there ever a time when our spirits, our intellects, our emotions, our attitudes, our relationships, our actions, and our responses to all life’s events are completely in synch with God?

Holy Spirit, I don’t know how to take this, but help me to respond to You, to other people, to life’s events and challenges, and to my self with love, grace, and truth that originates with You and emanates from You.