Archive for June, 2015

Go!

June 26th, 2015 by Maureen

In His hands are the depths of the earth, the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it with His hands. Ps. 95:4-5

Nature is God’s art gallery. It’s impossible to see it all but it’s good for us to leave our routines and concerns to enjoy new wonders. Every area of the globe contains unique geographic features, plants, animals, and cultures that grew around bounties and features of that region. Vacationing in new places expands our views of God’s creativity, provision, and beauty. Travel can cause us to notice the beauty of our own home environments when we return. Go!

Lord, thank you for all the wonders Your hands have made for me to enjoy.

Go ahead and laugh

June 25th, 2015 by Maureen

He who is sitting on the throne of Heaven laughs. He mocks at them. Ps. 2:4

Verse 1 starts out “Why do the nations rage?” God’s response to all that rage is derision. Raging against Him is a little like a father holding his child’s head at arms’ length while the little one swings and swings with arms too short to throw a punch. Not to diminish the serious consequences of raging evil, but maybe crying persecution, calling up Eph. 5:4 when somebody makes a joke, or acting perpetually offended is not the most effective response. Sometimes a little humor is just the thing to dispel the rage. We know that what is meant for evil, God already has a plan to turn it for good. We know Jesus has already conquered evil. God can afford to laugh and so can we.

Lord, show me how to respond with love, grace, and maybe a little humor to those who rage.

About creativity

June 24th, 2015 by Maureen

God has called Bezaleel and filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in knowledge, in understanding, in craftsmanship so that he is gifted in design using many mediums including work in gold, silver, bronze, wood, and stone. Ex. 35:30-33

The creative process involves God-given inspiration and talent. We study and practice to develop those talents and to translate inspiration into tangible products. We become more versatile in our creativity when we try new methods and remain open to new ideas (including other people’s). J.R.R. Tolkien held the view that whatever  humans create are sub-creations that are only possible because humans are created in the Creator’s image. For Tolkien these sub-creations  might be ‘echoes’ or ‘mockeries’ of His image depending on the intents and influences of the sub-creator. Perhaps this is where wisdom comes into the creative process as we create and share the products of our God-given talents.

Lord, let my sub-creations be echoes of Your own creativity.

What friends do

June 22nd, 2015 by Maureen

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. Jn. 15:15

Serving God takes on a different context when we think of that service as the opportunity to participate with a really visionary and talented Friend who is creating something amazing rather than fearfully meeting the demands of an angry god or heavy-handed boss. Not that God needs favors from us, but as we know Him better and discover more about His redemptive plan it’s likely we will want to serve because we are excited about what He is doing and we want in on it.

Lord, tell me more, show me more, use me more.

Abide. Love really is all we need.

June 20th, 2015 by Maureen

As the Father has loved me, I have loved you. Abide in My love. Jn 15:9

Jesus’ love is the Father’s love is the Spirit’s love. This love existed among the Trinity before God caused anything else to be. Abiding is awareness and enjoyment of the very same love that existed before anything else surrounds us all the time. Abiding is becoming part of the love of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Abiding is knowing that this God of love is with us, for us, in us, and flowing from us so that as God loves us, we love others. Abiding in this love makes our lives sufficient and abundant, changing what we think we want and need, and what we believe is important.

Lord, I want all my desires and responses to come from abiding in Your love.

The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence

June 18th, 2015 by Maureen

And from the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent are taking it by force. Matt. 11:12 (Mounce Interlinear)

The terrible tragedy in South Carolina makes it feel like hatred and violence are winning. Not so. Something happened after Jesus spoke these words to His disciples that reframed everything. Jesus conquered death, hell, and the grave. Jesus overcame evil with good. Jesus became Victor and Rescuer for victims of hatred and violence. The reasons the kingdom still suffers violence have been debated since Jesus rose from the dead, but for the victims inside that Charleston church, death is swallowed up in victory, even if victory is not apparent to us. The kingdom of heaven belongs to Jesus and cannot be taken.

Jesus, help me to recognize Your ultimate victory and deliverance when the kingdom of heaven suffers violence.

Playing the cards you’re dealt

June 18th, 2015 by Maureen

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. Ecc. 9:11

The hand Hunter Treschl was playing took a turn when a shark bit off his arm on Monday. His response: choose to “live a normal life with the cards I’ve been dealt.” To accept that challenge and be ready to move forward is an impressive next-day response to a life-changing setback. Now one of Hunter’s cards has unique teeth marks and it will stay in his hand until the game is over. At some point every person’s hand will contain bad cards, cards that we didn’t see coming, didn’t deserve, and couldn’t control. That is a normal life.

Lord, help me accept the cards I’m dealt and play them out with grace and trust in Your goodness and goodwill.

My soul needs a spa

June 17th, 2015 by Maureen

In the abundance of various and perplexing thoughts within me Your comforts soothe my soul. Ps. 94:19

Because we love and we care and everything matters, it’s hard to put things that concern us out of our minds, even temporarily. Amid the tension of the unresolved and often disturbing situations on our minds and hearts, meditating on God is like a spa visit for the soul. His presence is a place to bask in the warmth of His love, to deeply breathe His grace in and out, to taste His goodness, and to let hope massage away the knots of fear and concern.

Lord, I give in to your relaxing, restorative Presence and let go of my messy tangle of concerns.

 

 

The physical, emotional, and spiritual dangers of anger

June 16th, 2015 by Maureen

A kind person is rewarding his own soul but the fierce is troubling his own flesh. Prov. 11:7

Sometimes anger is an appropriate response, but how we express anger, and how frequently, can result in physical, emotional, and spiritual damage. Doctors now consider fits of rage and on-going hostility to be heart disease risk factors. Lashing out to express disappointment or disapproval damages our relationships, often with those closest to us. If we get angry over little things or seem to be angry all the time, we may be relying on anger to provide a sense of importance and empowerment. Kindness helps us recognize that our power and significance come from relationship with a loving God who values us and all those around us. When we experience anger and express it from a place of kindness the goal becomes to resolve a conflict with someone we care about rather than to attack someone we’re mad at.

Lord, help my response be kind, even when I’m angry.

3 False conclusions about unanswered prayer

June 15th, 2015 by Maureen

How long must I cry out for help? But you, God, do not listen. Hab. 1:2

Prayer is supposed to be an unburdening but drawing false conclusions about unanswered prayers adds unnecessary weight instead.

False conclusion 1: God’s Big Plan trumps our little need and we are just cogs in His cosmic wheel. This conclusion adds insecurity and doubt to the burden we already carry.

False conclusion 2: Our prayers, our lifestyle, or our faith is not good enough to deserve an answer. This conclusion puts responsibility for the continuance of the need on us.  As a bonus we also get to carry the added weight of rejection and failure to measure up.

False conclusion 3: If “prayer warriors” don’t struggle against the forces of darkness, the enemy wins. This conclusion reduces the cross to a first strike rather than a conclusive victory against evil. Faith in the power of Christ is what makes prayer powerful.

Lord, I trust You. I know You care about this more than I do. I leave it with You. When I  pray about this again it will weigh less because You carry it instead of me.

That last toothless enemy

June 14th, 2015 by Maureen

The last enemy of be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:26

Nobody gets out of life alive and nobody escapes the pain of loss that death creates. That we still die does not indicate Jesus failed to defeat death with His resurrection. The Greek word “katargeō,” usually translated “destroyed,” also means “to deprive of force, influence, or power” and “to be severed from.” Jesus pulled all death’s teeth so that the best it can do is gum at us. Jesus severed us from the fear and finality of separation that give death it’s influence over our hearts and minds. Instead His force, influence, and power allow us to experience life, love, and hope even in the face of death.

Lord, as much as it hurts to be separated by death, help us have a perspective that deprives death of any real influence in our lives.

Don’t want to live like a refugee

June 12th, 2015 by Maureen

My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my subjects would be fighting to prevent me from being handed over to the Jews, as it is, my kingdom is not from here. Jn. 18:36

Christ causes positive change to happen in our thinking, desires, and choices and we want the rest of the world to experience that too. All good stuff. But if we adopt the methods, strategies, and attitudes we learned in the kingdom of this world to impose change on the world, even positive change, we act as immigrants and refugees rather than heirs. And if we reduce the effects of Christ’s transforming grace to a set of social and behavioral protocols that can be implemented on the earthly kingdom in order to bring about His heavenly kingdom, we mistake the effect with the message itself. That kind of thinking happens a lot in earthly kingdoms, but we’re not from here anymore.

Lord, help me think and live like an heir in Your kingdom, our kingdom (wow!)

Winter is coming. God has it.

June 11th, 2015 by Maureen

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

In the ancient world the movements of the sun, stars, and moon were linked to conditions that directly affected life and livelihood. Many cultures interpreted the coming of winter and fading of light as withdrawal or displeasure on the part of their gods of light. While God created the cycle of seasons and celestial movement, He sent his best and most perfect Gift to rescue us from relationships cycles based on fate, karma, or sacrifice. The degree of His love, grace, and provision for us is unchanging. Variation and shadow come from how we interpret what is happening to us and how we interpret God’s motives toward us in light of those events.

Lord, I ‘m so grateful for the Light of the world.

To resist or to receive

June 10th, 2015 by Maureen

We look expectantly to God and our faces become radiant. We are not ashamed. Ps. 34:5

Resistance mode places the expectation to defeat sin on human effort. Focused on ourselves, we engage in a cycle of shame – regret- confession – determination – try harder – failure – more shame… Accepting, trusting, and expecting God’s grace and power to keep us, guide us, and transform us puts us in receiving mode. We enter the flow of His goodness and grace. We place our lightless candles into His existing, eternal flame rather than trying to build our own fires from sticks and stones. We become radiant because He is radiant and we are looking at Him. The things that tempt us grow dim.

Jesus, I turn my eyes on You and look full in Your wonderful face.

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is you

June 9th, 2015 by Maureen

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, malice, and slander be taken from you. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Eph. 4:31

Many of us replay in our minds past sins, failures, imperfections, or even small mistakes that may have caused trouble for others; and we see ourselves through that cracked, smudged, warped lens. Forgiving ourselves may become even more difficult when we don’t experience forgiveness from others. Along with our sins, Christ takes these malicious responses and their consequences from us so that we can see ourselves as He sees us. When we can’t forgive ourselves we are obstructing that view. When we accept a version of ourselves that unforgiving people give us, we accept a cracked view of who we are in Christ. When we do not forgive others we are enabling others to take a warped view of themselves.

Lord, help me see myself and others in the reality of Your redemption and restoration.

Literally hyperbole upon hyperbole

June 8th, 2015 by Maureen

For the momentary lightness of affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory which…(literally) hyperbole upon hyperbole. 2 Cor. 4:17

The end of this verse is usually translated “beyond comparison” but Paul uses “hyperbole” and then doubles it to describes the excessive, immeasurable nature of of this glory. He gives the invisible, abstract idea of glory “weight” while assigning the ephemeral “lightness” to our very visible and experiential afflictions. In comparing time, afflictions are “momentary” while glory is “eternal.” Perspective is everything when it comes to looking at the outcomes of whatever currently pains us.

Lord, show me how to weigh my difficulties the way You do.

 

Perspective for problems

June 7th, 2015 by Maureen

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jn. 16:33

The truth of Who Jesus is and His love and grace toward us is the perspective from which we view everything else. All our hopes and dreams, all our problems and challenges, all our relationships, and all our studies find meaning and fall into priority in Christ. The more aware we are of Christ’s love and grace permeating all aspects of our lives the more at peace we can be when circumstances that go wrong and the more hopeful we can be about everything in our lives.

Lord, all I have, all I want, all I experience is in You.

 

 

The Third Strand

June 6th, 2015 by Maureen

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help… two people lying close together can keep each other warm…A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. And a cord with three strands is the strongest of all. Ecc. 4:9-12

When we recognize that God is the third strand of each relationship, whether it be marriage, family, friendships, church, business or social relationships, we can draw our identity, worth, and emotional security from Him rather than saddling another person with relationship responsibilities no human is equipped to cover. Relationships – all kinds of relationships – are about showing up but giving space, about supporting, equipping, and partnering but also celebrating independent achievement, about forgiving, encouraging, and respecting, about being honest and kind, about protecting and about making it safe for the other person to be honest too, and above all, about loving.

Lord, I am better off because of the people in my life. I thank you for them and for Your presence in each relationship.

 

 

 

 

Believe. Trust. Thank. Love. Enough.

June 5th, 2015 by Maureen

“Why are you so troubled and why are doubts arising in your hearts?” Luke 24:38

Even when the disciples were looking at the resurrected Christ in person they couldn’t believe it. It was too good to be true. Sometimes we approach His free gift in the same way. When we see evil still in the world, we doubt and assume Christ’s redemptive plan has limits. We are troubled by our inability to contribute to our own redemption and assign ourselves disciplines to make us worthy of it. What Christ did to redeem us is free, unearned, and sufficient.

Lord, I don’t begin to understand all the hows and whys but I believe You, I trust You, I thank You, and I love You.

Inadequate and relieved to say so

June 4th, 2015 by Maureen

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from us, but our adequacy comes from God who indeed made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, based not on the letter but on the Spirit, because the letter kills, but the Spirit imparts life. 2 Cor. 5-6

Christ’s new covenant of grace tore down the curtain in the tabernacle placed there by law and ended the fearful sacrifices followed to the letter by men trying hard to be worthy enough and holy enough for reconciliation. If we continue to believe relationship with God hinges on our obedient sacrifices, we remain behind the curtain in the old covenant, trapped by the letter. What Christ has done is adequate. We need not struggle to gain life that has already been imparted.

Lord, thank You for the life You impart to my inadequate self.