Archive for April, 2016

Sharing Grace

April 30th, 2016 by Maureen

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Phil. 4:4-5 (Msg.)

Jesus’ teachings was only one aspect of what drew people to Him and caused His followers to invite others to come and meet Him. He also had a personality that made all sorts of people feel safe, loved, and included. People enjoyed His company. We don’t tend to want to introduce friends we don’t think are going to like each other, even if we love both of them.Why would we tell other people God doesn’t like them and then try to introduce them to Him? No wonder “evangelism” makes people on both sides of the conversation nervous. Grace simply includes the people we love in an ongoing loving conversation.

Lord, I trust Your Spirit to have loving, encouraging conversations with the people we both love and like very much. And I ask that You show me when its helpful and appropriate for me to join the conversations You are already having with the people we both love and like very much.

Basic assumptions about faith and hope

April 29th, 2016 by Maureen

Faith is the substance of things hoped for  Heb. 11:1a

A hopeful faith starts with certain working assumptions: 1) God loves you; 2) God is good; 3) The good God who loves you, and went to great pains to have a relationship with you, has both the power and the desire to help you with your present situation; 4) The ultimate, eternal outcome of God’s intervention will be good and helpful whether or not God deals with your circumstance the way you expect. We find hope, peace and confidence in Him as these assumptions become substantial realities in our lives.

Lord, I want to ask with substantial hope, but please help me even when I doubt my assumptions.

God is always there for us. For not against.

April 27th, 2016 by Maureen

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you. Deut. 33:27

Nobody wants better things for us than God does. Sometimes in hard times despair or frustration cloud our vision and numbs our senses so that we are unaware that He is there with us, holding us up. Sometimes in good times our own pride or distraction cause us to lose awareness that His support and goodwill are everlastingly involved in the blessing we experience.

Thank you for always being with me and always being for me.

Wisdom isn’t always that simple

April 27th, 2016 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

When conflict arises it is tempting to apply tired, oversimplified, one-size-fits-all solutions just to make them go away. But 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 can 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 authentic and consistent, and  when our responses are genuine rather than packaged.  Each situation and each person have His grace-filled, wise and loving attention and our Spirit-led responses to them can be life itself.

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

It’s okay to ask questions

April 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things. 2 Tim. 2:7

Some ideas take thought. It may take some time, study, questioning and prayer before some of the truths we seek to understand sink into our heads. We should seek an environment in which questioning is welcomed. Freedom to ask questions allows for deeper exploration of ideas, meaningful dialog, and integration of abstract ideas into genuine belief and real life. We should not be afraid to ask questions. Questions should not be seen as confrontations or challenges, but as opportunities to discover more about the God we love, the God who wants to be known. We should never be afraid to say “I don’t know.” And, if we want to open ourselves to even more exciting experiences in Christ and with others, we can also respond: “let’s explore this idea together.”

Lord, I’m digging, help me understand.

Beyond perception

April 25th, 2016 by Maureen

At the present time we are children of God. It has not yet been revealed what we shall be but we do know that when He is revealed we will be like Him for we will see Him as He really is. I Jn. 3:2

God already sees us as we really are. He doesn’t see us as we perceive ourselves but as we really are because of the transforming, renewing power of the cross, as the selves He redeemed us to be. He doesn’t see others as we perceive them either. Maybe we can’t see everything right now, but as children of God, at this present time, we do get to see something. He in continuously revealing Himself to us.

Lord, give me clear vision to see You, to see myself, and to see my neighbor as we truly are because of Your love, grace, and compassion.

 

Jesus is nothing like Microsoft

April 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him. Ps. 34:8

If my hairdresser sneaked into my house and cut my hair while I slept I would feel violated. It would hurt our relationship. Yesterday Microsoft installed Windows 10 on my computer without asking. That’s how I felt. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t work like this. He made us. He certainly could go in and rewire our brains to believe and rewire our emotions to feel something for Him. But would it be faith? Would it be love? By definition loving is relationship and relationships are not involuntary. So God doesn’t force himself on us. He invites us to follow, to taste and see, to enter into a relationship in which we are always tasting and discovering good things; a relationship in which we are safe and beloved, not violated and manipulated.

Lord, thank You for inviting me into this safe and delicious love.

 

 

Cosmic joy

April 21st, 2016 by Maureen

A home for old starsWho laid [the earth’s] cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Job 38:7

Once this creation was a twinkle in the Father’s eye, spoken into existence by the Word, and celebrated by stars and angels. When the Word was made flesh, heaven and nature sang again. Jesus restored the creation and through Him we are reconciled to the intentions of the Creator. As we surrender areas of our lives to reconciliation, as we recognize and experience personal restoration, we inspire joyful songs of stars and joyful shouts of angels. We are cosmically valued and loved.

Lord, I love You too.

Look around

April 20th, 2016 by Maureen

calm-after-the-stormFor ever since the world was created people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Rom 1:20

Too often we rush from car to building without opening our eyes and looking at God’s creation. God’s invisible qualities are so present in His creation that Paul saw nature as an apologetic argument. What aspects of His nature might He reveal to those who know Him if we simply take the time to look and reflect on the Creator and the wonders He has made?

Wow, God.

What is the “Christian” response to natural disaster

April 17th, 2016 by Maureen

For the Lord did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17

Japan was his by an earthquake. So was Ecuador. Here in Texas we are expecting bad weather today that could lead to flash flooding. Using natural disasters as punishment would be a counter-intuitive move for a loving God who sent Christ to save us, not to condemn us. If we choose to see disaster as punishment, how we view the Triune Godhead, disaster victims, and even our own relief efforts will be affected. Our gratitude that we “dodged the judgment bullet” or that God somehow protected us but not “them” because we are believers sends a message about what we believe about God and others.  With this view even our most compassionate responses can also feel like works of obligation to God, and the people we help can become our “projects.” If we truly believe that if we have “seen Jesus we have seen the Father,” and that the cross as sufficient, disaster relief becomes like white blood cells rushing to the point of pain because we are all humans who are loved and valued by God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Lord, send compassionate and effective help to those who have been affected by disaster. Love, heal, comfort and restore through those who believe in You and are part of the relief efforts.

 

Permission for well wishers

April 16th, 2016 by Maureen

May the Lord cause you to increase in love for one another and for all. 1 Thess. 3:12

Loving other people, all other people, can seem like a challenge. Some of us feel uncomfortable wishing others well. What if it seems like we’re endorsing sin? What if our love is misinterpreted? Isn’t disapproval an obligation of Christians? Maybe not. Maybe love is the most powerful, most effective, most transforming idea we can communicate about God to others.

Lord, show me how to love others, all others, well.

God doesn’t need a search warrant

April 15th, 2016 by Maureen

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, see if there are ways in me that cause or lead to grief, lead me in ways of everlasting life. Ps. 139:23-24

God’s searching is so that we can see what we may not being seeing, not so He can find out some new information that He doesn’t already know. When we invite God into our anxiety and invite Him to adjust our attitudes, He reveals our faulty, destructive thinking and habits to us and offers us 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.

Rescued to live free

April 14th, 2016 by Maureen

With every bone in my body I will praise him: “Lord, who can compare with you? Who else rescues the helpless from the strong? Ps. 35:10

God knows the plight of the slaves, of the oppressed, of the imprisoned, of wandering souls and of broken hearts. And He loves them. He cries “Freedom!!!” in His plans and promises, in His power and His sacrifice. We live in a world in which many different factions have different ideas about what freedom should look like, who has a right to what, who is oppressed, how they can be helped, and who should be the ones to help them. Some are threatened by the very idea of freedom. Wherever we live and whatever the circumstances, He came to proclaim liberty to captives and in Him we discover what it means to truly live free. In Him we discover the part we can play in freeing others.

Thank you for spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and political freedom

That song that replays in your head all day

April 13th, 2016 by Maureen

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Ps. 143:8

The truth that God loves us and has good things planned for us is often louder in the morning before the noise and distractions of the day creep in, before something goes wrong, or before we mess up something. Hearing the sound of His love in the morning  helps us continue to hear that song replay in our heads above the noise, right through the problems that hit us or the problems we make for ourselves. Wake up to His music. Walk to the rhythm of His love and goodwill.

Lord, thank you for the lovely morning song.

Newness of life

April 12th, 2016 by Maureen

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? Is. 43:19 And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Rom. 6:4 Behold, I make all things new. Rev. 21:5

At times the new feels like it’s worn off, routine sets in, we feel stained by our failures and tattered by our disappointments. Christ made us new at the cross and set continual renewal in motion for those who believe in Him.  We experience the reality of the resurrection when we realize and embrace what it means to be made new.

Lord, help me to live the newness.

When Jesus gets ahold of the social calendar

April 11th, 2016 by Maureen

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Luke 19:6-7

Jesus made connections and associations with people the religious establishment labelled “sinner.” If we think our labels can keep us as distant observers in a tree, we may be in for a surprising and personal encounter with Christ and His followers. If we feel uncomfortable in the company of certain “sinners” and focus too much on preserving our comfort zones and Christian reputations, Jesus just may have dinner plans for us that we aren’t expecting.

Lord, help me to keep my mind, my heart, and my door open to all the company You keep.

You’re killing me smalls

April 10th, 2016 by Maureen

For the turning of the simple kills them, And the security of the foolish destroys them. Those who listen to me dwell confidently, quiet from fear of evil! Prov. 1:32-33

In the Bible, “simple” doesn’t mean simplicity. “The simple” are people who are easily distracted, don’t think things through, fall for deceptions, act impulsively, ignore good advice, and respond immaturely. Fools reject every idea but their own, refuse to listen, reject logic and evidence contrary to their perspectives, spin the consequences or deflect blame when things go wrong. The good news is that God loves us and sent Christ to redeem us even when we are being our stupidest selves. Awareness that God is with us and for us won’t keep us from experiencing trouble, but might help us minimize stupidity and certainly provides  perspective, confidence, and peace so that we avoid the killing power that big messes, and sometimes even little ones, can have on our hearts, minds, and lives.

Lord, quiet my fears and help me to dwell in You with confidence and peace no matter the trouble, no matter the cause.

 

Relationship help

April 8th, 2016 by Maureen

The Lord looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do. Ps. 33:13-15

God knows and understands every thought and every motive of every person on earth all the time.  We don’t confuse God even when we confuse ourselves and one other.  God is our sufficient source of comfort, wisdom, and help for every single relationship issue experienced by every single person on earth. We can trust God to help us respond with love, grace, and wisdom to those around us even when we can’t always understand them.

Lord,  I leave every thing that I don’t understand about the people I love in Your hands. Guide my responses to them.

God leaves fingerprints

April 5th, 2016 by Maureen

In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. Acts 14:16-17a.

Even individuals and cultures that don’t recognize God for Who He is have evidence of His presence, though they may attribute it to other causes or ignore it. Admittedly we see Him in the evidence because we are looking for Him there. Yet the more familiar we become with the evidence and with God, the better we get at recognizing the places where He’s left fingerprints.

Lord, help me see You everywhere I go.

Any random Tuesday

April 5th, 2016 by Maureen

for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. Prov. 15:15b

No need to wait for Friday to go to your happy place. Feasting on life is much more about attitude than it is about circumstances. People who approach experiences with empathy, enthusiasm, and interest are likely to connect with the people around them and discover God’s wisdom, truth, and joy in day-to-day life. Happiness might require a little refocusing and re-prioritizing before it becomes habitual.

Lord, help me to make my happy place become right here, right now.