Archive for September, 2016

O what a glorious day

September 27th, 2016 by Maureen

All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Jude 1:25

God doesn’t need our praise to feed His ego, fuel His power, or establish His authority. That is what happens when glory is misappropriated to human beings. But instead of merely acknowledging His superiority and demanding our praise, our Father invites us into His glory. Our responses to His glory reconciles us to the truth and beauty of His nature that is now, always has been and always will be. Praise allows each of us to uniquely experience the glory He has given us through Christ, in Christ, and because of Christ.

Lord, I stand breathless and amazed in Your glory.

Carefully considered but loosely held plans

September 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house. Prov. 24:27

Sometimes there is barely time to wrap up one project before we have to start another. When we do have the luxury of a breather between projects it’s good to use that time to take stock. Doing things better next time takes some evaluation and tweaking of the existing plan, along with honest introspection about personal attitudes, expectations, and distractions. But there are times when all the planning in the world cannot predict the unforeseen…and sometimes that unforeseen, unplanned-for factor is the very one God is all over.

Lord, help me to be prepared and flexible for what this week holds.

God: Stop groveling!

September 25th, 2016 by Maureen

You were ransomed from the empty life handed down from your ancestors, not with perishable silver or gold but by precious blood, as a lamb without blemish or spot, the blood of Christ. 1 Pet. 1:18 (Mounce Reverse Interlinear)

Jesus did not come to recreate a system by which we buy or perform our way into God’s good graces. Over time the Jews developed elaborate traditions of law and a hierarchy of priesthood that traded Friendship with God as Abraham had understood it for interchanges with God the looked more like legal negotiations, business transactions, and lots of groveling. The empty cycle of law, failure, guilt, and sacrifice only awarded precarious, temporary, fluctuating value to humans who used it and distanced its adherents from the love of the Father. Jesus entered the system to upend it. Jesus disrupted the economy of sacrifice. His blood devalued every other sacrificial offering. Jesus restores us to relationship with our eternally gracious Father who loves, values, and supports us because we are His children.

My Father, My Friend, My Redeemer, being with You makes my life full and abundant.

What’s called for is empathy not explanations or egg salad

September 24th, 2016 by Maureen

When Jesus saw her weeping… He was deeply moved and distressed…Jesus wept. Jn. 11:33, 35

Grief and sadness are part of human existence, at least right now. What people in distress need is empathy not explanations, friendship not fixing. Jesus’ response to His friend’s sadness was not to try to cheer her up but to weep with her. Expecting people to power through, equating periods of sadness with lack of faith, or going Job’s friends on the situation and trying to figure out why bad things happen are uncalled-for responses. Then there is the well-meaning knee-jerk Christian response to sadness: prayer and casseroles. While often welcome and helpful, sometimes doing something for our hurting friends is a way of avoiding emotionally engaging with them. Sometimes in the course of being Jesus hands and feet, we are also called upon to be His tears.

Lord, show me how to be with my friends who are hurting not just for them.

Is it possible to care too much?

September 21st, 2016 by Maureen

In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. Ecc. 8:16

We are all busy and because we are so connected through instant-access media and social networks, we also are keenly aware of other people’s busy-ness.,,and their business. While the desire to know, the desire to help, and the desire to pray are all good, we can become spiritually, mentally, and emotionally over-saturated with concerning information. Sometimes caring about everything makes it hard for us to effectively impact concerns in our own backyards. We have to trust that God has it and that He can inspire those closer to each situation to become involved.

Lord, lead me to become involved where You want me, help me to be effective in those areas, and help me to let go and trust You and other people with the concerns that are not mine to bear.

Big shade in endless summer

September 20th, 2016 by Maureen

The Lord watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. Psalm 121:5

When situations get hot and sticky and seem as endless as a Texas summer, God is still right there to restore cool reason and gracious perspective. When the shiny stuff blinds and distracts, God is right there to shade our eyes so we can see what’s really important. No matter what is going on, God is right where He’s always been, right here, right now.

Lord, thank you for always watching over me and helping me.

In each of our beginnings, God…

September 17th, 2016 by Maureen

You formed my inmost being and wove me in my mother’s womb. Ps. 139:13-14

Perhaps we all experienced God in our first awareness as connections fired in our developing brains and we experienced our senses without being able to assign meaning yet to what we were experiencing. Perhaps our need to love and be loved are rooted in vague memory of our First Friend’s deep love and tenderness for us. Perhaps our desire to create and contribute come from an unfocused awareness of our worth and significance to Him. This is all speculative, of course, but what we can know is that He has been with us and for us from our very beginnings.

Lord, thank you for being with me always.

The long middle

September 14th, 2016 by Maureen

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Col. 2:6

Beginnings are exciting, endings are gratifying, but in the long middle seems to play on our weariness and weaknesses, on the distance ahead, the mis-steps behind, and all the bumps in the road. When that becomes our perspective we just have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and stay on the road. God is no less loving, exciting and awesome than He was at the start or will be at the finish. It’s in the long middle that learn the most about the way He inspires us, provides for us, and cares for us.

Lord, help me to keep following even when I’m not feeling it.

The leadership style that brings out the best

September 11th, 2016 by Maureen

I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. 2 Cor. 8:8 (Msg)

Authoritarians order people around based on their own claims to power and authority; bureaucrats and legalists order people around based on their interpretation of rules and law; transactional leaders manipulate people through reward, competition, guilt, and punishment; transformational leaders inspire and encourage people to embrace excellence and then provide resources and examples that help people experience fulfillment. Jesus is a transformational leader. He transformed us by making His home in us and giving us His own nature, He is already in us. Transformational leaders help bring Jesus’ nature out in us.

Lord, help those with authority over me to bring out the best in me.

Transcendent problem-solving

September 10th, 2016 by Maureen

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:1-2

So much of our problem-solving strategies involve identifying the factors influencing the problem, trying to figure out how to manipulate those factors, and possibly praying for divine intervention. What if we could access solutions that transcend our own resources, powers, and perspectives? What if time spent fully engaging with God as His resurrected, restored, and abundantly loved child could bring much more clarity and inspiration to the solution than all our research, mental focus, and even anguished praying over the problems themselves? As counter-intuitive as “forget about it” might seem, what if clearing our minds of the problems and shifting our focus to God could be the beginning of the solutions?

Lord, I release these earth-bound problems to You and set my thoughts and desires with You in a place that transcends the problems and even the solutions to them.

September 8th, 2016 by Maureen

The Lord is mindful of us: He will bless us…He will bless those who worship and stand in awe of him. Ps. 115:12-13

We are on God’s mind, each one of us, great and small. We have His attention even when He does not have ours. And in those times when we are fully aware of His awesome power and great love, we will also be fully aware of how blessed we are. Blessing and provision are two different things. Provision is our Father making sure we have what we need. Blessing is our perspective on His love, thoughts, and provision concerning us. Gratitude and trust has everything to do with whether or not we know or believe we are blessed.

Thank You Lord for Your abundant and loving thoughts of me.

Soft launch

September 7th, 2016 by Maureen

Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. 2 Cor. 2:10

Opening our hearts, minds, and lives to God means that He will redefine ideas like “need” or “desired conditions.” What we might consider essential before launching into a project may not even be on God’s radar and what He considers essential might be unexpected. It’s actually comforting to know we aren’t the ones that have to come up with the perfect plan and all the provisions and then execute perfectly. It is our trust in His wisdom and power that makes the journey enjoyable and the work effective.

Lord, I trust You to supply what I need and show me how to work with it.

The problem’s not in the plot but in the tone

September 5th, 2016 by Maureen

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? Ps. 13:1 But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has dealt bountifully with me. Ps. 13:5-6

David in verse 1: Life sucks and I feel like God has abandoned me. David in verse 5-6: I trust God who has been good to me. God has not changed between verse 1 and verse 5. In verses 2-4 David goes on a rant to God about how abandoned and attacked and defeated he feels. Then the whole tone shifts. There is nothing to say the circumstances resolved. If our lives are stories, we often have little control over the complications in the plot, but we do have control over the tone.

Lord, I really want the tone of my life to be trusting and rejoicing and singing. Sometimes it just isn’t. Thanks for not abandoning me even when I feel abandoned.

Enjoy good

September 1st, 2016 by Maureen

Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and enjoy faithfulness. Ps. 37:3

God is good and does good. He invites us to participate in the good He creates and to share it with others. His goodness translates hope and peace and joy and meaning into our day-to-day lives and inspires us to communicate that good to others in meaningful ways.

Lord, I look forward to participating in the good You are doing today.