Archive for October, 2016

Defeat for the kingdom of fear

October 31st, 2016 by Maureen

Fear not, little flock because it gives the Father delight to didomi (give, appoint, bestow) to you the basileia (kingdom, reign, royal power, dominion, rule.) Luke 12:32

Rulers of the kingdom of fear oppress, manipulate and dominate using fear and shame. Jesus’ redemptive victory at the cross was a coup that replaced the kingdoms of fear that the political and religious rulers administered to their advantage and that the enemy twisted to his own purposes. Clinging to these defeated kingdoms, its former rulers would keep us feeling like powerless serfs and worthless rabble, scrambling to earn favor and dominated by fear. As members of Jesus flock we can now see ourselves as fearless, empowered citizens and beloved, endowed children who bask in our Father’s delight.

Lord, I delight in Your perfect love that casts out all fear.

Full keeps getting fuller

October 29th, 2016 by Maureen

I want to talk to you about the One you already worship without full knowledge… Acts 17:23

Paul was referring to the Romans’ shrine to the “unknown god” erected to cover any deity they might have missed. Is recognition of the Almighty God as Father, Son, and Spirit – especially of Jesus as God – the “full knowledge” Paul is referencing here? But even those of us who believe in Him do not worship with “full knowledge.” There are unknowns in each of our experiences with Him and each of our understandings about Him. Problems happen when we enshrine our assumptions and insist on asserting our unknowns as immutable truth. Jesus deconstructed shrines and disrupted assumptions and used relationship and revelation to make Himself known. Full knowledge doesn’t mean we know all there is to know.

Father, Son, and Spirit – what I know of You fills me completely yet the thought of fully knowing You fills me hope, excitement, and anticipation.

“Not yet” is an okay place to be

October 25th, 2016 by Maureen

Now we are children of God. It is not yet revealed what we shall be, and we know that we will be like Him because we shall see Him as He is. 1 Jn 3:2-3

It’s okay to live in “not yet.” It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to have unresolved questions and incomplete explanations. It’s even okay to have some questions about what “yet” looks like. What is the likelihood that how we see Him now and how He really is holds a few surprises? What is the likelihood that where we are right now the way we will end up? “Not yet” is a place we experience belief and trust and wonder.

Lord, the better I see You as You are, the more “not yet” becomes about discovery and growth instead of failure.

Quantum reconciliation

October 25th, 2016 by Maureen

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Col. 1:20

Quantum theory attempts to explain the behavior of sub-atomic particles, waves, and energies, and addresses problems of time and space, all of which cannot be reconciled using the classical laws of physics. Jesus introduced a quantum-level reconciliation that shook up the practical laws and consequences humans believed were the boundaries of their understanding of God and relationship to Him. While legalists were using the law and the intellectuals were using philosophy and political forces were using might to calculate and manage the human condition, Christ introduced a quantum solution, the fullness – all God is – reconciled all that exists everywhere and at all times to Himself. It’s mind-blowing.

Lord, I don’t fully understand how it all works but I want to live my life reconciled to Your peace and reconciliation.

Moments of awe and wonder

October 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Such knowledge is too wonderful to me. Ps. 139:6

Sometimes we encounter concepts that we simply cannot wrap our heads around. Sometimes God does things in ways we don’t expect and can’t explain. Sometime God challenges our paradigms and knocks down the sides of our neatly constructed boxes. Just look at how Jesus challenged the expectations of the Pharisees and even His own disciples. Be amazed. Let the miraculous grip your heart. Enjoy wonder. Experience awe. More than the insights that we can process based on what we already believe, what we’ve already experienced, what we already know, it’s those moments that leave us in awe and wonder that cause us to grow and cause our perspectives on God to grow with us.

Lord, thank you for all the wonder in my life.

When you can’t shake it loose, it could be because you are not the one who can

October 22nd, 2016 by Maureen

In your short run of days, have you ever commanded the morning to begin or taught the sun to rise in its place? Under your watch has the early light ever taken hold of the earth by the edges and shaken the wicked loose? Job 38:12-13

When God addresses Job and his friends’ foolhardy conjecture about whether or not Job’s righteousness or failures caused the tragedies that happened in Job’s life, His reasoning falls to His role as Creator and Designer.In the course of His questions He references making each morning and the act of “shaking the wicked loose.” Later in Lamentations Jeremiah writes that God’s mercies are “new every morning.” Paul writes in Romans that Christ was “raised up out from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life.” From very ancient writing about God’s design shows a theme of clean, new, fresh starts brought to us by God Himself. He shakes loose what we cannot shake loose. He never designed us to be able to.

Lord, thank you for this new morning.

In trust and wonder

October 20th, 2016 by Maureen

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! I Cor. 13:9

Through scholarship, observation, experimentation, logic, and perception we seek to understand ourselves and the world around us. We proceed based on what we think we know, and the more sure we are, the greater our confidence in our own decisions. The disconnects and contradictions reveal the inadequacies in our systems and the enormity, complexity, and completeness of God’s. It is in what we do not fully grasp and what we cannot fully explain that we experience wonder of Him. It is in what we cannot predict or control that we experience trust in Him.

Lord, increase my trust, my understanding, and my wonder.

That song that’s stuck in your head

October 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Sing to the Lord a new song. Sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth. Eternal of all the good things He’s done. Bless His name; broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day. Ps. 96:1-2 (The Voice)

Jesus came to teach us a simple love song; a melody to get stuck in our heads and hearts; a beat that sets the rhythm of our footsteps throughout the day. This is the song that set the world in motion, the song the Father, Son, and Spirit have eternally sung. It’s a different song from the hopeless, atonal dirge filled with pride, anger, guilt, shame, and fear that human religion wrote for itself. Nobody can dance to that. When we join in with the song that Jesus is already singing we dance in rhythm with all the good He makes and the good He does with it.

Lord, I love Your song.

You (yes, you) are an amazing wonder in the mind of God

October 16th, 2016 by Maureen

Lord, You have done so many amazing wonders, and yet Your thoughts about us cannot even be numbered. No one can compare to You! Ps. 40:5

The mind that mapped the stars in every universe, the ones we know about and the ones we don’t, also mapped the human experience. The mind that set the revolutions of the heavens, created time and seasons, and the interconnected ecosystems that form the rhythms of physical existence also created the seasons and rhythms of human lives. The pleasure, attention, and purpose the Creator directs toward all the wonders in all the worlds is also fixed on human beings. Most of our perceptions about ourselves and others are limited to the thoughts we can think about ourselves, but there are amazing wonders that God thinks about us all the time…and since God is love, they are thoughts full of affection, abundance, and goodwill.

Lord, help me to see myself and others as the amazing wonders You’ve made us.

Clearer vision

October 11th, 2016 by Maureen

Jesus then said, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.” Jn. 9:39 (MSG)

Sometimes it isn’t what we can’t see that trips us up, it’s what we think we see. We can become convinced that how we see an idea or a person is final, absolute truth. Once Jesus provides us with His vision and enables us to see through His eyes, we recognize how blurred and distorted our own vision can be.

Lord, help me to see everyone I know and everything I think I know through Your eyes.

Love syllogisms

October 10th, 2016 by Maureen

If…The love God has for us is something we can abide in… I Jn. 4:16
Then… we are at this moment present in His love rather than striving for it.

If …God abides in us because we abide in love and that is how love is perfected in us… I Jn. 4:17
Then… we can trust the perfect love He initiates rather than struggling to attain perfection ourselves.

If …Fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love… I Jn. 4:18
Then… we can feel secure in His unconditional love for us and in His power to restore and transform us rather than fearing that our efforts are inadequate, our failures disqualify us, that God is angry with us, or that His “go-to” response is to punish us for our mistakes.

If… we love because He first loved us…I Jn. 4:19
Then… we can love (the verb) because He folds us into Love (the noun that is the defining nature of God Himself) rather than merely offering us behaviors to imitate and impulses to follow.

Lord, I want to be fully present in, and aware of, the reality of Your love as I live this life You’ve given me.

If God is love and there is no fear in love then…

October 9th, 2016 by Maureen

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear. I Jn. 4:18

Jesus conquered the most prevalent human fears at the cross: death, hell, and the grave. But living in fear is another kind of death, another kind of hell, another kind of grave. Fear keeps us from pursuing opportunities or deepening relationships. Fear may cause us to retreat into the paranoia and mediocrity of terrified compliance for fear of judgment and punishment. Fear offers the opposite of the peace, abundance, and love. If seeing Jesus means seeing the Father, the loving Father God that Jesus shows us offers transforming restoration.  The Father Jesus shows  isn’t interested in judging or punishing us, but in giving us abundant spiritual, emotional, experiential, existential, and physical good gifts out of love for us. Could an angry god who deals in fear, retribution, and conformity actually be this same god?

Father, please help those who still fear little “g’s” to experience You as big “G” full of love and grace.

Enduring through every circumstance

October 7th, 2016 by Maureen

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor 13:7

Survival and endurance are not the same things. When we see no realistic expectation of change or success, it seems reasonable to go into survival mode and focus on damage control, managing the circumstances and the emotional fallout connected with them, rather than submitting ourselves to the possible disappointments of full on hope. But Christ, beyond all reason and without reservation, chose the seeming hopelessness of death to redeem humans so that even if when we give up, lose faith, expect failure, and accept defeat, His victory applies to our circumstances. His love for us equips our hearts to choose the seeming uncertainty of hope so that we endure rather than merely survive.

Lord, help me to discard my stingy, reasoned love for Your hopeful, enduring love.

Choosing endurance over mere survival

October 4th, 2016 by Maureen

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Cor 13:7

Survival and endurance are not the same. When we see no realistic expectation of change or success, it seems reasonable to go into survival mode and focus on damage control, managing the circumstances and the emotional fallout connected with them, rather than submitting ourselves to the possible disappointments of full on hope. But Christ, beyond all reason and without reservation, chose the seeming hopelessness of death to redeem humans so that even if when we give up, lose faith, expect failure, and accept defeat, His victory applies to our circumstances. His love for us equips our hearts to choose the seeming uncertainty of hope so that we endure rather than merely survive.

Lord, help me to discard my stingy, reasoned love for Your hopeful, enduring love.

Ordinarily extraordinary people

October 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

I thank God every time I remember you. Phil 1:3

It’s amazing to think about how many lives touch our own lives in the course of an ordinary day. Family members, friends, members of our church families, neighbors, co-workers, those we mentor, those who mentor us, business and social connections, etc. may influence us in small but significant ways that positively impact our lives. It is likely that many are unaware of how we are changed by knowing them. None of us become who we are or get where we are by ourselves. It’s amazing to think of the potential connections we might enjoy with others when we choose to be truly present and aware in the course of each ordinary day.

Lord, each one is so dear and I thank You for putting them in my life.

3 Relationship models with the Father

October 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

Is this the way you repay the Lord? …Isn’t he your Father who created you? Has he not made you and established you? Deut. 32:6

Moses suggests that God established something with people that mirrors the relationship of fathers and children, that fathers establish  a legacy through their children, and that this is a reciprocal relationship in which the children owe the Father something to stay in the relationship. The Law built around this model. Jesus taught a recipient model since the Father is the source of everything the children have available and they have no means in which to reciprocate. Even this can be distorted into reward model in which resources are mean of control, manipulation, and punishment. So many relationships with earthly fathers, and with God Himself, are damaged by a distorted view of  what a relationship model with a Father should look. Jesus lived his life in relationship with the Father as the perfect Son. receiving from the Father and responding out of love for Him rather than fear of Him.

Lord, heal relationships between fathers and children.