Archive for February, 2017

When God’s answers are seriously ironic

February 26th, 2017 by Maureen

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. Rom:1:10

In 56 AD Paul wrote to his Roman friends that they were always on his mind and he couldn’t wait to see them in person. After three years Paul finally reached Rome. As a prisoner. In jail. Yet it worked out that Paul’s purpose and intentions did not change because of this and Paul’s message and influence continued – and perhaps even escalated – sometimes in spite of and sometimes because of his uncomfortable situation.

Lord, You have the big picture. I trust you farther than I can see.

Life cycles and hamster wheels

February 25th, 2017 by Maureen

Didn’t I tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God. Jn. 11:40

Our core assumptions about God, ourselves, other people, and the world around us drive our perceptions which drive our decisions which drive the results which further color our perceptions.
What we believe about God’s attitude toward us, about the value and state of humanity and ourselves specifically, and about what we can reasonably expect out of life, can create a cycle of glory and grace or a hamster wheel of futility or negativity. How we perceive and experience life begins and ends with what we believe.

Lord, I want to see your glory. Correct any false assumptions and perceptions I have about You.

It’s heavy, but in a good way

February 24th, 2017 by Maureen

This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an everlasting weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, 2 Cor. 4:17 (ISV)

Even though we are aware of Christ, even though we cast our cares His way, even though we trust Him for abundant lives, each of us carry persistent burdens and afflictions from which we frequently plead for release. Nobody wants to suffer.  Yet our hardest experiences are often the ones that reveal to us weighty, substantial ideas and interpretations that help us speak God’s glory and light into the world. Rather than the ephemeral, cloud-like thing we sometimes picture, perhaps glory is a substantial counter-weight to our heaviest burdens.

Lord help me to feel the counter weight of glory when problems in my life start getting heavy.

Pondering still water

February 22nd, 2017 by Maureen


He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Ps. 23:2b-3a

Every day I get out of my car and see this pond. I see the seasons reflected in its waters. I see it teeming with the life and life cycles God created. We pass God’s still waters every day, and when we notice, that’s an opportunity to stop and reflect and experience restoration. Sometimes we feel like we are waiting around for God to restore when He’s right there. Sometimes our waiting has more to do with not looking up and not recognizing still water when we see it. It’s nice when it looks like this, but sometimes still water is less obvious.

God thank you for this obvious beauty. Help me to notice when you lead me beside the less obvious still water.

Stop waiting around for a better eternity

February 18th, 2017 by Maureen

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1:Cor. 2:9

As we experience God’s love for us and recognize His very Self in us, with us, and for us, we can step over the threshold of forever. If we restrict our thinking about our eternal forever-ness to some future existence, we might ignore the unimaginable glimpses of eternity that we exist in right now. Sure, God is holding back some great surprises for later, but being loved by God and living in His presence provides us with the potential to imagine the unimagined wonders and experience the lovingly prepared delights that He has laid out for us in our lives right now.

Thank you Lord for this every unfolding present forever You’ve lovingly prepared for me.

Argument rewind

February 16th, 2017 by Maureen

I’ve posted this before but in the current climate, it think it bears repeating:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I Cor.13:12

Disagreements should be approached with humility. Most of our debates could use a preamble. Something like: “having considered all the information available within all possible contexts and nuances, having applied responsible processes of scholarship and reason, accounting for my personal agendas and prejudices, recognizing that reasonable minds and sincere hearts might disagree, and looking at those I speak to and speak about through the lens of Christ’s love and grace, here is what I think.”

Lord, help me to be humble and gracious in disagreements. And help those who speak in conversation, in social networks, in public settings, and in the media; those who speak for themselves and as representatives of others, do the same.

Jesus’ intentions toward [your name here]

February 15th, 2017 by Maureen

Try hearing Jesus’ prayer Jn. 17:21-23 with your your own name instead of the personal pronouns. Say it out loud with your own name and hear His intentions toward and His heart for you.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for __[say your name here]___ who will believe in Me through their message. I pray that __[your name here]____ and all who ever believe will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in me, Father, and I am in You. And may __[your name here]____ be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given ___[say your name here and let it sink in]____ the glory you gave me, so __[your name here]___ and her fellow believers may be one as We are one. I am in __[your name here]___ and you are in me. May ___[your name here]___experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love ___[your name here]___ as much as you love me.

Lord, the transforming power in Your love, grace, and reconciliation blows my mind once again.

I want to sing you a love song

February 14th, 2017 by Maureen

Whether I speak in human, or even angelic, languages, but do not communicate love? My voice becomes like clanging brass or a crashing cymbal. I Cor. 13:1

Love is communicated in more than the words we say or services we render, it’s also communicated in how, when, where, and why we speak. Love is communicated in our vocal tone, inflection, and timing; in our facial expressions, posture, and proximity. Love is unseen and unspoken force, the agenda and the intentions that give our loving expressions meaning and purpose. This force is not an abstract idea or energy, it’s God Who is Personal and relational. God did not “so love the world” without so loving each of us as specific, individual entities. The atonal clanging of good intentions becomes melody, harmony, and rhythm when we accept, enjoy, and celebrate the “otherness” of the other person in each relationship.

Lord, thank you for authentic, melodious love.

Live and in person

February 13th, 2017 by Maureen

I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. Jn. 8:12

Jesus didn’t tell his followers to follow a religion, a doctrine, a process, or a discipline. On-going, loving, developing, maturing, interactive relationships happen between people. Jesus came as a person. God the Father is a Person. The Holy Spirit is a Person. There are many artistic and intellectual expressions that reflect Christ, many institutions and processes that illuminate our understanding of Him, but none of these things are Him. God is live and in person!

My light, my hope, my life, my truth, my Jesus – I love you!

Not from around here anymore

February 12th, 2017 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. This translates into a desire to affect positive change in the world around us. But, heirs to a Kingdom of love, hope, grace, and transformation do not employ a climate of anger, fear, guilt, and legalism to bring about change. Heirs to His kingdom do not reduce the mission of Christ’s transforming grace to political, social, or legal protocols. That kind of thinking happens a lot in earthly kingdoms, but we are beyond the methods, strategies, and attitudes we learned from the kingdom of this world. We’re not from here anymore, and neither is the power from which affect change.
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Lord, help me think and live, stand and help like an heir in Your kingdom…make that our kingdom.

Pray and sniff

February 11th, 2017 by Maureen

…they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.  Rev. 5:8

Whether this is a metaphor or not, how absolutely astounding that our prayers are presented as God’s incense, a perfume with eternal and infinite qualities. Our half-asleep whispers, our on-going conversations with our Father, our formal and corporate prayers, the joyful anthems we sing on the happiest days of our lives, and our most desperate, doubt-colored cries on the worst – are so valuable to God that he keeps them in golden bowls. We don’t need to fully understand the nature of prayer to believe that our prayers matter to God.

Lord, you are worthy of my trust so I lay before you the hopes and needs of my life.

Dancing to the music of the invisible choir

February 10th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice. Let the seas roar…; Ps. 96:11

It’s easy to miss the music of nature’s invisible choir. The music is there in bird songs and in rushing water, in leaves in the wind and in cat purrs. Some are fortunate enough to live life to the rhythm of ocean waves. So much is there when we are still and listening; when we are open to the deep wonder and mystery of God’s creation responding to His presence. Stop a minute. Listen until you hear it. Then dance to it all day. This is abundance.

Father, shall we dance?

To unfriend or to bear with…that is the question?

February 9th, 2017 by Maureen

Bear with one another and forgive one another should anyone have a complaint against another. As the Lord graciously has forgiven you, so you must forgive. Col. 3:13

Loving people is more important than defending a position. As passionate and convinced we each are about our ideologies or positions, the people we disagree with feel exactly the same way. We can decide that our relationships are worth the investment it takes to hear one another out to choose to shelve some topics temporarily. Jesus came to earth when humans were are odds with His very nature because the foundation of His relationship with humanity is He loves us. Maybe we can choose to focus on the love that binds us together instead of the ideas that rip us apart. Maybe we can choose to live and love with the tension of disagreement.

Lord, help me to seek out and focus on the joyful connections and to bear with the conflict in my relationships.

Trust

February 8th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. Col. 3:16

The  message of Christ is redemption, transformation, grace, joy, and freedom. Trust is involved in receiving and experiencing that message. We choose whether to receive from a perspective of belief in Christ. We can choose to believe we are loved, that God is benevolent, that He is good, that He can be trusted with everything, even the things we can’t understand, control, or change. Or we can choose to receive our experiences from a perspective of fear, doubt, or resentment.Relationship with God is not always based on how we feel. Sometimes it’s based on what we believe. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s neither. Our perspectives can change. We can’t always trust our perspective. God’s love remains. We can always trust Him.

Thanks this day when my heart is full of gratitude and trust. Thanks for sticking with me when every song gets stuck in my throat.

Choosing grace or guilt

February 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Eph.4:2

As long as we live on this earth somebody is going to mess up in a way that hurts us; And at some point we will mess up in a way that hurts others. We can choose to participate in grace’s restoration or in guilt’s condemnation through our responses to our own mistakes and to the mistakes of others.Grace lets us forgive ourselves. Guilt requires some self-flagellation. Grace lets us extend mercy as a free gift, just as Christ without demanding the usual payback and grovelling guilt demands. Our small, daily choices for restoration over retribution gives us insight and experience into Christ’s magnanimous redemptive gift of grace.

Lord, help me to live continually in Your redemptive grace.

Stop paddling and float

February 5th, 2017 by Maureen

You show me the way of life, in Your presence is fullness of joy, and at you right hand are pleasures forever. Ps. 16:11

Awareness of God’s love and grace is more like something we float in than something we master. We make relationship with the Father harder than it has to be. Awareness of Him is not meant to bring us shame, suffering, fear or obligation. It’s not meant to incite a flurry of rules following or self-improvement activities. He wants us to experience pleasure and joy in Him, with Him, for Him, because of Him in our real lives that we are living right. Eternity is now too.

Lord, keep showing me the way of awareness and abundance.

Love can only win when you trust it

February 4th, 2017 by Maureen

I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. Jn 10:10

In some ways abundance is linked to trust and hope. Perhaps whether we experience abundance has more to do with how we choose to process our experiences than the experiences themselves. What we expect from God and from ourselves affects how we process and respond to present circumstances, how we remember past experiences, and how we view the future. We get to choose whether we process our experiences from a place of trust and belief that we are loved. Or not. Perhaps the choice to trust God’s love is the pivot point for experiencing abundance.

Lord, I have trust issues, help me.

Uncertain

February 1st, 2017 by Maureen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

A little uncertainty, a few unanswered questions, surprises, outliers, and unconnected dots are good for us. Trust involves those things we can’t control and don’t know. There is no adventure in knowing everything, controlling everything, and predicting everything. We can proceed into life’s uncertainties with curiosity and excitement rather than fear and nervousness because we can be certain of this: God loves us. God is trustworthy. God’s plans and intentions for us are always good.

Lord, I trust you for the next life adventure.