Archive for September, 2017

Spiritual Adventure Sport

September 30th, 2017 by Maureen

May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ. 2 Thess. 3:5

Powering through life in survival mode can cause us to put our hearts in neutral. Jesus did not go to the cross to survive but to endure. He didn’t come to offer us the mediocrity of safety but to invite us into the thrill of abundance. Rather than the self-reliant toughness sometimes associated with endurance, this is about pushing past the barriers that distract and discourage us. When we can’t see good and all evidence points to the contrary, it’s about expecting good from God. When relationships go wrong and we get hurt, it’s about love and grace because God is loving and gracious. This kind of endurance is about heart.

Lord, this life I live in You is an adventure that takes my breath away. Thank you.

Erase. Delete. Forget-about-it.

September 24th, 2017 by Maureen

Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of wrongs. I Cor. 13:5b

We get to choose how much harder we are going to let the past make the present and future. We can choose to live suspicious, angry, hurt, and offended, keeping record of wrongs. Or not.
If we are forever remembering ways we’ve been hurt and the people who hurt us it is harder to trust the love of God or to trust the love of the people in our lives now. If we are constantly focused on our own guilt and failures it’s harder to embrace who we are now, to enjoy relationships with others, and to experience God’s acceptance of us and delight in us.
Is there benefit in examining the past and dealing with damaging patterns? Without a doubt.
Does keeping no record of wrongs mean we ignore injustice or abuse? Not at all.
Does giving a clean slate come with a risk that we will be hurt again? Absolutely.
The existence of wrongs brings complications, causes hurt, and creates tension. Wrongs make hard places on the journey we walk together. Holding onto wrongs is like pouring jagged rocks over all the soft places so that all of it is hard.
Jesus offers us the easy yoke and light burden to walking with clean slates in His love and grace and bringing that same slate-cleaning love and grace into our relationships with ourselves and others.

Lord, thank You for loving me with love that keeps no record of wrongs; I need to borrow Your eraser.

God’s will is not a hamster wheel

September 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

…be transformed by the renewing of your minds , so that you may recognize as genuine (discern) the will of God, what is inherently good, well-pleasing (acceptable), and completed (perfect).  Romans 12:2

This isn’t about agonizing over whether we’ve figured out God’s will for our lives and then stressing all the time over whether we are understanding it right and doing it right.  What, make that Who, could be inherently good and totally acceptable? What has been brought to an end, wanting nothing necessary to be complete? Could it be that recognizing the adequacy of Christ causes us to experience adequacy?  Could it be that the will of God is met in His Son and in us as we experience our goodness, acceptability, and perfection,  in Him and through Him? 

Perhaps our spiritual and life journey comes from moving higher up and further into what transformation and renewal mean rather than running the hamster wheel of trying to do better and be better so God will like us.

Lord, help me to experience and grow in the goodness, pleasure, and completeness You’ve given me.

Beings of light

September 20th, 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. That’s why Jesus came as 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. His light shines before us us, around us, within us, and through us as we walk in awareness that we live, move and exist in Him and that He is dwells in us, walks with us, and is always, always for us.

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

Family valued

September 18th, 2017 by Maureen

Grandchildren are the crown of aging. Parents are a source of pride for their children. Prov. 17:6

Members of functioning families view one another with pride and delight. We are glad to be related. Certainly everybody’s not perfect. Families have to opportunity to see one another at their worst; and yet we continually choose love, grace, trust, honor, hope and peace as relationship principles and family values.  We learn these values from our Father who values each of us so much. We belong. We are connected. We are accepted. And we welcome each new members with delighted open hearts, open minds, and open arms. The very thought of my children and grandchildren puts a smile on my face!

Lord, thank you for family today.

The B-I-B-L-E

September 16th, 2017 by Maureen

You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Jn. 5:39

Reading the Bible as a literal rule book can lead us to some pretty bizzare lifestyle choices and condemning attitudes towards those around us. Reading the Bible as a promise book turns a conversation with God into a contract negotiation. Reading the Bible as a resource to support arguments, exert control, or inflict guilt and shame is not going to do much for relationships with other humans or with God.  Reading the Bible in the literary, historical, cultural, language, and sociological contexts in which it was written adds more meaning and intellectual honesty, but can turn it into a bunch of stories about some ancient people groups and a demanding deity who all seem to have slightly megalomaniacal tendencies. To matter spiritually, the Bible, even Old Testament Scripture, has to be read through the lens of Christ’s mission and personality and translated or paraphrased honestly and without agenda.

Lord, reveal the love and truth of Christ in every chapter.

Learning the art of the chill

September 15th, 2017 by Maureen

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Prov. 17:27

Even when we are passionate about our message, sometimes we actually say more by saying less. Even when we feel justified in going off on someone, taking a deep breath with Christ helps us to respond from heart, mind, and spirit rather than simply to react from our emotions. Calm, loving, accepting, gentle, reasonable attitudes tend to create an atmosphere where communication can happen. Listening to others also helps us gain the insight we need to actually be helpful and effective when we do speak. Developing the art of the chill can help keep our relationships supportive and honest and our message stay consistent with Christ’s love and grace.

Lord, make my love loud and my tone chilled.

Remembering the motion of waves

September 12th, 2017 by Maureen

I pray that out of the riches of His glory that you may be strengthened with power through His Spirit, that God may make His home in your hearts. Eph 3:16-17

Ever go to the beach and then still feel like you are being rocked by the waves hours later when you lie in bed that night? This phenomenon of feeling like you are moving even when you are still is called an “illusion of self motion.” The sense of God in us and with us is more than an illusion. God at home in our hearts is like feeling the rhythm of His waves even when we aren’t directly, consciously thinking about God or praying. We are constantly affected by wave after wave of His love, grace, wisdom, hope, and goodness. Sometimes we are more aware of it.

Lord, thank you for being in me, with me, and for me all the time.

Participating in abundance

September 10th, 2017 by Maureen

Generous people prosper. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Prov. 11:25

There is no reason to hoard our resources or fear we’ll run out. God is open-handed and open-hearted. We gain more than we give. This doesn’t mean we should see gain as motivation for giving. It’s not about quid pro quo here. It’s not about prosperity, but about reflecting and participating in God’s refreshing, nourishing abundance. Unselfishness contributes to a generous environment that promotes gratitude, growth, and hope.

Lord, refresh someone else through me today.

What does it mean to ask, seek, and knock?

September 9th, 2017 by Maureen

Keep asking, you will receive. Keep seeking, you will find, keep knocking and the door will open. Matt. 7:7

Nag. Nag! NAG!! Does the Father really enjoy 30 minutes of begging for the same thing? Is it in His nature to simply reward us for being persistent? Does asking God for the same thing every day until we get it really build faith muscles or it just playing the odds? Does going on a hunger strike obligate God to deliver.  Does quote scripture to God like magic incantations open up heaven? Are answers more likely to come if we round up more people to pray, gathering consensus for our cause, like circulating a petition? Maybe figuring out prayer is the secret to manipulating and obligating God into meeting our demands and fulfilling our agendas. Lots of books have been sold based on these theories.

And God promised. Right? It says so in the next verse: For everyone who asks, does receive; and those we are seeking do find, and the door is opened to the one who knocks. Matt 7:8

Matt. 7:7-8 are sandwiched between the part about taking the beam out of your own eye before judging someone with a speck in theirs, and the part that asks whether a loving father whose child asks for bread would give that kid a stone. So maybe the context isn’t about us demanding our agendas. Maybe “asking, seeking, and knocking” don’t mean what we think they mean.  If God already knows everything, loves us, and wants good for us, maybe prayer is about opening our hands, heads, and hearts to what the Father is giving us.

Lord, for myself and all the others I know who are experiencing loss, fear, uncertainty, and need, what are You giving us? What are you showing us? Which door have You unlocked for us?

 

Health prescription: Happiness

September 7th, 2017 by Maureen

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Prov. 17:22

Science is catching up with this ancient wisdom. An article in Time  quotes one scientist’s conclusion: “Learning to enjoy your work, being more grateful and having really positive relationships are important.” A recently published study from Harvard concurs.

Ever wonder whether obsessing over healthy habits like diet or exercise or being less stressed might actually diminish the benefits of adopting those habits? Happiness can’t be the goal. It is a by-product that comes from living life fully engaged and fully present. God is the source of our gifts and talents that cause work to be enjoyable and fulfilling. God is the Giver of good things who responds to our gratitude with the joy of a Father and the resources of the Maker of heaven and earth. God is the love, the connective tissue that makes relationships even possible; and He is the Spirit that inspires empathy and belonging.

Lord, help me be more aware and responsive to Your presence and Your goodness as I live life.

Prayers for protection

September 6th, 2017 by Maureen

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. Ps. 5:11

Singing with joy is not our natural response to imminent danger or feeling threatened. It certainly doesn’t come easy when we experience loss. But God’s ability and His desire to protect us are incredibly powerful. He offers us a place of protection that is so safe that fear is unnecessary and maybe even unreasonable. Sometimes our perceptions of what constitutes protection might differ from what occurs, especially when we are focused on difficult circumstances or dealing with tangible messes we hoped to avoid. Sometimes it is the peace and joy in our hearts that needs protecting most.

Lord, I take refuge in You. I am safe because I know that You are always with me, in me and for me.

A plea for gentleness

September 5th, 2017 by Maureen

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger. Prov. 15:1

Many people in our culture seem to have the impression that communication that is strident and confrontational is somehow more effective. Being loud and angry might make people feel more powerful, but this is not the kind of power that creates lasting change in hearts, minds, or culture.  Gentleness takes a lighter touch. Gentleness listens, responds with respect and empathy, and creates rapport. Gentle responses open the door for genuine conversation. Gentleness allows people to consider one another as fellow human beings and to engage in civil consideration of one another’s ideas. Gentleness does not preclude disagreement, but tempers it with affection, humor, and common courtesy.

Lord, help the weary, the frustrated, and the wrathful, even those who believe they are justified in those feelings, to be able to hear Your gentle tone and to find the grace to use it with others.

Even if its not real, time is a relentless illusion

September 4th, 2017 by Maureen

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…. Ecc. 3:1-2

Is it really possible that the way human beings experience time is only an illusion? There is great debate in physics over how time works and whether time exists at all.

While I find this stuff fascinating, whatever its essence and however it works, we can’t ignore the way we humans experience time. The only time we can directly affect is now. The only moment we can actually experience love and grace and relationship is now. And yet we do reference our memories of past experiences and our hopes about the future in how we interpret and experience now. Births and deaths, seasons and decay, and our own aging selves are part of an observable flow of time and change that we experience. But often our perceptions about God’s perspective of time rather than our own observations influence our sense of meaning and purpose, and motivate our responses to whatever is going on in the present. What we believe about God and eternity affects how we perceive and experience time.

Lord, I’m trusting You with all my time, my life, and my being because experiencing You makes everything else more real.

Disrupting the other pride

September 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Pride goes before destruction. A haughty spirit goes before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18

This post isn’t about attitudes full of hubris, prideful, cavalier overconfidence, or ruthless entitlement. We all know that stuff is poison. There is a kind of pride that is appropriate and important to our mental and emotional health. Human beings need to experience that sense of meaning, worth, and honor that is sometimes called pride. Sometimes our introspection detours us into the other kind of pride because we can’t find the constructive kind of pride within ourselves. Sometimes we depend on recognition from others to derive this kind of pride. Sometimes we may even feel the need to self-promote to others or to challenge others’ priorities or perceptions in order to get the responses we want from others. Suppose we choose to seek God’s image, His creativity and intelligence, His grace and goodness in ourselves and in each other. Suppose we chose to see ourselves and one another in that way.

Lord, help me to experience the humility that can derive pride from You rather than struggling to find it in myself or demanding it from others. Fill me with the pride that goes with restoration.

Swim with the current

September 1st, 2017 by Maureen

Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed, and shaken, and running over will fall into your lap; with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:39

When we pour love, grace, generosity, and justice out into the world we experience abundance. I don’t think what we gain from giving is a reward for doing good. Or karma. Doing something just so we get back seems kind of self-serving and not at all like Jesus. Perhaps, instead, giving is participation in Who God Is. When we become aware of His love and grace, when we choose to swim with the current of the love that caused the Father to send His Son, our spirits will naturally be swept into the experience of His abundance and bounty. When we see ourselves as the source of what we give it’s easy to become stingy and worry about running out. When we are in Christ and He in us, we are part of an infinite flow of resources coming from Him.

Lord, if Your love is an ocean, I want to go where the current takes me.