Archive for October, 2017

Not all that scary

October 31st, 2017 by Maureen

But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.  Acts 2:24

Life can get scary. The monster problems shrink, the fears and memories that haunt our dreams dissipate, even the reaper is less grim in the light of the resurrected Christ. “Fear not!” is both His battle cry and His lullaby to us. Jesus conquered death, hell, and the grave; nothing we might face is going to scare Him. We don’t have to let fear distort our perceptions or sideline us from our goals. He is for us, with us, and in us, our hope and peace.

Lord, Your encouragement and comfort are enough to help me overcome my fears and keep moving forward.

Just keep swimming…and shining

October 29th, 2017 by Maureen

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness. Jn. 8:12
You are the light of the world…[that] gives light to everyone… Matt 5:14-15 – Jesus

It’s actually kind of difficult to find a place on earth to experience total darkness, perhaps if you go into an unlit cave or dive deep in the ocean at night. The moment someone lights a candle or a luminescent jellyfish swims by the totality of the darkness is destroyed. Whatever darkness causes hurtful behaviors and attitudes like hate, anger, greed, prejudice, violence, selfishness, manipulation, deceit, etc. to seem reasonable, pleasurable, or justified, that darkness are not total and certainly not more powerful than Jesus, the Light of the world.

The best way to light the darkness is to love others and advocate good with much grace. Even when if doesn’t feel like showing love and grace is changing the way people see things or treat each other, love diminishes evil the way a luminescent jellyfish destroys darkness. Just keep swimming and shining.

Lord, help me to reflect Your light when darkness seems prevalent.

Crazy peace

October 25th, 2017 by Maureen

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. 2 Thess. 3:16
The peace that passes understanding guards your hearts and thoughts through Christ. Phil. 4:7

When our lives and our hearts seem to be falling apart, God offers us peace and comfort that just might make even less sense than pain and suffering. When the pressure feels overwhelming, the pain just seems senseless, or we feel helpless to control the situation or the outcome, God offers us peace and rest. Instead of spiraling out into the cold darkness of despair, God’s peace acts like spiritual gravity tethering us to His love and grace, making it possible to live and even enjoy our lives in the middle of hard and confusing situations.

Lord, thank you for peace when peace seems like the craziest reaction ever.

There is no frame big enough for the whole picture

October 24th, 2017 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

If the big picture is supposed to have a frame, it’s not up to us to frame it. God is the creative source of the whole picture, and, at least from our perspective, He is still painting it. Through scholarship, science, and philosophy we seek to understand ourselves and the seen and unseen things in the world around us. We process, decide, and proceed based on our certainty and confidence in what we think we know. We try put a frame around the picture with our knowledge but all we really do is crop the picture, make it smaller, and call it reality.

It’s no wonder the whole picture is hard for us to see. We’re trying to see it while standing inside of it. In recognizing that we open ourselves to living inside God’s whole picture than the one we’ve declared finished and framed. In not knowing we experience wonder. In not knowing we experience the joy of discovery. In not knowing we experience more complete trust in God. In knowing that we experience revelation. And understanding what we do know from a frame-less perspective expands our hearts and minds, expands our interactions with God, and makes the world we experience bigger.

Lord, increase both my trust, my perspective, and my understanding.

Listening is not a fill-in-the-blanks activity

October 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them. Luke 8:18

How we hear depends on our perceptions, our natural intelligences, styles, and temperaments,
our experiences and expectations,
our theological and philosophical positions,
our current circumstances, our physical and emotional states, and
the list of filters goes on…
How we hear might be influenced by what we believe and feel about the speaker or the message.
We can choose to filter a message based on our own preferences or
we can try we to receive that message as the speaker intended it.
Do we make assumptions about the speaker’s both message and purpose
Rather than ask the speaker questions in order to truly understand the message, ?
Do we do that when God is the Speaker?
Listening is not a fill-in-the-blanks activity.

Lord, help me hear what You and the people around me are really saying.

The love that holds us up

October 20th, 2017 by Maureen

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. Ps. 97:18

Unfailing love and support is God’s default response when we lose our footing. Why can’t this be the default response we have for each other? There are times when the ground under our feet shakes, literally or metaphorically and we can’t keep standing without help. And yet there is this misplaced shame associated with needing help. It needs to be okay to call out for support and to offer it without caveat or judgment. Humanity is an interconnected living organism. When we reach out our hands to help restore someone else’s balance, it is also our own equilibrium we help restore. Making life better for others brings heaven to earth and makes us participants in Christ’s restoration that is continually happening within us and around us.

Lord, I’m so glad to participate in Your unfailing love.

Always Check “Yes”

October 19th, 2017 by Maureen

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
Any comfort from His love?
Any fellowship together in the Spirit?
Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Phil. 2:1

(Hint: The answer is always “yes.”) Sometimes the Father shouts “Yes” with a divine, spine-tingling, nearly tangible loving Presence. Sometimes Jesus manifests His “Yes” through the encouragement, comfort, and sense of belonging we give to and receive from each other. Sometimes Holy Spirit whispers “Yes” in the settled peace that we feel when we just know that God is always in us, with us, and for us. Answering “no” might be a temporary perception we entertain because we feel discouraged or isolated, but “yes” is the reality God restored us to live in. “Yes” is the environment in which we thrive.

Lord, let the “yes” ring in my ears and spring from my lips all the time.

“And…” is the door to staying young at heart and mind

October 18th, 2017 by Maureen

At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike.” Matt. 11:24

God puts an “And…” door in every single rigid box we humans try to use to contain our understanding and corral our hearts. His eternal, infinite love and intelligence won’t be contained by our need for definitive statements to explain or control. God’s higher, deeper, wider presses against the door marked “And…” until it bursts open. The nature of Christ invites wonder rather than analysis. We don’t have to fully explain God to experience Him or to invite others to experience Him with us. In fact, not having all the answers is part of the adventure of discovery that comes with being His child. Sometimes “and…?” is the biggest and best question we kids can ask.

Thanks, Lord,  I love being your child.

Peace and love

October 15th, 2017 by Maureen

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16

Peace is available no matter what is happening in our lives. Our circumstances reflect the imperfection of the world rather than the measure of God’s care. He is always in us, always with us and always for us. The way we process and respond to our circumstances can be influenced by our perceptions about God’s role. Did He cause it? Can He fix it?Is God merely a force that controls through positive and negative energy? What we expect from Him and how tapped into His divine love and goodness when we aren’t stressing to Him about some problem informs the experiences we have when we face hard things. Do we perceive God as Love?

Lord, thank you for bringing peace to my chaos.

What lies hidden

October 13th, 2017 by Maureen

He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. Daniel 2:22

As we explore God’s creation God reveals new things to us all the time. Over the last year new species were discovered, and scientists found confirmation for Einstein’s Theory of Relativity using data gathered with the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been out there since 1990. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, might be a refrigerator picture for our Father, but He delights in our delight in our discoveries. Humans hit the ground asking “Why?” and “What?” and pushing the envelope of our current understanding. God keeps letting us look for answers and helping us find out.

Lord, thank you for all the wonders there are for us to learn about and for all the wonders we have yet to discover or imagine.

 

You can’t Google everything

October 11th, 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 probably 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.
Do we cling too stubbornly to safety and status quo?
Do we crawl to the middle of the box when the sides start to fall?
Do we believe God is bigger than our current understanding?
Will we trust Him enough to follow Him past the borders of what we can understanding or control?

Lord, I trust you for the next life adventure.

Grace spiral

October 8th, 2017 by Maureen

Out of His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. Jn. 1:16

Our Father didn’t suddenly become gracious because of Jesus; Jesus represents the revelation of the fullness of the  love and grace that exists eternally as Triune God’s defining nature. Reconciliation and relationship was the goal from the beginning and every avenue of grace that God provided in every age and culture was to restore us to awareness of His deep, high, wide, expansive love for us. Realizing God’s inherent pre-existing love becomes grace upon grace for us.
Grace upon grace seeps in as we experience the reality that is God, and experience awareness that we exist inside that same gracious love. Grace upon grace spills out as we experience awareness that He exists in us and through us as that same gracious love. Grace upon grace spirals into a full-circle communal experience with and in and through Him as our communication and attitudes towards others manifest and reveal love.

Lord, I want to be part of the fullness of grace upon grace.

It’s just Caesar

October 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Jesus said to them “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” Mark 12:17

There will always be people and entities that get to tell us what to do. They will set policies and make laws, some of which we don’t like. They will have the authority to regulate and evaluate things, like the way we do our work or keep our yards. To some extent we allow this through our choices of affiliation and residence, and through what we choose to put in the time, energy, and funds to try and change. What we also allow is how much we let this stuff get to us. After all, it’s only Caesar. We can choose to render control of our attitudes about all this stuff to God. Doing this makes the rest of the rendering we have to do much easier.

Lord, I render unto You my heart, my responses, and my perspectives.

Prayers for healing

October 4th, 2017 by Maureen

But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:46

Once a sick lady in a crowd reached out and touched the hem of Christ’s robe. She wasn’t trying to find a process for healing, she just trusted the person of Christ to meet her need. She deliberately acted on her belief and received healing. That doesn’t mean we have figure out how to sneak up behind Jesus and grab His robe.
Too often we try to figure out the formula for getting God to give us what we want.
Sometimes we try to duplicate someone else’s experience with God in hopes we’ll get the same results they got. 
Some people feel inspired to engage in some kind of prayer ritual that is meaningful to them.
This doesn’t mean God expects that of everyone.

Faith isn’t a performance to be judged. Having our needs or desires met isn’t something we win because we performed well or prayed correctly. Our Father loves us. It’s a relationship. We have conversations. We tell Him even though He already knows. We can always always trust His love.

Lord, there are several people I know who could use some of Your healing power. You know who they are. I trust Your love for them.

I have voluntary amnesia and I love it

October 3rd, 2017 by Maureen

I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And I will forgive their wrongs, and I will never again remember their sins. Jer 31:33

The all-knowing God chooses voluntary amnesia. He chooses to forget all the ways we’ve hurt ourselves and others, all the ways we’ve failed, all our poor, selfish, fear-driven choices we already regret or someday will. Not only does he wipe this mess from His own memory, He rewrites His own messages on our hearts. We need not be defined or marked by our past mistakes and nagging regrets.
We can become so accustomed to seeing ourselves or someone else in the light of our failures that we forget to look through the lens of Christ. So we choose voluntary amnesia too. Then we can discover the messages God has written on our own hearts and on the hearts of those around us. Hopefully, eventually, Christ becomes what we see when we see ourselves and others.

Lord, thanks for forgiving and forgetting.

The light never goes out

October 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17

For centuries theologians and philosophers have been trying to explain why we still experience pain, suffering, and uncertainty if God is always good. I don’t have a good answer but I’m not sure easy answers or catch-all explanations are good or perfect responses when someone is hurting anyway.
Maybe the best we can do is simply believe that God is always good;
that He desires good for us;
that any good that we experience is from Him;
that the potential for good to come from evil exists in Him.
God can bring good to the worst possible scenario.
Look what He did with crucifixion and legalism.
We can’t predict or control the next crisis that comes along in our lives
but we can always find perfect peace, comfort, and stability in Christ.

Lord, help me stay in Your light when the shadows shift.

Invisible but there. Definitely there.

October 1st, 2017 by Maureen

I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. Is. 46:4

As we face life’s twists and turns, its disappointments, adventures, and changes, God is there. Even when we are unaware that He is taking care of us, He is still there. Because we are so very dear to Him. Whatever circumstances we face, we can carry on for as long as we have to because God carries us. Even if we feel alone, the reality is that God is there. And He wants us to experience His nearness, love, and support. We don’t have to earn it, or even fully understand it. It’s kind of like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade taking the first step onto the invisible bridge. The bridge was there for him all along. He just accepted what He couldn’t see.

Lord, thank You for all these years of caring and carrying. I need You!