Archive for February, 2018

Caring without all the angst

February 21st, 2018 by Maureen

God knows our concerns before we ask. God can be trusted to lovingly, wisely, competently deal with whatever cares and concerns we carry. The burden of concern can feel like a crushing weight to us, but all the cares of all the people in all the world is weightless to God. God loves and cares for us and everyone we care about bigger and better than we can. When we transfer our cares and concerns unto Him we get to experience the weightlessness of perfect love that casts out fear.

Trusting God with our cares doesn’t mean we just don’t care anymore, but that we care in peace, confidence, and hope. We reap physical, psychological, emotional, relational, and circumstantial benefits when we experience the kind of healthy caring that comes with being able to trust God with the things that matter most to us.

Sometimes I wonder if encouragement about prayer and faith should include a long disclaimer, like the ones on those prescription drug commercials on TV: [Spoken quickly in monotone over pictures of puppies and sunsets] “Casting cares upon God is highly unlikely to result in instant beauty or intelligence, in everybody you care about making the decisions you think they should make, in having enough money, or in the end of sickness, violence, or stupidity. Experiencing the benefits associated with trusting God may be affected by insisting upon personal involvement or information concerning the details of God’s solutions before fully relinquishing concerns to God.

Let is go, God’s got it anyway.

Lord help me to care in the carelessness of trusting You.

On the tension of disagreement

February 19th, 2018 by Maureen

Are we willing to come out from behind our blame throwers and defensive positions to see each other and listen to each other? Does the animosity, sterotyping and oversimplification that has gone on in the media, on social media and among friends over gun control (or whatever the latest political disagreement might be) leave any room for meaningful dialogue in the tension of disagreement? Conteniousness and strife adds to the isolation, meanness, and animosity in our world that is, at least partially, responsible for violence and hatred.

Are we already so far underwater that we no longer recognize that those we disagree with are also processing and grieving? To attack each other for sending prayers or for calling for action is neither constructive or compassionate. People process differently.

I’m not saying peace at any price here. The tension of disagreement often leads to creative and workable solutions. This usually happens more readily when we aren’t mad at each other or mean to each other; so strife seems to be just another way to avoid actually solving the problem. If we can talk reasonably and graciously about causes and solutions, consider (and verify) our evidence before we put it out into the world, and unselfishly set aside the need to win we might get past contention.

Lord, help me to never let thinking I’m right make me think I have the right to be mean.

Free, limitless, love

February 17th, 2018 by Maureen

Understanding the boundless love of God releases individuals from the burden of performance-based relationship with God and releases the church from the burden of enforcing the law upon our fellow believers. Too often those who embrace the love of Christ and seek the company of other believers encounter the fear and guilt of law: you have to fix all these things about yourself in order to keep God’s love, and, by the way, the acceptance and approval of your fellow believers.

Letting go of all this legalism takes the fear out of love. Perhaps our invitation to those who are questioning, or even running from God, is that they grasp, along with those who have already discovered, the breadth, length, height, and depth of the God’s love. Period. Our perspectives and motivation change when we process information and make decisions because God loves us rather than so God will love us.

Thank You God for this continual discovery of more love, more love, constantly enfolding in this wonderful relationship with You.

When you can’t even process

February 16th, 2018 by Maureen

So much that happens in our world brings us to grief and doubt. Focusing on our feelings of helplessness or outrage keeps us from resting and trusting in God.

Can we trust that God is good and loving when we are presented with horrible circumstances that could be perceived as evidence to the contrary? Can we accept that His goodness and love overpowers whatever evil we see now? Can we rest in Christ as explanation enough of God’s grace, expression enough of God’s love, and God’s ultimate and sufficient victory enough over evil as a past, present, and future reality?

Joy, thanksgiving, rest, peace, confidence in His strength and shield come from trust when we don’t understand or explain or fix things.  And when we feel we can’t trust, we can still fall into His arms of mercy and comfort so that trust can be restored. It is from this place of trust that we can then respond to the things we face in our world with God’s restorative, redemptive love.

Lord, fill my questioning heart with trust. Help me embrace joy in the midst of so much sorrow and believe in the midst of so much I can’t explain.

Good all the time

February 15th, 2018 by Maureen

We don’t always have a lot of control over what happens to us but we get to determine its power over us. It’s often helpful in getting past hurt to acknowledge it and talk it through. God isn’t into denial but He is into perspective. We gain realistic perspective on whatever we are experiencing by remembering His loving presence is always with us and in us, His victory over evil and death applies to whatever we are experiencing. Christ is reconciling all things to Himself even things that presently oppose Him and hurt us. Add to that all the people who love us, the opportunities we have, and the moments of true beauty, joy, and peace that He gives us in this world, comparatively speaking, no matter what happens, God is good and He makes good of our hardest moments.

Lord, you are good all the time and I praise you.

For the love of God

February 14th, 2018 by Maureen

Love manifests a fearless beauty, intelligence, and appeal that cannot be bought, earned, or attained. George MacDonald wrote that “love is the opener as well as the closer of eyes.” We choose to love when we see each other authentically, warts and all, through the lens of Christ that transforms the view. We keep loving in the midst of joy or conflict, acceptance or rejection, confusion or certainty because Christ empowers is to love from a place of trusting the love of God

Experiencing the love of God causes us to become enveloped into the love of the Father for the Son and Spirit, Christ for the Father and Spirit, the Spirit for the Father and Son, and the love of the Triune God for each of us. Experiencing this love creates in us the impulse to draw others into that love as well. Love isn’t something we are obliged to express, it’s something we get to express.

Lord, help me to love fearlessly, freely, fiercely in You and through You.

The truth in love is the truth of love

February 12th, 2018 by Maureen

It seems unlikely that every “truth” presented in His name is actually truth Jesus came to reveal. If we understand seeking truth as nailing down a working set of intellectual premises, developing a detailed set of behavioral expectations, or “lovingly” imposing this “truth,” as we’ve interpreted and codified it, upon other people, we might be missing the point. I don’t pretend to know the whole truth about everything Jesus said and what He wants us to do with it, but it doesn’t seem like the truth Jesus came to tell us is that God is mad, we’re all doing it wrong, and His love is conditional. That was the perception for thousands of years. Doesn’t seem like God had to come down here to confirm that.

Christ’s message seems to offer love instead of fear, hope instead of rejection, grace instead of condemnation, and transformation instead of retribution. What if Jesus’ truth isn’t systematic or philosophical, but relational? What if a truth that transforms how we think and respond to everything is discovered through awareness, acceptance, and continuous discovery of God’s love for us, in us, and through us?

Father, thank you for revealing Your love through Christ.

You don’t have to prove anything

February 11th, 2018 by Maureen

Just because Jesus asks one guy to do something specific it doesn’t mean he’s asking everybody to do that same specific thing. In context, the guy had just listed all the things he did right in order to prove that he was a worthy of consideration as a disciple. Jesus had just got through telling this same guy that nobody is good only God is good. When the guy pressed, Jesus told him to sell all his stuff. The point was that discipleship isn’t something you apply for and earn and do.

This conversation really wasn’t about laws. It was about understanding that we do not manufacture goodness through our behavior. Rather we are good because God is good and respond with good from the attitude and perspective that our identity is in Him. This means letting go of the things we do to prove our goodness to ourselves and to others.

It doesn’t say that the young man went away deeply offended or alienated either, just sad. Jesus didn’t shut the door on the guy because he wasn’t ready to accept what He said. I like to think what Jesus said to this young man sunk in later.

Lord, help me to bask in Your goodness and invite others into Your goodness.

Love shreds the rap sheet

February 10th, 2018 by Maureen

Sometimes our reaction to being hurt is to add that offense to a mental rap sheet that we are keeping on the offending party. While these rap sheets are especially handy during arguments, they have a tendency to promote bitterness in relationships. Some  of us create even harsher rap sheets about ourselves.

Some of us cast the Father as both judge and rap-sheet record-keeper, Jesus as our defense attorney against this irritable judge, and the Holy Spirit as a sort of Jiminy Cricket, constantly guilting us about our past failures and potential for wrongdoing. This doesn’t seem like the love that is not irritable and keeps no records of wrongs.

If indeed God is love, and indeed One, then the forgiveness and reconciliation that Father, Son, and Spirit as One God offers to us through Jesus includes shredding any rap sheet we create for ourselves and any we think God holds against us, and never starting new ones.  Reconciling love allows us the opportunity to heal relationships with others by shredding all those rap sheets we’ve been keeping against other people.

Lord, help me to let all of it go.

Impressively humble

February 9th, 2018 by Maureen

So much thought and energy goes into trying to impress. So much that is unique and honest is lost in relationships and in work because people are trying so hard to be someone else and to spout someone else’s ideas. Humility allows us to present our real selves to others, to love, serve, and accept others, and let them be their real selves around us.

Lord, call me out when I’m being fake.

Just as we are

February 6th, 2018 by Maureen

Being reconciled to God doesn’t make us clones or robots, but children who uniquely reflect the spiritual DNA of the Father, embrace the motives and ideas expressed through Jesus, His Son, and operate from the influence of His Spirit who creates a nurturing spiritual environment for us and within us. Our ministry of reconciliation is not trying to make other people agree or conform to our vision of “Christian,” but to love and to welcome them, just as they are, into the relationship we enjoy with God. Reconciliation leaves space for appreciating wherever someone else may be in relation to discovering and realizing Christ’s immense and transforming love for each of us.

Lord thank you for reconciling and transforming me.

When we hurt each other

February 4th, 2018 by Maureen

Retaliation is often our knee jerk response when someone hurts us. What we give back can be better than what we receive. Sometimes in moments of stress people snap. Sometimes people forget. Sometimes people take it out on you because you just happen to be there. Sometimes people don’t even see you for who you are but as an obstacle or an inconvenience. Sometimes we do that to other people too. Sometimes we don’t mean to. And sometimes we do. Forgiveness and grace are huge.

Lord, help me to understand and forgive when others hurt me, and especially to forgive myself when I hurt others.

Safe to trust

February 1st, 2018 by Maureen

Memes.comThere are good reasons to let go of fear and anger when circumstances are confusing and painful. Sometimes it’s not up to us to fix the problem. Sometimes fixating on “why” just makes things harder. God has every situation in His command.

We matter to God. His power and love are immeasurable. He is good and His goodwill is directed toward each of us. The character of God the Father is the grace and peace of the Son. The character of Jesus is the comfort and inspiration of the Spirit. The character of the Spirit is the goodness and love of the Father. We are sustained within the powerful, sustaining love that is the glory and character of Triune God. We can trust God.

Lord, thank you for the comfort and confidence I experience because I know I am in Your care.