Archive for the ‘2 Corinthians’ Category

Getting to know you

June 25th, 2016 by Maureen

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 2 Cor. 5:16a

Humans have a tendency to make assumptions about one another based on appearance, income, zip code, and other superficial qualities. Sometimes we assign whole stories to people we barely know just because we discover something about their pasts. The best way to really enjoy and appreciate another person is to listen without filling in blanks that are based on our own perceptions and experiences rather than their self-revelation. Jesus responded to each unique individual with genuine interest and love…and still does. We can choose to hear and value one another in the same way.

Lord, help me to listen better and love sincerely.

Empathy 101

May 19th, 2016 by Maureen

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 2 Cor. 3b-4a

Sometimes our responses to the sorrow of others is to try and cheer them up, as through there is something illegitimate, weak or embarrassing about sorrow. Occasionally we all need someone who knows and loves us to say “snap out of it” because we are enjoying the blues a bit too much or to intervene when we are spiraling. It is not empathy, however, to dismiss other people’s sorrows because they make us uncomfortable or cause us inconvenience. Jesus’ response to his friends’ troubles was to show up with help, hope, and friendship… and sometimes He wept with them. Christ still shows up for us when we are hurting. He cares about us when we experience sadness and depression. We affirm the heart of Christ for others when we are willing to mourn with those who mourn. This is empathy.

Holy Spirit, help me to enter into the experiences of my friends who are sad and teach me how to respond in ways that brings real comfort and peace.

Some thoughts on dire straits (not the band)

February 21st, 2016 by Maureen

We don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, about the affliction we suffered in Asia, that we were burdened excessively beyond our power our to cope. We even despaired of life itself. 2 Cor. 1:8

As a leader in a new, exciting faith movement it doesn’t seem like publicly confessing despair would be the best strategy. The Corinthian people to whom Paul was writing were his followers, his spiritual children, his donors. How could they be expected to listen to him and support his ministry when he’s confessing that he landed in dire straits, couldn’t work or pray his way out of it, and then despaired?  But Paul wasn’t about building credibility for his leadership position, defending God’s faithfulness, spinning a bad experience, selling a plan for overcoming trouble, or teaching faith strategies for avoiding trouble altogether. He was about  facing reality, being transparent, and trusting and depending on God even when he faced things he couldn’t understand, explain, or fix.

Lord, when the straits get dire and I can’t cope, thank You for always being with me.


Already gone

February 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten. Joel 2:25; If anyone is is Christ the new has come and the old has gone. 2 Cor. 5:17; Behold I make all things new. Rev. 21:5

There is no loss, no baggage, no regret, no failure in our lives that Christ cannot restore. There is no old, used up, distorted, ragged, broken, torn, vermin-ridden mess in our lives that Christ cannot make new. In fact, because we are in Christ that shiny new restored life is already bestowed upon us through salvation and the old life is already gone.  It’s only from our perspective that it is not being realized. He has made us free to live the life He realizes for us.

Lord, help me to decide, to respond, to live, and to think based on what You have made new.

The people who matter

January 13th, 2016 by Maureen

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. 2 Cor. 5:16a

Humans have a tendency to make assumptions about one another based on appearance, income, zip code, and other superficial qualities. We tend to assign value based on talents, contributions, or earning potential. Jesus responded to each unique individual with genuine interest and love…and still does. We can choose to hear and value one another in the same way. The people who matter are all of us!

Lord, help me to listen better and love sincerely.

Transformative thinking

January 12th, 2016 by Maureen

…we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 2 Cor. 10:15b

Faith is not magical thinking, positive thinking, or wishful thinking. Faith is transformative thinking. It pushes our boundaries of influence and surpasses the limits of our current understanding, Faith pushes our inner boundaries beyond what we accept to be possibility and past the artificial limitations we place on God’s intervention. Faith accepts God’s definition of possible which goes exceedingly, abundantly beyond anything we can ask or think.

Lord, stretch my understanding of possible and push past the limits of what I can now believe from You and of You.

Christmas gifting

December 19th, 2015 by Maureen

Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love for us—I want you to excel also in this grace of  giving. 2 Cor. 8:7

Giving,  faith, speech, knowledge, joy, zeal, or love are gifts from God that grow in our hearts and minds because Christ Himself is this way. Our responses to these Spirit inspired graces are reflections of reconciliation and relationship with Him. We honor the Giver when giving is a response to His gift of grace rather than something we do out of obligation or pressure.

Let each gift I give this Christmas be an act of grace.

It’s a pain to explain

November 4th, 2015 by Maureen

He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. 2 Cor. 1:4 (Voice)

Sometimes the things we tell ourselves or one another about pain keep us from experiencing authentic comfort.

“It’s punishment for sin – go directly to the shame wallow. Do not pass Go.”

“It’s a test – endure with strength and nobility and don’t disappoint by showing weakness.”

“It’s a learning experience – start studying.”

“It’s an attack of the enemy – spiritual disciplines will make it goes away.”

“Pain is not a legitimate experience for Christians – rebuke and deny it.”

Some things just inexplicably suck and what we really need is a good cry in our Father’s arms because we are legitimately hurting. Sometimes we need a friend who is just going to listen and comfort us. Sometimes real faith is accepting comfort without demanding an explanation.

Lord, Your comfort is so sweet and kind.


October 5th, 2015 by Maureen

At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Matt. 27:51 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:16, 18

Christ imputed His righteousness onto us at the cross the symbolic veil of separation between God and humans ripped apart. Individually the veils we wear, the masks of righteousness we put on out of shame or fear or even desire to imitate Christ, are also torn away. Even the best, most realistic mask can only imitate authentic glory. Only when our faces are unveiled can we see and reflect the image and glory of God. People who are unmasked and being transformed are not going to look the same under the masks. This is probably what scares most of us about being unveiled.

Lord, show me how to reflect Your glory instead of trying to imitate it.

God keeps getting bigger

October 4th, 2015 by Maureen

Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Cor. 3:16-17

aslan you're biggerKnowing God means surrendering our paradigms not protecting them. Paul didn’t become who he was by clinging to his original beliefs about God. If we are interested in transformation and liberty we have to be willing to know and understand ideas about God and our relationships with Him that we didn’t know, or may have rejected, before. God will meet us and love us wherever we are, but we are unlikely to grow beyond our own definitions, expectations, and paradigms. And God is bigger than those even when we don’t see Him that way right now.

Lord, You really are uncontainable!

Jesus is God’s “Yes” man

September 10th, 2015 by Maureen

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. 2 Cor. 1:20

The Father answered Jesus’ prayer with “Yes!” We can pray the prayer Jesus taught his disciples pre-resurrection as it is fulfilled for us post-resurrection.  “Thank you for fulfilling your promise of redemption and making us on earth as You see us from heaven. Thank You for our daily bread, for forgiving all our sins, for providing us the grace to forgive others, for the power to resist temptation, and thank you for completely defeating the evil one.”

Thank you for the “Yes” that echoes through eternity from before the foundation of the world: Jesus!

Stuck in small lives

August 27th, 2015 by Maureen

Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way… Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! 2 Cor. 6:12-13 (Msg)

If our perceptions and decisions are limited by our damaged memories, our human expectations, our cultural biases, our current knowledge, our fears and desires, and our immediate surroundings we are unlikely to envision or embrace the expansive, abundant life God has for us. We will not find relief from our restlessness and dissatisfaction with more or better versions of the same thing. When we feel stuck in small lives God not only offers something  exquisitely and refreshingly different.

Lord, help me to have the vision, motivation and energy to seek, to see, and to embrace the big life You give me.

Thoughts on spiritual liberty on the 4th

July 4th, 2015 by Maureen

And the Lord is Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. 2 Cor. 3:17

When a culture is rooted in compassion, integrity, and wisdom complete liberty is possible. The captivity of sin and restraints of the law are results of selfish attitudes and behaviors that cause harm to ourselves and to others. The influence of God’s Spirit transforms our attitudes and choices to allow us to live in the true liberty that Christ won for us at great sacrifice to Himself. How each of us perceives and practices this spiritual liberty may look different and may change over time as the Spirit of the Lord faithfully completes the good work of liberating and renewing our hearts and minds.

Lord, help me to live free in Your Spirit.

Literally hyperbole upon hyperbole

June 8th, 2015 by Maureen

For the momentary lightness of affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory which…(literally) hyperbole upon hyperbole. 2 Cor. 4:17

The end of this verse is usually translated “beyond comparison” but Paul uses “hyperbole” and then doubles it to describes the excessive, immeasurable nature of of this glory. He gives the invisible, abstract idea of glory “weight” while assigning the ephemeral “lightness” to our very visible and experiential afflictions. In comparing time, afflictions are “momentary” while glory is “eternal.” Perspective is everything when it comes to looking at the outcomes of whatever currently pains us.

Lord, show me how to weigh my difficulties the way You do.


Inadequate and relieved to say so

June 4th, 2015 by Maureen

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from us, but our adequacy comes from God who indeed made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, based not on the letter but on the Spirit, because the letter kills, but the Spirit imparts life. 2 Cor. 5-6

Christ’s new covenant of grace tore down the curtain in the tabernacle placed there by law and ended the fearful sacrifices followed to the letter by men trying hard to be worthy enough and holy enough for reconciliation. If we continue to believe relationship with God hinges on our obedient sacrifices, we remain behind the curtain in the old covenant, trapped by the letter. What Christ has done is adequate. We need not struggle to gain life that has already been imparted.

Lord, thank You for the life You impart to my inadequate self.

God > everything else

March 29th, 2015 by Maureen

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Cor 13:14

Each member of the Triune God informs what we believe about ourselves and encourages how we interact with other people. Our poor choices, conscious and unconscious resistance, misguided efforts, and unshed baggage are no more a match for the power of His redemption than death was against the power of His resurrection. Whether it feels like it or not, His grace carries us, His love surrounds us, and He remains with us because nothing can separate us from Him now.

Lord, thank You for Your grace, Your love, and Your constant presence.

God and sinners reconciled

December 18th, 2014 by Maureen

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  2 Cor. 5:19

That night, standing around the manger, everybody understood that Jesus’ birth signaled hope and change, but nobody knew exactly how it would play out. When we come to faith in Christ the experience of reconciliation usually plays out differently too. Reconciliation isn’t trying to fix what we think is broken in ourselves; reconciliation is letting Him break the chains that bind us to this broken world. Reconciliation isn’t us trying to conform to what we think He wants; reconciliation is us letting Him transform us into how He already sees us.

Lord, thank You for laying aside Your glory so You could raise me and give me second birth.

Love the one you’re with

November 13th, 2014 by Maureen

Don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us (Msg). For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” (NLT) 2 Cor. 6:2

The present gets lost in thoughts like “If only I could go back to the time…,” or “I can’t wait until…” We squander the present focusing too much on the past or on the future. The people in the room are the ones God wants to love through us. Love happens in the now.Now is a key piece of God’s transforming redemptive power in our lives. Faith happens in the now.

Lord, keep me present in the present.

And that’s when all the fighting, running, freezing and fawning started

November 8th, 2014 by Maureen

My grace is sufficient. My power is fulfilled in your weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

We believe our own hype until… we fail to meet our own expectations, we disappoint someone else, or we face something we can’t handle alone. Then the stress sets in. Stress typically triggers a “fight, flight, freeze, or fawn” response in human beings. We may get defensive about our choices or their results. We may escape in whatever way best distracts us. We may remain stuck in the status quo. We throw all our energy into regaining favor and making it right. Or not. We can choose to respond in the freedom of grace and perceive ourselves, including our mistakes, through the lens of Christ’s grace rather than through the lens of the expectations we put on ourselves… and each other.

Lord, let the power of Your grace be fulfilled in my weakness.


The myth of the self-made Christian

September 25th, 2014 by Maureen

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from us, but our adequacy comes from God. 2 Cor. 3:5

We may buy in to the idea that self-reliance makes us stronger or happier. We may look to our life experiences like jobs, finances, relationships, health, or positional influence to determine our sense of security and worth. We may derive a sense of personal accomplishment through consistent religious practice. But it is when there is no way to hedge our bets and we find ourselves having to jump with no net that we learn what it means to trust our lives fully to God.

Lord, I might be crazy to ask this, but I think I my life needs less hedge and more free fall into You.