Archive for the ‘Acts’ Category

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.

Of rocks and roosters

August 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Upon this rock… Matt. 16:8 I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me. Matt. 26:34

Jesus: Peter, who do you say that I am?
Peter: Your are the Christ, the Son of the living God!
Jesus: On this rock I will build my church…” Matt. 16:15-18
Fast forward
Jesus: “Before the rooster crows Peter, you will deny me three times…”
Peter: “I don’t know what you mean…I don’t know the man…I don’t know the man.”
The rooster crows. Peter remembers Jesus’ words and goes somewhere he can weep in private. Matt 26:69-75
Fast forward
Peter stood before a crowd in Jerusalem and lifted his voice… Acts 2:14

Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Son of God is the rock on which the church is built, not Peter himself. Later Peter walked on water then sunk, cut off a man’s ear to defend Jesus and got corrected for it, wimped out on the the night of Jesus’ crucifixion, and was picked to preach the first public sermon to the crowds after the Upper Room experience that launched the new faith. We all have rock moments and rooster moments. God defines us by Christ not by those moments. Neither our rocks nor our roosters have to power to change God’s love for us, our status as His children, or His desire or ability to express His love, grace, and truth through us. We do have the power to choose how to process our rock and rooster experiences. Roosters crow to wake us up, not to accuse us. Feeling the rock under our feet gives us confidence, perspective, and solid place to stand; we don’t have to be the rock.

Lord, thank you that I can experience restoration and transformation in all my rock and rooster moments.

Silly Rabbis…

April 11th, 2017 by Maureen

You killed the Originator of life, but God raised Him from the dead, of which we are witnesses. Acts. 3:15

Can you really expect the Originator of life to stay dead? Speaking to the people of Israel about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Peter points this out. Of course those who cried “crucify him” had no idea Jesus was the originator of life. They did, at the point when Peter was speaking in Acts, have evidence to consider that they didn’t have pre-resurrection. Too often we humans are more intent on preserving status quo and sticking to erroneous assumptions than entertaining the possibility that God might have some incredible experience waiting for us just beyond the changing of our minds.

Originator of life, thank you, for rising from the dead so that we might experience the life You originate through the renewing of our minds and reconciliation of our spirits.

Full keeps getting fuller

October 29th, 2016 by Maureen

I want to talk to you about the One you already worship without full knowledge… Acts 17:23

Paul was referring to the Romans’ shrine to the “unknown god” erected to cover any deity they might have missed. Is recognition of the Almighty God as Father, Son, and Spirit – especially of Jesus as God – the “full knowledge” Paul is referencing here? But even those of us who believe in Him do not worship with “full knowledge.” There are unknowns in each of our experiences with Him and each of our understandings about Him. Problems happen when we enshrine our assumptions and insist on asserting our unknowns as immutable truth. Jesus deconstructed shrines and disrupted assumptions and used relationship and revelation to make Himself known. Full knowledge doesn’t mean we know all there is to know.

Father, Son, and Spirit – what I know of You fills me completely yet the thought of fully knowing You fills me hope, excitement, and anticipation.

God leaves fingerprints

April 5th, 2016 by Maureen

In the past he permitted all the nations to go their own ways, but He never left them without evidence of Himself and His goodness. Acts 14:16-17a.

Even individuals and cultures that don’t recognize God for Who He is have evidence of His presence, though they may attribute it to other causes or ignore it. Admittedly we see Him in the evidence because we are looking for Him there. Yet the more familiar we become with the evidence and with God, the better we get at recognizing the places where He’s left fingerprints.

Lord, help me see You everywhere I go.

PSA: Take time for wonder

December 9th, 2015 by Maureen

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kings, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. Col. 1:15-16 In Him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:28

The very idea of Emmanuel-God-with-us is jaw-dropping, inexplicable, amazing, mysterious, and thrilling. “In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.” – C.S. Lewis wrote in The Last Battle, Chronicles of Narnia series. And then consider the miracle and wonder that is Christ  in us and us in Him. All this didn’t happen so we can try to explain or analyze it. Embrace the mystery. Enjoy living inside the wonder and enjoy the wonder living inside of you!

Lord, You really are wonderful.

Live, move, exist

July 30th, 2015 by Maureen

For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said “For we, too, are his offspring.”  So since we are the offspring of God we ought not to think that the divine being is an image carved in gold or silver, or stone by human skill and imagination. Acts 17:30

Within all of us lie patterns of thought and responses to experiences that are common across time and geography. We desire meaning and long for transcendence. Art, science, philosophy, literature, social structures, innovation, and discovery are results of the image of the Maker within us that causes us to be makers ourselves. Beyond the products of our own imaginations, abstract thoughts, and tangible creations is a personal, loving Father. Our greatest satisfaction, connection, and revelations happen through awareness of and relationship with Him as we live and move and exist.

Lord, thank You for making us to be Your children.

Bigger and beyond

July 29th, 2015 by Maureen

He made every race and culture to live on all the face of the earth, allotting epochs and boundaries for each, that they might seek God, perhaps grope for Him, though He is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26

Based on limitations of their own cultures, eras, and geography, ancient cultures developed ideas about the big questions everyone asks, like “who or what controls the universe?” and “why am I here?”  Do we settle for a god who fits our cultural presuppositions and boundaries? The God Who made us seekers, the God who desires full and authentic relationship with each of us enough to come down here and reveal Himself, is never far from us, even if we do.

Lord, thank You for being so near and always bigger and more than I think.

Life and breath and everything

July 28th, 2015 by Maureen

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though He needed anything. He himself gives all life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25

If God doesn’t want or need us to “serve” Him in any ceremonial sense why compartmentalize our sacred experiences with Him to church, prayer, Bible study, or service projects?  Maybe in tearing down the temple’s curtain God opened “all life and breath and everything” to the possibility of sacred experience. Maybe relationship with the Giver and Maker of everything offers us the experience of responding in His image, giving and making in response to His dwelling in us rather than compartmentalizing our responses to Him to places we are supposed to be or things we are supposed to do.

Lord, help me respond to You in all my life and breath and everything.

Bold as love

July 5th, 2015 by Maureen

Paul lived there…proclaiming  the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Act. 28:31

The bold message of the transforming salvation of Christ is unconditional love, unearned forgiveness, and unlimited grace. Both Jesus and Paul were criticized for being bold enough to associate with and include those who had already been judged and disenfranchised by the Jewish religious establishment. Somewhere along the line Christians have come to equate “boldness” with calling people out on their sinfulness, preaching hell-fire and brimstone, and demanding moral compliance, but that seems a lot more like Pharisee boldness than Paul and Jesus boldness.

Lord, help my words and practices be as bold as Your loving, gracious gospel.

Always Spring and always Easter

April 5th, 2015 by Maureen

and with great power they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with freedom…and with great power the apostles gave the testimony of the rising again of Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:31, 33

If we are “crucified with Christ,” are we not also resurrected with Him? Peter’s audience was used to hearing “repent and turn from your evil ways” and “offer a sacrifice to atone.” They were used to a religious cycle of feeling guilty and temporarily relieved of guilt. Renewal was a season to them. But God’s Spirit inspired a radical message about resurrection and a radical experience of grace that is the beginning of a season that never ends.

Help us experience Christ’s resurrection and our resulting rebirth as our permanent reality rather than simply a season.

It’s raining, evidently

June 25th, 2014 by Maureen

Though all the nations went there own way, but he never left them without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts. Acts 14:17

It’s raining and Austin, Texas welcomes it with joyful hearts. No matter how technologically advanced we become, we still need rain, we still can’t control when it comes and we still depend on it for most of our food. God provides, we receive and say “thank You.”  We eat of His bounty and celebrate His provision. Rain is still evidence of God’s goodness and power.

Lord, Your rain is so refreshing and welcome. Thank You!


Such as I have, such as it is

May 28th, 2014 by Maureen

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Acts 3:6

Sometimes what we ask for is neither what we get or what we actually need. Sometimes what others ask of us is beyond our capacity to give, yet what we do have to give is exactly what the other person needed all along. We shouldn’t focus on our inadequacies but on responding to the needs of others with what God has given us.

Lord, what I have is Yours to give away.


Trusting God is a thrill ride

May 2nd, 2014 by Maureen

When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to Lydia’s house. Acts 16:40

When we decide to submit everything inside ourselves and everything in our lives to Him, Jesus will disrupt our nice, planned, scheduled lives and use up our time, energy, and resources. We can look at this as  “sacrifice” or “obedience” and suffer through it. Or we can embrace the adventure He’s inviting us into and experience  the thrill of trusting Him as we let go and take the ups and down and sharp turns with our hands in the air.

Lord, help my “What now?” be one of anticipation rather than aggravation.




Mad respect for Barnabas

January 17th, 2014 by Maureen

Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. Acts 15:39

Apparently John Mark messed up badly enough that Paul didn’t want him involved in his ministry anymore, but Barnabas wasn’t ready to write off John Mark. In Paul’s later letters he expresses confidence in John Mark. Where would John Mark have ended up if Barnabas hadn’t left his important work to hang out with him? Restoration sometimes takes an investment that others won’t understand or accept.

Lord, help me encourage and restore those who feel written off.

Feeling the way

December 28th, 2013 by Maureen

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘in him we live and move and have our being.’ – Acts 17:27-28

Paul quoted the words of the Greek poet Epimedes of Knossos who wrote a poem proposing some amazingly insightful truths about the nature of God and human existence. Paul focused on the truths in Epimedes statement rather than attacking his attribution of that truth to Zeus.

Lord, help me find common ground with those who are feeling their way toward You.

A flood of evidence

October 31st, 2013 by Maureen

He never left us without evidence of himself and his goodness. For instance, he sends you rain and good crops and gives you food and joyful hearts. Acts 14:17

Rain is often a metaphor for God’s bounty and blessing in our lives. As we navigate the inconveniences of this physical flood in Austin, we can think about God’s pleasure and faithfulness in flooding our lives with His provision and joy. Imagine His love and grace as rushing rapids carrying us along this transforming journey we call our lives.

 Lord, I thank you for flooding my life with love and grace, and everything that goes with that.

Exploding preconceptions

June 25th, 2013 by Ted

But the voice spoke [to Peter] again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” Acts 10:15

The story of Cornelius is told in Act 10. Before Cornelius even believed in Christ God made it clear to Peter that He had plans to redeem Cornelius. God blew Peter’s preconceived ideas about how Christians are supposed to look and act out of the water. Peter had to get over his legalism and accept Cornelius into the family of God as a brother who had been made clean and righteous by the cross.

Lord, help me let go of false preconceptions.

Presence over performance

June 15th, 2013 by Maureen

You have shown me the way of life and You will fill me with the joy of Your presence. Ps. 16:11; Act 2:28

David wrote it, Peter quoted it, but living in full awareness of God’s presence is counterintuitive to our urge to perform and control. Our deliberate efforts, our reading plans, our volunteer work, our prayers and devotions can become something we make ourselves do rather than a response to His presence that honestly is our way of life. The joy of His presence comes from being with Him, of Him, and in Him.

Lord, fill me with the joy of Your presence.

Well played, Pete and Barney

January 5th, 2013 by Maureen

“And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”-Peter When he [Barnabas] came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, Acts 11:17,23

Both men saw evidence of Christ’s salvation given to different groups of Gentiles, people they didn’t expect to receive salvation. Each implies that it’s not up to use to judge other people’s worthiness or eligibility to receive grace, but to acknowledge them as fellow believers and to encourage their faith.

Lord, make me an encourager.