Archive for the ‘Ephesians’ Category

Infinite love means never having to do the math

May 10th, 2017 by Maureen

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Eph 3:18

Any direction we go, God’s love reaches us. However we may try to measure His love, or our worthiness of it, the answer is always “infinite.” We can put away our rulers, and stop worrying about whether we measure up. He loves us wider, longer, higher, and deeper than we can imagine.

Lord, thanks for Your love.

On finding ease and grace in the climate of obligatory indignation

April 30th, 2017 by Maureen

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. Instead be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:31-32 (Mounce)

Basically, in this little clinic on attitude toward, and interaction with, other people the goal is being “not this,” instead “this.” Sadly, in my opinion, the “not this” largely describes the current social and political climate of our country right now. Anger can feel more powerful than love. Kindness is often cast as weak and ineffectual, or interpreted as not caring enough; so we enter the fray. The boiling unrest in our hearts and minds surfaces and turns mean.

It’s helpful to look up the definitions of the Greek words to get a fuller picture of what is being said.

This:
kind (chrēstos) – easy, good, gracious, benevolent
tenderhearted (eusplanchnos) – compassionate, sympathetic, full of pity
forgive (charizomai) – willingly, freely bestow favor, do a favor, let it go

Not This:
bitterness (pikria) – stinging, caustic, stinking poison, wickedness
wrath (thumos) – outburst of passion, venting rage
anger (orgē) – vengeance, indignation
clamor (kraugē)- outcry, loud crying
blasphemy (blasphēmia) – speaking evil, vilification, damaging speech
malice (kakia) – viciousness, spite

Apparently the “not this” part is also difficult to independently separate from. It has to be removed (airō) from (apo) us by Christ.

remove (airō) – to raise upward, take off what is attached, carry away, to cause to cease
from (apo) – spatial sense of “away” or “apart” 

Sometimes even after a weight has been lifted we can feel as if it’s still pressing down and respond accordingly. Be aware that Christ separates us from this toxic climate and infuses us with His own powerful yet easy confidence that we really can communicate and affect change from His climate of love, kindness, and grace.

Lord, help me to come at every situation and engage in every conversation from Your climate of grace.

Chucking our defunct narratives

April 2nd, 2017 by Maureen

Lay aside your former self, corrupted by desires of the deceit and be renewed by the Spirit of your mind. Eph. 4:22-23

Though we may be convinced of Christ and our redemption through Him, our thinking, our responses and/or how we perceive ourselves can come from unconscious and deeply ingrained narratives. Christ has restored the true narrative about each of us that casts us as significant, beloved, empowered children. His Spirit dwelling in us renews our perspectives so that our responses can be informed by that narrative. Yet we sometimes unconsciously hold onto old, false narratives, and be unaware of how they influence our thoughts and feelings until something triggers our awareness of them. These defunct narratives can be laid aside. We can choose to let Christ’s narrative power our self-concepts, thoughts, responses, emotions or decisions.

Lord, help me to live out of my present self.

Free access pass

March 16th, 2017 by Maureen

…according to the purpose of the ages, which He [God] made in Christ our Lord. in whom we have the freedom and the access in confidence through faith in Him.  Eph. 3:11-12

God’s purpose is and has always has been to be an accessible and loving Father to us humans. The things we perceive as barriers between us and God: guilt, unworthiness, doubt, fear, failure, selfishness, and  everything else that we see as creating a chasm is eliminated by Christ and through Christ for the purpose of reconciliation with the Father. Legalism illuminates the perceived barriers. Religion creates an endless cycle of failure, guilt, and payment. In fact, it served the best interests of the Pharisees and other religious legalists – then and through the ages – to preserve the concept of the barrier because having people believe the barrier persists preserves their mission, purpose, power, and income. Freedom allows us to recognize that the barrier is no longer there, that we are no longer bound to the problems of guilt, fear, unworthiness, etc. that the law seemed to solve for us. We are no longer obligated to get a pass from the religious gatekeepers. We are free to access everything that comes with relationship and reconciliation with the Father.

Lord, help me to live a life that is as free as You’ve made me.

Still Christmas

January 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure.  Eph. 1:8-9

God’s plans for each of us is rooted in the same love and kindness that motivated Him to send Christ. His all-encompassing plan of redemption should be a source of pleasure to Him and for all of us as well. If God’s redemptive plan doesn’t sound like kindness and wisdom worth spreading then maybe it’s time to assess what exactly we think that plan entails. A tendency toward legalism and judgment can take the “good” right out of the news. A tendency toward “us and them” can take the “world” right out of “God so loved.” The “good news of great joy for all people” is relevant and true today just as it was on the first Christmas.

Lord, I rejoice in Your Big Plan of loving redemptive grace.

Resolutions for the unresolved

January 1st, 2017 by Maureen

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Eph. 2:10

Every New Year seems like an opportunity to reinvent ourselves. One more time we take stock of things we want to change about our lives or ourselves and determine to make it happen. For real this time. It’s certainly in our best interests – and often the best interests of those we love and who love us – to make loving, healthy, reasonable choices for our lives. But sometimes we end up feeling like failures by the end of January because we failed to keep our resolutions. Beating ourselves up doesn’t solve or resolve anything. Christ has already restored, reconciled, and resolved us (and all our unresolved issues) to the way God created us to be. It may seem non-linear to us, but God is not bound by time and neither is His work. Our perceptions, awareness, and choices are eventually catching up to what He’s already made us. Be of good cheer, Christ has already overcome for you and in you whatever you think you need to overcome.

Lord, help me stop obsessing over imperfections and let You do the resolving.

The inevitable dysfunction of human relationship

December 28th, 2016 by Maureen

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Eph. 1:5

We might as well face it: every family is dysfunctional in one way or another. You can’t pick your blood family. Even though you can pick your friends, there is usually some dysfunction there as well. We intentionally or unintentionally hurt each other. We disappoint, annoy, and frustrate each other. This is the dysfunctional human family that God, in His love, grace, and pleasure, brought us to Himself through Jesus. Adoption is a chosen relationship. The deepest, most accepting and supportive of friendships happen when we adopt each other knowing there is going to be some dysfunction that comes with that.

Lord, help me to experience Your love, grace, and pleasure in my relationships with other people, even – perhaps especially – through the inevitable dysfunction.

When God bursts into song

August 30th, 2016 by Maureen

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zep. 3:17

Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1:14) and now makes His home in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). Jesus, the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Maker is delighted by us. Imagine Him bursting into song about you! He does this not because we can do anything to inspire His songs but because His own love and grace for us makes us part of the song of love and joy He’s always sung with the Father and the Spirit. Because He loves us like this we can face anything with calm and confidence, and even joy.

Lord, I am amazed and thankful for the mystery of Your delight.

Onward and usward

August 16th, 2016 by Maureen

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. Eph. 4:16

Just as we are meant to individually experience what it means to be one in and with Christ, we are also meant to experience unity as a community of those He loves and leads. “Synergy” describes what occurs when two or more produce a result through Christ that isn’t individually obtainable. God’s kingdom runs on interdependence. The Kingdom of God can go viral when a group of individual believers experience synergy with Christ together.

Lord, help me to look outward and upward instead of “me-ward.”

How can we be in His house when we are His house?

June 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Lord made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and joy fill his dwelling. I Chronicles 16:26b-27 Christ makes His home in our hearts. Eph. 3:17

That we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever yet God makes His home in our hearts right now is a spiritual paradox. We don’t fully understand how that works, and we don’t have to understand it to enjoy it. Our whole existence is permeated with the constant presence of the amazing and awesome God. The more aware we are of God dwelling in us and we in Him, the more frequently we experience moments of full joy and captivating wonder, astounding insight and breathtaking love.

Lord, thank you for making me part of all You inhabit.

You can’t measure infinite

June 18th, 2016 by Maureen

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Eph 3:18

Only God’s infinite arms are big enough to stretch out to say “I love you this much.” Humans like to quantify, so we establish rubrics in which we perceive that certain behaviors can earn certain people more of God’s love. Humans like to categorize, so we assume that in order for us to be chosen, there have to be a “them” category made up of people God doesn’t love. When we try to fit God’s love into some human metric the answer is always “infinite.” We can put away our rulers, He loves us…them.

Lord, thanks for Your love. Help me understand it more.

What to wear to a fight

June 7th, 2016 by Maureen

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Forbear and forgive…and above all these things, love. Col. 3:12-14 Put on the whole armor of God to protect yourselves against the the schemes of the devil…truth, righteousness, preparation to proclaim the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, sword of the Spirit. Eph. 6:10-18

The Armor of God is to protect us from the only enemy we have, the evil one, not for shielding us from each other, and certainly not for attacking each other. God is love and everything He makes is made of that love. Sometimes we have to consciously remember to put on these love clothes. In life and in relationships, conflict happens. It may seem counter-intuitive to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness in conflict situations, but these responses are made of God’s love. And His love is like metaphysical Kevlar, the ultimate protective clothing for our spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, and sometimes even physical health.

Lord, thank you for helping me into my love clothes, especially when I feel like dressing in a Hazmat suit instead.

Can there be degrees to wholeness?

April 2nd, 2016 by Maureen

He did choose us before the foundation of the world….having foreordained us to the adoption as sons thorough Jesus Christ…in whom we have redemption through His blood…having revealed to us the secret of His will…to bring into one the whole in Christ, the things of heaven and earth, in Him…Eph. 1 YLT

Can there be degrees to the wholeness of the infinite and eternal Christ? Is the cross subject to the limitations of measurement by degree? Is God’s love? As finite creatures we have a tendency to measure and make “how many,” “how much,” or “what percentage” statements about things within our finite space-time existence. Is the cross subject to this sort of finite interpretation and measurement or is it infinite and eternal in nature? If Jesus can’t be more crucified or more resurrected, can any of us be more or less forgiven or chosen? Maybe “chosenness” is not about “better than” or exclusivity or favor but about being agents of change, healing, and reconciliation to His wholeness. And there are no degrees of agency either. If there are any degrees involved it is the degree to which we are aware that we are reconciled by the cross to the eternal and infinite wholeness of Christ.

Lord, thank You for making me more aware of  living and moving and having my being in Your loving, gracious wholeness.

Good Friday on the time-space continuum

March 25th, 2016 by Maureen

Pilate: What shall I do with Jesus, called the Christ? The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him….And Jesus having again cried with a great voice, yielded the spirit; and lo, the veil of the sanctuary was rent in two from top unto bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent. Matt 27

The cross was a concrete moment in time but it is also an experience happening outside of time. God exists and functions outside of time as well as within it. Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday in Palestine sometime between 30 and 33 A.D. yet Jesus Christ was crucified before the world was made. Rev. 13:8 calls Him the “Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1 explains that Jesus Christ was foreknown before the world was made and fortold by Old Testament prophets. Paul explains the same thing in Ephesians 1 and goes on to explain that before God even made us His intentions for us is an existence within the communion and love of Father, Christ, and Holy Spirit, as Jesus explains in John 17, has always existed. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of His Kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is an pre-creation experience within the Triune Godhead, a predicted event from the mysterious promise issued in Genesis 3:15 up until it became a historic event. Time and eternity converged in that moment and expelled enough energy to cause earthquakes and the symbolically split the dividing curtain between heaven and earth caused the evil. At this moment the eternally foreknown and foretold became present reality and a continuously happening present event as each person who recognizes His grace and embraces reconciliation to God through Christ. As each of us experiences His crucifixion as a personal event we are then continuously reconciled to what has already taken place on our behalf.

God, thank You for always and forever loving me.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

March 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Put on the whole armor of God that I might withstand the wiles of the devil. Eph 6:11 I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s host to shield me – from the Breastplate of St. Patrick

Written sometime between the 4th and 9th centuries, this ancient prayer is thought to be a response to the Ephesians passage about the whole armor of God. The emphasis is on God’s protecting power rather than on the strength or the perspective of the wearer. The armor He clothes us in might look as flimsy as tattered robes. His protection may even look like it’s failed, the way the cross looked on Good Friday. But God is the victor over death, hell, and the grave while the devil can only point at death, hell and the grave as if they have the last word over God. We can trust His protection and strength no matter what.

Lord, help me to  stand clad in the protection You’ve provided me viewing everything that comes through an eternal lens.

Horizontal grace

March 12th, 2016 by Maureen

Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Eph.4:2

The biggest obstacle to renewal or repentance when we mess up isn’t our vertical relationships with God but our horizontal relationships with others. Jesus doesn’t have to be re-crucified every time somebody messes up. God’s grace doesn’t have to be earned again (as if we earned it in the first place). His grace is big enough to stretch over our most epic fails. The surest way to keep someone who is in need of restoration stuck where they are is to concoct some elaborate system for earning back our good graces or make the relationship about “fixing the flaw.” What would happen if horizontal grace was as gracious as vertical grace?

Lord, when I mess up help me to receive Your grace and to extend it to others when they mess up.

Living large is living love

March 6th, 2016 by Maureen

Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison. 32 Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating Be imitators of God as His dear children and live in love just as Christ loved us. Eph. 4:31-5:1

Christianity is not about “us vs. them” and who’s “in” and who’s “out” and why. It’s not about “better than and less than” competitiveness in terms of doctrine or adherence to doctrine. Christianity is not just acknowledging that love has a place at the table it’s understanding that love is the whole room.

Lord, I want to live in love, to feed on it, inhale it and breathe it back out.

 

 

Getting it….whatever “it” is

January 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Christ is set firmly at the Father’s right hand in heavenly places, far above principalities, and authority, and every name named, not only in this age (Paul’s) but in ages to come and put everything at His feet and made Him head of the assembly, His body, the fullness of Him who is filling the all in all.  Eph. 1:20b-22a

Ideas about Jesus and messages from Him are contained in scripture and teaching, but Jesus Himself is not contained by them. Great teachers, or even the Bible itself can talk about the properties of love, grace, and truth but cannot cause us to believe them or be transformed by them. It is the Holy Spirit Who takes our encounters with teaching and scripture beyond instructive and informative and makes them life-giving and transformative. Christ who is Lover of the world, gracious and merciful Forgiver of sins, Redeemer of humankind, Victor over death, hell and the grave, Filler of the all in all, is the final Authority. He is the filter though which we respond to everything else, including what is taught and written about Him.

Jesus, You are it.

Families gather

November 19th, 2015 by Maureen

For this reason (God’s eternal plan to include Gentiles in His grace)  I pray before the Father from whom every family (patria) in heaven and on earth derives its name. Eph. 3:15

Patria literally means father. It also means lineage or ancestry, a group of people of lay claim to a common origin, or a nation or people. It doesn’t matter who we are: the Angel Gabriel or a refugee orphan, we all trace our origin to the Father.  Our Father is so deeply connected to the Son and the Spirit that He is Triune with them and so deeply connected to us that He sent His Son to reconnect the human family to His.  From this image we derive our desire to belong and connect in families. In this image we gather as families.

Lord, thank you for the people who are born my flesh and blood and those who have become my flesh and blood because You are our Father.

 

Bouncing into grace

November 18th, 2015 by Maureen

In Him we have received redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (paraptoma), according to the rich benefits of His grace which he lavished on us with all wisdom and insight. Eph. 1:7

God in his wisdom and insight made grace really stretchy. Paraptoma means to fall away after being close, to lose one’s footing, or lapse. We may not like ourselves much when we mess up, but a rich benefit of redemptive grace is that our failures, our lapses in judgement, our stumbles and fumbles need not bog us down. The surface of guilt and shame is like quicksand pulling us down. The surface of grace is like a trampoline that bounces us back up. This is what happens when we embrace God’s grace and what restores relationships when we lavish grace on others when they let us down.

Lord, thank You for this amazing, stretchy, bouncy, redemptive grace.