Archive for the ‘John’ Category

The greatest go-to ever

August 12th, 2017 by Maureen

As the Father has loved me, I love you. Remain, abide, in my love. John 15:9

God equips us with His love as a go-to for whatever we encounter.
Love can be the idea that informs how we process and respond to the things that happen around us and to us.
Love can be the emotional connection that guides our interactions with others.
Love can be the spiritual light that connects us to God and all He created.
Sometimes stress and habit cause us to detour into our old go-to responses because love response feels unfamiliar.
If our past automatic responses to hurt, threat, or confusion have been despair, fear, or anger,
if our past relationships have been mired in unforgiveness, suspicion, or power,
if our past spiritual experience has been rooted in law and shame,
we might respond in ways that obscure how we experience and communicate His love.
Remaining and abiding is about our perceptions, experiences, and responses.
Such detours can’t move us out of God love, though. Nothing can.

Lord help me to remember go-to love when my heart, mind, and spirit start to detour.

Health 101: stay hydrated and rested

August 9th, 2017 by Maureen

Jesus stood up and said, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me and drink! Whoever believes in me, as it is written, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Jn. 7:37-38

The human soul requires hydration just as much as the human body does. Christ is the source of refreshing, life-sustaining  nourishment. It is like a river that flows through us, hydrating our spirits. If we start feeling parched it could be that we’ve forgotten or just been too busy, to stop and drink. Sometimes the most productive thing we can do for ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually is to take time to rest and drink.

Lord, I’m stopping by this river. Fill my soul and my life with Your living water.

Love can suck the life right out of you. But in a good way.

August 5th, 2017 by Maureen

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Some people die or risk death saving someone else in emergency situations. Some people choose professions that require risking their lives for strangers. Until we are faced with the reality of it, none of us actually know whether we’d choose to die for someone else, even for someone we love. While it’s not death, sometimes we lay down some of things that make up our lives, like our time, our energy, our space, our resources, and our comfort, because we love someone who needs those things from us. There are days when death seems quicker and easier than the tedium of daily laying down of life that caregivers and others engaged in long-term support for loved ones experience. Whatever we lay down when we choose love over self reflects and punctuates the great love that God has for all of us.

Lord, thank you for not requiring this of me but doing it for me. I would like to get to a point when love doesn’t feel so sacrificial and I’m not so protective of my own concerns. Show me how.

You are not defined by your past. Not by the ways you’ve been hurt nor by the ways you’ve hurt others.

July 20th, 2017 by Maureen

John 8:1-11 The Pharisees interrupt Jesus while He is teaching to drag in a woman they’d caught in the act of adultery and ask, “What should we do with her?”At the time adultery was punishable by death according to the law of Moses which all of them followed. The Pharisees were hoping to discredit Jesus by asking Him this question.
Basically the Pharisees are like Vizzini in The Princess Bride, pridefullyexpecting to win a battle of wits with Jesus.
If He agrees with the law He contradicts the message about love and grace He’s been teaching and therefore gets labeled a hypocrite.
If He sticks with His message, He contradicts the law and therefore gets labeled a heretic.

Instead of answering right away Jesus squats down and starts writing in the dirt.
“Well?” The Pharisees demand an answer.
Jesus stands up and says, “Is there anybody here who has never made a mistake? Anybody not even a little bit maladjusted? Anybody here faultless? Blameless? Sinless? If you are, go ahead, cast the first stone.”
Then He squats back down and starts writing in the dirt again.
One by one, they walk away starting with the oldest, who, naturally, has the longest fault-filled past.
When nobody is left except the woman Jesus asks her, “Where is everybody? Who’s here to sentence you, now?”
“No one,” she answers. It’s probably just dawning on her that she’s not going to die on the streets in shame that day.
“I’m certainly not here to pass sentence. Go and sin no more.”
The story ends. Hopefully the woman, and some of the Pharisees walked away asking “What just happened? Where do I go from here?”

Jesus didn’t let the Pharisees label or define Him and He offered the woman and the Pharisees a chance to walk away from the labels that created shame for them in that moment and be redefined by His message of love and grace.

Lord, let “Child of God” be the only label that sticks to me.

I’ll have what Jesus is having

May 27th, 2017 by Maureen

Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” Jn. 4:34

Human beings seek physical and emotional nourishment from a number of sources, not all of which are healthy. In order to feel satisfied we may feed our stomachs, our egos, our bank accounts, even our minds. Rather than seeking to gain a sense of fullness for himself, Jesus found fulfillment, satisfaction, and sustenance by focusing on relationship with the Father and with those around Him. This is God’s offer of fulfillment for all His children.

Lord, I want to be nourished and satisfied by fulfilling Your purposes for me.

Evidence of grace

April 24th, 2017 by Maureen

But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father. Jn. 10:38

Jesus understood that His life presented unique evidence to support His message. His responses to the needs and pain of those around Him changed the way they perceived God and themselves. Ultimately His death and resurrection reinterpreted humankind’s relationship with God. For many people life’s experiences support a cynical, depressed interpretation in which the evidence suggests God, if He’s there, doesn’t care and that human lives are insignificant. The choice to love others, to provide help and support, and to show kindness and respect presents an alternative way of perceiving God, ourselves, and the world. We participate in Christ’s miraculous restoration through every piece of evidence for grace and hope communicated to others through us.

Lord, let Your love and grace be evident in my relationships.

The doldrums

April 7th, 2017 by Maureen

The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” Jn 3:8

Some days we can feel like the wind’s not blowing. We might be in the doldrums but that doesn’t make us “unborn.” The wind is made of air and the air is always there. Every breath we breath, we breathe because God has put life in us and life is in us still. At some point that stillness will give way to Spirit wind again. I suspect focusing on God’s beauty and love, being with other people and doing things we enjoy is more likely to float us out than trying to analyze how we got there or trying to find the magic “how to” formula for change. How we feel or where we see ourselves does not alter Who God Is to us and for us.

Lord, I think I need fresh gust of wind.

PRV (Pressure Relief Valve) for life

April 3rd, 2017 by Maureen

Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that in me you have peace. In the world there are pressures, but tharseō, take heart, I have overcome the world.”  Jn. 16:33

The peace of Christ has a way of depressurizing potentially explosive situations. We can choose to let His peace act as a safety valve for our external and internal pressures, we can choose more toxic vents, or we can just let the pressure build up to some kind of eruption.  The word tharseō can mean “be of good cheer” or “be of good courage.”  Either way the encouraging belief that Jesus has overcome anything life throws at us can determine our attitudes and our responses to pressure.

Lord, I pray for peace under pressure…or maybe it’s peace over pressure.

Life cycles and hamster wheels

February 25th, 2017 by Maureen

Didn’t I tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God. Jn. 11:40

Our core assumptions about God, ourselves, other people, and the world around us drive our perceptions which drive our decisions which drive the results which further color our perceptions.
What we believe about God’s attitude toward us, about the value and state of humanity and ourselves specifically, and about what we can reasonably expect out of life, can create a cycle of glory and grace or a hamster wheel of futility or negativity. How we perceive and experience life begins and ends with what we believe.

Lord, I want to see your glory. Correct any false assumptions and perceptions I have about You.

Jesus’ intentions toward [your name here]

February 15th, 2017 by Maureen

Try hearing Jesus’ prayer Jn. 17:21-23 with your your own name instead of the personal pronouns. Say it out loud with your own name and hear His intentions toward and His heart for you.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for __[say your name here]___ who will believe in Me through their message. I pray that __[your name here]____ and all who ever believe will all be one, just as You and I are one—as You are in me, Father, and I am in You. And may __[your name here]____ be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given ___[say your name here and let it sink in]____ the glory you gave me, so __[your name here]___ and her fellow believers may be one as We are one. I am in __[your name here]___ and you are in me. May ___[your name here]___experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love ___[your name here]___ as much as you love me.

Lord, the transforming power in Your love, grace, and reconciliation blows my mind once again.

Live and in person

February 13th, 2017 by Maureen

I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. Jn. 8:12

Jesus didn’t tell his followers to follow a religion, a doctrine, a process, or a discipline. On-going, loving, developing, maturing, interactive relationships happen between people. Jesus came as a person. God the Father is a Person. The Holy Spirit is a Person. There are many artistic and intellectual expressions that reflect Christ, many institutions and processes that illuminate our understanding of Him, but none of these things are Him. God is live and in person!

My light, my hope, my life, my truth, my Jesus – I love you!

Not from around here anymore

February 12th, 2017 by Maureen

My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my subjects would be fighting to prevent me from being handed over to the Jews, as it is, my kingdom is not from here. Jn. 18:36

Christ causes positive change to happen in our thinking, desires, and choices. This translates into a desire to affect positive change in the world around us. But, heirs to a Kingdom of love, hope, grace, and transformation do not employ a climate of anger, fear, guilt, and legalism to bring about change. Heirs to His kingdom do not reduce the mission of Christ’s transforming grace to political, social, or legal protocols. That kind of thinking happens a lot in earthly kingdoms, but we are beyond the methods, strategies, and attitudes we learned from the kingdom of this world. We’re not from here anymore, and neither is the power from which affect change.
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Lord, help me think and live, stand and help like an heir in Your kingdom…make that our kingdom.

Love can only win when you trust it

February 4th, 2017 by Maureen

I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. Jn 10:10

In some ways abundance is linked to trust and hope. Perhaps whether we experience abundance has more to do with how we choose to process our experiences than the experiences themselves. What we expect from God and from ourselves affects how we process and respond to present circumstances, how we remember past experiences, and how we view the future. We get to choose whether we process our experiences from a place of trust and belief that we are loved. Or not. Perhaps the choice to trust God’s love is the pivot point for experiencing abundance.

Lord, I have trust issues, help me.

Individualized itineraries

January 17th, 2017 by Maureen

Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” Jn. 21:21-22

The way Christ guides each of us individually is not a universal template for the journey of faith. None of us is equipped to measure the difficulty or ease of another’s journey. None of us is qualified to explain all the apparent departures and differences in another’s path. Comparison or competition only distracts us from experiencing peace and purpose. Our Father lovingly responds to each of us exactly where we are and is taking us exactly where we need to be.

Lord, help me to follow where You lead me even when I can’t see where I’m going.

This means something

January 8th, 2017 by Maureen

For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only (monogenēs) Son that everyone who believes in Him not perish but have eternal life. Jn. 3:16 (Mounce)

The Greek word monogenēs means “pertaining to being the only one of its kind in a specific relationship” and”pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind. This distinguishes Jesus from every other prophet, every other eternal being, every other heavenly being, every other child of God, every other savior, both in His unique attributes and mission and His unique relationship with the Father and Spirit. Understanding who Jesus matters in terms of understanding and experiencing God’s love toward us and perceiving who we are in the context of who Jesus is.

Lord, I love You and thank You.

Unwrapping the big present

December 25th, 2016 by Maureen

If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water. Jn. 4:10

Wrapping Christ up as a baby and placing Him on earth as a free Gift of grace was God’s tangible proclamation of love for the human race. In this verse Jesus is presenting grace with the wrapping still on but He knows what will happen when the woman he’s addressing in the passage unwraps the gift He’s giving her. Heaven joyfully anticipates the moment each of us unwraps the Gift. The original angel song “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace and goodwill!” rings out for each of us. The original message “Fear not, I bright you good news of great joy!” continues to become personal reality for humanity, one heart at a time. Unwrap the gift!

Thank you, Lord, Your grace is exactly what I need and it always fits perfectly.

Why Jesus is better than Santa

December 16th, 2016 by Maureen

God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Jn. 3:17

Ever notice the words “he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good, for goodness sake” in that Christmas song? Is it possible for any of us to merit a decent Christmas present if getting a gift is contingent on being good? The legendary Christmas gift giver in some other cultures does not discriminate between good and bad kids, but in the U.S. generous St. Nick has evolved into judging Santa. Then Elf on a Shelf was added to the mix, I suppose because Santa got so busy he needed snitches. All this pressure to “be good” adds a fear-based, merit-based element to the Christmas tradition of receiving gifts. Fortunately God offers us His grace-based free gift in Christ because nobody can be good enough, and nobody has to be. Jesus isn’t looking for us to be good, He gives us His own goodness. If you’re going to do Santa, ditch the judgment and restore His jolly.

Thank you Lord Jesus for the free and loving grace of Christmas.

The 12th wonder of Christmas

December 16th, 2016 by Maureen

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Jn. 14:27

Sometimes we receive a gift and never take it out of the box. Or perhaps, like the four food processor blades I’ve never tried, we use the gift but don’t actually discover everything it can do. Like all God’s gifts, this peace cannot be returned or exchanged but we can settle for less than full functionality. So many things in our lives and in our world can cause unrest in our minds and hearts, but no matter what is going on, this peace is a gift we can unpack and enjoy right now. Jesus is our peace and in Him and through Him our minds and hearts experience abundance, rest, and joy.

May Christ’s gift of peace of mind and heart be an out-of-the-box experience for each of you this Christmas!

In the house

November 13th, 2016 by Maureen

Jesus: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”
Jewish followers: “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been anyone’s slave! How can you say ‘we will become free?'”
Jesus: “I tell you the solemn truth, everyone who commits a sin is a slave to sin. A slave does not remain in the house for all time, but a son remains for all time. If, therefore if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” Jn. 8:34-36

Jesus was having this conversation with those among His own followers who were still adherents to the Jewish law and believed its ideas about who is “in” and who is “out” and believed the law was the process necessary to be “in.” Jesus announced a different paradigm: No more law, just grace. No more condemnation, just restoration. No more sacrifice, just redemption. No more revolving doors, just belonging. No more slaves, just sons and daughters. No more visitors, just family. Robert Frost wrote in his poem, The Hired Man, “Home is the place that, when you go there, they have to take you in.” God is our home.

Thank you for making Yourself my home and for making Your home in me.

 

What’s called for is empathy not explanations or egg salad

September 24th, 2016 by Maureen

When Jesus saw her weeping… He was deeply moved and distressed…Jesus wept. Jn. 11:33, 35

Grief and sadness are part of human existence, at least right now. What people in distress need is empathy not explanations, friendship not fixing. Jesus’ response to His friend’s sadness was not to try to cheer her up but to weep with her. Expecting people to power through, equating periods of sadness with lack of faith, or going Job’s friends on the situation and trying to figure out why bad things happen are uncalled-for responses. Then there is the well-meaning knee-jerk Christian response to sadness: prayer and casseroles. While often welcome and helpful, sometimes doing something for our hurting friends is a way of avoiding emotionally engaging with them. Sometimes in the course of being Jesus hands and feet, we are also called upon to be His tears.

Lord, show me how to be with my friends who are hurting not just for them.