Archive for the ‘John’ Category

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.

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.

Famous last words

August 28th, 2016 by Maureen

 

If I want him to remain alive until I come back, what concern is that of yours? (Jesus to Peter concerning John)  John 21:23

Behold I am sending the promise of my Father to you, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:49

I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt. 28:20

Each of these gospels records different last words of Jesus, and each offers a different perspective. John records a personal conversation between Peter and Jesus, basically offering assurance that Jesus is interested and involved in our individual stories. Luke offers assurance that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit continue to communicate with us and will be our source and inspiration. Matthew simply says that no matter what happens throughout history, or through the passages of our own lives, Jesus is always, always with in.

Jesus, thank You for communicating to humans through Your life, Your words, and Your Spirit.

Peace when faced with the unknown

August 17th, 2016 by Maureen

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Jn. 14:27 RSV

These are Jesus’ words to His disciples as He tells them that He will soon complete the world-changing mission His Father sent Him to accomplish, return to the Father, and leave them here. He promises His Spirit will be with them in an even better way than He’s been with them. It is likely the disciples could not stretch far enough to imagine a scenario where Jesus’ absence could be better than His physical presence. We often  have trouble imagining benefits in change that requires that we let go of a beloved known for an uncertain unknown. The same peace He promised His disciples is ours because not only is He with us always, He is in us too.

Lord, help me to embrace peace and hope, untroubled and unafraid no matter what the situation.

Does the light of life come with an adjustable intensity rheostat?

July 24th, 2016 by Maureen

Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. One who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life. Jn. 8:12 (Mounce)

This light, this phōs, is the same powerful energy that animates all creation, same illuminating force that first lit the newly created earth, the same blinding light that caused people in Old Testament stories to shield their eyes, the same glow that flickers as love, joy and hope in our emotions, and the same flash of enlightenment that reveals truth, discovery, and understanding in our minds. His light animates us, bodies, minds and spirits. This light is not something that just follows us around, outside and separate from us, but something that He has put in us. He gave it to us and we have it in us. Permanently. To a certain extent, though, we seem to get to choose how much light we let into our lives and how much we let flow out.

Lord help me to shine bright inside and out with Your own life-giving, darkness-dispelling light.

 

Following Jesus is not a travel package

July 22nd, 2016 by Maureen

“Come. Follow me.” Jn. 1:39,43

Motive, expectations, and perception have everything to do with how we experience the journey. Jesus wasn’t inviting His disciples to join Him in a known journey. They didn’t get an itinerary. In fact, much of His teaching involved deconstructing their motives, expectations, and perceptions. The experience cannot be packaged. It is encouraging to share travel stories, but its not helpful to expect each person to be impacted in the same way, even by a shared journey. Following involves expecting and accepting change and movement. Following involves trust that God loves each of us and understands us as individuals. Following involves openness to discovering how Christ is next going to reveal His love, grace, transformation, and redemption in us and through each of us.

Lord, help me to embrace the unknown adventure of following you.

 

Freedom!

July 4th, 2016 by Maureen

A slave does not live in the house like a member of the family, but a son belongs there forever. If the Son sets you free you will be free indeed. John 8:35

We crave freedom, yet the freedom to choose gives us permission to choose enslavement rather than freedom. We can be slaves to our fears, our desires, our jobs, our addictions. We can even be slaves to good things if we look to those things to determine our worth or happiness. The choice to be free in Christ allows us to choose to leave behind the things we’ve been freed from and to explore and enjoy the things we have been freed for. Perhaps on this 4th of July we might consider whether this sort of philosophy of freedom is not also possible for us as a nation.

Lord, thank you for this country. Help us as individuals and as a nation to reject enslavement and to embrace freedom for ourselves and others.

Not independent, interdependent

July 3rd, 2016 by Maureen

It is not good for he man to be alone. Gen. 2:18  So we, the many, are one body in Christ, and members, each one, of one another, having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Rom. 12:5-6 Father, make them one as We are One. John 17:22

Life in Christ involves belonging. Early in Genesis the idea is introduced that even though Adam has relationship with God he also needs another human being in order not to be “alone.” God exists in Trinity with three members who are members of one another. This was the image he stamped on the first human relationship He created. This is the image He stamped on the body of Christ we call the universal church and on the individual communities we call the local congregation. We belong to each other and with each other. We need to regularly experience and contribute love, grace, wisdom, energy, and goodwill in the context of membership in a tangible group of people, our body, our church. We are not independent we are interdependent. We need each other and we need to belong.

Lord, help us to discover what means to belong as members of one body just as You, Father, Son, and Spirit, are members of One.

Everyday abundance happening now

July 1st, 2016 by Maureen

I came to give life and to give it abundantly.  John 10:10b

We are unpacking a bottomless, side-less, ever-expanding gift from God called life. Through ever increasing awareness of His love and grace we can continually embrace the transformed life He has accomplished in us and for us through Christ. We are always growing and learning through mutually life-giving relationships with others. We are always discovering more life-giving nuances in our occupations and pursuits. We are always adjusting our perceptions and responses based on new revelations about Him, ourselves, others, and all He created. Abundance means our lives are always getting bigger. Sometimes bigger means more complicated. So be it.

Lord, help me to experience my everyday walking around life in all its abundance.

 

 

Evidently true

June 27th, 2016 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 interpreted 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 interpreting the world. We participate in Christ’s miraculous works through every piece of evidence for grace and hope that He communicates to others through us.

Lord, use my life to present evidence of your love and grace.

What is the “Christian” response to natural disaster

April 17th, 2016 by Maureen

For the Lord did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17

Japan was his by an earthquake. So was Ecuador. Here in Texas we are expecting bad weather today that could lead to flash flooding. Using natural disasters as punishment would be a counter-intuitive move for a loving God who sent Christ to save us, not to condemn us. If we choose to see disaster as punishment, how we view the Triune Godhead, disaster victims, and even our own relief efforts will be affected. Our gratitude that we “dodged the judgment bullet” or that God somehow protected us but not “them” because we are believers sends a message about what we believe about God and others.  With this view even our most compassionate responses can also feel like works of obligation to God, and the people we help can become our “projects.” If we truly believe that if we have “seen Jesus we have seen the Father,” and that the cross as sufficient, disaster relief becomes like white blood cells rushing to the point of pain because we are all humans who are loved and valued by God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

Lord, send compassionate and effective help to those who have been affected by disaster. Love, heal, comfort and restore through those who believe in You and are part of the relief efforts.

 

Divine being seeking human

March 28th, 2016 by Maureen

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:15

The same God who spoke the oceans into being wants us to be His friends and family…and He’s not even desperate! God isn’t needy but He is loving and that love is magnetic. It attracts all that bear His image from His original creation. He still He wants us to really get to know His personality and share His thoughts. God wants to involve us in His plans and make us insiders in His amazing kingdom.

Lord, thank you for making me Your friend and child.

A Saturday for reviving dead dreams

March 26th, 2016 by Maureen

They took Jesus body down, wrapped it in linen and laid it in a tomb. A stone was rolled against the entrance. Mark 15:46, John 19:38-42

Those who followed and loved Jesus must have been devastated. Those who hoped He was the Messiah sent to deliver them from oppression must have been so disappointed. The impact of His crucifixion on their personal lives was far greater than any failed venture or personal risk they’d taken before. Not only had following Him required sacrifice and investment, they had staked their very souls on Jesus being right and now all the evidence shouted against that. Saturdays like this are long and hard. When hope is gone, the post-mortem on loss brings fear, doubt, guilt, blame, resentment, frustration, and/or despair. Sometimes we move on more cautious and cynical than we were before. When hope and faith start to look naive, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a reminder that there is evidence we cannot see and that our hopes still have substance.

Lord, help me to keep believing, praying, and dreaming through silent Saturdays. Help me to expect more.

Abstractly concrete or concretely abstract Jesus

March 23rd, 2016 by Maureen

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Jn. 3:16

Believe. Abstract, immeasurable idea. Love motivated grace (more abstracts) to accomplish redemption (abstract again) in the form of a Human Being (concrete yet divine[abstract]) who lived on earth (concrete) in a particular place (more concrete) at a particular time. Redemption is abstract and yet concrete, and deeply personal. Like a relationship in which some things are evident and explainable while others remain invisible and inexplicable. Easter is a great time to celebrate the concrete Savior and events that redeem us and to appreciate God’s unique, immeasurable attributes and relationships with each of us that reflect abstract realities like love, grace and belief.

Lord, thanks, for what You did and how You did it for and in each of us.

Not my monkeys

February 9th, 2016 by Maureen

Blessed are the peacemakers. Jn. 5:9

not my circusThere are days when our monkeys get loose and we respond poorly. We feel internal turmoil that sometimes escapes through our eyes, our mouths, our hands and feet.  Even when we don’t intend to do it we create drama that leaks into the lives of those around us. Sometimes we are on the receiving end of the drama.  Peacemakers impart compassion, grace and peace when drama occurs. Compassion says “I know how you feel, I’ve dealt with unruly monkeys too.” Grace says “I love and accept you even though I’m uncomfortable with your response.” Peace says, “This really isn’t my circus and adding my drama to yours isn’t going to round up these monkeys, but I know Someone who can deal with these monkeys and I am referring you to Him.”

Lord, I know a lot of people dealing with a lot of unruly monkeys right now. Help me to impart Your peace to them while staying in Your perfect peace myself.