Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

When you can’t even process

February 16th, 2018 by Maureen

So much that happens in our world brings us to grief and doubt. Focusing on our feelings of helplessness or outrage keeps us from resting and trusting in God.

Can we trust that God is good and loving when we are presented with horrible circumstances that could be perceived as evidence to the contrary? Can we accept that His goodness and love overpowers whatever evil we see now? Can we rest in Christ as explanation enough of God’s grace, expression enough of God’s love, and God’s ultimate and sufficient victory enough over evil as a past, present, and future reality?

Joy, thanksgiving, rest, peace, confidence in His strength and shield come from trust when we don’t understand or explain or fix things.  And when we feel we can’t trust, we can still fall into His arms of mercy and comfort so that trust can be restored. It is from this place of trust that we can then respond to the things we face in our world with God’s restorative, redemptive love.

Lord, fill my questioning heart with trust. Help me embrace joy in the midst of so much sorrow and believe in the midst of so much I can’t explain.

Good all the time

February 15th, 2018 by Maureen

We don’t always have a lot of control over what happens to us but we get to determine its power over us. It’s often helpful in getting past hurt to acknowledge it and talk it through. God isn’t into denial but He is into perspective. We gain realistic perspective on whatever we are experiencing by remembering His loving presence is always with us and in us, His victory over evil and death applies to whatever we are experiencing. Christ is reconciling all things to Himself even things that presently oppose Him and hurt us. Add to that all the people who love us, the opportunities we have, and the moments of true beauty, joy, and peace that He gives us in this world, comparatively speaking, no matter what happens, God is good and He makes good of our hardest moments.

Lord, you are good all the time and I praise you.

For the love of God

February 14th, 2018 by Maureen

Love manifests a fearless beauty, intelligence, and appeal that cannot be bought, earned, or attained. George MacDonald wrote that “love is the opener as well as the closer of eyes.” We choose to love when we see each other authentically, warts and all, through the lens of Christ that transforms the view. We keep loving in the midst of joy or conflict, acceptance or rejection, confusion or certainty because Christ empowers is to love from a place of trusting the love of God

Experiencing the love of God causes us to become enveloped into the love of the Father for the Son and Spirit, Christ for the Father and Spirit, the Spirit for the Father and Son, and the love of the Triune God for each of us. Experiencing this love creates in us the impulse to draw others into that love as well. Love isn’t something we are obliged to express, it’s something we get to express.

Lord, help me to love fearlessly, freely, fiercely in You and through You.

Beyond definitions

January 28th, 2018 by Maureen

God is love and, like every aspect of His nature, God’s justice and goodness is full of love. Why does God love it when we choose to be just and good.

Usually we’d start by asking what “just” and “good” mean, but defining what those words mean would take up a couple of year’s worth of blogs and would probably lead to some form of legalism. However we define them, they start with an intention and attitude to love. Seeking to be just and good is not about escaping punishment or being obligated. Those motives are fear-based and there is no fear in love.

God loves it when we experience that kind of closeness with Him because this is the kind of relationship He created us to have with Him. Whether it’s justice, goodness, joy, peace, or any other trait that is a manifestation of God’s own nature, as we experience these privately or manifeset these into our world we get to to sense what it means to be one with God, identifying fully with His nature, His truth, His love.

Lord, let me manifest justice and goodness in ways that lead to making things better for others and to experiencing the authenticity and fulfillment of operating fully in You as You made me to be.

Truth is a mystery

January 13th, 2018 by Maureen

Truth is not a mere collection of facts or laws. Truth includes mystery. If we view mystery with fear and suspicion, if we view mystery as a threat to dogma or logic, we may be mistaking legalism or scholarship for spiritual growth that leads into truth. When the Spirit of God leads us into truth mystery fills us with awe and wonder and humility. We accept that we don’t know everything and that we don’t have to. Yet we feel drawn by God’s own Spirit to pursue and discover. His mystery is compellingly filled with love and hope.

Thank you, God, for inviting me into this mysterious, ever unfolding revelation that is loving and knowing You.

Benefits of light

January 12th, 2018 by Maureen

When we walk into a room our eyes don’t usually go to the light. The benefit of light is not that we see it but that it allows us to see everything else. Light illuminates and gives definition to the world around us.  Light creates atmosphere.

If the light of Christ in us can light up the places we go, it is not so that we can be seen but that the good news of Christ’s redemptive love and grace offers a new light for looking at everything else.

Lord, use Your light in me to illuminate the places I go

 

Big God in little troubles…and huge ones

January 10th, 2018 by Maureen

To think that anything that happens can keep God from loving us is to give that thing too much power. To think our responses to trouble might separate us is to give us too much power. God’s love for us is not measured by how smooth our lives are going. Neither is His love measured by how we respond to troubles. Sometimes we panic. It happens. God loves us no matter how bad things are and no matter how badly we handle those things. Nothing means nothing.

Lord, I’m so glad that nothing can separate us from Your love and that nothing actually means nothing.

Charizomai is a mouthful. But it’s a good word. And not a Pokemon

January 5th, 2018 by Maureen

Charizomai is traditionally translated as “forgiveness” but it means a lot more than that. It means “to show oneself gracious, kind, and benevolent.” This is God’s attitude and He lets us become part of it. “Forgiveness”  is a product of a gracious attitude. Giving freely, and offering restoration and rescue to those in trouble also come from this attitude.
We can give or forgive because we are “supposed to,” but what we do out of obligation rather than freedom rarely brings peace or joy. It might relieve a little guilt or remove a little fear, but fear and guilt are the motivators Jesus came to free us from not ones that are supposed to drive our choices.
Rather than always thinking about what we “should do” we are free to focus on and enjoy what Christ has already done and to experience His nature, His attitude, and His responses flowing from us. His grace for us, in us, and through us allows us to see others with God’s compassionate eyes, respond to others with the Father’s loving heart, and understand others with Christ’s gracious mind.

Lord let Charizomai kindness naturally flow from me because I live in You and You dwell in me.

What is your New Year’s quest?

December 31st, 2017 by Maureen

To everything there is a season and purpose under heaven. Ecc. 3:1

We march into new seasons and new years determined to fix ourselves and to do better. Perhaps instead of resolutions about changing our behavior we might consider a journey of self-discovery. What are my purposes? What motivates these purposes? How does who I am (or think I am) flow with these purposes?

From a place of love and significance our answers to these questions might be different than they would be from a place of fear and obligation.

Too often we settle for compensation rather than fulfillment. Too often we are driven by the “should’s” and expectations of others, some planted into our psyches from childhood, rather than operating from a sense of personal identity and worth. Too often our choices and behaviors are so God will love us instead of because God always loves us. Too often how we perceive ourselves is derived solely from our own and our culture’s past and present rather than from discovering our identity within the Eternal Who is Love and in Whose flow we live and move and belong.

Lord, I want my purposes under heaven be a natural response to existing in Your love, to loving You, loving life, loving others, and loving myself.

All the seasons under heaven

December 30th, 2017 by Maureen

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die… Ecc. 3:1-2

Image converted using ifftoany

7.6 billion people will say goodbye to 2017 and greet 2018.*
There were approx. 140,240,000 births and 68,082 deaths this year on earth.*
It’s estimated that between 90 and 110 billion people have lived on this planet.*

Some people were only here for a brief moment while others spent over 100 years on the planet. The far reaching impact of some lives are clearly evident in history, while others are long ago forgotten. Not one of us earned or lost His love through impact or purpose. God is love and knows and loves us all of us who have ever lived because that is His nature. Every one who lives or has ever lived exists and is held together in Him.

As Jesus prayed, may our seasons and purposes be on earth as they are in heaven.

*Worldometer
**Population Reference Bureau

Listen first

December 28th, 2017 by Maureen

To give an answer on a matter before listening lacks good sense and is rude. Prov. 18:13

Listening can be challenging, especially when you think you already know the information or when you disagree. Communications experts usually present four or five stages in the listening process.
1. Attend. Open yourself to the message and the messenger. Acknowledge your biases and preconceptions and put them aside long enough to consider what is being said.
2. Interpret. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t fill in blanks with what you think is meant.
3. Evaluate. Now consider how this message sits with what you already know and believe.
4. Respond. Repeat the message you think you heard back to confirm that you understand. Ask for more clarification and information in you think you need it.
We don’t have to agree with one another, but we can really listen to each other and make sure when we do engage in disagreement, we actually understand what the other person is saying.

Lord, help me to listen more than I talk.

Hope

December 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may about in hope. Rom. 15:13

Christmas is about hope. In the cultural context of Jesus birth, the Jews hoped for a Messiah for a very long time and angels announced Him “born to you in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
In a universal context “God so loved the world” that Jesus came as an expression of that love and angels announced “Peace on earth, goodwill towards humankind.”
Peace and goodwill are rooted in love and hope, not in our various political and religious beliefs or in what we expect to accomplish through those constructs.

God who is Love, I turn my hopes toward You.

Starlike qualities

December 11th, 2017 by Maureen

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! Matt 2:10

God sent an angel to Mary and the shepherds who were all Hebrews. The angel referenced familiar prophecy and scripture to announce Jesus to them. But to the Magi who were from a different culture God sent a star. God knew the Magi, he understood their culture, and used something they would understand to draw them to worship His son. God wants each of us to find Him so He’s placed guiding stars that lead to Christ in every life. Rather than insisting that everyone use the same signs and traditions and words to celebrate the message of Christmas, perhaps adopting the star-like qualities of giving light and providing direction better serves the gospel of grace and love and better serves the relationships we enjoy with others. Sometimes we get to the be ones who suggest the meaning of stars that appear in the lives of others. May our responses cause their stars to point to Christ.

Lord, help me to recognize the stars in the lives of my friends.

Eternal flame

December 6th, 2017 by Maureen

Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace. Luke 1:78

Jesus, the Light of the world, offers peace to souls impacted by the lingering darkness. He brightens the corners of the dark cave of sickness, depression, poverty, isolation, doubt, and fear. Christ illuminates confusing situations and warms cold hearts. Christ guides us in, protects us, and ignites us with His light. Christ causes perpetual light that burns within and around us.

Lord, for all of us with broken hearts and broken lives, living in darkened places in this broken world,  open our eyes to Your light ever breaking upon us like waves.

Fear not anyway

November 29th, 2017 by Maureen

The angel said to her, “Fear not, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Luke 1:30-32

Not only was Mary favored and chosen to be Jesus’ mother. She got a bonus: God gave her a clue about what He is up to. God is always involved in our lives but sometimes suddenly and unmistakably things come together that significantly upset our status quo and we realize with abrupt clarity that God is up to something. Usually there is no angel to explain details about what it is or what we are supposed to do. Fear not anyway. It might take a stretch of perspective to see it, and there may never be full clarity about what God is up to. The Holy Spirit does give hints occasionally. The good news is that the end result of God’s intervention will be more good news and great joy.

Lord, thank you for the next sudden, unexpected glory in my life.

For the holiday, bring pie and voluntary amnesia

November 22nd, 2017 by Maureen

I will forgive graciously, and I will never again remember their failures. Heb. 8:12

Instead of Auntie bringing pumpkin pie and judgment and cousin Lulu bringing rolls and resentment, what if everybody just brought food, thankfulness, and voluntary amnesia? The all-knowing God chooses to forgive with such finality that, from His end of the relationship anyway, it is like our failures never happened in the first place. Over and done. Period. If we bring everything that makes us feel like failures, everything we regret, and everything that we use to label ourselves into our relationships and/or if we remember all the ways others disappoint, fail, and annoy us and apply labels and expectations to future interactions with them, then “over and done” is never over and done. What if each of us could arrive home for the holidays undefined and unmarked by past mistakes (or even present ones)? George MacDonald wrote that “love is the opener as well as the closer of eyes.” While we may not have God’s power to wipe away memories, we can choose voluntary amnesia and close our eyes to the baggage of the past and open them to the beauty God sees in us and in those around us.

Lord, help us see ourselves and one another through Your eyes of love and grace.

Empathetic tears when the bell tolls

November 11th, 2017 by Maureen

Jesus wept. Jn. 11:35

I live where I hear ambulances. At any point in time lots of people are experiencing heartbreak and loss while I experience joy, or at least relative quiet. Sometimes the reality of this hits. Certainly God has all this in His loving hands. But hope and faith does not separate us from the pain that we observe around us, and sometimes experience ourselves. Hope and faith are not meant to stay our tears or our hands.

I love what John Donne wrote in the last part of Meditation 17, “each man’s death diminishes me because I am a part of mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” When we hear the bells toll, it is appropriate to weep. Empathy and response to the pain of others is steeped in Christ’s love.

As a fully human being Jesus was touched by the infirmities of human existence, the pain, the loss, the disappointment. Confronted with the grief of His friends, He wept. Knowing the miracle He was about to do did not erase the pain they currently felt, He wept. Recognizing that His friends’ perceptions of His mission was limited to their personal and local concerns did not diminish their concerns to Him; He wept. We are part of the empathy of God.

Lord, thank you for helping me have empathy, even when it hurts.

Singing with trees

November 7th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. And let the trees of the forest sing for joy. Ps. 96:11-12

Though not sentient in the human sense, is nature aware of it’s Creator and responsive to Him in some way that we can tap into? Or does our appreciation of the beauty of God’s creation cause us to imagine we hear the song of trees and jubilation of fields? Perhaps it does not matter. Perhaps we just need to go outside for at least a little while every day to enjoy God’s handiwork. This moment of pause, this awe, is a slow breath, that folds us into God’s own joy expressed in nature. It’s as if the song trees sing was stuck in our heads and our hearts and when we go outside we remember where we heard it and remember we’re a part of it too.

Thank you for surrounding me with so much beauty in nature and for giving me senses to experience it.

 

Listening is not a fill-in-the-blanks activity

October 23rd, 2017 by Maureen

So pay attention to how you hear. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what they think they understand will be taken away from them. Luke 8:18

How we hear depends on our perceptions, our natural intelligences, styles, and temperaments,
our experiences and expectations,
our theological and philosophical positions,
our current circumstances, our physical and emotional states, and
the list of filters goes on…
How we hear might be influenced by what we believe and feel about the speaker or the message.
We can choose to filter a message based on our own preferences or
we can try we to receive that message as the speaker intended it.
Do we make assumptions about the speaker’s both message and purpose
Rather than ask the speaker questions in order to truly understand the message, ?
Do we do that when God is the Speaker?
Listening is not a fill-in-the-blanks activity.

Lord, help me hear what You and the people around me are really saying.

Peace and love

October 15th, 2017 by Maureen

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16

Peace is available no matter what is happening in our lives. Our circumstances reflect the imperfection of the world rather than the measure of God’s care. He is always in us, always with us and always for us. The way we process and respond to our circumstances can be influenced by our perceptions about God’s role. Did He cause it? Can He fix it?Is God merely a force that controls through positive and negative energy? What we expect from Him and how tapped into His divine love and goodness when we aren’t stressing to Him about some problem informs the experiences we have when we face hard things. Do we perceive God as Love?

Lord, thank you for bringing peace to my chaos.