Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Christ first. Christ synistēmi.

June 5th, 2017 by Maureen

Christ came pro tr. before (means both in front of and earlier than) everything else and in Him everything else synistēmi tr. holds together (also means consists, brings together, unites parts into a whole, compares and contrasts as a teaching method). Col. 1:17

If Christ has preeminence and unifies everything else in Himself, then we have every reason to adopt an optimistic attitude. But we humans tend to prefer “compare and contrast” to “uniting parts into a whole.” We tend to focus on differences, to notice inconsistencies with our views, to try and fix those inconsistencies, to establish “us and them” contexts, and to adopt adversarial narratives. Using these perspectives to see the world and to see ourselves in it can create rather negative attitudes toward everything that is not perceived as “us.” Christ’s prayer to the Father in John 17 “make them one as we are one,” is not Jesus’ desperate plea or wishful thinking, but confident confirmation of His synistēmi and an expression of His desire that humans be awareness of it. This loving unity is the joyful context in which Christ reconciled the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19). What would happen if we could approach all our interactions, with other humans, with nature, and with social, political, and economic structures fully aware that Christ is before everything in all senses of the word, and that we all exist together in His synistēmi?

Help me put my attitudes in the synistēmi context of Your loving whole.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy

May 31st, 2017 by Maureen

He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Ps. 103:5

The beginning of summer vacation always makes me feel like a kid again. The young are gifted with the ability to live in the moment and enjoy the present. Summer invites us into simplicity, stillness, and serendipity. It’s time for unstructured play, unfocused thought, and random discovery. It’s time to be instead of do. Even those who have to work can choose to have a summer attitude and experience unreserved delight and child-like wonder. Go play.

Lord, I surrender my concerns and embrace the good things You’ve laid out for me this summer.

Peace out

May 13th, 2017 by Maureen
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I give to you not as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
 
There is plenty to trouble our hearts, in the world, in our country, in our city, in our communities, in our lives, among our friends and loved ones. The world gives us tools to try to explain how and why, to control the damage, and to protect what makes us feel secure. The peace that Christ leaves is centered in believing that He loves us, believing that we can trust Him, and releasing all we have to His care without fear. We can choose to let our hearts be troubled. We can choose to let Christ’s perspective drive our responses to troubling things. This is not as easy as it looks on paper, but His peace is a gift that we can choose to embrace.
 
Lord, in all the troubling things in life, keep turning me toward the peace You give.
 

Awareness of God formed and woven in

May 7th, 2017 by Maureen

You formed my inmost being and wove me in my mother’s womb. Ps. 139:13-14

Perhaps we all experienced God in our first moments of awareness as connections fired in our developing brains and we experienced our senses without being able to assign meaning yet to what we were experiencing. Perhaps our need to love and be loved is rooted in vague memory of our First Friend’s deep love and tenderness for us. Perhaps our desire to create and contribute come from an unfocused awareness of our worth and significance to Him. This is all speculative, of course, but consider the possibility that our awareness of God in all that is around, God with us, God in us, and God for us has the potential to permeate and inform everything we experience all the time.

Lord, thank you for being with me always.

Authentication necessary

May 3rd, 2017 by Maureen

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NAS)

Ever see one of those movie scenes where the thief replaces the item of real value with a good fake? It’s easy to miss the switch and accept a life less than Christ came to give. Jesus wants to make our lives big, audacious, purposeful, joyful, and satisfying. The thief comes to shrink our lives by holding up the mundane, the profane, and the inane, and calling it abundance.

Lord, please authenticate my treasure. I want to settle for no less than authentic abundance.

Awe-filled but not awful

April 28th, 2017 by Maureen

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Eph. 3:12

Certainly we should approach God with awe because He is, after all, God. At the same time He is a Friend and a Father who infused His own image into His human creation. He made us eternal souls and reconciles us to Himself is so that we can experience a confident, familiar relationship with Him. Jesus used the word “in” as well as the word “with” to describe this relationship with the Father.

Father, thank you for this awe-filled relationship I experience and enjoy in You and with You.

What is now and ever shall be

April 14th, 2017 by Maureen

Now is the judgment; now will the ruler of this world be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself. Jn. 12:30-31

The death and resurrection of Christ was the most powerful and unique event in all the history of God’s creation. At that moment Jesus defeated death, hell, and the grave and change the present and future effects those ideas have on us. The power of sin is broken. For Jesus’ disciples, His crucifixion made it look like evil had won. We have the benefit of an Easter perspective. Yes, evil still has some temporary influence on this earth, but, we can trust Christ’s Easter victory with everything in our lives and the lives of the ones we love.

Lord, what You’ve already done informs the hope I have in what is now and ever shall be.

Newness

April 13th, 2017 by Maureen

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Eph 2:4-5

Spiritual death and resurrection is disorienting and transforming. Jesus died to save us from spiritual death and to transformation and newness of life. He rose to free us from spiritual tombs yet so many of us walk around spiritually alive but still somewhat wrapped in the familiar grave clothes of past wounds, dead sins, and past perceptions. Jesus wasn’t always recognized after His resurrection and we might not always recognize ourselves in our shiny new Easter skin either, but this transformed, resurrected self is who we really are now.

Lord, You are risen and because of You, so am I. Hallelujah!

Entering the cave of wonders

March 21st, 2017 by Maureen

I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself… Ps. 131:1b-2a

It’s more likely that we are too bogged down in the mundane to enter God’s great and awesome cave of wonders. It’s actually good to be curious, to ask questions, and to have a healthy sense of wonder. God invites us into matters greater and more awesome than we’ve ever thought to explore. We can, however, make our desire to understand, to explain, or to control completely distract and disturb us to the point of obsession. It’s not that pursuing great and awesome ideas is going to automatically create turmoil, it’s that the vast height, width, length, and depth of God’s love is the wonder that informs how we process all the other wonders.

Lord, help me to process all wonders in the joyful context of Your calming love.

And now, a few words from St. Paddy

March 17th, 2017 by Maureen

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

It really is okay

March 5th, 2017 by Maureen

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt. 9:36

Processing and responding to all the things in life that confuse us and make us feel helpless might be too much to handle not because we’re weak or incompetent, but because we aren’t designed to handle things all on our own. God is God and we aren’t. We can trust Him and put our confidence in Him even if we still feel confused and helpless about the circumstances. He always has the big picture and always operates for our good.

Lord, I can’t even pretend to understand or have any control but I trust you to make it okay even if it doesn’t look very okay.

Pondering still water

February 22nd, 2017 by Maureen


He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Ps. 23:2b-3a

Every day I get out of my car and see this pond. I see the seasons reflected in its waters. I see it teeming with the life and life cycles God created. We pass God’s still waters every day, and when we notice, that’s an opportunity to stop and reflect and experience restoration. Sometimes we feel like we are waiting around for God to restore when He’s right there. Sometimes our waiting has more to do with not looking up and not recognizing still water when we see it. It’s nice when it looks like this, but sometimes still water is less obvious.

God thank you for this obvious beauty. Help me to notice when you lead me beside the less obvious still water.

Argument rewind

February 16th, 2017 by Maureen

I’ve posted this before but in the current climate, it think it bears repeating:

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. I Cor.13:12

Disagreements should be approached with humility. Most of our debates could use a preamble. Something like: “having considered all the information available within all possible contexts and nuances, having applied responsible processes of scholarship and reason, accounting for my personal agendas and prejudices, recognizing that reasonable minds and sincere hearts might disagree, and looking at those I speak to and speak about through the lens of Christ’s love and grace, here is what I think.”

Lord, help me to be humble and gracious in disagreements. And help those who speak in conversation, in social networks, in public settings, and in the media; those who speak for themselves and as representatives of others, do the same.

Trust

February 8th, 2017 by Maureen

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. Col. 3:16

The  message of Christ is redemption, transformation, grace, joy, and freedom. Trust is involved in receiving and experiencing that message. We choose whether to receive from a perspective of belief in Christ. We can choose to believe we are loved, that God is benevolent, that He is good, that He can be trusted with everything, even the things we can’t understand, control, or change. Or we can choose to receive our experiences from a perspective of fear, doubt, or resentment.Relationship with God is not always based on how we feel. Sometimes it’s based on what we believe. Sometimes it’s both. Sometimes it’s neither. Our perspectives can change. We can’t always trust our perspective. God’s love remains. We can always trust Him.

Thanks this day when my heart is full of gratitude and trust. Thanks for sticking with me when every song gets stuck in my throat.

Choosing grace or guilt

February 6th, 2017 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

As long as we live on this earth somebody is going to mess up in a way that hurts us; And at some point we will mess up in a way that hurts others. We can choose to participate in grace’s restoration or in guilt’s condemnation through our responses to our own mistakes and to the mistakes of others.Grace lets us forgive ourselves. Guilt requires some self-flagellation. Grace lets us extend mercy as a free gift, just as Christ without demanding the usual payback and grovelling guilt demands. Our small, daily choices for restoration over retribution gives us insight and experience into Christ’s magnanimous redemptive gift of grace.

Lord, help me to live continually in Your redemptive grace.

Stop paddling and float

February 5th, 2017 by Maureen

You show me the way of life, in Your presence is fullness of joy, and at you right hand are pleasures forever. Ps. 16:11

Awareness of God’s love and grace is more like something we float in than something we master. We make relationship with the Father harder than it has to be. Awareness of Him is not meant to bring us shame, suffering, fear or obligation. It’s not meant to incite a flurry of rules following or self-improvement activities. He wants us to experience pleasure and joy in Him, with Him, for Him, because of Him in our real lives that we are living right. Eternity is now too.

Lord, keep showing me the way of awareness and abundance.

Uncertain

February 1st, 2017 by Maureen

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5

A little uncertainty, a few unanswered questions, surprises, outliers, and unconnected dots are good for us. Trust involves those things we can’t control and don’t know. There is no adventure in knowing everything, controlling everything, and predicting everything. We can proceed into life’s uncertainties with curiosity and excitement rather than fear and nervousness because we can be certain of this: God loves us. God is trustworthy. God’s plans and intentions for us are always good.

Lord, I trust you for the next life adventure.

Be calm and love loud

January 11th, 2017 by Maureen

A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Prov. 17:27

Even when we are passionate about our message, sometimes we actually say more by saying less. Calm, loving, accepting, gentle, reasonable attitudes tend to create an atmosphere where communication can happen. Listening to others also helps us gain the insight we need to actually be helpful and effective when we do speak.

Lord, make my love loud and my tone chilled.

The delightful breather after all the busy cheer

December 26th, 2016 by Maureen

Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a little break and get some rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They hadn’t even had a chance to eat. Mark 6:30

The joy of Christmas comings and goings can be exhausting. Thinking of “holiday mode” as being constantly on the go is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unhealthy. We need to be secure enough in our relationships with one another that we don’t expect one another to operate at holiday pace all the time and that we don’t feel obligated to do so ourselves. We all need recharge time. We are sons and daughters of God our Father who delights when we are kicking back at home and at rest in Him, with Him and because of Him.

Jesus, thank you for all the joyful comings and goings and for the quiet rests between.

9 “what ifs” of gifting that don’t have to suck the light out of Christmas

December 23rd, 2016 by Maureen

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights. James 1:17

Sometimes gift-giving is full of stressful “what if’s?” This is a repost from last year, but I’m feeling it again so maybe some of the rest of you are too:

  1. What if he or she thinks a gift card means lack of effort and equates lack of effort with lack of caring?
  2. What if your loved one doesn’t like the gift you picked out?
  3. What if you waited too long and it turns out the store is sold out of the one thing you know he or she wants?
  4. What if you opt for a donation in his or her name but your loved one buys you a nice gift?
  5. What if you all draw names, communicate price-limits, desired items, donations, etc. but there is that one person who is going to buy everybody something no matter what?
  6. What if somebody gives you a gift and you didn’t get them one so you have have to grab one of the unmarked obviously generic gifts you wrapped up just in case, and it’s obvious?
  7. What if you didn’t think to buy generic gifts?
  8. What if the “estimated” arrival time on that gift you ordered for someone else changes to after Christmas?
  9. What if by the time it’s time to open the gifts all the joy and light seems to have been sucked from the experience?

Any one of these “what if’s” might result in somebody feeling bad. Or mad. Maybe we all need to just take a breath and remember that we are loved and we give gifts because we love. God loved us and gave us His perfect gift and doesn’t actually care what items give each other as expressions of love and celebration. Lighten up.

Lord let whatever I give and whatever I receive be done in the light of your love.