Monday, May 30, 2011

Talking Points

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.  -- I Kings 21:27
 Sack cloth and ashes can be a powerful means of forgiveness.  Take King Ahab and his murder of Naboth for his vineyard as an example.  When Elijah caught up to give Ahab the Lord's disciplining word that he would be eaten by dogs, Ahab turned his delight with the new vineyard to tears of deep repentance.  The Lord saw this act of contrition and changed His mind about the destruction of Ahab.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Small Seed In The Dark

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants... -- Mark 4:30-32
Even the smallest of seed can grow into something amazing.  It must be dropped into the dark, feel the weight of the soil on top of it, silent and alone.  When enough time has passed the seed sends a shoot upward for light and to start it's food generation, then a second shoot for it's root to ground it and to supply water.

We each have to feel the weight of our darkness and seeming abandonment, yet God is faithful to even the least of these and brings life to us.  In response to the life God freely offers, we grow into what God made us to be.  With our life rooted in Christ, growing into the person God intended, the Kingdom of God becomes stronger.  So, whether you're feeling the darkness of waiting for life to come, or are already in full bloom and growth, you are part of God's plan.  Rejoice.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prayer and Praise

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15:5-6
I think the idea of encouraging others gets talked about pretty often in church circles.    I want to raise a reflection about whether you consider yourself as one for whom Christ has a positive "attitude of mind?"  Like putting on your own oxygen mask first when an emergency arises on an airliner, can we encourage others when we ourselves do not have an encouraged, enduring attitude for ourselves?  There is the saying, "What goes around comes around," suggesting that if we give encouragement we will receive encouragement.  Yet, perhaps we should be filling our own well first, before we try encouraging others?  From where does this encouragement come?  From the passage, the answer is obvious that it comes from God.  The whole focus of the verse is to pray this in order for God to give it.  The means by which encouragement comes is through prayer and praise.  Pray for encouragement and endurance of what is set before you, give God the gratitude and praise for being there to give this aid, then observe silence if God might like to speak to you or to watch God work.  You are His.  God will not abandon or forsake!   

Monday, May 16, 2011

Numbering Our Days

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. -- Psalm 90:12
I think it is a common experience in the United States for people to feel like they have way more to do than they have time to accomplish it all.  We spend 25 or 30 years working some place and feel like everyday we fall a little farther behind.  Then, we retire thinking we'll have all the time in the world to do what we've really wanted to be doing all those decades only to learn that retirement is even busier.  I can't tell the number of older people I've heard say, "I wish I could go back to work so I could rest."

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Keep At It

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” - Ecclesiastes 11:5
Before we go praying and too earnestly assuming what the "right" answer is that God should provide, we should keep in mind that God has a far larger perspective on where the present is and what futures are available than we do.  Without trials, difficulties, and failures we can't know growth.  Even in death we grow into the new creation God gives us in the move from this world into the Church Triumphant.  Nobody in all the history of humanity has ever achieved or succeeded with anything without failing.  God takes failing and transforms it to success.  Yet, the successes are achievements in God's time and place.  These may only show up in our time and place when we can set down our limited expectations and see that there was a larger work afoot.  So learn patience, and in faith keep working the life God puts before you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Who Is On Your Cheer Team?

As iron sharpens iron,
   so one person sharpens another. 

As water reflects the face,    so one’s life reflects the heart.  --Proverbs 27:17, 19
Who are the people who a) have the most access to you, and b) have your ear talking to you about yourself the most?  What do these people tell you about who you are?  Do they encourage, or do they discourage?  Do they bring insight, energy, and life to you?  Or, do they drain, take, and leave you frustrated and sad?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How to Block A Blessing

For he never thought of doing a kindness,
   but hounded to death the poor
   and the needy and the brokenhearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
   may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
   may it be far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
   it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil. -- Psalm 109:16-18
 Do you block your blessings?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Move To Your Future

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. - Ephesians 4:32
I am still in the process of learning HOW to accomplish a lifestyle I have wanted to adopt for many years.  In my life I have moved something like 40 times -- enough times that I don't even want to go through the mental effort to remember or count them all.  My desire every time I've been faced with a move is to moan the fact that I'm not more nomadic; meaning, I would like to have a whole lot less stuff to lug around.  Ideally, I could roll up my tent and be on the road within an hour.  If you saw my house right now you would know what a ridiculous pipe dream this is!  Beyond the physical items occupying the space I call home is a multitude of different things from the past I carry within me too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Celtic Prayer

Bless me, O my Christ,
Be Thou my shield protecting me.
Aid my steps in the pitiful swamp,
Lead Thou me to the life eternal;
Aid my steps in the pitiful swamp,
Lead Thou me to the life eternal

Keep Thou me in the presence of God,
O good and gracious Son of the Virgin,
And fervently I pray Thy strong protection
From my rising at day to my lying down at dusk;
And fervently I pray Thy strong protection
From my lying down at dusk to my rising at day.

--Celtic Devotions by Calvin Miller

Friday, May 6, 2011

Look for God's Face

1Give thanks to Yahweh! Call on his name!
Make his doings known among the peoples.
2Sing to him, sing praises to him!
Tell of all his marvelous works.
3Glory in his holy name.
Let the heart of those who seek Yahweh rejoice.
4Seek Yahweh and his strength.
Seek his face forever more.
5Remember his marvelous works that he has done;
His wonders, and the judgments of his mouth. -- Psalm 105:1-5
I'd like to direct you to look at the whole of Psalm 105.   In verse 4, the Psalmist says, "Seek his face."  My first thought was, "Well, how can you see God's face?"  Then, I read the rest of the chapter.  The 105th Psalm is a recitation of all the places God upheld the people in His covenant with them.  I think the Psalmist is telling us that when we look backwards at our life story we see God's face and hand upon us.  "Remember his marvelous works that he has done...."  So, to see God's face today, take a piece of paper and try writing down your own free verse poem, or make a bullet list of all the things in your life where you can see God working in your life.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Peace That Replaces Anxiety

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:6-7
A good friend pointed me in the direction of an "All Things Considered" segment on NPR this morning with Tavis Smiley.  It was a good and powerful reminder that we may be too zoned in on success.  I am told I have the weakness of personalizing failure, such that I create a negative attitude about myself that is not in keeping with the made-in-the-image-of-God beloved one of our Lord's flock and fold.  I've been pondering these words and scripture passage this morning and recalling the somewhat stale cliche` - "God doesn't expect you to be successful, but only faithful."  The implication of this is that you can (and likely may) fail in the midst of being faithful.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Remembering God in Your Day

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
    God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;  God will help her when morning dawns.

                                                               --Psalm 46:4-5

The weather forecast is for Seattle to get one day of sunny weather this week and this is it!  It makes one grateful for what one has.  Each morning I step out of my car in my office parking lot and this is what I see (minus the sun most mornings.)  The bald and golden eagle are cruising up and down the river, and a river otter or deer is often walking up the river on the other side.  The Spring salmon run should be starting any day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -- Romans 12:12
This is a pretty simple verse with good life advice.  In what do you hope?  Where are your affliction points?  Prayer is the umbrella to pop up and put over it all.