Friday, February 26, 2010

Never Quit

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Hebrews 10:39

The summer heat tried to beat the life out of Gabriela Andersen-Schiess of Switzerland. Having run 26 miles in the 1984 Olympics she fell 400 meters short of the finish line. There was certainty among those watching the runners navigate their way into the Los Angeles Coliseum that Gabriela’s race was over. To the stunned crowd, however, Gabriela proved that she was made of tougher stuff. Crawling forward, waving away all attempts to help her, Gabriela crossed the finish line. There were six runners who had quit the race long before.

Jesus was made of tougher stuff. From the beginning, when the Holy Spirit drives him out to the desert, Jesus demonstrates what it means to not shrink back. At every turn the religious order "heat" was continually turning up the temperature in its attempts to beat him down. Even at the point of his falling under the burden of his destruction he continues to the finish.

If we are following Jesus, we also will feel the intensity of religious "heat." Throughout our spiritual race there will be those who question our commitment to Biblical truth and along with hardships and adversities we'll find ourselves doing a face plant. It will be at these times that all we can do is to keep crawling forward.

Being prepared for these moments is essential. Jesus lived a life that proved finishing is possible. Moving forward, even on our hands and knees, will ultimately give us life. By shrinking back, quitting short of the finish line, will we only find that we have lost.

Jesus, your life proves that hardships are a part of living.
Thank you for never shrinking back from the finish.
Help me, no matter the position,
to keep moving forward to life with You.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prayer Demolition

Suggested Reading: Mark 2

...when they could not get near him...
they removed the roof above him, and whenthey had made an opening,they let down the bedon which the paralytic lay.

Mark 2:4

It’s a story of friendship, commitment, determination, faith and hope–four committed friends, armed with faith and determination, making sure that the fifth of their group didn’t give up hope. How they came to the point of hauling their ailing friend to Jesus isn’t recorded because how they got there isn’t nearly as important as what they did when they arrived.

Undeterred by the swarm of people, they tore up a roof getting to Jesus. N.T. Wright says, that while the five friends represent good qualities that should be evident in a Jesus follower, there is another vantage point as well. Through this story we learn what it means to pray without restraints. Less resilient individuals would have turned around when faced with the obstacles these guys encountered. Instead they keep their eyes on the goal and pursue Jesus with all their heart, soul and mind.

Jesus admires their tenacity. Amidst the rubble of their work, they stand before the One who has the power to heal and receive more than they anticipated. Their friend, for whom they interceded, is healed inside and out.

This is what being a Jesus follower is all about–not allowing anything to stand in the way of pursuing being in the presence of Jesus. When we pray with a "tearing off the roof" attitude we are able to stand before Jesus without hindrances. And, when we find ourselves standing with Jesus, the unexpected is bound to happen with his outstretched hand.

Thought for the Day: What would "tearing off the roof" in prayer mean for me?

Jesus, being in Your presence makes a difference in how I feel.
Forgive me when the stuff of my life becomes an obstacle in pursuing You
with all my heart, soul and mind.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Selective Memories

And when the Lord your God brings you
into the land that he swore to your fathers...
with great and good cities that you did not build...
then take care lest you forget the Lord,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of slavery.

Deuteronomy 6:10a, 12

Memory is selective. Family history, friendships, marital relationships whatever the situation there are memories from which to choose–pleasant or otherwise. What we recall depends on us. Memories are the pavers that give shape to our life road. It is up to us which pavers we want to use.

Remembering our lives in the context of God’s abundance is a conscious choice. Unfortunately, it is sometimes easier to remember what we have not instead of what we have. Expectantly tearing into a beautifully wrapped gift we are suddenly blind sided. Inside wasn’t what we wanted and our mind shifts not back to the given beauty but on the memory of what was wished for.

Daily, the world visually reminds us of what we we’re missing. After all, focusing on abundance wouldn’t be good for business. This is our house of slavery and God knows the difficulty of remembering His goodness while living in this residence. He, however, is in the business of giving us what we did not build. He wants to take us out of our house of slavery, calling us to remember, both past and present, His goodness. Granted, life isn’t fair, and apparently the world order revolves around the have’s and have not’s. But what is the criteria that determines these categories?

With an honest selection of memories we find that the have not’s are outnumbered. And, like the Israelites, whose lives were filled with have’s and have not’s, God asks us to pick up His pavers of goodness to shape our life road.

What memory paver will you pick up today?

God, thank you for bringing me out of this
worldly house of slavery.
Help me to pave my life road
with the memories of Your abundant goodness.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Steps Ahead

Suggested Reading: I Chronicles 14

God answered...When you hear a sound
like shuffling feet in the top of the [trees]...
God will be two steps ahead of you...

I Chronicles 14:15a (The Message)

Riding high on energy generated from celebrating, David was feeling great. Confident in the knowledge that God had made him king of Israel he looked to the future with anticipation and expectation. Life was good. But it’s a given that bad things happen in life. When the Philistines discover David’s kingly coronation, they shatter any illusions he might have had for the future.

Daily we are confronted with the highs and lows of living, with the length of each episode varying. There are some who, when life is good, immediately begin looking for the downside because the good life "can’t last." Finding it difficult to enjoy the good, they wait for the bad.

David, however, was right to have confidence. God had selected him specifically for the job that He intended. There were, however, no indications as to the events of David’s future. The only certainty for the future was God’s promise of His presence. God will be two steps ahead of you. What was required of David was to expectantly wait and listen.

When we’re feeling attacked and the "good life" has seemingly disappeared it’s a challenge to listen for a sound like shuffling feet. Keeping safe inside our protective selves we don’t venture outside where the wind of God’s presence blows. God doesn’t promise a safe life. Like David, He offers a life full of unknowns–a combination of coronations and assaults.

But, step outside, listen, there’s a breeze blowing in the tree tops–God is two steps ahead of you.

Jesus, thank you for the life you have given me.
Help me to open the door and step outside to hear
your presence ahead of me.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Life Rhythms

Suggested Reading: Ecclesiastes 3

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22

“Have you ever lived in a neighborhood where no one has a job?” Startled by his question I simply answered, no. “I have” he said. Our encounter began as a knock on the door, dog yowling nuisance – my interrupter was pushing a sale and I was eager to end our conversation. His question changed the course of our interaction. Closing the door a few minutes later, with two bottles of a miracle cleaner in hand, I hoped that his life would get better for the sale.

For many years I kept looking out ahead in an attempt to see where my life might be going. Frequently looking around me I would adopt the lives of others and incorporate them into my plans. It took awhile for me to finally wake up to the fact that as much as I might try to change things, fighting the rhythm of life is fruitless.

Like the living conditions of the young man at my door, there are an abundance of injustices. But, it has been the actions of man that has messed with God’s rhythm of life, tipping the scales of balance, creating what seems unfair.

God’s rhythm, however, is worth embracing for its periods of work and rest. The consistency of His rhythm never changes. What I have to do is to stop working so hard to make it fit into my schedule.

Thought for the Day: How can I live more fully into God’s rhythm for my life?

Jesus, help me to live my
life according to your rhythm.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taking a Day Off

I apologize that I couldn't get anything posted for today! Be sure to check back in on Monday! May God's blessings pour over you, abundantly, today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Peaceful Striving

Suggested Reading: Hebrews 12:14-24

Strive for peace with everyone...
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble...

Hebrews 12:14-15

Even with the briefest of glances one can see that the world isn’t pursuing peace. Newspaper columns and Internet sites bulge with illustrations of the difficulty of finding peaceful solutions. While peaceful ideas abound, we remain in an unpeaceful mess. Finding ourselves surrounded by battles at home, church, neighborhoods and countries we wonder, is it possible to find peace in a world that ricochets from battle to battle?

The world of the Hebrew writer, written around A.D. 68, was fraught with turmoil, unrest, discontent, jealousy and vindictiveness. Human nature has apparently endured through the centuries! If this is the case, is there any hope for us, as 21st century Jesus followers? Absolutely!

Strive for peace with everyone. It’s not a suggestion but a command implying that the goal is attainable. Human nature, or that uncomfortable word, sin, causes us to fall short. Too often the natural instinct is not peace striving but defensive strategizing!

Perhaps a negative word has been said or the appropriate appreciation wasn’t given. Maybe a neighbor was nosy or a spouse cheated. When we perceive an injustice we can quickly become strategists for our defense. And we don’t stop with just the battle. Having conquered our enemy we continue tilling the soil planting the root of bitterness in order to remember how we were wronged.

Striving for peace with everyone seems impossible. Nevertheless, the striving indicates movement and like a regular routine of exercise, a conscious choice of peaceful striving is required. The results initially aren’t always apparent but soon our spiritual muscles are strengthened and we will find that our impossible has become God’s possible.
Thought for the Day: How can my life become more an act of peaceful striving and not defensive strategizing?
Jesus, you lived a life of peaceful striving.
Help me to live each day in the same manner.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Getting Directions

Suggested Reading: Isaiah 58:6-11

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong;and you shall be like a watered garden...

Isaiah 58:11a, b

Maps cover the table top along with the legal pad that has been glued to my hand. On its pages are lists of what should be done, could be done and finally the lengthiest, what must be done. Boxes piled high sit amidst an odd assortment of bits and bobs that haven’t made their way into a box. The moving vans are scheduled and yet I’m still not sure which interstate is best to get me where I’m going.

Traveling the Jesus road I often wonder what direction I’m headed. There isn’t a designated map for this trip. Having wandered into so many scorched places, certain that the road was lost, I feel frightened even to continue.

And yet, reality is in this present moment. I am certain that road signs have been directing me. Looking behind me I see that I have come out of the scorched places and discover that wandering its lonely desolation has given me an uncanny strength. I hardly recognize my previous weary wandering self!

I find that the road on which I am presently standing is wider with less cavernous holes. It’s a smoother way. I have no idea just how I arrived. And while I don't think I saw any particular sign along the way or heard any verbal directions it is apparent my way was guided. And now I find myself standing in a beautiful garden.

Thought for the day: Where is God leading me to become involved in His Kingdom?

Jesus, you are the guide through the scorched places!
Thank you for making me strong along the way.
Now I am going to enjoy the beauty of this moment’s garden.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Floating Attitude

Suggested Reading: Romans 9

So then it depends not on human will
or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:16

For children it’s almost instinctive, adults less so. Initially, floating on one’s back in the water seems easy and restful. In reality the older we get, the more difficult it becomes. It seems to be a matter of our wariness to trust the supporting nature of water. We analyze the process of floating and before we know it our legs sink. Children, however, unthinkingly trust the buoyancy and enjoy the moment.

Living each day with a floating attitude is a challenge. Consciousness awakening with the dawn, our minds whirling, we begin "analyzing the process"–figuring out how to get the most out of the day, listing our projects, rating our return calls, attacking a problem that "depends" on our ability to solve. Sensing our sinking legs, we begin struggling and lose our floating attitude.

Nothing is dependent solely on us. God didn’t structure our existence to be that independent or self-focused. Instead, He designed us to be able to float, buoyed by His mercy and love, not our effort of will. We begin sinking for lack of trusting the supporting nature of God’s character.

God has an end result in mind for us. Our ability to get there depends on our willingness to trust His buoyancy. By allowing our human will and self-exertion to drown and give ourselves up to the buoyancy of God’s love, we’ll enjoy our float and arrive at our Godly destination, refreshed.

Thought for the Day: Why is it difficult to trust the bouyancy of God's love?

Jesus, what You ask of me is my trust.
Instead I try to figure everything out on my own.
Help me to learn how to float, truting the buoyancy of You.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Open Searching

Suggested Reading: I Corinthians 2:6-10

For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

I Corinthians 2:10b

A mother once said to her child, I know you better than you know yourself. Being known–it’s comforting and terrifying. Comforting in that whoever you "are" is evident and hopefully accepted; terrifying because in the depths is stuff that you don’t want known!

How the Father, Son and Holy Spirit exists as Three, and yet One, is a theological mystery. But, how they relate to each other is consistently revealed to us. Their intertwining relationship, where one leaves off the other begins, brings comfort. With no beginning or end, one is encircled and there is nothing to fear.

Psalm 139 says that God’s knowingness is what got us started in the first place! While we may not be conscious of our beginnings, there is comfort in knowing that God was attentive. As the bones began to solidify and nature, personality, quirks, were taking shape, to become you, God saw that what He was creating was good.

With these infinite abilities, why are the depths of God known? Accountability and relationship. Living accountably, and in relationship with trustful friends, gives our life clarity, wholeness and vision. God being in relationship with the Holy Spirit, who searches everything, even God himself, means we know a God that can be trusted.

God sets the example of willingness to be known to the depths. It’s the kind of life he wants with us—a willing acknowledgment that nothing can be hidden because He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Thought for the Day: How willing am I to be known by the Holy Spirit?

Jesus, I am known by You.
Nothing can be hidden.
I give You all that I am and pray that with Your help
I will become all You want me to be.

Image--The Trinity, El Greco, 1577

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seek and Find

Suggested Reading: Matthew 7:7-12

You will seek me and find me
When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you...

Jeremiah 29:13-14a

God is like a person who clears his throat while hiding and so gives himself away. It's seems a fairly contemporary viewpoint, after all it addresses the "hiddenness" of God and "finding" God has posed a challenge for thousands of individuals in the 21st century. However, Meister Eckhart, a German mystic, wrote these words in in the 13th century in response to the question, Where is God?

And, well before the 13th century, Jeremiah also spoke about God’s hiddenness so it apppears we we are not alone in our quest. The question of where is God has been an eternal quandary. Many of us expect God to just show up when needed, keeping the action to one side. This is an expectation that allows us to be sedentary.

What Jeremiah promises, and Meister Eckhart understood, was that God shows himself to those who actively seek. If we stood motionless in our attempts to find hidden friends during childhood games of hide and seek we would have missed the joy of discovery. It’s a given–one can only find if one first seeks.

God longs to be found and His being found is an absolute. In seeking God we may find ourselves led to unexpected places, locations we never imagined, people we never considered. But, if we seek with all our heart, He will not be silent. When we least expect it He will clear his throat, revealing His presence, giving us the joy of discovery.

Thought for the Day: How will I seek God today?

Jesus, thank you that you are not a god that stays hidden and silent.
Help me today to seek you, finding you in the places I least expect.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the Potter's Hand

Desperate, I throw myself on you:
you are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hands.

Psalm 31:14-15a (The Message)

I have a friend who throws pots. Her web site describes her as a ceramic artist and indeed that is her true vocation, an exquisite handler of clay. Nevertheless, she has taught me through the years a great deal about pot throwing and the robust yet fragile nature of her medium.

When pot throwing was her focus she would sit at her turning wheel and taking a hunk of clay determinedly throw it directly into its center. There it lay, until she placed her wet hands around its shapelessness. Gently pressing, with the wheel continuing to turn, a graceful shape would begin. I was impressed.

Then I began to follow this graceful shape through the days of drying, glazing and firing that would ultimately bring out its true beauty. When it finally emerged from the fire I was humbled. Careful thought and consideration had been given to each step of its creation–nothing had just happened. There were a few unknowns as to the end result, nevertheless, the raw graceful shape was painstakingly prepared for the final process that would bring out its character and depth of color–fire.

When you feel the hit and turn of life’s wheel, lie still for a bit. Soon the Potter will begin gentling pressing. It will be uncomfortable and perhaps a lengthy process, but be assured, nothing is just happening. It’s the time spent in His hands, along with some fire, that will ultimately bring out the character and color of you–God’s exquisite work of art.

Jesus, I’m dizzy from life’s turning
but I feel Your handsgently pressing,
confident that in Your handling,
I will become Your exquisite work of art.


You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love.
Nehemiah 9:17

Perhaps the sin was huge, and you're still suffering its consequences. Even though you feel deeply sorry for what you did and have apologized to those you hurt, guilt burdens your heart and weighs your spirit. Do not let that sin continue on its damaging rampage through your soul. Instead, give your sorrow to the God who is bigger than any sin you could possibly commit. Be comforted by His promise of restoration and renewal, and go forward in forgiveness.

Everyday Comfort: Spiritual Refreshment for Women
by Rebecca Currington & Patricia Mitchell

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trouble Roulette

Before I was afflicted I went astray;
but now I keep your word.

Psalm 119:67

Nobody knows the trouble I've seen--nobody knows but Jesus. Trouble and difficulty was well known to black American slaves in the 1800's. Brutal days of arduous labor and nights of aching limbs were what made up their existence. Nevertheless in spite of the injustice, unfairness and inhumanness of their world they never stopped singing about their troubles and praising the God who helped them.

Troubles have a way of waking us up from our spiritual slumber. Long term memory suddenly kicks into gear and while we may not have talked with God recently, read the Bible consistently or lived our lives particularly faithfully, we are desperate for help.
When we get our help, and trouble has again moved on, too often we find ourselves moving on as well. But then, like a wheel of fortune, it again stops on "trouble" and looking up we discover that we are a long distance, once again, from the Help we need.

Times up! To keep spinning the wheel, hoping for it to hit better times, is a gamble. Trouble has more spaces than goodness. If we want to live free, making a decision to stay put, and leaning into the presence of the One who knows our troubles, will stop the spinning wheel.

The answer to why me isn’t nearly as important as Whose am I and who do I want to be? Answering these questions will make a difference in how we choose to live our lives when trouble shows up, again.

Jesus, you never ran away!
Through the good and bad of your earthly life
you stayed put, doing exactly what your Father wanted.
Help me to lean in to your presence.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Suggested Reading: 23:26-46

Jesus prayed,
"Father, forgive them;they don’t know what they’re doing."

Luke 23:34a (The Message)

Ask someone if an unforgivable event has happened in their lives and you may find yourself looking in the face of at least one of these emotions–pain, anger, hurt, sorrow, bitterness, doubt, frustration, resignation, hardness. It’s the look of the unforgivable, unforgiven.

There will be those faces, however, that register peace and contentment. Here is the summit of the unforgivable now forgiven.

There’s no doubt about it, forgiveness can be the face of Yosemite’s Half Dome. Seemingly impossible, we can’t begin to imagine how to set a course much less prepare ourselves to achieve the insurmountable. Fortunately, hundreds have climbed "Half Dome." Routes have already been discovered and set, waiting for us to begin our climb.

Beaten, publically humiliated, hanging exposed for all to see, Jesus knew exactly what it took to climb "Half Dome". For three years people hadn’t been able to get enough of him. He was at the top of his game! Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, the disciples disappearance and Pilot’s judgment, quickly turned it all upside down. Immobile, weakened and alone Jesus prays, Father, forgive them.

Forgiveness begins with this prayer. It tells us Who will meet us at the base of the climb. Paralyzing emotional pain can stop us from finding our way up our forgiveness "Half Dome" but our Father knows the route. The prayer of Jesus points us to the first foothold on the wall, Father, forgive them.

Don’t worry if months pass and this is your only prayer. The rest of the route will be revealed one foothold at a time.

Thought for the Day: Where do I need Jesus to lead me to forgive?

Jesus, you lived out the route to forgiveness.
Help me to rest, knowing that I don’t have to
work out the way on my own.
I trust You to show me the route, one foothold at a time.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Silence vs. Speech

Suggested Reading: I Samuel 3:1-10

And the Lord came and stood,calling...And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant hears."

I Samuel 3:10

Years ago a group of friends started recalling the prayer language we had heard as children. With the majority of us having been raised in faith communities that emphasized the importance of personal, extemporaneous prayer, our collective memories were extensive and yet oddly familiar. We discovered that most of the prayer language of our youth had a particular structure and usually entailed lots of talking. Some of the vocabulary used required a theological dictionary along with numerous spiritual proclamations and revelations. Opportunities for silence were pretty much non-existent. Basically, prayer was about speech, not listening.

Prayer is a unique opportunity! It is a God conversation consisting of simple, plain language--a conversation that is probably best by saying nothing at all.

Samuel’s prayer of Speak, for your servant hears is about as simple as it gets and yet it is perhaps one of the most poignant prayers that we can speak. It is one of those “says it all” prayers for the believer. No matter one’s circumstances, environment, mood or situation here is a simple prayer that can be prayed no matter the season of life.

But, it does have one challenging demand–silence. And, in an age of talking heads, iPods, and cell phones silence is a rare commodity. In order to hear, there has to be a willingness to listen, and in order to listen, silence is an absolute necessity.

God calls our name every day. We have only to pray, Speak, for your servant hears.

Thought for the Day: How can I become a better listener when I pray?

Jesus, thank you for calling out to me.
Speak--I am listening.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clouds of Witnesses

Suggested Reading: Hebrews 12:1-17

…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…

Hebrews 12:1b

Most of us have an interesting story about how we came to be a follower of Jesus Christ. With a few exceptions, most of these accounts, have at their core, individuals who influenced us. There are grandmothers who taught us to pray, Sunday school teachers who taught us Bible stories, and parents who dragged us to church in spite of our resistance. They make up our cloud of witnesses - people who faithfully pointed to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.

It is important to remember our witnesses. They represent stories of others who influenced them; thus carrying on the legacy of faith. Our life of faith today is, or should be, a reflection of those who influenced us. For some the impact was as small as a grain of sand and for others the significance of how they helped shape us, lives with us daily. No matter the weight of influence, they made a difference in our lives.

When Jesus appears at the river Jordan he, too, has a cloud of witnesses behind him. For thousands of years faithful individuals pointed to the promises of God and Jesus was the embodiment. He increases the cloud's depth by pointing the way to God.

While we may think fondly of our “witnesses” it is important to also think of ourselves as “witnesses.” Every day is yet another opportunity to faithfully point to the faithfulness of Jesus. It is how the legacy of faith continues and the cloud of witnesses multiplies.

Jesus, thank you for each witness that you have brought into my life.
Help me to carry on their legacy of faith
by being a faithful witness to others.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hating Waiting

Suggested Reading: Isaiah 30:15-18

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right.

Isaiah 30:18 (The Message)

All good things come to him who waits originated with the French tracing back to the 1500's. While it seems that waiting has been an issue for generations it would appear that the origins of all good things come to him who waits has a much longer history than France. The inability to wait, and allow good things to come, can probably be traced back to our initial parents–Adam and Eve.

Throughout any given day we are asked to wait, forced to wait or wait by default. Waiting seems to be an itch that becomes more irritated with our scratching. We just don’t want to wait for the medication to do its job.

Isaiah’s definition of waiting isn’t particularly comforting, in fact, it promises a lengthy scenario! Not only is God waiting to be gracious to us, but he takes time to do everything right. Nothing can be hurried or impulsive when the promise of everything turning out right is at stake. It’s all there--graciousness, mercy and rightness–the healing balm for the waiting itch. What is required of us is to stop scratching, allowing time for the balm to do its good work.

Creatures of habit find it difficult to change. But, in order to experience the right, gracious, mercy of our Father who isn’t finished with us, waiting is necessary. By remembering everything that was right from our past we rediscover our belief, the healing balm, that God is gathering strength for our waiting future.

Thought for the Day: What are the "waiting" areas of my life?

Jesus, thank you for loving me enough
to wait until everything is right.
Help me to wait for all that is
gracious, merciful and good.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Real Thing

Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

James 1:27 (The Message)

Beautiful, sweet, innocent faces stare out from the TV screen. Anguished, tortured cries pour out from our computer speakers. We watch with horror as Haitian scenes unfold and are overwhelmed with helplessness. Walking away we head to our church "committee" meeting where we find ourselves in a heated debate with "self" interest groups over how and where to spend mission dollars. Where is real religion?

Given the definition of real religion, as found in this passage of James, it would appear that the challenges facing Christians in the 21st century haven’t changed from the 1st century. Hundreds of years later voices clamor in order to divert our attention away from the effect of reality. While searing images of dying children and desperate women may flash before us, they are quickly soothed by a pharmacuetical's image of a good night’s sleep.

When sitting in our church's mission meeting there is the temptation to pat ourselves on the back for all the monies that we have donated. But are we connected to those receiving it in any other way than our dollars? Corruption can happen even in the church when we become consumed with the amount of money given instead of the number of hands touched.

James reminds us that to live a religion that is real is to live outside of ourselves - live in the disappointments, sorrows, discouragements of another. That is an experience money cannot buy. It's painful, but the result will be a clearer view on what is real while at the same time opening our eyes to what may be staining our souls.

Jesus, help me to live in the pain of others
whether I can touch them or not.
Make my senses alert, responding with my
hands outstretched.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thinking about God's Power

May you be strengthened with all power,
according to his glorious might,
for all endurance and patience with joy...
Colossians 1:11

His power is at work in us, and if only we set our mind on the things which concern Him, we will see this power in operation. The power of God makes great works possible, but is just as operative in the small, perhaps unnoticed, things of life.

The power of God is great, yet He gives of it freely for His purposes. We have to wait for the power. There is no time for delay, as the Spirit has already come; the waiting is to prevent us dashing ahead, reliant on our own ability instead of His enabling. Even when works of power or "miracles" occur, these only confirm the message: "Look heavenward!"

The works of power are a signpost which says, "Go, in this direction, to God." But it was never intended that we worship the signpost!

Celtic Book of Prayer