Poured out

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Therefore, my loved ones, just as you always obey me, not just when I am present but now even more while I am away, carry out your own salvation with fear and trembling. God is the one who enables you both to want and to actually live out his good purposes. Do everything without grumbling and arguing so that you may be blameless and pure, innocent children of God surrounded by people who are crooked and corrupt. Among these people you shine like stars in the world because you hold on to the word of life. This will allow me to say on the day of Christ that I haven’t run for nothing or worked for nothing. But even if I am poured out like a drink offering upon the altar of service for your faith, I am glad. I’m glad with all of you. You should be glad about this in the same way. Be glad with me! ~Philippians 2:12-18(CEB)

At a baptismal service recently, I was deeply impressed when the pastor did not dip his hand into a baptismal font already filled with water. Instead he took a pitcher, lifted his arm above his head, and poured the water into the font, creating a small waterfall. As he poured, he gave us scriptural verses on the water of life as a direct, loving energy from God that blesses and heals and flows from within us, through us, beyond us.

We begin to see our daily acts of love as flowing like a river from our center, and poured out on the dry and needy lands around us. Our actions become not willpower but released gestures of pouring, flowing.

When the woman of Bethany came to Jesus and poured precious ointment on his head, it was a released gesture of generous love. ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me,’ said Jesus to those who were scandalized at such an act.

To do a ‘beautiful thing’ to God in released, responsive love is intended to be the only source for the Christian’s words and actions. As one of my students once said to me, ‘The Christian is release from perfectionism to being a love of life.’” ~From Release by Flora Slosson Wuellner

Lord of life and love, help me to worship You in the holiness of beauty, that some beauty of holiness may appear to me. Quiet my soul in Your presence with the stillness of a wise trust. Lift me above dark moods, and the shadow of sin, that I may find Your will for my life; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen

Freedom of the soul

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Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time ~Phil. 1:12-14 (CEB)

“We are desperately afraid of having no power. We fear loneliness, poverty and boredom. We fear failure terribly.

Nonviolence, nonpleasure, nonaggression are also part of our American shadow. These are the things that we avoid to create our character armor. We lust after the kind of aggression that allows us to be dominant, to be powerful. We settle for a certain kind of pleasure that really isn’t joyous. Sometimes pleasure, as a limited [secularized sacred] experience, is the avoidance of joy. It is to entertain one part of our body, perhaps, but at the price of the inner glow and juice of our whole being. Poverty is the ultimate shadow for many of us. We cannot imagine being happy without our money. We would be petrified to be without our many options. We’ve substituted freedom of choice for the freedom of the soul which alone gives spiritual joy.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Almighty God, may Your strong hand defend, guide, and empower me along my journey today. Help me to overcome the darkness with Your light, my selfishness with Your love and my indolence and cowardice with Your steadfast devotion that I may ever live in Your presence and perform faithfully over my appointed tasks, and finally come to everlasting life; through the Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Called out

Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.”

They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus.

Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. ~John 21:1-14 (CEB)

“For those who profess and call themselves Christians, the lens through which everything else is interpreted is a person: Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. Just as the lover never plumbs the mystery of the beloved, so we do not exhaust the mystery of Jesus. This, at first, seems a strange claim. But it is not less extraordinary that contemporary ‘messiahs, saviors, and gurus’ possess the consciousness of modern men and women . . . . A walk on a Saturday evening through the streets of a busy city reveals what models, exemplars, paradigms are operating in the lives of the people.

We cannot do without a paradigm to help us live. As a believer, I keep bumping into Jesus. I wander away, and there he is, perhaps in the eyes of someone on the street. There is no escape for me. Nor do I want there to be.” ~From Soul Making by Alan W. Jones

Almighty God, in every age You have called out men and women to be Your faithful servants. Be with me this day as You call me to join in the work of Your hands. Grant me this day and always a clear vision of Your call and strength to fulfill the ministry assigned to me. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

True meaning

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The Son is the image of the invisible God,

the one who is first over all creation,a

Because all things were created by him:

both in the heavens and on the earth,

the things that are visible and the things that are invisible.

Whether they are thrones or powers,

or rulers or authorities,

all things were created through him and for him.

He existed before all things,

and all things are held together in him.

He is the head of the body, the church,

who is the beginning,

the one who is firstborn from among the deadb

so that he might occupy the first place in everything.

Because all the fullness of God was pleased to live in him,

and he reconciled all things to himself through him—

whether things on earth or in the heavens.

He brought peace through the blood of his cross.

~Colossians 1:15-20 (CEB)

“Living in awareness of the risen Jesus is not a trivial pursuit for the bored and lonely or a defense mechanism enabling us to cope with the stress and sorrow of life. It is the key that unlocks the door to grasping the meaning of existence. All day and every day we are being reshaped into the image of Christ. Everything that happens to us is designed to this end. Nothing that exists can exist beyond the pale of His presence (“All things were created through him and for him”- Col 1:16), nothing is irrelevant to it, nothing is without significance. ~From Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

O God, who through the grace of Your Holy Spirit doth pour out the gift of love into my heart, grant me health, both mind and body, that I may love you with my whole strength, and with a glad heart so that I may perform the things that I am called to do for Your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A dry well

Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and see God’s face?
My tears have been my food both day and night,
as people constantly questioned me,
“Where’s your God now?”
But I remember these things as I bare my soul:
how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,
to God’s own house,
with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—
a huge crowd celebrating the festival!
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God.
My whole being is depressed.
That’s why I remember you
from the land of Jordan and Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep called to deep at the noise of your waterfalls;
all your massive waves surged over me.
By day the LORD commands his faithful love;
by night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I will say to God, my solid rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I have to walk around,
sad, oppressed by enemies?”
With my bones crushed, my foes make fun of me,
constantly questioning me:”Where’s your God now?”
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God.

“And the well runs dry. It’s one of the most common experiences in the spiritual life. A practice that we have cherished, a habit that has deepened us and drawn us closer to God, a discipline that we perhaps have engaged in for years, no longer seems to work. Gradually over time or overnight with no warning, its familiar contours turn foreign, dull, perhaps even painful.

Pondering the questions that lie at the bottom of a dry well offers a journey of its own. What I know is this: to find the answers, we have to pay attention to the dryness. This is a desert place. As uncomfortable as it may be, there is no substitute for these desert places in the spiritual life. They offer a wisdom that we cannot get any other way.”~ Jan L. Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women

Guide me through the desert Lord. Quench this thirst deep in my soul. Do not leave me alone in my wanderings. Guide me safely home. Amen.

He won’t abandon me

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Then Moses called Joshua and, with all Israel watching, said to him: “Be strong and fearless because you are the one who will lead this people to the land the LORD swore to their ancestors to give to them; you are the one who will divide up the land for them. But the LORD is the one who is marching before you! He is the one who will be with you! He won’t let you down. He won’t abandon you. So don’t be afraid or scared! ” ~Deut. 31:7-8 (CEB)

“Fear kills a mind and soul by slowly obliterating the visions we hold for our lives. That we should not fall prey is a constant theme in the scriptures. God does not want us to succumb to the chilling and killing aspects of fear; God encourages people not to be afraid of the circumstances in which they find themselves. It seems that one of God’s favorite themes is ‘Do not be afraid’ or ‘Do not fear.’ Perhaps God repeats this theme so often because we so often fear circumstances that confront us in our lives and ministries.

God is not suggesting that we will not confront fearful realities in our lives. God is simply promising not to abandon us to fearful circumstances but to go with us through the dark night of fear, danger, and uncertainty.

Fear, left to eat away at us, finally brings us to a ‘little-death.’ We must not deny our fear or avoid dealing with the fearful moment. In scripture, God never suggests an escapist attitude as an antidote for fear. The many ‘do not be afraid’ promises in scripture do not suggest that we shun the fearful prospects in which we find ourselves, but God consistently promises to be with us in the dark and ominous moment.” ~Norman Shawchuck

Almighty Father, I thank You for being with me in the darkness. Thank You for guiding me and giving me strength. I know Your promises are true and that You will not let me down or abandon me. You march before me with Your light showing me the way. I will not give into fear this day, In Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

To sit with me awhile…

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Jesus left and made his way to the Mount of Olives, as was his custom, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived, he said to them, “Pray that you won’t give in to temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed. He said, “Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.” Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him. He was in anguish and prayed even more earnestly. His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. When he got up from praying, he went to the disciples. He found them asleep, overcome by grief. He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you won’t give in to temptation.” ~Luke 19:39-46 (CEB)

“When Jesus was in his excruciating moment in the Garden of Gethsemane he needed his disciples to be with him while he prayed. He longed for the comfort of their presence and was pained by their inability to provide this for him. Jesus didn’t need Peter to slice off an ear of his enemy. He just needed Peter and the others to be there with him as he faced his enemies).” ~From The Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp

Heavenly Father, help me to remember that sometimes others just need our presence. They may not be looking for words of comfort or even affirmations. Sometimes friends may just need someone to be “with them” in the sorry. Help me to see this day how I might “be with” others. Amen.

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