Endurance

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask. Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind. People like that should never imagine that they will receive anything from the Lord. They are double-minded, unstable in all their ways. ~James 1:2-8 (CEB)

“Spiritual discernment has always come hard for me, so hard that I once concluded that I could not do it. After all, discernment is a spiritual gift- and I obviously had not been given gift. I felt that I could do nothing but shrug and trudge on. And trudge I did for long periods of my life. In one instance I spent almost a year trying to discern God’s will on am important matter that would affect the rest of my life. During that year I felt the intense frustration of being dragged across the cutting edge of indecision. That was a long time to be in turmoil. It was tough. My only saving grace was that I would not commit to a decision until I felt that I had clear knowledge of God’s will. I now realize that my reluctance to act was an important part of the discernment at work in me. But not knowing that at the times made it a year of anguish…

God wants everyone to know God’s will. God doesn’t withhold grace, play games, or tease us to test our faithfulness or our worthiness to be trusted with divine insight. I am convinced that God is far more prone to human revelation that I am to divine encounter. God’s will is that you and I, everyone, and our faith communities should discern and act upon God’s will.” ~From Yearning to Know God’s Will by Danny E. Morris

Heavenly Father, Help me to not be tossed and turned by doubt. Help me to have clear knowledge of your will. Give me courage to encounter Your testing so that I may gain endurance. For I know with endurance I will become fully mature, complete and lacking in nothing. Amen.

Below the surface

Jesus and his followers came into Jericho. As Jesus was leaving Jericho, together with his disciples and a sizable crowd, a blind beggar named Bartimaeus, Timaeus’ son, was sitting beside the road. When he heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, show me mercy!” Many scolded him, telling him to be quiet, but he shouted even louder, “Son of David, show me mercy!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him forward.” They called the blind man, “Be encouraged! Get up! He’s calling you.” Throwing his coat to the side, he jumped up and came to Jesus. Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said, “Teacher, I want to see.” Jesus said, “Go, your faith has healed you.” At once he was able to see, and he began to follow Jesus on the way. ~Mark 10:46-52 (CEB)

“Contemplation breaks us open to ourselves. The fruit of contemplation is self-knowledge, not self-justification. ‘The nearer we draw to God,’ Abba Mateos said, ‘the more we see ourselves as sinners.’ We see ourselves as we really are, and knowing ourselves we cannot condemn the other. We remember with a blush the public sin that made us mortal. We recognize with dismay the private sin that curls within us in fear of exposure. Then the whole world changes when we know ourselves. We gentle it. The fruit of self-knowledge is kindness. Broken ourselves, we bind tenderly the wounds of the other.” ~ From Illuminated Life by Joan Chittister

Heavenly Father, please heal me of any self-justification that leads to blindness. Enable in me the ability of self-knowledge so that clearly see the path you have for me. Amen.

Dreamings

“Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat. However, I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters. ” ~Luke 22:31-32 (CEB)

“Spiritual discernment asks us to pay attention. We need to attend to both what goes on around us and within us. Ideally, this attentiveness goes on much of the time, a sort of low level, constant spiritual sifting of the data of our experience. But there are times when discernment becomes much more focused, when a crossroad is reached or a choice called for. At times like these the cumulative wisdom of tradition tells us to pay attention on many levels: to consult scripture, to seek the advice of trusted advisers, to heed the sensus fidelium (the collective sense of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking, to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience and to the yearnings and dreamings of our hearts, to watch, to wait, to listen.”~From “Passing Angels: The Art of Spiritual Discernment” by Wendy M. Wright in Weavings November/December 1995

Heavenly Father, help me not to get discouraged as I am being sifted. Help me to pay attention so that as I come to the crossroads the path that I am to choose shines clear. Help me to draw from tradition, scripture and fellow sojourners. Bolster my faith as I watch, wait and listen. Amen.

Beyond my own understandings

So then, from this point on we won’t recognize people by human standards. Even though we used to know Christ by human standards, that isn’t how we know him now. So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!

All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. ~2 Cor. 5:16-19 (CEB)

What is of God’s new reality and what is of the old, dying reality? As we seek conscious and living communion with God, how do we distinguish between God’s activity and the many less than benign forces in the world? “He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (2 Sam. 22:20). These words, voiced by David celebrating God’s help in victory over enemies, offer dramatic images or understanding the mysterious work of discerning the spirits…

True discernment calls us beyond the well-tended gardens of conventional religious wisdom to the margin between the known and the unknown, the domesticated and the wild. We incur risk any time we place ourselves in the presence of that which exists beyond our control. ‘Without the confidence of faith,’ comments St. Isaac of Nineveh, ‘ no one will rashly let his [or her] soul go into the midst of terrible and difficult things.’ How crucial, then, that our efforts to sift and sort the forces shaping our spiritual life be undertaken with some bedrock assurances. King David provides one which cannot be surpassed. We are guided through narrow paths and led to spacious vistas because God delights in us. Deep in the layers of history, beneath the great upheavals of infidelity that reshape the landscape of our life with God, there abides a divine pleasure in the human creature. In the fullness of time this delight overflowed the bounds of worldly prudence and swept God into our very midst, one with us in suffering and hope. It is always in the gladsome company of this God that our discernment occurs.” ~From “Editor’s Introduction” by John S. Mogabgab in Weavings November/December 1995

Help me to live Lord, in those margins between the known and the unknown. Help me live in that place that exists beyond my control. Strengthen in me the confidence to live for You. Guide me through the narrow paths ahead and lead me in to Your spacious vistas. Amen.

Little things

Teach me to do your will for you are my God, Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. ~Psalm 143:10

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Changes may come slow but while I wait for change to come I can celebrate the surprises that each day holds. As I shift my sights from what I am not yet, I can celebrate new spaces and places in my heart. I can anticipate new friends and opportunities yet unseen. God’s promise to me is that He will never leave me or forsake me and that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb. 13:5,8) In the midst of changes I can hold onto the fact that God never changes.

Heavenly Father, as the year is still so new and with the unknown looming so large, I ask that You walk with me and help me see the little things along the way. Amen.

Assurance

I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have good reason to think this way about all of you because I keep you in my heart. You are all my partners in God’s grace, both during my time in prison and in the defense and support of the gospel. God is my witness that I feel affection for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus.

This is my prayer: that your love might become even more and more rich with knowledge and all kinds of insight. I pray this so that you will be able to decide what really matters and so you will be sincere and blameless on the day of Christ. I pray that you will then be filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes from Jesus Christ, in order to give glory and praise to God. ~Phil 1:6-11 (CEB)

God is in the business of saving hearts. It may come in bits and pieces here and there but it doesn’t come over night. It takes time and it is a process. God changes our hearts through grace. It rewires us. In his book You Gotta Keep Dancin’ Tim Hansel says that we are rewired from insecure to God secure. From regret-riddled to better-because-of-it. From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly.

As I enter into this second week of the New Year I am starting to question some of my New Year’s resolutions. When I was making them there were sound arguments for the changes that I wanted to make and with the New Year it seems like a good place for fresh starts. But change comes slowly.

The same Voice that calls for me to change will give me the strength to make the changes that are needed. I just need to hold onto God’s promise, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” (Ezk 36:26) But where does this “new heart” come from? Paul said in Gal 2:20 “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior he moved into my heart, transplanting my heart for his. I may not be perfect but Jesus is and through the grace that God has bestowed on me I am being changed every day, shaped every day, strengthened every day, emboldened every day… softened every day by that grace.

I may not always see the changes in me, but scripture tells me “… the one who started a good work in you will stay with [me] to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

So I have the assurance that maybe not in my time but in God’s timing I will one day be who I need to be.

Day by day, Lord, strengthen me, shape me, change me, embolden me and soften me so that I am always moving on towards that perfection that is promised me for the day of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Freedom to love

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of a messenger who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God rules!” Listen! Your lookouts lift their voice; they sing out together! Right before their eyes they see the LORD returning to Zion. Break into song together, you ruins of Jerusalem! The LORD has comforted his people and has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm in view of all the nations; all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory. ~Isaiah 52:7-10 (CEB)

“I have learned how to love with great love from a little child in Calcutta. Once, there was no sugar and I do not know how that little Hindu child four years old heard in the school that Mother Teresa had no sugar for her children.

He went home and told his parents, ‘I will not eat sugar for three days: I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa.’

His parents had never been to our house before to give anything, but after three days they brought him. He was so small, and in his hand there was a little bottle of sugar. How much can a four-year-old child eat? But the amount he could have eaten for those three days, he brought. He could scarcely pronounce my name, but yet he gave and the love he put in the giving was beautiful.

I learned from that little one that at the moment we give something to [God], it becomes infinite!” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Some of the most loving, giving… forgiving people I have known have been children. If you want to know how to live as Jesus lives look to a child. Loving others is so simple, even a child can do it.

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, help me to walk through this day with the faith and love of a little child. May the battle wounds I have occurred that prevent me to see as a child sees be stripped away. Help my resentments and judgments fade so that I may live as you would have me to live, in complete freedom. Amen.

Recognizing God’s voice

My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy. After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing. But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask. Whoever asks shouldn’t hesitate. They should ask in faith, without doubting. Whoever doubts is like the surf of the sea, tossed and turned by the wind. People like that should never imagine that they will receive anything from the Lord. They are double-minded, unstable in all their ways. ~James 1:2-8 (CEB)

“Finding God’s voice in the midst of this noisy world is not easy. So many voices clamor for our attention, and so much noise tends to shield us from the voice of the One, who as Evelyn Underhill said, ‘has everything to tell us and nothing to learn from us.’ However, millions of people have learned how to ‘read the signs,’ that is, to observe how God has acted and is acting now, to listen attentively, and to receive knowledge and direction from a source greater than they are.

The foundation for reading the signs is the desire to know God’s will and the confidence that God’s desires that we do know, understand, and obey God’s will. For there are persons who habitually ask, ‘Lord, what is such persons, discernment is a way of life and to listen for God’s voice; they simply listen, trust, and obey. These persons see all experiences, ordinary and extraordinary, as conveying God’s presence and message. When such persons read the Bible or the daily paper, they are aware of another Presence speaking and guiding. These individuals experience the ordinary events of life as filed with meaning and direction from God. For the, all of life is a conversation, a dialogue with the One who made them. For the, discernment is a way of life.” ~Rueben P. Job, From A Guide for All Who Seek God.

Heavenly Father, help me to passionately seek You among the noises of this world. May the noises around me not shield Your voice so that I may know Your Will for my life. Help me to seek You in the ordinary experiences of life. May I recognize Your Presence in day to day living. May I be aware of Your love for me through the people You have placed in my life. Amen.

Love… the greatest thing

From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles.

To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. ~Romans 1:1-7 (CEB)

“Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world- stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death- and the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you keep it for a day, why not always?” ~From The Spirit of Christmas by Henry Van Dyke

I sometimes need reminding that love is the strongest thing in the world, that Light will always outshine the darkness. Christmas is the story of how love came into the world. Through Jesus we can see how we are to respond to the hate and evil we see. He was angry when anger was called for, showed compassion when it was needed and forgave freely. Only through God who strengthens me would I be able to live in such a way. But every time I do evil loses some of its footing.

Merry Christmas!

Help me Heavenly Father to keep Christmas every day. May I love and forgive where compassion is needed, may I speak up when strong words are called for, may I always remember that love is the strongest thing in the world. Amen.

To love one another

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. ” ~John 13:34-35 (CEB)

“When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them.   Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another.  When people realize that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning.  Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it.  Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, help me this day to be free of judgements so that I may be a safe place for others. Help me to be more vulnerable so that walls can be demolished permanently. To be Your hands and feet and to love those I meet are all You ask of me. Help me to do Your will. Amen.

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries