Moment by moment

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These things were my assets, but I wrote them off as a loss for the sake of Christ. But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead. ~Philippians 3:7-11 (CEB)

“The holiest of men still need Christ, as their Prophet, as ‘the light of the world.’ For he does not give them light, but from moment to moment: The instant he withdraws, all is darkness. They still need Christ as their King; for God does not give them a stock of holiness. But unless they receive a supply every moment, nothing but unholiness would remain. They still need Christ as their Priest, to make atonement for their holy things. Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ.” ~From “Christian Perfection” by John Weslsey

Moment to moment, breath to breath is not such a bad way to live if it keeps me in God’s light. It helps me to feel better when some of Christian history’s “great’s” speak of having to live just one day at a time. It is the way we were intended to live so that we never think too highly of ourselves and thus take our eyes of the reason we are able to live in the light in the first place.
Thank You Heavenly Father, for the power of the resurrection and the journey towards eternal life. May I follow in the footsteps of the saints that have gone before me always striving for perfection. Amen.

God of the living

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Some Sadducees, who deny that there’s a resurrection, came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies leaving a widow but no children, the brother must marry the widow and raise up children for his brother .Now there were seven brothers. The first man married a woman and then died childless. The second and then the third brother married her. Eventually all seven married her, and they all died without leaving any children. Finally, the woman died too. In the resurrection, whose wife will she be? All seven were married to her. ”

Jesus said to them, “People who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy to participate in that age, that is, in the age of the resurrection from the dead, won’t marry nor will they be given in marriage. They can no longer die, because they are like angels and are God’s children since they share in the resurrection. Even Moses demonstrated that the dead are raised—in the passage about the burning bush, when he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He isn’t the God of the dead but of the living. To him they are all alive. ”

Some of the legal experts responded, “Teacher, you have answered well.” No one dared to ask him anything else.

Jesus said to them, “Why do they say that the Christ is David’s son? David himself says in the scroll of Psalms, The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right side until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’  Since David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be David’s son? ” ~Luke 20:27-40

“As we practice the Art of Passingover, we begin to personify the truth of this saying of Jesus. Again and again, we willingly die by ‘letting-go’ and ‘letting-be’ only to discover the rich harvest that awaits us in ‘letting-be’ and ‘letting-grow.’

To face death with such willingness is revolutionary in this culture. Our culture is largely based on the denial of death in any of its form. For most of us, death is the opposite of life, so we deny it in order to live in peace. In the Art of Passingover, however, we experience death and life as organically related parts of a larger whole; we experience them as inextricably wedded to one another within the messianic process of growth and creativity. So, rather than deny death, we affirm it by creatively living through it; in order to become what we are not, we willingly die to what we are. That is how it is in the Art of Passingover.

As we begin to experience the on-going interrelatedness of life and death in practice, our whole approach to human growth, and to how life unfolds, changes. Formerly, we may have thought that the cycle of human life begins with physical birth and ends with physical death. Given the bias of our culture, we may even have graded the stages along the way on the basis of how close they came to death. So, we gave youth a decided ‘plus,’ middle age a perplexed ‘plus-minus with a question mark,’ and old age a definite ‘minus,’ if we considered it at all. ~From The Art of Passingover by Francis Dorff

Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to defeat death. May I prove to be worthy of that age of resurrection. Thank You for being the God of the living. Amen.

Nothing wasted

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That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times,so that a great flood of water won’t reach them. You are my secret hideout! You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of rescue! I will instruct you and teach you about the direction you should go. I’ll advise you and keep my eye on you. ~Psalm 38:6-8 (CEB)

“Everything that is comes alive in the risen Christ- who, as Chesterton reminded, is standing behind us. Everything- great, small, important, unimportant, distant and near- has its place, its meaning, and its value. Through union with Him (as Augustine said, He is more intimate with us than we are with ourselves), nothing is wasted, nothing is missing. There is never a moment that does not carry eternal significance- no action that is sterile, no love that lacks fruition, and no prayer that is unheard. ‘We know that by turning everything to their good God cooperates with all those who love [God]’ (Romans 8:28, emphasis added)” ~ From Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

There are days that what I am going through just can’t seem possible for my greater good. Those days I just put one foot in front of the other and make it to the end of that day to the best of my ability, trusting Christ is walking behind me directing my steps. Even the areas of my life that I have thought dead Christ can take these areas as well and make it fruitful once again. For these times I have hidden Romans 8:28 in my heart trusting that He is the God He says He is.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Your Son to earth to conquer sin and death so that I might have hope. Amen.

A living hope

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May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! On account of his vast mercy, he has given us new birth. You have been born anew into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. You have a pure and enduring inheritance that cannot perish—an inheritance that is presently kept safe in heaven for you. Through his faithfulness, you are guarded by God’s power so that you can receive the salvation he is ready to reveal in the last time.

You now rejoice in this hope, even if it’s necessary for you to be distressed for a short time by various trials. This is necessary so that your faith may be found genuine. (Your faith is more valuable than gold, which will be destroyed even though it is itself tested by fire.) Your genuine faith will result in praise, glory, and honor for you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy that is too much for words. You are receiving the goal of your faith: your salvation.

The prophets, who long ago foretold the grace that you’ve received, searched and explored, inquiring carefully about this salvation. They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was saying when he bore witness beforehand about the suffering that would happen to Christ and the glory that would follow. They wondered what sort of person or what sort of time they were speaking about. It was revealed to them that in their search they were not serving themselves but you. These things, which even angels long to examine, have now been proclaimed to you by those who brought you the good news. They did this in the power of the Holy Spirit, who was sent from heaven. ~1 Peter 1:3-12 (CEB)

So in all the ups and downs of our life we greatly rejoice (1Peter 1:6), and we can take our cue from Peter, who experienced more than a few ups and downs. Simply saying ‘In this you rejoice’ was not enough, so Peter said it again: ‘Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you so not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy; for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls’ (v.8). This is the meaning and spirit of Easter ~Norman Shawchuck

May the peace of God fill my heart, mind, and activities all this day long. Amen.

Never Alone

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After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you.”

With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there.” ~Matthew 28:1-10 (CEB)

At this very moment when you read these words, you and I are in the presence of the living Christ. To remember this truth is to be shaped constantly by the presence of God in Christ in our lives. We often forget this central truth of the Christian faith, and when we do, we are easily overcome by the troubles of the world.

For me, what I write will pass before the eyes of the One about whom I write. As I write, I hope that my ordinary life and ordinary capacity will be energized, directed, and used by the One who gives me life and has called me to this ministry. If I allow myself to think that this ministry and this project are all up to me, I risk feelings, from despair to arrogance. However if I remember that I am not alone, but think, work, and live in the presence of the living Christ, I remain hopeful that even the most simple and ordinary task carried out in that presence and with the assistance of Jesus Christ is sacred, meaningful, and useful.

For you, what you read comes not from the word processor of someone full of years and short of energy or imagination. For these words are now read and heard in the presence of Jesus Christ who is able to use the most simple and ordinary words and events to enlighten, comfort, heal, and direct the seeking heart.

The risen Christ is with us and therefore we need not fear the events of this day or any day that lies in our future. We know that each day will be lived in companionship with the only One who is able to rescue, redeem, save, keep, and companion us through every experience of this life and the next.

This realization does not take away the pain or uncertainty that life holds. But it does give us strength, wisdom, guidance, and most of all, a Companion to travel through each of these experiences with us. East Sunday and every Sunday are gentle yet dramatic reminders that we are not alone never our own. As followers of Jesus, we walk with God in Christ, and that makes the journey rich in meaning, joy, and peace no matter where it leads. Jesus Christ is alive and reads with you mow words that are intended to turn your eyes, heart, and live more fully toward God. ~From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Ruben P. Job

Almighty God, you who have sent Jesus into the world to suffer, die, and rise again for our sake, help us to experience your transforming resurrection power within our lives and ministry. We offer our prayers in the name and spirit of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Happy Easter!

Darkness before the dawn

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Turn to me, God, and have mercy on me because I’m alone and suffering. My heart’s troubles keep getting bigger— set me free from my distress! Look at my suffering and trouble— forgive all my sins! Look at how many enemies I have and how violently they hate me! Please protect my life! Deliver me! Don’t let me be put to shame because I take refuge in you. ~Psalm 25:16-20 (CEB)

“You’ve heard the saying ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.’ Well, that’s not true, is it? Words can hurt . . . . They make us feel small and exposed. The make us feel shame.

Revenge is bittersweet- after the sweetness wears off, the bitter taste remains in your mouth. In place of revenge, civil rights leaders taught nonviolent ways of confronting people who are putting you down. Your first response to humiliating treatment needs to be claiming your own dignity as a person created in the image of God. This awareness sets you free to respond to injustice in creative rather than violent ways.” ~From “Justice” in Way to Live editd by Dorthy C. Bass and Don C. Richter

Thank You Jesus for coming into the world to show us the way. Thank You for modeling how we are to love others.  May I be an example of Your humility, love and forgiveness. Amen.

Death sentence

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It was customary during the festival for the governor to release to the crowd one prisoner, whomever they might choose. At that time there was a well-known prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. When the crowd had come together, Pilate asked them, “Whom would you like me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?”  He knew that the leaders of the people had handed him over because of jealousy.

While he was serving as judge, his wife sent this message to him, “Leave that righteous man alone. I’ve suffered much today in a dream because of him. ”

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and kill Jesus. The governor said, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”

“Barabbas, they replied.

Pilate said, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”

They all said, “Crucify him!”

 But he said, “Why? What wrong has he done?”

They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was starting. So he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I’m innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your problem.”

All the people replied, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.” Then he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified. ~Matt. 27:15-26 (CEB)

Is it possible that our world still knows better how to deal with a bandit, a murder, an insurrectionist than it knows to do with the Prince of Peace? There is a sense in which an assassin’s attempt on the pope’s life is less shocking to our world than the pope’s forgiveness of him. Is it possible that we would rather deal with raw power that rides on a stallion than with this one who comes on a donkey with the weapons of love, patience, suffering, and peace? Given the choice isn’t it possible that we would take Barabbas, too? ~From What Will You Do with King Jesus? by James A. Harnish

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (Psalm 130:23-24)

Death is not the victor

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Some Greeks were among those who had come up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One l to be glorified. I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.

“Now I am deeply troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. Father, glorify your name! ”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.”

Jesus replied, “This voice wasn’t for my benefit but for yours.” ~John 12:20-32 (CEB)

“The final pictures in Matthew’s gospel are not only a bold affirmation of faith in the triumph of the kingdom of God, they are also a daring challenge to the disciples. The only logical response to this Gospel is the Great Commission: ‘Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, for I am with you always, even to the end of time.’

One of the most courageous witnesses for Christ in recent years was Archbishop Oscar Romero, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in El Salvador, who was killed on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel in San Salvador.

With unflinching courage, he applied the message of liberation and justice to the political and social struggles of his homeland. In his last homily on March 23, he acknowledged ‘the risk that is run by our poor station for being the instrument and vehicle of truth and justice,’ but he went on to say that, in the context of the Lenten season, ‘all of this is preparation for our Easter, and Easter is a shout of victory. No one can extinguish that life which Christ revived. Not even death and hatred against him and against his Church will ever be able to overcome it. He is the victor!’” ~From What Will You Do with King Jesus? by James A. Harnish

What does it cost me to “make disciples”? If the answer is nothing maybe I am going about it the wrong way.

Heavenly Father, give me the courage I may need today to step out in faith for You. May I take with me the victory call that Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again. May the fact that Jesus died for my sins strengthen and bolster me to take this good news to others. Amen.

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

To know him

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My little children, I’m writing these things to you so that you don’t sin. But if you do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is God’s way of dealing with our sins, not only ours but the sins of the whole world. This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commandments. The one who claims, “I know him,” while not keeping his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in this person. But the love of God is truly perfected in whoever keeps his word. This is how we know we are in him. The one who claims to remain in him ought to live in the same way as he lived. ~1John 2:1-6 (CEB)

“We may see that to live as Jesus did is to experience what it means to be beloved sons and daughters of God. The more we know our belovedness, the more freely we may live by the measure of Jesus’ own example in the power of loving humility and transforming mercy. Here lie the spiritual roots of forgiveness and reconciliation. But the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation can be as difficult to embrace as the notion of our belovedness.” ~From The Way of Forgiveness, Participant’s Book by Marjorie J. Thompson

Lord Jesus Christ, You have shown me what it means to be a servant. I ask now for Your grace and strength to faithfully follow in the footsteps of servanthood. I pray in Your name and spirit. Amen.

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