An adventure

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This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles. You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? God showed me his secret plan in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before (when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan about Christ). Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.

God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. God sent me to reveal the secret plan that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him.So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by what I’m suffering for you, which is your glory. ~Ephesians 3:1-13 (CEB)

“Religion has not tended to create seekers or searchers, has not tended to create honest humble people who trust that God is always beyond them. We aren’t focused on the great mystery. Religion has, rather, tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy glib answers. That’s why so much of the West is understandably abandoning religion. People know the great mystery cannot be that simple and facile. If the great mystery is indeed the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, into journeys that never cease… That is what prayer is about.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr.

In the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ, we find a Great Mystery that promises us the adventure of a lifetime. If we aren’t in the middle of an adventure maybe we are missing something.

Heavenly Father, Help me this day to see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, love with Your heart. Send me on a grand adventure as Your hands and feet. Amen.

Risky business

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It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me. ~John 2:13-17 (CEB)

“To find in ourselves what makes life worth living is risky business, for it means that once we know we must seek it. It also means that without it life will be valueless. More than just a few find their most valued selves despite the risk, although the majority seem to be… people who don’t wish to make any trouble- not even the kind that’s expected. The majority shrewdly stay dull to what in them is life and has meaning. A few brave souls, however, do look within and are so moved by what they find that they sacrifice, from then on, whatever is necessary to bring that self into being.” ~From Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics by Marsha Sinetar.

What am I consumed with for God? Do I take any risks for God? Am I brave enough to step out on a limb for God?

Embolden me Heavenly Father to find who I am and what it means to be a child of God. May I not shrink away from understanding Your will for me life. Help me to love mercy, seek justice and walk humbly with you. Amen.

 

Little things

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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.

Beyond my own understanding

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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 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 WeavingsNovember/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 into Your spacious vistas. Amen.

Arise and shine!

Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the LORD’s glory has shone upon you. Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the LORD will shine upon you; God’s glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance. ~Isaiah 60:1-3

“It requires a lot of inner solitude and silence to become aware of these divine movements. God does not shout, scream or push. The Spirit of God is soft and gentle like a small voice or a light breeze. It is the spirit of love. Maybe we still do not fully believe that God’s Spirit is, indeed, the Spirit of love, always leading us deeper into love. Maybe we still distrust the Spirit, afraid to be led to places where our freedom is taken away. Maybe we still think of God’s Spirit as an enemy who wants something of us that is not good for us.

But God is love, only love, and God’s Spirit is the Spirit of love longing to guide us to the place where the deepest desires of our heart can be fulfilled. Often we ourselves do not even know what our deepest desire is. We so easily get tangled in our own lust and anger, mistakenly assuming that they tell us what we really want. The Spirit of love says: ‘Don’t be afraid to let go of your need to control your own life. Let me fulfill the true desire of your heart.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Jesus came into the world so that I don’t have to hold onto control so tightly. He knows the real desires of my heart and only wants good for me. He sent Jesus into the world so that I could begin to see beyond the “Thou shalt not’s” to the freedom He desires for me.

It is the call of my heart God to be close to You. Your whispering is heard as it blows through my heart giving me new life. Bolster my unbelief so that I may live life more fully. Give me freedom instead of the chains that bind me to a life I don’t want. Help me to live in the Freedom you promise if only I believe. Help me this day to rise and shine for You. Amen.

What is there to hold on to…

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So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. Who is going to convict them? It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us. Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “We are being put to death all day long for your sake. We are treated like sheep for slaughter.”

But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. ~Romans 8:31-39 (CEB)

“Life is unpredictable.  We can be happy one day and sad the next, healthy one day and sick the next, rich one day and poor the next, alive one day and dead the next.  So who is there to hold on to?  Who is there to feel secure with?  Who is there to trust at all times?

Only Jesus, the Christ.  He is our Lord, our shepherd, our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, our brother, our guide, and our friend.  He came from God to be with us.  He died for us, he was raised from the dead to open for us the way to God, and he is seated at God’s right hand to welcome us home.   With Paul, we must be certain that “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 8:38-39).” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

A New Year looms ahead. The possibilities are endless. Sadness and happiness are mixed at the close of an old year; anxiety and excitement greet the New Year. What will it hold? For most, there is the underlying hope that the New Year will be better. I may not know what tomorrow and the New Year will bring but I do know that Jesus came down from God to hold my hand through whatever I face, both the good times and the bad.

I ask you Heavenly Father, Heavenly Father, into this New Year. I welcome Your Presence in my life. I thank You for the gift of Your Son to guide and direct my steps as I enter the New Year with a clean slate of possibilities. May I ever hold close the belief that You will use all things for my good. Amen.