Let love be genuine…Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep …do not claim to be wiser than you are. Romans 12:9-16 This morning I heard a brief segment of Oprah Winfrey on the “Today Show” as she spoke about what people want most in life. Through her many interviews she found that what people wanted most was to be validated. Every interview she had with individuals, including those we considered to be of high stature always ended with the question “Was that ok?” I think the question reveals some level of insecurity or uncertainty (however minute) in each of us regardless of what we’ve achieved in relation to one another. Even when we are doing what we do best, each of us has moments when we need someone or something that confirms what we are doing and who we believe our selves to be. It occurred to me that genuine Love does exactly that. God has validated each of us who holds to the hope that is in Christ. This is not to say that we should stop asking the question “Was that ok?” but rather recognize that since we all have this need, perhaps it is incumbent upon each of us in those times of need to strive to be for one another what God is for us and simply say “It’s Okay”.
…a prong collar that pinches you completely around the neck when you move in directions outside of where Gods love desires you to be. We are not dogs. However, we are in fact thinking, reasoning human beings who sometimes do things we know we shouldn’t do – not out of instinct but rather because at the time it seemed perfectly rational to do. That is until we get “pinched,” occasionally more than once. God loves us in spite of the number of times it takes us to knowingly walk safely in his care and guidance. Stop being pinched! Whatever it is, there is no reason to hold on for dear life. In other words life is not necessarily about struggling and suffering. Rather it’s about learning to stay connected for dear Love; of God, self and others.
3 Put your trust in the LORD and do good; *
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
4 Take delight in the LORD, *
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.
5 Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him, *
and he will bring it to pass.
6 He will make your righteousness as clear as the light *
and your just dealing as the noonday.
7 Be still before the LORD *
… and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing… 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:17 Coffee in the morning always seems to permeate my home. While the presence of it doesn’t necessarily dictate my day, the aroma alerts me to the gift that is morning. Every morning is a another opportunity to be blessed by the Holy Spirit which is poured out by God. Let us this day allow the fragrance of the Holy Spirit to be poured out through us in order that others may be blessed as well.
This morning I slept in a bit and got up to watch some of the Memorial Day Tributes on CNN. When they explained the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier I have to say I felt sadness when they said that there was actually a body of an unknown soldier in the monument.
So I’m just getting home from a wonderful time with my friend Linda and her mother Ms Liz. I have to say this was one of the nicest Memorial Day weekends, but I’m still thinking about the many who never made it home. I’m glad we have this day to remember but really any day that I remember those who go and fight for our freedoms will guide me to a higher place. Thank you Lord for the many blessings in my life and thank you to the many who serve known and unknown.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” – Matthew 5:9.
“Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain…” Ruth 1:19-2:13 One of my most favorable times as a child was when I attended kindergarten at “Just Five Folks,” and we took a trip to a recording studio and made a record! It was years later during a conversation with my mother about those days that she told me that she did “days work” in order for my sister and I to attend, she had traded cleaning services for our tuition. Of course this is one of the many things my mother did in her short lifetime in order that I might have those favorable memories. This past week, it was the readings in the Book of Ruth that brought this and other memories to mind which helped me to further understand waste, gleaning, obedience and abundance. We have a tendency to either over or underestimate a lot of things like time, money, and food to name a few. In some respects this can become a resource for others. For example my mother needed us to be in kindergarten because she was still in college. The woman who ran this private kindergarten needed someone to clean her home because she apparently didn’t have time (or desire) to do it herself. In any event I benefitted from my mother’s willingness to “glean” as a result of this woman’s over or perhaps underestimation of her time. We must not forget that abundance in life is not necessarily measured by money alone. Education was very important to my mother. She would go on to receive a second degree and we her three children would achieve 8 degrees between us. Perhaps today we may find ourselves gleaning, but we must remember that Ruth’s journey was “ordained” by God. Spiritually, nothing is ever wasted according to God’s hand.
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When they came together, the LORD made her conceive, and she bore a son…. They named him Obed; he became the father of Jesse, the father of David. Ruth 4:1-17
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Luke 13:31-35 How much have we missed out because we refused to let God love us by insisting we go our own way? God help us to discern your Love; that we may experience it every day and in every way.
Lord in your mercy; here our prayer.
O God, look with compassion on the winds of Oklahoma. Help us to remember the walls that separate us; when broken and collapsed, give us all an opportunity to unite each of us in bonds of love, compassion, and empathy. Bless the work of the hands that are forthcoming; through the devastation and confusion that was left behind by the winds that destroyed all that had been accomplished by the hands of your children; that they may all rebuild and continue to fulfill your purposes on earth. Pray for the saints who were lost and for the courage of those who were left to mourn. Show them comfort by the outpouring of your true love from neighbors and strangers alike; until such mourning is turned once again to dancing with the wind, and harmony of your people prevail; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Good Night.
Divided tongues as of fire… Acts 2:1-21 The gas stove we had in my childhood home sometimes wouldn’t light. So as one might guess the oven required the assistance of lighted of a match. I’d seen my mother do this many times and I was quite confident that I was ready to get the oven preheated as she had instructed me. So when the oven did not light this particular time I preceded to reach for the matches that were kept in the nearby drawer. However, I did not turn the oven off to keep the gas from filling up inside. By the time I reached down and stuck my hand and head in just far enough to see the pilot it was good and ready for a flame. Before I knew it the oven came to life as a coiled tongue of fire lit up and extended itself outside of the oven like a micro-explosion and sent me flying backwards against the wall knocking over a few things in the process. My mother rushed downstairs to see that indeed the oven had been lit and her youngest daughter sprawled out on the floor. My mother realized what had happened and after making sure that I wasn’t hurt, she looked at me kind of funny as if she’d seen a ghost then burst out laughing. I had a halo of singed hair around my face including my eyebrows and eyelashes. Although shocked by the impact, I am here today to testify that tongues of fire will indeed change you.
I am convinced that my own early experience with flames of fire was for the purpose of telling the truth about Pentecost being alive today ready to singe the hair on our faces that we may speak with boldness about the Gospel and live according to it’s message of love in order that others may also come to experience the power of the Holy Spirit! When the believers in Jerusalem were hit with those tongues of fire resting perfectly on each of them – as they opened their mouths to speak in their own language, I believe only one message was being spoken and one message was being heard; God’s deeds of power through Christ to love God and love neighbor as self. Every time we open our mouths to speak we will be heard in any language because of how we love God and love one another – clear indications of who we are as disciples of Christ. Because of Pentecost we live singed by fire and changed by Love!
But Martha was distracted by her many tasks... Luke 10:38-42 Honestly, what was Martha doing? She apparently thought it was very important to take care of some things. As Mary chose to sit at her guest’s feet Martha choses to work and not only does she chide her sister for not helping her she expected Jesus to support her choice to do so. For the first time as I read this passage I can see Christ smiling in his response to Martha. When we make unexpected visits it’s usually to homes of people with whom we have some relationship. Generally we don’t go with any expectations but rather to sit, visit and spend some time with people we love. Sometimes the host chooses to work through the visit. My paternal grandmother did this all the time, insisting that she prepare a meal first then sit and talk over the meal. My maternal grandmother on the other hand would sit and chat awhile and then ask if you wanted something to eat. There was always that awkward time during which the meal was being prepared. Either way, I always left well fed, both physically and spiritually. Perhaps Martha simply got caught up in the logistics of the unexpected visit. Jesus’ response was to help Martha understand that if a choice had to be made, Mary made the better choice. In any event people do have to eat! Together, the sister team of Mary and Martha actually made for a great combination of hosts!
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live. Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32 The key word as I see it is turn. It’s as simple as that. Every now and then, I allow the GPS in my car to guide me home from unfamiliar places just until I get to a place of recognition in the journey. There have been other times when I started out using the GPS and decided that it was taking me in the wrong direction because I had already determined that where I needed to go was in a different direction. These are the trips that often leave me somewhat anxious and very confused in the beginning because my sense of direction is in conflict with where the GPS is trying to take me. Even as I make turns contrary to the GPS it will continually recalculate the route according to my “misdirected” turns. This recently happened to me the other day and I found myself in various places, all of which were unfamiliar. Finally I decided that I would just follow the direction of the GPS. Although it took me twice as long to get home I did eventually get to a place of familiarity in which I could then take the shortest route from where I was at that moment directly to my home. Sometimes in life it takes us longer to arrive at various destinations because we make predetermined turns which lead us to unfamiliar and difficult places and we spend a lot of time self-navigating. We forget that every turn we take that is away from God requires recalculation. When we decide to allow God to guide our direction, it may take us longer to get to our desired destination, but eventually we will find that place of familiarity – that spiritual place of peace, which leads us home.