I believe experiencing love for oneself is one of the most important things we can teach our children. It is not simply the arrogance of loving oneself. It is experiencing love in relationship with the Holy Spirit within us. It is the consciousness of what is good, what is right, what is whole, and what is perfect. It is not experienced in bits and pieces but rather consistent and ongoing knowledge of God’s love for us in spite of our conditions. This ultimate perfection in love cannot be experienced through other people because as humans we are imperfect. It can only be experienced through God in Christ. As much as we like to think that our love is perfect, it is not. We hurt each other albeit unintentionally. Even our feeble attempts to protect those we love hurts because we want to hide things. The reality is that we hide things to protect ourselves, not the people we love. If we first seek and experience God’s perfect love, then we will know what love is suppose to feel like, without conditions (mercy and grace). Having obtained the perfection of God’s love within us, it is then that the peace, which passes all understanding, becomes our peace, walking in love, as Christ loves us. We obtain that peace when we understand God’s love for us. When we understand God’s love for us, then we are able to begin to apply God’s love to other people. Not the other way around.
1 John 4:7-8 …because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
Lent: Day 15 – In our country, households needing food can go to government and local food programs. However, lands in other countries, where food has become unavailable, depend on outside programs to reach out to them. Over time and with persistence many of these programs have been very successful. There are times in our own spiritual life when we are simply hungry, when we go for a quick bite of the Holy Spirit with a song or scripture reading and it sustains our strength in this journey and gets us through every day trials and circumstances. Then there are other times when we find ourselves, in fact starving, when the usual nibbles and the regular meals are available but the usual resources we reach out to don’t seem to strengthen us and the resources that usually reach back to us don’t seem to have much affect. God in fact seems rather silent. The first time this happened in my own life I began to understand what it must be like consciously, at least to some effect, what starving children in severe poverty might experience. I am hungry. Why am I not being fed? Why is it that the food I have doesn’t nourish my need? Why is there no food? If we fill our selves with so much of the world around us, we may find our bodies full and yet still be hungry and to some extent spiritually starving. Over time and with persistence we must continue to discipline ourselves to eat of the spiritual food. It is inevitable that in our busy lives today the spiritual famines will come and we’ll unknowingly enter into physical storms. The good news is that we can have peace in knowing that starvation does not have to be our fate. We learn to sacrifice the tangible for the intangible and continue to reach out to God and allow God to reach out to us one morsel at a time and in time our strength is restored. Thanks be to God!
Genesis 43:1-15 Famine
Now the famine was severe in the land. And when they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go again, buy us a little more food.’
Mark 4:35-41 Storms
A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’
1 Corinthians 7:1-9 Sacrifice
Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
Lent: Day 3 – At all times, is not the common goal a heavenly one? Yet, we argue. We disagree. Somebody has to be right. Right? How can this be? But what right do we have to expect others to think as we think, want what we want, and be what we are, when we our selves are imperfect? For the Christian, Christ is the only perfect model. To be of the same mind is not to be like one another but rather to be of the same mind as Christ. When our role models fail us most times we forgive them. As soon as we feel God has abandoned us we turn our backs. We lose faith. We ignore the perfect and cleave to the imperfect. Is it any wonder why the arguments and disagreements don’t stop?
John 15:1, 6-16 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Philippians 4:1-9 …be of the same mind in the Lord.
Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32 Hear now, …Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? …get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.
Psalm 51 Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
Lent: Day 2 – It’s tricky. We say that we are Christian. We say that we have faith. Yet, our actions don’t reflect what we say we believe and we blame our life as it is, or at least as we see it, for our lack of faith. We begin our day with the words “If only…” conjuring up the spirit of the world we know and live in, allowing it to take precedent over the world God promises. Yet, the goal is to press on in this life towards that life God promises, knowing that through Christ we will in fact get there. We want to be reconciled, but where is “there”? What does “there” look like? How does “there” feel? What will I be doing when I arrive “there”? Consider this: perhaps today, “there” is wherever you are because God is willing to meet you in that place. “There” looks like whatever you see around you because all the earth belongs to God. “There” feels like peace, which passes all understanding of where you are, or what it looks like, because fear, anger, frustration and discontent has served no purpose, and won no victories. Ultimately, the beauty and comfort is, knowing that when you arrive “there”, you will find yourself imitating the one in whom you say you truly believe, living and responding in the presence of God’s promise because it fulfills the right purpose and glorifies Christ’s victory over the world. Perhaps, soon you will realize that “there” isn’t really a physical place at all? I told you it’s tricky, but keep the faith. God knows all the tricks.
John 17:1-8 …And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Philippians 3:12-21 …Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Habakkuk 3:1-0, 16-18
Though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Do you think that if Jesus told a parable when he entered his Father’s House, and found the Temple being used as a market place, he would have been just as effective in cleansing out the violators? What sermon could have been given to the flesh of the earth to keep God from flooding it and destroying them, save for the family of one righteous man? How many times do we have to reason with our own children before concluding that they just don’t get it? Most times, the authorities in the Temple didn’t understand the parables. Noah in his time, was apparently the only one actually listening for God, and let’s face it studies show that youth today generally don’t access their fullest capacity for thought until they are around the age of 25. Sometimes the only thing that works is immediate action. I suppose you could call it “tough love” even though in my own experience the only one it seems to affect initially at the time is the one taking the action. That surely includes me, and my blunders in life. We are fortunate to have Good News in all of this. If we can be frustrated with our own children, God must certainly get frustrated with us. Are we always listening? Are we always doing the right thing? Have we really thought it all through? God will always remember who we are but will also take action in our lives when he wants to get our attention. After all, who enjoys frustration? In the end is it not our goal and His, to enter in to God’s peaceable kingdom and not his wrath?
Frustration; Hearing God’s Voice; Entering God’s Rest
I have always believed that the pathway to the cross is straight and the ground at the foot of the cross is level ground. The moment we accept Christ we become new creations but our trials don’t cease and they are not unique (1Corinthians 10:13). It may seem to us that we travel a curved road but in reality every experience we have is exactly the path we were intended to take. When we learn from the experiences along that path we move closer to that sacred ground. Otherwise to not learn from the experience simply keeps us bound and in place, never really understanding why and never really reaching our spiritual goal, that being peace and reconciliation with God. It is important to know that it is not God’s desire that anyone should remain stagnate and perish (2Peter 3:9), without understanding his love for us, but rather for everyone to be saved through Christ (1Timothy 2:3). God gifted us with his son for this purpose. Christmas may be the season we celebrate God’s gift, but everyday of our lives is an opportunity to celebrate having truly received his love and salvation, expressed in our heart, mind and soul.
Psalm 26:11-12 But as for me, I walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.
There are times when we feel like we have to break down brick walls, but true peace comes when we allow God to simply move them out of the way.
Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. …But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3:11-18). Always strive to be at peace with others. Along with love it’s a free gift of God. When we share peace and love we share God’s glory.
sheep of his pasture
Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.
I woke this morning with the same issues, problems and worries I’ve been plagued with all year long, but today I’ve decided to let it all go. Today, I am a sheep. There is a possibility that at any time today one or all of these issues, problems or worries will cease to exist in my life, but it doesn’t matter because today I am a sheep. Perhaps things could even get worse. Today that won’t change my resolve. I am a sheep. I realize that as a sheep I leave myself vulnerable to predators, who may seek to hinder or even destroy my life. Still today I choose to be a sheep, because as a sheep any strength or protection I need is now in the care of the Good Shepherd. Although I may be thought of as unintelligent, I have been known to show some problem solving abilities and I am capable of remembering the face of my enemies, but most importantly I know the voice of my Shepherd. Therefore, as a sheep I will follow my strong gregarious instinct and I will seek out other sheep like me, and feel comfortable knowing that they too have decided to let it all go. I have only to graze the grass that surrounds me, because to consider that which lies beyond reach is much too magnificent. As a sheep my natural inclination to follow may take me places I don’t want to go, it makes no difference, for where the Good Shepherd goes I will follow. His direction is my pasture. Today I am a sheep, I have everything I need.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
Some of my most favorite memories are the ones I have with my mother; of the two of us laughing hysterically, or hearing the stories of her journey to love the woman she had become. Her dreams that were shattered succumbed to joys of her children. The pains of her frustrations were overtaken by her love and support of friends and family. I felt closest to her in my later years and enjoyed every moment. She humbled me and I honor her greatly. When she died I felt confident that she had given me all she possibly could both physically and spiritually. Although it took sometime to wean myself from her physical life, her spirit remains. I thank God for the memories that are true. Seek the Lord while he wills to be found and you will find him indeed. I found Him in her and my soul has been at peace ever since.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.