Break Down Barriers

Many of us are familiar with the phrase “agree to disagree.” However, in matters such as human dignity it doesn’t apply so well. The phrase allows us to make an excuse to do nothing about unjust behavior towards race, poverty, and gender that is experienced everyday. We turn deaf to the truth of our inability to hear and listen to the pain of others. Seek to find a way towards understanding and make that which seems disagreeable a pathway to break down barriers and build mutual acts of equality, justice and peace.

 

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A Future With Hope

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes… Jeremiah 29:1-13   Merciful God, thank you. For in the passion of our own lives you promise to redeem us.

Drawing Closer

…I know where I have come from and where I am going… John 8:12-20  Remembering the past while embracing the future requires focus, courage, flexibility and above all faith. Half way through this season of Lent perhaps we’ve fallen off a bit from our journey towards reconciling all that we’ve come to know with all that is yet to be known; as we leave what needs to be left of the old and graciously receive all that is new. Gracious God thank you for the strength of your spirit that guides us as you continue to create your love within us and draw us closer to where you desire us to be.

The Everlasting Manifestation

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Yesterday morning I received news of the death of my father’s only sister. Having previously read this passage I was all prepared to go in another direction, but my mind moved away from the more familiar message of a living victory over the darkness of the world towards the light that is the final reconciliation with the glory of God. The journey of the wise persons led directly to a face to face meeting with salvation. Our journey in Christ will ultimately lead us also to that glorious face to face encounter. For some the journey is short. For my aunt it was 80+ years, for others much longer and for certain our journeys are not without its dark moments. Nevertheless, I can only praise God for the glory that shines over my aunt today, a wise person who traveled courageously, loved much, and the gift of her life daily lived seeing the everlasting manifestation of the Epiphany. Today a lesson in hope for our journey. “Death ends a life not a relationship” – Mitch Albom Tuesdays with Morrie

Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice…. Isaiah 60:1-6   For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. 1 Cor. 13:12

POP

Power of Pentecost

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness. Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.   Acts 4:18-21. 23-33

In your life today, how will you reconcile your life with God? How will you reconcile your life with others?

 

Finding Faith In God’s Forgiveness

Clear Vision – Reconciliation

Now deep in the midst of Jerusalem, we’ve repented, fasted, prayed, forgiven and loved. As we take a 360 degree view we realize that some who have started out on this journey have in fact fallen away. Let’s just say that in their infancy for now, they have abandoned the cause. It’s not easy to push through wilderness, as we’re constantly pulling away webs of frustration that serve only to distract. However, the fact that we still stand is a testament in itself. That others have fallen away is not from lack of trying on your part, besides significant change comes only when we are ready to hear and follow God’s calling on our lives. Whatever gift His Spirit has given us, it’s to be used for his glory, which is a far greater reward than we could imagine or hope for. It’s okay that today we may stand alone (physically) but with True Love, we are never alone in Christ! True Love defends it’s own and shows us with clear vision that God’s desire for us and our desire for him are reconciled. God has accepted our repentance, seen our fast, heard our prayers, forgiven our sins and loves us even more. We are now ready to walk out of the wilderness of uncertainty and into certainty of faith, securely defended and upheld by True Love.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  Mark 12:1-11

Walking Backwards

…Shem and Japheth took a garment… walked backward and covered… their father. Genesis 9:18-29  I often wondered about this passage from Genesis concerning Noah and his sons. I used to think that Ham got a raw deal, that it was unfortunate that he came across his fathers nakedness first. The reality is that someone was bound to be first in seeing Noah exposed. Without knowing why Ham entered his father’s tent in the first place, Ham’s consequence which followed seemed unfair. If you live long enough you realize that there is always more to anyone’s story including our own. There are times when it’s not necessary to place one another in awkward situations. John the Baptist said it best when he was asked about why some were going to Jesus to be baptized; “He must increase but I must decrease.” Ham forgot Noah’s authority, then compounded the situation by telling his brothers! His penalty was harsh; the status of his descendants eventually becoming lowest among the people of Israel. Yet as we know through Christ, and his interaction with a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), by faith we are not beyond forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation.

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Celebration Of Life

it is not the willthat one of these little ones should be lost.  Matthew 18: 10-20  The joy of “finding” and being found has new meaning for me these days. Recently, we spent several days cleaning and preparing the room of my eldest son. The room has gone through several transformations over the years but this time was a little different. Our motivation for this transformation was to have a comfortable place for my brother-in-law who will be visiting from Japan. When my son moved we allowed him to take whatever furniture he needed for his new place which left the room empty. Over time it became a dumping ground for anything that didn’t have a place. Needless to say if we couldn’t find something it was probably lost in that room. We picked up, packed up, cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed until it was restored to a usable and quite comfortable space. In the process we found two handmade gifts, a baby quilt and an embroidered birth announcement. Both created for the occasion of celebrating new life, now once again visible for others to see. Finding those two special items reminded me of the times God has found me when I didn’t know that I was lost. The image he created as me emerging from rubble and chaos simply caused by time and the busyness of life. Once again I am dusted and cleaned off; a visible testimony for the celebration of life, all to the Glory of God, that others might “see.”

Justice To Victory

He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick…   Matthew 12:15-21 (Isaiah 42:1-4) Healing is a delicate matter. The process can take as little as a few hours or it can take years. Early in Jesus’ ministry he began healing, initially defining his call to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt.15:24), but in just three years he would heal anyone who came before in faith and believed in his authority. In him was their hope and in him they found healing, bringing justice to victory in administering the law of God’s love for his creation. Today we are the benefactors of that victory. Bruised and smoldering, yet steadfast and immovable in our faith, we too have hope. We are not alone. We too will find healing.

Table Of Mercy

Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  Matthew 9:9-17   Jesus is sitting at the table with tax collectors and sinners, those marginalized by society, treated as unworthy and shamed for having done something “sinful.” When pressed by the Pharisees to justify himself, Jesus challenges them with a statement straight out of Hosea (6:6), the prophet commanded to marry a prostitute! Part of their challenge is understanding where they fit in the story. By sitting with tax collectors and sinners, Jesus demonstrates that no physical sacrifice takes the place of God’s mercy and grace for his people.  Jesus, like Hosea joins himself with the lost and the marginalized. His purpose is first to heal, redeem and reconcile them back to God. If the Pharisees see themselves as the righteous and their knowledge of the law as a gift, the challenge is clear; they too are charged to show mercy. What are our gifts? Where do we fit in the story? I’ve come to understand that the gifts God has given us is not about us. It’s about God using us through those gifts, in order that everyone has the opportunity to sit with Christ at the table of mercy, receive healing, and be redeemed back into His fold; tax collectors, sinners and Pharisees alike.