Monthly Archives: March 2011

Greet yourself with love…

Maybe you should take another look in the present moment...

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.
– Saint Francis de Sales

Dreams are important.  Yes, one day I will grow up and be more wise.  But when looking in the mirror it is important to see reality, the beauty of who I am today… in this present moment.

It is also important to look into the mirror of the soul and see the reality of who I am  as a child of God.  This is how I have learned to have patience with myself.

First I name  something beautiful about myself.  I give thanks to God for that quality.

Next, I consider something that is imperfect.  I ask, how is God at work in this imperfection?  What can I do today to move toward God?

Check in with yourself. Is what I see what is true to be?

At the end of the day I reflect back to see what I notice about the day.  Some days I see growth in my imperfections.  Other days…well, the world won.  But guess what, friends!! Tomorrow is a new day, and I get to try all over again.  I hope to live into the picture of my authentic self, the one I greet in the mirror with love.  For if I can love and embrace myself, I can love and embrace my neighbor.

May you be blessed today as you greet yourself with love.


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Living together faithfully…

Hatred does not cease through hatred at any time.

Hatred ceases through love. This is an unalterable law.


– The Buddha

The Golden Rule:  Treat others like you want to be treated.

The Greatest Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.    – Jesus the Christ

 

At some point I must stop and consider that we all hope in the same thing: love not hatred, peace not war, compassion not pity.  While we don’t ofter see pictures of this in the world today, I am reminded in the peaceful  Egyptian protest that it really is possible to coexist with other world religions.

Christians encircling Muslims in prayer in Egypt

 

 

 

 

In fact, it is not just possible, it is necessary.  It is how God wants us to be with one another.

Consider how you might circle around friends and neighbors of different faiths.

How does this opportunity make your faith stronger?

How might you encourage others to do the same?

The possibilities are too great to miss this chance to truly live into the Greatest Commandment, the Golden Rule, the unalterable law.

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To speak or not to speak

John 4: 27-30

[27]Just then his disciples came.

They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman,

but no one said, “What do you want?”

or, “Why are you speaking
with her?”

[28]Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city.
She said to the people,

[29]”Come and see a man who told me everything I have
ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”

[30]They left the city and were
on their way to him.

I wonder if this woman came to the city to tell me she thought she had seen the Messiah…would I follow her?  When I consider who might be the woman at the well today, I thought of someone like this woman pictured above.  Someone who is on the margins, hungry or thirsty…. I wonder if I would speak to her…

The woman at the well was alone.  She did not travel with the other women seeking water.  Yet, she wasn’t afraid to speak to a Jewish man at the well.  She did not hide anything from Jesus about her personal life.  When she realized who Jesus might be, she went quickly to tell the others.

What was it about the woman at the well that made the others in the city leave and go to Jesus?  Did they see something in her eyes?  Perhaps it was the tone of her voice.  Something stirred their faith.

I pray that today I will be  aware of those things stirring my faith, that I might not miss an opportunity to be with the Holy One.  And I pray the same for you.  If you do experience the Holy One today, you are welcome to post a comment and share with others where God is at work in your life.

Shalom.

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Seek it like silver…

-Proverbs 2:1-5 (NRSV)

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures– then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Seek the treasure of God like silver.  It will not come to most of us like the lightening strike that blinded Paul.  It takes work, grooming, discipline, time, and focus.  We will cry out for insight, and we will raise our voices when we do not understand why we cannot see, hear, or feel God.

In the modern world, we are desensitized to the idea of mining for silver.  First you must search for real silver.  Then you must mine the silver and extract the silver from the natural elements.  The value of silver is the product that is made.  The silver piece must be polished and treated with care to keep its shine and luster.  The care for a piece of silver is never complete.  It is ongoing.  But even tarnished silver can be restored to beautiful shine with work.

Isn’t this the wisdom we learn from scripture?

Seeking God is a journey like seeking and caring for silver.

The journey is the piece of silver being crafted.

Dents and scratches add to the character of the piece.

The more silver is used, the more beautiful it becomes.

Enjoy the journey.

 

 

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Born of the Spirit

John 3: 1-7
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ – NRSV

I don’t remember my baptism.  I think there is one picture of me (second child) in the amazing gown my mother made.  My sister and my three children were also baptized in the gown.  I do remember my confirmation in sixth grade.  My mother made another beautiful dress.  Clearly it was a special day to be celebrated.

For so many years my baptism was something to do.  It was not until I was 35-years-old, searching for a greater purpose in life that I was knocked to my knees, face-to-face with God.  This was a huge conversion for me, revelation, rebirth, born again…whatever you want to call it.  Now what I experience is a daily conversion, bits and pieces of revelation about my true self and about God.  The Calvinist in me recognizes a foundation of Calvin’s theology: the more we know about self, the more we know about God.  It is a journey of relationship.

As I contemplate the Gospel of John today, I must consider what my baptism means to me, being born of Water and Spirit.  What I recognize in this invitation is the journey to a deeper relationship with God.

Baptism is the beginning of a journey.

The water must move to stay healthy.

The water must be stirred and splashed.

A static puddle will evaporate.

As you contemplate your baptism this Lenten season, may you stir and splash the water.  Believe God is at work in the questions and the gaps.   Allow the stirring and the splashing to transform your relationship with God.

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Enjoying God’s Creation

Three days into Spring Break, and I finally feel like I am slowing down.  Paper postmarked.  Friends have arrived.  Survived first day of skiing.  It is time to pull out the puzzles, make a cake for Dean’s birthday, and take it easy.

Taking it easy is especially easy with a view like this.  And there is something about snow, gently falling to the ground.  It is so quiet, peaceful, and calming.

We have a new trailblazer in the family.  See picture #2.  I know it’s hard to see, but if you look closely, you can see a small blob of off-white in the white snow.  This is Paisley, Ali’s 24-week-old puppy.  It is her first trip to Colorado in the snow.  She loves it.  We thought we might lose her in the snow, but she has a great vertical leap and can get out of most predicaments.

It makes me wonder….Imagine if we all explored God’s creation with this excitement.  Joy!  Energy!  Excitement!  What’s new today?  More to explore!  Fun, fun, fun!!!

May you be filled with joy in God’s creation today.

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Courage of Conviction

John 16: 29-33

29 His disciples said, “Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”

True study, preparation, and prayer during Lent takes a lot of courage.  It is a time for me of soul searching.  It is a time for me of honest reflection.  It is a time for me of realizing where I need to let go.  I wonder how you are experiencing Lent this year.

It seems to me fasting from something or doing something new in servant leadership is a fine something to do during Lent.  But it we do this and do not reflect, reconcile, and resolve, we are missing an opportunity to  strengthen our relationship with the Lord our God.  Henri J.M. Nouwen in Sabbatical Journey The Diary of His Final Year explains this opportunity we have as it relates to the heart of courage:

The word courage comes from coeur, which means “heart.”  To have courage is to listen to our heart, to speak from our heart, and to act from our heart…. Often we debate current issues and express our opinions about them.  But courage is taking a stance, even an unpopular stance, not because we think differently from others but because from the center of our being we realize how to respond to the situation we are in.  Courage does not require special gestures.  Courage often starts in small corners: it is courage not to participate in gossip, not to talk behind someone’s back, not to ridicule another.  It is courageous to think well of other people and be grateful to them…. It is courageous to reach out to a poor woman, to spend time with a troubled child, to participate in action to prevent war and violence.”

Living with courage and acting from that inner place within us where we experience the power of the Holy Spirit, we can move forward with action that is pleasing to God, not merely reacting to something happening around us.  This is the fruit of reflect, reconcile, and resolve.

May you be blessed today with the fruit of courage.

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Seek the Fire

Isaiah 58: 6-9

6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

 

It strikes me that the very fast  God calls us to during Lent is the very fast that puts us in the midst of the fire.  It is not fasting in the traditional sense, it is fasting from ourselves.  It is reaching out to others to serve.  And not just those we expect to serve at church, but also those who do not come to church: those who have not showered and don’t feel clean enough to be in church, those who have stolen and don’t feel worthy to be in church, those who are forced into slavery, selling drugs or their bodies to be able to survive in this world today.  This is FIRE.  It is fire that many of us have not come close to experiencing.

But God asks us to consider the experience of this fire.

God asks us to consider getting out of the safety of our own shell to see, really SEE, what is happening in this world.

For after the fire, the earth is very fertile.

New growth abounds.

Don’t run from the fire.  SEEK IT!

And wait for the growth God will reveal to you.

 

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Let the sea roar…

Morning Psalm 96

[1]   O sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
[2]   Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
[3]   Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples.
[4]   For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be revered above all gods.
[5]   For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
[6]   Honor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
[7]   Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
[8]   Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts.
[9]   Worship the LORD in holy splendor;
tremble before him, all the earth.

[10]  Say among the nations, “The LORD is king!
The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
He will judge the peoples with equity.”
[11]  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
[12]       let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
[13]       before the LORD; for he is coming,
for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with his truth.

Let the sea roar…

This is a sound and an image close to me.

I can feel the sand between my toes, the salty air whipping my hair, the cool water that dances over my feet.

I can hear the roar of the next wave crashing in, the dance of the sea gulls, the children playing.

I can smell the aroma of the coffee which means it is time to get up… and stop dreaming about a trip to the beach.  Darn.

For when I step out  my front door in North Texas I will hear the roar of US75 and the fast-paced commute which takes us to the places where we will be preoccupied with work all day.  Hmmm… I wish to be back at that place in my dream where I feel connected to God by the ocean, hearing the majesty of the sea.  My desire is to capture the moment on the beach and carry it with me into the business of the day.  I take a snapshot, seal it in my heart and greet the day with a reminder of my purpose, to glorify God in all that I do, blessing God’s name, and telling of God’s unconditional love for all people.

Praying for the world today that the violence will cease, and peace will prevail.

Shalom

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How do you see it?

Matthew 6:22-23

[22]”The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole
body will be full of light; [23]but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body
will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is
the darkness!”

 

Well folks, this is one you won’t find in the lectionary.  It comes right after prayer, fasting and treasures in heaven and right before serving two masters.  It caught my eye today…so I thought I would explore today.

What I notice is that there is always light.  When seeing with healthy eyes the body is shining with light.  When seeing with unhealthy eyes, the body is in darkness.  Being the week of Transfiguration Sunday, this passage intrigues me.  Because Jesus is the only one who sees clearly and shines so brightly that even his clothes shine like light (Matthew 17:1-9). So the more clearly we see Jesus, the more light shines from within us.  This is the idea of the halo of light seen around the head and/or body in iconography.

So how exactly does our light shine?

For me it begins with a smile.  If I am not smiling, there is no way I can be seeing with healthy eyes.  My tennis teammates comment that I am always smiling on the court.  First of all, tennis just makes me smile.  But even when it is a bad day on the court, it’s still tennis which still makes me smile!  This is a much more difficult principle to instill  when the situation is a little bit more difficult, like when the diagnosis is grim or I lose my income.  Yet this is when I can talk myself into the possibility of smiling and I give in because it is much easier to address difficult situations with a smile.

I think this is what this text points toward with the idea that the light is always present inside of us.  We can tap into this source when we can’t do it on our own.  Thanks be to God for the light shining in each one of us! 

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