Monthly Archives: December 2011

Independence or Dependence…

Mark 1: 1-8

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ “4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

As I ponder this text today, I am fully aware of my unworthiness and my dependence upon God.  Yet living in the Western culture, I am fully aware of my upbringing to become independent.  How does one balance these two?

On the one hand I felt the call of God; on the other, I continued to follow the world. All the things of God gave me great pleasure, but I was held captive by those of the world. I might have been said to be trying to reconcile these two extremes, to bring contraries together: the spiritual life on the one hand and worldly satisfactions, pleasures, and pastimes on the other.
– Saint Teresa of Avila

Glad to know I am not the only one struggling with this!  May 2012 be a time of reconciliation as you grow in your relationship with God: Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer!

Shalom,

Lil

 

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Advent – Luke 21:34-38 – Avoiding the trap

34 “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” 37 Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.

Traps open and close.  They are also avoidable if one knows where they are.  It seems to me Jesus is giving a path that keeps one from being trapped.  Listen to the word.  Pray.  Get up early and listen to the word again.  Steeped in the word keeps us away from the path of the trap.  For being in the word, filled with wisdom is a defense against the trap.

When we work through problems too quickly without prayer, the trap is ready to catch us.  Prayer keeps us awake and away from temptations.  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

This Advent season, my prayer is that this time in waiting is one of expectant hope.  For in prayer, we hear God’s message for us.  In prayer we keep out the tempting messages of the world which draw us away from hope.  In prayer we are awakening to the life within us given for us and waiting to be born again soon.

Thanks be to God!

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Advent – Psalm 85 – Righteousness will make a path…

Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13

1 Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 

2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin. (Selah)  

8 Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.

9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. 

10Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. 

11Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. 

12The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 

13 Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.

The path of righteousness has been made before me.  Will I follow?  Where do I go when I do not see the path?  How will I know which is the right step?  Who will be walking beside me.  What do I need to take with me?  Why am I on this particular path?

I hear, “Be still and know that I am God, the  Righteous One.  I have prepared the path for you.  This is all you need to know.”

As I wait this Advent, my hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth and continues to create in me today.  The Lord will guide my steps…if I get of the way…

My prayer for us today is that we get out of the way and prepare for THE Way.

Shalom,

Lil

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Advent Micah 4 – Expectant Labor

Micah 4:6-13

6 In that day, says the Lord, I will assemble the lame and gather those who have been driven away, and those whom I have afflicted. 7 The lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion now and forevermore. 8 And you, O tower of the flock, hill of daughter Zion, to you it shall come, the former dominion shall come, the sovereignty of daughter Jerusalem. 9 Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pangs have seized you like a woman in labor? 10 Writhe and groan, O daughter Zion, like a woman in labor; for now you shall go forth from the city and camp in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued, there the Lord will redeem you from the hands of your enemies. 11 Now many nations are assembled against you, saying, “Let her be profaned, and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor. 13 Arise and thresh, O daughter Zion, for I will make your horn iron and your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples, and shall devote their gain to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.

Labor and birth are not only for women.  Certainly women labor and birth children.  But we all conceive, nurture, labor through and birth ideas and projects all the time.  The question that arises for me really is this: who is in control?

Is this a message planted in me by God?

How do I know this?  I share my thoughts with trusted members of my community who pray with me and wait for an answer, the advent kind of waiting.  We wait expectantly that if God is doing something new, there will be progress toward birth.

These trusted ones are the midwives (and midhusbands) who nurture me and guide me by sharing experience, knowledge, wisdom, and love.  And it this message is God-ordained it will come to life in God’s time.

And if they are God-ordained, I expect there will be labor: hard work, some pain and struggle.  But the hope that rises inside is one that leads to joy.  Because in expectant labor, there is a birth on the horizon.

So as you encounter new messages during this advent season, I pray you will share them with your community to see which ones are God-ordained and will lead toward a new birth for the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

Waiting with expectancy,

Lil

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Advent – Mark 11:27-33 – Heavenly Authority

27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28 and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave 

you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” 31 They argued with one another, “If we say, “From heaven,’ he will say, “Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But shall we say, “Of human origin’?”—they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord.  His followers knew his authority was heavenly, he was sent by God to prepare the way.  And this made other authorities afraid.  Afraid of the crowd.

I spent the last 24 hours with others wanting an Advent silent retreat.  Sure, a silent retreat can work fine individually, at home, or walking in a quiet place.  But there is something about sharing a silent retreat in community that shapes my view of God’s call to the church, the community of God.  For this community held me in prayer while I was praying.  This community shared life with me.  This community was a crowd that lifted up the time in prayer as a precious gift.  I might have given into the temptation of shopping season were it not for these beautiful souls who kept me grounded.

As we share in the Advent season together, may we realize the hope we have as a body of Christ, a hope for a greater kingdom of God to come on earth.

Peace,

Lil

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Advent – Jeremiah 1:4-10 – Provisions

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, “I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” 9 Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

God has always provided.  God calls us.  And provision is always in the works.  For Jeremiah, God planted God’s words.  This year in particular was a year of completions for me.  A year of endings and new beginnings.  Through the endings, I can move forward in faith to the new beginnings.  I am not sure of the whole path in front of me.  Step-by-step will do.  For many days I need to reflection back on the previous step to know what the next move will be.

This Advent season, what new creation is God planting in you?  What provision is God making?  Do you need to take a step back to see the next step more clearly.  Wherever you find yourself, God is with you and God will provide for you.  This is the expectant hope of Advent.  Christ is coming.  How will this new light reflect in you?

With a grateful heart,

Lil


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Remembering Colin…rest in peace

Colin Stone

And He will raise you up on eagles’ wings,
bear you on the breath of dawn,
make you to shine like the sun,
and hold you in the palm of His hand.

I was shocked to hear about Colin’s death in a car accident this week.  He was an amazing young man.  This world has lost a beloved and compassionate child of God.

My thoughts and prayers are with his mom and dad and his sisters.  May God’s peace that passes all understanding blanket them in the coming days as they celebrate Colin’s life and begin to live life with an empty seat at the table.

Colin’s joy was infectious.  I pray that this is the way we remember Colin.

With a broken heart today,

Lil

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