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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Faith That Endures When Faith has Failed*

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

P1000358-001God, I have not given up on you yet. I know you are still my provider. I know you will meet my needs; sometimes naturally, at other times, supernaturally. But while I wait, I also lament. Have you heard my cry?

  • I have God; in spite of my faithlessness
  • I was thanking God within my spirit and praying for others who are also facing challenges
  • He was almost in tears. He doesn’t see how he can “live out” his passion. God, I leave that to you.
  • God help me to stay hopeful.
  • Why are some prayers answered and not others; why God, why?
  • God surprise me today

God I do not hear from you. Is this what faith is all about; to believe still, in the face silence? Did the saints of old encounter this stone silence? I pray that I will not fail this test for I want to be counted as one your saints.

Give me wisdom, give me discernment; give me patience, but above all God give me Faith; “faith that endures when faith has failed” (McLaren, p.176).

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*McLaren, B. (2011). Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words. New York. HarperCollins Publisher.

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What is Your Image of God?

June 15, 2012 11 comments

Earlier this week one of my students shared with me that she learned that a friend committed suicide. She was really hurt and at the same time very angry. She said that her friend had so much potential and now he is gone. She also felt that he didn’t work hard enough to survive and wondered why he did not reach out to her for help. In her heart, she felt God will truly punish the friend because, in her words, ‘he was young, he had a lot of potential and he didn’t fight hard enough to survive.’ I shared with her that God may be disappointed in her friend, but God would not punish the friend. That God, better than us, understood his pain. She seemed relieved and said “I just wished my friend was still with us.”

After that conversation, I began to reflect how each of us has a different perspective on God. What is your image of God? Or very simply, how do you see God?

As a child my God could do everything. He was omnipresent, omnipotent, all knowing, caring and intervened in people’s lives when they called upon him. Nevertheless, he was a God to be feared. He was the hell and damnation God. Although I knew I needed and wanted God, I was afraid of this God and feared too that I would be damned to hell.

Later in life, God became an all loving God; still Omni-everything and still the God who intervenes in the lives of those who seek him out. I don’t know about you, but my image of God is still evolving.

He’s definitely not the God of my youth or the God of my young adulthood; he sometimes seems to be the God of indifference, a God of distance, a God who rarely intervenes in the affairs of humankind. This is a God I cannot accept and I doubt is real. But like you, I’m still wrestling with who God is.

Mark Batterson in his book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (2006) said that “how you think about God will determine who you become. You aren’t just the byproduct of “nature and nurture.” You are a byproduct of your God-picture. And that internal picture of God determines how you see everything else” (p.28).

Batterson goes on to say that “our biggest problems can be traced back to an inadequate understanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem” (p.28). I don’t know about you, but I need a God that’s bigger than any problems. I need a God who not only can tackle my problems, but the world’s problems. Batterson continues and believes that God has no dimensional units and that our belief or thoughts of God will determine who we will become. Wow!

Wow is right. I need a God who is greater than all this world’s imagination; especially as it relates to who God is and what God can and will do. I need a God that is as big as this world; still has concerns and abiding love for me and not only showed loved for me on a CROSS centuries ago, but a God who daily reminds me of his love and protection.

I need that infinite God; the God of love and mystery and yes, a God that I or no one else can define or put in a box. I need a God that loves “even me.” I need a big God; the same God that told Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’’….”As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). To learn more about God’s awesomeness read Job, chapters 38 through 41. That’s a big God and no, he is not in a box.

How do you see God? How big is your God? My image of God is evolving, but each day I love this God who refuses to be defined. I hope you too will envision a God that is unlimited and therefore undefinable and that my friend will make all the difference in your world.

The Beatitudes (You Are Blessed, vs. 8)

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God (Matthew 5:8 NIV).

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (Matthew 5:8, The Message).

Do you feel blessed?  It is difficult, at times, to say that we are blessed when life circumstances keep us down and when another prayer, the one we prayed 364 days prior, seemed to go unanswered.

Guess what, despite the circumstances of life, despite those who try to control us and to dictate how we should think, feel, live and respond to our world, and despite those days when our “faith is dry and prayer seems useless”* we are blessed.

How is that you say? We are blessed because our Savior Jesus, who understands the unpredictability of this world (see Mark 14:32-41), advocates for us daily. In this season of Lent, we are reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice.  We are reminded that even when our minds and emotions are fragile, frayed  or frustrated; when our faith is weak, when it is hard to believe in a God, much less see God;  the Spirit prays for us (Roman 8:26-27).

It is all right to feel that your mind and emotions are fragile. It is all right not to feel that you have a “pure heart” because Jesus paid the price to help our doubts. I was reminded about the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)!

Jesus knows what it is like to be human; therefore, His grace fills the gaps in our faith. It overrides our shortcomings. God’s grace can’t be undone by an emotional outburst or doubt. So rejoice that God loves us enough to have given us the grace of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: God, we thank you for loving us in our anger, in our doubts and providing us an avenue, through the Holy Spirit, to speak our needs to you when we cannot. Thanks for reminding us that we are in your care and yes, we will see you.  Amen.

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*Sacred Space, The Prayer Book 2012, p.91)

The Next Step

January 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Do you ever struggle about your future; especially, as it relates to your call? Well, here’s a prayer that may help.  Repeat several times out loud several days a week.

 

I will be optimistic about my future because I know God wants the best for me. I will be an optimist about my future because I choose to be. I have the power to create my future. I can choose how hard to work, where I will live and who will be a part of my future.

I can be assured of what my future holds because I have the gift of memory; the memory of how God blessed me in the past and the assurance that God is with me now and will be with me in the future.

So even though I am now weary, filled with tears, I know that in the morning I will sing the pilgrim song of joy (Psalm 126:4-6, The Message) as God brings rain to my drought-stricken life… to a future life filled with laughter and armloads of blessing.

Amen.

The Beatitudes (You Are Blessed, vs 7)

December 30, 2011 1 comment
The Sermon of the Beatitudes (1886-96) by Jame...

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Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7, NIV).

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for (Matthew 5:7, The Message)

The message is so simple that it can be easily overlooked. Special blessings always come when we care for others. If we help others we may get a respite from our own struggles. In fact, we often find out how blessed we are.

There’s something intrinsic about caring for others and giving back. It often comes with special warmth in our heart and soul. When we care for others, we are cared for; respite for now, but possible greater rewards await. The idea of paying it forward comes to mind.

Jesus denied self to save humankind. Let us deny a little of our pain, joylessness and busyness to relieve the pains of others. When we do so we go a long way in bringing peace to someone in this world and isn’t this what it is all about—being there for others.

The value of sharing oneself is the ultimate modeling of Christian living. Let us pledge to do more of this in 2012.

Just Believe

February 5, 2011 2 comments

While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jarius, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?’’ Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:35-36. 

This scripture brought to my remembrance the struggle I had trying to define leadership. I wanted leadership to be more than just a word; I wanted and needed the word, leadership, to be an ongoing living and active statement. Then I realized that leadership is about faith; it is about not limiting your possibilities to the visible. It is about drowning out the noise and believing that there’s more to life than what meets the eyes. Then it came to me: “Leadership is unlimited when you believe in something bigger than yourself.”

What is your definition of Leadership?

One Person at a Time

October 22, 2010 5 comments

“As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but not one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediate her bleeding stopped” (Luke 8:42b-44).

To receive a full appreciation of what I am about to explain please read Luke 8:40-56.  If you read verses 40-56 you learned that Jesus healed a woman who had been seriously ill for 12 years and on that same day raised a little child from the dead. There are many lessons and yes, sermons in these few verses; but the lesson that I want to share today is this.

Jesus blessed one person at a time; even as the crowds pressed against him. Jesus’ sole interest was that one person. That’s our charge. Even with our busy schedules and life pressures, we need to find a way to touch somebody; one person, at a time. And when we do, we can make a big difference in that person’s life and in this big world of ours.

I was reminded of paying forward just this week when I received a very special card and note from a former colleague, and again on that same day a telephone call from another former colleague and emails from so many others supporting me through a difficult time.

I believe when we intervene in the lives others, one person at a time, that we make a real difference in our world. So reach out and touch someone today.

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God, I thank you for the people who made a difference in my life—too many to name—continue to bless me so I can do the same for others. Amen

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