Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Still at work...

For the past few weeks, I've been taking a class for ordination called "Providing Christian Education." It's a very interesting class in some ways, less so in others...but in the midst of this week's reading, I stumbled across this humbling, encouraging, inspiring nugget:

"Have you ever preached a sermon and  realized it was terrible and prayed just to finish and just leave without anyone talking to you? Then, after the sermon someone says that the Lord really spoke to me today through your words? 

The Holy Spirit worked in spite of you. 

This is because the student has access to the Holy Spirit just as much as the teacher does.

That gives us hope when we teach because even though we want to do our best every time, we don’t have to be perfect. Even when we fail, God’s Holy Spirit is still at work."


An Invitation to Simplicity

We've been thinking a lot about simplicity and intentionality lately.

We travel a lot for work, so we're constantly learning better ways to travel light. How to emphasize the essentials, and hold all things loosely. What really matters and what's just "stuff."

We're also going to be house-sharing with some good friends of ours for the next four months while we're back in OKC on home assignment. And while most folks would see that as inconvenience, in a lot of ways it suits us (and them) just fine!

We're beginning to think that a life that's lived to its fullest -socially, economically, and spiritually- is by definition lived in community. And perhaps that's why today's devotional reading hit me so hard:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David."
-Isaiah 55:1-3

Simplicity. Intentionality. Community. Love.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All Things are Passing.

"Only the practice of faith can verify what we believe. Does faith permeate your life? Does it form your judgments about death, about success?

Does it influence the way you read the newspaper? Do you have a divine sense of humor that sees through people and events into the unfolding plan of God? 

When things are turbulent on the surface of your life, do you retain a quiet calm, firmly fixed in ultimate reality? 

As Thérèse of Lisieux said, 'Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God alone remains.'" -Brennan Manning

With all our strength...

The prayer has great power which we pray with all our strength.

It makes an embittered heart mellow,
a sad heart joyful, a foolish heart wise,
a timid heart strong, a blind heart clear-seeing,
a cold heart ardent.

It draws God who is great into a heart which is small. 
It drives the hungry soul up to the fulness of God. 

It unites the two lovers, God and soul, 
in a place of bliss, where they converse long of love.
-Mechthild of Magdeburg

Keep going.

God's Promise: Isaiah 30:18-21

"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.

For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him...

He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you...

And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"

I love this passage. I've loved since I first heard Dr. Doug Samples teach on it in my freshman Intro to Biblical Literature class at Southern Nazarene University. And it's true!

We don't always know three steps ahead, and it's sometimes easy to slip away from the main path. But when we do -if we're faithful to think and talk and pray about God's will for our lives- we really can hear the Holy Spirit saying, "this is the way for you. Keep going. I am with you." 


Things of Earth, Things of Heaven

Taken from the Prayers After Communion, from the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time:

Father, you give us food from heaven.
By our sharing in this mystery
teach us to judge wisely the things of earth
and to love the things of heaven. Amen.

I love this. I love this.

As Christians, this is who we are called to be. These are the priorities we are called to embrace. To "judge wisely the things of earth and to love the things of heaven." Amen!!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Do not fear.

"But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

"For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...

"Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:1-3a, 18-19 (NRSV)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What You are in Love with.

"Nothing is more practical that finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. 

"What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. 

"It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. 

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

-Father Pedro Arrupe, Society of Jesus