Open our eyes

Yesterday I experienced a “God moment.” I was at a physicians office and he indicated I needed to schedule some surgery. The surgery is a simple one but you never know what will be found. A woman came and led me to her desk to set everything up. I was moved by the fact that in her cubicle there were wonderful quotes from the Bible and other words of encouragement. I mentioned that I was happy to see those words in a somewhat stressful moment. She and I began to talk about our faith and her compassion and caring were present in every word. Before I left she and I hugged.

We wonder if we can see Jesus in our everyday lives but he is visible in people we meet. He was there with us as we talked and shared. Open your eyes. Jesus is there.

When we can’t pray

There are times in our lives when we begin to think that God isn’t helping us….or that God isn’t even there. Those times are hard. From an early age I have felt that God was with me….most of the time. Sometimes when I am anxious and I can’t seem to “feel” God with me I am lost. I don’t know what to do. Is everything that I believed a lie? I am cast into a deep dark hole. I am in the “valley of the shadow of death.” I am not just anxious but afraid. My worst fears raise their ugly heads and take hold of me.

cant pray

When I am like that I can’t pray. I am so far down that prayer won’t come. I am lost. Then I remember that I have a community of faith who pray daily and that their prayers rise like smoke to God and God reaches down to me and helps me. I may not “feel” his presence since feelings ebb and flow but he is there. And somehow I am comforted.

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There are definitely times when we can’t pray for ourselves. That’s why we need others who will pray for us.

Search and grow

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Doubt can be a scary word. As children we are taught that some things are just true and we accept that. As we grow older we begin to realize that not everything we were taught is true. Our exposure to the world makes us begin asking questions. Some of the truths that held us up are taken away. We find ourselves in a dark place.

Many of us believe that doubt is the opposite of faith but I don’t think that. I think the opposite of faith is disbelief. Doubt is not sinful. It is a nudge to push us forward. It makes us question and by doing so…grow. It makes us search for God and look in places we have not explored.

Don’t be afraid of doubt. Embrace it and look deeper, listen more, learn and grow.

Let me sow love

Psalm 85:8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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.[a]

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With war always looming on the horizon, I wish that the whole world would hear words of peace. We must make God very sad with all the hatred and violence that goes on in the world some of the worst of it in the name of God. Even his faithful people don’t hear his voice. None of us are exempt.

The Hebrew word shalom means fullness having everything you need to be happy and fulfilled. It’s easy to be peaceful when you have everything you need. That’s where the world’s problems are. Not everyone has what they need much less what they want.

Christ tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If I want my neighbor to be happy and fulfilled as much as I want that for myself then things will be good.

Frederick Buechner says “for Jesus peace seems to have meant not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”

Prayer: Lord God of peace, let us grow in love toward you and our neighbor until wars cease and shalom rains. Support us with your Holy Spirit and surround us with your love, now and forever. Amen

Did we forget?

We have Halloween coming our way. It is sad that all religious connection has been lost. People only think of parties with costumes and children trick or treating. Even the churches which offer alternative options don’t usually talk about the origin of the holiday. It is fine to have fun with the day but we should not forget the connections with our faith. Here is the history of that day from History.com.

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Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2019 occurs on Thursday, October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.

 

 

Erosion

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:11-12 NRSV

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For those of us who are Christian we will be seeing a great deal of this in the years to come. Time was when being Christian and going to church was necessary for social acceptance and a way to get ahead in the world. Needless to say…this has changed.

Things will not change all at once. Erosion will happen little by little in the hope that it won’t be noticed or argued against. If we don’t protest the small things eventually there will be nothing left.

Our culture has changed drastically and we a heading into a time when being Christian will be a detriment.How many of us are willing to be persecuted for the sake of our religion? It will certainly separate the wheat from the chaff. Already Christianity is being removed from areas of life where it has been present since the founding of this country. I think it will continue.

We must be ready to stand up for our beliefs in the face of opposition. Be ready!

Hope

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.
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Hope. A word to cling to. I suspect that one of the worst things that can happen to us is to have no hope. But having hope also depends on what we hope for. Writings from those in the concentration camps of the Hitler era show that even in conditions of horror hope was still present.
Hope can be a matter of perspective. Am I hoping that I can be an opera singer (not likely) or that my day will be a good one? It is possible that neither will come true but one is less likely.
If my hope rests with the Lord then I will never lose it. The psalm says his love is steadfast and I believe it with all my heart. I will hope in God no matter what.

NO fear

The 23rd Psalm has so much wisdom. We seldom stop to think about it. We just recite it because we have done it so often. Tonight I have been thinking about this part of it.

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Psalm 23: 4 NRSV

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[d]
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.

or from The Message

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

I have always wondered about the rod and staff. In our time that image didn’t mean much. Now I see it as someone strong and caring walking with me….someone who will keep me safe no matter what. Walking with God I have no fear.

He heals

Psalm 103: 1-5

Thanksgiving for God’s Goodness

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live[a]
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

I always cling to this Psalm when things are rough. It is so perfect when I am stressed. What could be better than verses 3-4. I need my sins forgiven and my illnesses healed. David was right on target. This is a God of goodness and mercy. Thank him every day.

Peace! Be Still!

Mark 4:39 

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
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Finding calm in the midst of a storm is not easy. For those who experienced Dorian know this for certain. But Jesus calmed the storm. Just his words did the job. Resting in the promises of Jesus is the way to find the calm. He has told us not to worry. God is in charge. Be still and be calm.