TRUSTING NOT DOUBTING

TRUSTING NOT DOUBTING     

AN EXERCISE IN LEARNING TO TRUST GOD – so that trust becomes as innate as doubt, with God’s help.

O God, you look through me and have known me, every day. You understand my thoughts. You know all my ways very well. Even before I speak a word, O God, you know it all.  Psalm 139

From the book: BECOMING, A Practical Journey through Lent.

Each time we feel ourselves doubting, pray for help with it. Ask for God’s help and God will show us how to trust instead.

Ask for a mantra to repeat, if this is helpful.

Meditate on what it means to trust. Ask God, in prayer, to show us how to do this.

Don’t know how to begin?

One way is to decide to just do it. God’s grace will smooth the way.

Sit in a quiet place, relax and lay aside everything that is on our minds. [It will be there when we are ready to pick it up again.] Think of creation and the infinite care with which God created everything, including us. Picture a way that we are connected to the earth – it could be any natural way that forms a connection for us. We could picture ourselves as a plant or tree, with our roots going deep into the ground. Have fun with this image, by being specific in the details.

Next, think of all that God has put in place that cares for us and all the other creatures of the earth – air, water, sun, earth, etc.

Then consider the gifts of love, joy, and grace that God provides for our care. Let grace help with visualizing these.

By now, God may begin leading our thoughts to more things than we have considered before. Reach out with our mind and heart to embrace all that God gives us. We may be shown visions or feel something at this point. Let this go as long as you wish and simply open your eyes when you feel ready.

From this point on, it will be easier to pray on the spur of the moment and ask to have doubt turned into trust. Do this at any time during the day and it will soon become a matter of course, where we hardly have to think about it.

End each day by thanking God for the grace within us that has made this possible. Notice how the days become easier to get through without doubt interfering in our living with God. Struggles will diminish and may disappear.

Praise God for the infinite care grace provides in showing us new ways of living.  Loving God, we are grateful for the care and guidance you give us, as we take steps to become closer to who we are meant to be. Melt our doubts and show us all the ways you have our backs.  Amen.    PEACE     From the book: BECOMING, A Practical Journey through Lent.   

WE BEGIN OUR JOURNEY

GOD HAS CREATED US
AND SO WE BEGIN OUR JOURNEY – It is both exciting and mysterious when we encounter God and begin to understand what place we have in God’s plan. Are we there yet? Have you seen a glimpse of what God has in store for you? If we have not gotten there yet, God will bring us into the plan when we ask God to show us the way. There are as many ways to begin the journey with God as there are people in God’s creation. For some of us, Lent may be a time of coming to know God better.

Starting with our connection to God’s creation is one way that has been an entry for many of us. I find pondering about creation during the day a grounding experience that returns me to connect with God, even when I don’t know I need that. Maybe your connection might be through a person, who brings you the face of God. Or we may have great need for direction or comfort and seek out God. If we cry out to God, we will find the help described here in Psalm 9.   “9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”  We never know how the connection will come, but God is present in us. The one assurance we have is that it will come when we ask, since God is already within each of us.

Prayer is one way we connect with God. As we suggested above though, there are more ways to pray than we can count. Pondering about God or reading a Psalm is praying. Ordinary activities can become prayer, when they connect us to God. Through our ordinary routines throughout our day, God’s grace is there to pull us into a deeper experience and connection to God. What ordinary ways will God use to connect with you? Throughout our everyday routines God is there. When we look for God in whatever we do, we will begin to see.  Ever present God, who is always in our lives waiting for us to realize your presence, wake us up to your loving presence within us. Help us see the love and support already there for us. Guide our lives into the power of knowing we are a part of your great plan for creation.  Amen.     PEACE     From the book: BECOMING, A Practical Journey through Lent.  

BECOMING: A Practical Journey Through Lent

GOD GIVES US JOY

GOD GIVES JOY TO ALL WHO LOVE GOD – no matter what is happening in our lives. Psalm 30 tells of the gratitude of God’s delivering of the people from enemies, as well as healings and restoration from sorrow. Those who love and praise God will receive these gifts and even more. “You did it: you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God,     I can’t thank you enough.” [The Message] No matter what we suffer through the night, we will be given “joy in the morning.” Paul tells us in Galatians 5 that among the gifts from the Holy Spirit comes love, peace and joy. There are many things in life that can give us an experience of joy – creation itself in all of its examples, wonderful music, beautiful art, a baby or a child, and those we love are all sources of joy, channeled through them from the original source – God, the ultimate source of love, peace and joy. There are many reasons why we experience joy and sometimes it seems to be random, not connected to anything.

I woke early one morning, and without warning, a feeling of pure joy came from the center of my body. I felt awe at the wonder of it. I also noted that it was not something I thought, although we can think of joyful things. It is unexplainable and there is no reason why it should be. Thankfully, God created the world in a way so that not everything can be explained in rational thought. God chooses to sometimes act in mystery and the wonder of it all becomes part of the experience too. God is teaching us to live by faith and to go beyond reducing everything to rationality.

I love the French phrase “joie de vivre”, meaning joy of life, a delight in being alive. I love the sound of the words and the emotional concept they so perfectly send, that living in God we can know this pure joy of a different and blessed life, on a different plane than those who are trapped in fear. When we love God and devote our lives to doing God’s work, we will live a life of love, that is spontaneously peppered with experiences of joy. Even the world around us will begin to look different to us, color and aromas may be more intense. Happiest of all, those who also live in peace, love and joy will stand out to us. We will be encouraged by the way they live their lives. Our connection to God will be stronger. Through all of this, we will become more confident to act more boldly for God. The world needs that love, peace and joy we are given. Pass it on.  Loving God, we thank you for all the blessings you share with us, the gifts you bestow in the Spirit – love, peace and especially JOY. Teach us to be grateful and learn how to share your joy with others, that they may come to know your joy too.  Amen.     PEACE    

COME WITHOUT FEAR

COME WITHOUT FEAR, FOR JESUS HOLDS NO CONDEMNATION – because we will be greeted with love. We hear in the Gospel of John 5:  24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears what I say and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life. That person will not be judged guilty but has already left death and entered life. 25 I tell you the truth, the time is coming and is already here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will have life.” There is no guilt or judgment spoken here. There is only a message of acceptance, when we believe in God. This is a promise – one that is available to all of us.

The message of guilt that so many of us think is what we face from Jesus is not what Jesus said at all. It is unfortunately a message that the church hierarchy has sent over the centuries, in order to make people behave. Many in the church of the past and the present, have failed God by telling lies about what Jesus expects of us. It suited their purposes and filled their desire for power to control others. They have tried to put themselves in a place of authority over others, with anything but love as their intention. And yet even they are able to be forgiven. God does not place conditions on who will be forgiven and who will not. There is NOTHING that can stand in the way of a relationship with God, no sin, no guilt so awful that God will not forgive us. Never believe the message of fear that others may try to make us believe. God loves us now and will always love us, as a loving parent and a partner in the work of transforming the world into God’s new creation. For us to realize this truth in our lives, it only takes one step.  Gracious God, we thank you for your grace shown as unconditional love for us all. Give us the understanding to believe in this great gift, and accept it. Let your love rain down on us, that we may feel it and share it with others.  Amen.     PEACE    

black and white low top sneakers

GOD GIVES US OPPORTUNITIES

GOD GIVES US OPPORTUNITIES – to continue our lives with the love and support of loved ones, even when they pass on to a new and different life. God does not separate us from that love. In fact, it is not in God’s nature to do that. Instead, God has provided ways to continue those loving relationships in a different manner. The spirits of those loved ones are never far from us and are communicating love to us every day. Society does not treat well those who have God-given gifts to communicate spiritually with those who have passed on. Many have suffered ridicule when they are really all about love and being the pathway to bring that love from our loved ones in another realm to comfort and guide us. So many of these folks are living in relationship with God and acknowledge the gifts and abilities they have as being from God. This is the key to sorting through the claims out there. When we are connected to God, it will help us discern whether they are connected to God in what they are doing and the intention for what they do. As far as the Bible is concerned, in 1 John 4, we are told to test the spirits. There are spirit folks out there who would seek to take advantage of grief-stricken people. The defining point is whether that person is channeling love and God, while passing on the love from our loved ones in the spiritual world. Anything else is to be avoided.

The Bible has passages that are very unloving in the attitude toward those who are called to be intermediaries. Yes, we should be aware of their motivation and guard against evil, but translators in the past have been influenced by evil spirits too. Otherwise, why would they be so unloving in blanket statements about mediums and those who see or hear spirits? There are also many other stories of interactions with supernatural beings that God approves. It is not something to be feared if we ourselves should see or hear something. In past centuries, fear and need for control of others have done way too much to generate fear about those who have passed on. In book after book, I have heard writers say that their own experience is all about love, from God and from those who have gone before us. So do not fear experiences that are out of the ordinary. Test and make sure they are loving. Then open to what the message of love is. The message from God is that love opens us to new experiences of growing in love. If we are to experience God’s love in personal ways, the experience is bound to be unusual and not in keeping with worldly ideas. The very nature of having experiences of love from God helps to protect us from evil. Evil is always willing to move into a void so if we are filled with God’s love, there is no place for evil.  Loving God, we are grateful for ways you reach out to us in love. Help us see unusual experiences full of love as being from you. Guide us away from fear and help us trust your love for us is stronger, and will stay in us, if we allow it. Give us the openness to let you stay in our hearts, and see your love in others too.  Amen.     PEACE    [On our journey through Lent, we will explore some spiritual practices that may serve to enhance and deepen our commitment to our Creator, Savior and Comforter. May they be a structure to strengthen our experience of Lent and grow in our relationship to the Holy One.]       

KNOWING GOD IS WITH US

KNOWING GOD IS WITH US – and is supporting and caring for us, can be the difference in how well we get through our days. I confess that, many times, I have let distractions of all sorts get between me and God. There have been times when I let go of my practicing consciousness prayer and the results are not pretty and not what I want in my life. There have been times when I have let negativity creep in and take over. Everything is harder, certainly not joyful, as it affects others around me in negative ways. Then I don’t like myself very much. I remember a time long ago, when I felt like this most of the time and I never thought it possible that it would return. But then, here I am, and it stinks.

One morning, the words of one of my favorite hymns started going through my head. I stopped and began praying and singing it in my head. Psalm 91 is what came to mind and “On Eagles Wings” is the song based on that Psalm. It is comforting and at the same time uplifting. The music soars and adds to the message the words bear. Those who go to God Most High for safety
    will be protected by the Almighty.  2 I will say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety and protection. You are my God and I trust you. … 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection. 5 You will not fear any danger by night or an arrow during the day. … 11 He has put his angels in charge of you to watch over you wherever you go. 12 They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock. … 14 ‘The Lord says, “Whoever loves me, I will save. I will protect those who know me. 15 They will call to me, and I will answer them. I will be with them in trouble; I will rescue and honor them. 16 I will give them a long, full life, and they will see how I can save.”’ Psalm 91 NCV

It is not lost on me that God reminded me of the song and the Psalm, because I was unconsciously calling to God for help. Something in me said uncle and cried out to God. God had not gone away and so responded to me with love and support. This same support and connection is available and ready to come to us all. Gracious and loving God, may we all know your love and support – when we need it and when we think we don’t.  Amen.     PEACE    [On our journey through Lent, we will explore some spiritual practices that may serve to enhance and deepen our commitment to our Creator, Savior and Comforter. May they be a structure to strengthen our experience of Lent and grow in our relationship to the Holy One.]  

Check it out on line. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_Eagle%27s_Wings  

PRACTICING MINDFULNESS TO LIVE BETTER

PRACTICING MINDFULNESS CAN HELP US LIVE BETTER – and fulfill our calling from God. It is a focus on something like breathing, as this short resource below explains, or it could be looking at something like a flower or other still object.  This practice of focus, on a simple object or a process, like the air as it comes through our nose, helps to calm us from a stressful or distracted state. It allows us to stop our scattered thinking and refocus our being on one thing. If simple techniques don’t work, try an activity that needs complete concentration and coordination, like walking on a line in a sidewalk, or tossing a pebble back and forth, from one hand to another. These activities need a focus and have little consequence. We are then stronger and more able to pick up our lives again in a better and less stress-filled frame of mind. If we are able to move into prayer from there, so much the better. This is an excellent tool to become calm after experiencing trauma or extreme upset. It will allow even PTSD episodes to dissipate. One veteran uses the vision of falling autumn leaves softly fluttering down to stop the effects of rage. Truly, this is God’s grace at work.

I believe we are able to do this because of the way we have been created by God. This is a gift from God, allowing us to renew our minds and hearts, while letting go of the things that are sending us off in unproductive directions. It is easy to teach ourselves how to practice this. Next time we feel out of control in the midst of a whirlwind around us, let us stop and take 5 minutes to return our focus to God and the task at hand. For instance, if you find yourself in a crowded space and cannot see something to fix your focus on, do this. Take out your phone and find a picture of a loved one. If looking at the picture isn’t enough, imagine yourself with the person or people. Love adds energy to our efforts, to give us the focus we need. This is a blessing each time we use it. Even children can be taught to do this, and it will bless their lives, as well as all around them too. Many school districts are using mindfulness exercises with students who get angry, instead of punishment routines. It is proving to be very effective and may stop escalating behavior. This technique will serve to pull us all out of a less desirable and unproductive state. When this works for you, share it with others.   Loving God, remind us of this tool you have provided the next time we need to stop the madness and refocus on living our lives for your kingdom, and spreading the love to all those around us.  Amen.     PEACE   [On our journey through Lent, we will explore some spiritual practices that may serve to enhance and deepen our commitment to our Creator, Savior and Comforter. May they be a structure to strengthen our experience of Lent and grow in our relationship to the Holy One.]    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/mindfulness-techniques-to-reduce-stress.html

Listening to calming music, knitting, pretending the finger movements of piano playing, tapping out a rhythm or even counting may help in less extreme situations.    

CENTERING ON GOD

CENTERING ON GOD SOMETIME EACH DAY – can be a time of cleansing and focus. Besides acknowledging God is with us all of the time, taking time each day to bring ourselves back to a focus on God is a renewing experience. This practice can help us get rid of everything that is distracting us from what we want to accomplish that day with God, and especially what God wants us to do. Asking God to rid us of all evil influences in our vicinity restores the energy we need to be effective in whatever we are doing. Asking God to remove all the thoughts we don’t need to finish what we are doing is a very freeing experience. God wants us to be able to work effectively and with as little frustration as possible. The energy we are given for whatever we do is a precious resource and we can learn to remove obstacles, with God’s help, that get in the way of the wasting of that energy.

Practicing love is another powerful way of renewing this energy. Romans 12 helps remind us of the purpose of our lives.  2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I am a knitter and I’ve found it is a helpful way for me to renew my energy. Knitting can be a spiritual exercise to help return our focus. It is also a practice which supports focusing prayer. So besides the consciousness prayer, I also use knitting as one technique to refocus my energies. Being an empath, that is being attuned to what others are feeling around me, can be draining and I have found knitting to be very supportive to bring myself back into harmony with God, after being around selfishness and greed. The inherent mindfulness of the practice of knitting with its repetitive nature and rhythm is very conducive to renewal of our hearts, minds, bodies and spirits. Because it has a physical aspect to it, it can help bring us back into wholeness with God and ourselves. Other activities may help to restore wholeness – running or walking gets us out into the natural world which adds its own elements of a renewal. Praying during this activity is an easy addition. Enjoying Spring and its renewal of the earth is supportive of the work of refocusing ourselves on God.  Oh renewing God, may we find practices which help renew our focus on the spirit you have put in us, that we may have new energy for your work of spreading love and acceptance. Teach us how to find and use these ways to help others who are searching for you.  Amen.     PEACE   [On our journey through Lent, we will explore some spiritual practices that may serve to enhance and deepen our commitment to our Creator, Savior and Comforter. May they be a structure to strengthen our experience of Lent and grow in our relationship to the Holy One.]   

SEARCHING OUT GOD’S GRACE

SEARCHING OUT GOD’S GRACE
IN THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHERS – can be one way to get closer to God. It will also help us recognize experiences of grace in our own lives. Look for those around us that seem to have a connection to God or are devoted to God in some way. We can even pray for the eyes to see those who will teach us. If you are able, observe, in our memory, how they live and perhaps have a conversation with them about how they experience God. I assure you they will gladly share something of what they know. It is a way they honor and love God, to share with others who are seeking God. This is the evidence of how God’s grace is working in and through them. As we hear in this worship material from author Lavon Bayler,  “God is pleased with all who reflect steadfast love. Praise God with the best you have to offer.”  In Deuteronomy 16, we hear how the Israelites were reminded to love God by celebrating what God had done for them, in remembering the Passover in Egypt.  “15 For seven days you must celebrate this festival [of Passover] to honor the Lord your God at the place God chooses, for it is God who blesses you with bountiful harvests and gives you success in all your work. This festival will be a time of great joy for all.”

What better way to love and serve God, submitting to God’s plan for us all, than to share what we know of God with those who ask and thereby passing on some of God’s grace in us to others. Again from Lavon Bayler – “Go out to serve. Someone needs you today. What you have to give will be helpful to someone. We pray God will open our eyes to the needs around us. [Through the grace God provides for us – ] We will look for ways to be helpful. Speak a healing word. Do a caring deed. Surely God will empower our ministry. God strengthens the powerless and helps the weak. God’s power will be in you when you pray. We will serve in the strength God supplies.”   I know of no better assurance of God’s imperative to both seek and reach out.   Bountiful and loving God, help us feel your grace working in us to enable us in doing what you have called us to do, whatever that is for each of us. We are grateful for the strength and purpose you put into us, so we may work with confidence, as we spread the love and goodness born into us. Show us glimpses of the glory that shines in those who love and serve you.  Amen.     PEACE    [On our journey through Lent, we will explore some spiritual practices that may serve to enhance and deepen our commitment to our Creator, Savior and Comforter. May they be a structure to strengthen our experience of Lent and grow in our relationship to the Holy One.]  

FOLLOWING JESUS ON A JOURNEY THROUGH LENT – ASH WEDNESDAY

FOLLOWING JESUS ON A JOURNEY
THROUGH LENT – ASH WEDNESDAY – As we begin the experience of Lent, we might think of it as a journey, following Jesus in his ministry on the earth. Consider this prayer in Psalm 25:1-5   “To you, O God, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; Make me to know your ways, O God; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you, I wait all day long.”   This is a good daily prayer, to begin and grow our relationship with God.

Whether we are feeling anguish or peace with God, the Psalmist’s words help us express emotion and release the energy into action. We begin a journey today, following Jesus’ earthly ministry as it unfolds, and learning, in the guidance only God can offer, just where we fit into the mission and ministry Jesus patterned for us. Let us pray that we may fulfill God’s plan for what kind of ministry our life should be. May we come to understand what gifts we have been given, and why we have them. In this present atmosphere, we can feel very vulnerable and uncertain about the future. It is a poignant opportunity to devote ourselves to fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives. I was given this prayer mantra, and I am grateful for the gift. I share it here for everyone’s use. It will have many uses, but right now for me, it expresses a determination to serve God, in whatever way seems to be made plain. In this Lenten season, let us leave behind us whatever does not serve our work for God. [Since this is a mantra, it can be repeated – to bring focus, or perhaps used to help rid us of distractions. The Holy Spirit may show us other ways that it will be helpful.] Mantra: “There is only you O God, and whatever gifts you have given me.”   Amen.     PEACE     From the book: BECOMING, A Practical Journey through Lent.  

person standing wearing brown high top sneakers on field

OUR COMMON CONNECTION

OUR COMMON CONNECTION
WITH GOD – is something we all share. In Fr. Richard Rohr’s blog link from yesterday’s post, he refers to the Israelites’ writing down of their creation story as a way of bringing together their community while they were in exile in Babylon. They used it as a way of uniting their exiled community together and to protect them from the foreign cultural influences around them. It was for them and is for us, the creating of an identity, a way of claiming a common experience of all of us being created by God and from the goodness of God’s love. What joy that can give us, being one under God’s love as a community of offspring of God, and so we are all people God loves. Since that is true, then we should think no less of ourselves than God does. We are a blessing from God and should know that so well that it helps us to see ourselves in that light. If that is true and it is, then we should never think less of ourselves than that. When others around us run themselves down, remind them that God loves them and does not see them that way. As the saying goes – “God don’t make junk.”

When we love others we give voice to how much God knows and understands us. And why would God do otherwise, when we have all been made in the image of our Creator? In Romans 8, Paul reminds us –  16 “For God’s Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are God’s children, we are God’s heirs. In fact, together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory. … 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose for them.”   So who are we and what do we have in common? We are sons and daughters of the one who created and loves us – our esteem comes directly from the one whom we come from. When we open to open to know God created us for something significant, something unusual happens. We know we are blessed. God’s Spirit works in and through all of us, helping us pass on those blessings from the God who loves each of us, to someone else today. It will pour out in abundance, from the Spirit and return to us tenfold.  Creator God, we are grateful for the love in which you have created all of us. Help us to continue that love, by passing it on to others around us. Teach us how to use the opportunities we have to extend that love from you, to others who need it. Help us learn to grow in love by giving it away to others.  Amen.     PEACE

FROM FR. RICHARD ROHR – “Our creation story says that we were created in the very “image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26) and out of a fully generative love. I love how Rob [Bell], and many other evolutionary Christians, says what this means for us: “We are created with a drive to self-transcend, to move beyond oneself for the joy and blessing of others.” It is all positive, an original blessing instead of an original sin, sending us toward a cosmic hope. There is something within us, which Christians call the Holy Spirit, which makes us aware that we are here to co-create with God and make something beautiful of the world. Like the Trinity, the perichoresis (divine dance) of God, we are made to encircle others and creation in self-giving love, generosity, blessing, and service. When you start positive, instead of with a problem, there is a much greater likelihood you will move forward positively too.

Our starting point is totally positive, and not just the sad overcoming of a problem. Blessed John Duns Scotus, OFM (1266-1308) said that the Christ is Plan A, and we got off to a very bad start by making Jesus (or the Christ) a mere problem-solving technique of God–or Plan B. God creates the first premise and meaning of reality, not human sinfulness. The first chapter of the Bible repeatedly says creation is “very good” (Genesis 1:10-31)! Are we really that obtuse? It sure seems so. From such a blessed and unitive beginning, we were given to know the clear direction of the whole tangent–we came from goodness, we are slowly ticking toward goodness, and we will end in goodness. And all this goodness is pure gift.” [Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 27-28, and In the Beginning . . . Six hours with Rob Bell and Richard Rohr on reclaiming the original Christian narrative  cac.org  

EACH DAY – HOW WILL WE CHOOSE?

EVERY DAY WE CAN
CHOOSE GOD – From the beginning of each day, we choose either God or something else. We choose life or death. We choose to live that day from a source of love or we allow the world to bring us other things like hatred and fear. Which day turns out well, both for us and those around us? Which choice brings joy to our lives, to God and those we love? From the beginning, God created us all from love, in God’s very own image.

26 “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”  [NB It is important to distinguish here, the style was literary, instead of historical. It needed to be, as a contrast to the other popular legends of the time. It was never meant to be literal.]

The short piece below, written by Fr. Richard Rohr, talks about how the creation story of the Bible was written. It came from an intense desire to focus on love, creativity and joy while it intentionally turned away from hatred and fear. We are given these same choices and for us, it will depend on our view of our relationship with God. If we have a strong and intimate relationship, then choosing God each morning will take us through our day, with a strong connection to God. If we are still struggling with whether to commit our lives to God, it may require us to make more choices. There are powers out there who are happy to make it hard on us when we are not relying on God. Will we choose good or evil? If we choose good and want that to last, then we must also choose God’s loving way in order to do good and the rewards will be abundant.   Creator God, we thank you for the choice you present to us each new day and the love surrounding us in which to make our choice. Guide us into a stronger relationship with you. Help us see the world through your eyes, so we may love everyone and everything within it. Show us others around us as you see them and turn that sight into love for others.     Amen.      PEACE

CREATION – The Story that Defines Us – Friday, January 30, 2015 by Fr. Richard Rohr –

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, is not the oldest book of the Bible. The Genesis account of creation was likely compiled in its present form as late as 500 BC, and in fact, there are at least two different accounts that you can see in the first chapters. At the time it was written, the Jews were likely in exile, having been conquered by Babylon. There they were exposed to many creation stories. Rob Bell described one of the most popular stories of that time, the Babylonian Enuma Elish. Within the Enuma Elish, creation happens after a battle between two gods. The male god kills the female god, then tears her body apart and uses half of her to create the heavens and half to create the earth.

Rob points out that the driving engine of this story is violence, carnage, and destruction. The exiled Jews decided to write down their oral tradition, a confrontational narrative to the dominant creation story, in order to stay cohesive as a tribe among all the foreign influences. In the Judeo-Christian story of Genesis 1, God, who is “Creator” in verse 1, “Spirit” in verse 2, and “Word” in verse 3 (foretastes of what we would eventually call Trinity), creates from an overflowing abundance of love, joy, and creativity! Rob contends that the question of whether the engine of the universe is violence and destruction or overflowing love, joy, and creativity is still the question. He says we live our lives according to these deep forces within us, and the engine that drives us is deeply connected to the way we view the Universe. Is our starting point love or is it fear and hatred? How you begin is invariably how you end. And both possibilities are rather visible in our world today.

From cac.org, the reference above from Fr. Richard Rohr.   

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CHOOSING GOD’S LOVE

CHOOSING GOD’S LOVE
OR “CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOR” – is a very important distinction and choice for each of us. This is a choice God helps us make. We are not left to flounder on our own. Behavior known as “Christian” in our world today is very tainted, as many see it. Far too many view it from a perspective of hurt and anger from a world that has treated them badly. Over more than three thousand years, there is behavior others have called a directive from God and later as “Christian” that was not that at all. Many horrors have been committed in the name of God when really they come from the evil and selfish motives of wanting power. The Bible even contains much of this, not as an example to follow, but as a caution and warning of what living without God does to ourselves and others who are vulnerable.

I have been charged to write about this today because we are seeing a new energy in the world and Christians need to become a part of what is happening. Many are now living through love, who have rejected the rules the church set down or never were attracted by what the church offered. They have come to know God in other ways. They treat others solely from a loving heart and reach out in love to help others in need. They are listening to the message of love from God and are changing their behavior toward others around them because of the love from God they experience. More importantly, they are talking about it through social media. This is an important lesson for those of us who are within the churches that call themselves Christian. We are called to love others and care for those in need. We are called to look for the vision of the New Creation that God is working to build. God calls us to be a part of that work, as Christians. The name Christian originally meant that we are imitators of Christ. Ephesians 5 reminds us –  “1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”   While other passages in the Bible may be confusing, this has the ring of truth and is consistent with the thread of love from God for us that runs throughout the Bible. Be open to this love and it will empower us all in learning how to love as God loves.   God of love, who calls us to be loving and generous in how we live, open our eyes, ears and hearts to the love around us. Help us know when others are living in love and show us the vision of how this can impact and change the world. Increase our desire to be a part of this work of love in the world, that we may help to bring the New Creation closer to becoming a new reality for us all.  Amen.     PEACE    

DOING GOD’S WORK WITH GOD

DOING GOD’S WORK
TOGETHER WITH GOD – is the only way we can live the life we are called to live. Philippians 2 clearly tells us the origins of any good work we can do.   13  “It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please God.” So even if we do not recognize the source of our motivation to do anything good and lasting, God, as the Holy Spirit, is working within us to show us a need, along with providing the want to respond and do what we do. The Bible is filled with stories of people who decided to ignore God’s counsel and do something their own way, showing us the disastrous consequences that resulted. This is not an easy concept to hold onto, in the face of conflicting information from the world and even the church. Our culture urges us to “be strong”, “be a superhero” and “chart your own path”. The Church throughout its history has set rules to follow that end up functioning very much like the Jewish Law in some ways. These rules took the place of where a living relationship with our God should be. God, in repeated encounters throughout history, has endeavored to become first in the hearts of God’s people. While we are sometimes intrigued by the idea of living with God, until we let go of our will and surrender to living in the love God offers, we will continue to struggle between doing what God calls us to do and thinking we can do it ourselves.

Paul recognized that the energy we need and the strength and ability to do our work comes from God, in many places in his letters.  [1 Cor 15: 10c] [Yet] “it was not I but God who was working through me by God’s grace.” [1 Col 1 ] 29  “That’s why we work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within us.” Even though Paul is clear in these passages, in other places he either forgets to make God’s role clear or we have lost something in the many translations. How can we forget to put God first? The great commandment  “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ ”  can become confusing when we think of it in isolation, which we seem to do. This commandment is seen by many as the building block of the faith. Unfortunately, it leads us to think we are the ones that begin the love. We can only love The Holy One because the One always loves us first. We are responding to this love unconditionally present within us.

This misunderstanding leads us away from the relationship with God that makes it all possible. We cannot do anything that lasts without God. God is our creator and the very reason why we exist. Just as the basic unit of all matter is the atom, God’s love is the basic unit of our existence and purpose. When we begin to respond to that something within us, whether we can name it or not, we are beginning our relationship with God. Through this relationship, all love and strength are given to us. As we become aware and respond, our relationship grows and we learn how to love others and do the work God calls us to do. We also learn how to live life in more productive ways, for our own benefit and to add to the lives of those around us. Everything we do through God lasts and passes God’s grace on to others. It will be less frustrating, and a lot more fun. At the same time as this all grows, so does our ability to live intentionally, within the presence of God. As this grows, we become closer to living the committed life Jesus showed us. It is the only way to truly LIVE.   Gracious God, who loves us without limits, show us how you are working within us, so that we may work with you. Help us learn to see you in our lives and motivate us to join you in the work you give us. Guide us in our relationship so that we may bring your unconditional love to others through our lives.  Amen.     PEACE   

I GLADLY OFFER

GLORY AND HONOR TO GOD
I GLADLY OFFER EVERY DAY – I am so grateful every day for the inspiration I am getting from the Holy Spirit for this endeavor. The words for each day have come to me from the Holy Spirit, and I write them, pouring those words through the gifts of writing God has given me. Strangely enough, I can never see any line between the Spirit’s words and mine, until I share a personal experience. The life experiences my husband and I have had in more than 55 years of service to God in local churches and the challenges we have faced together since the advent of his catastrophic health condition in 2012 changed life as we knew it, have all contributed to the rich life of faith I am able to bring to this blog. I am sustained by words of scripture, and Psalm 118 often comes to mind.

1 “O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever! … 5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.  6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me? … 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!”

Writing is now a joy, but in school as a child, it was absolute torture. The physical act of putting a hand to paper to write was a mental agony. Thankfully I have always loved reading and like many of us, it was an escape. Then one day in high school, I got an A on a paper I thought was woefully inadequate, as usual, because it was not as long as it was supposed to be. The teacher announced to the class that even though my paper was short, I had written very concisely and so I was able to include all he required to cover the subject. Since then God has helped me learn how to write and speak, so that I am able to make my case convincingly. I am grateful to God every day for the ability to express my love and honor for God in a way that is meaningful to others. My prayer for us is that this blog may inspire us in whatever struggles we each face and help in knowing that we do not face them alone. God is always with us. We only need to be open. Prayer will be the string, connecting us to God. O God of steadfast love, we are grateful for your grace-filled love and your willingness to live each day caring for us and our lives. Help us to discern the path you have laid out for us, so we may please you, widen your influence, and spread your love to others.  Amen.     PEACE  

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IS GOD WITH US?

WHERE IS GOD NOW
AND IS GOD WITH US? – This is a question asked by Christians, as well as unbelievers and those practicing other religions. God is as near as our breathing. The Holy One is a part of us. God knows our innermost thoughts and loves us anyway. When we read Psalm 139, we see the picture of the kind of relationship God has with us.  1 “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.  3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  4 Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.”   If we add this to yesterday’s passage from Jeremiah, we see a God who loves us beyond any ways we can imagine and has only good intentions for us. We need to let go of other images from the world we may have of what God is like, in order to see who these scriptures and the experience of millions has shown God to be. When we are able to open our hearts to God, it is this truth of who God is that we will find. Many think of God as a second skin or armor, a light within and a source of hope and inspiration.

God loves us and wants to live and work together with us, sharing all our joys and sorrows, while accomplishing much in God’s name. Every day is a new day, where we can choose to live a life with God. What will our choice be? Here is an exercise to try that will, over time, help us see God in our lives. On waking up and before we take up our day, stop for one minute of prayer. We can ask God to help us see the blessings we are given. Having the intention to see our blessings will bring them into our hearts and this can begin a life of gratitude toward God.    O loving and compassionate God, who comes to us and stays with us, every minute of our lives and beyond. We thank you that you stay near us and with grace you breathe your words into our very souls, so that we may feel you within us and feel the strength you put in us, born of the comfort of knowing you are with us always. Give us courage to do what you call us to do in the world, knowing that your sustaining love holds us up and gives us what we need for what we need to do.  Amen.     PEACE  

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GOD’S LOVING PLANS FOR US

GOD’S LOVING PLANS
FOR US ARE GOOD – and beyond our dreams of what life could be. I love the old saying “when we make plans, God laughs.” It is a reminder that God maintains the right to make the plans. Long ago in a conversation with Jeremiah, God talked to him of the plans God had for the Israelites in exile in Babylon.  11b “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.  12 Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  13 You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!  14 I will let you find me,”    I have read this so often, it has become a part of me. There are few more comforting passages than this one. It is also a clear call to answer God’s invitation for a relationship with the Holy One. From the time when humankind began, there has always been the desire from God to be in relationships with us. This is a truth that has always been there. This truth still remains today. When we accept all the gifts waiting for us, life is best lived with God. Accepting this relationship takes us to a life of blessings. So when I read or remember the first part – “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future”  my heart sings and dances for joy.  Jeremiah 29: 11b – 14a

This is one passage I often think of in the morning, when waking up. I can’t help but smile when I consider how much God loves us, so much so that God declares this is how WE fit into “THE PLAN”. God has an overall plan for the universe, as well as plans for how each of us fit into that plan. Our plan for life does not always go smoothly because God also gave us a choice and we are not always listening for the guidance God has ready to help us. We are often willful and decide we want to try it our way, and then see what happens. God’s grace then comes to us, offers us a way up out of the mess we have made and shows us a better road. Where we are in our journey of spiritual discovery and growth then makes a difference in how we take the next steps. Some of us will continue on a path of our own choosing. Others will look for signs and perhaps even pray for guidance in choosing the direction we take next. I do make plans, after praying for God’s guidance and while listening for major or minor alterations from the Holy Spirit. Over the years I have learned to choose my course according to what overall plans God has brought me through successfully and the overall direction God has shown me to take, keeping open to the changes offered by the Spirit. Whatever direction we take, the resulting steps must be taken in love for God, ourselves and others. Regardless of which path we choose, God is always with us and will forgive our missteps, until we come to a place where we decide to seek guidance, out of the love God offers and the loving path God has in mind for us.   Loving and compassionate God, thank you for the grace you offer us, fulfilled as unconditional love in whatever we do. Help us to return to the guidance you give and the forgiveness you offer, so we may try again to live out the path you have offered us for our lives. Guide us in listening for the counsel you give and the mercy, without judgment, we receive as we attempt to follow the path you have laid out for us. Teach us to hear your wisdom so we falter less and less, as we follow the way to transformation. Through your son’s glorious name,  Amen.     PEACE    

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PRAY FOR THE POWER TO SEE EVIL

PRAY FOR THE POWER
TO SEE – and recognize evil in all its many disguises. I was talking with a friend, who explained how he gets stuck because he fears that what he tries to do will not turn out the way he intends. He thinks back on his life and situations where he wanted to do good, but something happened and his plans failed. Evil disguised has been working against him for a very long time and had fooled him into thinking that he was at fault. This is an example of the ways demons work in our lives to make sure we do not succeed in accomplishing things God wants us to do. I know this because it happened to me in the past. Appealing to the Holy Spirit in prayer showed me the truth.

Once my friend could see this in terms of evil standing in the way of God’s plans, he was freed from guilt and knew how to pray so that this would no longer happen and God could work through him. God wants us to be successful. This friend is a life-long Christian, yet no one had ever helped him understand how we might work together with God, in a relationship. We are not able to be a good person on our own or accomplish good things without God’s help. It is also a lot harder to do it this way. Jesus says in Luke 18 – “Only God is good.”    When we ask for God’s guidance, we will then accomplish the good things that God desires. When we intend to do what God wants us to do, God will work in us to bring us to success.

Good and loving God, we are most grateful for the strength and courage we find in you. Help us work through your power to recognize and get rid of evil in our lives. Guide us in our speech and actions, so we never give evil a foothold to come into our lives. Teach us how to live life only in your love.  Amen.     PEACE  

GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY

GOD’S FORGIVENESS
IS THE KEY – that opens us up to a better life with God. When we come to know that God wants a relationship with us, our darkest secrets are already known and we are forgiven, it can be a first step toward building a relationship with God. This will happen in a way that God will help us find, once we decide to seek God. God is with us now and will guide our seeking. The Holy Spirit – that form of God that speaks to us in various ways and stays with us no matter what we face – will help us find God in a way that is meaningful to us.

In Matthew 26, at the last supper Jesus had with his disciples, he shared bread and wine with them and set up the coming sacrifice he would make the next day.   “… this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  This is a statement of the gift of his life for us, so that we could be made whole. It is also a reminder that there is already a covenant between God and God’s people. The act of taking communion can be an open door into the forgiveness Jesus paid for. Asking for forgiveness in prayer is another. When our hearts cry out to God in any way, God will not fail to respond. For thousands of years, God had been responding to those who cried out to God, as Psalm 103 shows us, so beautifully.  

When God rebuilds Zion,
    when God shows up in all God’s glory,
When God attends to the prayer of the wretched.
    God won’t dismiss their prayer.

18-22 Write this down for the next generation
    so people not yet born will praise God:
“God looked out from God’s high holy place;
    from heaven God surveyed the earth.
God listened to the groans of the doomed,
    God opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
    so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
    along with their rulers to worship God.

When we ask, the Holy Spirit will always lead us to a connection with God’s unconditional love, and the forgiveness already in place.   O loving God, who will always forgive us, we humbly ask for your guidance to come to you and ask for the redeeming words only you can say. Take away our shame and give us the power of your forgiving love, that we may begin a life of love.  Amen.     PEACE    

PRAYER WILL OPEN DOORS

PRAYER WILL OPEN DOORS
AND BREAK DOWN WALLS – shattering evil’s hold on us. When we feel forgiven, we will find the wall that once was there between us and God no longer exists. This is not an invitation to stop building that relationship with God. Sin is still out there and demons are working to get between us and God, encouraging us to sin while bringing doubt and uncertainty into all we do. When we find ourselves losing confidence or doubting we can accomplish things, it is evil at work to thwart God’s plans for us. Prayer now becomes an important tool for us. We can ask for the help we need, in learning to recognize these doubts and fears as evil working to separate us from God and reach for God through prayer.

When we ask God to remove this evil, God will bring us into a closer relationship through grace. God does not want us to live our lives full of doubt and fear. These are a part of this world, this broken creation. Invoking the name of Jesus is another way of banishing evil. Announcing that we love God or Jesus our Savior will send the evil running. In a conversation with Phillip seen in John 14, Jesus says,  14 “Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”  We can rely on the Holy Spirit to keep evil out of our lives but this is not the hard work it sounds like. As we turn our minds and hearts to God, we will find resources we never knew existed. This is not our work, but it is God’s love working in us. These resources are provided by God to protect us from this destructive evil. When we continue to pray to God, more grace and gifts are given to us all, so that we may come closer to the day when all evil will be gone and creation will be restored and transformed into God’s new creation. Compassionate God, we are grateful that you provide us with so many resources to banish evil and return our lives to the path you have set for our joy and fulfillment. Guide us to a stronger life, with love at its center. Teach us to reject evil in all its forms and turn away from doubt and fear. Give us the desire to choose the life we are offered through grace. In Jesus name, who showed us the way.  Amen     PEACE   

PRAYER IS GRACE-FILLED COMMUNICATION

PRAYER IS GRACE-FILLED
TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION – between all of us and God. God is listening all of the time. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking differently about that. God knows what we are thinking, feeling and doing 24/7. When we accept that fact, it becomes easier to see prayer in a different light and know that God does really hear what we are praying and thinking. With time for God’s grace to work in us and living into this new way of seeing God in our lives, we will begin to build a relationship with our God, who loves us and sent Jesus to show us an alternative for our lives. So in that atmosphere, we can feel the love of God surround us and know that no matter what we have done – no matter how awful we think it is, anything will be forgiven. Remember God already knows what we have done and is guaranteeing us that we are loved unconditionally and forgiven.

Offering us our salvation is a big thing and we only have to show a change of heart and we will be forgiven. Of course, the important part of this process is beginning a relationship with God that will help us live a life where we receive God’s grace, as a gift, to guide us into a different life than the one we lived before. Knowing that God is within our very being and still loving us is the greatest gift we could ever receive. When we accept that this is true, we will then begin the journey of our real lives and discover the plan God has in mind for us to use the gifts we have each been given. As we grow in our relationship, God will help us understand what we have been given and how to use those gifts, with love and grace.   O God of love and mercy, we are humbled by the depth of your love for each of us. While others blamed us and we ourselves came down hard on ourselves, you loved us unconditionally, leaving the door always open to us. Encourage us to turn to you and accept this wealth of love and mercy you hold for us. Guide us as we look for the path you would rather have us walk, a path with you and your loving helpers appointed to support and assist us toward wholeness and living out the love we have been given so freely.  Amen.     PEACE  

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WE HAVE THE CHOICE

GOD ALWAYS LEADS US
AND WE HAVE THE CHOICE –  to follow, or not. February 1st was the beginning of a 7th year of exploring what it means to pray and be in a relationship with God, through this blog. It is a thrilling experience and the Holy Spirit has been steadfast in leading me to write this. I personally have grown in my relationship with God and I pray you have too. I am grateful and humbled to be a part of the work God is doing here. I hope we are all learning a new and broader understanding of prayer, in all of the many ways there are to practice this unique experience with God. I also hope that the methods of faithful practice, long expected in the church but not explained, have been instructive and helpful to our life with God. Most of all, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the experience of channeling what God wants to have communicated here and I am so grateful for the many ways that you, the followers of the blog, have responded. A recent comment shows that this reader sees the source – ” how beautiful, and so beautifully written, inspired by God and the Holy Spirit, I have no doubt of this, and the subject of your writing.” This is exciting for me to be involved in an amazing enterprise of God doing this work through me. This experience adds a lot to my gratitude to God.

We hear about how God may call us to speak to others about the faith, in Acts 8, here is the story of Philip being led to share the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch.   35 “Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus.” I will keep sharing what God directs me to say in this blog as long as God asks me to do it. It will be exciting to see what revelations God has in mind to show us. As we say in the UCC, “God is still speaking.”   O God of insight and revelation, we are grateful for everything we learn. Help us open ourselves to new revelations, and lend us new insights into understanding what we need to do in the world, and how we are to treat each other. Guide us as we continue to follow where you lead us.  Amen.     PEACE   

WE ARE CREATED FOR SO MUCH MORE

MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE
WE ARE CREATED FOR SO MUCH MORE – than what the world tells us. There are places in scripture that refer to how highly God regards us, placing all of God’s creation in our care, as we hear in Psalm 8:  “3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? 5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. 6 You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”  We were put in charge of caring for creation, and because we were, we have been given a position of trust and responsibility. This is a privileged position, yet we now expect the privilege without fulfilling the responsibility.

In Hebrews 2, we are reminded:  “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. 2 For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3 So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? 4 And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.” After quoting Psalm 8, we are also reminded: “Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out.”

Since the time of creation, God has been establishing a partnership with us, one that we seem determined to slip away from, to instead do our own thing. We get angry over the state of our world, our country, our town or our church community. Some of us get angry with God for the mess we have, and ask God: “where are you?”  Yet God never waivers in loving us and extending forgiveness to us. God walks with us through each day, lending us loving support and guidance, as partners do. God encourages us in using our gifts and talents – for our joy and fulfillment, as well as the value it adds to our collective lives. As a partner, God is always ready to fulfill the promises of creation with us. We are invited to be a part of this loving work, using the gifts we have been given for that purpose. God’s unconditional love and forgiveness makes it possible for us to be a part of all this glory, learning to do it as we take each step toward God. Every minute of every day God is there for us. Are we reaching out to commit ourselves?  Creator God, we are grateful and yet humbled to think you want us to be involved in renewing creation. We may be overwhelmed and still feel ourselves drawn to your invitation. Help us begin to open ourselves for what you offer us and begin the path to partnership with you, in unconditional love and forgiveness.  Amen.     PEACE   

I AM TRANSFORMED

I AM TRANSFORMED
SO THAT I MAY LIVE FOR GOD – and finally be my true self. It happened in steps, the last of those coming quickly together. A few years ago I had an experience of remembering some very old hurts that I thought were behind me. It made me angry and hurt. I thought they were gone and instead they were just lurking in the dark, waiting to bring me down. By God’s grace and through prayer and meditation I asked for healing. My daughter also helped and supported me through the awful ickiness of those old stories raising their ugly heads. I continued in my spiritual practices and stayed close to God. God’s unconditional love has supported me and I knew I had support from the heavenly beings God has placed around me. Meanwhile, that old stuff felt so wrong, I continued to ask God to release me from its hold. Much of this was subconscious, as I concentrated on the connection of love from God.

Then, one day, I talked with my daughter, who is strongly connected to God herself. I also saw something about our ultimate destiny is reflecting the love of God in the world. I affirmed in my heart that statement and it started a ball rolling. I talked with my husband about how it is necessary to take a different approach toward negativity around us, if it persists in those we know. I know this seems random. Please hang in there with me. The next day I was cleaning out old email, since I had gotten behind. I came across one from someone related to our family. They had gotten their DNA report and Ancestry gave them a connection to our family. Later I woke up during the night and my thoughts went to this new connection from my father’s side. I began considering what we might have in common and from there it seemed like a jet-sled ride. Gracious thoughts of who I truly am started within me. This led to my KNOWING without a doubt that I didn’t need anything that had ever happened to me. The Holy Spirit let me know that I could let it all go and I would begin to know how to live as my true self. Those old experiences are not me. They happened to me and I am grateful that they have helped to teach me about life. They have served to help me understand others and the pain they lived through. Ultimately though, they are not me.

God has been helping me grow through all that into who I am meant to be. It was time to let it all go and emerge as a new being, a butterfly. Today I am living into the life I have been training for, by telling you about what happened, so you can see it as a possibility too. I know I will not miss any of that old stuff. It only got in the way of being myself. It felt awful and was heavy to lug around. I feel light and am eager to shine God’s light for others to see it. God is the reason I am alive now. God is the reason I survived all the past hurts and horrors. I thank God who has lifted all that old stuff away. The road is now clear and I can see a bright happy future ahead – one that I know will be exciting and fun.  O joyful God, who stands with us in whatever we live through, I am grateful for the love and support I have always known. You have always been there and I am overwhelmingly grateful that you helped me see and know you as the love you are. You have made me whole and will continue to keep me whole, so that I may shine your light for others, in whatever place they may be. Help me use your unconditional love to show the possibilities of a different way to live in this world. Continue to show us all the ways to transformation and live a more complete life with you. Thank you for the paths we have been shown through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Help us all walk toward the joy and away from the pain.  Amen.   I AM A NEW CREATURE – HALLELUJAH!     PEACE   

GOD’S VISION OF LOVE

GOD’S VISION OF LOVE
AND WHAT CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED – through it will change our world. God’s love is so powerful that we can be changed from the inside out and thereby affect how the world around us operates. Negativity stops the effects of love, even by those of us who are trying to be loving. When we ask God to help us see things differently and then change how we react it is this process that will transform our lives. It is impossible to do any of this on our own. We need Gods’ transformative power working in us to change how we react. I have experienced this recently in my own life. I was helped to realize that certain physical characteristics have come about through negativity in my life. From the very beginning of being a pastor’s wife,  I was surrounded by negativity. Most of us are not taught how to cope with this in a positive way and it takes its toll on us over the years. I had actually absorbed this negativity, thinking of it as a loving act. It has done me much harm to do this and it left me less able to do what I need to do in my life. Negativity is very destructive and yet we let it harm us and our world. We believe it is something we must take on and then continue trying to be Christian, while we have actually made the job of living through love much harder.

God is the source of love and without that connection to the source, it is an uphill battle to live a life of love. In the great passage on love, that many have used in their wedding service, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us about the nature of God’s love.   4 “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant  5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  8 Love never ends.”  Innumerable Christians over the centuries have read or heard that passage and thought that we must love in this way and somehow do this in our own strength. We believed that if we are supposed to be a follower of Jesus, then this should just happen in us. Many have beaten themselves up because they couldn’t do it. It takes acceptance of the love God offers us, before we can begin to live our lives in love. Then it takes a commitment to let this love flow through us from the source. I have recently experienced that when we stop accepting negativity around us, the power of love, through God’s grace, quickly replaces it with love. Who knew? Such is the power of God, at work in us. When we love through God’s grace, without judgment, unconditionally and without reservation, God’s love changes the very atmosphere around us. Those around us who are able will react differently. This is the beginning for each of us to be involved in the transformation process. Negativity is destructive and we cannot support or participate in it. Love can be the beginning of rebirth for each of us and for the world. God’s love accomplishes the impossible.   God of vision and love, we ask that your love may flow through us, to transform not only our lives but the world around us. We are grateful to be a part of this process of a rebirth for us and the world. Guide us and give us the courage to resist negative thinking and actions from ourselves and others. Help us be a part of the process to change the world through love.   Amen.      PEACE    

COMMUNICATING WITH ANGELS

COMMUNICATING WITH ANGELS
IS STRAIGHT FORWARD – and a great blessing from God, for those who love God. Even when we cannot sense heavenly beings around us, we can still communicate with them because God has designed it to be so. When we open ourselves to God, we also will be heard by angels. They have been created to praise God and serve God by helping us. Angels and other heavenly beings exist to spread love, answer our prayers to God and show us signs of what is happening beyond human activity. When we feel love for God in seeing creation and noticing particular objects, angels have enabled that experience for us. They also help foster coincidence and surprising events to draw us closer to the spiritual world where God and the heavenly beings dwell. When we take the first step to be open about all that, and we can let go of the fear of not knowing how it works, we can accept all of it to be true. This is all God’s doing, is for our good, and it empowers more love in the world.

In Ephesians 3 Paul expresses beautifully how God works within us.  16 “I pray that from God’s glorious, unlimited resources you will be empowered with inner strength through the Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in God. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep God’s love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  These unlimited resources mentioned include the heavenly beings that God directs toward this purpose. Acceptance is the beginning for us. God has put this all in place and has been working within us, even when we don’t realize it. When we accept God and open thankful hearts to God, it will be amplified. We will feel more love and we will be prompted how to show more love to others. This only works when we are ready to let go of fear and negativity. God will heal all the damage it has done and renew our lives. Relying on God will accelerate our growth and bring mountains of joy. This cannot happen with our own efforts. It is a gift from God that we must open to, in order to receive.  Loving God, we thank you for the blessings of heavenly beings, who bring us closer to you. Help us drop the fear and negative influences, so we may communicate love in all we do. Guide us in noticing how angels give us signs of your love and abundance. Help us see the support creation gives us, so we may pass on the power of blessings and love to others around us.  Amen.      PEACE    

atmosphere blue bright clouds

GOD’S MESSENGERS ARE ALL AROUND US

GOD’S SPIRITUAL MESSENGERS
ARE ALL AROUND US – and give us direction. Whether we can sense them and know what they are saying to us is the question. The Bible tells us that this is true. If we are not open to  what this experience is like, we may chalk it up to nothing at all or just something weird that we cannot explain. Psalm 91 is a treasure trove of how God loves us.  “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  2 This I declare about the Lord: God alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. … 4 God will cover you with his feathers.    He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Those wings and feathers are wings of the archangels, designed by God to protect us. The Psalmist explains this angel protection even further.  9” If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter,  10 no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.  11 For God will order the angels to protect you wherever you go.”  When we trust in God completely and make God our refuge we will know we are blessed with constant angel protection and guidance. These beings work for God and help us in the way God wants it to happen. The awareness of the confidence they give us is a result of having a relationship with God. Through prayer and the Holy Spirit, we can become more aware of their presence, while becoming confident of their support.

In Luke 4 this blessing is again talked about.  Here Jesus is quoting Psalm 91:  “ ‘God will order the angels to protect and guard you.  11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ”  Jesus knew this to be true and is emphasizing it for us to believe it. So why don’t we believe it? Evil brings in self doubt whenever it can. We have also not cultivated the ability to hear and sense angels around us. The heavenly beings or the Holy Spirit communicate with us and guide and protect us. The Holy Spirit as part of God directs their care of us. We do not worship them; we do express our thankfulness to God, for their help and the caring from God that puts them there. I don’t think it matters whether it is the Holy Spirit or angels that we may sense or hear. It all comes from God and has the same intention, to love and bring God’s light to the world.

The end of Psalm 91 sums it up, concerning those who love God and are committed to doing God’s work:  14 “The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  15 When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.  16 I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.’ ”    O God of shelter and protection, we call on you to increase our awareness. We are grateful for the Hosts of Heaven placed all around each of us. As we begin to look for signs of their presence, help us sense their guidance, and tune our ears to hear their advice. Help us overcome arrogance and pride in order to follow what they are telling us to do. Build into us the assurance they will always act in love and will guard us from all evil influences. In the name of Jesus Christ our Redeemer.  Amen.     PEACE     

[In several instances, I sensed someone else’s guardian angel behind them, and was enabled to tell them, so that those folks could know the assurance it brings to their lives.]   ❤

AVOID THE DAMAGE

GIVING GOD OUR NEGATIVITY
WILL AVOID THE DAMAGE – it does when we spew it at ourselves, others in our way, and especially on those we love. Negativity in its many forms causes harm not only to humans and animals, even to the very earth where we live. This is not a part of God’s plan either, for us or our environment. What can we do about it? It is a huge problem, one that affects every being on the earth. There are so many problems, too many for us as individuals to fix or even try. Most of us live with a high level of frustration and we don’t know what to do with it. It is discouraging and creates a huge mountain of anger. News stories every day testify to this. Those who are sensitive to it fear the increase they see each day. Where will it end?

In this seemingly hopeless situation, there are those who still see hope. That hope has one source – God. A world of frustration and anger is not what God wants for us and we have been given resources to use in the situation now. Our first resource is prayer. We can learn to go to God in prayer as soon as we realize we are in a precarious situation, where we are either facing negativity around us or about to spew it on others because we are not dealing with what we feel. God will help us come to terms with negative thoughts and feelings, even if the situation cannot be changed. God has also given us heavenly beings that can help us learn how to let go of negativity and replace it with love. This is the ultimate goal for our lives to learn how to get through whatever we face with love. It will be love that heals our souls and will heal the earth.

Once we change how we react to everything around us using love, we will discover others who have learned to do this as well. Until we are able to live in love, we are not able to see them fully. Love opens our eyes to the way the world could be and we find allies around us who also want to work with healing love in all they do. When we set the intention of not letting all things negative bring us down, God’s resources of love through grace will begin to bolster our desire to live in a different way. A bit of Psalm 119 shows us that when we put ourselves into the intention of following what God asks us to do, we will start to find the path God calls us to walk, a path of love.  34 “Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.  35 Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.”    O God of love, help us to let go of all the negativity around us and turn our backs to it. Teach us to reach for the love you offer instead, and guide us in how to walk a path of love each day.  Amen.     PEACE  

OUR SOULS CRY OUT TO GOD

OUR SOULS ARE CRYING OUT
TO GOD – our Creator, comforter and guide, who will always answer us with love. Psalm 119 expresses a soul’s deep yearnings for a connection to God. It may be that it echoes our experiences with reaching for the one outside of ourselves who will feed us, comfort us and give us hope for a life with God. I have certainly been through similar experiences of crying out for God, especially when I needed the direction only God could provide.

25 I lie in the dust; revive me by your word.

26 I told you my plans, and you answered. Now teach me your decrees.

27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.

28 I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.

29 Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your way.

30 I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your principles.

31 I cling to your laws. Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!

32 I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.

33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end.

34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.

35 Show me how to walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.

O loving God of comfort, help us reach out to find the grace only you provide. Guide us to find the direction you are calling us to follow and help us use the resources you give us for whatever we do in response to your call.  Amen.     PEACE     

FOCUS FOR GOD IN A DISTRACTED WORLD

BEING ABLE TO FOCUS FOR GOD 
IN A DISTRACTED WORLD – is a blessing from God, through grace, to accomplish what God needs us to do. There is increasing pressure in our jobs and home life to do more than one task at a time. Some of this we do to ourselves, by wanting to be in touch with what is happening elsewhere all the time, despite what may be going on around us. It results in our doing our job and relating to friends and family in a less than wholehearted way. Even against all we do, God is able to find ways of helping us focus on work we need to do, both to make a living, and to reach out to others. We, in turn, are given choices to make for God that include giving up some of the enticing activities offered by smartphones and other electronic devices, so we can pay attention to the call for a more focused life God is giving us.

In Mark 1, we hear the story of Jesus calling the first disciples.  16 “As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea–for they were fishermen.  17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”  18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.  19 As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets.  20 Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.”   These men were leading very different lives from most of us today, but one thing stands out even for us. Jesus asked them to leave what they were doing, and take up a new life, with a different focus. Jesus also had in mind what they knew how to do and converted those skills into working for God. They knew how to work together for a common purpose of getting very heavy nets full of fish into the boats, against the forces that made it hard to accomplish. God does the same with each of us, and what God asks of us will be different from the kind of life we have lived. God will employ all of our skills and talents. When we have decided to set aside our distracting habits, God will provide, through grace, the ways to help us focus on our work for God. Some of these may include learning to be more mindful of ourselves in the present and getting in touch with the Spirit within us, who will help us learn and grow. It also includes prayer as practiced by many who have learned to know the presence of God, and communicate with the Spirit as we do our work. Being able to focus on more than one thing, in this case, works for our benefit because the Holy Spirit is helping and adding to what we bring to the task. We are all called to do something for God. It is an exciting lifetime’s work to discover this and develop it for God. It all begins by connecting.  O God who guides and inspires us, help us let go of what does not serve us and our work for you, as well as growing in our relationship with you. Help us discover what we are called to do, and guide us as we learn how to use the gifts and talents we are given in new ways that help serve your intentions for our lives.  Amen.     PEACE    

GOD FEEDS US

GOD PROVIDES THE BLESSINGS
TO FEED US – so we will be able to serve God and help others. In Philippians 4, Paul helps us understand what we can do to stay connected to God and make sure we are living a life that will be blessed.   4 “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. …  6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank God for all that has been done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

Beyond these things where we actively engage in God’s work, God’s grace provides us experiences we need to take part in, to help feed our souls. What feeds your soul? At the pace where many of us exist, it can be all too often, that we feel empty and in need of filling our wells again. In a relationship with God, we have a backup plan, where God reminds us and even puts experiences in our path to feed us, so we will not suddenly be without what it takes to go on with life. Some of these nourishing activities may include seeing the joy in creation, and being awed by what God has done. It might be something involving music, books or art, or the pure joy of children. Most importantly, be open to seeing acts of love from others around us. Whatever touches us and helps to make us whole again, is something we need to do on a regular basis, before we get so drained, we are trying to keep going on empty. When nothing appears to feed us, we may need to pray and ask to be led to find it. In reading scripture, we may be led to find something that will be nourishing to our souls. God will not leave us without this food, but we also need to make sure, as we work, that we are open to partaking of the food to keep us strong and able to finish what we have started, by listening for what God has provided for us.   Loving God, who gives us the food we need, for our bodies and also our souls, we are grateful. Help us look for and find what you have provided to feed our souls, and sustain us for the work we are each called to do.  Amen.  PEACE     

LIVING OUT OUR FAITH WITH GOD

LIVING OUT OUR FAITH
WITH GOD – is a matter of living in an awareness of our connection and how God is guiding each of us. The established church through the centuries has lost the ideas of how to connect to God and has not supported teaching us how to live a connected life of faith with God. We cannot assume that everyone will just know how. It isn’t a matter of outward habits, as the church has taught. It is more than just what we do because God is at work in us. It is the choice we make every moment, to stay connected to God. So it is important to also help each other discover what works for each of us, and help others by sharing our own experiences. This knowledge is in scripture, and even more it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Paul gives us guidance in Romans 15.  1-2 Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

3-6 That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. “I took on the troubles of the troubled,” is the way Scripture puts it. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!7 So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it!  The Message

There is a fine line between helping one another in the faith, and being judgmental about how someone is living out their faith. This is a job that we trust God to do, and place our trust in God to guide each of us in how to help others. It is beyond our knowing how this is accomplished, and we can only trust that God will show us what we are to do, and what we should not do. When we are really doing anything through God, there will be no arrogance, and what we do will be marked by humility. For our part we are guided and inspired through prayer and other spiritual practices, while allowing our hearts and minds to be guided by God, setting that intention always ahead of whatever we do. Our intention in what we do is most important, in order to do our work for God, and not our own glorification. When we are able to accept one another, as Christ does, we will be living a life in harmony with God, feeling the connection through the hope and encouragement God offers us. Living a life like this gives glory to God, and pleases God above all else.  O God of guidance and grace, we are humbled that you work through us to help others find a path to you, as we walk along our own path. Help us remember that it is all for your glory and honor, and the building of a life of faith for us all, as we are guided to help build your new creation in the hearts of everyone, transforming all of creation into a heaven on earth. Empower us to do everything through love.  Amen.     PEACE    

IN AND THROUGH LOVE

GOD BESTOWS POWER
IN AND THROUGH LOVE – and is working out justice tempered and focused by love. In God’s great plan for all of creation to be renewed, God is directing us all to love one another. This is a powerful love that will transform us all. That was the dream Dr. Martin Luther King could see in his vision of God’s plans fulfilled.  Luke 3 concerning the coming of John the Baptist quotes a great hope proclaimed in Isaiah 40 –  “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!  5 The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth.  6 And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.’ ” If God’s power could flatten mountains, that same power will work in all of us who accept God’s call to love. Isaiah goes further to speak of God’s great power to equip us for God’s work –  “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of God’s understanding.  29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.  30 Even youths will become weak and tired and young men will fall in exhaustion.  31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Dr. King spoke about how philosophers had lost the understanding of the powerful nature of God’s love.  “What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive; and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice; and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”  This is God’s love as it works to redeem all who have strayed from the path of a life lived in love. God gives us the strength to walk in love each day. God prepares us for living this life because we are not able to do it on our own. Isaiah 41 gives voice to the life God calls each of us to live –   “For I have chosen you and will not throw you away.  10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”  When we maintain our relationship with God, we will be given power for what God has asked us to do each day.   O God of love and justice, we are grateful for your call to us to be a part of your work to renew the earth with love. We are your people and with the power you bestow, we are guided to spread your reclaiming love. Help us keep focused on your love and mercy, as we reach out to those who need to know your love.  Amen.     PEACE    

LOVE FOR ALL IN NEED

GOD EQUIPS US
TO RESPOND TO THOSE IN NEED –  as we seek to pass on God’s love. Jim was a stranger in town. He had traveled many places in his young life, but as he came to know the folks of Fields, he knew that was where God intended for him to stay. As Jim got to know people, he learned that the town had been established along the route of 19th century travelers heading west, their sites set on a new future, promised by the Homestead Act. The travelers were going to build the future of the West. This town seemed to be a very special place and over the years there were those who had changed their minds about going any further, and instead they felt called to stay in this small community and develop it in support of all those other travelers. So it was that no souls ever moved on their way westward without finding the blessings they needed to move on. At the time that Jim joined them, the population of the place that Lily Fields had begun was 400. By the time that Jim completed his sojourn on this earth, the town had grown to 800. He never told anyone that he was rich, and in fact, he lived very modestly, in a small, unassuming house tucked away at the back of the town. Over the years, he had supported all the businesses in town, while not really seeming to have one of his own. It was never questioned until he died, and his will was read in front of the whole community. His instructions were simple, and nobody was surprised at what they were asked to do. He said, “continue as you have always lived. When I arrived you fed me and clothed me, and returned me to health, giving only love to me and everyone else who came. Continue to love God, your creator, with your whole heart, soul and mind, and your neighbors as yourselves, as Deuteronomy reminds us, and as Lily Fields did all of her life. If you ever lose your way and forget why you are here, read Matthew 6, especially “Seek first the kingdom of God . . . and God will give you everything you need.”

All the people of Fields took Jim’s words into their hearts and continued to live in love, as they had always done. The town grew and prospered, until one day some who had never known either Lily or Jim began to stir up the town and caused worry to take over. They convinced everyone that Jim’s money would not last, if it were not managed differently. This meant that suddenly there wasn’t any money to care for those who needed it. And then through bad investing, the money started to shrink, instead of growing. One evening some teenagers were out walking around town, when they stumbled onto Jim’s old house. On the porch was a sign, a reminder of Jim’s last words to them – “Seek first the kingdom of God . . . and God will give you everything you need.” Without discussion, they took the sign, and put it up in the center of town, for all to see. It was soon discovered that the very same night, the managers of Jim’s money had left town, ashamed at how badly they had done their job. Even before new managers were put in place, the town’s atmosphere changed. They no longer worried about the future, or if there would be enough money. Their spirits were renewed, and they were again found busy helping those who needed God’s love.   O loving God, who feeds the birds of the air, guide us and feed our spirits, as we seek your new creation, and do the work you have for each of us to do. Show us how to rely on you and respond in love to all those around us in need of your love.  Amen.     PEACE  

THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN HAVE TAUGHT US

ALL THE HOSTS OF HEAVEN
HAVE TAUGHT US IN THE PAST – and continue to teach and help us in living a life for God. The Bible shows us many encounters with God’s angels and other celestial beings that God created for specific purposes. In Joshua 5 we read about a brief meeting with Joshua. God had directed the people of Israel to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land, after wandering in the desert for 40 years. And they took up residence near Jericho, living off the land, instead of the manna. There appeared someone who had the authority to speak for God and command Joshua, as God had been doing.  13 “Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. … ‘as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’   ‘Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”   Later in history, Daniel had visions and an encounter with an angel.  Daniel 9:21 … “while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice.”

Experiences with angels and heavenly beings are not confined to the Old Testament. In Luke 15:10 Jesus teaches  “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”   Then Paul tells the people of the local church in Corinth, in the second letter, chapter 4 –  18 “We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.”  God and the hosts of heavenly beings under God’s command have the power to accomplish anything and everything that God wills. So the hosts of heaven are busy day and night, guiding and supporting us, whether we are aware of them or not. When we pray and something goes the way it should have, against all logic and reason and we don’t know how it did, we have been helped by God’s great host. From the smallest things to major events, God is working for our good and our protection. It is often these heavenly beings that are actually carrying out God’s wishes and intent for us. They are not to be worshiped, for they exist to glorify God and for God’s purposes. They carry out God’s intent because of that. Next time we are blessed by some event, do let us consider that God’s messengers were responsible. Let us not write it off as if it were our imagination or it didn’t really happen. We are not crazy. We live in God’s realm, and in a time of great transformation. God wants us all to be blessed, and the Holy One has a large host of helpers to make it so. God has also given us a precious gift – the ability to choose what we will do. We can choose to believe and trust or not. Where will we be in the great transformation taking place now?    O loving and powerful God, we thank you for the many blessings, large and small that you accomplish in our world through the acts of your messengers and guardians who do your bidding. Help us learn to appreciate what they do and tell others of this power for good, in an otherwise mean and selfish world. Guide us in following what they do and add to it for the uplifting of life and joy around us.  Amen.       PEACE    

If you want help... Ask the angels for guidance and assistance in your life. Check out my full article for more tips and how to guidance for invoking the help of real angels now. #angels

WHEN WE NEED TO PRAY

WHEN WE NEED TO PRAY

AND DON’T KNOW HOW – we need not worry. God knows our hearts and hears our prayers without the need for words. I often urge and encourage others to pray when they are sharing a situation they know will be difficult or don’t know how to handle a situation they are in. In Romans 8 we are helped with this:  “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

When I encourage someone to pray, I sometimes get a face from them. That causes an immediate wordless prayer response in me, for whatever they need. I am not always sure why they give me a face. I think it is often an expression that seems to say, “I know I should but …” Or in others words, I’m not quite sure what to say to God. The passage from Romans clearly tells us we can pray and not use any words if they won’t come. The Holy Spirit knows what is within us and sees our intentions. When we know this is what happens between us and the Spirit, words are

not as important as we might have thought. People demand words from us. God does not. This is one way our hearts can grow in their capacity to love unconditionally, as the Holy One loves. The Spirit knows our shortcomings and will help us anyway. So what is stopping us from praying? Whatever we say to God, with or without words will be accepted with grace, unconditionally. Our concerns, our questions, our uncertainties will all be respected and received with unconditional love. We don’t need words to pray. We only need loving intentions or concern and the desire to follow God’s will. It doesn’t even need to make sense to us. When we face anything where there is doubt about what God would want us to do, or how to do it, we only need to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, with no explanations necessary. The Spirit will move in love wherever the love and understanding are needed. When we let go and trust the Spirit, powerful things will happen.  Loving Holy Spirit, we are grateful that you do not demand words from us. Help us open our hearts and let go of fear and uncertainty, so we can communicate our intentions and concerns to you freely. Increase our courage to reach out, as we see this process working in those we hold up to you in prayer. Help us practice and embrace praying without words for the sake of all.  Amen.     PEACE  

7 years ago today

Dear Friends – 7 years ago today I finally opened the door to a new road, with the Holy Spirit as my guide and traveling companion. The prompting for this had gone on for a long time, the path becoming clearer for what I would write. This is channeled writing, an experience of being prompted to write and then being given the words to set down. It is flavored by my own experiences of God that started at an early age. From the beginning, its goal has been to help readers find and deepen their relationship with God, through prayer and other spiritual practices. I am learning about all of this along with you. Out of gratitude to God, I find myself compelled to pass it on. God has always called on those who receive blessings to share those blessings with others. So it is with an open and thankful heart that this blessing is offered to you, coming from a Spirit that loves us without condition. ❤️ 

NURTURING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

NURTURING OUR RELATIONSHIP

WITH GOD – Spiritual practices will deepen our relationship: “Be still, and know that I am God!  Psalm 46

Begin at the beginning – as soon as we wake [maybe before our eyes open]

~ Be still; meditate; pray; envision something that makes us think of God,perhaps something in creation; or any other ways that work for us to connect to God. Our days will take a different path because we have done this every day. Every day we can start anew.

Remember how much God loves us:

~ John 3:16, 17 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave God’s one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent this Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

~ 1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

~ Psalm 36:7 “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.”

~ Romans 5:  3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

~ Romans 8:38-39 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5 “May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”

PROCEED with the day from here – God will lead and guide us. As we meet others and make decisions, God will be there to help us live with love. O loving and merciful God, we are grateful for your creative love that forgives us and still loves us without fail. Direct us.  Amen.    PEACE     From the book: BECOMING, A Practical Journey through Lent.   

ENRICHING OUR LIVES

ENRICHING OUR LIVES THROUGH READING THE BIBLE – does more than we can imagine. Just like everything else with God, when we put ourselves in a state of being influenced by reading scripture, or being open to God speaking to us through the Bible, we will be surprised by something in the experience. I don’t think I have ever read a passage for the first time, or after many times, when I haven’t had something new jump out at me that I haven’t heard or seen before. That might just be the Holy Spirit reaching out to touch us. We will always find new meaning in it. It is, in fact, the work of the Holy Spirit in that experience. For as long as we have had scriptural accounts, they have had the sense of living stories of God and the people who encounter God. So we do not just read the words, but the Holy Spirit impresses those words and their meaning on our hearts and minds. We can never know what will happen until we begin the process and the more open we are the more exciting will be the result.

Praying Bible passages is another way we can experience the Bible in a deeper and more unique way than reading. This can be done in whatever way works for us. Start with a story or section that is already of interest to us, then prayerfully read it several times. If it is something short enough to memorize then we can close our eyes, which will remove distractions and repeat it several times. A third way would be to ask before reading for insight, understanding, or whatever you might need at the time, to continue God’s work. However we read, whatever version we use, and whatever way we pray, the Spirit working through the Bible will always be a blessing in our day, will bring us closer to God, and what God has for us to do, now.   Creator and sustainer, we thank you for including us in your living presence in the Bible. May we continue to be inspired and equipped to do your will through it.  Amen.     PEACE