An offering from Donnie: God’s faithfulness is a protecting shield

March 4, 2015
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Jeremiah 3:6-18

Upon reading this passage from Jeremiah for the first time, one might find the language a bit strong. But this oracle is a prophetic warning. As you read on you might be overwhelmed with the sense of the destructive character of sin. But wait, read on farther and see what the Lord has planned for the errant Israelites whom He created and loves. God promises a wise shepherd to lead them to be reunited with the Him who will gather them back under His wings.birds-of-north-america_t4868

What God promised for the Israelites he has also promised for us. When we are lost in sin we have the Son to shepherd us, to help us find shelter under our Father’s wings. Why wouldn’t you run to that shelter?

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,

who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

Say to the Lord, “My refuge and fortress,

my God in whom I trust.”

God will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,

from the destroying plague,

Will shelter you with pinions,

spread wings that you may take refuge;

Gods faithfulness is a protecting shield.

Psalm 91

 

© 2015 Donnie Hawley

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An offering from Evelyn: Sheltering with the Most High

March 3, 2015
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Psalm 91: 1-2

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “my refuge and fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”river sunrise

I come as a child stripped of the masks that encased my true self.

I long for the shelter and safety of the Most High.

I desire to abide in your shadow, Almighty One.

I seek you as my refuge and fortress.

I trust you to provide, to deliver, to protect and to guard.

Fear subsides.

I surrender even more deeply to your Love.

I am content.

I am grateful.

I am renewed.

I am becoming…

During this Lenten season I am living in the shelter of the Most High!

©2015 Evelyn Pope

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An offering from Eunice: The Lord accepts my prayer…

March 2, 2015
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The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:6  NRSV
Eunice Sun for 3.2.15blog post
Without confidence that the “Lord accepts my prayer, I could practice neither intercessory prayer nor meditation.”  My meditation time is often filled with more distractions than mental silence, so I remind myself that God does not judge my prayer and finds my effort pleasing. When I’ve felt sick at heart with grief, betrayal or worry, I’ve wondered, as did the psalmist, just how long God would take to answer me, or if God’s answer was “no.”  But I’ve been blessed with the confidence that God did hear me.  Long ago I lost track of a large framed poster, but not its message, a quote scratched into a wall in Auschwitz: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.  I believe in love when I feel it not.  And I believe in God even when He is silent.”

Eunice Cheshire
Spiritual Director

(c) 2015 Eunice Cheshire

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An offering from Deborah: The true kindred of Jesus

March 1, 2015
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Mark 3
31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters[c] are outside, asking for you.” 33 And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”grapevine5b1[1]

Jesus describes his kin not as his blood relations but as those who “do the will of God.”  Which begs the question, exactly how does one discern the will of God?  If you were to write a statement on “how I discern God’s will for me”, what would you include?  For myself,  the quick things that come to mind are prayer, meditation, study, journaling, worship and deep gratitude.  All of these things nudge me towards what I believe to be God’s will.  And each of these paths grow me in Christ to a certain extent but none more than the one thing I do for an hour every Wednesday morning that I didn’t list.  And that is reflection on my practice of these spiritual disciplines, or lack thereof, with my true kin…i.e., others who seek to do the will of God.  Perhaps Jesus knew that to truly accomplish God’s will in one’s life, a church family is vital.

(c) 2015 Deborah Bouis

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An offering from Dorothy: Is God calling me to find a new way to serve Him?

February 28, 2015
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SMI  LENTEN REFLECTION ON  HEBREWS 5:1-10c5

Lent generally prompts me to search out my sins, confess, and repent in order to start the season of Easter with a clean slate.  This year is different.  My family is in a state of transition. My daughter and her family are moving back to Dallas to live with my husband and me.  My own personal situation is also in a state of flux.  What is God doing here?  I am not privy to His plans, but as I was reading a passage in Hebrews, this verse caught my attention:  “And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was “ (Hebrews 5:4).  The reference is  to Jesus’ call by God to the priesthood, but the idea of call spoke to me.  Is God calling me to find a new way to serve Him?

Maybe.

(c) 2015 Dorothy Castle
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An offering from Lil: Stubborn…

February 25, 2015
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Deuteronomy 9:17 So I took hold of the two tablets and flung them from my two hands, smashing them before your eyes. 18 Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin you had committed, provoking the Lord by doing what was evil in his sight. 19 For I was afraid that the anger that the Lord bore against you was so fierce that he would destroy you. But the Lord listened to me that time also.

I am stubborn.

Choosing not to hear the Compassionate Voice that guides me can get me into trouble.  Mostly it is just my trouble.  DSCN0809

People are stubborn.

Choosing to turn away from the Compassionate Voice, people can destroy others, communities, nations.  How easily I can be swayed in that crowd of people to do the very thing I do not want to do.  The masses can change my mind.  The masses can change my heart.  The masses can tempt me with a “beautiful” voice that destroys and hates.

As I return to the Compassionate Voice this Lenten season, I pray that all other voices be silenced.  I pray that the love of God in Christ through the Breath will lead me in solitude and worship.

Help me to pray for others as Moses prayed for his people wholly, completely.  Help me to pray for the stubborn, the thieves, the haters.  Help me to acknowledge their goodness, to believe they too are called to be redeemed in the Compassionate Voice.  Help them to know that someone, perhaps someone they don’t even know, loves them and believes in them.  I am grateful to those who have done this for me.

(c) 2015 The Rev. Lil Smith

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An offering from Nancy Kate: He who keeps you will not slumber…

February 23, 2015
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He who keeps you will not slumber… He who keeps you, Israel, will neither slumber nor sleep – Psalm 121:3,4

God stays up all night on guard, so why I do not submit to sleep more readily?     DSC_1843

When I was little, sometimes I didn’t want to go to sleep lest I miss something. Curiosity wanted to see everything. To sleep would be an act of surrendering my desire to know more, to be included, to be a part of activity.

Sometimes now I stay up not wanting to relinquish consciousness– A variety of inner demons want to keep me awake… they whisper I should finish a program or project, see the weather report, answer emails, watch YouTube, read Face Book, clean house, plan my days, shop on Amazon…

I may seek sleep, but worry or regret or fear or responsibility or body issues like arthritic pain or a cranky digestive system can keep me from the restoring sleep I actually desire. Sometimes sleep just eludes me!

But I do love it when I am in a still, quiet position of surrender and sleep comes. It is peaceful. The demons lose their edge.  I rest secure.

God, the LORD, keep my going out and coming in, my going to sleep and my awaking.

(c) 2015 Nancy Kate Dunkerley

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An offering from Lil: You saw with your own eyes…

February 22, 2015
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You saw with your own eyes the great trials, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and outstretched arm, with which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples you now fear.  – Deuteronomy 7:19 

I notice I breathe easier when I realize the ones God chooses to lead his people are ones who need to lean on God to be successful leaders.  Hesitant, fearful, self-negating and all:  DSCN0240

Me, God?  Really?

Why do I continue to doubt?

You are so faithful.  You have always been so faithful.  You will be faithful.

While seeing, why do I continue to doubt?  While hearing, why do I hesitate?  While sensing, why do I fear?

Center me, loving God.  And hold me in the center so I may let go of thoughts that tear down, giving you more of me.  Let my eyes be opened again to your faithfulness.  Take my fear and replace it with love.

Help me reflect on the opportunities you have before me to share your love with the world.

(c) 2015 The Rev. Lil Smith

 

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