Christ awaken us to ourselves: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

March 31, 2018

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11

Our God is not one who holds us at a distance, but a God whose Spirit comes to dwell within us.  Our God is a God who shares his very life with us!  This is exciting news even to us who are accustomed to hearing it, and I find it fascinating to imagine the looks on the faces of the members of the Roman community to whom Paul sent this letter.  In our busy world, the challenge in this scripture for us may be in first learning to be present to ourselves in whom God dwells.   Otherwise, could it seem that we are dead to Christ alive in us?  Our Easter prayer may be a sincere request that Christ awaken us to ourselves and to His presence alive within us.

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

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Spiritual Saltiness: An offering from Donnie Hawley

March 20, 2018

For everyone will be salted with fire. 
Salt is a good thing, but if salt has become insipid,
how can you season it again?
Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.

Mark 9:49-50

“Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”

What does Jesus mean by this?  Those of us who cook know that too little salt makes food somewhat tasteless and it becomes insipid, while too much salt will ruin the food and it becomes inedible.  Salt is a seasoning and a preservative.

Is Jesus trying to tell us that the right amount of spiritual saltiness is needed?  In our relationship with God and others, if our spiritual saltiness is insipid, the peace we seek will also be insipid and our relationships will not be preserved.

On the other hand, if our spiritual saltiness is over bearing, God and others whom we want to be in relationship with will be put off by the brine and the crusty residue that brine leaves.

The question we have to ask ourselves is how do we develop this balance of spiritual saltiness that leads to peace?

(c) 2018 Donnie Hawley

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Let go and trust: An offering from Eunice Cheshire

March 19, 2018

Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.

John 8: 46-47

It seems as social media and the internet expands, what we can really trust as truth diminishes.  However, of this we can be confident:  we can believe the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus says and does.  And yet, so often we struggle to trust Jesus – to place our lives, circumstances and consequences solely in his hands.  Instead we impatiently take charge to try to make “something” happen – sometimes we are so impatient we will settle for “anything” we can make happen.  The closer we get to Palm Sunday our invitation may be to let go, to again trust Jesus’ truth and to join the procession of the followers to Jerusalem who trust and to put our lives in Jesus’ hands.

(c) 2018 Eunice Cheshire
HeartPaths Core Faculty
Spiritual Director and Supervisor

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You were bought with a price – An offering from Rev. Lil Smith

March 3, 2018

21 Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. Even if you can gain your freedom, make use of your present condition now more than ever.[a] 22 For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. 24 In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters,[b] there remain with God.  1 Corinthians 7:21-24

I visited the Holy Land this time last year, and now, I  often envision Paul by the sea…in prison…at Caesarea.  What strikes me is that Paul is in chains.  Yet, Paul’s letters don’t sound like Paul is in chains.  Paul has freedom despite the chains.  Despite the chains, Paul is free.

Friends, this is the true freedom that is the gift of God.  It is not the false freedom the world wants to possess. True freedom, despite our circumstance in the world, allows us to take a deep breath and choose to follow the One who creates, the One who redeems, and the One who encourages.

Holy God, may we embrace this precious freedom that comes at such a price.  Send us the gift of your freedom and Holy Peace that sets us free…even when we live in the chains of the world.

(c) 2018 Rev. Lil Smith
Spiritual Director and Supervisor
Retreat House Spirituality Center

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An offering from Rosemary: I am the bread of life

March 18, 2015

John 6:27-40

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger…..”

“The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread and when he gave thanks he broke it and said, “Take eat, this is my body, which is broken for you…..”
emmaus bread of life

Jesus says as I come to him I shall not hunger….he says Take and eat, this is my body broken for you…for me!!

When I spend time with Him in the quiet of the morning or the peace of a late afternoon, my heart lifts in gratitude with a steady security knowing he is beside me, in and around me with the sustenance of his presence. As I begin the day and I go about the business of living, I look up and notice with thanksgiving the beauty of the day in nature or in the people around me knowing it is The Bread of Life reminding me of His good gifts and to give thanks.

As continue into Lent preparing for that final week remembering his words I find His loving-kindness surrounding me with His loyal, steadfast, faithful love in the gift of his broken body…broken for me!!

I am led to wonder….Could I, would I be broken for Him?

(c) 2015 Rosemary Conoley

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An offering from Bonnie: Guide me in your truth and teach me

March 17, 2015

Psalm 25:5

“Guide me in your truth and teach me,

For you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.”

bonni oden psalm 25

God speaks to each of us in a unique way.  He speaks to me with photography, what I call contemplative photography, or “seeing with the eyes of God”.  Thomas Keating says, “Each new awakening to God changes our relationship to ourselves and to everyone else, as well as to Him.”  Photography is generally seen as a tool for recording our lives: family events and travels. On the other hand, a contemplative photographic experience can take place anywhere, even as close as your own backyard.  It doesn’t matter what kind of equipment is used, whether a cell phone camera or an intricate camera.  A photograph is made special when the photographer discovers something special, by paying close attention to what is around her, to what God wants her to see.  For me, this is the joy of photography.  I am able to see the photograph God wants me to see at that moment, and by our joining together, the moment becomes holy.  And in that moment, I am reminded that all moments are holy.  I feel my spirit and my soul light up without any effort.  I feel as if my soul is suspended in God and I am at peace.  I view the world not just with my physical eyes, but with my spiritual eyes, which I call “seeing with the eyes of God.”

As a photographer, when I look at the world with the eyes of God, he shows me the divine at work in the hidden depth of things.  It is so easy to let ourselves be lulled into complacency by the ordinary in our lives, but with God’s grace I see the ordinary turn into the extraordinary through the lens of my camera.  This is the gift God has given to me.

What is the unique way God speaks to you?

(c) 2015 Bonnie Oden

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An offering from Lil: I am my worst enemy

March 16, 2015

God Will Restore Israel

14 Therefore, the days are surely coming, says the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, “As the Lordlives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of Egypt,” 15 but “As the Lord lives who brought the people of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the lands where he had driven them.” For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their ancestors. (NRSV)

I am my worst enemy.  

I hear the judment and condemnation of others.  

I have a choice.  

I can accept it and believe it.  

Or I can block it and let it fall away.  

I am my worst enemy.  

I hear the cries of “crucify” from the crowd.  

I have a choice.  

I can join in the crowd. 

 Or I can have compassion and forgive.

I am my worst enemy.  

I can believe myself.  

Or I can belive in the transforming teachings of Christ.  

The Christ who shares a table with enemies.  

The Christ who walks with the doubter.  

The Christ who knows and loves the betrayer.  

The Christ who gives me another chance again and again.  

During Lent, I pray that I may learn to be gentle with my worst enemy.  That I may give compassion and forgiveness to my worst enemy.  That I may give up judgment and condemnation.  That I may exude compassion and love.

(c) 2015 Rev. Lil Smith

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An offering from Kathy: A foundation of faith and trust

March 15, 2015

Mark 8:16-17 (The Message)

” Meanwhile, the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread.  Jesus overheard and said, ‘Why are you fussing because you forgot bread?  Don’t you see the point of all this?’ “

I have someone in my life I have accompanied through many trials.  Over the years, I have witnessed GodDSCN1476work miracles in her life.  But in each trial, she responds as if God has never done anything in the past to help her.  She suffers the worry and anxiety, wondering if God is going to show up and work at all.  She has very little foundation of faith and trust.

I thought of her when reading of the disciples, arguing over their next meal, when they had just participated in the feeding of the five thousand.  As I pondered this, I envisioned Jesus building a brick foundation.  Each brick was composed of two things: an answered prayer and the gratitude that issues forth from our spirit in response.  Each brick becomes one in a foundation of faith and trust.

I examine my own foundation.  What does it look like? I look at the quality of the bricks: Do I spend enough time in thanksgiving for those answered prayers?  How strong is it?  Are there cracks or weaknesses in it?  Do I help Jesus in building my foundation by recognizing daily His provision in my life?

(c) 2015 Kathy Oehler

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An offering from Lee: I am not alone

March 14, 2015

In Psalm 31 someone is really in anguish: asking for God’s help, reminding themselves that God is faithful and with them.  This song “I Am Not Alone” which is a new YouTube release from Kari Jobe says what I and the Psalmist have both felt and I bet you have too in your life.  Sometimes music touches my soul in ways just words can’t!

“I Am Not Alone”

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul.

(c) 2015 Rev. Lee Self

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An offering from Therese: Grace Wins

March 13, 2015

Read Romans 6:1-11

No matter how much I sin/miss the mark, grace is always more.  In Romans 6:6, Paul’s words tell us that Jesus’ death absorbed the power of sin– that inner pull to turn away from God, ourselves, and each other … to resist the still, small Voice.  Sin might distract us for a time, but it will never again have the last word.  The fullness of Jesus’ love for humanity has broken that hold forevermore.  Grace wins.candle

When I am in the grip of my attachments (to my image, my “stuff” or my money, my appetites, my need to be “right”, my overdeveloped self-sufficiency), grace reminds me that I have a choice.  I can choose to let God choose FOR me.  I offer my tightened fist and allow God to gently, lovingly pull my fingers out straight … and replace whatever I am holding with God’s greater gift, beyond what I could ever ask or think.

(c) 2015 Therese Adamiec, Ph.D.

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