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 Rosemary: My soul waits for the Lord…

February 27, 2015
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My Soul Waits for the Lord

As I look out the window at winter’s barren landscape, I wait……donnie advent 2

As I look out the window at springs first blooming, I hope…….

In Psalm 130; 5, I am reminded of this recurring theme of waiting and hoping.

“…..I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope…..

I am moved as God reveals this to me in the rhythm of the natural world.  I plant bulbs in the winter and wait in hope for blooms to push through the earth in spring, I watch leaves color and die in the fall and wait in hope for the full flush of green leaves to shade our backyard in spring.  As the 4 o’clocks die to the ground in winter, I wait in hope for the sweet evening scent of their flowers on a warm summer evening.  As I watch our pink magnolia earnestly putting out its early spring buds, I wait in hope that a late winter freeze will not kill the beautiful pink flowers.

I’m reminded of a poem by Alan Hovhaness, “I’ve always regarded nature as the clothing of God.”  I see God’s faithfulness as nature waits in hope for Him to clothe his created world in the lush beauty of spring and early summer.  As I observe his faithfulness in the natural world I begin to recognize his faithfulness to me.

As I wait in hope during this Lenten season I intend to cloth myself with his sure promise….”For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption,” Psalm 130; 7

(c) 2015 Rosemary Conoley

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An offering from Bonnie: Lent…a time for repentance…

February 26, 2015
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Dandelion-Blue-Sky (1)
(c) 2015 Bonnie Oden http://www.noticeGod.org

John 3:-21
21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

What is repentance?  I often hear repentance described as turning away from sin and it certainly may involve doing that.  But “repent” means to change one’s mind.  Repentance, then, is about a fundamental change in the way we think about our lives – our purpose, focus, and behavior.

The process of repentance may culminate in the behavior of “turning from sin,” from specific behaviors.  Repentance may also involve regret or sorrow over having chosen to live our lives in the dark, away from God.

But, like a person who needs eyeglasses to see clearly, the point of repentance is not to make us ashamed us what we couldn’t see.  The purpose of repentance is to allow us to see:  to see God, to see ourselves as made in the image of God, to see ourselves as God’s beloved child and to see others as God’s beloved children, and to see that we are meant for joy that we can’t imagine without God’s grace.

Have you ever noticed how joyous the laugh is of little children?  Ours was like that too, before we were wounded.  Before someone very special to us wounded us with their lies.  “You are too loud.” “You aren’t as pretty as your sister.” “You aren’t as smart as your brother.” Or that someone wounded us with their actions to our young bodies, physical or sexual.  We internalized those lies as shame and hid them deep inside our hearts.  God does not want that for us.

God wants us to repent, to turn away from those lies, and to turn to Him for the truth.  God wants us to walk into His light and be revealed to ourselves as the wonderful child He created us to be.  He knew and loved us before the world was created.  It’s time for us to know and love ourselves as well.

(c) 2015 Bonnie Oden

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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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