A Story to Embody: 8/26/12

I love the story of God and the fact that we've been invited to take our place in it.  This story is so full that my mind is not able to take it all in at once - and that is why I love these readings and how they take us through the year reminding us of what God is up to in our lives.  Today's readings remind us that we've been invited to live as one in the body of Christ - but that within the life of oneness there is great diversity in how we act out our faith.  My prayer for each one of you is that the eyes of your heart would be opened to the richness, depth and beauty the body of Christ provides for you - today, everyday. 

Psalm 84
1-2 What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies! I've always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!
3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
How blessed they are to live and sing there!
5-7 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!
8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:
O God of Jacob, open your ears—I'm praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.
10-12 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God
than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions.
It's smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

1 Cor. 12:12-14 (MSG)

12-13You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

14-18I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

Eph. 4:1-6
I am in prison because I belong to the Lord. Therefore I urge you who have been chosen by God to live up to the life to which God called you. 2 Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love.3 You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.4 There is one body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope.5 There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.6 There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.

Jn. 17:20-24
I'm praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they'll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you've sent me and loved them
In the same way you've loved me.

24-26Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.

In Christ,

Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography
Sermons that accompany weekly readings can be found at Holy Trinity Church

Being Changed by Contentment

As a homeschooling mother, the last 4 years, there has always been a little voice quietly whispering behind everyday.  That voice, while not from one particular person, has been created from a compilation of the questions people have often asked me. That quiet voice has included thoughts like:

Why are you homeschooling? 

Are you truly doing what is best for your children? 

Are your kids going to grow up and ask, "What were you thinking?"

Are you holding them back from what is best from them? 

Are you homeschooling out of fear?

While those questions are valid and need to be thought through and answered, living under them everyday is not healthy.  Especially, on the days when I am a cranky homeschooling mother, because then the guilt can really pile on to me.  The thing is too, that these questions have been answered, with both my husband and I being in agreement.  And yet, I've allowed myself to live under "this other voice" who never stops asking and is never satisfied.

I've been reading through Monk Habits for Everyday People by Dennis Okholm and I want to share some quotes, which for me, have directly addressed "this voice" and I look forward to a school year freed from living under it.

A comment by Henri Nouwen, "Wherever I am, at home, in a hotel, in a train, plane, airport, I would not feel irritated, restless, and desirous of being somewhere else or doing something else.  I would know that here and now is what counts and is important because it is God himself who wants me in this time and place. (from chapter 8: Staying Put to Get Somewhere)"

If you've read my post, "Taking Back Life" you know that this has been a theme for me this year.  As I walk through this area where God is strengthening me, I get to narrow down and actually apply it to specific areas.  There is such a relief and a freedom in knowing that I can be content right where I am at in what I'm doing.  The only voice I need to be answering to is God's voice.  So, I am learning to be content where I am placed.

But it doesn't stop right there.  God's purposes in where He has placed us aren't arbitrary.  He is shaping us and molding us in Him.  Any situation in life has the potential of affecting you and changing you.  As I stated, one of the times I hear this "other voice" more clearly is when I'm a cranky homeschooling Mom.  It would be much easier to run away and say, "I'm not cut out for this."  However, when I do this I am not giving God the room or place to bring about change in me:

Conversion and growth in character happen when we remain, not when we run (from Chapter 8).

Sister Irene Nowell said, "the daily willingness to turn and be turned together, the willingness to be a good example, to live every day in humility and wisdom and peace, praying all the while that Christ bring us all together to everlasting life.(from Chapter 8)"

These thoughts have brought freedom and excitement to me.  I am excited that God's desire for me is to be content right where I am placed each and everyday.  I am excited that I don't have to run (and one of the ways that I run is by thinking maybe I'm not doing what I am supposed to be doing).  Instead, in my contentment with where I've been placed, I can allow God to work on me, refine me and change me to be who He has created me to be.

Stability means being faithful where we are - really paying attention to those with whom we live and to what is happening in our common life (from Chapter 8).

"Many issues in our lives could be sorted out if we gave up some control of our environment and allowed God to surprise us by using the contexts and communities in which he has placed us.(from Chapter 8)"

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: August 18, 2012

I love the connection between these verses today.  This season is still reflecting on the "after effects" of Pentecost.  I love the emphasis on the Holy Spirit and how He interacts with our day to day lives.

Psalm 111:1-10
"Praise the Lord! I will thank the Lord with all my heart in the meeting of his good people. The Lord does great things; those who enjoy them seek them. What he does is glorious and splendid, and his goodness continues forever. His miracles are unforgettable. The Lord is kind and merciful. He gives food to those who fear him. He remembers his agreement forever. He has shown his people his power when he gave them the lands of other nations. Everything he does is good and fair; all his orders can be trusted. They will continue forever. They were made true and right. He sets his people free. He made his agreement everlasting. He is holy and wonderful. Wisdom begins with respect for the Lord; those who obey his orders have good understanding. He should be praised forever."

1 Corinthians 2:7-12 NCV
"I speak God’s secret wisdom, which he has kept hidden. Before the world began, God planned this wisdom for our glory. None of the rulers of this world understood it. If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written in the Scriptures: “No one has ever seen this, and no one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has shown us these things through the Spirit. The Spirit searches out all things, even the deep secrets of God. Who knows the thoughts that another person has? Only a person’s spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts. It is the same with God. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us.

Ephesians 3:14-21 NCV
"So I bow in prayer before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth gets its true name. I ask the Father in his great glory to give you the power to be strong inwardly through his Spirit. I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ’s love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God. With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen."

John 14:15-23 NCV
"“If you love me, you will obey my commands. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you. “I will not leave you all alone like orphans; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live, too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and that you are in me and I am in you. Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you plan to show yourself to us and not to the rest of the world?” Jesus answered, “If people love me, they will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."

In Christ,

The verses correlate with Holy Trinity's sermons.

A Story to Embody: August 12, 2012

I know some of my readers have found themselves in the middle of very long seasons, where they feel they have waited upon the Lord, and waited, and waited but they feel He hasn't heard their voice.  The Scripture readings today specifically address those hearts' cries.  My prayer is that you will be blessed by what you read.

However, before I share the verses I want to share a thought by Todd Hunter that he stated in "What about Authority" (3/28/12):
What if we discovered a six-act Shakespearean play that no one had discovered before?  These Shakespearean enthusiasts find it.  The first four acts are there and the sixth act is there.  So we know everything that has been happening and we know this one act that tells us how it is all going to end, but the fifth act is missing.  So we know something about the plot line, we know something about the characters who have come before us and we know something about how it is exactly going to end (Do you think then that they could figure out the fifth act?)... It is the same with us, we find ourselves currently in the fifth act, between the story of what God has done with man throughout the ages and with the grand ending - in a renewed heaven and a renewed earth with God's people working with Him.  Because of that take your little life and immerse it in the Scripture, be filled with the Holy Spirit and find your place in that fifth act.  Improvise, you aren't going to find specifics for your individual life, but you are going to find rhythms, routines, it's plot lines, what the good guys did and what the bad guys did and it calls out to us to find a way to live in alignment with what is going on there. (This is basically a direct quote my additions are in italics).

Based upon the quote above, I pray you can walk out the "fifth act" in your own life as you see who God has been and what He has done for those in the past and that His offer to us is the same today because we serve a God who is the same, today, yesterday and forever:

I Kings 19:4-8
Then Elijah walked for a whole day into the desert. He sat down under a bush and asked to die. "I have had enough, Lord," he prayed. "Let me die. I am no better than my ancestors."5 Then he lay down under the tree and slept.

Suddenly an angel came to him and touched him. "Get up and eat," the angel said.6 Elijah saw near his head a loaf baked over coals and a jar of water, so he ate and drank. Then he went back to sleep.
7 Later the Lord's angel came to him a second time. The angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat. If you don't, the journey will be too hard for you."8 So Elijah got up and ate and drank. The food made him strong enough to walk for forty days and nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

Notice that Elijah is discouraged and ready to give up.  The Lord strengthens him, with a loaf that gives him the strength to walk - 40 days and nights!  Mind you not everything is fixed right away, but he had strength to continue on.  The question is what in the world did he eat?  Continue reading to get a hint.

Psalm 130
Lord, I am in great trouble,

so I call out to you.
2 Lord, hear my voice;
listen to my prayer for help.
3 Lord, if you punished people for all their sins,
no one would be left, Lord.
4 But you forgive us,
so you are respected.

5 I wait for the Lord to help me,
and I trust his word.
6 I wait for the Lord to help me
more than night watchmen wait for the dawn,
more than night watchmen wait for the dawn.

7 People of Israel, put your hope in the Lord
because he is loving
and able to save.
8 He will save Israel
from all their sins.

Once again we see the cry of the discouraged, the lonely, those who feel they are abandoned. But again the Scripture reminds us that we can put our hope in God because He IS loving and able.

John 6:35, 41-51
Then Jesus said, "I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Some people began to complain about Jesus because he said, "I am the bread that comes down from heaven." 42 They said, "This is Jesus, the son of Joseph. We know his father and mother. How can he say, 'I came down from heaven' ?"

43 But Jesus answered, "Stop complaining to each other. 44 The Father is the One who sent me. No one can come to me unless the Father draws him to me, and I will raise that person up on the last day.45 It is written in the prophets, 'They will all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.46 No one has seen the Father except the One who is from God; only he has seen the Father.47 I tell you the truth, whoever believes has eternal life.48 I am the bread that gives life.49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but still they died.50 Here is the bread that comes down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give up so that the world may have life."

Remember Elijah and the bread?  Jesus offer to us is to be the bread of life that satisfies and helps us to endure the journey.  Elijah was able to travel 40 more days.  Unlike the Psalmist, who had to wait to see his cry answered, we today have the blessing of Jesus offered to us daily as sustenance for our journey.  Yes, we may not have arrived "at our desired destination yet" but He is our life every step of the way.

Ephesians 4:25-5:2
So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body.26 When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.27 Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.28 Those who are stealing must stop stealing and start working. They should earn an honest living for themselves. Then they will have something to share with those who are poor.

29 When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.30 And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God's proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the final day comes.31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil.32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.
You are God's children whom he loves, so try to be like him.2 Live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God.

These verses tie it all up for us.  It brings what we think about in our hearts before God and gives it feet for us to walk it out in our daily life.  We have the Holy Spirit of God as our daily proof that what we are experiencing today is not the end all or be all - freedom will be the ending.  Therefore, we can walk in love and forgiveness towards others.  Because (as God sandwiches these truths in) we are His children - whom He loves!!!!!!!!!!!

Beloved He loves you, He loves you, He loves you.  May you be strengthened and nourished by His Truth.

In Christ,

Photo courtesy of Melanie Guest Photography.

A Story to Embody: August 5, 2012

Psalm 51:1-12 NCV
"God, be merciful to me because you are loving. Because you are always ready to be merciful, wipe out all my wrongs. Wash away all my guilt and make me clean again. I know about my wrongs, and I can’t forget my sin. You are the only one I have sinned against; I have done what you say is wrong. You are right when you speak and fair when you judge. I was brought into this world in sin. In sin my mother gave birth to me. You want me to be completely truthful, so teach me wisdom. Take away my sin, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you crushed be happy again. Turn your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilt. Create in me a pure heart, God, and make my spirit right again. Do not send me away from you or take your Holy Spirit away from me. Give me back the joy of your salvation. Keep me strong by giving me a willing spirit."

 Romans 15:8-13 NCV
"I tell you that Christ became a servant of the Jews to show that God’s promises to the Jewish ancestors are true. And he also did this so that those who are not Jews could give glory to God for the mercy he gives to them. It is written in the Scriptures: “So I will praise you among the non-Jewish people. I will sing praises to your name.” The Scripture also says, “Be happy, you who are not Jews, together with his people.” Again the Scripture says, “All you who are not Jews, praise the Lord. All you people, sing praises to him.” And Isaiah says, “A new king will come from the family of Jesse.  I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Ephesians 3:1-13 NCV
"So I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ Jesus for you who are not Jews. Surely you have heard that God gave me this work to tell you about his grace. He let me know his secret by showing it to me. I have already written a little about this. If you read what I wrote then, you can see that I truly understand the secret about the Christ. People who lived in other times were not told that secret. But now, through the Spirit, God has shown that secret to his holy apostles and prophets. This is that secret: that through the Good News those who are not Jews will share with the Jews in God’s blessing. They belong to the same body, and they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus. By God’s special gift of grace given to me through his power, I became a servant to tell that Good News. I am the least important of all God’s people, but God gave me this gift—to tell those who are not Jews the Good News about the riches of Christ, which are too great to understand fully. And God gave me the work of telling all people about the plan for his secret, which has been hidden in him since the beginning of time. He is the One who created everything. His purpose was that through the church all the rulers and powers in the heavenly world will now know God’s wisdom, which has so many forms. This agrees with the purpose God had since the beginning of time, and he carried out his plan through Christ Jesus our Lord. In Christ we can come before God with freedom and without fear. We can do this through faith in Christ. So I ask you not to become discouraged because of the sufferings I am having for you. My sufferings are for your glory."

 Matthew 22:1-14 NCV
"Jesus again used stories to teach them. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. The king invited some people to the feast. When the feast was ready, the king sent his servants to tell the people, but they refused to come. “Then the king sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited that my feast is ready. I have killed my best bulls and calves for the dinner, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ “But the people refused to listen to the servants and left to do other things. One went to work in his field, and another went to his business. Some of the other people grabbed the servants, beat them, and killed them. The king was furious and sent his army to kill the murderers and burn their city. “After that, the king said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready. I invited those people, but they were not worthy to come. So go to the street corners and invite everyone you find to come to my feast.’ So the servants went into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. “When the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man who was not dressed for a wedding. The king said, ‘Friend, how were you allowed to come in here? You are not dressed for a wedding.’ But the man said nothing. So the king told some servants, ‘Tie this man’s hands and feet. Throw him out into the darkness, where people will cry and grind their teeth with pain.’ “Yes, many are invited, but only a few are chosen.”"

In Christ,

For more information on why I include these posts read "A Story to Embody"
Scripture readings from this week are from Holy Trinity Anglican Church.  Sermons that accompany these posts are available there.


 The wind rustling through the air.
The sun creeping to far away places.
 The clouds drifting through the air - a constantly changing picture on the sky's canvas
 The grass blowing in the wind
The birds joining into the conversation. 
The conversation of creation that surrounds us constantly - from the large to the very small. 
This is just the surface, it barely scratches all that is there. 
Yet, we can't take it all in, we can't hold it all - the amazement, the wonder it slips through our hands 
The conversation of love and sustenance

You didn't need to say much more.
Actually anymore. 
But you chose to step in to bring love beyond what constantly surrounds
what we've grown so accustomed to
 that we stopped listening. 
You took on the simplicity, the regularity of our humanity and you added another element 
an element of love. 
It started as a baby cry piercing the night,  
the laughter of a little child, 
the deep breaths of a man hard at work creating, building. 
The cries, the tears of loss. 
The rejection of acquaintances, friends, those closet to you. 
You were whipped, spat upon and through it all you choose to say, 
"Father forgive them." 

In the commonness of everyday man
you chose to come and share the story of the uncreated One 
- the story of love-
 every step of the way,
 the crescendo of acceptance, 
arms opened wide.

Amazing Creator of both big and small 
thank you 
for taking the time to show us your hands aren't too large
to hold our very small. 

In Christ,

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...