Friday, May 28, 2010

THE FIRE OF THE SPIRIT

It always amazes me that people pray for the Holy Spirit to come and fill them or fill their Churches with fire. I wonder if they really realize that the Holy Spirit does not do controlled burns.

-- Dennis Sheppard


#2545

Thursday, May 27, 2010

THE SECOND PERSON OF THE TRINITY

Years ago I heard theologian John Howard Yoder say that you can judge a theology by how often it talks about "God,"… and how seldom it mentions Jesus. The Second Person of the Trinity is the ethical stuff of our faith, the unmalleable, resistant fact that gives God a face, a name, an undeniable contour, an unavoidable claim upon us.

-- Will Willimon in Leadership Journal, Winter 2002


#2544

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

THE FLOURISHING LIFE

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) I've often considered this one of Jesus' most important teachings, and I've spent years trying to understand it. What does Jesus mean by life? Obviously, life for Jesus means more than physical life, the heart pumping blood through the body and the brain pulsing waves detectable by the sensors of an EEG.

The life Jesus came to give us involves more than adding years to our earthly existence. The fact that the person who reveals to us what our life can be died at age 33 indicates that living involves more than extending the timeline of our days a little further. Life in God, eternal life, involves a deepening, not merely an extending. It is a life of unending depth and meaning rather than of unending days. It involves richness, fullness, grace. The flourishing life involves knowing what it means to love and to be loved, to find a sense of meaning and satisfaction from our contribution to others, to discover purpose, connection, community, God. There are people who enjoy a vigorous physical health while missing out on abundant life altogether, just as there are people in hospice care with severely limited prospects physically and certain prognoses who nevertheless live fully, gracefully, and perhaps even joyfully.

What does abundant life mean? What does the gift of life in Christ give us? What makes for eternal life? These are questions stimulated by Jesus' single line, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

-- U.M. Bishop Robert Schnase, from his blog The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations


#2543

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

SALVATION AND THE TRINITY

The Christian's salvation is through the grace, mercy, and love of the Father; the sacrificial death of the Son; and the cleansing and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

-- Wesley Study Bible


#2542

Monday, May 24, 2010

TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

O Thou, far off and here, whole and broken
Who in necessity and in bounty wait,
Whose truth is light and dark, mute though spoken,
By Thy wide grace show me Thy narrow gate.

-- Wendell Berry


#2541

Friday, May 21, 2010

SPIRIT-EMPOWERED PEOPLE

In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before. It can happen again….

Such a people will not emerge until there is among us a deeper, more profound experience of an Emmanuel of the Spirit -- God with us, a knowledge that in the power of the Spirit Jesus has come to guide His people Himself, an experience of His leading that is as definite and as immediate as the cloud by day and fire by night.

-- Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline


#2540

Thursday, May 20, 2010

LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

The Christian life is essentially life in the Spirit, that is to say, a life which is animated, sustained, directed and enriched by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit true Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, indeed impossible.

-- John R. W. Stott


#2539

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

TRANSFORMING OUR TEARS

Teach us to pray our tears, O Lord. Absolve us of self-righteous pity that our hearts might carry the burdens which bring tears to Your eyes. Help us to cry beyond our own needs. Receive our tears and transform them into the cup of agape love Jesus poured out before all humankind in need of healing drink.

-- Karin Bacon


#2538

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

GROWING THROUGH ADVERSITY

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I suppose one of the hardest questions to answer is: “Why do I have to deal with so much adversity?!”

Quite honestly, one of the best answers I’ve ever come across was written by C.S. Lewis in his book, Mere Christianity. Lewis likened God’s use of adversity to walking a dog. If the dog gets its leash wrapped around a pole and tries to continue running forward, he will only tighten the leash more. Both the dog and the owner are after the same end: forward motion. But the owner must resist the dog by pulling him opposite of the direction that he wants to go. The master, sharing the same intention, but understanding better than the dog where he really wants to go, takes an action precisely opposite to that of the dog’s will. It is in this way that God uses adversity!

We really don’t like being pulled and corrected by the Lord -- but when we understand there’s a greater purpose involved, then we can pass through adversity with hope, expectation and steadfastness knowing these events are for our greater good!

Let’s learn from the trials and tribulations we go through because God has a purpose in them. We may not enjoy it, but when all’s said and done, enduring trials faithfully will produce perseverance, character, and hope. And hope will not disappoint us for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit…(Romans 5:4-5) We truly can trust in the God who loves us with an everlasting love because He knows the direction we need to go, AND He knows exactly how to get us there!

-- from Worthy Devotions


#2537

Monday, May 17, 2010

CAUGHT UP IN THE PARABLE

Parables are not illustrations of a point. They are powerful events that change us. They turn our lives upside down. A Jewish rabbi told this story about his grandfather, who was a pupil of the famous rabbi Baal Shem Tov. He said, ‘My grandfather was paralyzed. Once he was asked to tell a story about his teacher and he told how the holy Baal Shem Tov used to jump and dance when he was praying. My grandfather stood up while he was telling the story and the story carried him away so much that he had to jump and dance to show how the master had done it. From that moment he was healed. This is how stories ought to be told.'

Jesus’ parables should catch us up and carry us away. We find ourselves inside the parables and they transform us. Jesus’ parables usually did this by shocking people. The trouble is that we know them so well that they do not often surprise us. It is like listening to a joke when you know the punch line. We have to rediscover the sense of surprise. The parable of the Good Samaritan was scandalous for those who first heard it. We need to rediscover the shock.

-- Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, o.p.


#2536

Friday, May 14, 2010

ASCENDING TO THE THRONE

Hail the day that sees Him rise,
Ravished from our wistful eyes!
Christ, awhile to mortals given,
Re-ascends His native heaven.
There the glorious triumph waits,
Lift your heads, eternal gates!
Wide unfold the radiant scene,
Take the King of glory in!

-- Charles Wesley


#2535

Thursday, May 13, 2010

THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST

"So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19 NRSV)

His ascension marked a stage in His revelation, but it only brought Him nearer to us. To have lingered among the early disciples would have limited His mission and sequestered Him from the later Church. As the resurrection opened the grave, the ascension opened heaven.

-- Unknown


#2534

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

THE POWER OF KINDNESS

Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes the ice melt, kindness causes misunderstandings, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

-- Albert Schweitzer


#2533

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

EMBODYING THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS

The ministry of all Christians consists of service for the mission of God in the world. The mission of God is best expressed in the prayer that Jesus taught His first disciples: Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as in heaven. All Christians, therefore, are to live in active expectancy: faithful in service of God and their neighbor; faithful in waiting for the fulfillment of God’s universal love, justice, and peace on earth as in heaven. Pending this time of fulfillment, the ministry of all Christians is shaped by the teachings of Jesus. The handing on of these teachings is entrusted to leaders who are gifted and called by God to appointed offices in the church: some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12). For these persons to lead the church effectively, they must embody the teachings of Jesus in servant ministries and servant leadership. Through these ministries and leadership, congregations of the church are faithfully engaged in the forming of Christian disciples and vitally involved in the mission of God in the world.

-- from The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 2008, paragraph 132


#2532

Monday, May 10, 2010

A MODEL FOR LEADERSHIP

One of the most meaningful and dramatic episodes in the life of Christ came on the eve of His death, in what was to be His last formal meeting with the disciples (John 13). Jesus girded Himself with a towel, took a basin, knelt, and washed the disciples' feet. If ever we who administer need a model for leadership, there it is with Jesus at the disciples' feet. Power is subordinated to service; authority cloaked by humility. The managerial tools are not ROIs (return on investment), MBOs (management by objective), LISs (labor information statistics), or PFRs (project feasibility reports) but a towel and basin -- instruments of service.

-- Lawrence E. Holst in Hospital Ministry


#2531

Friday, May 7, 2010

JUST A MOTHER?

I'm Just a Mother? A few months ago, when I was picking up the children at school, another mother I knew well rushed up to me. Emily was fuming with indignation. Do you know what you and I are?" she demanded. Before I could answer - and I didn't really have one handy - she blurted out the reason for her question. It seemed she had just returned from renewing her driver's license at the County Clerk's office. Asked by the woman recorder to state her "occupation," Emily had hesitated, uncertain how to classify herself. "What I mean is," explained the recorder, "Do you have a job, or are you just a ......?" "Of course I have a job," snapped Emily. "I'm a mother." "We don't list 'mother' as an occupation...'housewife' covers it," said the recorder emphatically.

I forgot all about her story until one day I found myself in the same situation, this time at our own Town Hall. The Clerk was obviously a career woman, poised, efficient, and possessed of a high-sounding title, like "Official Interrogator" or "Town Registrar." "And what is your occupation?" she probed. What made me say it, I do not know. The words simply popped out. "I'm....a Research Associate in the field of Child Development and Human Relations."

The clerk paused, ball-point pen frozen in midair, and looked up as though she had not heard right. I repeated the title slowly, emphasizing the most significant words. Then I stared with wonder as my pompous pronouncement was written in bold, black ink on the official questionnaire. "Might I ask," said the clerk with new interest, "just what you do in your field?" Coolly, without any trace of fluster in my voice, I heard myself reply, "I have a continuing program of research (what mother doesn't) in the laboratory and in the field (normally I would have said indoors and out). I'm working for my Masters (the whole darned family) and already have four credits (all daughters). Of course, the job is one of the most demanding in the humanities (any mother care to disagree?) and I often work 14 hours a day (24 is more like it). But the job is more challenging than most run-of-the-mill careers and the rewards are in satisfaction rather than just money." There was an increasing note of respect in the clerk's voice as she completed the form, stood up, and personally ushered me to the door.

As I drove into our driveway buoyed up by my glamorous new career, I was greeted by my lab assistants -- age 13, 7, and 3. And upstairs, I could hear our new experimental model (six months) in the child-development program, testing out a new vocal pattern. I felt triumphant. I had scored a beat on bureaucracy. And I had gone down on the official records as someone more distinguished and indispensable to mankind than "just another......" Home... what a glorious career. Especially when there's a title on the door.

-- Unknown


#2530

Note: Today's quote was originally shared as a SOUND BITE about 10 years ago around Mother's Day weekend. I thought it was worth repeating. Blessings on all of the mothers on our SOUND BITES list, as well as those women who, although having no children of their own, have a loving parental influence on the children around them.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

AN AVALANCHE OF GOD'S POWER

Sometimes avalanches have been started by a skier just shouting a few words. It only needs a small amount of snow to be disturbed by that shout, and soon thousands of tons of snow will be thundering down the mountainside. In the same way a few words spoken to God our Father in Jesus' name can set off an "avalanche" of God's power in any part of the world. Even when we think our prayers are small and weak, God can use them if we trust in Him, because He is so powerful.

-- Jill Johnstone in You Can Change the World


#2529

Note: Today (May 6, 2010) is the National Day of Prayer in the U.S. Please join folks from around the country in prayer. "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." (Nahum 1:7) In proclaiming this the National Day of Prayer, President Obama wrote, "I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us." Please prayer for our city, county, state, and federal leaders.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

THE WILL OF GOD

[Jesus said,] "Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine." (Luke 22:42)

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, "All right, then, have it your way."

-- C.S. Lewis


#2528

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

CHANGE CHALLENGES US TO GROW

"Everything Must Change" was the title of my High School Senior Class song. It went something like this: "Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Winter turns to spring, the young become old and mysteries do unfold. There are only a few things in life that you can be sure of and that is rain comes from the clouds and humming birds do fly…"

Well, that became one of my favorite songs and one of my favorite verses in the Bible is, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) It is certainly good to know that in the midst of all of the inevitable changes that we face in life, that our Lord and Savior never changes.

Change is one of the things that we experience in life that challenges us to grow in our faith… As we all continue on this journey of faith, let us all welcome change and keep the faith in our Creator who the Apostle Paul writes about in Philippians 1:6, "God who began a good work with you will keep right on helping you grow in God's grace until God's work within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns."

-- Rev. Derrick R. Wright in the North Texas United Methodist Reporter, September 8, 2000


#2527

Monday, May 3, 2010

MADE TO FLOURISH

God made you to flourish -- to receive life from outside yourself, creating vitality and producing blessing beyond yourself. Flourishing is God's gift and plan, and when you flourish you are in harmony with God, other people, creation, and yourself. Flourishing is not measured by outward signs such as income, possessions, or attractiveness. It means becoming the person [God] had in mind in creating you. Flourishing means moving toward God's best version of you.

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree… they will flourish in the courts of our God." (Psalm 92:12-13)

-- John Ortberg in The Me I Want to Be


#2526