Scared Monkeys Discussion Forum

The Monkey Lounge => Inspirational scriptures, songs, stories and prayers => Topic started by: Sister on October 07, 2009, 01:50:24 PM

Title: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 07, 2009, 01:50:24 PM
What God Expects of Us
Colossians 3:12-16a, 17
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . . And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

√ Every person is a child of God.  Always speak respectfully.  One can disagree without being disagreeable.
√ As you patiently listen and observe the behavior of others, be open to the possibility that God can change the views of any or all parties in the discussion.
√ Listen patiently before formulating responses.
√ Strive to understand the experience out of which others have arrived at their views.
√ Be careful in how you express personal offense at differing opinions.  Otherwise dialogue may be inhibited.
√ Accurately reflect the views of others when speaking.  This is especially important when you disagree with that position.
√ Avoid making generalizations about individuals and groups.  Make your point with specific evidence and examples.
√ Remember that people are defined, ultimately, by their relationship with God – not by the flaws we discover, or think we discover, in their views and actions.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 12, 2009, 05:41:55 PM
It is much easier to see the shortcomings, faults, and sins of others.  Yet, it isn’t just “visible” signs of weakness that should trouble us, but rather the “invisible” thoughts within our own minds which should be our first concern.  Are we judging without knowing the full story?  Are we basing our judgments on someone else’s knowledge?  We never really know what is on someone else’s plate or how God is actively working in their lives, in ways which may not have manifested themselves yet.

I confess to you, Almighty God, that I have sinned by my thoughts, my words, and my deeds.  I can blame no other for I understand I am the thinker of my own thoughts, the speaker of my own words, and I control my own deeds.  Lord, I acknowledge these situations where it is I who has sinned.  I humbly ask your forgiveness.  I will seek the forgiveness of those I have harmed.  I am sorry and ask for your help through the Holy Spirit to mend these my weaknesses.  I pray for your pardon through the One who spoke your Word, who obeyed your Word, and who is your Word, every our Lord and our Savior, Jesus our Christ.  Amen and Amen.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 16, 2009, 04:37:48 PM
The Mother
The young mother set her foot on the path of life.  "Is
This the long way?" she asked.
And the guide said: "Yes, and the way is hard.
And you will be old before you reach the end of it.
But the end will be better than the beginning."

But the young mother was happy, and she would not
Believe that anything could be better than these years. So she
Played with her children, and gathered flowers for
Them along the way, and bathed them in the clear streams; and
The sun shone on them, and the young Mother cried,
"Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."

Then the night came, and the storm, and the path was
Dark, and the children shook with fear and cold, and the mother
Drew them close and covered them with her mantle, and the children said,
"Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, and no harm can come."

And the morning came, and there was a hill ahead, and
The children climbed and grew weary, and the mother was weary.
But at all times she said to the children," A little patience and we are
So the children climbed, and when they reached the top
They said, "Mother, we would not have done it without you."

And the mother, when she lay down at night looked up
At the stars and said, "This is a better day than the last, for my
Children have learned fortitude in the face of hardness. Yesterday I gave
them courage.
Today, I've given them strength."

And the next day came strange clouds which darkened
The earth, clouds of war and hate and evil, and the children groped
And stumbled, and the mother said: "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light."
And the children looked and saw above the clouds
An everlasting glory, and it guided them beyond the
Darkness. And that night the Mother said,
"This is the best day of all, for
I have shown my children God."

And the days went on, and the weeks and the months and
The years, and the mother grew old and she was little and bent.
But her children were tall and strong, and walked with
Courage. And when the way was rough, they lifted her,
For she was as light as a feather; and at last they came to a hill,
And beyond they could see a shining road and golden gates flung wide. And
Mother said, "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know the end
Is better than the beginning, for my children can
Walk alone, and their children after them."

And the children said, "You will always walk with us,
Mother, even when you have gone through the gates."
And they stood and watched her as she went on alone, and the gates
Closed after her. And they said: "We cannot see her
But she is with us still. A Mother like ours is more than a memory. She
Is a living presence......."

Your Mother is always with you.... She's the whisper
Of the leaves as you walk down the street; she's the smell of bleach
In your freshly laundered socks; she's the cool hand
On your brow when you're not well. Your Mother lives
Inside your laughter. And she's crystallized in every tear drop.
She's the place you came from, your first home; and
she's the map you follow with every step you take. She's your first love
And your first heartbreak, and nothing on earth can
Separate you.

Not time, not space ... Not even death!

--author unknown

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 01, 2009, 01:40:19 AM
If we are careful of silence, it will be easy to pray.  There is so much talk, so much repetition, so much carrying on in words and writing.  Our prayer life suffers so much because our hearts are not silent. -- Mother Teresa

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 26, 2009, 04:10:29 PM
To face life . . . to face yourself . . . to face your responsibilities . . . stay in the Word of God, because you find yourself in the Scriptures. 
If you’ve ever listened to the devil when you shouldn’t have . . . read about Adam and Eve in Genesis.  If you are trying to run from yourself . . . read about Moses in Exodus.  If you have tremendous challenges ahead . . . read about Joshua in the book of Joshua.  If you want assurance that God will give you victory when odds are against you . . . read about Gideon in the book of Judges.
If you want to see how God gives new life after loss  read about Naomi in the book of Ruth.  If you want to see how God will elevate you . . . read about David in First and Second Samuel.  If you want to see how God will bless you when you seek right things . . . read about Solomon in First Kings.  If you want to see the power of one person’s prayer . . . read about Elijah in Second Kings.  If you want to see how prayer and study go together . . . read Ezra.  If you want to know about struggles in pursuing a dream . . . read Nehemiah.  If you want to see how God gives victory over enemies . . . read Esther.
If you want to know about suffering and loss . . . read Job.  If you want to know about praise and paths . . . read Psalms.  If you want everyday wisdom and guidance . . . read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  If you want to know the language of love . . . read Song of Solomon.  If you want to know about comfort as well as judgment . . . read Isaiah.  If you want to know how to work through questions of God . . . read Jeremiah and Lamentations.  If you want to know about new life in a valley of dry bones where you are . . . read Ezekiel.  If you want to know how to survive being persecuted for righteousness’ sake . . . read Daniel.  If you want to know about love that is long suffering, not abusive . . . read Hosea.  If you want to hear about justice for the poor . . . read Amos.  If you want to see someone trying to run from the word of God . . . read Jonah.  If you want to know how to make it not by power nor by might but by God’s spirit . . . read Zechariah.  If you want to know how to do the journey from a doubt to a shout . . . read Habakkuk.  If you want to learn about tithing . . . read Malachi.    
If you want to know who Jesus is and what he will do for you . . . read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  If you want to know how the Holy Spirit will work in your life . . . read Acts.  If you want clarification of what we believe . . . read Romans.  If you want to know about the resurrection of the body . . . read First Corinthians.  If you want to know about becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus . . . read Second Corinthians.  If you want to know how social distinctions between race and sex are dissolved in Christ Jesus . . . read Galatians.  If you want to know about the whole armor of God . . . read Ephesians.  If you want to know about being risen with Christ . . . read Colossians.  If you want to learn of the second coming . . . read First and Second Thessalonians.  If you want to know how to endure hardship as a good soldier . . . read Second Timothy.  If you want to know about faith . . . read Hebrews.  If you want to know how to balance works and faith . . . read James.  If you want to learn about redemption by the precious blood of Jesus . . . read First Peter.  If you want to know about love of God and the love we ought have for one another . . . read First John.  If you need to be reminded that God will keep you from falling . . . read Jude.  If you desire the assurance that when it’s all over, evil will be vanquished and victory will be yours because he . . . our Alpha and Omega who is faithful and true, King of kings and Lord of lords . . . will bring it . . . read Revelation.
To face life . . . stay in the Word of God.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 20, 2009, 10:38:36 PM
The day is at hand . . . the Savior draws near!
Let us watch, and let our eyes be clear . . .
lest the star appear and not be followed . . .
lest the child be born and not be found. 

The day is at hand . . . the Savior draws near!
Let us listen, and let our ears be sharp . . .
lest the cry arise and go unheeded . . .
lest the angel sing and go unheard. 

The day is at hand . . . the Savior draws near!
Let us wait, and let our minds be open . . .
lest the candle go out and not be relit . . .
lest the Rose of Sharon bloom and not be seen.

The day is at hand . . . the Savior draws near!
Let us touch, and let our touch be lingering,
lest the unborn leap and go unnoticed,
lest the newborn tremble and go unloved.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 29, 2009, 12:01:22 AM
The Prayer of Silence
Imagine a soul so closely united to God that it has no need of outward acts to remain attentive to the inward prayer.  In these moments of silence and peace when it pays no heed to what is happening within itself, it prays and prays excellently, with a simple and direct prayer that God will understand perfectly by the action of grace.  The heart will be full of aspirations towards God without any clear expression.  Though they may elude our own consciousness, they will not escape the consciousness of God. This prayer, so empty of all images and perceptions, apparently so passive and yet so active, is, so far as the limitations of this life allow, pure adoration in spirit and in truth. It is adoration fully worthy of God in which the soul is united to him as its ground, the created intelligence to the uncreated, without anything but a very simple attention of the
mind and an equally simple application of the will.  This is what is called the prayer of silence, or of quiet, or of bare faith.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 03, 2010, 07:41:14 PM
The Voice of the Heart
Love which is the voice of the heart.  Love God and you will always be speaking to him.   The seed of love is growth in prayer. Ask God to open your heart and kindle in it a spark of his love, and then you will begin to understand what praying means.
If it is the heart that prays, it is evident that sometimes, and even continuously, it can pray by itself without any help from words, spoken or conceived.  Here is something which few people understand and which some even entirely deny.  They insist that there must be definite and formal acts.  They are mistaken, and God has not yet taught them how the heart prays.  It is true that thoughts are formed in the mind before they are clothed in words.  The proof of this is that we often search for the right word and reject one after another until we find the right one which expresses our thoughts accurately.  We need words to make ourselves intelligible to other people but not to the Spirit.  It is the same with the feelings of the heart.  The heart conceives feelings and adopts them without any need of resorting to words unless it wishes to communicate them to others or to make them clear to itself.
For God reads the secrets of the heart.  God reads its most intimate feelings, even those which we are not aware of.  And if these are feelings about God, how could he fail to see them, since it is God who plants them in us by his grace and helps our will to adopt them?  It is not necessary to make use of formal acts to make ourselves heard by God.  If we do make use of them in prayer, it is not so much for God’s sake as our own in that they help us to keep our attention fixed in his presence.  Our weakness often calls for the help of such acts, but they are not of the essence of prayer.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 20, 2010, 01:56:08 PM
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others.  He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces.  He was wise, for he has seen a long succession of mechanical toys, arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else.  For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand about it.
"What is REAL?" asked the [Velveteen] Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery tender, before Nana came to tidy the room.  "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse.  "It's a thing that happens to you.  When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.  "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up." he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.  "You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
--from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Kat_Gram on January 25, 2010, 10:32:12 PM
Thank you Sister for posting these thoughts and prayers.
I am going to come here more often. I find that if I read it one day, I think of my day and what I could have done better and then aim for the better the next day.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 26, 2010, 12:53:27 AM
Thank you Sister for posting these thoughts and prayers.
I am going to come here more often. I find that if I read it one day, I think of my day and what I could have done better and then aim for the better the next day.

Kat_Gram, how kind of you to say so.  I read something a while back (reading is my passion) about choices.  Let me find it and put it here.  I think you will enjoy it.  Again, thank you for your thoughts.  I too believe in leading an examined life.  If we don't look back at our day, how can tomorrow be better?  The Apostle Paul says we are to lead an examined life.  When I look at mine each evening, I also get the assurance from the Lord how He will help me make tomorrow even better.
If I can't find the piece about choices tonight, I will find it and post it here.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 27, 2010, 10:34:50 PM
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you will see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. ~ Gibran

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 27, 2010, 11:23:22 PM
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you will see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Mods, will you fix this for me -- it is by Gibran, yipes I forgot to post it with the quote.
Thank you.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 28, 2010, 04:44:29 PM
From Resignation
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

She is not dead, – the child of our affection, –
   But gone unto that school
Where she no longer needs our poor protection,
   And Christ himself doth rule.

In the great cloister’s stillness and seclusion,
   By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation, safe from sin’s pollution,
   She lives, who we call dead.

Day after day we think what she is doing
   In those bright realms of air;
Year after year her tender steps pursuing,
   Behold her grown more fair.

Thus do we walk with her, and keep unbroken
   The bond which nature gives,
Thinking that our remembrance, though unspoken,
   May reach her where she lives.

Not as a child shall we again behold her;
   For when with raptures wild
In our embraces we again enfold her,
   She will not be a child;

But a fair maiden, in her Father’s mansion,
   Clothed with celestial grace;
And beautiful with all the soul’s expansion
   Shall we behold her face.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on April 07, 2010, 05:18:18 PM
Mark 14
It was just two days before the Jewish Passover and the feast of the Unleavened Bread.  All of Jerusalem was in the midst of preparation.  Anticipation floated in the air and mingled with the aromas of a city that was getting ready to celebrate the most holy of all holy days.  This was the time for the rehearsal of Israel's long religious history.  There would be feasting and singing and praying. Generations would speak to one another about what it was like when God covenanted with Israel to be God's chosen people.  And the nation would remember again how God had promised them a messiah – an anointed one – who would lead them to victory and triumph!
In the midst of this preparation and excitement, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a colt.  Many people gathered and cheered while others laid their cloaks down to make a highway for Jesus as he approached.  Some waved leafy branches they had cut from the fields.  As Jesus rode forth into the city, the people shouted: “Hosanna!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!”
On this festive occasion Jesus was accompanied by his disciples and other faithful men and women who followed him wherever he went.  But not everyone joined the festivities, however.  There were those in Jerusalem's religious hierarchy who were afraid of Jesus because the crowds seemed to be spellbound by his teaching.  Whether anyone else recognized him or not, the chief priests and scribes suspected that Jesus might truly be the long-expected messiah.  Instead of embracing John the baptizer's message of Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, they were deeply shaken . . . for they perceived that this Jesus would turn everything upside down – including their status and security.
Jesus was too dangerous.  He interfered with the hard earned relationship that they had slowly established over the years with the local Roman officials.  Just when life had become more predictable and bearable, Jesus began to upset the delicate balance of their power and authority by what he said and did.  He eroded their favored positions of privilege by his very presence.  And besides, he had
insulted them in public and made them look foolish.  They could not save face many more times, for they continued to be outsmarted by his quick wit and verbal attacks.
“Beware of the scribes,” Jesus most recently had proclaimed, “for they devour widows' houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers.  They will receive the greater condemnation.”  There was no question about it . . . something had to be done with this man.  If he was the messiah, God would take care of him!  So the chief priests and scribes went about looking for a way to arrest Jesus and kill him.
During this critical time, the disciples of Jesus seemed to become more confused about his purpose and mission.  Jesus had told them on three different occasions that he would suffer and die.  Apparently they missed the implications of what Jesus meant.  They thought Jesus, who worked miracles, was invincible. Suffering and cross bearing and death surely could not be part of the equation for discipleship.  They protested.  They became anxious.  And they argued about who would be given the best place of honor.
Misunderstood by his disciples and threatened with imminent arrest by the chief priests and scribes, Jesus felt lonely and isolated.  His heart ached for love and companionship.  His body must have been tired and weary.  Perhaps Simon̓s invitation to dinner should be accepted.  Simon the leper had a reputation for his hospitality.  It could be that a dinner party was what they all needed to relieve some of the tension that had been building.  It would provide a time for fellowship and refreshment.  So he went.
Jesus went to Bethany and while he was eating dinner at the house of Simon the leper, this woman appeared out of nowhere.  She burst in . . . uninvited and unwanted!  What a brash and dangerous thing for a woman to do.  She was breaking the Jewish custom that women were not allowed to enter the dining room when men were present.  As if this was not enough to anger any righteous man among them, the woman did another completely unexpected thing.  In front of the astounded and indignant male guests, she broke the alabaster jar she carried and anointed the head of Jesus!
A solitary figure, the woman was as bold and unashamed as she was tender and compassionate.  Whether the woman had met Jesus before is unimportant.  It was what she did in the unsolicited act of anointing that remains unforgettable. Apparently she was familiar with his teachings and took seriously the message about the new age that Jesus proclaimed where all the old values would be turned upside down.  Perhaps she had heard about the announcements he made about his own death and the plans of the chief priests and scribes.  Perhaps her faith enabled her to discern the gravity of the situation.  Whatever prompted her action, the woman willingly went against the accepted place of women in her religion and culture, for she realized that the time to do something for Jesus was soon to be no more.  Out of her resources and possessions, she did what she had the power to do. She poured a senseless amount of precious perfumed ointment over Jesus' head. This was not the common, ordinary ointment that was used every day. It was pure nard.
The cost of the ointment, pure nard, was worth a year's wages for a laborer.  Nard, made from flowers of the spikenard plant that grew on the slopes of the Himalayan Mountains far from Jerusalem, was usually transported overland by caravan.  From Egypt to China, this fragrance was found on the cosmetic shelf of any woman who could afford it.  Nard was a very costly item that would never be used in excess.  Mostly it was touched to the skin in occasional and deliberate dabs or driblets.  To break open a container and pour it all out was an extravagant act that verged on prodigality!  In fact, the woman's excessive response was not so unlike the extravagant behavior of a father toward his son in a story that Jesus had been known to tell.
It was the woman . . . not Simon or the male guests and disciples, who was doing, acting, caring, touching, anointing, giving, and risking.  And Jesus accepted her silent acts of intimacy and devotion with profound respect and reverent silence.  Perhaps Jesus longed for the warmth and comfort of another's touch. Perhaps the cool ointment cascading from his head over his face and neck was like a baptism of sorts.  Perhaps this tender act of mercy brought healing to his heavy heart.  Perhaps, just once, it felt good to receive.  To sit and be passive.  To let someone minister to him.  Perhaps to be cared for and loved was a balm to his soul.  Perhaps this anointing was an act of emancipation for both Jesus and the woman.  Jesus was not ashamed or embarrassed or defensive.  He did not rebuke or resist or reject her.
Rather, Jesus affirmed the woman for who she was and what she did.  The response of the disciples at this occasion must have been a disappointment to Jesus.  After all, they had been with him for a long time.  They had heard the words he had spoken about his suffering and death, and yet they did not perceive his weariness and deep sorrow.  And as soon as the woman entered the room, they saw and heard only what their culture expected them to see and hear.
They saw a woman who had spent too much money to do a foolish thing. The ointment she bought was too costly . . . too luxurious.  They were concerned about how the money could have been spent to forward their cause . . . so it was high finances and social utility that prompted their berating comments.  They were offended not only by her presence . . . but by her action as well.  To them, it was Jesus who seemed not to understand the gravity of the situation.  This was the time to plan a revolution . . . not to sit around and be pampered!  It must have confused the disciples even more when Jesus scolded and rebuked them and then praised the woman and delighted in what she did.  At the moment, they could neither hear his reproach nor see the woman's act of ministry.
Afterward, all the disciples would remember the dinner party at Simon's house.  They would remember the woman and what she did.  They would remember Jesus and what he had told them about suffering and death and drinking from the same cup.   Most of all, they would remember the great price one disciple paid for the ointment she used to anoint Jesus' head and the small price another disciple accepted from the chief priests for Jesus' betrayal.
More than to 2,000 years later, we also remember.  We remember her because this unnamed woman confronts us still.  She will not let us take the easy way out.  She remains a model for us because she was not afraid to give what was uniquely hers to give. In remembering her, we are challenged to do what we have the power to do.  It may be only a little that we can do . . . or it may be much.  This is not even the question.  To do what we have the power to do is more than enough.  It is everything God asks!

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on April 26, 2010, 05:53:30 PM
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem when he stopped at one of the local synagogues.  It was his custom to preach and teach wherever he could, and this Sabbath day was no exception.  Word had spread that Jesus was in town . . . the very same Jesus who had cast out demons and had made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to leap.
The synagogues were a meeting place for prayer and worship services. It also had an area for the study of and discussion about the Torah—God’s laws by which they lived.  People gathered from the town and the surrounding villages.  They found their way into the synagogue and claimed their rightful places—the men in the main area of the synagogue and the women separated and hidden behind a kind of grillwork with the children and slaves.  They gathered to witness the presence of the one whom others claimed to be miracle worker. Perhaps this day they would see and hear for themselves what Jesus was all about.
At the very back of the room behind the grillwork and close to the women’s entrance could be seen a grotesque shadow.  Nothing but a shadow -- or so it seemed -- gave shape to the figure of a woman bent double.  Curved and folded in upon itself, the deformed body had been her burden to carry for eighteen years.   
If the people had not been so preoccupied with Jesus’ visit, they would have noticed her and denied her entrance into the synagogue.  She certainly had no business being where she was that day!
All was quiet.  Anticipation hung in the air with the incense.  Jesus stepped forward and held up the Torah to read God’s word.  He paused long enough to look at the faces watching him.
But what about that shadow of a woman . . . the one with the misshapen body who slouched and leaned against the wall?  She could not see Jesus, and yet she knew he was looking at her.  She could feel the congregation turn toward her.  It was frightening . . . but she was going to keep standing there until commanded to leave.
Jesus called her.  Out loud.  In public.  In the synagogue.  It was strictly forbidden by rabbinic law that a man give any public recognition to a woman—let alone speak openly to one.  But here was Jesus—this unorthodox preacher—calling her to him.  Surely there must be some mistake.  He should not be addressing her. Not the hunchback possessed with a spirit of infirmity.  Not the one from whom people recoiled and for whom they stepped aside to avoid the risk of her touch.  But there was that clear voice again. Jesus was calling her to come to him.
Jesus’ speech parted the crowd, and there she was!  This time people moved not to avoid her, but to look at her.  It was as if, for the first time in eighteen years, she really existed.  Above the murmuring of the assembly, the shuffle of her sandals against the hard floor echoed throughout the synagogue.  Each step seemed an eternity of slow, awkward, painful motion, but Jesus was in no hurry.  In that long moment between where she had been and where she was going, she knew who was in charge.  It was Jesus who was Lord.
She stood in front of him.  Bowed in upon herself—just as she was.  Because she could not lift her head because she was so bowed over, she could see only his hands and his feet.  She wondered what his face looked like— this teacher, who through the power of his voice parted the crowd and made her feel whole.  Everyone was waiting to see what would happen.
“Woman,” Jesus said, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.  Rid of your ailment. Set free from this disease. You are no longer bound. Woman, you are free!”
These words spilled over her like sweet perfume and baptized her with new possibilities. They anointed her lonely, parched heart. They loosened the vicious pain of bone and tissue and sinew that had for days and years turned in upon her body.
“Woman,” Jesus was saying again to her, “you are free from your infirmity.”
In that moment between sickness and health, between brokenness and wholeness, the woman knew the decision was hers to make.  She was held between the grasp of a familiar past and the promise of a future yet unknown to her soul. 
Jesus waited.  He waited until he knew her heart had decided, and then he reached toward her and laid his hands upon her. It was like awakening from a cramped position in a long, hard sleep.  No longer bent over, her body still ached from all those years of being folded in upon itself.  And it ached from the unspeakable goodness and joy of the miracle that lifted her upright.  For the first time in eighteen years, she could see straight ahead of her.  She could look people squarely in their faces. A simple thing most people never think about, but this woman knew it to be a miracle.  It was into the eyes of Jesus that she first looked, and in the looking, she knew the source of her healing and her salvation. And she praised God!

And that my friends, is how I describe death and resurrection.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on May 23, 2010, 12:05:15 AM
Good Deeds
  Author Saul Bellow wrote about a rabbi who lived in a small Jewish town in Russia. The rabbi had a secret. Every Friday morning the rabbi disappeared for several hours. The people of his congregation liked to tell people that during his absence from them their rabbi went up to heaven and talked to God. When a stranger moved into town and heard this explanation for the rabbi's weekly departure, he was not convinced. So he decided to find out what was really going on. The next Friday morning, he hid by the rabbi's house, waiting and watching. As usual, the rabbi got up and said his prayers. But unlike other mornings of the week, he then dressed in peasant clothes. He grabbed an ax and wandered off into the woods to cut some firewood. With the man watching from afar, the rabbi then hauled the wood to a shack on the outskirts of the village where an old woman and her sick son lived. He left them the wood, enough for a week, and then went quietly back home.
  After seeing what the rabbi did, the stranger decided to stay in the village and join the congregation. From then on, whenever he heard one of the villagers say, "On Friday morning our rabbi ascends all the way to heaven," the newcomer quietly added, "If not higher."

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 20, 2010, 11:58:20 AM
The moving story of Sydney Carton in Dickens "A Tale of Two Cities" is a story of expiation.  Each night Carton would make his way toward his lonely house, only to weep on his unmade bed over his wasted life and lost opportunities.  And yet at the end there is a beautiful scene of self-sacrifice when Carton, for the sake of the woman he has hopelessly loved, exchanges places with Darnay in prison.  As Carton rides on a cart to the guillotine to give his life for another, there is a beautiful light in his face as he envisions the future happiness of the woman he loved in vain.
One life for another.  Isn't that what Christ has done for us?  In perfect, holy obedience to the Father, Jesus takes our place before the judgment seat of God.  He makes confession and forgiveness possible.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on July 18, 2010, 11:40:53 PM
Luke 18:2-5:
In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, “Grant me justice against my adversary.”  For some time he refused.  But finally he said to himself, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!”

The main character in the story is a widow.  Now it’s never easy being a widow.  In our culture, widows can be wealthy.   They can hold positions of influence.  And even though many widows face severe financial problems, they are at least allowed to work, attend school and own property.
When Jesus told this story, the situation was quite different.  A widow generally had no education, no job, no money, no property, no power, no status.  If she had a son who would care for her, she could survive.  If not, she might become a beggar -- the first-century equivalent of a street person or a bag lady.  She would be a social outcast.
In Jesus’ story, the widow had an adversary.  Some unnamed local villain was harassing her.  Perhaps the person was intimidating her physically; perhaps the person was withholding or stealing funds that should have been used for her support.
In any case, the adversary was winning and she was losing.  The widow had no good way to protect herself, no relatives to see her plight and offer help, no governmental organization to come to her aid.  She had only one shot at warding off this villain --  she could go before a local judge and plead her case, throwing
herself on his mercy.  And that is what she decided to do.
Enter the second character: the judge.  Jesus described him in two crisp statements: he did not fear God, and he did not respect other human beings.
Without fear of God, this judge had no sense of accountability.  He did not respect God’s Word, his wisdom or his justice.  He did not worry that at some future day of reckoning he would have to give an account for his decisions.  Therefore, he made his own justice, decreeing whatever suited his fancy.  Like a loaded cannon loosed on deck, he fired wherever he wished.
Without respect for other human beings, this judge did not care how his decisions affected the people who looked for justice in his courtroom.  Since people didn’t matter to him, he felt free to use and abuse them.  He did not see them as brothers and sisters but as problems, interruptions, headaches, hassles.
And this judge was the widow’s last resort.
It makes you want to say to her, “Don’t waste your time going to court.  The judge is probably in cahoots with your enemy.  He’ll laugh in your face and throw you out in the streets.”  That, of course, is exactly what he did -- but the story doesn’t end with his dismissal of the case.  
Hurt and shocked by the judge’s behavior, the widow gathered her wits and examined her situation one more time.  With grim resolve she said to herself, “I don’t have any other options.  This judge is my only hope.  Somehow I must get him to protect me.”
But how could she do this?  No higher court would hear her case.  Penniless, she couldn’t even bribe the judge.  “I know what I’ll do,” she said to herself.  “I’ll pester him.  Every time that judge turns around, I’m going to be right in his face.  I’ll follow him home, I’ll follow him to work, I’ll follow him to the race track.  I’ll be on him like a shirt until he offers me protection, puts me in jail or kills me.”
So that’s what she did -- and it worked!  She pestered the judge until one day he raised the window in his office and shouted, “I can’t take it anymore!  Somebody fix this widow’s problem.  I don’t care what it takes.  Just do it.  She is driving me crazy.”
The happy ending to this story is that the crooked, uncaring judge finally gave the widow protection from her adversary.  Yet he did not do this from the goodness of his heart, but only because of her extraordinary ability to pester him.
Luke says Jesus told this story to show his disciples “that they should always pray and not give up”! (v. 1).  A lot of believers, having read just this far, make a grave error in interpreting it.  Thinking of the story as an allegory, they look at it like this:
We humans are like the widow.  Impoverished, powerless, with no connections and no status, we are unable to handle our problems alone and feel that we have nowhere to turn.
God, then, must be like the judge, these misguided believers continue.  He’s not really interested in our situation.  After all, he has a universe to run, angels to keep in harmony, harps to tune.  It’s best not to bother him unless it’s really important.
If we’re desperate, though, we can always do what the widow did: we can pester him.  Bang on the doors of heaven.  Spend hours on our knees.  Ask our friends to pester him too.  Sooner or later, we may wear him down and wrench a blessing from his tightly closed fist.  Eventually he may shout, “I can’t take it anymore -- somebody fix this problem!”
Does that interpretation sound right to you?  I hope not.  But how often I talk with people who seem to think God is like that judge!  They are absolutely convinced that the greatest challenge associated with prayer is finding the lost key that will somehow unlock the vault of blessings that God, for some reason, would prefer not to open.
I get tired of reading titles that promise to divulge the secret of getting past God’s reluctance, to reveal the little-known way to pester our way into his presence.  Please, please don’t ever think of God that way!  Jesus never meant this story to imply that God is like that callous judge.
What, then, does the story mean?  Jesus himself interpreted it as soon as he finished telling it.  You’ve heard how the unjust judge reacted, he said; now look at God’s approach.  “Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?  Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly” (v. 7-8).
According to Jesus, this story is not an allegory, where elements in the story stand for truths, outside the story.  Instead it is a parable --a short story with a puzzling aspect that forces listeners to think.  This particular parable is a study in opposites.  Take a look at the contrasts.
First, we are not like the widow.  In fact, we are totally opposite from her.  She was poor, powerless, forgotten and abandoned.  She had no relationship with the judge.  For him, she was just one more item on his to-do list.  But we are not abandoned; we are God’s adopted sons and daughters, Jesus’ brothers and sisters.  We are in God’s family, and we matter to him.  So don’t tiptoe into God’s presence, trying to find the secret of attracting his attention.  Just say, “Hello, Father,” and know that he loves to hear your voice.
Second, our loving heavenly Father is nothing like the judge in Jesus’ story!  The judge was crooked, unrighteous, unfair, disrespectful, uncaring and preoccupied with personal matters.  By contrast, our God is righteous and just, holy and tender, responsive and sympathetic.
The psalmist says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good" (Ps 34:8).  Don’t think you have to figure out a way to wrench a blessing from him, somehow to trick him into giving up what he would rather keep for himself.  God’s Word teaches that God loves to bestow blessings on his children.  It’s his nature; it’s who he is -- a giving God, a blessing God, an encouraging God, a nurturing God, an empowering God, a loving God.
The Bible teaches that we serve a God who is simply looking for opportunities to pour out his blessings on us. It’s as if he were saying, “What good are my resources if I do’'t have anyone to share them with?  Just give me a reasonable amount of cooperation, and I will pour out my blessings on you.”  This theme shows up in the Old Testament time and time again.
Deuteronomy 28:2-6, 12 says:
All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.  The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock -- the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.  Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.  You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.  The LORD, will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you.... The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.  You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
All through the Old Testament, then, we see the theme that God is ready and willing to share his resources with his people.  In the New Testament this concept is extended and made even more precious.  There we learn that we have been adopted as God’s sons and daughters and have become heirs, along with Jesus Christ, of his glorious kingdom.
Jesus taught us to call God Father, actually, Papa. (difference in paternity and fatherhood)
In Romans 8:16-17 Paul wrote:
“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs -- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
What a fantastic doctrine.  God wants to cover us with blessings because he has adopted us as his sons and daughters!  Should we ever fear to tell our Father our needs?
For some reason, though, most of us have a hard time accepting the gifts God gives us.  In the past, when God would bless me with a special portion of his Spirit, I can distinctly remember feeling, “God must have had his wires crossed.  Why would he do that for me?”  In fact, I would feel guilty about my good fortune, as if I had somehow acquired something that God didn’t really want me to have.
I’m  learning to give God a little credit.  If imperfect fathers love their children -- multiply it as far as you can, and you’ll know a little of how your heavenly Father feels about you.  No one’s voice is sweeter to God than yours.  Nothing in all of the universe would keep him from directing his full attention to your requests.
Is anything holding you back from making them known to him right now?

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 20, 2010, 11:35:40 PM
The notion of peace in our hearts is beautifully illustrated by a story found in The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers:   
“There were three friends who were eager workers, and one of them chose to devote himself to making peace between people in accordance with “Blessed are the peacemakers.”  The second chose to visit the sick.  The third went off to live in tranquility in the desert.  The first toiled among the quarrels of people, but could not resolve them all, and so he went to the one who was looking after the sick, and he found him flagging too, not succeeding in fulfilling the commandment.  So the two of them agreed to visit the one living in the desert.  They told him of their difficulties and asked him what he had been able to do.  He was silent for a time, then he poured water in a bowl and said to them, “Look at the water.”  It was all turbulent.  A little later he told them to look at it again, and see how the water had settled down.  When they looked at it, they saw their own faces as in a mirror.  Then he said to them, “In the same way a person who is living in the midst of people does not see his own sins because of all the disturbance, but if he becomes tranquil, especially in the desert, then he can see his own shortcomings.” – Benedicta Ward
This story leaves little doubt that tranquility of the heart comes from prayerful self-examination.  It is then that we may be ready to start walking humbly on the road to further God’s kingdom on earth with peace in our own hearts.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 22, 2010, 12:17:07 PM
Giving Your Life to the Mission
This past week I have been thinking about people who have been obsessed with mission. Some years ago, Scott Carpenter died. Scott Carpenter was one of the great citizens of the United States of America. He was one of our seven first astronauts. He was truly a great man. Scott Carpenter was a man who had a sense of mission. Let me read what Scott Carpenter had to say, “This project of being an astronaut and going to the moon, gives me the possibility of using all of my capabilities and all of my interests and gifts at once. This is something that I would be willing to give my life for.  I think a person is fortunate to have something that you care that much about that you would give your life for. There are risks involved, that’s for sure.” Then Scott Carpenter went on to say in the following words in a letter to his wife, “My dear, if this comes to a fatal, screaming fiery end for me, I will have three main regrets . I will have lost the opportunity to prepare for my children’s life here on this planet. I will miss the pleasure of seeing you and loving you when you are a grandmother. And will have never learned to play the guitar.” Signed, Scott. He cared for his wife. He cared for his children. He wanted to play the guitar. But more than that, more than his love for his wife and children, more than his wanting to learn to play the guitar, Scott Carpenter was willing to give his life for the mission to go to the moon.
What does it mean to give your life for THE mission of Jesus Christ?
Edward F. Markquart, Christ Brings Division

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 06, 2010, 12:31:43 PM
The Sin of Excuses
I am concerned about the second sin.  Philosophers wonder about the first sin, and the average person doesn’t usually keep count . . .  but I very concerned about the second sin.
Part of my concern stems from the feeling that I may be the only one concerned about the second sin.  And of course it is so subtle.  That’s why so few are thinking about it, which naturally makes my burden all the greater . . . because I witness it every day . . . yes every day, within myself, within our church, in our communities and beyond. 
But before we go farther, let’s review the circumstances of the first sin, since this is where the whole issue begins.  You remember the story.  Adam and Eve were living in an utterly perfect setting, in a place so ideal that they called it Eden . . . paradise.  It seemed they had everything their hearts could desire.  The only thing forbidden to them was the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
One day a spectacular visitor, the serpent, struck up a conversation with Eve.  We don’t know why he ignored Adam, who was with her (Genesis 3:6), and spoke to her, nor why she carried the whole weight of the conversation.  The serpent raised in Eve’s mind a question about the goodness of God . . . Why would God refuse her and Adam the privilege of anything in the Garden, especially something that obviously must be the most desirable thing there?  And then an  accusation . . .  God refuses you this particular fruit because God knows you will become equal to the Divine if you eat it.
So Eve was convinced, and she ate.  And being generous by nature, she shared the fruit with her husband, and he ate.  And that was the first sin.
Of course that story doesn’t satisfy us . . .  it only quickens our curiosity.  What, exactly, was that first sin?  Some have suggested that it was the discovery of sex, because Adam and Eve became conscious of their nakedness and made themselves garments of fig leaves.  But that explanation misses the point, even if it succeeds in making the story more exciting.  The issue was the human desire to be equal with God -- to do what God could do.
The Bible, in its profound wisdom, portrays the first sin in entirely symbolic language.  If it had described the sin as the violation of a specific commandment, we humans would ever after have thought that act to be the worst sin and probably the only one to worry about . . . and I expect we then would have been unconcerned about all the others.  But the writer of Genesis sharply gives us a picture . . . The first sin is the eating of the forbidden fruit.  It is the basic act of disobedience and disbelief.  As such it is the essence of our human problem.
This first sin is highly significant because its the first.  But the second sin may, in fact, be more important . . . because we’ll never recover from the first sin so long as we’re guilty of the second.  The scriptures and human experience both testify that God has provided a remedy for the first sin, no matter what it is.  But the second sin can make God’s remedy ineffective.  That’s why it concerns me so.  One might even say . . . that the second sin is the unpardonable sin.  And yet, you don’t hear anything about the second sin, do you?
Let’s go back to the Bible story to see how it all happened.  After Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, they became ashamed of their nakedness . . .  but far more important, they became uneasy about God.  So when God came walking in the Garden soon thereafter, Adam and Eve tried to hide.  They must have realized that it is impossible to hide from God, but sin makes us humans do irrational things . . .  sin is never very smart, you know, not even when it dresses itself in sophistication.  “Why are you hiding?” God asked.  And Adam, who had been quite silent in the conversations with the serpent, replied, “I heard you coming and didn’t want you to see me naked.  So I hid.”
Now God pressed the matter.  “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten fruit from the tree about which I warned you?”
Adam answered, “Yes, but it was the woman you gave me who brought me some, and I ate it.” And Eve, not to be left bearing sole responsibility, chimed in, “The serpent tricked me.”    
Now there you have the second sin.  It is even more dangerous than the first, because it prevents our recovering from the first . . . it is the sin of excuses . . . the unwillingness to admit that we are wrong and the refusal to see ourselves for what we are.  Whatever our original sin may be, whether it is lying, adultery, cheating, unforgiveness, ill temper, gluttony, drunkenness, gossip, or murder . . . there is always hope for us.  But when we become guilty of the second sin . . .  the sin of excusing ourselves and of being unwilling to face ourselves . . .  we close the door against God and hope.
Ah, it brings us to that word we don’t like to use -- repentance.  The world does, indeed, stand or fall with our readiness to repent.  This is true of nations, of institutions, of individuals.  If a nation takes a wrong road and repents, she can recover . . . but if she insists on justifying her policies, she will disintegrate.  It may be a slow process, but it is a sure one.  The prophets called it the judgment of God, but it is written into the very nature of the universe.  Either we face ourselves and repent, or our world falls.
The same rule applies to institutions.  When investigative reporters revealed that a national charitable organization was paying exorbitant salaries to a few top officers and that money was being used recklessly, the organization could either tough it out or admit it had erred.  It chose to confess its sins, and it survived.  I doubt that the public would have continued its support if that organization had done anything less than make an abject apology to the nation.  But the key word is not “abject” . . . it is repentance.
Fiorello La Guardia, whose name has been taken by both an airport and a musical, was the flamboyant but effective mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945.  He was an institution!  But he made mistakes and acknowledged them.  He noted that he didn’t make many and said, “But when I do, it’s a beaut!”  His voters laughed with him, because he knew enough to acknowledge when he was wrong.
Mistakes don’t destroy us . . . nor will the eternal mistakes called sins . . . what destroys is our inability to face ourselves and confess that we’ve been wrong.  If a child doesn’t do well in school . . . there’s still hope if they will say to their teacher, “I must be doing something wrong . . . I need help.”  But there’s almost no hope for the person who insists on excusing their poor work . . .  the teacher doesn’t like me   . . . the kids make fun of me . . . I forgot to bring my homework home.  Those who make the most of the educational enterprise are not necessarily those with a high I.Q.  The secret is to be teachable . . .  and to be teachable you must be willing to admit that you don’t know . . .and that’s a form of repentance . . .  repenting of ignorance.  As long as we excuse our failure to learn, we frustrate the learning process.
But even learning is relatively inconsequential compared with the issues of the soul, our very being.  The personalities of the Bible might easily be divided into those who were willing to learn . . . that is to repent . . . and those who were not.  Those two categories could also be classified as the victorious and the tragic.  Moses and Balaam both erred, but Moses repented his way to greatness while Balaam died a fool.  Saul and David were both sinners, dramatically flawed, but Saul exited in tragedy while David was declared a person after God’s own heart.
One of the current buzz words for not taking responsibility . . . for making excuses for our behaviour is . . . my family was dysfunctional . . . the Holy Scriptures are filled with dysfunctional people . . . some of histories most magnificent human beings have been marked by major sins, mistakes, and dysfunctions . . . yet they have come to greatness because of their capacity for acknowledging their failures.  They are great, in some instances, not in spite of their sins . . . but because of them.  Character grows out of the soil of our lives like a tender plant.  If we repent of our sins, repentance breaks the soil of life so that the plant gets a new and stronger start.  But if we excuse or ignore our failures . . .  the soil of life hardens until the plant of character simply cannot survive.
I have suggested that the second sin may be what is often called “the unpardonable sin.” The unpardonable sin is defined as the sin against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28, 29), a blaspheming of the Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit is the persuasive agent in our lives, the power which convicts us of sin.  When we excuse ourselves and refuse to recognize our sins, we harden ourselves against the Spirit’s work of persuasion.  That very act of resisting and hardening is a sin against the Spirit . . . a blaspheming, so to speak, of the Spirit’s work.  If this rejection continues long enough, we come to a place where we no longer hear or sense the Spirit’s pleading.  How could we be more lost than to be in a state where we are no longer disturbed about being wrong?  We come to such a place by the continuing process of self-excusing.
What experts we are in hiding from the knowledge of what we are!  Adam and Eve set the pattern for us, and we’ve been refining it ever since.  When God asked Adam if he had eaten from the forbidden tree, he had the opportunity to step forward and confess what he had done.  Instead he answered, “Yes, but the woman . . .”  What a courageous soul he was . . . brave, ready to shoulder responsibility!  “It was the woman.”
And the woman, I regret to say, did no better.  Several differences exist between the sexes, but sin isn't one of them.  Male and female, we have a common facility for excusing ourselves.  While it is often noted that the woman committed the first sin, it must also be said that the man led the way on the second.  And in both cases, the other was all too prompt to follow.  So when Eve saw the blame heading toward her, she quickly said, “The serpent tricked me.”
But I’m not done with Adam.  His excuse doesn’t stop with shifting the burden of blame to Eve. He complains to God, “It was the woman you gave me.”  In other words, “It’s your fault, God, for so generously providing me with this lovely creature who leads me astray . . . this one of whom I said so recently that she was bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.  It’s your fault for giving her to me.”
We’ve been talking to God that way ever since.  “It’s the temperament you gave me.  I can’t help myself.”  “My father was an alcoholic -- It’s in my genes.”  “My wife/husband doesn’t show me love . . . I was made a loving person . . . I’ve got to get it somewhere.”  “We’re poor, and we have to sell drugs for money.”  “I don’t have any friends    . . . so I steal to be cool.”  “It’s my lack of talent.  If only God had given me more talent.”  “I’d help keep the church clean or help cut the grass or work on that committee . . . but God didn’t give me enough energy.”
The truth is . . . we have refined the skills of earlier generations.  Our great learning has given us new ways to excuse ourselves.  Vast numbers use psychiatry and its related sciences to aid and abet their natural inclination to blame someone else . . . we blame our parents . . . we blame lack of parents . . . we blame our neighbors . . . we blame each other.  It just doesn’t cut it . . . at least scripturally.  We make the mess of our lives . . . how to solve that . . . for all of us, that means stripping ourselves of all excuses and making a new start.
Our knowledge is leading us, it seems, to a veritable epidemic of fault-displacement.  George A. Tobin, the Washington attorney and writer, recalls an acquaintance who excused his various moral lapses by saying, “Well, I’m just the kinda guy who. . .”  All of us have known such a person . . . some of us have sometimes been such a person!  But now we have science, of sorts, on our side.  We’re quite sure we can find secrets in our genetic code to prove that we’re really not responsible for what we do.  “What can one expect of a person whose intricate makeup is like mine?” we ask.  “Pastor, you just don’t understand” . . . oh yes I do.  There’s something both perverse and amusing about the fact that some who scorn the idea of a devil, have shaped a devil of their own and have christened it in the name of science.
The ultimate tragedy of the second sin is that it prevents us from finding God.  The ancient poet cried out in his guilt:
   The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  (Psalm 51:17)
God can visit the penitent soul because the penitent soul has an open door.  But God is shut out of the life that covers over its failures with a hard surface of excuses.  The Forgiving One never has opportunity to forgive and restore those who will not acknowledge that they want such a divine Friend.
When Adam and Eve sinned, a great mercy came into their lives.  God called, “Where are you?”  When you’re trying to run from yourself and from God and from life, that call doesn’t at first seem a mercy.  In his epic poem “The Hound of Heaven,” Francis Thompson describes God as one whom we flee  “down the vistas of the years.”  But kindly and persistently, God pursues us, hounds us, follows after us.
I imagine a community that has been devastated by a fatal epidemic.  Now a physician comes who has a sure, accessible remedy.  Through the streets of the village he walks, past closed doors, crying out as in ancient Eden, “Where are you?  Where are you?” 
Some hide in the basements of life and die.  But others sense the mercy in the cry and recognize that as painful as it may be to confess the possibility of their infection, they must submit themselves to treatment so that their lives can be saved.
Shall we say to the physician, “My neighbor is responsible . . . or  the woman you gave me . . .  or  I was born with a weakness . . . or the environment is against me . . . or the system is bad . . . or who can get well where I live? . . . or she hurt me most . . . or he says he’s sorry about the same thing, over and over.”  No . . . no!  Say, “I'm infected.  Please heal me.  Please make me well.”
Whatever sin or weakness or inadequacy affects and afflicts us, God offers the remedy.  Only one thing can prevent our getting well.  Only one!  The second sin.  Our innate unwillingness to confess that we need help . . . and on the basis of that confession, to seek God’s remedy.
Whatever we do with this life, whatever course we follow, let us be sure that we don’t die making excuses.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Kat_Gram on September 14, 2010, 11:18:14 PM
Thank you sister, very intersting reading.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 15, 2010, 08:00:26 AM
Thank you sister, very intersting reading.

One of the issues I think hurts all of us, including me, is not taking responsibility for our actions, the sin of excuses.  From that can come the lack of respect for others and that is a huge issue in our society now, IMO.  Somewhere along the line, we were not taught to respect others . . . I often wonder if it began with the "Me" generation.
Glad you read here Kat_Gram . . . what I write I try to make thought provoking.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Kat_Gram on September 15, 2010, 09:12:47 PM
I really thought about your writing after I had closed the computer for the night. I also copied it to a word doc to read and am going to put it in my purse. Sometimes we get so entrenched in our judgemental thinking about other persons that we fail to look at ourselves.
I went to work today and cleared up some old work that I felt I needed help with and had several different reasons at the ready as to why I hadn't finished it, in case anyone asked.
I tackled 80% of it, going to do the rest tomorrow. Just a small thing, but I need to apply some of your writing to my family relationships, which is the big thing. Nothing is wrong in my immediate family, but we get way too verbal with each other from time to time and then don't speak. I want to stop that and can only work on it from my end. And I have been.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 06, 2010, 06:04:36 PM
Wanting the best for our children
Matthew 20:20-23

Faith is only faith when it has learned to accept the nos as well as the yeses of God.  This was a lesson all of the disciples who walked with Jesus had to learn.  This was a lesson that Paul, who counted all things as lost for the sake of Christ, had to learn.  This was a lesson that Jesus learned as he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane about the necessity of the cross.  This is a lesson each of us most learn if we intend to follow Jesus to the end.
Several years ago, one of my parishioners, a young man, had prayed that God would heal his grandfather.  When this young man’s prayers were not answered in the way he desired, he was deeply disappointed and hurt.  His attitude toward God and religion soured, and he stopped attending church.  It wasn’t that his grandfather had died . . . but after his stroke, he wasn’t the same.  The young man stopped believing in God because his prayer was not answered in the precise way that he had desired.  Faith cannot survive unless it learns the nos as well as the yeses of God.
This was a lesson that Salome had to learn on her own faith journey.  Salome has the distinction of being the only woman in the Gospels whose request was denied by Jesus.  In the Gospels, whenever a woman made a request of Jesus, he usually complied.  When Jesus’ mother asked him to intercede for a young couple whose wine had run out at their wedding feast, he complied.  He may have been irked because his mother was disregarding his timetable, but he did what she asked nevertheless.  When Martha and Mary sent for him to come see about their brother Lazarus, he came.  He may have been late according to their standards, but he came nevertheless.  When mothers brought their children to Jesus to bless them, he did so despite the misguided efforts of his well-intentioned disciples to shield him from those who disturbed him.  When the woman with the issue of blood touched his garments to be healed, Jesus responded to her unspoken request and ameliorated her condition.  In the Gospels, whatever women sought from the Lord they usually received.  Yet he turned down the request of Salome.
Jesus’ no to Salome is significant when one considers who she was.  The Gospel of Matthew identifies her as one of the women, along with Mary Magdalene, who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had ministered to him.  Thus, she was one of his loyal supporters and as the wife of Zebedee, who owned a flourishing fishing business, she was undoubtedly one of his strong financial backers.  There is a tradition that believes Salome was the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother . . . if that is true, then she was Jesus’ aunt.  As his aunt, she had probably known him all of his life . . . she may have even cared for him when he was an infant.  Thus, when she spoke, she did so from the perspective of strong and close family ties.  Whether she was actually Jesus’ aunt or not, she was, in fact, the mother of James and John, two of the Lord’s closest and most prominent disciples.  We naturally tend to feel close to the parents or relatives of our best friends and closest companions.  Thus, when Salome spoke, she did so from the perspective of strong personal ties of friendship.  Salome was one of the Lord’s loyal supporters . . . she may have been his aunt . . . she was a person with political and personal clout among the disciples . . . yet Jesus told her no.
The response of Jesus is significant when one looks at the way in which she came to Jesus.  According to Scripture, she knelt before him. . . she came humbly.  She didn’t come to Jesus demanding anything because she was one of his supporters.  She didn’t come to Jesus claiming any rights due her because she was his senior.  She didn’t come trying to lay any guilt trip on the Master because she was his aunt or because he had deprived her of the two sons who one day might be needed to take care of her.  She came to him humbly . . . she came with the right attitude and spirit . . . yet Jesus told her no.
The response of Jesus is significant when one considers the nature of her request.  Essentially she was not asking anything for herself . . . she was interceding for others.  Her request reflected the spirit of Christ, who was always giving.  We often talk about the cost of discipleship and what is required of us to be Christians.  We often refer to the fact that we are called to take up crosses.  However, let us not forget that Jesus is essentially a giver.  He gives much more than he receives and returns much more than he keeps.  When he asks something, he does so, not to receive, but that we might be blessed even as we give.  With all of the charges and accusations that the enemies of Jesus brought against him, no one accused him of taking or keeping anything for himself.  Whatever he received he gave back to them.  When he received a little boy’s lunch, he gave back a banquet for five thousand persons.  When he received words of praise, he gave them back as praise to his heavenly Father.  When he received bread and wine, he gave it to his disciples as symbols of their redemption.
Jesus was essentially a giver and so was Salome.  She gave her time to minister to Jesus and her sons to be his disciples.  Her husband, Zebedee, was not getting any younger.  She could have resisted the call of James and John to become disciples of Jesus.  She could have asked them, “Who will take care of the family business and look after me if the two of you follow your poor cousin, Jesus, or that young vagabond prophet from Nazareth?”  She may have had her own dream regarding the careers of her son.  Salome, however, did not put any hindrance in the way of her son’s calling but became a follower of Jesus herself.  She gave of her substance . . . she gave of the most prized possession that any true mother has . . . she gave her sons to Jesus.  Salome, who had been so unselfish, so loving, and so giving, only made one request of Jesus . . . yet he told her no.
On bended knees with her two sons she came to him and said, “Master, I have something to ask of you for these two sons of mine who are already close to you and whom you have already taken into your confidence on more than one occasion.  Command that one may sit on your right hand and the other on your left.”
Now before we criticize Salome for her request, let us observe that there is nothing wrong per se with a mother looking out for the best interests of her children.  What good parent doesn’t want a better life for his or her children?  Good parents are not envious of their children’s successes.  Good parents hope that their children will go further in life than they have, and if they can do anything to pave the way to help them, they will.  Salome in her request was only looking out for the well-being of her children as any good mother should . . . yet Jesus told her no.
Let us note further that there is nothing wrong per se with the desire to be next to Jesus in the kingdom that he will establish.  Salome and her sons are to be commended for believing in the power of this homeless, penniless, weaponless, armyless preacher of God’s word whom they followed to bring a kingdom into being.  Their request showed an audacious leap of faith.  Some mothers want their sons to be seated next to the Caesars of history . . . others want their sons seated next to persons of great social standing and wealth.  But Salome desired that her sons be seated next to Jesus.  There is nothing wrong per se with a request to be next to Jesus . . . but our Lord told Salome no.
Jesus recognized that although Salome’s faith was well intentioned, it had much to learn.  He said, “You don’t know what you are asking.  Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink.”  They said to him, “We are able.”  He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and my left hand is not mine to grant; it is for whom it has been prepared.”
Before we can fully enter the kingdom, there are some cups from which faith must drink, there are some which can be bitter.  Our inclination is to ask God to remove the bitter cups from our lives.  Sometimes God says no to us because those cups qualify us to enter the kingdom of God.  I once knew a lady of great faith who constantly prayed for healing for her husband.  That healing never came, but she had such a sweet disposition and such faith that she encouraged everyone who met her.  I don’t deny that her cup was bitter, but the fact that she drank it well allowed her to enter the kingdom.
There was a period of time when I had several dreams about the marks of Jesus upon my own body.  Then I dreamed of the mark that the world –  and certainly I –  had forgotten.  It was the mark upon Jesus’ shoulder made by the cross that he bore to Calvary.  I discovered that I could only have the marks of the Lord on my hands and feet if I had the marks on my shoulders that came from bearing the cross.   If we do not drink of certain cups, then we lose the key to the kingdom for which our faith unlocks the door.  If we do not drink from certain cups, then we cancel our reservations on the journey that leads from earth to heaven and from time to eternity.  If we do not drink from certain cups, then we cease going from strength to strength and from glory to glory.
Perhaps, Jesus gave Salome a further explanation: “You and your sons will drink of my cup.  James will be among the first of my disciples to be martyred for the cause of the kingdom.  John will live to be an old man, but he shall experience persecution, banishment, and distress.  He will see all of his companions die one by one until in extreme old age he will be left alone with nothing to comfort him but the memory of vanished years and the hope of an eternal future..  As their mother and as a loyal follower, you will have your share of the cup of sorrow, but I must still say no to your request.  To sit any my right hand and my left hand is not mine to grant, but it is for those whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
Jesus could have added: “If I say yes to you, I’ll have to say no to too many people.  If I say yes to you, I’ll have to say no to too many Christians who will come after you, who will face raging lions and be burned at the stake, and who have as much right to those places as you.  If I say yes to you . . .”
Sometimes God says no to us so that he can say yes to others.  Many a Christian has stayed beside the sickbed of someone, praying for recovery in this life.  But while God said no to the one who was praying, God said yes to the one who was sick.  God told that person, “Yes, you’ve fought the good fight . . . yes, you’ve run the good race . . . yes, you deserve your reward.  Yes, come, blessed of my father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
I’m glad Jesus said no to Salome because he was able to say yes to another host.  John, the Revelator, wrote about it:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belong to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!” . . . Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and whence have they come?”  I said to him, “Sir you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation, they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night within his temple; and he who sits upon the throne will shelter them with his presence.  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; . . . for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:9-10; 13-17)

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 07, 2010, 12:26:14 AM

Death Is A Door
by Nancy Byrd Turner

Death is only an old door
Set in a garden wall.
On quiet hinges it gives at dusk
When the late birds call.

Along the lintel are green leaves;
Beyond, the light lies still;
Very weary and willing feet
Go over that sill.

There is nothing to trouble any heart,
Nothing to hurt at all, --
Death is only an old door
In a garden wall.

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear
falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.

He speaks, and the sound of his voice
is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
and the melody that he gave to me
within my heart is ringing.

I'd stay in the garden with him
though the night around me be falling,
but he bids me go, thru the voice of woe,
his voice to me is calling.

And he walks with me
and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own,
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: mymonkey on November 09, 2010, 10:27:45 AM
This is a wonderful thread Sister...thank you for taking the time to post here for all the monkeys... ::MonkeyAngel::

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 21, 2010, 11:12:18 PM

   In Luke 17:11-19, we read that Jesus healed ten “untouchables” . . . ten lepers.  This incident is not only another example of the healing power of Christ, it is a demonstration of the Master’s sensitivity to human need and his ever-present compassion.
   The sight of lepers was common in Jesus’ day and most people grew accustomed to seeing them.  Suffering and misery are like anything else . . . we can get used to them.  If we see them enough, if we’re confronted by them enough, then we cease to be shocked by them and we learn to accept them as the natural order of things.
   However, Jesus was not so accustomed to suffering and misery and tragedy that he could take problems, injustices, and pain lightly.  Whenever he saw misery, something moved within him . . . his heart was touched and he responded.  He knew that he couldn’t heal everybody in the world, but that didn’t stop him from healing those that he could.  Thus, when the lepers cried out to him, Jesus responded.
   As the lepers followed Jesus’ command to go show themselves to the priest, they found themselves cleansed.  As they followed the instructions of Jesus, they found themselves healed.  It came to pass that as they went, they were cleansed.  Deliverance, cleansing, salvation, and healing come to us only as we listen to the directives of the Lord and obey.  Sometimes those directives may seem strange, but it is only as we, in faith, venture to do as the Lord has commanded and the Spirit has directed, that we are set free from that which once held us bound.
   When the lepers discovered their healing, what was their response?  Nine went their way, while one returned to give thanks.  When the one returned, glorifying God for what had been done in his life, Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten? Where are the nine?” 
   I don’t know exactly where the other nine went . . . the Scriptures do not say.  Perhaps a couple of them didn’t return because they took their healing for granted.  There was no reason to be thankful because they felt that they had been given a raw deal in life.  The disease had been unfairly thrust upon them, so the healing was only what they deserved.  They were embittered about their condition and, because their bitterness was so deep, they were not particularly thankful for their relief.
   There are some people in life who feel that the world owes them a living . . .  they take God’s blessings for granted.  When we think of the unemployed, the destitute, and the hungry, what makes us think that we are any more deserving of the jobs we have, or the food on our tables, or the shelter above our heads, than anyone else?  If we have been blessed, it’s not because we have an inherent right or that we are more deserving.  There are a lot of deserving people who don’t have what we have.  We have been blessed because God has chosen to bless us.  What I am saying is that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  So instead of taking life for granted, we should live life in gratitude.
   There are some church people who feel that if things go right in the church: “It’s what we did,” but if things go wrong: “It’s what the pastor did or did not do.” Some people feel that when something good comes their way: “It’s what I did, what I worked for; it’s my accomplishment.”  But the minute something bad happens, our tune becomes: “Why did God do this to me; why did God let this happen to me; why is God so hard on me?”
   But when we approach life with an attitude of gratitude, we give thanks in all things.  Like Habakkuk we can say, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be shot in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields yield not meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18, KJV).
   Perhaps not all of the lepers took their healing for granted.  Some probably meant to return to say thank-you to Jesus, but they became sidetracked and never got around to it.  They meant to return to Jesus just as soon as they left the temple.  But they decided to go home first and show themselves to their families.  They decided to go by the old neighborhood and see their old friends, as well as some of the people who had shunned them before.
   When they went home they started celebrating and before they knew it the day was gone and the night was gone.  Before they knew it a week was gone, a month was gone, a year was gone.  Before they knew it  . . . Jesus was gone.  Before they knew it Jesus had been crucified, and they never got around to thanking him.
   They probably didn’t do it purposefully . . . they had the best of intentions.  They meant to thank him . . .  they just became so engrossed in their own agendas, they got so caught up in their own celebrations, they just never got around to it.
   There are a lot of people who will end up in hell because of “meant to” religion.  We meant to visit the sick . . . we meant to ask our neighbors’ forgiveness . . . we meant to say a kind word.  We meant to go to church . . .  we certainly meant to keep all those promises we made to God when we were down and out or when we were sick.  We meant to be a good Christian husband or wife, son or daughter, father or mother . . . but we just became sidetracked.
   We became so engrossed in doing what we wanted to do . . . we kept putting it off.  Then we looked around and our opportunities were gone.  The best years of our lives were gone . . . our children were grown . . . the person we intended to be reconciled with was gone . . . but we meant to do it.
   “Meant to” religion has never done anything but talk.  It has never saved a soul, comforted the sick, or repaired any hurt feelings.  That’s why we must act whenever we get the chance.
   The one grateful leper had to turn back and retrace his steps to get to Jesus.  Perhaps the others were grateful, but they didn’t feel like going through the trouble of turning back to give thanks.  They found it much easier to go on their merry way.  To find Jesus, they would have had to return to the spot and revisit those same places where they were once lepers.  They wanted to forget all about that and so they just continued on their journey.
   It’s easier to continue on our way than to pause and do a little backtracking to give thanks.  It takes a little extra effort on our part to give thanks.  It’s easier to lay in bed on Sunday morning and not struggle with the kids to get them up and ready . . . it’s easier to think . . . I’ll go next Sunday for sure . . . it’s easier to make excuses than come to church to thank and praise God for last week’s journey.  It’s easier to stay at home in the kitchen or in front of the television than it is to get up and go out to that holy place to say, “I thank you, Jesus, for what you’ve done for me.”
   It’s easy to get so involved in our activities that we can’t find the time to serve God.  Some of us don’t want to think about the time when we were outcasts, when we didn’t have much of anything, before the hand of the Lord rescued us.  Some of us have conveniently forgotten all those promises through all those years that we have made to God -- we assume we have plenty of time to make good on them.  Some of us are so far on our way that we think it’s too much to retrace our steps back to Jesus.  It’s easier to just go on our way.
   Yes, a lot of people, for one reason or another, fail to give God proper thanks.  Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten?  Where are the nine?”  Ten were healed but only one returned, but thank God for the one.  No matter how bad things may get, no matter how many turn their backs on God, someone will return to give thanks.
   I’ve found out, as a preacher, that when things get rough and supporters seem few, God always sends someone to offer a word of encouragement.  God always has one who says, “I’m praying for you.  I’ll do what I can.  I’m with you.  I can’t speak for the others, but you can count on me.”
   God always has one.  That one’s name may be Noah, Abraham, Moses . . . it may be Joshua, Gideon, or Esther . . . it may be Elijah, Isaiah, or Jeremiah . . . it may be Daniel, or John the Baptist, or Stephen, or Paul, or John of Patmos . . . it may be a friend named Dennis or a sister named Rose . . . but God always has somebody.  Sometimes God has more than we think . . . as a pastor I have found that out too . . . many more are willing to pray and thank God for the good we do as a community of faith . . . than the one or two squeaky wheels who always need to be oiled.
   Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men?  Where are the nine?  Does only this foreigner return to give glory to God?”  Among the ten lepers there was one who was a despised Samaritan.  There was one who was not only the victim of leprosy, but he was also the victim of intense prejudice and hatred from the Jews.  Yet when the healing took place, it was the Samaritan who returned to give thanks.  Jesus’ own people went on their way.  It was one who was considered a foreigner, the one we would least expect, who came back shouting, “Glory to God, I’ve been healed.”
   Many times God’s choice is the one that we would consider to be the least likely. 
   When God got ready for a deliverer for the children of Israel, God picked the world’s most unlikely candidate: Moses.  A son of Pharaoh’s court, Moses was a former general of the Egyptian army and a murderer who spoke with a stammer.
   When Samuel went to Jesse’s house, God chose David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, who was only a shepherd boy and who was the least likely candidate to be a king over Israel.
   When God was ready for an apostle to the Gentiles he got the one least likely: Saul, a zealous Pharisee and ardent persecutor of the church. 
   That’s why, from the youngest to the oldest, we have to treat everyone right.  Jesus says, “Whoever receives a little child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me . . . :Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:37, 42).  Jesus says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least; you have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40, KJV).
   In the church, God’s anointed is not always the one with the squeakiest wheel or the highest office.  God’s person is not always the individual who is up front all the time or the one who gives the most.  God’s person may not say much and may not even get any recognition.  They may not even hold an office, but that’s alright because God knows who these persons are.  Their souls have been set free and their names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life.
   Jesus was thanked by the one least likely.  Often our blessings come not from those we’ve helped the most . . . but from those about whom we have not given much thought.  Often those for whom we don’t think we’ve done very much, are the most appreciative.  Maybe what we did was a little thing to us, but it was a big thing to them.  That’s what makes doing good worthwhile.  The nine may go their own way, never bothering to say thank you, never thinking about how we’ve helped them or what we’ve tried to do for them.  But when the one comes back, we know the kindness we’ve tried to do has not been in vain.  Let us not become discouraged over the nine . . . just thank God that we’ve been able to help the one.
   I don’t know about you, but this is how I approach life.  I may not be able to sing like angels . . . I may not be able to preach like Paul . . . I may not be rich or smart . . . history books may never record my works . . . but if in the course of this life I’ve been able to help one person, then everything’s all right.  If one person has been brought closer to God . . . if one young person has been guided in the right way . . .  if one old person has been comforted in their loneliness . . .  if one sick person has been helped to hold on until deliverance comes . . . if one soul has been saved . . . if one life has been redeemed . . . if one person has seen the beauty of Jesus shining through my wretched life . . . then my living has not been in vain.
   Just think of it!  There is something we can do for God.  Saying “Thank You,” in our prayers gives Him delight.  Can we . . . will we . . . let go and pour forth our thanks?  But even here He must help us.  And so we pray, “You have given so much . . . give me one more gift . . . a thankful heart.”

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 05, 2010, 03:14:55 PM
Matthew 3:1-12

Who Do You Say That I Am?
I think all of us have something that “pushes our button”  – if you know what I mean.  And for me, as a pastor, one of the things that really “pushes my button” is when folks talk about other people’s past like it was today.  They recount hurts and wrongs done to them . . . or not . . . as if the tears had just flowed this morning.    Sometimes, I wonder if we Christians have a clue about forgiveness – for when we retell old tales – where does the forgiveness lie – or are we telling the tales in order to look “good” that we forgave.

For I think the truth is . . . most of us probably have something in our pasts we regret . . . regret deeply.  It is very difficult to put away our pasts.  Most of us  . . . can think of some decision that we made that turned out to be the wrong decision . . .  some situation that now we wish we had handled differently . . . or some act that we committed that we would never do again if we had the chance to live that part of our lives over.
If there is something bad in our past, and there surely is in everybody’s past, that is a high hurdle to jump.  In the prison ministry I see this often . . . folks who serve their time, pay their debt to society . . . many of those people will spend the rest of their days trying to outlive the bad things in their pasts.
We know that convicted felons aren’t the only ones who struggle to put past mistakes behind them.  There may not have been any charges filed . . . the man may have lost control only once, but the memory of his open hand on his wife’s face will haunt him as long as he lives . . . the woman who had an affair with a married man . . . the child who stole something from a store or cheated on a test . . . it is hard to put our pasts behind us.

Some bad things are well known and the news makes the rounds all too quickly.  Some bad things are words and deeds and thoughts known only to us.  The fact that our mistakes are lesser known does not make them less serious.  As Tony Campolo says, “We need to be saved from those things about ourselves that would cause us to hate ourselves.”  Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we need to be.  Sometimes the people around us are not nearly as tolerant as they should be.  Whatever the situation, it is hard to put away a past that has some glaring flaw in it.  Yet, there is good news.  God loves us.  God forgives us.  God longs for us to come to grips with whatever it is that is keeping us from full communion with God.
Sometimes we have made no mistake, but some visit from tragedy’s storehouse has left us sad and angry and bitter.  We can’t explain some of the diseases, but we know what they have done to our lives.  We are left without the ones we love and with a gaping hole in our lives.  One man was accused falsely of raping a family member’s friend.  He was the victim of a sick world where people allege all sorts of things which never happened anywhere except in their own imagination.  That man has experienced enormous pain, yet he made no mistake. Yet, there is good news, even in those cases where we are not responsible for the pain in our past.  We may never get over some things, but we can learn to live with them.  God will be present as we begin to heal bit by bit.  God will be the fellow traveler as we rise and continue the journey.

If you don’t have anything in your past that is bad, if there isn’t anything that you need to work through, then praise God, give thanks, and look out!  Sometimes dealing with a good past is the most difficult task of all.  People who can’t think of any bad in their pasts are people who quickly lose sight of their need for God.  It is easy to reach a comfort level where we convince ourselves that we already know what we need to know.  Sermons become a form of entertainment or conversation starters . . . rather than a discussion about applying the words of scripture to our daily lives.  It is easy to come to church because we enjoy it instead of coming because we need to be here . . . scripture is intended for somebody else because we have heard it all before.  In the comfort zone, we can relax and draw upon the spiritual capital we have accumulated through the years.  A good past is hard to overcome.

We can fall into the trap that by being a “Christian” . . . we are separated from everybody else.  Congregations fall victim to this problem.  Churches become satisfied with their pasts to the point that they do not make the changes necessary to live in the present with the same degree of faithfulness shown in prior years.  It’s one thing to be proud of certain things . . . but it is possible to lean too heavily on a good past and live too scantily in the precious present.

In the great hymn “There’s A Wideness In God’s Mercy,” there is the most wonderful phrase.  One verse begins with good news for people trying to deal with some mistake in a bad past.  “There is welcome for the sinner,” the verse begins.  To know that we are welcome to come back is often what leads us to come back.  To experience that welcome, at home or church or work or among friends, prompts tears of joy.  But then hear how that line continues.  “There is welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good.”  Those of us who think we are on the right track are the people who need that double dose of grace.  We are the ones who depend too much on ourselves and lean too heavily on our own accomplishments.  The people who have to deal with a strong and rich past need more grace, not less.  We have to be convinced ever so gently of our need and then nurtured toward making God our center . . . instead of making our center god.
For the Jewish people, Abraham was more than a special ancestor.  Abraham’s life and faith had made provision for everybody who followed Abraham in the faith, even those who came along many generations later.  To the “children of Abraham” belonged the favor of God, and the favor of God would never be taken from them.
Then comes John the Baptist.  He tells them that just because they are children of Abraham doesn’t mean that the requirements have been eased or that they can slack off.  We hate to hear John the Baptist say that because we know how it translates to our situation.  We can hear him now.  “Just because you are members of the church, just because you give your weekly offerings, just because your great-grandparents were in this church, just because you are an officer, just because you are the minister, just because you sing in the choir  . . . doesn’t mean it is time to relax and take it easy and give in to this temptation of thinking this matter of being Christian is under control.”  In other words, don’t presume your past has taken care of your present.  Don’t presume either way.  Don’t presume that your life is over if you have something bad in your past.  Don’t presume, either, that a good past is permission to relax.
The call to repent, to turn toward God, is for all of us to hear, and for us to hear over and over again.  Wasn’t it John’s concern that people were taking their faith for granted, experiencing it secondhand through Abraham, and coasting in automatic pilot?  And shouldn’t that be our concern?  There is more to see and hear and experience than we have seen and heard and experienced!  Every day requires a renewed commitment to God, an increased awareness of God, and a greater participation in the ways of God.  Every day calls us to engage our lives with the spirit of God.  Others will contribute to our growth and understanding, and we will learn some things from our pasts, but responsibility falls on us to respond to the presence of the living God every day in a way that deepens our faith.
At some point, we must start answering for ourselves.  It is frightening at first, and sometimes it is still frightening years later, but the call to repent is a call each person must answer for himself or herself.  The fact that we answered that call once doesn’t answer for us today.  It is not a matter of having to prove ourselves over and over . . . but a matter of daily confessing that we stand in constant need of the strength and grace of God.
When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” it was a pointed question aimed at each person.  Jesus didn’t ask, “Who did your grandparents say that I am?” The question was not, “Who does your church say that I am?”  It wasn’t even, “Once upon a time, who did you say that I am?”  The question is present tense.  “Who do you say that I am?”
Who do you say that I am?  Isaiah responded, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Who do you say that I am?  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Who do you say that I am?  John of Patmos said, “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).
This very day . . . regardless of what is in the past, Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?”  This is our chance to speak for ourselves . . . to claim the faith . . . to experience the nearness of the kingdom firsthand, and to live our answer every day of our lives.
Be assured, there is a wideness in God’s mercy.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 05, 2010, 03:34:36 PM
The hymn "There Is A Wideness In God's Mercy" is beautiful.
Here it is song in Swedish:

Now the Green Blade Riseth (1981) :: ---Libretto Language: Swedish

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 13, 2010, 12:09:31 PM
God’s Christmas Card
   “Mail Early” is a slogan we often see and hear during these Advent days.  The Postal Service would like the more than four billion Christmas cards sent annually in America to be mailed early.  When you consider the costs of cards, stamps, and time . . . there is a tremendous amount of resources invested in just sending season’s greetings to friends and families.  What message could be worth that amount?
   This is the season to send a message to each other.  What are we saying on these Christmas cards?  Are we saying “Cheer up” or “sorry about that misfortune” or with Job’s wife, “curse God and die”? 
   What is the message?  Isaiah wondered too. . . he felt called to preach, but he did not know what to say to the world.  He asked God, “What shall I cry?”  These were bad times in Israel.  For 50 years they had been in captivity in Babylon: despised people, displaced persons, disgruntled and discouraged.  God called Isaiah to proclaim good news.  God’s Christmas card to us is a message of comfort: “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.”
   There is the good news of mercy.  God tells Isaiah to tell the people and us, “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem . . . her penalty is paid.”  This is good news for a people who have suffered a lot.  The Israelites paid double for their sins.  Before their captivity the Jews were faithless to God by worshipping and following other gods of the day.  They practiced social injustice that made the rich richer and the poor poorer.  They were guilty of gross immoralities.  For 50 years they paid the price for their sins.  They were captives of a foreign power and compelled to serve a hated people.
   We Americans can identify with the ancient Israelites in Babylon.  We have had it rough in recent years, too, because of our sins.  Americans have left God for other gods - the gods of Wall Street, of Madison Avenue and of Pennsylvania Avenue.  We put our trust in the power of money, stocks, and bonds and boasted of our national wealth. We continue to face overwhelming drug problems, increasing racial tensions and unrest, crime, poverty, domestic violence, an AIDS epidemic, and the threat of terrorism both home and abroad.
   For a people in that condition, there is a message from God. It is the good news that God will forgive our sins.  This is the basic need of every person and nation.  Realizing our sin, we cry from the depths of our beings –  “Lord, have mercy upon us.”  God assures us that there is a balm in Gilead for those who repent and are weary of their sins.  There is forgiveness with God.  It is not God’s will nor pleasure to condemn but to have mercy.  (Do we realize the penalty of our sins has been paid?)
   There is comfort for God’s people because of the good news of hope.  Isaiah calls to us: “Here is your God!”  God will come with strength, and in love he will gather his people to him like a shepherd.  We like sheep have gone astray, but God will come and gather us again to himself. This is the good news of hope.
   When times are bad, we tend to lose hope that things turn out all right.  The American people are presently in a state of cynicism and pessimism. The fad is to downgrade everyone and everything.
   Is there any basis for hope for our time?  To be sure, there is no lasting hope except in God.  Once again we need to lift our heads to the heavens and hear: “Behold your God!”  God is greater than we . . . God is mightier than our problems. This is God’s world and God holds the world in God’s hands.  God is God and the ultimate victory is God’s.  We can live today in hope because we are on God’s side in this conflict and God will see us through.  With God we can never be in a hopeless situation.  There is hope for a better world because Christ is the answer to these problems.  This applies to any problem you can mention.  There is no problem that cannot be solved when the problem is approached in the spirit of Christ – a spirit of justice . . . a spirit of love . . . a spirit of goodwill.
   This is the message on God’s Christmas card you are getting this Advent. Are you interested in the message or just the card?  An elderly couple was in a card shop looking for Christmas cards. The wife said, “Here is one I like but I don’t care for the words.”  Her husband replied, “That doesn’t matter, because nobody bothers to read the message anyway.”
   Maybe the world – you and I – feel the same about God’s message on the Christmas card.  We want the trappings . . . the music . . . the Santa . . . the good times of Christmas . . . but not the message. Yet, it is the message that is all-important . . . for it is a message of good news     . . . what does God’s Christmas card say to you?.
   May we fill our hearts with God’s glory . . . Jesus our Christ.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 18, 2010, 09:53:50 AM
One of the most beautiful e-mail Christmas cards:

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 21, 2010, 06:47:52 AM
He Moved Into the Ward with Us

Dr. John Rosen, a psychiatrist in New York City, is well known for his work with catatonic schizophrenics. Normally doctors remain separate and aloof from their patients. Dr. Rosen moves into the ward with them. He places his bed among their beds. He lives the life they must live. Day-to-day, he shares it. He loves them. If they don't talk, he doesn't talk either. It is as if he understands what is happening. His being there, being with them, communicates something that they haven't experienced in years - somebody understands.

But then he does something else. He puts his arms around them and hugs them. He holds these unattractive, unlovable, sometimes incontinent persons, and loves them back into life. Often, the first words they speak are simply, "Thank you."

This is what the Christ did for us at Christmas. He moved into the ward with us. He placed his bed among our beds. Those who were there, those who saw him, touched him and were in turn touched by him and restored to life. The first word they had to say was "thank you."

Christmas is our time to say "Thank you."

Mark Berg in Donald L. Deffner, Seasonal Illustrations, p. 21.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Tolerance on December 21, 2010, 09:33:26 AM
I posted this in the song thread in error.
I apologize.

THIS I recall to my mind and therefore I have HOPE:
It is because of Your mercy that we are not consumed.
Because Thy Compassions fail not; they are new every morning.
Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Lamintations 3: 21-23


Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Tolerance on December 21, 2010, 09:50:50 AM
Sister, Thank you.
Your words and thoughts are Grace for me, through our Great Big God.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 24, 2010, 03:36:04 PM
Sister, Thank you.
Your words and thoughts are Grace for me, through our Great Big God.
Toly, you are welcome.  I praise God folks read here.  It is such a blessing to me and I know to our Father.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 24, 2010, 03:38:38 PM
Luke 1:26-38
Thank You, Mary

   The story of the birth of Jesus . . . with the angel . . . with Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, the wise men, the shepherds . . .the manger . . . the Star . . . is on of the best known stories of the world.   Believers and non-believers, Gentiles and Jews, theologians and scientists, young and old, literate and illiterate -- you would be hard pressed to find someone who does not know the Baby Jesus story.
   I have always had a special feeling for the mother of Jesus -- I can see her in my mind when Jesus died -- standing so straight and proud of her son and her Saviour.
   Yet during this season of celebrating the birth of our Saviour, I’m struck anew with the young woman, Mary.   We often forget that she too endured an Advent . . . a time of watching and waiting . . . for it is safe to assume that for nine months she carried in her womb the child . . . a child that an angel had told her was the Son of the Most High.   To this virgin, a king would be born.   
   Would we have believed such a thing if an angels were to tell us that a child we would carry within ourselves was to be the Son of the Most High -- or would we have doubted that experience . . . angels and all . . . would be possible.  As we put ourselves in Joseph’s place a couple of Sundays ago . . . can we try this evening to put ourselves in Mary’s place?
   One of the first things I can recall that I remember about the Christ story is about the angel.   Maybe the reason that stuck out in my mind is because when I was a very little girl, we lived in the country -- no street lights, and I was afraid of the dark.   My grandmother used to tell me angels watched over me and I truly believed her.   So when I found out “Mary’s” angel talked to her -- I was enthralled -- and I can remember laying in bed being very still, listening for “my” angel to talk to me.   Do you ever . . . lay perfectly still, and wait and listen for an angel?  Maybe as a child you also had such thoughts . . . but what about today . . . what if an angel wanted to say something to you . . . could it get a word in edge-wise . . .or are you so busy planning, and hoping, and pleading and asking?
   Mary could have missed the angel talking.   She could have been so busy planning her marriage to Joseph  . . . oh, the details and things to do -- she could have missed the angel.
   And when the Lord’s messenger spoke to her, he said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you.”   My goodness, if and angel spoke these words to me, I’d probably look around to see who he was talking to.   Think dear Mary’s heart was racing?   If that wasn’t enough to make a body faint . . . then the angel Gabriel told the saintly soul she was to be used in a special way . . . she was to bear a son whose name would be Jesus. 
   The Bible does not reveal the emotions Mary assuredly had . . . but don’t you think she wondered . . . why me?   Why Mary?   Why this little maid of a small village?   Do you think she wondered of all the women in the world -- if she was worthy of such a task?   Do you think she said . . . let somebody else more educated, more qualified, be the mother of Jesus?   Do you think she said . . . but what about my wedding plans . . . or . . . what will people say when they find out I’m pregnant?   I’m poor.   Joseph is poor and even if he’ll still marry me, how will we ever be able to take care of a child, we’re just starting out?   In other words, did Mary shirk from her duty?   
   Would you, if you were Mary?   Even knowing how God provided for her, if you were Mary, would you say I can’t make that commitment of my time, of my body, of my soul -- I have other obligations.   When we are asked to work for the church -- the body of Christ -- like visit the sick, or phone shut-ins  -- make a sacrifice of our time, the very body of Christ, how do we respond?   Do we think and say, let someone else do it, let someone else make that commitment?   
   Or do we respond like Mary, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”   You see, I believe God chose Mary because He could see in her heart and He knew she was agreeable to His will.   Certainly Mary did not understand all that God was doing but she was ready . . . right then . . . to be a servant of God.   She didn’t say, “Look Gabriel, I’m not quite ready for all this.    Maybe I need to be better educated about the Scriptures . . . my prayer life really needs improving . . . let me get an even keel in my new marriage . . . how about waiting until I learn how to be a mother . . . or . . . look God, you know how imperfect I am, how about picking someone a little more righteous.”   No, she didn’t say any of those things.   With no details about how God would provide (we say but do we believe God will provide?), with no signed contract, she simply said, whatever God wants me to do, I am ready.  And so she was.  .
   Christmas has come because -- because of Mary’s commitment, Mary’s faith, Mary’s cooperation.   This is not to suggest that if Mary said no, Jesus would not have been born.   God gives us all choices.   When God wants us to do His will and we refuse, or ignore it, or even fail to hear it, God’s will is still done.   God always finds a way for divine work to be done.   No begging, no pleading.   If not in an inn  . . . then a stable.   If the baby is not safe in Bethlehem . . . then Egypt.   God would not have stopped in sending Jesus into the world . . . but God did need Mary and her commitment made Christmas possible.
   Christmas comes with commitment . . . my friends, Christmas comes through a total, personal involvement -- that stems from faith -- a faith of Advent in waiting and watching and being prepared -- being prepared to be God’s servant -- like Mary.
   The nine months Mary carried Jesus in her womb had to have been a wonderful time -- because during advent, the waiting for the birth -- the kicks, and hiccups, and jabs in the belly that an unborn naturally make -- theses joys were likely the only times she would not have to share her son, her baby, with the world.  For from the moment of His birth, her tiny child belonged to the world -- He was a King!  For God’s will through Jesus involved loving lonely people, giving respect to despised persons, feeding the hungry, going to the prison, clothing the naked . . .  Do you agree? 
   Do you believe God will provide?   
   Be careful, because if you truly believe and say it . . . it means more than sending Christmas cards to people you haven’t spoken to all year.     
   Be careful,  because if you truly believe and say it . . . it means more than planning the next church fundraiser. 
   Be careful . . . for if you truly believe and say it . . . it means more than just showing up on Sunday morning and putting money in a collection plate.
   Just as Mary gave her heart, her body, and her soul -- and we thank her -- God wants to use us.   Christ wants to take form in us.    Christ wants to be born in us.
   Christmas comes, my friends, not in standing back to admire or regret what happened in the past, but in opening ourselves to what God wants to be doing today -- faith is required -- commitment is essential.
   Mary, dear Mary . . . a supreme example of a believer.   She accepted God in her heart . . . abandoned herself to God’s will . . . strived to do the Word of God -- and brought forth fruit with patience.   And she did it all the while -- trusting in the promise of God in the midst of a reality that seemed to deny them.
   God is ready to act in your life today!   God wants to use you!   He will not plead, He will not beg!   He simply invites!   
   Yet, even if Christ were born a thousand times, in a thousand stables, laid in a thousand mangers, in a thousand Bethlehems, to a thousand Marys . . . died a thousand times on a cross, and rose a thousand times from His lovely grave -- unless, unless He is born in your heart, your heart -- through your own responsive love, you own commitment -- then Christmas and the true value of Christmas will never come.
   For my dear, dear friends, Christmas is not a season . . . it is what we allow God to do for us in Jesus Christ.   “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His Glory.”
   Want Christmas? The true Christmas? Close you eyes and say:
   (keep your eyes closed and reach down into the knowledge of your own personal truth and say:)
   Lord, Jesus, come into my life.  /Change me.  Renew me.  /I accept.  I believe.
   Christmas now has one more person . . . you!

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 02, 2011, 03:59:57 PM
The Interview with God

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 11, 2011, 06:38:22 AM
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Captured by the Spirit of Christ


Two months before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta about his death in what would oddly enough become his eulogy.

"Every now and then I think about my own death, and I think about my own funeral," Dr. King told his congregation. "If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don't want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, that isn't important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that's not important. I'd like someone to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I'd like someone to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try, in my life, to clothe those who were naked. I want you to be able to say that I did try to visit those in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity." Dr. King concluded with these words: "I won't have any money left behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind."

Did Martin King have that level of commitment when he first began his ministry? It's doubtful. He had youthful enthusiasm to be sure. He had strong convictions. He was well brought up, with an outstanding Baptist preacher as a father. But people who are truly captured by the spirit of Christ do so generally after years of walking in Christ's footsteps. Our faith is validated and grows as we "come and see."

King Duncan, Collected Sermons

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 14, 2011, 08:08:09 AM

As i walked down the avenue, the late afternoon sun was turning the lovely and dying sycamore leaves into fragments of brilliant stained glass, and i said to myself, "This alone is worth the price of admission to our broken and glorious world."
Linda Larsson
from an email


Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on January 28, 2011, 07:56:04 AM
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues
but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”
― C.S. Lewis

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on February 03, 2011, 09:26:15 AM
Matthew 21:10-11
How do we face success?  How do we handle our blessings?  Success and abundant blessings are greater threats to our religion and faith than hardships and doing without are.  Most of us know how to live with trouble and hard times.  A number of us were born in trouble, shaped by hard times, and raised on a steady diet of doing without.  When difficulties arise we know what to do.  We find our way to church . . . we become more prayerful . . . we start reading the Bible more often . . . we make all kinds of promises to God, to ourselves, and to others.  We know how to say “Lord, have mercy.”  In times of trouble we know how to call on the Lord.  If trouble lasted we would be fine examples of virtue.  But what happens to our piety, our promises, our prayer life, our participation, our righteousness and religion, when trouble lessens and the load lightens?
For many of us, piety is directly related to our problems and faith has a corollary with our fear.  It seems that the only way the Lord can keep some of us humble and some of us prayerful is to keep us in trouble.  Because God is gracious, however, “trouble don’t last always.”  So the question for us is, “How do we keep our head on straight and stay focused and balanced when our blessings and our prayers are answered?”  Or is our religion going to continue to be like a roller coaster, climbing up to its highest point when we’re in trouble and falling down to its lowest practice when we think we have been delivered?
The day we celebrate as Palm Sunday was a moment of great joy for Jesus.  In the Gospel of Matthew, the whole town is moved and Jesus immediately cleanses the temple.  In Mark, Jesus goes to temple and looks around and returns later to cleanse it.  In Luke, Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem because its people did not know the things that made for peace and then cleanses the temple.  In John, while Jesus’ enemies declare that the whole world has gone after him, he goes on to predict his own death.
Although the writers of the Gospels differ in details about chronology and everything that happened on Palm Sunday, they all show that Jesus was not carried away with it.  He was able to put praise in its proper place and keep his priorities in perspective.  Praise is all right and everybody likes to receive it, but we have to live for something other than the praise of people.  Praise of people is a great place to visit, but we can’t make a home there.  Praise is a nice snack, but it ought not be our main meal.  Praise of people is recess in the school of life, but it is not the main curriculum.  Praise is a good servant, but a terrible master.  Praise of people is good medicine, but a terrible narcotic.  It is a good prescription, but a terrible addiction.  The trouble with a number of people is that they have allowed praise of people to become their main priority.  When praise of people becomes our priority, we become their main priority.  When praise of people becomes our priority, we become a slave to the group that we want the approval from.  If people tell us to jump, we ask, “How high?”  If they tell us to make a fool of ourselves, we ask, “When?  Where?  How long?”  If they tell us to speak in tongues to prove we have the Holy Spirit, we ask, “When?”  If they tell us to be petty or vulgar, we ask, “How low should we stoop?”  If they tell us to pretend to be something we are not, we ask, “When should we go into our act?”
Praise from people is good, but like Jesus we have to put praise in its place and keep other priorities in perspective.  After the Palm Sunday praise, Jesus went to the temple.  He went from the streets where the voices of people were heard . . .  to the sanctuary where God was glorified.  How do we handle praise and success?  We keep God in perspective from whom all blessings flow.  So when we receive a compliment, instead of letting it go to our heads we say, “Thank you, and to God be the glory.”  If someone says you sang well, spoke well, prepared a good meal, you did a good job, our response should be, “Thank you and to God be the glory, because God gave the talent and gift.  I’m just trying to use what God gave me, and if it’s been a blessing to you, praise God.”  If someone says you have a nice outfit or a fine car, our response should be, “Thank you and to God be the glory because if God hadn’t blessed me, I wouldn’t be able to buy what I have.  I’m just another example and witness of how God will take care of you.”  Jesus could handle praise and success because he had another priority and that was the glory of God.
Jesus could enjoy great success because he had great standards.  Some things he was not prepared to do.  The devil promised Jesus the kingdoms of the world, if Jesus would bow down and worship him.  Jesus told him, “Away with you, Satan!  For it is written ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:10).  Like Jesus, we have to have some standards.  If we don’t take some stands we will fall for anything.  Sometimes we have to say . . . even if it takes longer and the road is rougher, and we are misunderstood and mocked, and even if it means suffering and a cross . . . some things we are not going to do.  We’re going to worship and trust God, and if it doesn’t happen God’s way it just won’t happen.  But I don’t believe that God will allow those who put their trust in God to fail.
Satan will seduce you even on good things if you allow him, and sometimes you just have to stand on your standards and say, “As badly as I want this degree, or as badly as I want this relationship to work, as badly as I want this promotion, as badly as I need the extra money, as badly as I want to be successful, I have great standards, and some things I’m not going to do.”
Can’t you see the three Hebrew boys standing before the great Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and saying, “We have no need to present a defense to you in this matter.  If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us.  But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).
Jesus could face success because he was able to put praise in its place and keep his priorities in focus.  He could enjoy great success because he had great standards.  Then he could face success because he knew that fame was fleeting but that his heavenly Father was faithful.  Success and fame have no loyalty.
They will lift you today and drop you tomorrow.  They will love you today and leave you tomorrow.  They will hug you today and deny you tomorrow.  They will hallelujah you today and crucify you tomorrow.  Think twice about giving up something or somebody who has a track record of faithfulness for somebody or something whose loyalty has yet to be proven or who has no loyalty.  Many a person has dropped the loyal for the lovely, and the faithful for the fresh, only to come back to the faithful and loyal begging for another chance, because the lovely and the fresh walked out when the going got tough or when the thrill was gone.  Be careful about forsaking a faithful God for a new promotion, new job, new degree, a new set of friends, a new love, new home, or new possessions.  What you can buy for one price, somebody else can buy for a higher price.  What is made in time will wear out in time.  What you acquire by politics, sex, or promises, somebody else can acquire the same way.  What you acquire by skill or merit, someone with greater skill or productivity can take away
But I know a God who is faithful.  Amidst the fluctuating circumstances of life, God is faithful.  God’s power is faithful . . . it wakes the sun up every morning.  God’s word is faithful . . . God keeps all God’s promises.  Jesus’ blood is faithful    . . . it still saves to the uttermost.  The ministry of the Holy Spirit is faithful . . . he still empowers, enables and energizes, inspires and informs, guides and grants grace.
The Bible is the story of God’s continuing faithfulness.  Jeremiah declared, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).  The psalmist writes, “Yea, though I walk through the valley and shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).  Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).  Paul said, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
How do we face success?  How do we handle our blessings?  Like Jesus, we do not let them go to our heads or turn them away from a God who is faithful and who teaches us what really matters in life.  What really matters is not the television we watch, but the eyes that are watching us.  Not what we buy, but the One who bought us.  Not what we possess, but what possesses us.  Not what we drive, but who drives us.  Not where we live, but who lives within us.  Not what we own, but who owns us. Not our dress, but our deliverance.  Not our success, but our soul’s salvation.
What really matters is the God who is faithful.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on February 14, 2011, 05:36:24 AM
"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."
Robert Louis Stevenson

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on February 16, 2011, 09:04:33 AM
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Leo Buscaglia

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on February 17, 2011, 09:40:02 AM

I like not to know for as long as possible because then it tells me the truth instead of me imposing the truth.
Michael Moschen

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on March 21, 2011, 08:17:03 AM

When it seems humanly impossible to do more in a difficult situation, surrender yourself to the inner silence and thereafter wait for a sign of obvious guidance or for a renewal of inner strength.
Paul Brunton
Meditations for People in Crisis

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on April 07, 2011, 08:17:41 AM
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
― C.S. Lewis

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on May 08, 2011, 07:48:56 AM
by Margaret E. Sangster
Sometimes I think God grew tired of making
Thunder and mountains and dawn redly breaking;
Weary of fashioning gorges and seas,
Weary of planting great forests of trees.
Sometimes I think God grew tired of heating
The earth with the sun and of fully completing
The whole of the world! God grew tired, and so
He took just a bit of the soft afterglow,
He took just a petal or two from a flower,
And took a songbird from a sweet-scented bower.
The dewdrops He took from the heart of a rose
And added the freshness of each breeze that blows.
Across long green meadows He took all the love
Left over from making His heaven above.
His kind fingers mixed them – God’s hand and no other –
And made, for the first time, the soul of a mother.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on May 20, 2011, 08:20:09 AM

Dive deeply into the miracle of life and let the tips of your wings be burnt by the flame, let your feet be lacerated by the thorns, let your heart be stirred by human emotion, and let your soul be lifted beyond the earth.
Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Call of the Dervish

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: seahorse on June 03, 2011, 06:48:15 PM

"God is Freedom"  ~Rush Limbaugh

I do not know if we can mediate on his quote or not, but it makes me smile. :)

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 03, 2011, 07:26:30 PM

"God is Freedom"  ~Rush Limbaugh

I do not know if we can mediate on his quote or not, but it makes me smile. :)
Of course, anything which provokes thought and contemplatation is a meditation :>)

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: seahorse on June 06, 2011, 03:20:31 PM
"Rejection is Redirection" ~ Joel Osteen

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 07, 2011, 08:22:38 AM
“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”
― Janis Joplin

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 15, 2011, 07:55:40 AM

Forgiveness is the answer to the child's dream of a miracle
by which what is broken is made whole again,
what is soiled is made clean again.
Dag Hammarskjold

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 22, 2011, 12:14:01 PM
You have enemies?  Good.  That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.  -- Winston Churchill

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 15, 2011, 08:58:45 AM
“I think your whole life shows in your face, and you should be proud of that.”
Lauren Bacall

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 23, 2011, 10:30:06 AM

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
A.A. Milne

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 29, 2011, 08:25:49 AM
“No great goal was ever easily achieved.”
Margaret Thatcher

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: seahorse on September 01, 2011, 05:53:03 AM
How does love come?
It comes unsought and unsent
How does love go?
It was not love that went


This gives me a sense of freedom, we do not lose love, if it was never there.  ::rhino::
Sorry, I do not have the authors name, I read it in the paper years ago. 
I hope you and the doggie are doing fine.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 01, 2011, 09:50:14 AM
How does love come?
It comes unsought and unsent
How does love go?
It was not love that went


This gives me a sense of freedom, we do not lose love, if it was never there.  ::rhino::
Sorry, I do not have the authors name, I read it in the paper years ago. 
I hope you and the doggie are doing fine.
Seahorse, how beautiful and how very true.
I'm doing fine and Nordie (my beagle) are doing good as well.  Thank you for thinking of us.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: seahorse on September 04, 2011, 08:21:52 PM
How does love come?
It comes unsought and unsent
How does love go?
It was not love that went


This gives me a sense of freedom, we do not lose love, if it was never there.  ::rhino::
Sorry, I do not have the authors name, I read it in the paper years ago. 
I hope you and the doggie are doing fine.
Seahorse, how beautiful and how very true.
I'm doing fine and Nordie (my beagle) are doing good as well.  Thank you for thinking of us.


I am glad you and Nordie are doing well.   I enjoy reading the prayers that you occasionally post, prayer is power.
I just love your avatar, with the Squirrel tapping his foot, gives me warm fuzzies. :)

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 05, 2011, 01:07:22 PM
How does love come?
It comes unsought and unsent
How does love go?
It was not love that went


This gives me a sense of freedom, we do not lose love, if it was never there.  ::rhino::
Sorry, I do not have the authors name, I read it in the paper years ago. 
I hope you and the doggie are doing fine.
Seahorse, how beautiful and how very true.
I'm doing fine and Nordie (my beagle) are doing good as well.  Thank you for thinking of us.


I am glad you and Nordie are doing well.   I enjoy reading the prayers that you occasionally post, prayer is power.
I just love your avatar, with the Squirrel tapping his foot, gives me warm fuzzies. :)
Brandi is the creator of my avie.  Nordie is so laid back, the squirrels will occasionally jump over him, thus the squirrel.
If the prayers are meaningful, we give the Lord all the praise.  Thank you for your comments.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 05, 2011, 01:08:00 PM
When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.
Helen Keller

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 08, 2011, 10:15:59 AM
“Unkindness almost always stands for the displeasure that one has in oneself.”
Adrienne Monnier

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: seahorse on September 09, 2011, 09:48:58 AM

Brandi is a artist in two ways: she tells a fun story and also illustrates the story she tells.  :)  (she must be Irish)  ::MonkeyHaHa::

Your Beagle is smart enough to know that Squirrels are not worth the work, now if a Wabbit came by, perhaps than it would
change the picture.

My Prayer
by The Platters, almost any kind of good reference to prayer and I am game.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 30, 2011, 07:21:15 AM

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.
E.B. White
Charlotte's Web

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 09, 2011, 08:19:40 AM
“The secret to success is to do the common things uncommonly well.”
― John D. Rockefeller Jr.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 10, 2011, 12:15:12 PM
Out of the horrors of the second world war came an expression of worship – a poem written by a nineteen-year old flyer who met his death serving the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Pilot-Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., called his poem “High Flight” . . .

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings.
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High on the sunlit silence.  Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
“Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew - - -
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.”

Put out my hand and touched the face of God . . . we are to seek the things above -- to seek them . . . as the rainbow seeks the rain . . . . as the sunflower seeks the sun . . . as the river seeks the sea . . . as the eagle seeks the ceiling of the world.

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 23, 2011, 09:21:52 AM
from gratefulnes. org
Love a spring coming up out of the ground of our own depths. "I am gift." All that I am is something that's given, and given freely. Being doesn't cost anything. There's no price tag, no strings attached.
Thomas Merton
The Springs of Contemplation: A Retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on November 24, 2011, 10:29:24 AM
“To us, family means putting your arm around each other and being there.”
― Barbara Bush

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 02, 2011, 09:53:05 AM
“One kind word can warm three winter months.”
― Japanese proverb

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 06, 2011, 08:19:27 AM
“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.”
― George Washington

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 14, 2011, 09:00:37 AM
“Constant effort and frequent mistakes are the stepping stones of genius.”
― Elbert Hubbard

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on February 02, 2012, 09:41:31 AM
“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”
― Ruth Ann Schabacker

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on March 14, 2012, 05:54:29 PM
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on May 08, 2012, 09:15:10 AM
All the children who are held and loved...will know how to love others.
Spread these virtues in the world. Nothing more need be done.
Meng Zi, c. 300 BCE

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 26, 2012, 09:06:23 AM

A bird does not sing because he has an answer. He sings because he has a song.

Joan Walsh Anglund

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on February 21, 2013, 05:33:31 AM

The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.
Smiling helps you approach the day with gentleness and understanding.

Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Is Every Step

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on May 22, 2013, 10:53:05 AM

Thanking heaven even for our difficulties and misfortunes is the best way to transform them. You will see your difficulties in a different light, as if you had wrapped them in a film of pure gold.

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 20, 2013, 07:18:49 AM
Grief and gratitude are kindred souls,
each pointing to the beauty of what is transient and given to us by grace.

Patricia Campbell Carlson
(Letter to a friend)

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on July 21, 2013, 02:40:28 PM
Life is Like a Song
Life is like a song
Waiting to be sung.
Will it be played softly
Or like the beating of a drum?

The lyrics are being
Recorded each and every day
In all that we do
And in all that we say.

If we choose to follow God and
Abstain from the devil and his ways
Our song will have a beautiful melody
One of purity and praise.

Now go ahead and write your glorious
Song as you live for Christ each day
For great will be your reward and
In heaven you'll forever stay.

~Alma Norman

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 07, 2013, 12:20:30 PM
Quote of the Day: Such a Gift

 WAR IS HELL, BUT sometimes in the midst of that Hell men do things that Heaven itself must be proud of. A hand grenade is hurled into a group of men. One of the men throws himself on top of it, making his body a living shield. In the burst of wild fire he dies, and the others live. Heroism is only a word, often a phony one. This is an action for which there is no good word because we can hardly even imagine it, let alone give it its proper name. Very literally, one man takes death into his bowels, takes fire into his own sweet flesh, so that the other men can take life, some of them men he hardly knows.

 Who knows why a man does such a thing or what thoughts pass through his mind just before he does it. Maybe no thoughts at all. Maybe if he stopped to think, he would never do it. Maybe he just acts spontaneously out of his passion the way, when you are a child and somebody attacks your brother, you attack the attacker with no fear for yourself but just because it is your brother and somebody is attacking him. Or if you are a cynic, you might say that a man must be temporarily insane to do such a thing because no man in his right mind would ever willingly give his life away, hardly even for somebody he loved, let alone for people he barely knows. Or that he must have acted out of a crazy thirst for glory, believing that not even death was too high a price to pay for a hero's honors. Or if you are an idealist, you might insist that although the human spirit is full of darkness, every once in a while it is capable of the Godlike act. Maybe in some complex way, something of all of these is involved. It is impossible for us to imagine the motive.

 But I think that it is not so hard to imagine how the men whose lives are saved might react to the one who died to save them—not so hard, I suppose, for the obvious reason that most of us are more experienced at receiving sacrifices than at making them. In their minds' eyes, those saved men must always see the dead one where he lay in the ruins of his own mortality, and I suspect that at least part of what they feel must be a revulsion so strong that they come to believe that if they could somehow have stopped him from doing what he did, they would have stopped him. We say "life at any price," but I have the feeling that to have somebody else pay such a price for us would be almost more than we would choose to bear. I have the feeling that given the choice, we would not have let him do it, not for his sake but for our own sakes.

 Because we have our pride, after all. We make our own way in the world, we fight our own battles, we are not looking for any handouts, we do not want something for nothing. It threatens our self-esteem, our self-reliance. And because to accept such a gift from another would be to bind us closer to him than we like to be bound to anybody. And maybe most of all because if another man dies so that I can live, it imposes a terrible burden on my life. From that point on, I cannot live any longer just for myself. I have got to live also somehow for him, as though in some sense he lives through me now as, in another sense, I live through him. If what he would have done with his life is going to be done, then I have got to do it. My debt to him is so great that the only way I can approach paying it is by living a life as brave and beautiful as his death. So maybe I would have prevented his dying if I could, but since it is too late for that, I can only live my life for what it truly is: not a life that is mine by natural right, to live any way I choose, but a life that is mine only because he gave it to me, and I have got to live it in a way that he also would have chosen.

 -Originally published in The Hungering Dark

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on October 08, 2013, 07:51:35 AM

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

Winston Churchill

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on December 16, 2013, 11:58:54 AM

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

John Wesley

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on August 26, 2014, 12:08:30 PM


Any human who feels that he or she is not "good enough" to cultivate peace and generosity is overlooking the wondrous gift of life. You live, therefore you are good enough.

Dhyani Ywahoo
 Voices of Our Ancestors

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on September 12, 2014, 07:37:51 AM

The grace of God means something like:
 Here is your life.
 You might never have been, but you are,
 because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.
Here is the world.
 Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
 Don't be afraid.
 I am with you.

- originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words
Fred Buechner

Title: Re: Meditations
Post by: Sister on June 02, 2015, 09:15:00 AM

All this hurrying soon will be over. Only when we tarry do we touch the holy.

Rainer Maria Rilke
In Praise of Mortality, translated and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy