April 21, 2012
Jesus came to serve us. He was fully God and fully man yet did not hesitate to dine with the unlovely to wash the feet of His friends, to do the ultimate service of giving His life.
We have the privilege of serving God as we prepare His Bride for His return
James 2: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
As we seek to serve God there are a couple of things to remember .
1. Service comes from sitting at Jesus feet.
As I read this scripture I can’t help but notice that faith always comes before deeds. Service with out faith is empty and powerless. Our faith grows by spending time in the Word, and in prayer. Prayer is where we take what we have read and make it part of our heart, part of who we are. We become more like Jesus, and therefore empowered to serve the body of Christ and make it a more beautiful bride ready for the bridegroom to sweep her away. Our inner beauty comes from sitting at Jesus feet as Mary the sister of Lazareth did. As we sit at His feet we come to know Him, and His Spirit within us becomes active causing us to act more like Jesus Himself. Then from out of this deep place with Him springs acts of service, we become willing servants just as He is a willing servant.
2. God gave us gifts to benefit the church, but we strengthen the church in order to reach out of the church.
As we look at the gifts of the Spirit they are all to benefit the body of Christ in one way or another. This is the time of bridal preparation, and we are the bride working together to be beautiful and ready for our Bridegroom when He comes on His white horse. The Bride’s outward beauty is how the body of Christ treats eachother. The inward beauty is her attitude of grace, kindness, gentleness as she interacts with the people in her community. Patience with the person in front of you in the grocery line,
3. We don’t have to wait to be “called” we do and God directs and gifts as we need them.
James 2:14&18.I believe God give us gifts as we need them. As we step out in faith to serve as Jesus served out of pure motives the gifts will come.
Vs. 24 Anyone can say they have faith, but it must be seen to be known. You know a tree by it’s fruit. There is no faith where there are no works. That faith is cold and stale.
I hear people say I am not called to this work or that work in the church, I do believe there is a calling, and it comes as we are serving. The calling is outreach related, and we “hear” it as we are serving the body of Christ. God gives us the gifts that we require to build up the body if our motives and hearts are pure before Him. We are commanded to build up the body, out of that service come a calling to reach outside and serve in the community.
Henri J. Nouwen “The mystery of ministry is that the Lord is to be found where we minister. That is what Jesus tells us when He says:”Insofar as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it ot me” Matt 25:40 Living this truth in our daily life makes it possible to care for people without conditions, without hesitation, without suspicion, or without the need for immediate rewards. With this sacred knowledge, we can avoid becoming burned out.”
March 8, 2012
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
I am called to love God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength. Through His Word God has shown me His Heart, soul, mind, and strength, but how do I respond? As I study His Word, and memorize it I bring my mind into submission to Him. I pray with reckless abandon, with sincerity revealing my feelings I bring my heart into submission. As I live a life filled with love, grace, and mercy, toward the people I come in contact with, being real I bring my soul into submission to Him, and as I practice discipline in my eating and exercise, doing it all for His glory I bring my body into submission to Him.
His Word calls us to prayer. This is where I reveal my hearts to God. He does not need the revelation, my hearts it is an open book to God, but God calls me to prayer for my sake. As I speak my heart to God in honesty, and He continues to love and accept me, I trust Him more and more and am freed to become more transparent and real before Him. He does not want “pretty” prayers; He does want truth and reality in my prayers. Jesus prayed in agony in the garden of Gethsemane, Hannah prayed in broken suffering in the Temple. This is where my emotions become purified and under His submission. As I cultivate my vertical relationship my horizontal relationships will also grow become deeper, more real.
To love with all my soul, means my breath, or life, the life that God breathed into me. This is part that is seen not just by God, but by the people around me. It is seen in the way I live and conduct myself, it is especially visible in the way I handle conflict. I am responsible to bring my relationships into submission to God, and that too can only happen when my relationship with God is strong and true.
God’s Word is God’s revelation to me of who He is. Through reading, study, and meditation on His Word my mind changes and becomes closer to His mind. I get a glimpse into the heart of God and get a closer experience of seeing the world, myself included through His eyes. Through time in His Word I am equipped to bring my thought life into submission to God. It changes my world view and the way I intellectually process things, they all go through the filter of truth.
To loving God with all my strength means to love God with all my ability. Having surrendered my mind, my heart, and my soul leaves me with the physical. God’s word, entreats me to fast, and also calls my body the temple of the Holy Spirit. How can I ignore that and not care for it through a healthy lifestyle of eating the pure nutrient filled foods that God has provided and using this fearfully made body in a way that glorifies Him. All I do, eating, fasting, or exercise as an act of worship.
January 28, 2012
Many years ago, I was invited to a Muslim wedding in India. The day of the wedding was a beautiful event. Everything from the food to the ceremony had incredible thought and celebration attached to it. But what was even more intriguing to me was the tremendous amount of detail given even before that great day.
Before the bride even met her bridegroom, she prepared for days—in some ways she had been preparing for life. The bride and her female attendants and family went out and purchased an expensive red sari encrusted with hand embroidered gold thread. It must have weighed 8 pounds. Days before the wedding her attendants came to help make her beautiful for her groom. Her skin was rubbed daily with a special paste make of sandalwood and turmeric to scent it and make it glow. Attendants covered her hands and feet with elaborate temporary henna tattoos depicting flowers, scrolls and birds, while the bride sat unmoving for hours for it to set.
Her long dark hair was arranged in a complicated style and decorated with gold clips and pins. Her make up was done to perfection with the traditional makings of a bride on her forehead. Perfectly prepared in hair, make up and dress, she was then adorned with gold jewelry that represented her worth to her family; there were earrings, a nose pin, and chains on her neck, hands, and head. There were gold bangles that lined her entire forearm with rings on most of her fingers and toes. Her ankles were adorned with and thick bracelets which were covered with bells to alert anyone to her movement.
To complete her extravagant array of preparation, she was then covered with a red embroidered veil from head to toe and brought to the bridegroom’s home. Because her adornments were so heavy she needed her attendants around her to support her. At the bridegrooms home she was brought to the women’s quarters and arranged on a bed with her head and face covered to await inspection by the groom’s family.
What happened next completely took me by surprise. Small clusters of the groom’s family lined up and one by one lifted her veil and then began making comments. Comments like, “her nose is so big”, “her skin is so dark”, “is this is the only jewelry her family could afford?” For me watching it was both shocking and sad. How could such a beautiful bride, who had gone through such extensive preparation, who had spent days and yes even a life time preparing herself go through such ridicule and humiliation?
When I look over the landscape of American Christianity, I feel that this is the way many believers today are treating the Bride of Christ, the church; the bride that God had sent His only Son to die for; the bride that God so loved the world that Jesus came to die on a painful cross for her sins. The bride that God envisioned for Himself and loves so deeply that He gave the most precious thing He had to prepare her for eternity.
The Christian Church is the bride of Christ that is being prepared for that glorious day called the great wedding banquet of the lamb. God has appointed attendants to help her prepare for Jesus’ second coming. We have Pastor, Elders, Deacons, and lay people, many who work tirelessly to make this Bride beautiful for her Groom; yet many sit in judgment, pointing out all her flaws; “We are not meeting enough”, “I don’t feel cared for.” “There are too many cliques.”
Let us remember that we are the Church, the Bride, and we need to work together with those who are laboring for her beauty in submission, purity and reverence. We need to recognize her great worth in God’s sight and respond to those who have been called to serve with a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1-6). I believe we are called to honor and respect her as the Bride of Christ, not judge her and criticize her as a servant to us, but honor her as Christ’s body. Our wedding clothes come from acts of His righteousness (Revelations 19:7-8).
The Song of Solomon gives us a glimpse of how Jesus sees this Bride, His Church, “How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!” (Song of Solomon 4:10) May we with Christ see what He sees and fill our hearts with praise, thanksgiving and joy, for His bride is worthy because He is!
August 23, 2011
Bodies (A poem)
Submitted by ChristinaMroz on Fri, 08/12/2011 – 2:28pm.
Written by Anonymous
I sit on my mat
I face my students
they lie in Resting Pose
I see bodies…
bodies heavy with excess weight
bodies that lost the babies they carried
bodies struggling to get sober
bodies recently diagnosed
I see bodies abandoned by their birth mothers
bodies crushed by car wrecks
bodies consumed with anxiety
I see bodies stiff with arthritis
and bodies full of fear
bodies tight from running–
and from the things
which they cannot escape
and then I see HIS body
broken for us
I see bodies finding freedom
bodies knowing joy
bodies growing well
bodies moving into open spaces
emboldened by HIS breath
I see these bodies
create a body–
it is the bride of Christ–
lovely in her brokenness
light in her redemption
I see bodies–
bodies changed by LOVE
July 9, 2011
I had been very discouraged lately about not being able to teach Holy Yoga. Doors that seemed very promising kept closing and I was really questioning whether I should pursue this avenue anymore, but my heart was on fire to to share Jesus in this way. I came to the point that I was asking God to take away my desire to teach Holy Yoga, when under some very strange an unexpected circumstances the door opened in a beautiful location with warm and friendly people, that I immediately felt connected with.
I sat outside “Healing Spirits Massage” this morning waiting to be let in and I was blessed to watch humming birds flit from flower to flower on a huge Hibiscus tree while a rabbit looked on. God has used humming birds before to remind me that he give peace in His time, so once again I was humbled and reminded that ” God is good, all the time”
April 6, 2011
So many brothers and sisters are hurting. So many are lost and without hope. I am called to “stand in the gap”. what a privilege to see God strengthen the weak, give courage in fear, freedom in guilt and hope in despair. All for the glory of God !!
“O Lord, You lover of souls, in whose hand is the life of every living thing. I bring before You in my prayers all those who are lonely in this orld. Yours they are, and none can pluch them out of Your hand. In Your pitiful mercy let my remembrance reach them and comfort their hears. For Your love’s sake. Amen”
Little Book of Prayers
February 24, 2011
Bono Interview: Grace Over Karma
(Excerpt from the book Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas)
Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.
Assayas: What about the God of the Old Testament? He wasn’t so “peace and love”?
Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.
Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.
Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship. Why are you chuckling?
Assayas: I was wondering if you said all of that to the Pope the day you met him.
Bono: Let’s not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there. The physical experience of being in a crowd of largely humble people, heads bowed, murmuring prayers, stories told in stained-glass windows
Assayas: So you won’t be critical.
Bono: No, I can be critical, especially on the topic of contraception. But when I meet someone like Sister Benedicta and see her work with AIDS orphans in Addis Ababa, or Sister Ann doing the same in Malawi, or Father Jack Fenukan and his group Concern all over Africa, when I meet priests and nuns tending to the sick and the poor and giving up much easier lives to do so, I surrender a little easier.
Assayas: But you met the man himself. Was it a great experience?
Bono: [W]e all knew why we were there. The Pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson’s. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offense. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me.
Assayas: Didn’t he put them on?
Bono: Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian. His sense of humor was completely intact. Flashbulbs popped, and I thought: “Wow! The Drop the Debt campaign will have the Pope in my glasses on the front page of every newspaper.”
Assayas: I don’t remember seeing that photograph anywhere, though.
Bono: Nor did we. It seems his courtiers did not have the same sense of humor. Fair enough. I guess they could see the T-shirts.
Later in the conversation:
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?
Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.
Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.
Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.
Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.
Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.
Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.
Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.
Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.
Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.
Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that farfetched?
Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s farfetched
Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:
Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.
February 17, 2011
Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty Heaven!
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!
Psalm 150: 1 & 6
Let my first thought today be of you, let my first words today be worship to you, let my first action today be to kneel before you. Amen.
“I, yes I, am the Lord, and there is no other Savior. First I predicted your rescue, then I save you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever don this you are witness that I am the only God says the Lord. From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand . No one can undo what I have done.” Is 43:11-13
Let my first thoughts today be of you…how small a desire in light of the fact that your thoughts toward me were before the creation of this world. My thoughts are limited by the limits of this World and yours for me are so far outside any limitations. You are from eternity to eternity. You have created all things known and unknown. You see all, know all, direct all. I bow before you in awe and reverence, tinged with fear, yet knowing that you are all loving and full of grace, or how could I survive.
February 15, 2011
Monday is Valentine’s Day and for some, that brings up warm, fuzzy feelings. For others, the mention of it evokes groans and eye rolls. But whichever reaction you have, they stem from the same place–you were made to be loved and to love in return. The desire for love is elemental. That’s why it feels so good when we experience it and it feels so heartbreaking when we don’t. You were made to be loved.
Paul has a lot to say about love in 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, it’s pretty likely that you’ve heard this passage. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
And let’s be honest. You hear that verse and it is likely a couple of things might be happening in your mind. You might be thinking, “that isn’t exactly my experience with love” or “no one has ever loved me like that.” This description of love leaves you feeling lonely.
Or you might be furiously taking mental notes…”ok, I want to be a loving person, so I have to work on being patient, try harder to be kind, get more humble, etc.” You’re thinking about the ways you can work hard to show people love. This interpretation leaves you thinking about striving.
But let me propose an alternate vision of what Paul is getting at here. Rather than trying to show us what we are missing in our relationships or lacking in our inter-personal skills, what if Paul is simply trying to describe the character of Jesus to us? Jesus, the God who IS love.
When we read the verse this way, we see Jesus for who He is. Try this on for size: Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; He is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on His own way [but submits to the Father’s way]; He is not irritable or resentful; He does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Jesus never ends.
When we look at our verse from this perspective, it becomes less about how we need to act and more about what God wants to give us. In 1 John 4:19, we’re told “we love because He first loved us.” The more that we experience God’s love and character, the more we are transformed by it and begin to be changed from the inside out.
So, whether your reaction was one of “I don’t feel loved like that” or “I don’t love like that” or a combination of both…what I hope you might do in reflection is simply experience being loved by God. Allow yourself to be loved in a way that is patient and kind, humble, gentle, experience a love that is true and faithful, full of hope and persistent. A love that is eternal and a love that is specifically for you. Be open and present to this love.
Because, as we experience love, we are transformed by love. We begin to embody love and exhibit love. So, let’s receive!
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Cor. 13: 4-8 ESV
February 9, 2011
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Phillipians 2:3
“A person’s relationship with God is revealed by that person’s relationships with other people”
It strikes me again and again these days how God is relationship even within Himself, and here I stand on this earth with the Spirit of God living within me, taking stock of the way I relate with people.
O Lord, may I take the log out of my own eye before I point out the speck in my sister’s. May my interactions with people be kind, patient, humble and full of grace. Just as You my Lord deal with me even when I am unfaithful.