Relational Maturity

Friday, March 29, 2019

Continuing our look at the Lord’s prayer and the theme of transformation, consider again the Lord’s words from Luke and Matthew:

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” Luke 11:4

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”          Matthew 6:12

I share again my friend Bob Hudson’s take on the Lord’s Prayer as it relates to Relational Health and Maturity: “‘Forgive us as we forgive.”  We come to God in our brokenness, in our imperfect humanity, acknowledging our need for mercy and grace.  There is a correlation between our receiving God’s mercy and grace and our willingness to offer it to others.  To withhold forgiveness – mercy, compassion, grace – is to demonstrate our own inexperience in receiving what God offers us.  The healthiest persons and relationships are those where there is an abundant experience of the love and mercy of God for self – and for others.  “We love, because He first loved us.'”

Let me ask you, do you see yourself and your flaws with the compassion of Christ, or are your critical and judgmental of yourself?  What if today you gave yourself the love and compassion Christ has already extended to you, and choose to share that same compassion with others around you? We might experience true transformation and growth in our relational maturity.

Saying, “Yes God”

Monday, March 25, 2019

You are a tapestry woven together by the hand of God. Every weave, every thread, every stitch, every color and even every snag is part of the beauty. Glory is woven, over time, into the work of art that is you. Beauty and glory are magnified as we welcome the Artist’s hand.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrews 13:20-21)

It is His work for His glory – glory that He is pleased to invest in you and me. Our role is to welcome His equipping hand upon us. Yet we will only welcome it to the degree we are convinced “that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). Do you believe this?

Below is the Welcoming Prayer for your contemplation. It is a challenging prayer that may offend your senses on first reading, but the invitation is to say “yes” to God – and welcome his artistic hand in every fold and facet of life.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

I welcome everything that comes to me today 

because I know it’s for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, 

situations, and conditions.

I let go of my desire for power and control.

I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.

I let go of my desire for survival and security.

I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person 

or myself.

I open to the love and presence of God 

and God’s action within me. 

Amen.

 

March Madness

Saturday, March 23, 2019

In the middle of our Lent Journey comes the NCAA basketball tournament- March Madness. I love the underdogs, the Cinderella Story teams. Murray State University and the University of Buffalo are not typical Big Dance teams, but they have played well, and won. These teams have great spirit and are tenacious competitors. Simply getting to the tournament is victory.

Our journey is better than a Cinderella story. We don’t belong at the big dance and we have not earned the win. Yet the Bible says:

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours [we are conquerors] through Christ Jesus, who loved us.”                                                                                                   Romans 8:37

We are winners because of Christ alone. The victory of Jesus over death and sin has been credited to us – we are the Cinderella Story! The power of Christ’s love conquers every foe; No hostile power, accusation, enemy, or sin can keep us from the overwhelmingly victorious love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus.

Today, breathe deeply of the victory that is yours by the grace of God. In Christ, you cannot fail, you cannot lose, you cannot be defeated.  Thanks be to God who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!!

Was That Intentional?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Did you do that intentionally? Did the guy in the brown SUV just intentionally cut me off?  Did she intentionally snub me? Do you wonder if the challenging and hurtful things happening around you are intentional? Maybe you attribute intentionality to those who offend you. But maybe it’s not intentional, maybe they are just unaware.

I’m convinced there are a lot of folks who are radically unaware, including myself at times. In my unawareness I have offended, cut-off, overlooked and inadvertently wounded. It was not intentional.

Jesus said to pray like this:

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”      Matthew 6:10

This is a prayer of radical intentionality. It’s calling you and me to kingdom awareness, willful awareness and intentionality. The intention is to place the kingdom of God, the will of God and the ways of God first.

Jesus prayed a similar prayer of radical intentionality when His life was on the line in the garden of Gethsemane:

“Not as I will, but as You will.”                                                                            Matthew 26:39

His love, life, struggles and sufferings were intentional.

Sometimes I stagger through my day unaware, without intentionality, and it is not rewarding. The model prayer of Jesus, and the focus of His life, was that of intentionality. Intentionally putting his Father’s will first, intentionally giving His life for ours, intentionally humbling himself for the wellbeing of others, intentionally taking narrow roads, making sacrifices, and pursuing hard people in love. It was Jesus’ intention to impact others with his life and love.

I will live with intentionality today. What are you going to be intentional about today?

Saint Patrick & the LUCK of the Irish

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Tomorrow is Saint Patrick’s Day. You are free to celebrate with green beer if you want, but Saint Patrick did not bring beer to Ireland. He did however bring the Irish LUCK. 

Patrick was first in Ireland as a prisoner (4th Century). He was taken captive by Irish pirates long before he was a believer in Jesus Christ. He spent six years in captivity before escaping back to England. While in captivity in Ireland, Patrick came to faith. He wrote in Confession that his “time in captivity was critical to his spiritual development.”

“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the LORD; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols. (Isaiah 43:6-8)

In the struggles of life he met the mercy of God. Patrick said: “The Lord had mercy on his youth and ignorance, and afforded him the opportunity to be forgiven his sins.” The captive was captured by the love of God, for the glory of God.  

Years after escaping and returning home, he had a vision to return and share Christ. At this time Ireland was lost and pagan. Legend has it he shared about the Holy Trinity using a three leafed Shamrock, using it to illustrate the teaching of three persons in One God.

The expression, “the luck of the Irish” is oft quoted around Saint Patrick’s Day. It actually has nothing to do with him or three or four leaf clovers/Shamrocks. You can research that saying on your own. 

What is clear is that God’s mercy and love set Patrick free. And Patrick, full of love, used his freedom to share Christ. In fact he did bring Ireland a sort of  LUCK – love, understanding, compassion and kindness. That is the LUCK that transformed Ireland. And indeed today it is love, understanding, compassion and kindness that we are called to celebrate and share with all. 

So – here’s to the God of Saint Patrick who breathes life, sets us free, and calls us to live out of the love, understanding, compassion and kindness of Jesus Christ.  That is luck worth celebrating.  

Day 7 – The Joy of Life

Thursday, March 14, 2019

This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent–Jesus Christ. John 17:3

I’m thinking about life today. It may be because it is my daughters birthday. I am so incredibly grateful for her life and the joy I have in knowing her. Seeing my little girl grow-up and spread her wings and fly is this father’s dream and delight. Even more, knowing her and experiencing her personality, her peculiarities, her power, her perseverance and her love is my joy and gives me life.

Jesus came to give us life and joy. What’s more, he said knowing God the Father is eternal life. Eternal means forever. Life forever is found in knowing God. Knowing means having a connection that runs long and deep and intimate – well beyond a few superficial facts. Knowing the depth of God’s love, a love that would sacrifice his son for you and me, is humbling. Knowing that He is for us through thick and thin is radically encouraging. Knowing that our heavenly Father delights over us (Zeph.3:17) is motivating. Knowing He has planned good for us even though trials will come (Jer.29:11),  is comforting. Knowing God gave His Son’s to reconcile us to himself and secure us in His love, forever, is profoundly amazing. He gave us life that we might enjoy Him – forever.

What if today you asked God to let you know His love more deeply? And from that knowing allow yourself to enjoy Him.  The God who gives life and love in abundance desires your joy in Him to be full – will you welcome that today?

Day 5 – A Secure Life

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Do you ever wonder what you’ll need for a secure life? A good education, a great house and job, a partner with bunches of money in the bank? Would that make you secure?

Jesus said:

Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. John 6:37

and then the Apostle Paul said:

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Romans 8:38-39

The reality is, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, YOU ARE ALREADY SECURE.

Coming off of the madness of a Monday in the broken world – maybe you could use a reminder of the security of your eternal life in Kingdom of God because of the power and love of Jesus for you.

You will never be a cast away and never separated from the most powerful and satisfying love in the universe. Today – risk living in and out of that love – and take on the day with bold confidence in your security.