Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Verse of the Day: 2 Peter 1:5-7

 ‎2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV)

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness, knowledge, and to knowledge, self control, and to self control, perseverance, and perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love.

blogging is all about helping others

God wants us to continually grow and develop as disciples of Christ, reaching out in love to others. May you find someone today that you can lift up in kindness and love. Sometimes it's just a word of encouragement, a prayer, or something more...with an open heart, God will let you know :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 (ESV) w. commentary

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 (ESV)

 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

Just some thoughts on these verses.  I use Mother Theresa with this verse because I wanted to point out the fact that God uses those sometimes we'd least expect to make great change.  It doesn't matter if you are old, it doesn't matter your race, it doesn't matter if you are disabled in some way, it doesn't matter what socioeconomic background you were born and raised in, it doesn't matter your education. You just have to be you, completely you, relying completely on God. God seeks those with humble hearts to use and if we allow God to work through us, we too can acheive great things through Him who knows no bounds to greatness.  

God raised up the weak to be mighty through Him so that no man could boast and bring glory to his name but that all the glory would go to God.  When we allow God to work through us, giving Him all the glory and blessing His name and His Kingdom we also become living testimonies to the power of His Spirit.

It's a blog, so I'm going to share a little something for a moment, because I think maybe others might be able to relate. Sometimes I feel restless because I don't think that I'm doing enough to serve God and humanity. I would love to do a lot more but in this season of my life I have small children and sometimes my resources and time are limited. I know there will be other times in my life when I can do more, but I long to have God work through me to my fullest. If you find yourself in a similiar position for whatever it's worth, this is the conclusion that I've come to: I might not be able to help in soup kitchens every week or do the community service I would desire but I can, with God's help, be a source of warmth and light, encouragment and inspiration to my children and those around me. Now many times I seem to be the exact opposite, but those are times when I'm relying on myself, and not on God. The point is, that perhaps sometimes it's the small things that make some of the most profound differences. 

In fact, it was Mother Theresa who said,
"It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing that matters....If we really want to love others, we must first begin to love one another in our own home. Love begins at home, and so from here-from our own home-love will spread to my neighbor, in the street I live, in the town I live, in the whole world."
I remember reading one of John Piper's books where he talked about a Christian writer, who he never named, but from what he said she was very influencial and many respected her. When she died someone asked one of her sons how it was to have such a mother as she, and he confessed that it was utterly horrible! She was the most wretched person he had known, always bitter, always judgemental and not pleasant to be with by any means. She had extended her love, the truth she had discovered in God's word, to the world but not to her own family. How sad. I pray that that is never the case for myself or any of those that read my blog, or any of our brothers in sisters in Christ. It is a good reminder to check ourselves every once in awhile, I know I certainly need to!

Anyways, I don't want this post to go too long. May God's peace be with you this day and may His word dwell richly within your spirit.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Quote of the Day: Thomas Merton

Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to him, that we are not living for this world.
   They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important.
   They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget.
   They are the voice of our alliance with the God of heaven.
   They tell us that we are His true temple. They call us to peace with Him within ourselves.
   The bells say: business does not matter. Rest in God and rejoice, for this world is only the figure and promise of a world to come, and only those who are dtached from transient things can possess the substance of eternal promise.
  The bells say: we have spoken for centuries from the towers of the great churches. We have spoken to the saints, your fathers, in their land. We called them, as we call you, to sanctity.

                        ~ Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

When I read these words from Merton today I couldn't help but think about the beautiful little New England town center that I am blessed to be able to walk through a few times each week just a half mile from my home. It seems everytime I pass by the huge, white Congregational church it's bells are always ringing beautifully. What great words to meditate on while hearing church bells ringing!

Verse of the Day: Proverbs 16:18 w. commentary

Proverbs 16:18 (English Standard Version)

18(A) Pride goes before destruction,
   and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Pride leads to arrogance and arrogance to the hardening of one's heart. When we find ourselves arrogant in the things of life we find ourselves relying on our own capabilities and less on God for direction. This usually leads to a lot more harm than good as one can imagine! The Bible tells us that man's knowledge is but a breath to God. Though our mortal life expectancy seems to be increasing over time due to the advances made in medicine and technology our lives are still but a fleeting moment compared to God's existence. God is eternal. He was and is and always will be. Should we put our trust in man, or God? Man who has a very limited perspective and experience of the ways of the world,or an all knowing God who has the foresight of eternity to add to His credentials?

Before your leap off the cliff into the abyss of your own understanding without relying on God first, please ponder the question of who has the best track record of success. Who is more capable of victory? A God who led his people through Egypt against formidable captors and parted the seas before them to make a pathway to safety...or are we more capable? Us humans that sometimes have trouble getting through the day without feeling frustration and despair at the relatively small things of life? I put my hope and trust in God!

Well, this morning I put my hope in God...I don't always...and in times when I feel a darkening of spirit, a gloominess, pessimistic attitude invading my character...perhaps anxiety, frustration, helplessness...well I know that's the time I need to turn to God and surrender those things in my life that I have decided to deal on with my own understanding and limited capabilities. That's when I need to humbly go before God and confess my sins and turn to Him...and I have to tell you thatwhen one does that, you can't help but walk away from a conversation with God totally transformed.

We are all guilty of relying less on God, especially when things are going good, but there's one way of keeping the right perspective..well lots of way, but one way that I have found always an enlightening source of redirection, and that is staying in God's Word. It has a great way of readjusting my priorities and perspective. So, I pray for all who read this to walk through this day in the light and love of God, turning to Him and not to themselves, and may His Word dwell richly in you and may you find yourselves continually transformed by His awesome love.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Verse of the Day: Luke 11:33-36

Luke 11:33-36 (English Standard Version)

 33 "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light."
Let the light and love of God shine through you today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Verse of the Day: Psalm 46:1-3 w. commentary

Psalm 46:1-3 (English Standard Version)

 1God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
   though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Sometimes life can seem almost unbearable. We all have stress, we all have trials and we all have tragedies that come flooding into our reality as a stark reminder that life is unpredictable. I think it's important to aknowledge the law of impermanence in our lives. Everything is continually shifting and changing, nothing ever stays the same. That's why a lot of peace and understanding can be acheived when we learn to live in the present moment.

There is one thing that never changes though, and that is God's love for us. God, Himself, was and is and always will be. He is the one truth that we can be assured of and God never breaks His covenant with His people. When you accept Jesus you come under God's covenant. And God's promises He makes in the Bible for His children are also the promises He has for all of us too. God says He is our rock and our refuge, He is the unshiftable, unmoving rock on which we can stand on when all the world around us is an unpredicable kaleidoscope of tragedies, snares, pain, confusions, frustrations and sorrows. It's so easy to lose our ground when we step off the rock God has provided for us and try to make it on our own, standing on the shifting sands of our own understanding. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to keep standing on God's rock! Keep standing on God's promises, keep your eyes on Jesus :)

The other day I was trying to figure out some obstacles and concerns I'm dealing with in my personal life. Everyone has them. There was a time when I would have allowed their existence to plague me and really take control of my sense of peace. God doesn't want us to live in fear. He wants us to further His Kingdom and how could we do that if we are cowering in fear in the shadow of the world's darkness? He wants us to send out His light , through us, to shine on all the world! Let's cast aside this darkness and let Jesus shine through us! God never ceases to amaze me. And I was really amazed at how God has transformed my perspective and heart gradually as I have come to know Him deeper. I still acknowledge the troubles in my life (God doesn't want us to have our heads in the clouds!), but though things might cause me pain and sadness I have begun to feel a sense of peace while going through life's hardships, knowing God is a faithful God and our obstacles will rise, endure and then fade away, but God will never! All things are possible through God. It's certainly a process, learning to surrender your fears and troubles to God and relying on Him only, and one I'm still working on, but an amazing process that yields many blessings.

I hope this isn't too long! Just know, that no matter what you are dealing with today, it can be overcome. We might not be strong enough to overcome our difficulties, but God is. And when we rely on Him He will give us the strength and clarity to overcome all that comes against us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Praying God's Promises

"A fixed, constant attention to the promises, and a firm belief of them would prevent solicitude and anxiety about the concerns of this life. It would keep the mind quiet and composed in every change, and supprt and keep up our sinking spirits under the several troubles of life...Christians deprive themselves of their most solid comforts by their unbelief and forgetfulness of God's promises. For there is no extremity so great, but there are promies suitable to it, and abundantly sufficent for our relief in it.

A thorough acquaintence with the promises would be of the greatest advantage in prayer. With what comfort may the Christian address himself to God in Christ when he considers the repeated assurances that his prayers shall be heard!  With how much satsifaction may he offer up the several desires of his heart when he reflects upon the texts wherein those very mercies are promised! And with what fervour of spirit and strength of faith may he enforce his prayers, by pleading the several gracious promises which are expressly to his case!" ~ Samuel Clark

When I read this quote this morning  in the book I'm reading, Knowing God, by J.I. Packer, I couldn't help but be inspired to flip through my Bible a bit and see if I could come up with some verses that contained some of the promises God has for His children that might be useful in prayer. What a great idea for one's quiet time! God really blessed me for digging into His word and discovering and rediscovering some of His promises. I'd encourage anyone reading this to try that activity sometime if you haven't already :)

These are some of the ones I came up with...do you have any one's you like in particular that you would add to the list? Please do! (The italics are my doing, I just added them to some verses to point out the promise!)

Psalm 62: 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 63:11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall glory; for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

Psalm 61: 3 for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Psalm 56: 13 For thou has delivered my soul from death, yea, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. (I love this one!!!)

Psalm 55: 16 But I call upon God; and the Lord will save me.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (2) Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; (3) though its waters roar and foam , though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (I love these too!)

Psalm 37: 28 For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints.

Psalm 37: 18-19 The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will abide forever; (19) they are not put to shame in evil times, in the days of famine they have abundance.

Psalm 37: 5-6 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. (6) He will bring forth your vindication as the light and your right as the noonday.

Psalm 34:7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers him.

Psalm 34:22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

John 4:14 But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

Psalm 55:17-18 Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice. (18) He will deliver my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, fo rmany are arrayed against me.

Verse of the Day: 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (ESV)

17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Bernini, Alabaster window from Cathedra Petri (1647-53), St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quote of the Day: J.I. Packer (on spiritual death)

"As rational persons, we were made to bear God's moral image-that is, our souls were made to "run" on the practice of worship, law-keeping truthfullness, honesty, discipline , self-control, and service to God and our fellows.  If we abandon these practices, not only do we incur guilt before God; we also progressively destroy our own souls.  Conscience atrophies, the sense of shame dries up, one's capacity for truthfulness, loyalty and honesty is eaten away, one's character disintegrates. One not only becomes desperately miserable; one is steadily being dehumanized. This is one aspect of spiritual death. Richard Baxter was right to formulate the alternatives as "A Saint-or a Brute":that, ultimately, is the only choice, and everyone, sooner or later, consciously or unconsciouslyopts for one of the other."
                          ~ J.I. Packer, Knowing God p. 114

Any thoughts?

Verse of the Day: Psalm 107:4-9

Psalm 107:4-9 (English Standard Version)

4Some wandered in desert wastes,
   finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5hungry and thirsty,
   their soul fainted within them.
6Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
7He led them by a straight way
   till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
   for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Verse of the Day :Romans 8:38-39

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV)

38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor 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.

It seems sometimes the world tries to pull us in all different directions causing us to be distracted from the promises and truths of God. Sometimes we find ourselves (I know I have) feeling distant from our heavenly Father. But these are all just illusions and lies. Cling tightly to our Maker this day, dwell in His truth and His Word, and know that nothing can separate us from Him, that we can even be more certain of His love than we can of the sun rising in the morning.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Verse of the Day: Luke 9:23-27

Luke 9:23-27 (English Standard Version)

Cross in Ink with Background
Luke 9:23 And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Reading Scripture: The Cure for a Homesick Soul

Colossians 3:16 (English Standard Version)

16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Holy Bible

I've been thinking a lot about writing a post in regards to reading the Bible simply because every morning I can't help but feel an incredible amount of excitement and expectancy when I look forward to opening up our sacred scriptures.  In fact, when the morning finds itself hectic, perhaps my routine getting disturbed by special circumstances, and I find myself going through it without having some quiet time with God and His Word I can't help but detect a growing faultline traveling along my heart's surface. It's almost like the belly of my soul is grumbling, hungry for more spiritual manna. The only way to satisfy it is to fill it with God's word.

I didn't always feel that way. In the past there would be times when weeks would go by without even looking at my Bible. Sometimes I'd have a particular spot for it and just grab it on Sunday mornings to take to church. I know, I know, but if I'm going to have a blog I might as well be honest! So when I felt like God was distant and becoming an abstract concept in my life I knew something had to change. I wanted to experience God, I wanted to know Him personally, and I just wasn't anywhere near being there the way I was proceeding spiritually. I believed in the gospel but I felt through life's twists and turns my connection with God had been severed. The advice I was given: read the Bible again, starting with the New Testament. I thought that solution was almost too simple. (I'm not sure what I expected the solution to actually be!) I mean over time I had developed some pretty large theological concerns and questions. In fact, many of those had arisen from reading the Bible so I didn't see it as necessarily a solution to my spiritual woes.

The advice came from a good source though and I followed it and am truly thankful for that! It didn't take long before I was captivated by every word on the page, drawing me deeper and deeper into the truths they contained. I felt my soul awaken to God's gentle whisper drawing me closer and when that happened I did not hesitate but ran into towards God leaping into His embrace, feeling like I had finally come home again. 

I have found, through  my own experience, that the Word of God is invaluable. There is no replacement to what it can provide. And that going without it can have a devastating effect on one's faith. So, I have to ask, what importance do you put in reading the scriptures daily?

I'm reading a great book right now by JI Packer called "Knowing God". In a chapter discussing God's wisdom he writes:

 " It is to be feared that many today who profess to be Christ's never learn wisdom, through failure to attend sufficiently to God's written Word. Cranmer's Prayer book lectionary (which all Anglicans are meant to follow) will take one through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice, every year. William Gouge, the Puritan, read fifteen chapters regularly each day. The late Archdeacon T.C. Hammond used to read through the Bible each a quarter. How long is since you read through the Bible? Do you spend time with the Bible each day as you do even with the newspaper? What fools some of us are!-and we remain fools all our lives, simply because we will not take the trouble to do what has to be done to receive the wisdom which is God's free gift." (Knowing God, p. 101-102)

God, forgive me for being a fool for so long! I'll admit it, I was a fool and I wasted time. And friends, brothers and sisters in Christ who might be reading this, I beseech you to not do the same! Because if you want to experience God and His presence and the fullness of joy and peace, it will only come first from reading through the scriptures. Even contemplative prayer, which is a way of finding union with God through meditation, will be but a fraud if it does not begin on the foundational knowledge and wisdom that scripture gives us. Guigo, a Carthusian monk of the 12th century wrote his famous "The Ladder of the Monks" which describes a ladder consisting of four rungs, each foundational (the first is necessary to master or at least grasp before moving to the second, etc.), the last rung being contemplative prayer. The first rung is reading the scriptures, then comes lectio devina, prayer and lastly contemplative prayer. Reading God's word is essential when it comes to all aspects of our faith!

I won't make this post too long but I'd like to share one technique that I read that I've used in approaching the scriptures that have really helped. In Richard Foster's book-Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, he talks about the concept of using imagination while reading the Bible. Now, he doesn't mean using imagination in the sense that we are imagining fictional occurances or anything like that. What he is referring to is when reading scripture to put yourself there. For example, in the New Testament, when Jesus is preaching to crowds by the sea of Galilee, to smell the scent of sea in the air, hear the sounds of the crowd pressing ever closer in towards Jesus as he teaches.  To put all our senses into what we are reading. I have more to write on this but for anyone more interested in this technique I would highly suggest you read his book!

Other suggestions I've heard, which I've also used (perhaps not regularly but I do think they are good suggestions) is to light a candle or burn some incense. This is to recognize reading God's holy word as something separate and unique from everything else we read. Something sacred. Now begins our time to dwell richly in His word, so we begin it with reverence.

I'm sure I'll eventually write more on this as well as on some of the ideas I brought up within this post but for now I encourage everyone to find some quiet time, if you don't already, to devote to God in reading His Word, and I assure you, you will find yourself very blessed by doing so :)

Any thoughts?

Verse of the Day: Psalm 63:5-8

Psalm 63:5-8 (English Standard Version)

 5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
   and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6when I remember you upon my bed,
   and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7for you have been my help,
   and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8My soul clings to you;
   your right hand upholds me.

burning candle

In the quiet solitude of personal devotion and prayer ,when we reflect on the attributes of God and all the ways He's provided strength, assurance, direction and comfort to our weary and searching souls an amazing thing happens. God floods us with the joy and peace of His Spirit as we worship and praise Him. I love these verses because for me they speak so much truth. Coming before God in prayer, reading His Word, meditating, all these ways are ways that leave one with so much spiritual fulfillment and nourishment. When our soul clings to God and seeks shelter under His mighty wings, God blesses us richly, giving us the strength to get through life's obstacles and bring glory to His name.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Verse of the Day: Romans 12:12 w/commentary

Romans 12:12

Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Life is full of obstacles, hardships, heartbreaks and struggles. I have laid awake myself many a night wondering what the next day will bring. But the Bible tells us not to be anxious, to not worry about tomorrow. Our trials will never cease but we don't have to let them claim our hope and sense of peace. Not when we have a most amazing God that is always there ready to comfort us in our afflictions as long as we come with humble adoration  before Him, knowing He is the source of our strength and that we can do all things through Him.

What are your thoughts towards prayer? I used to struggle with the concept of prayer because I think there's a big misconception towards it and there was a time that I bought into that misconception myself. Many times we think that if we pray God will act on our prayers immediately, or in time (ever hear of the the whole ( He'll answer yes, maybe, or not now?) and that that alone is the point of prayer. We pray (the means) and God answers (the ends). But is it?

Eventually I'll write a post on this subject and it is certainly a multi-layered topic deserving of more time than I have now, and this is just a little commentary on the verse of the day but I can say this: I've learned to come before God, seeking Him with all my heart, finding joy and peace in His presence and I've learned that perhaps loving God is both the means and the ends. Perhaps dwelling richly in His presence and in His word gives us all the insight, nourishment and strength we need to get through the obstacles of our lives. God knows our hearts, He knows our needs...perhaps we just need to know Him better and when we do the decisions of life that get in the way of our sense of peace and form a wedge between ourselves and progress will dissipate as all our illusions and attachments pass away and truth, like a beacon, begins to guide us.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Verse of the Day : 2 Chronicles 28:22-23

2 Chronicles 28:22-23

22In the time of his distress he became yet more faithless to the LORD—this same King Ahaz. 23For he sacrificed to the gods of Damascus that had defeated him and said, "Because the gods of the kings of Syria helped them, I will sacrifice to them that they may help me." But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel.

What do we do when we are in distress? Do we cling ever more tightly to the Lord, or do we seek other sources of comfort, of help? I think all of us, if we are honest with ourselves, from time to time look  to other ways of being comforted and finding aid in our troubles instead, drifting perhaps off the path God has made for us. What I've found though, is no matter how tangible the things of this world seem, and it is comforting sometimes to have a tangible concrete way of finding comfort, they are utterly unreliable and what feel are ways that can help us more in a given situation, rather than coming to God, are merely illusions playing to the tune of our individual attachments and imaginations.

 God is the comforter, the healer, He has all the knowledge and wisdom we seek and if we come with quiet and humble hearts before God, He will answer us. And from what I've found, sometimes it's enough to simply come to Him, offering up our burdens and receiving from Him  a sense of His peace, of His presence...that sometimes that's all we need and that that gives us the strength and direction to get through the obstacles we find life throws at us.

Obstacles and troubles are like waves breaking on the shore. They will never cease. What matters is what we stand on to brace ourselves against the waves crashing on us. What are you standing on? The firm solid foundation God provides? Or the shifting sands that only man can offer? Let's keep our eyes on Jesus!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mindful Compassionate Eating

Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I beg of you, do not grudge me them before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches, grant me only my share of bread to eat, for fear that surrounded by plenty, I should fall away, "Yahweh-who is Yahweh?" or else in destitution, take to stealing and profane the name of my God.

As I read these verses this morning I can't help but ask myself the question: What would the world look like if everyone had only what they needed? Not too much, not too little? Almost as soon as I write this I think of communism. That's not my intention. I'm not talking about some government forcing us to have equal shares of food and necessities. I'm talking about what if everyone chose to live in moderation, appreciating the things they had, knowing they are a gift, and not living in excess? For sure, there would be more resources to go around. I believe there would be more peace too for oftentimes the cause of war is over the battle for resources and the dominance over resources means economic dominance. And the power of greed runs deep in the fibers of our moral makeup. Greed, if one really thinks about it, attacks our sense of morality and gets in the way of compassion and compassion is what the world really needs. Without compassion love is empty.

Sometimes it seems as an American, that there is so much food that goes to waste. You see it especially at gatherings when much is tossed out or perhaps given to guests to be taken home. Many times the fate of such is the same just a different trash receptacle when it spoils in the refrigerator because it wasn't eaten quickly enough. (Who hasn't had that happen? We unfortunately have!)

I think there's a possible solution. Of course there are probably many, but this is just one that I thought of this morning when I reflected on this issue and one that has been approached by others before me, who I will note;   If we all viewed what we consumed with the spirit of mindful compassionate consumption we'd consume less, be more satisfied with what we do consume and be provoked to sharing with others who have less than us. What is mindful compassionate consumption? Hmm I kind of just made it up by stringing two very important concepts together but I did get both ideas from two very specific sources.

I got the mindful part from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who teaches about mindful eating, among many many other things. What is mindful eating? It is simply being present in the moment while eating. When one eats oftentimes we are thinking about other things. What we have to do for the day, what we already have done, a conversation we just had, perhaps we are in a conversation on our cell phone, perusing the net, watching tv. We are doing everything other than concentrating on eating! If we centered ourselves in the moment and merely concentrated on our food, something amazing happens. We start to experience it in a whole new way! We start to taste flavors that we didn't even realize went into it, we start to feel textures we never noticed before. We start to hear sounds that happen while we eat. We start to notice the beauty of our food. Ever look at an orange? really looked at an orange? One might think I sound crazy when I say this but I sometimes feel as if I could get lost in the beauty of an orange! Try it sometime! We are there, completely there. And we can feel our bodies being nourished and we begin to appreciate it and the process that goes into eating more. I know when I eat this way I star to appreciate the blessing that truly is food. For without sustenance we'd all perish. Yet we forget that sometimes it seems.

And then we can go even further. Think about the ingredients that are in the food and where they come from. This is where the compassionate part comes in. And this is how mindfulness and compassion are linked together. Where did the food come from? Which country? Who picked it? What were their wages do you imagine? Were they treated fairly? How do their children live? I get the compassion part not only from Thich Nhat Hanh but Jesus too. He was all about compassion and love. The Bible talks about loving your neighbor as yourself and being willing to lie down your life for the life of your brother's. If we are to live this way, why do we go about buying food that is produced by the sweat, tears and blood of our global neighbors? I'll admit, I most likely do sometimes, but I'm trying to become more aware and mindful, and that's where it all starts. And urge any who read this to do the same. I do see one solution that pops out immediately-locally grown food! It has to start somewhere.

When you are mindfully eating you might also ask what is this flesh I am eating? (if you are eating animal flesh)...did it suffer? What kind of life did it live so that I could consume it? Is that the kind of life it deserved? Perhaps while eating compassionately we start to make different choices about what we eat. That seems natural.

These are just some thoughts that popped up when I read those verses from Proverbs 30 this morning. I know many of my fb friends have different beliefs/philosophies, and I respect them as I hope they respect mine. I personally think that these verses make sense and carry truth no matter what creed one follows. Life is a miracle really when you think about it and so is food because it comes from living things. It is my belief that we  should be thankful for the life which surrenders itself so that we may live and ultimately thankful to the giver of all good things that provides us with it all.

Verse of the Day: Psalm 51:10-15

Psalm 51:10-15 (English Standard Version)

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
   and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and uphold me with a willing spirit.

 13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
   O God of my salvation,
   and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15O Lord, open my lips,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.

Heavenly Father,

We are among the fallen living in a fallen world. We, alone, could never be clean of our wrongdoings and transgressions enough to deserve eternal life. It is through your abundant Grace and Mercy that we are saved. Thank you for your neverending love that surrounds us every moment of our existence. Let us embrace your teachings, cover us with your shelter and protection and let us this day bring you honor and glory. Purify our hearts and let us never cease to praise you.

In the name of Jesus our savior,


Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Sure to Check out the new Brother Lawrence Quote Page

Hi Everyone,

Brother Lawrence

I've been slowly adding pages of quotes from particular individuals that have really inspired me while on my walk to understanding and knowing God more. Brother Lawrence and his book The Practice of the Presence of God  has helped me immensely in giving me direction/insight/inspiration in seeking God in the present moment throughout the day.

I added a page of quotes I found particularly striking on a new page entitled "Brother Lawrence Quotes" and would encourage you to check them out! I would also encourage you to read the book! When I was first given it by a friend to borrow and noticed the size of it (it is rather small compared to the books I usually read) I thought for sure I'd be done with it in an afternoon! I couldn't have been more wrong! Each page is filled with tremendous insights and truths, each truth alone deserving contemplation and reflection. If you want to grow deeper in God and experience Him more fully, I would definitey suggest this book. I actually really miss having it in my possession, after having given it back and am going to go buy it. This is a book you will want to own!

So, please consider reading some of the quotes on his page of quotes and if you feel compelled to share, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Verse of the Day

2 Corinthians 9:6-9 (English Standard Version)

 6The point is this:whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
I show a picture of Mother Teresa because I feel she was a living example of someone who let the love and compassion of Jesus shine through her. She is such an inspiring indivual. Who used compassion as a verb and lived out her faith.
Some of my thoughts: I like these verses because they are a good reminder that God wants us to apply our faith and act on it. We see the best example of this through Jesus. He actively went out, healing, giving hope to the hopeless, helping others, teaching, preaching. All of us are given different spiritual gifts, perhaps we aren't preachers or healers, perhaps we are just those who can uplift those who find themselves in low places spiritually, encouraging them. Regardless of what our role is in God's Kingdom it is evident in scripture that no matter what we do, the intentions behind our actions are what is important to God, not the actions themselves. "God loves a cheerful giver" not one that complains afterwards about how much they gave or that grumbles about the "good deed" they just did because it perhaps took them away from another desire they had. He wants us to act, driven by the Spirit, with love and compassion, spurned onwards by a deep desire to serve our loving God and glorify Him.
Any thoughts?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Compassion for the Seemingly Insignificant

As  I was walking today I couldn't help but notice a worm who was engaged in straying down a perilous path to destruction. It wiggled on its terrain of apshalt towards the busy road where it was likely to be crushed. On a warmer and sunnier day I would say roasting would have been another alternative for the poor lowly creature. I was walking at such a good pace, the oxygen circulating through my body, my heart pumping. I felt so alive to be outside with the leaves caught up in the wind's fury, shimmering like schools of fish above, clinging to their branches. Some managed to be pulled free by nature's strong and relentless breath, their persistence succumbing to fate, spiraling downward in wild abandon, soon about to fulfill their role in the cyle of things. Impermanence. We all end up as dust in the end.

Well, I stopped and bent down picking up the delicate worm and tossed it gently into the woods beside me. Now, some of you might think me silly. For sure the worm fulfills a vital role in the environment, but more as a collective whole. This one worm would not be missed. There was perhaps no rational reason for sparing its life. (However one might ask the question, is mercy ever irrational no matter who it is directed towards?) But how could I just walk by something, a living creature, knowing it was on the road to death or suffering? I am a vegetarian and for ethical reasons. But even though a lot of vegetarians argue for the protection of sentient creatures, non-sentient ones are usually not too much of a concern. I would not consider a worm a sentient creature, at least in the sense that it has the capacity to suffer emotionally/mentally. I doubt if a worm feels fear,anxiety, sadness or has a memory. By contrast, cows undoubtedly do feel terror, anxiety and mental suffering when they head down the line to slaughter, hearing their brothers and sisters screaming in pain, smelling death in the air. But a worm?...

If anything, I truly believe that cultivating a sense of compassion towards even the most seemingly insignificant of creatures helps build one's foundation to extend a greater amount of compassion towards the obviously more significant. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone stopped to help the turtle stuck in the middle of the road? Or perhaps when finding a wounded animal if more people were apt to call a wildlife rehabilitator to aid the suffering creature? 

This is where a lot of my Judeo Christian counterparts in the past (and I said a lot, not all!) have scoffed, when I bring up these kinds of notions, and my Buddhist friends usually nod knowingly, though, some of them too, scoff as well.  But this doesn't have to be so! I believe we can all be on the same page here. Did God, according to Christian doctrine, not make us as guardians and caretakers over all the earth? Does that mean pass by the very creatures He has made with His handiwork with callous apathy just because they are lower than ourselves when it comes to their mental or emotional capacity? (How often have the welfare of humans that are less capable in their abilities to communicate efficiently and understand the world around them been neglected and abused in the view of society's downcast averted eyes?) They are still contributors-contributors fully engaged and participating in the network of life that is woven delicately together and if that network deteriorates that's when we start to have real problems...especially for ourselves!

So, I won't go on any further about this, perhaps I've gone on too long already, but I do want to suggest something. Next time you see a creature  headed towards an unsavory fate, perhaps you could consider sparing it that fate, knowing that even a small gesture of compassion adds just a little more peace to this world and perhaps helps us to open our hearts up more to experiencing a deeper sense of peace within ourselves. And couldn't we all use that?

Quote of the Day: Julian of Norwich

Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.

-Julian of Norwich (c.1342 - 1413)

Verse of the Day

Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Do we honor God with taking care of the body He's given us? Never taking them for granted, knowing how temporary and fragile our human vessels are? Man is but a breath to God. I know I don't do that enough but the more I walk with God the more I realize I can be more use to Him and glorify Him more fully if I am healthy. By God's grace and mercy He has granted me health and I can either take it for granted and spoil the blessing He's given me, or nourish it, honoring the body that harbors His mighty spirit in the soul it contains within its frame.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bible Verse of the Day

Psalm 139: 7-10

7Where shall I go from your Spirit?
   Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9If I take the wings of the morning
   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
   and your right hand shall hold me.

I love these verses because they seem to resound with the truth of God's all encompassing reality that is always accessible if we but open our hearts towards Him. What an amazing God we have. A God of love, of compassion and one who plants His spirit steadfastly within the heart's temple of all who believe, never forsaking them and always providing them a strong and sure foundation amidst an ever shifting and unstable world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bibe Verse of the Day

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (New International Version)

 9 Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 10 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

Some of my thoughts on these verses: When I read these verses this morning they reminded me of the importance of fellowship. God wants His body (us) to work effectively to further His Kingdom here on earth. If we are to ever grow deeper in Him we need to realize the importance in deepening our relationships within the body of Christ as well. And when one body part is suffering it is important for the rest of the body to pick up the heavy load of that part that is incapacitated while sending encouragement, nourishment and help, both physically as well as spiritually to that person or persons that need lifting up.

I used to think I didn't need fellowship, that it had no real significance as long as I continued to grow in God myself and in my knowledge of Him. But the thing is, God didn't make us to be alone. He gave us gifts to bless others with and he gave others gifts to bless us with. To spread love and compassion throughout the world, for love and compassion was the embodiment of Jesus, means not just to stick to oneself while growing in our relationship with God but extending oneself to others too. Jesus sure didn't stick to himself. He went out actively, healing, preaching, teaching, comforting. Just some thoughts...does anyone have any thoughts of their own regarding this?

'three angels'

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quote of the Day/Karl Barth

"Religion is man's way to God and is always erroneous, and revelation is God's way to man and is always perfect."
      ~ Karl Barth


Bible Verse of the Day

Psalm 34:4-5

I seek God and He answers me, and frees me from all my fears. Every face that turns to Him grows brighter and is never ashamed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Experiencing God

Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to grow with God-in both my understanding and knowledge of Him and also in just being in His presence-finding moments in which I can ascend up the hill and commune with my Lord. It is at a moment like this when I must remind myself that God is not to be found in the extraordinary moments-church service, Bible study, meditating. (I deem those moments extraordinary because they are times set aside for God. God cannot be compartmentalized; He can be found in every moment. In fact,  from my experience it seems to be true that when I lose sight of God in the everyday moments and let the things of life distract me from His reality, sometimes that carries over into being distracted and perhaps altogether withdrawn from His reality in the extraordinary moments. To lose sight of God, from my experience, is like being disoriented underwater in the dark. You know the very thing that you so desperately need to live, the air, but you are so distracted in your despair to notice the details in the water, the glimmer of light that shows the way upward, the very thing that can save you. When I feel restless in life and despair and discouragement creeping in I have learned that that's an indicator that I've lost sight of God momentarily. So, Iv'e learned to seek Him in every moment, or at least try to.

For He is in every moment as well as outside of every moment. I firmly believe that the only reality as humans that we can realize and experience personally can only be found in the present moment. Events that happen in the past are for sure things worthy to reflect on but they become muddied and blurred through time. We tend to add details subconsciously, with or without intention, as well as bury details in our subconscious without even realizing. The reality of the past is continually shifting, with or without us willfully having a part in its metamorphosis. It, therefore, cannot be deemed as true, objective reality. We can learn things from the past, but we should reflect and meditate on it cautiously and with the knowledge that our perspective is limited and compromised.

But the present moment, that is a whole other animal, if I can describe it in such a way. The present is where I can find God at any time. At this very moment He is here and all His glory manifested through the natural world is here. All of it is just waiting to be noticed. When I bring my whole self-my attention and alertness with me, while I read scripture it is then when I start to feel the Spirit, it is then when scripture comes alive before me. It is one thing to read something with a tone of mediocrity-perhaps reading the words but thinking about what you just ate or the things you have yet to do today. We are not really reading in the true sense when we read like this. We are not absorbing and letting ourselves take in the whole depth and reality of the words. When we read this way, it's a true shame. I know when I catch myself reading this way I could probably write a short summary of what I've read but it would be as if I described what I saw without my glasses on. I'd see the trees, that there was a river, perhaps rocks, but I would miss altogether the beautiful spider dangling precariously yet with ease from the tip of a leaf, or the minnows darting in the shadows of the river's edge, or perhaps I'd miss the chipmunk scurrying through the underbrush, because my mind was not in the present but elsewhere.

Our thoughts tend to invade the space in our mind all too much when really what we need more of is silence. It is when I still my mind and turn to my Creator that I experience Him in some of the deepest ways I've known. This doesn't necessarily mean I have to sit alone in a room or at the river's edge to experience Him at the present moment, though I oftentimes do when I get the chance. It means I clear my mind completely of all other thoughts and turn to Him. There are more ways to do this then there are people. I can do this during worship, during prayer, while reading scripture, while meditating. Simply put, it is giving God my undivided attention-and doesn't He deserve that from all of us?

As I write this my children are playing at the table where I write. If ever there were to be distractions children sure provide them! Sometimes I feel filled with so many distractions and needless tasks (sweeping, doing the dishes, laundry) it can be discouraging. But then I remember that God is also in those moments. He is in my children's smiles. When I am in the present moment with my children I see opportunities that I would not have seen otherwise for instructing and encouraging them and sharing a moment of laughter or joy that will become part of their own memories. He is what keeps my heart beating while I perform menial tasks that, no matter how mundane to me, serve His purpose for they provide order and stability for our home and are necessary. I see God's handiwork in the spider trying to make a web in our house. I reflect on her beauty and her purpose as I carefully relocate her outside. And it causes me to bring praise to my God. Yes, a spider provokes me to praise! That might sound silly-but have you ever looked at a spider? It's detail? In fact, have you ever really looked at anything of nature in detail? I ask, because I, myself , hadn't until too long ago. I always loved nature, but I looked at it without really seeing it. When I was inspired and learned to really see that which is around me in all it's detail I found an amazing thing happens. It's as if the whole world opens itself up to you. All these details-sights, sounds, etc., all these usually unnoticed happenings rise out of the obscurity they are usually hidden in and become etched with detail on reality's canvas and when that happens it's not hard to have the desire to fall on my knees and praise the Creator of all those things! The conductor of all of life's orchestra is playing the most beautiful song imagined to all that will just take the moment to still their minds and listen to it.

It is then in those moments, especially when surrounded by nature, that I realize the interconnectedness of it all. God has made the natural world in such order, all life depends on all other life, including our own. We are all connected, whether we want to recognize it or not. As humans we might be set aside in the image of God, we have for sure an elevated position in the scheme of things, but we still need the things of nature that God has provided. As the leaves expel oxygen we breathe out carbon dioxide for them to absorb, giving them life as they emit life giving oygen through their cells, giving us life's breath each given moment. And God is the designer of this whole process! I mean, just that symbiotic process alone is amazing! (to me anyways!) So, I think there is definitely something to the fact that so many people feel so close to God in the natural world. It is a living breathing testament to the amazing reality and love of our great God. I think it's a great place to be to dwell on His truths, but that it's important to also look for Him in all the places we find ourselves in, for He is everywhere and can be found by any of us, in the present moment with open hearts.