Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A God with ears

"Oh God!" people exclaim in times of surprise or trouble. It doesn't seem to matter if we're religious or not. An appeal to God seems a natural outburst when we are overtaken by life.

Christians use God's name in sincere thanksgiving or appeal: "Thank God!" when something goes well, or "Dear God!" when we need help.

Sometimes I explain that I'm not taking God's name in vain when I speak God's name aloud. His name is no mere comma or exclamation point in the chatter of the moment. Rather, we're continuing our ongoing conversation. He speaks and I listen. I speak and I know he hears me, too.

A Jewish prophet exclaimed that people used half of a stump of wood as firewood and the rest as a symbol for worship. They carved a bowl from one end ... and an idol from the other.

Then they expected help from the gods by venerating the piece of wood they'd crafted. "Idiots!" says Isaiah (my paraphrase.)

"[Wood] is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.

Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire." From the rest he makes a god, his idol he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me! You are my god!" (Is. 44:15-17 NIVUK)

It's easy to condemn historical tribes for idolatry. It's harder to see where we fall into the same foolishness.
  • Most American magazine photos of homes or gardens contain a "Buddha" figurine, an African mask, or Indian statue to symbolize peace and prosperity.
  • People set up home altars and "tranquility corners" for meditation, furnishing them with photos, icons, or "meaningful objects."
  • Here's a description from an online seller: "We specialize in manufacturing Indian God Statues as well as modern figures in various designs, shapes, colors and sizes are available. These Indian God Statues can be customized as per customers specifications. We are having enchanting collection of white marble Murtis & sculptures of Hindus God & Goddesses. These marble Indian God Statues are made from premium grade of raw material which ensure durability at its user end."
  • We surround ourselves with material things, worshiping them by spending time cleaning, paying attention, and financing them.
The prophet Isaiah continues: "No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, ‘Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?’" (Is. 44:19) The obvious answer is, "Of course not!" But in practice it's rarely that simple.

Our God is not like other gods. He is not a dumb stump, a shiny metal statue, or a mute image made by human hands. He is not malleable by human whims. He cannot be manipulated into our own image.

Set apart forever, God comes near to hear our prayers and exclamations. He listens to our hearts as they call out to him with pleasure, adoration, and desperate need. He stoops to His children's cries and answers.

Truly, there is no god like our God. His loving ears hear and His clear voice speaks! What does your conversation with Him sound like today?

Read more:
*Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Hear, you who are far away, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. Isaiah 33:13 NLT

*Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 NIV

*Paul wrote: We know that God has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Jehovah God, you promised not to forsake us. You hear us no matter where we are and acknowledge us when we cry out to you in time of distress. When we think we are destroyed, you are there. Thank you for choosing us every day. Amen.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The bridge from here to there

When you write every day, there's a lot to write about. Like any other habit, writing feeds itself.

My spotty blogging since Lent makes it harder to write. A head and heart in transition splash bursts of energy rather than flowing in a steady stream onto the page. I am in transition.

A transition is defined as "the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another." It can be a scary passage if we don't know the destination. The old place or way of doing things is behind us. But the new way is still unformed or unseen.

Between? It's the bridge from what came before to what comes next.

Sometimes transitions feel like a rock-solid path. Though we may not know what's at the end of the journey, we have secure footholds and hand grips. We walk steadily along.

Other times, change feels more like the swaying of a rope bridge between two hills. Each step rocks the structure while we grab tightly to whatever can steady our gait. We may trip, jog a little, hold our breaths to stand still while we stabilize our balance ... and wonder if the whole thing will spill us into the river below.

The wonderful thing about every "then and now" is that Jesus is with us. He knows every handhold. Every footstep. The One who guarded us yesterday guides us today ... and understands all the details of tomorrow. No matter how difficult or thrilling the moment, He holds our hand.

Scripture even says, "Underneath are the everlasting arms." I like to think about a God who bolsters us when we're slipping or sliding over icy patches or feel too tired to keep going.

Let's trust God for our today: tomorrow's coming. It will be no surprise to God - even if it's completely out-of-the-ordinary for us!

Read more:
*Then Jacob made this vow: "If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father's home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me."
Genesis 28:20–22 NLT

*May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NIV

*He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13 NIV

*Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish. Jonah 3:9 NLT

*God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

*Moravian Prayer: God who destines us for salvation and changes his mind in our favor, grow our faith to understand this complex truth evident in Christ Jesus. May our witness reveal your hopefulness and ever expanding compassion. Amen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

It's a wonderful life

My sabbatical came to a crashing halt Sunday. While W represented NU in Montana, I enjoyed the NWMN conference in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, until Wednesday. My coaching and ministry friends and I visited throughout the event. What fun! I appreciate the investment of friends old and new in us.

In two weeks, I start TESOL classes (teaching English to speakers of other languages). Seattle is full of non-English speakers, so I've wanted to take the course for a while. Since NU offers the 4 semesters required for certification in 4 weeks of summer school, I might as well plunge in.

When that's done, we're on our way to teach in SE Asia. W gets to teach theology, which he loves. I still have course prep to finish: as usual, it's a course new to me and not my main interest. Thank God for faculty friends who loaned me their notes. I'm teaching their courses in their names. (Thanks, Lois! and Barbara.)

We've found good house-sitters, which helps make the time away easy. Our big family reunion and a 60th anniversary arrive in August, but we will celebrate that at our cabin. So... life is swiftly moving along. I'll be training for a new job, come fall. More on that later.

It's time to catch a deep breath and plunge right in!

How can we transition in busy seasons, where everything we've done comes together into "whatever that looks like next"?
  1. Know who we are and who God is. Get our bearings before we cross the bridge of transition or launch the boat for the distant shore.
  2. Know what we love and want to do. What makes our hearts sing? What's a good fit? (On the flip side, what would we most dread doing, no matter what the paycheck?)
  3. Gather our assets. Pull together the education, experience, and other resources - including friends and coworkers - who will help us realize the future.
  4. Write down a plan and our action steps. (If you can't figure those out, get a coach. I'm one, and would love to help you in a session or more. You'll be amazed how much you accomplish in a coaching hour!)
  5. Begin to move in the direction of the next thing. Use what we know, because some parts of a new season won't appear until we're on our way.
  6. Gather advisers - spiritual, mental, emotional, even physical - who are willing and ready to assist us. Let's listen to them and let their counsel guide our transitional process. 
  7. Make sure God is with us each step of the way. Keep our spiritual flame alight and "hot": this is not the time to reduce our spiritual disciplines and devotions.
  8. Embrace change. Transition is a wild uncertain ride, filled with joys and traumas. We're leaving behind the past for an unknown future. If God is in it, we'll be okay. And the future will be more astonishing and crazy-wonderful than we can imagine.
Read more:
*I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. Psalm 145:1-3 NIV

*I will make with you an everlasting covenant. Isaiah 55:3 NLT

*For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty,  how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will. Hebrews 2:1-4  NASB

*We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:12 (NIV)

Moravian Prayer: Lord, you named yourself “I Am that I Am” – a title of stability in a world that is confusing and ever changing, with new aims and ways to achieve them almost daily. Satisfyingly, we keep our eyes fixed on you, our one destination, knowing its way. Amen.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Scan the past

Today's big chore? Scanning as many binders and notes as possible, with the help of my d-i-love Rebekah. Hoping the work of two together accomplishes the work of three or more.

"Hopefully you're not like my friend, Mr. H," laughed my uncle during our phone call yesterday. "He takes out papers, lays them on the floor for sorting, tosses a few, and then puts the rest away. A few weeks later, he does it again. He's been doing that for years. It would drive me crazy!"

Oh, Uncle E, you'd be a madman in my office! Today is the day - maybe we can sort more than I imagine. Here's hoping. BTW: W found a great tool (right): the ScanSnap IX500 (Fujitsu) - it sorts single and duo-sided, sends it to my computer, and does OCR (turns it into searchable type.)

How do you tackle things that seem overwhelming to you?

Read more:
*Turn my eyes away from worthless things. Psalm 119:37 NIV

*Jesus said, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” Luke 6:41 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Lord, too often we prefer issues over people, things over relationships, saving money over saving lives. We fail to acknowledge one another’s humanity, yet we personify other material things. Forgive us and help us to identify the priceless image of you in each person. Amen.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

30-Day Spiritual Bootcamp

Rebekah Metteer calls her book a "devotional and workshop," but Faith, Friendship, and Focus is a spiritual bootcamp for women. Here's the idea: get a few friends together, set aside a month of days, and plunge into these life-changing, soul-expanding spiritual disciplines.

My physical bootcamp trainer, Mark Haner, is a really nice guy. He never shouts, always encourages, and pulls you forward. But by the end of the half hour, your body has had a workout. I highly recommend his 3X/week gym session OR his online 5X/week option.

Rebekah is similarly a great encourager. Her book takes you and your girlfriends along a path of stretching your spiritual muscles, understanding God's plan for your lives, and ordering your priorities. She presents four daily prayer chores (physical reminders of our spiritual reality) and a daily focus word, prayer walks, a fast, and other encouragements. There's room to journal your progress, too. And it ends with a celebration with your friends!

I highly recommend this book to women who value:
  • new life in their spiritual journey
  • spiritual community as a part of friendship
  • new ways to learn about God
  • flexible structure that fits into your day
Have fun! It may hurt a bit. You'll learn things about God and you that surprise you. And you'll finish the month with a new awareness of your walk with Christ.

Let us know how it goes!

Rebekah's blog is "Take the Leap." Click here.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Life sorting

Seems like there's always stuff to sort around here! I just got through a major organization effort at the beginning of the year. Now my office and desk look like the Tasmanian Devil from the comic strips whirled through. My online calendars are unreliable: I found an afternoon appointment for today, entered on my phone calendar, that didn't synch to my computer. Who knows what else I missed?

I'm scanning years of university notes, so there are full and half-full boxes of scanned pages. "Keep them until you know if it stored correctly on your computer," warns my husband. So boxes of random notes, in and out of page order, have begun to pile up near the scanner.

For someone whose mind ranges as far and wide as mine, physical order is a must. I tend to pile printouts of interesting ideas. "I'll get to those later today," or "I can read that by week's end," I tell myself. That often is true... but when it's not, the stacks mount into chaotic read-me obligations. Those piles drive me crazy.

Today is a sorting day. Between three appointments (one at home, thank God!), I have to tackle the books, magazines, and papers in this one room. Besides, I need one of the papers for a morning appointment.

Sorting. Sorting. As fast as I can.

No matter how wonderful life it, troubles come. Schedules get interrupted. We get sidetracked by unforseen appointments or information. Perhaps people we know need more attention than we'd planned to give them.

I'm so glad God can keep track of time, people, and everything in this world. He never loses an opportunity to renew and restore, whether it's humanity or nature.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by everything you could be doing, eating, seeing, or thinking? How do you sort through your possibilities and obligations?

Read more:
*Isaac's men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means 'hostility'). …

From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the LORD appeared to him on the night of his arrival. 'I am the God of your father, Abraham,' he said. 'Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.'…

One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. 'Why have you come here?' Isaac asked. 'You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.'

They replied, 'We can plainly see that the LORD is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let's make a covenant.'…

That very day Isaac's servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. 'We've found water!' they exclaimed….

But Esau's wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. Genesis 26:21, 23–24, 26–28, 32, 35 NLT

*"To whom will you compare me?  Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:25-26 NIV

*If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:8 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Liberating God, we follow your ordinances over the ways of human construction. At times, this may bring criticism upon ourselves, but may we be ever faithful to the way of Christ over any other semblance of law. Amen.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's up, Coach?

Have you ever felt "stuck" in place? Had dreams or goals without moving forward? Did you see a need and didn't know how to make a difference?

Me too! I spent four hours this week, coaching and being coached. My coaches started our hour with: "Rosemarie, what would you like to talk about today?" They gently directed questions to make me pause, think about my vision for work or ministry, and help me commit to moving forward through specific "I will do this" action steps.

Coaching is a great venue for sorting what we know. It helps us design a future that from our vantage point may look like,
  • "I wonder if I could try something."
  • "I wish I could do ..." 
  • "Oh no, what now? Where do I go from here?"
  • "If I could run this past someone, it might become clearer."
  • Wondered if you're headed in a direction that is true to your values, talents, or skills?
Mentoring brings another person's experience or knowledge to help you, but coaching unlocks your own thinking and preferred processes. It helps you choose your own "next steps" to walk - at your own pace. It guides you through ideas and actions that may not be on your horizon yet - or that you might overlook without someone "thinking alongside" you. Coaches help you build accountability to keep you on track, too.

Coaches meet their clients in person, on the phone, on Skype ... whatever suits the client best. Many coaches prefer an hour online or on the phone since it keeps coach and client on task and time.

I'm working toward coach certification and need some coaching hours. As your coach, I'll ask questions and reflect back what you're thinking. But the conversation belongs to you. Together, we'll listen to God's voice and direction, speaking through your heart and your mind. Every conversation is strictly confidential. "Payment" can include anything from my $35/hr fee to a traded service to cup of tea (or reciprocal coaching by another coach). First session is free for the first 15 clients.

Interested? Email me (click here) if you might benefit from coaching. Include two "best dates" where you can set aside an uninterrupted hour. (Likely, one will fit my calendar.)

Read more:
*One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. 'Why have you come here?' Isaac asked. 'You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.'

They replied, 'We can plainly see that the LORD is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let's make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the LORD has blessed you!' Genesis 26:26–29 NLT

*My heart, O God, is steadfast. I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 108:1-5 NIV

*Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. Psalm 143:10 NLT

*Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it? Isaiah 43:13 NIV

 *Christ himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17 NLT

*Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace. Hebrews 13:9 NLT

Moravian Prayer: God of past, present, and future; things temporal and eternal; everlasting life and daily living: for all time you have held all things together - what decision, then, could we make without your instruction? Help us not to separate your authority from matters we enjoy ruling for ourselves.

O Word who doesn’t fit on a page, we sometimes use scripture to fit our agendas. Forgive us for cheapening the complexities of your nature and your way by considering only the verses that serve our aim. Let your Spirit lead us to a deeper study of scripture. Amen.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Strange, wonderful aloneness

The last of our four children moved out yesterday. Our youngest son, who graduated university in December, packed up his room to live with two good friends.

Of course, the relocation wasn't without hiccups! The first two guys loaded their stuff into the UHaul and went to move it into the apartment. Then they learned they couldn't move in until the next day. So I came home to a UHaul parked at the top of the street - and three husky guys sitting on our LR sofa.

"Hi! I know Bob," I smiled at one of Jono's good friends. "But who are you guys?"

The two roommates introduced themselves. "We are essentially homeless until tomorrow, so Jono said we could sleep over. He's sleeping off his night shift in the guest room while we wait around." Of course, Jono's room had been disassembled. His bed and furniture, while not yet loaded into the truck, were packed up for a quick getaway.

I can't tell you the deep laughter inside this mother's heart. Oh, the resilience and flexibility of youth! We had a nice visit. Great guys. They made themselves coffee on W's espresso machine. (My coffee can be toxic since I'm not a coffee drinker.) I enjoyed my cup of tea.

Then I pointed to the sofa/futons, asked them to use sheets over the slipcovers, and bid them a fine stay before my husband and I headed out the door to an overnight event.

We came home last night to an empty house. The old bedroom is still chaotic. There are papers, a few bags of garbage, and some unsorted boxes left after their whirlwind of leaving. Hopefully Jono will clear it out this week. ("Ha ha, you optimist," I can hear my friends chortling.)

There's a strange wonder to this new season of parents-without-children as we become honeymooners. We're without kids for the first time in 32 years! Lots of people have come and gone at our house. More recently, Jono often had college friends sleep over.

I can tell I'm going to love the new privacy, of not running into young men headed up the stairs to the main bathroom's shower. We can wander into the kitchen in PJs and not find some stranger frying bacon or scrambling eggs at the stove. The sink and bathrooms will stay as clean as we make them. How cool is that!

My new mantra: "Empty nest is not a syndrome. It's a vacation!" Luckily our almost-2-year-old granddaughter disassembles the house one day a week, so I have toys and measuring cups to retrieve and replace in their cupboards.

I bet God loves the seasons of His children's maturity. He holds us when we're youngsters, disciplines us as spiritual "teens," and assigns us difficult and rigorous work as mature believers.

How did you feel, moving out of your childhood home? How about when your kids left?

Do you appreciate the seasons of spiritual maturity as God sees you through life?

Read more:
*In God's hand is the life of every living thing. Job 12:10 NLT

*My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won't be held back; when you run, you won't stumble. Take hold of my instructions; don't let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life. Proverbs 4:10–13 NLT

*The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11 NIV

*God is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:27-28 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Tending God, you give life and then you draw near to your creation. When we face difficulties, remind us that you are holding us all in your powerful hand and are by our side through it all. Amen. 

How did you feel when you left home? When your kids moved out?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Looking ahead to future harmony

The story of Jacob and Esau includes ambition, greed, inheritance, and divided parental expectations. In Middle East culture, the firstborn son got the lion share of the family goods. With goods came authority. Being the firstborn brought great responsibilities to care for the family, but that son determined how the rest of his family lived.

Esau beat Jacob into the world by just a few minutes. From birth, Jacob grasped Esau's heel and wanted the privileges and rights of his older brother. Here's part of the story - how Jacob legally stole the inheritance:

One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, "I'm starved! Give me some of that red stew."' (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means 'red.')

"All right," Jacob replied, "but trade me your rights as the firstborn son."

"Look, I'm dying of starvation!" said Esau. "What good is my birthright to me now?"

But Jacob said, "First you must swear that your birthright is mine"' So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn. Genesis 25:29–34 NLT

Eventually Esau and Jacob's descendents became foes. They fought for land and power in later generations. The enmity of their forefathers became a wedge between neighbors and cousins.

What kind of a legacy are you building with your siblings and friends? Are you a heart friend? A selfish conniver? A peacemaker? A thorn in the family's side? How will later generations speak of you?

 Think of ways you could show love, forgiveness, and inclusion to those around you. We'd love your ideas!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Crazy options!

Ever felt like life was full of options? Crazy options?

Where do you start when there are more possibilities than you have hours? When life starts to open in creative in unexpected ways?

Here's my personal how-to checklist for decisions I'm making this week:
  1. Choose faith instead of fear. I'll ask, "What are the possibilities" before asking, "What will this cost and how badly will it hurt?"
  2. Admit the emotions. Am I excited? Am I scared to death? Am I hopeful? Concerned? Maybe I'm all of the above: I can take heart - and caution - from my feelings. (Reminder to self: feelings are a temporary reality.)
  3. Who offered the opportunity? Is it legit? Is it interesting? Do I want to work with them or their circle?
  4. What do I - or don't I - like about this? Does the opportunity line up with who I am OR will it make me miserable because it's an awful fit?
  5. What am I currently doing that boosts or blocks this new thing?
  6. What do my "peeps" say about it? If it's a big decision, I'm talking to trusted family and advisers before jumping in!
  7. How far has everyone else bought into this? Is there enthusiasm or resistance from other participants?
  8. First and last, I'm always going ask, "Is this in line with who God made me to be?" And ... is this His time for me to do this?
What are the options you're considering? How do you tackle change?

Read more:
*I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:6 NLT

*Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

Jesus responded, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

The disciples were amazed. "Who is this man?" they asked. "Even the winds and waves obey him!" Matthew 8:23–27 NLT

*Philip baptized the eunuch. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. Acts 8:38-39 NLT

Moravian Prayer: God, you hold the salvation of the world; thank you for not being stingy with it (for our sakes!). Still, there are people who, like the eunuch, need to know that this grace is for them also. Make us more like Phillip – sharing your bountiful love and bringing to others the joy of inclusion into your baptized community. Amen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

How's your hearing?

Can you hear like you used to?

I noticed my first hearing shift after nailing in 1000 square feet of 8" pine flooring, three nails across, every 2 feet. In the process of building our own house, I never thought to put in hearing protection. At the next piano concert, the difference was startling. I had lost an entire middle range of hearing. It was like wearing earplug in that sound bite.

Gradually, it's become harder to distinguish sounds. It's not so much that I can't hear, but that sounds have begun to run together. We notice this in people with hearing aids, to whom every noise is part of a whole. When we are young, it is easy to zone in and out between sounds.

Are some of us are losing our spiritual hearing as well? Were you on high alert as a spiritual baby? Was I trusting as a child, knowing that God had you in his hands? A fervent believer as a teen? A ready listener as a young adult or parent?

Has our hearing changed as life buffets us? Has the gap between your expectations and the reality of daily routines turned your ears to other voices? Have my disappointments hardened my eardrums so that God needs to poke me with a big stick as well as talk to me?

If so, in this week after Easter, let's turn our hearts and our spiritual hearing up! Let's consider the wonder of God's accomplishments at the cross and during resurrection. No other god is living and active on behalf of His people. No other god has DONE for us rather than constantly demanding that followers DO more and more. Our God fulfilled His justice by sacrificing Himself for us; we don't have to keep flagellating ourselves, obeying harder and higher rules to placate Him! How amazing is that!!!

From Real Simple Daily Thought
God looks at us through the sacrifice of Christ and is ecstatic at our relationship. He loves us without limit. Picks us up when we fall down. Dusts us off and encourages us to turn always, to listen always, to obey always ... for our good and an abundant life. No, this God is not like other gods!

God leaves the choice to you and me. Will we turn up our spiritual hearing aids by spending time in scripture, prayer, and the Community of faith?

Or will we pursue our comfortable, selfish agenda, never finding harmony, fulfillment, and peace?

Listen to that small still voice. What are you hearing today?

Read more:
*His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. Psalm 91:4 NLT

*The angels said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.” Luke 24:5 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Hallelujah! The impossible has happened: the tomb is empty; Christ lives among and within us! May we see signs of resurrection in everything around us today. May we celebrate hope and new life: Christ is risen indeed! Hallelujah! Amen!