Saturday, February 28, 2009


Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in a marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for a marathon but never participating. But discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports.

In sports it is a concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. In the spiritual life, discipline is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to His guidance.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Going through the motions...

So often we go through the motions in our spiritual lives. We sing, we pray, we worship, we give the impression that we know that we are God’s beloved. But often in the deep places of our hearts, the assurance is not there; and we know it. We need to come home and let the Spirit of God whisper, “You are God’s beloved.” I cannot tell you who you are. Others cannot tell you who you are. Only the Spirit of God can.

In this time of Lent, spend some time alone with God. Find a place where you can meditate in quiet without being disturbed. Turn your thoughts and prayers on God, asking that He show you His love. You will feel the warmth and security that comes from being in His presence and wrapped in His arms.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I am not...

I am not what I ought to be.
I am not what I wish to be.
I am not even what I hope to be.
But, by God's grace and Christ's love,
I am not what I was.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Although we are free to (and even encouraged to) add spiritual disciplines to our lives whenever we feel led, to me the season of Lent just cries out for them.

For too many years, I saw Lent only as a time to give something up. While this is a worthy practice, we don't necessarily gain all we can from it. We "give up" chocolate, TV, soda, or something else we "love" but not to the point of really causing any hardship. The idea is that when we crave this thing, we are to spend this time in prayer. A noble thought.

What if we "give up" something dear to us and replace it with a spiritual practice i.e. reading Scriptures, prayer, meditation, etc.? During the next 40 days I will bring new (or at least new to me, some are actually ancient!) practices to this blog. Look them over and try them, I know we will both be richer for the experience.

40 Days

The images attached were drawn by Simon Smith (an artist in the UK) and shows his vision of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness. Pay close attention to his depiction of Satan. Thought this was a good way to begin the season of Lent.

Today is Ash Wednesday "Remember you are dust and into dust you shall return".

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bringing secrets to light...

We all have our secrets: thoughts, memories, feelings that we keep to ourselves. Often we think, "If people knew what I feel or think, they would not love me." These carefully kept secrets can do us much harm. They can make us feel guilty or ashamed and may lead us to self-rejection, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

One of the most important things we can do with our secrets is to share them in a safe place, with people we trust. When we have a good way to bring our secrets into the light and can look at them with others, we will quickly discover that we are not alone with our secrets and that our trusting friends will love us more deeply and more intimately than before. Bringing our secrets into the light creates community and inner healing. As a result of sharing secrets, not only will others love us better but we will love ourselves more fully.
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Sometimes you have no external reason to be joyful but remember, Joy is a choice!Paul was in prison. He had absolutely NO reason to be joyful but rejoice he did. He could rejoice "in the Lord". The Lord, powerful and joyous was inside Paul!

Do you feel restricted, accused, labeled, abused? Have you been hurt, blamed or neglected? Joy is your choice. Commit Philippians 4:4 to memory and pull it out when you feel like you are imprisoned. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice".

Paul gives us the reason to choose joy in Philippians 4:5 "The Lord is near". What more could we want? Do not focus on the obstacles that surround you like the walls of a prison. Keep Paul's words in your heart and always on your lips. We always have reason for Joy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


We have heard the saying: "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." Likewise, C. S. Lewis once remarked, "If we aim for heaven, we get earth thrown in with it; if we aim for earth, we get nothing."

The life to come has a profound impact on how followers of Jesus live in the present. The Bible expresses it very simply: God created you. God has a claim upon you. Jesus goes to prepare a place for you.

One of my favorite programs was "The X-Files". Agent Mulder is a seeker, convinced that "the truth is out there," and he is sure that aliens inhabit the earth. As a follower of Jesus, you are a citizen of heaven, an alien here on earth, and your search is always rewarded. You are in touch with the power of God, which has overcome sin and death!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rules and laws...

There are traffic laws...we don't have to follow them but if we don't we risk a ticket or worse, a wreck. Since nothing is in the car forcing me to follow all the rules, I occasionally break one. The one most often ignored is the stop sign in the middle of the 4 lane highway near my house. After all, you can see a mile in both directions...why should I stop?

This morning I left for work, got to the bottom of the hill and as usual, looked both ways then started across 4 lanes. Somehow, even though you can see a mile in both directions, I didn't see the little white car traveling down the far lanes. Thankfully, God did! It was a close call, the other car didn't have to swerve but I bet he had a few choice words for me. Needless to say, I stopped for a moment, imagined all the things that could have happened and then took a moment to thank the Father for His protection. Now, nothing makes me obey the traffic laws but you can bet I'll be stopping in the middle from now on!

It just occurred to me that the commandments and all the lessons in the Bible are the same way. We don't have to follow them, but it sure makes life better if we do...

Thursday, February 19, 2009


“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen

I am blessed to have a couple of friends like this...but along with these glorious attributes, they also know when to push, when to ask questions and help me grow. I love you for who and what you are!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I found a website called Gratefulness ( that is filled with images, thoughts, pictures, poems, activities, etc. all directed toward teaching us how to be more grateful.

It dawned on me while I was enjoying the site how sad it is that we have to be taught or reminded to be grateful. How must it make God our Father feel to know that we take so many (perhaps all) of His gifts for granted. Why not, we deserve them don't we?

I'm sure we have all studied the Word enough to know that we don't deserve any of the blessings we receive from His hand. He gives them freely and lovingly to us, every hour of every day. All He asks is that we thank the Giver and spread the love and joy. Is that too much to ask? No, never!

I am going to make it a quest to be thankful every day, to stop long enough to realize what a joy it is to be here, now. Why don't you join me?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Keeping the Sabbath

In an earlier post I wrote that we are called to "find the time and space to just "be" with God" on the Sabbath. What is it in us that takes such a simple notion and surrounds it with laws?

In Jesus' lifetime, keeping the Sabbath had become a major worry. All work was forbidden and work was classified under 39 different headings. Not only could you not work, you couldn't do anything that would cause another to work.

Jesus ran into trouble with the scribes and Pharisees time and again over the Sabbath. He and his disciples walked through a cornfield and picked corn to eat...this was forbidden! Not only did they walk too far (they were very strict on how far you could travel on the sabbath) but they were "picking" corn and preparing a meal! The Rabbis saw this as a deadly sin but Jesus saw it differently. In Mark 2:27 He says "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath". He was trying to tell them (and us) that we were here long before any of the laws and human need overrides any law. The Sabbath is meant to meet one of our most basic human needs, it provides a "break" from work and a time to "be" with God.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Be my Valentine...

Today is Valentine's Day...they say it was invented by the card companies in order to sell more cards...but, there actually is a St. Valentine, or more accurately, three of them.

The one I have read of most often was a priest during the time of Emperor Claudius (Rome). Claudius decided his army was better served by single men and so decreed that they should not marry. Valentine continued to marry people despite the decree and was arrested. He spent some time and became friendly with Claudius. All was well until Valentine tried to convert Claudius. At that point he was put to death, supposedly on February 14.

We associate Valentine's Day with flowers, candy, cards and romance. I've exchanged cards and gifts today with some of my favorite men...husband, son, grandson and father-in-law...and received cards, presents and flowers too! The wonderful part of all this is that I know they love me whether I receive anything today or not. We speak of this love the end of the day, at the end of a conversation or when we part company our last words are always, I love you. It is one phrase I never tire of hearing.

Amidst the celebrations today, remember those who may not receive any expressions of love...the lonely, the destitute, those who are far away either by choice or decree. Say a prayer and ask God to show them love today...whether it's spoken or not. Ask Him to touch them with His loving hands and let them know there are those who care.

Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Words, words, words. Our society is full of words: on billboards, on television screens, in newspapers and books. Words whispered, shouted, and sung. Words that move, dance, and change in size and color. Words that say, "Taste me, smell me, eat me, drink me, sleep with me," but most of all, "buy me." With so many words around us, we quickly say: "Well, they're just words." Thus, words have lost much of their power.

Still, the word has the power to create. When God speaks, God creates. When God says, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, "I love you," and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage. When we say, "I hate you," we can destroy another person. Let's watch our words.

Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Sabbath

St. Benedict used the phrase "vacare Deo" (finding space for God) when speaking of the Sabbath.

The Sabbath, whether we celebrate it on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, is not just a day of rest. It is to be the Lord's day and as such we are to give time to God. A day to change the tempo of your life and focus on the Father. He calls us to attend Him not just in worship but in relationship. Next Sabbath, vacare Deo...find the time and space to just "be" with God.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Sometimes I can't resist...I have to take "tests" and find out about myself. Today I found one on Gavin's website "What Office Supply are you"...of all things, a calculator???

You Are a Calculator
No matter what someone tells you, you're likely to focus on facts and data.
You're a highly analytic person. You are only concerned with what you can know for sure.

You look at situations objectively, and you have no problem approaching problems from multiple angles.
You would make a good analyst or investment banker. You are confident enough to make tough calls and hard decisions.

Friday, February 6, 2009

God's Ever Present Love

We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior. God doesn't approve of betrayal, violence, hatred, suspicion, and all other expressions of evil, because they all contradict the love God wants to instill in the human heart. Evil is the absence of God's love. Evil does not belong to God.

God's unconditional love means that God continues to love us even when we say or think evil things. God continues to wait for us as a loving parent waits for the return of a lost child. It is important for us to hold on to the truth that God never gives up loving us even when God is saddened by what we do. That truth will help us to return to God's ever-present love.
Henri Nouwen

Thursday, February 5, 2009


There are no "ifs" in God's heart. He never says, "I love you if...". His love for us does not depend on what we do or say, on our looks or how popular we are, on our intelligence or success. His love existed before we were born and will go on well after.

He is the Alpha and Omega...beginning and end.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jesus Painter

We attended Warmth in Winter, our annual conference youth gathering, this past weekend in Nashville. Once again this young man was on hand to tell us stories with his paint brush. It is even more awe inspiring in person!