Archive for August, 2010

The Greatest Commandment

One of the most important of all the questions Jesus was asked was which commandment was the greatest. His answer was to love God and to love others.

Today’s video beautifully illustrates that teaching, and reminds us to keep love at the center of everything we do. To view the video just click here or on the picture below.

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A Family Affair

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 NRSV

MP900427723[1] For many of us, the most precious ties we have are family ties. On special holidays we get together and celebrate. In times of crisis we turn to our families for help and support. We spend much of our lives nurturing and enjoying family ties.

What is it that makes family so important? Is it being related by birth and blood? Is it having the same name? Or is it the love that’s shared?

These same questions may have been running through the minds of the crowd gathered around Jesus, when he returned to his hometown. His mother, brothers and sisters were trying to push through the crowd to reach him. Perhaps they expected to be recognized and brought up close to Jesus. Had Jesus responded that way, it would have made a beautiful family portrait.

MP900316741[1] But that wasn’t the picture Jesus wanted to paint. Jesus had a new definition of family. His definition shattered the precious belief that each person’s bloodline was what mattered most. Having Jesus in your family didn’t get you the best seat in the house.

No this was the dawn of a new age, the start of a new covenant between God and humankind. As far as Jesus was concerned, family trees no longer identified andMP900440916[1] defined the boundaries of family relationships. Those relationships were now a matter of the heart. How a person thought, felt and acted toward God were to be the defining criteria for that person’s familial relationship to Jesus.

Family relationships are a matter of the heart.

So, in his hometown reunion, Jesus enlarged his family circle! Now all of us have equal access to the Savior of the world. All of us are in Jesus’ inner circle. All of us have the right to come up as close as we want to Jesus. We don’t have to take a back seat to anyone. We are family!

There is simply no better place to be than close to Jesus Christ. There is no family bond more important that the bond of love in the family of God. This family is where we belong.

So come home! Draw near to Jesus today. Trust God as loving heavenly Father. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. Live out your days in the family of God.

Jesus is closest to those who seek to be closest to God!

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for opening up membership in God’s family, and for giving me the chance to become one with you and with believers everywhere. Draw me close to you, and help me to live like one of the family!

Amen.

You are Family 2

The Dodo Bird Effect

MP900402577[1] Probably the two most researched questions in psychology during the 20th century were does psychotherapy work, and if so which therapy works best?

Saul Rosenzweig concluded that all therapies work and they work equally well. He named this the Dodo Bird Effect, after a character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

That’s interesting, but what does it mean to you and me as faithful followers of Jesus Christ? Actually, what stands out about Rosenzweig’s research is that he discovered the type of therapy didn’t matter as much faith. People were more likely to get better if they had faith in the therapist, and the therapist had faith in the treatment approach.

So the key to a sound mind, and the ability to overcome mental stress and distress, lies in faith! That’s probably not a surprise to you, because you know what faith has done for you.

But I want to remind you that believing in something or someone is only a good idea if what you believe in is able to do what you expect. That’s why faith in God is so important. God is able! Not only that, God is faithful, and God’s love is steadfast. God’s promises are true. With God all things are possible!

David certainly knew how critical faith was. Even in life’s darkest moments, he refused to give up his faith. Listen to some of his words during a time of intense persecution and suffering:

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire. I am weary…my eyes grow dim…But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. With your faithful help rescue me… (Psalm 69 excerpts NRSV)

David’s faith in God was well placed. God delivered him time and time again, and used his life to further God’s kingdom purposes.

MP900430498[1] You may not face the kinds of problems David faced, but you face the kinds of challenges that require faith. Your faith in God is probably your most powerful resource. Embrace it, nurture it and use it.

Believe in God. Believe in Jesus Christ. Trust the Holy Spirit to lead you to a life that is abundant and eternal!

An Extraordinary Life

What does the future hold for you?

No one knows.

Actually, the truth is that no one can know.

1 Corinthians 2:9 (20 kb)

God has prepared an extraordinary life for you! It goes beyond anything you could ask or imagine.

So maybe today would be a good time to look beyond the limits you have put on yourself.

Why not open yourself to all God’s purposes and plans for you?

Step forward to a life without limits!

Image by Ben Steed. Source: www.heartlight.org

Our Plans: God’s Purposes

The human mind may devise many plans, but is is the purpose of the LORD that will be established. Proverbs 19:21 paraphrased

MP900321177[1] I’m an idea person. My head is filled with ideas. When people ask me for help, I enjoy coming up with new ways to tackle old problems. What I have learned over the years is that many of my ideas sound good, or look good on paper, but the road from idea to solution is often a long and winding way.

MP900402515[1]Part of the problem is that my ideas sometimes lead me to devise plans that run counter to God’s purposes for me. When that happens, I usually end up frustrated. The more dead end roads I travel down, the more I start to realize there is a better way.

Instead of starting with an idea and then a plan, I have discovered that it’s best to start with learning more about Taking careGod and God’s purposes. From the beginning of time, God has had a purpose for all creation. The more attuned I am to God’s purposes, the more likely I will be to then make plans consistent with those purposes!

The writer of Proverbs knew that no matter what plans we make, God’s purposes endure. So wise men and women start with getting to know what God wants. Then they work hard to align their thoughts, feelings and behaviors with God’s purposes. What they discover is that when their plans are built on God’s purposes, those plans are more likely to succeed!

The morale of the story is: Don’t put the cart before the horse. Know God. Seek God’s will. Discern God’s purpose for you and your life.

Then start making plans!

 

my Shepherd is my Hope

MP900443194[1]Hope requires much more than positive thinking or a  Pollyanna attitude. It requires faith in the one who holds the future.

That’s why I find myself coming back so often to Psalm 23. It reminds me of the Good Shepherd who leads me, and strengthens my faith in a future that he has already prepared for me.

If you are anything like me, you probably take comfort in those words too. So I invite you to click here to view a beautiful video setting of Psalm 23. Then let its comforting words fill your heart with God’s presence and your day with real hope!

 

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The Dark of Night

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b NRSV

MC910215955None of us enjoy perfect lives. We all have days when the road seems too steep to climb. We have nights when it seems like the darkness will never pass. We endure hardship. We feel fear, and we suffer through sadness. Struggle and pain are just a part of our human condition.

…but joy comes with the morning!

The psalmist knew the harsh realities of life when he penned these words of hope in Psalm 30. He had experienced the same kinds of feelings and fears that we face today. In fact, he had spent many a night weeping and crying out for deliverance.

MP900177811[1] David cried his way through many a prayer. The way was not easy for him, but he kept on praying! He had an unshakeable trust in God that kept him going, even in life’s darkest hour. He knew that God would be with him, even when walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

David also spent many a night believing! No matter how dire his circumstances, David steadfastly turned to the Lord. No matter how lonely and abandoned he felt, he kept putting his faith in God alone.

He had an unshakeable trust in God that kept him going.

That kind of faith allowed David to stand and endure many a storm, and many a dark night. It also gave him a tremendous hope. He lived with a continual hope that joy would come in the morning. David knew that no matter how bad things got, in the end God would be victorious!

What a great attitude and way to approach life! You and I can join David and affirm that weeping many linger for a night, but joy will come in the morning. We can accept that life brings trials, tribulations and tests. But we can also have a deep and abiding joy in the midst of our sadness. We can draw our strength from the sure hope that God will bring us through!

MP900227568[1] There is simply no sadness, no fear, no trouble or problem that can separate us from God’s tender loving care. So when the tears come, remember that God always brings joy in the morning!

God turns every night into a bright new day!

 

Prayer:

Lord, you have guarded, guided and sustained me. You have brought me out of the darkness, and given me new life. Help me to continue to trust you, and to fix my hope on your promises. Keep me ever mindful that with you there is always joy in the morning!

Amen.

Joy In Morning copy