Joy in Living
When gently descending, the rain in soft showers,
With its moisture refreshes the ground,
And the drops, as they hang on the plants and the flowers,
Like rich gems beam a lustre around.Thomas Brerewood, ‘Spring, A Pastoral Ballad’
Our Father, Open our hearts and our eyes this day to behold with wonder and awe the beauty of Your creation. Nurture an awareness in each of us, Lord, that You are close by, even though we cannot see You. Assure us of Your love and overwhelm us with the need to share it with others. Help us to find the way and the words. Renew in us, Lord, a fresh sense of joy in living for, as Your children, we have life eternal. O Holy Spirit, lead us to shine as a light in this world so that others may come to know Your love, peace and hope for them also. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 NIV
The Body of Christ and Love
The following is an excerpt from Retired and Inspired : Making the Most of Our Latter Years by Wendy Billington.
As Christians we are Christ’s body; each of us is precious to him and necessary for his work here on earth. That is why we need to strive towards wholeness so that we can offer our best for him and serve him well as a member of his body.
Teresa of Avila, the 16th-century Carmelite nun, mystic and theologian, wrote these famous words directly referring to and reminding us of Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ from 1 Corinthians 12:
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.Teresa of Avila
What a vivid analogy this is: the church, the body of Christ, is like and works as a human body. Each of us is a member and of equal worth but with a different part to play, essential to creating a harmonious whole. Paul goes on in his teaching to say to the Corinthians “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:22).
Whoever we are and whatever gifts we have, we remain indispensable to God and his people. God has called us to love him first; to do this we are to live close to him. God has called us to love our neighbours. The love that God requires is not a passionate physical love nor the love we feel for others: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18). This is a love not just of the heart but also of the mind and the will. It keeps on loving even when things aren’t going the way we would like. It is a resolve to put the welfare of others above our own with both actions and words.
The great calling of the church is for it to be family, nurtured through Christ’s love with that same love flowing by the Holy Spirit to its members – the body of Christ. That means that our own personal relationship with God needs to play a key role, but at the same time we must remember that this relationship isn’t just for our own benefit. We have been placed into the body of Christ alongside our fellow Christians, individually and collectively to witness God’s love to the wider world. ‘See how they love one another’ is the mark of a truly spiritual church.
Come to Him – the Living Stone
22 Now that you have taken care to purify your souls through your submission to the truth, you can experience real love for each other. So love each other deeply from a [pure] heart. 23 You have been reborn—not from seed that eventually dies but from seed that is eternal—through the word of God that lives and endures forever. 24 For as Isaiah said,
All life is like the grass,
and its glory like a flower;
The grass will wither and die,
and the flower falls,
25 But the word of the Lord will endure forever.
This is the word that has been preached to you.
(1 Peter 1:22-25 The Voice Translation)
2 So get rid of hatefulness and deception, of insincerity and jealousy and slander. 2 Be like newborn babies, crying out for spiritual milk that will help you grow into salvation 3 if you have tasted and found the Lord to be good. 4 Come to Him—the living stone—who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious.
(1 Peter 2: 1-4 The Voice Translation)
Being a Master at Washing Feet
A Reblog from fellow blogger, Todd R – A great lesson on humility.
Driving Toward the Morning Sun
English author Samuel Johnson said, “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” I recently read The Residence, a book of real stories about White House staff over the years. In a chapter on how staff often go unnoticed comes this humiliating negative example:
President [Lyndon] Johnson often undressed in front of staffers and was famous for rattling off orders while he was sitting on the toilet. Once, reporter Frank Cormier was shocked to see Air Force One Steward Sergeant and Valet Paul Glynn kneel before the president while they were in midair and wash his feet – all the more so because Johnson never once acknowledged Glynn.
“Talking all the while, Johnson paid no heed except to cross his legs in the opposite direction when it was time for Glynn to attend to the other foot,” Cormier observed.
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God is Faithful
The following is from a post by David Sorensen.
God is so faithful!
I hear Jesus Christ whisper these words in my heart for you, right now:
“I love you with the deepest love there is, and My love will not fail for you, beloved.
Although the darkness surrounds you, My light is within you. Let My light shine into your mind and see My faithful love.
I will lead you through these times and I will give you new strength.
Look at Me. I rose from the dead. I conquered the grave. No matter how deep you are, I have gone so much deeper, so much further into the depths of the abyss.
I have been where no man has ever been and I have overcome, says Jesus Christ. I am the conqueror. I am the victor.
I am eternal life, and if you believe in Me, I will give you this life that is stronger than death. This life that will help you break through the valley where you seem to be so stuck in.
I will raise you up to new levels of faith in Me, where you will begin to see beyond the shadows and discern My light inside of you.
I am here, says the Lord, right with you. I have walked this valley so often and I will lead you out of it.
Trust Me, walk with Me, look at Me.
Don’t focus on the darkness, but focus on Me, and My light.
Let My love strengthen you.
Let My love fill your heart.
Listen to My voice and hear My heartbeat.
I love you.
I care for you.
I know you.
I forgive you with all my heart and with fullness of joy.
My grace is so abundant.
I have hope for you and your beloved ones.
Look at Me.
I smile over you.
I look at you with eyes of gladness and understanding.
Come and follow Me.
Come and walk with Me.
Come and put your hand again in My hand.
I will help you.
And together we will walk, from victory to victor, from glory to glory, from darkness to light, again and again.
My love will become the deep foundation of your life.
Look at Me.
Have faith in Me.
I love you.
I never leave you.
We will make it, together, you and Me.
Come with Me.”
The following extract and poem are taken from Disguises of Love by Eddie Askew.
Another problem is that labels can restrict our own development. Our traditional piety sometimes makes us less than fully human. We curb our ability to enjoy life, or feel pain, because we feel we must conform to an expected role, to labels we stick on ourselves. Yet the most important thing is not that we can recognise others, labelled or not, nor that they acknowledge our labels, but rather that God recognises us. And the thing he recognises is love, not labels. That’s what he identifies with. Not the classification by which we proclaim our separateness from others, and certainly not the critical labels we apply to them, but the caring which shows our identification with them. What we claim to be is not as important as the presence of Christ in our lives. That’s what leads God to call us his children. ‘Because those who are led (not labelled!) by the Spirit are sons (and daughters of God’ (Romans 8:14).
They put labels on you, Lord,
Friend of sinners, Sabbath breaker.
Disturber of the peace.
They put all their fear and anger,
all their hate, into their labels.
It was easier to label than to listen.
Easier to condemn than to have their world altered
their customs questioned.
Easier to keep the blinkers on than face the light,
the discomfort of truth,
Your truth. Living truth.
They even nailed a label to your cross.
Just above the thorns of a bloody crown.
King of the Jews, it said.
Label. Laugh. Turn away. Forget.
Is that what I do, Lord?
The mockery of quick judgement
that takes fear as evidence,
prejudice as reason.
That shoots on sight
and leaves the bleeding body of truth
dead in a ditch.
And close my eyes, lest I remember.
Lord, when I meet someone new,
someone who threatens me by his strangeness,
whose presence asks for adjustments,
whose ideas don’t mesh with mine
and which shake the assumptions I wear
like a favourite jacket shaped to my comfort,
then help me to look,
not for his label, but for his humanity.
Not to close my mind, but to open my heart,
and see your presence in him.
Let me see you not just in my comfortable friends,
but in the eyes of strangers around me.
And Lord, help me to see
the only label that matters is love.
It’s not always easy to recognise.
Sometimes it looks like a bloody crown.
Eddie Askew (1927 – 2007) Previous General Director of The Leprosy Mission
The following excerpt and prayer is from Disguises of Love by Eddie Askew.
As Christians, we must face the reality of the world. We can’t delude ourselves over the activity of evil or pretend that it’s all God’s will. We don’t know why some people suffer much more than others and why some break under it. But we do know that God is with us, even though sometimes we know it only in retrospect. Looking back, we see that, through the suffering, love was at work in one of his many disguises. Love is often hard to recognise, so close to the suffering that he’s hard to identify. So hard that we attribute to him the suffering itself, instead of thanking him for his presence and strength. We can find him in and through the suffering, love’s disguises slowly dissolving as we recognise his presence. Not necessarily justifying the suffering but turning it towards good.
Lord, I spend a lot of time
talking to you about myself.
I have so many needs.
Help me today to think of others.
I pray for people weighed down by worry.
Anxious people, who don’t know where to turn.
Who don’t know whose door to knock on,
bewildered by what life has brought.
Knocked off balance by the suffering and inequality
they meet at every step.
People without choices,
whose only way is down.
Somehow, Lord, in the turmoil of survival,
in the questioning and the doubt,
show yourself to them.
Let them find you, not in the abstract,
not in the smooth words of the practised preacher,
but in a hand held out to help.
In shared tears, and in the silence
that says everything without words.
May they recognise your purposes for them,
and learn that your will for them is good.
Help us, each one of us,
to face things as they are.
And though the world has forgotten the architect’s plans,
though the builders ignore the blueprint,
and the foundations shake with every pressure,
shelter us with your presence.
Help us to see you at work
not only in the good days
but in the bad,
and to know, beyond doubt,
not through others’ words but our own experience,
that you work together with us.
Then, Lord, our praise will be real,
our joy deep.
Eddie Askew (1927-2007), former general director of the Leprosy Mission who dedicated his life to the relief of leprosy all over the world.
Ode to Friendships by Kayla Rae Pich
They’re the few people who accept silence over conversation.
A relationship like this denies silly promises and persuasion.
You don’t feel the need to second guess thoughts or measure words.
Their love comes in wholes, not halves, not thirds.
They’re the ones that guide you through when fate takes a turn.
Fights, small and large, end in forgiveness, never a burn.
You forget about first impressions and the feelings they brought.
You’re grateful for who they are and you forgive them for what they’re not.
Success by Edward A Guest
I hold no dream of fortune vast,
Nor seek undying fame.
I do not ask when life is past
That many know my name.
I may not own the skill to rise
To glory’s topmost height,
Nor win a place among the wise,
But I can keep the right.
And I can live my life on earth
Contented to the end,
If but a few shall know my worth
And proudly call me friend.
Alone by Maya Angelou
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
Can make it out here alone.”