Showing posts with label communion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label communion. Show all posts

Jan 30, 2014

Lessons from a Hummingbird

When a hummingbird builds a nest, the bird does not think ahead of time, "I will build a beautiful nest." She instinctively gathers tiny sticks, feathers, and soft things that please her, mindfully and enjoyably doing what is natural, just one pleasing piece at a time. And then, as if by magic, a beautiful, safe nest is created by God.

"Do you think lightly of the riches of [God's] kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness  [safeness, love, goodness and beauty] of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4 - words in brackets mine)
When we see that God is tender, and become still with that safeness, and do just one thing mindfully in freedom and faith, we effortlessly build something beautiful from God. 

Sep 12, 2013

How Jesus Prayed All Night

There are several Scripture references that tell us sometimes Jesus prayed all night (e.g., Matthew 21:17). For some reason, I always imagine Him out in the wilderness kneeling over a rock, laboring in prayer in the dark.

It is a little intimidating, really, if you think we should try to live as Christ lived. I am pretty protective of my sleep and, honestly, I'm not sure I would be willing or able to do that.

 But as I was sitting on our deck swing one evening, talking to God, I realized my imaginings were probably incorrect. I like to be outside in nature and talk to God, and I think Jesus did, too. He was surrounded by people most days, and He needed solitude to commune with His Father. I can see Him lying in a meadow looking up at the stars, feeling a gentle breeze on His face. I think He soaked up the presence of God with joy during those times.

If “the darkness is light to Him” then He must have thrilled in the beauty around Him. In fact, He probably enjoyed it so much that he never went to bed. I believe Christ's example is not to labor in prayer over a checklist (although fervent prayer can be work). He does, however, teach us to take time and to find solitude and beauty and, most of all, to enjoy the presence of God when we pray. That is something we all can do.


Oct 25, 2012

Relentless as the Forest

I feel closer to God in the hammock in our backyard, especially when breezes tousle the branches above me, all shades of green, a kaleidoscope in the sun. Here, in a city neighborhood, in the hilly, forested part of Arkansas, my oak tree hosts a soprano choir of birds who seem to sing for the joy in it. 

Not far from here, the parking lots make it hard to believe there ever was a forest. Yet today in my hammock there is a distinct sense of the wild places still being present. Perhaps it’s the moss carpeting the rocky ground, mottled now and again with purple violets. Or maybe it’s the little nest of birds in the siding of our house. Yikes! Yes, the forest is still here, waiting. If not held at bay by homes, SUVs, and concrete, it would return, craggy roots imperceptibly yet relentlessly creeping into crevasses and crannies until there were few signs of civilization.

God is like the forest, it seems, patiently waiting to enter a crack in the concrete of the flawless persona we put on for the world. If we were to put aside the weed-eater of busyness and the chain saw of materialism, the Holy Spirit would set up residence in our lives and grow a forest of goodness there. How often does God plant a wildflower only to have it crushed with the steamroller of ambition, paving our lives with humanly achieved successes? What a glorious garden would flourish in our hearts, would we let our Gardner in. But instead, He waits longingly and relentlessly, like the remnants of the forest in our backyard.


This article won first place in the writing contest for the Little Rock Chapter of American Christian Writers in May of 2010.

Mar 13, 2010

Simplicity in Prayer

Mother Teresa said, "We complicate prayer as we complicate many things."

So we simply come to Him in solitude and silence while He nurtures us. Our hearts are filled and we can then go out and nurture others.

We still our souls and listen for Him in the spring breeze, the twittering nightingale, the fluttering leaf, the gurgling creek. He speaks and we know what to say to the brokenhearted.

We still our souls and look for Him in the stars of the night, the break of the dawn, the dew on the leaves, the bloom of the rose. He appears and we know how to solve our most daunting problems.

Perhaps we light a candle, put on some soft music, and have coffee with Jesus. Or instead take off on a brisk walk. As we sink down into the present moment where God lives and the wind tousles our hair, His presence invades our emotions and dissolves our fears.

Dear Jesus,
Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Flood our souls with your Spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through us
and be so in us
that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul ...

~ Mother Teresa
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May 17, 2009

Face to Face

When we search for God, He is not somewhere far away. When we look for him in the distance we look right past Him! Once we have placed our faith in Christ, He crosses the chasm that once separated us. Now He is right here, face to face with us, closer than the air around us -- even inside us! Thank you, Papa, for talking with us "face to face as a man talks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11).

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PHOTO: Harvard University Gazette

May 3, 2009

Stop and Steep

Did you know a simple tea bag can help you find deeper passion in your spiritual life? Spiritual passion grows when we learn to commune with God and nurture our love relationship with Him. One of the best ways to nurture that relationship is through the practice of meditation. Meditation is simple to do: If you can brew a cup of tea, you can learn to do it.

The first step is to STOP. Forge some time out of your busyness. It's good to start small -- just five or ten minutes in the beginning. Find somewhere you can be quiet and undistracted for a few minutes -- even a bathroom or closet will do.

Just sit down, open your Bible to a favorite verse, and act like a tea bag: When you find a verse that warms your soul, jump in and STEEP! That's the second step: Be still, and let that Scripture soak into your being like a tea bag steeping in hot water. Look at the verse; then close your eyes and go over the words in your mind . . . then look at the verse again and steep some more . . . then look, then steep again, and so on. Don't hurry. Often the less you read, the better. Set aside ambition and focus on relationship.

The Word of God is living and active, so when you meditate on it you're actually steeping in the presence of the Lord. Allow yourself to sense His presence. When we quiet our souls and open our hearts in this way, God reveals Himself. That's just the way He chooses to work. As the water of the Word seeps in, the flavor of Christ flows out from within us.

Dwight Hill of The Navigators shares, "Over the days, weeks, and months, the appetite for this quiet connection with God will grow to the point where we do not want to live without it. No longer will we feel we are wasting our time. When this happens, the inner chaos, noise, anger, and frustration will begin to give way to inner peace and tranquility."

As you practice this art of communing with God, it's best to find verses that make you feel safe and loved by Him. We need ALL of Scripture, but there is a time and place for everything. The primary purpose in this exercise is to build your love relationship with God, so select verses that help you do that. 1 John 4:19 says "we love because He first loved us." That means the more secure we are in God's infinite love for us, the more our own hearts overflow with love for Him and others. It is in intimate communion with Him that God fans the flame of passion with the breath of His Spirit. And as the light of His love burns in us, our hearts drive us out into the world to be His hands and feet and heart and voice to the lost and the hurting, for His glory.

So let us
Throw back our heads and run with the passion
Through the fields of forgiveness and grace
We carry the eternal flame . . .
We are glowing in the dark . . .
Children of the burning heart

~ Steven Curtis Chapman, "Children of the Burning Heart"

As you brew your next cup of tea, remember to STOP AND STEEP!

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Sep 25, 2008

Scandalous! God Desires a Love Affair With *You*

God doesn't want a religious checklist from you, He wants a love affair! He wants to commune with you throughout the day. It is not less holy to brush your teeth, change a dirty diaper, or give a presentation at work than it is to pray. The blood of Jesus makes every part of your life holy, and He wants to be a part of it all.

Now, don't get me wrong. Prayer is important. Intercession is important. Prayerlessness is sin! But if your quiet time has degenerated into an obligatory list of drudgery-filled tasks. Give it up for a while. Allow your soul to respond to the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Get greedy for God. Experience him in an afternoon cup of coffee, a walk in nature, or a nap. Hear his voice at every crossroad. Look for Him all around you for He is there! Feel His presence envelop you. Rest.

I just don't see Jesus in the Bible waking up every morning an hour before the disciples to go through scrolls of Scripture and His list of the probably thousands of people who had asked Him for prayer. From time to time, He would go to lonely, quiet places in nature and commune with His Papa-- sometimes in preference to sleep! That is passion. Jeremiah had it. He said to God, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty" (Jeremiah 15:16 emphasis mine).

Passion is what God wants from us, and a legalistic, dogmatic quiet time can ruin it. Putting ourselves under a set of rules and obligatory "shoulds" actually arouses the sinful nature! (Romans 6:5 b NIV). "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, an do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ... For in Christ neither [a quiet time] nor [a missed quiet time] has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" (Galatians 5:1-6 NIV [my words in brackets]).


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