Friday, October 10, 2014

Can you see it?

Today I was once again reading from Kalas' book, I bought a House on Gratitude Street.  In the chapter I read, he spoke of a sermon he heard that had the theme of "If you can see it, you can have it."  The scriptural basis of the sermon was the story of Elijah and Elisha.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’ He responded, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.  (2 Kings 2:9-10)
Do you ever have the experience of sitting in a church meeting and feeling the weight of dread decend?  People talk about the lack of children in the service, the fact that fewer people are members of the church, the idea that people don't want to volunteer, and the list goes on and on.

I don't think we can see it.  I think we are so caught up in the negatives that we can't see a vital, healthy church.  Do we have the hope that we can be what God calls us to be?

If we can't see it, we can't have it.

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Numbering our days

I read a chapter from J. Ellsworth Kalas' book I Bought a House on Gratitude Street this morning. The chapter concerned numbering your days.

The picture in the post today is a sunrise image I snapped with my iPhone yesterday morning.  It doesn't do justice to what I was seeing which was beautiful.  This sunrise followed a lunar eclipse (6:25am the same morning).  I caught just the tail end of the eclipse.

My question to you today is this:  how do we number our days?  Consider that.

I think the answer is multi-dimensional, but I propose that one way we do it is to slow down and pay attention.  See what God is doing around you, whether it is a sunrise or an eclipse.  It might be that God is at work in the grumpy person next to you in line or the child with the sticky face who is screaming in the restaurant. Where is God at work?  How can we get involved in that?


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Fruit of the Spirit

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.  (Galatians 5:22-23; The Message)

Can you name the list?  ...The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We often call them fruits of the spirit, although the passage above from New Revised Standard Version calls all of them together "fruit."  Either way, these are gifts God gives to us through the Holy Spirit.  Right?

On Sunday, someone called them Christian values.  I think we do value them as gifts, but I worry that calling them values implies that they are personality characteristics that we strive to achieve.  They aren't, as far as I understand them.  I believe Paul is telling us that when we live a life for God, that these are the result - that they are gifts given to us by God.  On my own, I might not be able to achieve peace, for example.  I might value it, but achieving it on my own, no matter how hard I strive to live a peaceful life, is going to be impossible.  But living with God, I can be gifted with peace, and it might show in the way I live my life.

These are gifts, not accomplishments.

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Monday, October 06, 2014


Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
“The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
   and it is amazing in our eyes”?  (Matthew 21:42)
We have two sons.  As they grew up, Legos were a mainstay in their toy collections.  Grant or Josh would receive a Lego birthday or Christmas gift - it would be a box of tiny plastic blocks with illustrated instructions concerning how to put the hundreds of blocks together to create a battleship or a Star Wars X-wing fighter.  They would spend hours reading the directions, finding the right piece and working their way to the goal.

Just this past year Josh told us that one day he was mad at his brother, so while Grant was assembling a Lego project, Josh took a single block, and hid it away.  Talk about angst!  "Where is this piece?  I need this piece!"

Jesus is the cornerstone - the Foundation upon which we build our lives.  No one can take that away and hide it, but sometimes we ignore it.  We miss the cornerstone; we overlook it, we assume we don't need it, and what we build suffers.  Do we reject the cornerstone?  Do we need to go searching?


Friday, October 03, 2014


Yesterday, in the meeting I was in, we participated together in "A Liturgy for Midday Prayer" before we broke for lunch.  (If you are interested, it is #13 in the Upper Room Worship Book.)  The liturgy begins with a time of silence.

I have noticed that silence is difficult for some, especially for those who lead community prayer.  A very short amount of time seems to be very long, resulting in brief quiet times of reflection before the leader  moves on to the next element of worship.  The time feels insufficient for me.

I liked what the leader of this time of worship did to prevent that rushing to speak; she asked a participate to set a 2 minute time period on his iPhone stopwatch, and asked him to break the silence when we had reached two minutes with the next element of worship, which was the Call to Prayer.

My impression of that quiet time of centering is that it positively effected the entire time of worship.  Those two minutes to be silent with God allowed us to enter into prayer and scripture reading with an openness and readying.  I hadn't thought of that before, but I commend it to you as a practice you might want to try.

Later that day, a person shared that he had had a conversation with a Quaker once, and had asked him, "How do you know when to speak in worship?"  The Quaker's answer was, "I speak when the impulse to do so is more powerful than all of my efforts to remain silent."

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