Archive for the ‘Prayer’ category

Covenant Renewal: Spiritual Practice 3 – Develop a Personal, Conversational Relationship with God

October 26, 2016

christdoorAs we continue our journey toward Covenant Renewal Sunday, this week’s spiritual practice is “Develop a Personal, Conversational Relationship with God.” Some people might read this and think, “Ah…Christianity Light.” It’s true that some people talk about a personal relationship with Christ in a way that privatizes their faith and avoids the costly discipleship of engaging with a broken world. Yet, it is a personal, conversational relationship with God that provides the necessary direction, transformation and power for doing ministry and mission. We take Jesus at his word when he said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). (more…)

Having the Right Tool

November 11, 2015

ToolsAny handyman or woman knows that having the right tool is the key to the efficient and successful completion of many if not most projects around the house. I can think of three minor repair jobs I was able to complete over the last couple of days with relative ease because of having the right tool.

One was a right angle screwdriver that helped me with an electrical repair. Another was a plastic tool I’d never seen before but ordered online to help with replacing the sprayer next to my kitchen faucet (which happened to be the source of only one of three leaks under my kitchen sink!). Finally, I was able to replace my sports watch band last night with a handy spring bar tool that was a definite improvement over the butter knife I’ve used in the past.

On Sunday many of you received a tool for helping you reflect on your life as a servant/steward of Jesus Christ. I’m certainly not suggesting that it’s the best tool for the job. It’s primary purpose is to help us reflect upon how we are investing three critical areas of our spiritual portfolio – who we are, what we do and what we have. It’s a tool, not a rule. In other words, it’s meant to be used only if it’s actually useful. I’m hoping that just reading through it will get you thinking and listening to God. What you do with it is up to you. (more…)

Be Still … and Know

May 6, 2015

SilenceBe still and know that I am God.” I’m writing this post for those who were on the retreat this weekend, but mainly for myself and others like me who haven’t quite made our peace with that peace called silence.

If truth be told, some of us are afraid of it, while others have pretty much given up on being able to make it happen. Instead of our thinking our thoughts, our thoughts think us. We are their servants rather than their masters.

For 10 years I tried meditating in silence for 20 minutes a day. Spiritual writers I respected suggested this as a minimum. But after 10 years I gave it up. I won’t go into the reasons why. I just want you to know that I’ve had an uneasy relationship with silence for a lot of my spiritual life.

I think part of my problem is that I’ve tended to think of silence as empty space rather than white space. Empty space tends to make me feel lonely and abandoned. I associate empty space with absence rather than presence, with distance rather than communion and communication. (more…)

Peace

October 22, 2013

PeacePeace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Peace I leave with you….
Because of what Jesus has already done through his death and resurrection, our sins are forgiven, we have peace with God, and we are promised a place in God’s eternal and peaceable kingdom. That’s a lot of peace. And it’s done. It’s accomplished (or will be soon). That’s why he could “leave” it with us.

… my peace I give to you.
Along with the peace that Jesus left for us, we have access to his peace as well. That’s because Christ lives in us. We even have access to Christ’s faith: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God...” (Galatians 2:20). [Many translations say faith in the Son of God, but the literal rendering is faith of the Son of God.)

I do not give to you as the world gives.
There is something counter-intuitive and paradoxical about this peace. Everything around us tells us that peace is unrealistic and that the only logical way to inner peace is our outer circumstances changing.

But Christ’s peace — the peace he left us and the peace he gives us — trump those circumstances.

Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.
So now we must choose. Will we allow our hearts to be troubled — or not? Will we trust God — or not? (more…)

The Sound of Silence

January 4, 2012

After the fire, there was a soft whisper.”

A soft whisper. A still small voice. The “sound” of silence. How and where Elijah experienced God after his battle with the prophets of Baal and close escape from the queen.

As I read these words in yesterday’s Old Testament reading, my mind went to “The Hut,” a small, single room cabin I used to visit for monthly overnight retreats. It’s on the property of a retreat center in Three Rivers, Michigan called The Hermitage. No electricity, no indoor plumbing, just a wood stove to ward off the winter chill. The Hut stands by itself in the woods, about a half-mile from the main retreat complex. (more…)

You Don’t Want to Go There

June 25, 2011

I feel like I had a revelation this morning. See if this resonates with you.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus says to his disciples, “Pray that you won’t fall into temptation.” He’s just told them to sell their cloaks for swords (see yesterday’s post), signaling that something is about to come down. But instead of telling them to pray that they won’t be harmed, he tells them to pray that they won’t fall into temptation. Apparently there is harm that is greater than physical harm to our bodies — harm to our souls, harm to our relationships, harm to our relationship with God. It’s the harm that sin accomplishes.

That’s important to remember, but it’s not the revelation I was talking about.

(more…)

A House of Prayer or Den of Robbers?

November 27, 2010

“Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, “”My house will be a house of prayer’;” but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”

As I reflected on this verse during my time in the prayer tent this morning, I yearned for my body, mind and spirit to be a “house of prayer.” It’s clear that this is what God wants, too. All too often, though, this house of mine is a “den of robbers.” What are the things that “rob” me of my prayerful attention to God? What do I need to do to keep these robbers at bay? (more…)