Pieces of Discord

Our world is a suffering place right now.  Political opinions are causing rifts with friends and family members.  “Their way” is the right way.

It is not a “Christian” thing; it is a PEOPLE thing.  Praying, calling your political leaders, signing petitions, this is how to make change.

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How NOT to make change is belittling or bullying those who think differently or remain silent.

Jesus turned the other cheek on a daily basis, and yet – change came.  Centuries later there is still deep unrest in the Middle East, wars continue to kill people of all ages, terrorist attacks and school shootings are the modern version of strife during the Roman empire.

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Genesis 13:8
So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.
Prayer from Gregory Coles, Penn State University
Bring an end to violence and hatred and discord. Steady the feet that rush into war and the finger poised on the trigger. Bring justice to the downtrodden, restoration to the marginalized and abused, hope to the hopeless. Guide all those in positions of power—whether that power is political or physical or social—and give them wisdom to use their power wisely. Give them, and all of us, the grace to admit when we are wrong and to seek forgiveness. Give us the grace to forgive.
Help us see your face in the faces of the people around us. Give us courage to love one another even when love seems like a risk. Give us compassion for those who are unlike us. Teach us to listen to those we disagree with, to hear stories that make us uncomfortable. Heal the hatred in the world around us by healing our own hearts first.
Give us peace by making us agents of peace.

2014 Pieces

I found my first “Pieces Journal,” dated January 22, 2014.  It seems so long ago, but it also shows me the walk I’ve taken along Jesus; is just a moment a time, and my faith has continued to grow; year after year.  I’d like to share with you some of the earlier “scraps of paper, devotions and musings” from my journal.  May you find your own special “pieces.”

It’s in the act of faith that courage becomes reality and the Lord’s grace rushes in to supply divine power.

Dear God, I want to be gracious and lovely in Your sight.  Open to receiving.  Take me away from the things that waste my time and rob me of meditative time with You.

I am encouraged by the mighty works of God.  “Prayer” has become a powerful word in my vocabulary, and one that gives meaning to my life.  I pray for HOPE, what a beautiful gift; and, it is free!!!  He walks with me in the garden of my life.  We talk, I learn, I am blessed to know Him as my Father, and Friend.

Keep your defense strong, trust in God.  Pray when anxiety seeps in.

Take it to God.  When you are low or upset, even when it feels contrary to do so; tell Him, share your heart.

I see so many parallels in my past and current life; except now I am grateful for all of it – the hard, hurtful times along with the peaceful.  I believe it’s more than ‘equal parts,’ rather how Jesus wants to live in me; “Grateful for all of the pieces.”  In this way, everything is a subject for witnessing.

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Impossible situations are opportunities for the Lord to teach us valuable lessons that we’d never learn any other way.

When we get stuck

Have you felt “stuck” in your prayer life?   Sometimes we forget the more we lean on Christ, the less stuck we become, and the softer the place is to land.  But it’s hard “getting there” sometimes.  I was recently hospitalized.  I actually could not pull a decent prayer together in my head, I couldn’t express to God what I needed from Him, what I was grateful for or even my love for Him.  I was stuck.

My minister stopped in to visit, his prayer upon leaving was like a prayer on wings.

Sometimes we need intercessory prayer.  We all know that one person who is a “prayer warrior.”  Send them a text or make a quick call, let them know you need prayer on your behalf.   That’s all you have to say, no details necessary.

May you be deeply blessed in prayer this week.

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Agape Love

Webster defines “agape” as being in a state of wonder.  I often felt the meaning was to “love as Jesus loved,” it also involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. Agape love is beautifully described in 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 

A friend of mine, Unitarian minister, theologian and scholar and I, agree completely in this type of love.  It has little to do with “Christianity, the Christian church, a specific religion or belief,” and everything to do with loving as in caring for others without judgement.  WITHOUT JUDGMENT.  Can we do that?  What are the bylaws of our various religions?  Some say; well not the gay people, or not the terrorists, not the people that are different from us.  I say ALL PEOPLE.  We need to love and care for ALL PEOPLE.

Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds….
1 John 2:10
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.
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Reconnected

As you have probably experienced; losing a password and jumping through a variety of hoops can be very frustrating.  This happened here, with WordPress!  I have missed writing and encouraging!

This scripture came to me inside a card from a friend today.  I thought it was incredibly powerful.  When we are down and out, we must never ever forget that our God, the Holy One of Israel, Lord and Savior – is ALWAYS here and is ALWAYS the same.  Circumstances in our lives change constantly…..what a blessing to know we remain intact in our faith and that our foundation never even quakes – as long as we are connected to our Heavenly Father.

Isaiah 43:2-3

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;…

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Pieces of Community

In the past two days I’ve spent a good amount of time with UU’ers (Unitarian Universalists).  I remain a “friend” of this community, as I had been an active participant for four years.

Some Christians would tell you “don’t converse with unsaved folks.” But that NEVER made sense to me.  How are you supposed to share the love of God and the reason for grace if you only ‘hang out’ with like-minded people?

I personally don’t believe the God I believe in put His “Good-Housekeeping” Seal of a Approval on a particular church or religion.

However, I digress, this post is about community, and the importance of belonging; finding your (various types of) people and how the bible encourages it.

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Acts 12:12 …..”gathered together praying…”

Deuteronomy 31:12 “Gather the people together, men, women, children, and your foreigner who is within your towns, so that they may hear and learn…..”

A core belief in the UU church is to “question everything.”  I am not a Lutheran because my parents raised me to be one, in fact – I no longer identify as a Lutheran at all.  I check the box for Christian for medical forms and leave it at that.

But community; is more than a group of people hanging out together, it’s being with people who respect, are concerned about and want you to live your best life (I’m channeling Oprah)!

Is your community healthy?  Are you inspired and encouraged by those in your circle?  Is God at the center?

what does your community look like?  what is it missing?

 

 

Pieces of Loss

There are many variations of loss.  Of life, love, a health diagnosis, home, job, and whatever it is, is the most important thing to you at the time.  No one could possibly understand, even if they can relate – it’s not the same.  Sometimes we don’t want empathy as much as we want someone to listen.  We want someone to put up with our bad days — the days when we feel deeply alone in our grief.

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In time of grief that is so incredibly overwhelming, where do you go for peace? 

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Jeremiah 31:3
The Lord has appeared to him from afar, saying: Indeed, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
John 13:34
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
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Pieces of Broken Chain

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While doing my devotions this morning, I added music to my routine.  Blasted the volume on my laptop and plugged into YouTube and started with Selah, Wonderful Merciful Savior, then one of my favorites by Jesus Culture; “Break Every Chain.”

I was reminded of what keeps me in bondage; bad habits some might say, but I know they are more than that – they keep me separated from God.  Ironically (but not really, right???!!!), my devotion was on placing my trust in the Holy Spirit to guide and nudge me towards a Godly life, instead of living by feelings; which can change in a moment’s notice.

I have been overcome by the presence of God many times.  Music seems to be the vehicle, the lyrics speak to my heart and remind me through repetition (I listen to the same song fifty times, like I did when I was a teenager!) what my  heart longs for, to be closer to God, to live in His grace and to know that I am saved.

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Where Do You Find God?

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I find God on a quiet day, in nature, the sound of wind always reminds me of Jesus.  As if He is whispering to me.  Also in my daily devotions, or wanderings in the bible.

Today “faith” was a dominant word in my day; it came reading Hebrews; all of the people who chose (not just obey) to walk in faith.  Abraham offered up his son (how awful a decision to make), the only thing Sarah ever wanted was a child and Moses, a grown man; preferred to suffer hardships than live within the walls of great wealth.

WHY?

3 John 1:3
It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.
Hebrews 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

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On This Day

Facebook has a feature called “On This Day,” it’s a flashback to the past, a year ago, three years ago, 6 years ago.

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And, as only Facebook can do, it picks out the positive during that time frame.

Unfortunately, life can be ugly or hurtful.  And looking back a year, or three is not something most of us want to reflect on.  Why?   We have enough to get through in the day-to-day.  Human beings struggle.  So does a Christian.  We are not immune to heartache or bad memories.

Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Hebrews 11: 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
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Less feelings, more Jesus.  Less worry, more prayer.  Less heartache, more healing.