Sunday, January 25, 2009

When the promises of love
are first made to us,
Our hearts overflow
with ecstasy.
We never dreamed such happiness
could ever be ours--
the love,
the warmth,
the acceptance,
The promise of a future
alive with excitement
and joy.
But when the promises are broken,
the love vanishes,
the hope disappears,
And we feel so empty
and alone.

And we wonder in despair,
'What did I say
to bring about such change?
What did I do
to turn away such love?
Am I not worthy
of another's love?
Am I no good at all?"

God hears those cries
of our broken hearts.
He promises to stay
especially close to us
Until our hearts are mended
and our wounds
are healed.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55.22

Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalm 43.5

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths. . . .
O Lord my God,
I called to you for help
and you healed me.

Psalm 30.1-2

The Lord delights in the way of man
whose steps he has made firm;
Though he stumble,
he will not fall,
For the Lord upholds him
with his hand.
Psalm 37.23-24

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Everyone hurts
at one time
or another.
Sometimes the hurts
are relatively minor
and tend to go away
by themselves,
but at other times
the hurts
are so intense
that we wonder
whether they will
ever go away.
God does not promise
that his children
will have no hurts
in this life,
but God wants you to know
that every hurt of yours
is of concern
to him,
and he graciously
invites you
to cast all your cares
on him,
because HE cares
about YOU.

Author Unknown

Sunday, January 18, 2009

If you put a buzzard in a pen eight feet square and entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason: a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of ten to twelve feet. Without space to run, as is his habit, he will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no ceiling.

The ordinary bat, a remarkably nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessle and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself up into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

A bumblebee, if dropped into a open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

In many ways, there are lots of people like the buzzard, the bat, and the bee. They are struggling with all their problems and frustrations, not realizing that the answer is righ there above them.

May we always look up and put our trust in the Lord.

Author Unknown

Saturday, January 17, 2009

'Tis not enough to bend the knee,
And words of prayer to say;
The heart must with the lips agree;
Or else we do not pray.

For words, without the heart,
The Lord will never hear;
Nor will he to those lips attend,
Whose prayers are not sincere.

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An excerpt from Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son (Doubleday, 1992).

For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of spiritual life--pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures--and to avoid the many temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not "How am I to find God?" but "How am I to let myself be found by him?" The question is not "How am I to know God?" but "How am I to let myself be known by God?" And, finally, the question is not "How am I to love God?" but "How am I to let myself be loved by God?" God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.

It might sound strange, but God want too find me as much as, if not more than, I want to find God. yes, God needs me as much as I need God. God is not the patriarch who stays home, doesn't move, and expects his children to come to him, apologize for their aberrant behavior, beg for forgiveness, and promise to do better. To the contrary, he leaves the house, ignoring his dignity by running toward them, pays no heed to apologies and promises of change, and brings them to the table richly prepared for them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Henri Nouwen, a great champion of prayer, conducted an interview with Youthworker in 1993 on the subject of prayer. Here is Nouwen's response to the question, "What exactly is prayer?"

Prayer is listening to God. It's listening to God who calls us his beloved son or his beloved daughter. Remember when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River? He heard a word that came down from heaven: "You are my beloved Son." That word basically announced his identity--who he was. And it was on the basis of that identity that Jesus lived his life--as the Beloved, the one who was intimately connected to the Father.

When we pray, then, we listen to God to hear his voice--to find out who we really are. We are his beloved children.

What is important is that we continue to listen to God's voice and not become distracted by the voices of the world that tell us other things, things that cause us to lose our true identity. We need to set aside certain moments of each day to pray, not because God needs us to pray, but because we need to be reminded by God of who we truly are. We need to constantly be in touch with what our lives are all about.

Prayer can also become a way of living. it can permeate all of life. We can pray as we drive a car, as we work, as we talk to people. In that sense, all of life can become a prayer.

An excerpt from "Gazing at Jesus: A conversation with Henri Nouwen about the discipline of contemplative prayer," Youthworker (Spring 1993): 38-44.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where is God?

The Lord is before his people. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10.4).

The Lord is behind his people. O Lord, you have searched me and known me. . . . You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me (Psalm 139.1, 5).

The Lord is above his people. More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the Lord (Psalm 93.4).

The Lord is beneath his people. Listen to me, o house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you (Isaiah 46.3-4).

The Lord is around his people. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time on and forevermore (Psalm 125.2).

The Lord is with his people. "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." . . . . and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 1.23; 28.20).

The Lord is in the midst of his people. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love (Zephaniah 3.17).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Give me, O God, the wisdom that I need
To mold the tender lives within my care;
Give me the power that I may subtly lead
Them into righteousness--true joy is there.

I ask for them no rainbowed path of ease;
I ask for them no store of wealth or fame;
I only ask that by their lives they please
Thee and the world with an untarnished name.

I know that man is weak, and life is strong,
And sometimes honest roads look very drear;
That winning laurels often takes too long
And luring vistas from all sides appear.

But while my young are still beneath my wing,
God, help me guide them right in everything.

Author Unknown

Friday, January 9, 2009

I will exalt you, O Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

O Lord my God, I called to you for help
and you healed me.
O Lord, you brought me up from the grave;
you spared me from going down into the pit.

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may remain for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said,
"I will never be shaken."
O Lord, when you favored me,
you made my mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
"What gain is there in my destruction,
in my going down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, o Lord, and be merciful to me;
O Lord, be my help."

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

The prayer of Psalm 30 (NIV)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Oh, the depths of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11.33-36 (NIV)