Monthly Archives: June 2017

Ride with Perseverance.

Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1

So I hang out with a bunch of exercise enthusiasts.  My husband and daughter are sports physical therapists, and our son and daughter-in-law are physicians. And then there’s me…. the church lady.  It seems that every time I turn around, someone (other than me!) is running a mini/marathon, cycling a century, or training for a triathlon or half ironman.  As I write, my daughter just flew out to CA to head to Tahoe with her brother and sister-in-law to train for the Boulder Half Ironman later this summer.

And then there’s the cycling group of friends that Mark and I ride with every Friday evening. Of course they are all physical therapists, who do multiple forms of exercise DAILY, so the rides we do on Friday evenings are a leisure ride at best for them.  I, on the other hand, do my quiet yoga several times a week and walk the trails around the neighborhood, but about Wednesday I start getting anxious about the Friday ride. You see, while they’re having meaningful conversations along the ride, I’m sucking wind, big time.  The new rule is that you can’t ask Libbie questions during the ride… cuz I have no air to respond!

Now if you know anything about Colorado, there’s a few inclines out here that can be challenging in the least… well at least for some… like me.  It feels as though I’m pulling 2 times the weight when I hit the incline.  My legs have to work twice as hard to push the peddles forward to keep my bike upright and moving forward.  I shift into an easier gear, put my head down, and persist to the top of the hill.  Along the way, though, I am ever so tempted to just get off the bike and walk.  “It’s too hard,” I tell myself.  I can’t breath fast enough.  My legs aren’t strong enough.  I can’t do this.

But just when I think I can’t pull this weight to the top, along side of me will come my husband, or one of the other cyclists, cheering me on.  “You can do this, you’re almost there, be patient, keep steady, let the bike work for you, you’re doing great!”  Of course at the time, I’m not believing a word he tells me, but before I know it, I’m at the top, feeling like the weight of the world is behind me!  Cruising down the other side of the mountain is such bliss. With the wind in my face, I feel as light as a feather! Ahhhhh!

When I ponder the text today from Hebrews, I believe the upward climb on a bike is is the very physical component to carrying the burden of sin, worry, and fear of the unknown.  It can become so heavy, that I can’t help but think that I can’t go on.  The burden is too great for one to bear. And then Jesus comes along, and says, “Keep going! Come to the top of the mountain and lay your burden down.” “Don’t give up!” I hear God calling, “I’m right here.”  So I believe we are called to persevere in seeking the blessings of God – the wind (of the Spirit) in our face and the gentle Spirit-push from behind.

God calls us to persevere in all  avenues of our lives – through the good times in our lives and the tough stuff; because God knows the reward for us – a persistent God who in return loves us no matter what – In spite of our shortcomings; in spite of our desire to give up and give in; in spite of how heavy our load; in spite of our inability to fully trust. God knows us and loves us for just who we are.

For me, that’s sobering.  To know that God’s perseverance does not necessarily involve taking the burden from me, but rather God’s perseverance is riding/running the journey right next to me.  Cheering me along the way, loving me, encouraging me, showing me I don’t have far to go. And most of all, assuring me that I’m not going it alone.

So my friends, let us lay our burdens aside, and ride with Perseverance. She’s right alongside us.   peace. prL

Dedicated to my Friday Cycing friends.

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Are any of you angry? You should pray…

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. James 5:13

It’s one of those days.  As I read the extended text for today, the writer of James is making it clear that in any and all circumstances, we are called upon to pray.  In fact, wasn’t it St. Augustine who said, “whoever sings, prays twice?”  Though I believe the word “well” was in there – whoever sings well, prays twice! Ha!

Well, today for a variety of reasons, none of which I’m proud of, I’m angry with God.  So my inclination is to shut God out.  Turn my back.  Close the door behind me.  Ignore this God who always seems to have the final word….

Are any of you angry?  You should pray…

Yesterday in a pre-marriage counseling session using Prepare and Enrich, we began to talk a bit about conflict resolution; about the need to communicate no matter what; about finding the right time, space, and words to use that don’t incriminate the other, but express our own feelings while at the same time practicing active listening that then draws both together into life-giving conversation.

I think I need a little of that today – conflict resolution with God.  I need to express my anger to God – not towards God – and then I guess I’m going to have to actively listen.  I guess I’m going to have to pray.

Are any of you angry?  You should pray…

Prayer is what keeps us connected to God.  I think that’s what the writer of James was talking about – to pray no matter what and for all circumstances.  To communicate with God both in expressing what lies within my heart, but then listening for God’s grace, love, compassion, and peace that may pass my understanding, yet draw me further into relationship with God to trust in God’s unfailing mercy to have heard my cry and to have already acted. And so I pray.

I’m going to be ok today.  Tomorrow will bring it’s own set of challenges and joys. But by the grace of God I will remain in God and God in me as my mourning will turn into dancing.

Are any of you angry?  You should pray…

Stewards of the mysteries of God..

Wow.  That’s pretty big.  So big that I’ve had to spend two days pondering what it means to be a steward of the mysteries of God.

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 4: 1-2, “Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”

So not only an I called to be a keeper of God’s mysteries, but in so doing, I am called to be trustworthy.  That’s a big deal.

When folks ponder the “mysteries of God” there is often a mixed bag of responses. Some, as a friend of mine once told me, believe that’s a “cop-out.”  That when you can’t explain God, that you just say, “Oh well, that’s just the way it is!” and hold no defense for God being God.   As a matter of fact, he and I would get in great debates all over the mystery of God.  He, a new Christian, wanted answers, and wanted to “prove” God’s existence, perhaps as a way of validating his new found faith.  But I’m not sure.

For me, that’s what my faith is about – it’s being able to wrestle with who God is in my life, but then living/resting in the “knowledge” that this God is so much bigger that I can either fathom or put words to!  And for me, that spells out HOPE.  To know that I don’t have all the answers, so that when something is too big for me, when the world seems broken beyond repair, that “surely nothing good can come out of this,” that there is this God, my God, that breaks through my Chronos time in the fullness of God’s time, creating a Kairos moment.  This, I believe, is the mystery of God unfolding before me and all the world, bringing a Hope that I cannot explain; yet draws me to embrace this mystery of God, anticipating God’s breakthrough; and in so doing, being entrusted with this Hope to share it with the world.

 

There’s nothing still about that.

Psalm 83: 1-2

O God, do not keep silence;
    do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
Even now your enemies are in tumult;
    those who hate you have raised their heads.

While it’s not my general habit, I often, in the morning, will turn on the news to find out what’s going on in the world.  On this lazy Saturday morning, that was my practice.  Yet with the news in one ear, and now this text in the other, I find myself falling on my knees and crying out once again, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come.”

At all angles of life it seems that evil pervades. Lives are lost in senseless acts; natural disasters bury communities and generations of families; injustice often rises above justice; lies win out truth; famine, violence, and war are the norm; and evil seems to go unpunished.  Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

For 17 verses, the writer of Psalm 83 calls upon the name of the Lord to beat the enemy down; to show the Lord’s strength. To act! But it seems to fall on God’s deaf ears.

There was a time, a short time ago, when I remained vigilant. Erect, with arms waving high, crying out at the injustices of the world, standing up for the forgotten, the mistreated, the rejected – the ones living on the margins of society.  But my heart, mind and soul grew weary over the never ending mountains of brokenness, and now, I fear, my heart grieves only silently.  Is it possible, friends, to become complacent to the ongoing litany of destruction in the world?  I believe my heart aches for my heart, now, which aches for the pulse of the world.

And in times like these, it’s easy to believe that God is silent; still.  As Martha and Mary both proclaimed, “If you’d only been here, Jesus, our brother would not have died.”

So where to go with this profound sense of hopelessness for the world?

To the last verse of the Psalm, verse 18:

“Let them know that you alone,
    whose name is the Lord,
    are the Most High over all the earth.”

Perhaps all that’s needed is to hear again that still small voice deep within my heart, casting a flicker of light and hope, reminding me to once again have faith and believe and to make known that this God, this God of great power and majesty, this God who alone Creates, Redeems, and Sanctifies all creation, is the Most High over all the earth.  Period. Amen. And there’s nothing still about that.

Far more than we can ask or imagine..

I smiled immediately as I read one of today’s Moravian Daily texts, Ephesians 3: 20-21.  It falls within a larger text, Ephesians 3: 14-21, which is one of my most adored texts in the letters of St. Paul.  He is writing to his beloved Gentile Christians in Ephesus, beloved friends and partners in ministry who are supporting him in his sufferings during imprisonment. And in this particular text, he is blessing them, praying over them, loving on them, if you will, that they may come into the fullness of God, in heart and mind and soul.  He is praying for their young faith – that it be “rooted and grounded in love” (v.17b).  His deep deep love for those he is called to witness to and to shepherd is so evident in his words to them: “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..” (v.16-17a).

What may be most compelling in this prayer/blessing to me though, is that Paul in a way is challenging the Ephesians to embrace this God who is so, so much bigger than they can ever fathom! To not put God is the tidy box, but to expect this God to surprise you, to challenge you, to confuse you, to frankly be more than you are able to comprehend. Paul is calling the Ephesians, you and me, into the mystery of God. Not in a way that renders us complacent to the mysteries of God (as if to say, “I don’t get God, so I’m not even going to try”), but instead, we can almost hear Paul yearn for our stretching, reaching and grasping of the mystery when he writes in v.18 -19, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  And in so doing, we will experience this God at work – creating – restoring – renewing – far more than we can ask or imagine – through us and in us and in the world – this God of abundance and love. (Now that’s a Pauline sentence if I ever wrote one!) To this God be given honor and glory!

I have prayed this blessing over all the faith communities that I have been called to serve in ministry.  I have prayed it before I met them, while living among them, and as I departed for a new ministry. It’s deep rootedness in love, compels me to love those I serve with the same depth.

I have been pondering for the past few months a purpose statement for my life, and perhaps the Moravians have given me a gift today to dwell in this text, once again, and hear its deep call in my life.  How about you? What in this text is challenging you?

Have a peace-filled day. prL

 

 

 

After you’ve had your fill…

It’s been 4.5 years since I’ve posted on this blog. Life has come and gone, and I’ve managed to “be still.” Though perhaps the only “be stilling” has been that I’ve been still from engaging in this spiritual practice of pondering God’s activity in my life and the world around me in the writings of this post.

Yet, I believe it’s time for me to “pick up the pen” again, so to speak, and share my God-touch moments. If for nothing else, it’s a spiritual discipline for me, something that I yearn for to align or re-align my Spirit life with the One who created, redeemed and sanctifies me.

In a way, I’ve had my fill. Full of me, that is. And now it’s time to acknowledge God’s activity within me and in the world. A new beginning perhaps?

I will be Spirit-pondering each morning on the Moravian Daily Texts (If you want to read the full entry each day, click on the Daily Texts on the navigating bar at the top of this blog – you can also register to receive them daily in your inbox). This is also a spiritual discipline entrusted to me and my fellow cohorts in a holy huddle of sorts that meets weekly to grow deeper into Discipleship Leadership Training.

So today’s text comes from Deuteronomy 6: 11-12, which says, “When you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forgot the Lord.” Yes, today is a new beginning of rediscovering this God who who fills me up and sends me out into this world to be God’s hands and feet, lest I forget.

Join me when you can, and we’ll huddle together to Spirit-ponder anew.