Feeling abandoned?


Do you sometimes feel worn out, abandoned, or insignificant to God?

Think of Anna who lost her husband after only seven years of marriage. Despite years of loneliness and pain,she never became bitter. Instead, she opened her heart to the Lord in prayer. In ancient times, widows were often forgotten. By choosing Anna as he did, God shows how little he cares about social stature when he chooses us.Abandoned

Permission from https://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/4859138371/

By telling her story as he did, Luke gave a glimpse of God’s plan of salvation.

For example, Anna’s great age and her lifetime of prayer represent the many centuries that the Jews spent preparing for and longing for the coming of their Messiah. “She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer” (Luke 2:37). And God rewarded this “prophetess” (2:36) with the awareness of the Messiah’s arrival.

Anna’s long-suffering patience is a model for us. This remarkable woman of faith had transformed her many difficult years into a ministry for Israel. Turn your sorrows over to the Lord. You are a witness of God’s presence, pray for the betterment of his people.  God will fill your life with hope and promise in a way that nothing else in the world can.

Modification of The Word Among Us – Dec 30, 2014 – http://wau.org/meditations/current/

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Can YOU move a mountain?


Because of your little faith. (Matthew 17:20)

Jesus told them that they needed just the smallest amount of faith to move mountains, but they couldn’t even drive out one demon!  Just as it seems impossible to a non-swimmer that a human body could float on water; the disciples, called to heal a man’s deranged son, were just as incredulous. The disciples wondered how they could ever develop that kind of faith ~ how do we? An old testament prophet has the answer.

Habakkuk says: “I will stand at my guard post, and station myself upon the rampart, and keep watch to see what he will say to me” (Habakkuk 2:1).  Here is the breakdown:

• Stand at your guard post. Find peace in the place you are supposed to be, wherever that is.

• At the rampart. A rampart allows for a broad vision. Don’t get caught up in trivial controversies; instead, fix the eyes of your heart on God.

• Keep watch. Be aware of the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

• (optional) Write it down. Use a notebook to journal your prayer. Reflect later to figure out what God has said to you.

THIS will help deepen your relationship with God. You will discern his voice & thoughts. And you will learn about his unfailing, gentle presence. Unbelievable? No more than floating on water. Trust the One who made you to grow faith. That is when you can move mountains in your life!

from http://wau.org/meditations/ August 7, 2014

 

eggshell plant

eggshell plant

Protect the unborn


Today, January 22, is the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision which made legalized abortion possible. Today’s Gospel reading challenges us by telling us that our failure to act can be a form of wrongdoing. To disregard the vulnerability of the unborn is like passing a wounded traveler on the other side of the road (Luke 10:29-37).

In this struggle, the odds seem against us; such moral questions are dismissed as matters of opinion to be left to the individual.  Wait! If your own self began with conception ~ you should be alarmed.  Author Annie Dillard wrote: ‘Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other’” (For the Time Being).

No life is disregarded, not even those who oppose us.  Jesus puzzled the Pharisees by healing ailing people on the Sabbath. It is flawed to measure a person’s worth. We can help by assisting at a crisis-pregnancy center, giving witness at an abortion clinic, or supporting a respect-life group.  The God of love embraces the poor, criminals, enemies, strangers, and the unborn. Please consider supporting legal protection of human life. 

star_hand

Some excerpts taken from http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/012214.html

Humility is the key


Sometime in the past you might have met a kind, calm person who, when you spoke with him, was genuinely concerned about your problem to the point that you felt that God was near.  This type of humble spirit should be a model to us so that we can live a more harmonious life.

Grasping for power is not a mark of a disciple. Greatness in God’s kingdom consists in self-giving, not in self-elevation or the usual human backstabbing to achieve success. This is a lesson that everyone needs to hear over and over again, and Jesus had no problem repeating it. In Matthew 18:4 and 19:30, Jesus encourages greatness through service to others. Like many of his teachings, Jesus knew that it wasn’t enough simply to state it once and then move on. Why so much repetition? It’s not that we are hard of hearing or slow of mind. It’s because many of our philosophies and expectations are so deeply held that nothing but continual reminders will dislodge them.

John Calvin offers an insightful comment regarding greatness —

“The disciples wanted the first place. But Christ regarded as worthy the man who forgot his superiority and humbled himself. With scorn, his enemies will say, ‘How is Christ a lamb, when his followers are lions? How is the church a dove, that smites and scratches like a bird of prey?”

Humility is often considered a weakness. On the contrary, a humble person is a very strong individual—one who reflects goodness and kindness to others. Through Mary, we also see the Father’s generosity—nothing escapes his eyes. She humbly offered her virginity; he gave her motherhood. She accepted an unconventional, taboo pregnancy; God rewarded her by making her mother of all believers.

piano key

The pearl


In the gospel, Jesus warns that it is possible to lose eternal life so much that, if a limb or an eye causes your downfall, then pluck it out.  Eternal life is the goal. In Matthew 13, Jesus shared eight parables to describe heaven’s value – the sower of soils, the wheat and weeds, the leaven, the mustard seed, the fishing net, the householder and the one flawless pearl.

Ladder of success
Each step of the success ladder is understood in the broader scheme of our ultimate triumph. Not only are we in danger of losing heaven by mediocrity, but also by substituting it with short-lived achievement: Fame. Material wealth. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Mk 8:36

Do your best
In 1924, a boy named Johnny, who loved to play basketball, completed the eighth grade in a small Indiana rural school. His father, short on money, handed him a graduation gift card on which he had written his personal safeguards for success: Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day. When he passed away, John Wooden, one of the most successful college coaches, (1910-2010) was honored for his character, his faith, and the lives he touched.

Flawless pearl of heaven
Sometimes we are given hard choices, to become wealthy or famous and thereby going against God’s will, which will be our eternal downfall.  But remember this:  Eternal life will be excellent because we will be in the presence of perfect love, one who truly cherishes us. The pearl merchant sold everything to buy the excellent pearl, would you?

Shell_pearl

Pearl in shell

Brave heart


He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
…”the people who sit in darkness
have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.”  Mt 4:12-14

A great light
Shine a bright light into an already lighted room, and you have changed little. Jesus came to bring light into a darkened world, so he began his public ministry in Capernaum. Bible Scholar G. Campbell Morgan said: “Capernaum was in a despised region of the land of Palestine known as Galilee of the Gentiles. This part of the country had been overrun more than any other by foreign invaders. Therefore, known as ‘the region and shadow of death.'”

Light that cures blindness
During certain seasons, some horses have masks over their eyes. When I was young, I felt bad for the horses who weren’t allowed to see. Wiser now, I know that the masks were of mesh, so that horses can see but flies that cause eye disease are kept away.  The masks keep the horses from going blind. Just like the horse mask, the bible keeps us from being infected by lies that cause spiritual blindness.  I’ve yet to meet a ruined life because someone followed God’s word. Yet, our society feverishly idolizes personal freedom, despite the sense of emptiness which haunts many people today.

Sometimes a news story or a conversation about ‘what’s wrong with the world’ can discourage us, but we should not house a dreary mindset. No, we’re not escapists avoiding reality, nor are we drowning the noise with carefree clichés. Just as Jesus in Capernaum, we immerse ourselves into the culture without losing our hopeful optimism.

Don’t simply follow rules
Our task is not to simply follow the rules. Those aren’t goals; they’re means to our goal to show how God wants to run our human affairs. A wis­dom writer reminds us that there is a proper time for everything. We act absurd if we mourn at a wedding or plant a vegetable garden when there is no access to water.

Brave heart
In the beginning of Psalm 18, it’s clear that the writer is not living a hassle-free existence. But still his confidence is in God: “You O Lord keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With Your help I can advance against a troop, with my God I can scale a wall…He enables me to stand on the heights.” (Ps. 18:28-29, 33).

His strength enables you to live a joyous and meaningful life. He is big enough, kind enough, real enough and strong enough to move in our everyday lives—no matter what we’re facing. Let that confidence in God seep into your heart. God’s power is great, so bravely follow His gentle leading. The darkened world is your neighborhood, school or office.

eyes

The Arrow of Life



A duke was hunting in the forest with his men-at-arms and servants; he came across a tree. Upon it, archery targets were painted and smack in the middle of each was an arrow. ‘Who is this incredibly fine archer?’ cried the duke.’I must find him!’ After continuing through the forest for a few miles he came across a small boy carrying a bow and arrow. Eventually the boy admitted that it was he who shot the arrows plumb in the center of all the targets. ‘You didn’t just walk up to the targets and hammer the arrows into the middle, did you?’ asked the duke worriedly. ‘No my lord. I shot them from a hundred paces. I swear it by all that I hold holy.’ ‘That is truly astonishing,’ said the duke. ‘I hereby admit you into my service.’ The boy thanked him profusely. ‘But I must ask one favor in return,’ the duke continued. ‘You must tell me how you came to be such an outstanding shot.’ ‘Well,’ said the boy, ‘first I fire the arrow at the tree, and then I paint the target around it.’

Drawn to joy
Movies often portray Christ as being serious and somber, but many people—children, sinners, the rich, the poor—loved being around Jesus. The only people who did not enjoy Jesus were the inauthentic, self-righteous, religious people. Everyone else was drawn to Jesus because he was enjoyable to be around. He exuded life, energy, peace, and joy.

Focus on your destination
An experienced quilter realizes that quilting is much more accurate if the eye is on where the needle should go, not on the needle, even though it is fascinating to watch perfectly formed stitches being created. Also in marksmanship, you need to keep your eye on the target, not the arrow. It is the same in the spiritual life. Dedicated holy people, such as Mother Teresa, kept their eyes on God, not their  own footsteps, successes or failures. By continuing that way, we can survive the challenges of life and our hearts will be enlightened.

When we have a wider perspective, we realize the insignificance of our problems —for example, we’ll never remember how much the price of gas has risen. And if our problems are more painful (like divorce, sick children, cancer), we have more reason to recognize that God and his purposes prevail. It is possible that our grandparents understood this because they didn’t expect to have as much as we do today. My grandmother often talked about being reunited in heaven with relatives “already there.” When we live for eternity, our difficulties won’t weigh us down until we reach an imaginary place of trouble-free living.  There is a joyful purpose when we travel light by keeping our eternal destination in sight.

The target
What is the direction of your affections and thoughts? Whatever excites you most—be it sports, music, food, traveling or spending time with family—should dim compared to how passionate you are about God. He is the source of true life, energy, peace, and joy.

arrow traffic sign

Arrow sign

The warm touch of acceptance


Every one is born with many potentialities, but unless they are drawn out by the warm touch of acceptance, they lie dormant. Acceptance means that, despite gaffes in their past, we give a person room to be themselves.

A life without approval is denied a basic human need. A baby who is not embraced is ruined at the roots of his existence.

God put a lot of thought into who we are going to be: our personality, our talents, and our dreams. He is near when we are confused and brokenhearted. None of our thoughts, fears, or desires escapes Him—the good, the noble, and the selfless as well as the bad, the selfish, and the prideful. God sees goodness and beauty within us, even when we don’t see it within ourselves.

God warmly accepts each of us and we can encourage others by passing His favor.

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

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You are not alone


The Holy Guardian Angels, October 2

“Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the king­dom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

These are very disturbing words—especially for overripe children like me! Let’s think about what Jesus meant when he urged us to become childlike.

Children are secure lit­tle people. Especially in first-cen­tury Palestine, the family unit was a very cohesive environment. Of course, life wasn’t easy because there was poverty and other possible disasters. However, a child knew he wouldn’t have to face them alone because he had a network of aunts, uncles, cousins, and neigh­bors to help him.

We can have that same kind of security. We have a Father who looks out for us. We are part of a commu­nity that includes our brothers and sisters in the Church as well as the saints and angels in heaven. It also includes our guardian angel. Just as our earthly family can not always shield us from hardship, neither can our angels ever leave us.

Try surren­dering one or two of your worries to your Father and his angels : anxieties about things outside of your control.

Remember: You are not alone! Remind yourself that you, child of God, belong to a large welcoming com­munity of faith.

Amish Ale


Texas Ranger baseball player Josh Hamilton struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. When his team won their playoff series in 2010, Hamilton was uneasy about the post-game revelry. He confessed that it would be difficult for a recovering alcoholic to be in the midst of a “rainstorm” of champagne. But something stunning occurred. Instead of champagne, his teammates stocked the locker room with ginger ale so that Hamilton could enjoy the festivities. When we are concerned for others in our midst, it increases joy for everyone.

In Philippians, Paul said to count others as more significant than ourselves (Phil 2:3-4).

Likewise, the Amish, who focus on fellowship, experience much contentment as well. Denying self-interest is not a burnt sacrifice, rather it is a free-will offering of the heart. In contrast, some modern families are overly preoccupied with their individual lives while the great challenges of a joyful life — togetherness, loyalty, sharing — are lacking. The Amish type of camaraderie increases satisfaction and happiness.

May you drink Amish ginger ale.

Amish children

Photo from http://www.readthespirit.com/explore/2011/1/19/simple-living-interview-with-author-of-amish-way.html

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