Friday, August 22, 2014

Morning Reflections - Nudged by God

Herschel Walker once said, "Being a born-again Christian, I believe God actively and directly influences me to action."  I believe he is right.

The challenge is that we have to slow down long enough, stop running long enough, turn down the white noise of our lives long enough to hear and be nudged by God.

The psalmist in Psalm 46:10 reminds us, "Be still and know that I am God."

In my experience, it is only in that stillness, only in those moments of deep knowing that we can best sense the nudging of God. 

Today's prayer - Holy God, break through all the noise and activity of our lives that we may have deep, tangible, transformative moments of knowing you.  And in those moments Lord, direct our thoughts and actions for your glory.  Amen.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Morning Reflections - Christian Leaders

"The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God and are trained - through prayer, study, and careful analysis - to manifest the divine event of God's saving work in the midst of the many seemingly random events of their time."
                                                                         -Henri Nouwen
 
Today's prayer - Holy God, today we pray for our Christian leaders in every capacity and office in which they serve.  We pray for their private time of devotion and prayer with you; that it may be fruitful and draw them closer to you.  We pray for their study time; that wisdom and knowledge - not for its own sake, but for the sake of your Kingdom - would be the fruits of their labors.  And God, we pray for their analysis; that you would gift them each with discernment beyond their normal capacity that they may put into action the fruits of the other two disciplines.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Morning Reflections - Love Christ

Sometimes I just get a spiritual two by four right between the eyes.  Take for example these words:
 
"Christian, learn from Christ how you ought to love Christ. Learn a love that is tender, wise, strong; love with tenderness, not passion, wisdom, not foolishness, and strength, lest you become weary and turn away from the love of the Lord."
                                                                    -Saint Bernard
 
Today's Prayer - Lord, teach us again (and again, and again, and again) how to love as you love.  Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Morning Reflections - The impact of our words

There is so much to say about the impact of our words, but instead of speaking directly, I want to invite you to consider these two quotes.  The first is from Scripture and the second is from Billy Graham:

"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."
                       -James 3:9-12

"A real Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip."
                       -Billy Graham
 
Today's Prayer - Holy God, we admit that our tongues get away from us at times.  We pray that we would see your children as you see them.  We pray that our hearts would be so full of you, that that would be the resource from which our words spring forth.  Allow our words to one another to be life giving this day and always.  Amen.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Morning Reflections - A Whole Christian

Early in my faith journey as a Christian (remember I am an adult convert), I used to pick and choose my favorite passages of scripture to read.  If the words were too hard, the thoughts too violent, or the ideology to difficult to understand, I would pass it by.  Thankfully, this stage didn't last very long.  I had some really great teachers that taught me the importance of the entirety of the scriptures.  While these words belong to someone I have never met, they contain the premise that was shared with me in many small groups and inductive Bible study sessions:

"The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection. And we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Nothing less than a whole Bible can make a whole Christian."
                                                            -Aiden Wilson Tozer

Today's prayer - God, be with us in our reading of your word.  Itndifficult and challenging places in your texts, grant us wisdom, knowledge and discernment beyond our normal capacity that we may be drawn deeper into the story and closer to you.  Grant that your Holy Spirit would be with us in each and every reading and that we may leave our times of reading and study with you changed by the texts we have encountered.  Amen.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Morning Reflections - Christian Calling

So many times I think we get really messed up about the terms "Christian Calling."  We always seem to think that this means that God has placed a dramatic call on someone's life to be a paid minister, priest or preacher.  Or we think in these terms only when someone is coming forward to be set apart, consecrated, commissioned and ordained to do full time missionary work.

Consider these words from Charles R. Swindoll: "When you have a sense of calling, whether it's to be a musician, soloist, artist, in one of the technical fields, or a plumber, there is something deep and enriching when you realize it isn't just a casual choice, it's a divine calling. It's not limited to vocational Christian service by any means."

I have no doubt that if we are rigorously honest with ourselves, we can bring to mind folks from every imaginable field that fit this bill.  That special teacher that just had a gift to be able to teach us that subject that we had a hard time grasping when no one else could.  That mechanically gifted individual that was able to help us by quickly and accurately diagnosing the issues with our vehicles.  That doctor or nurse that treated us like a real human being rather than just another number on a list.  We could go on indefinitely, I'm sure.

How about today we give thanks for all of those folks who live into their callings.

Today's prayer - Holy God, we give thanks that your callings are individual.  While we all are called to faithfulness and Christian service, your individual divine calling is as diverse as the cosmos itself.  Today, Lord, we give thanks for all those living into their divine calling.  We thank you for the police officers, firefighters, teachers, plumbers, machinists, construction workers, engineers, accountants and all that we can bring to mind who are living out their divine calling in your grace.  We give you thanks, praise your faithfulness, and celebrate the generosity of gifts you pour into our lives.  Amen.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Morning Reflections - Not So Easy

A few weeks ago I was flipping through the television stations and saw Alice Cooper in an interview.  I was surprised to discover that he was talking about his Christian faith.  Being fascinated by peoples' stories, I listened with amazement to hear about how God had transformed Cooper's life and what impact that had on him and how difficult it made sojourning in the music industry for him.

Today, I came across this quote from Cooper:

"Drinking beer is easy.  Trashing your hotel room is easy.  But being a Christian, that's a tough call.  That's rebellion."

So simple, yet so true.  It is easy to do what the world wants us or expects us to do.  It is often times much more challenging to do what God calls us to do.  It is truly holy rebellion.  Jesus was a holy rebel.  Just remember what he did in the temple courts in turning over the tables of the money changers.  Or recall how he put a stop to his disciples violence when the Romans came to arrest him.  Jesus always seemed to graciously, but rebelliously, go against the grain.  He turned everything up on end so that we might understand in Kingdom terms rather than worldly terms.

My hope is that we will take this thought provoking quote to heart in each of our own contexts.  That we will go and cause all the holy trouble we can.  And that the Kingdom would be better served by our holy rebellion, and that the world would see Christ in us and through us.

Today's prayer - God, we realize that your ways don't always seem easy.  But we give you thanks that in accordance with your word to us you lead us in paths of righteousness for your sake, not for ours.  Grant us this day the discernment, strength, courage and grace that we need to be the fullest reflection of you that we can be.  Let us live according to your will, rather than the demands and expectations of the world.  And allow these actions, grounded in you, to transform our little part of the world.  Amen.