When the storm is rocking your boat

Thoughts on Matthew 8:23-27

robson-hatsukami-morgan-134756OK, I’ll get in the boat with you. A boat is not my comfort zone. I’m a landlubber, never really lived near the sea. Water is good for drinking and bathing, not for transport, but I’ll risk it to be with you. The boat is small, there’s only room for a few of us. I’m grateful to be counted among the ones who care enough about you to leave behind a comfortable and secure lifestyle and to let the past and identifying relationships have no power over me. You have searched me and admitted me to your fellowship.

And what the heck? I told you I didn’t want to get in the boat. Look at those storm clouds building, the wind rising, the raindrops falling. This little boat cannot withstand the torment of such a storm. We are rocking, water is coming over the sides, there is no hope, even the fishermen among us are afraid. And where are you? Sleeping! Sleeping? Really? How can you sleep through such a tempest? I’m dying here, don’t you care?

jean-pierre-brungs-36491Jesus, wake up, save me, I’m doomed.

Debby, you’ve trusted me with your lifestyle, you’ve trusted me with your identity, will you trust me with your life? I purposely invited you onto this boat to show you were your trust in me is small, where you doubt my power and my love. You bravely entered this place of fear and you wisely came to me when it seemed overwhelming. Trust me now.

His looking into my eyes, speaking these words into my soul, settles the storm raging within me. What else can I do but trust you. I’m glad to be with you, even if it means death.

And then you stand up and tell the wind and the sea to quiet down, your words restrain the storm. You speak and it is still.

Thank you and amen.

Dear friend, if your boat is rocking, run to Jesus with your fear and accusations against him. Let him tenderly show you the ways your trust has failed. His nearness and words will calm you and the storm.

With you on the journey,

Debby

The Invariably Variable Jesus

The Invariably Variable Jesus

Thoughts on Matthew 16:13-19

Who does the world say you are? A good teacher, a religious leader, a whack job.

Who do I say you are? Only the Father can tell me who you are. Father, I sit in the quiet, ready to hear you whisper. Jesus, you are invariably variable. You are to me what I need, all I need.

When I first came to know you, you were Peace. My soul was so unsettled, my identity so fragile and tossed about, I needed the peace that the world cannot give to allow me to get my bearings. Thank you for that.

When I was about to commit spiritual suicide you were Fierce Love, ready to bear my anger so that trust could rise from the ashes.

Who are you today? Companion, friend, enjoyable presence. I feel disrespectful naming you thus. But that is what is whispered and I receive it gladly. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, I do know you will be for me what I need when it appears. Thank you for that.

Simon Peter called you Christ and you blessed him.

You use a play on words in this blessing. There are two variations of the word Peter/Rock in the Greek language. Petros – the masculine form and Petra, the feminine form. Petros is always used to indicate a small piece of a rock such as a person might throw. While Petra is a mass of rock.

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church. brina-blum-112497

In the Greek it reads “You are Petros (a small wobbly, easily movable stone) and on this Petra (the unmovable, solid mass of rock) I will build my church.”

Simon Peter called you Christ, today I call you friend. Will you change my small, wobbly, easily movable heart into a solid heart, one capable of building up and encouraging the people you have given me to love? Thank you and amen.

Who is Jesus to you today? Jesus will be who you need/what you need as your day unfolds. Look for him and listen to the Father’s whisper in your heart. 

With you on the journey,

Debby

There is a wolf nipping at your soul

There is a wolf nipping at your soul

ray-hennessy-118046

Thoughts on Matthew 7:15-20

Beware of false prophets who appear as sheep, gentle and peaceable but on the inside are ravenous wolves, ready to devour to satisfy their hunger. Beware of those who claim to be forwarding the kingdom, but are in fact forwarding their own agenda.

Of course, the Spirit inspects my soul before looking outward. Oh, Lord, please keep me true. Let the me I present match the me that beats inside my heart and let it be authentic and honoring of your Lordship and the people you love.

Jacob presented himself as his brother in order to steal Esau’s blessing. Isaac was fooled. Barbara pretended to care about me to gather information she could use as power. I naively fell for it. I have offered concern for others as a means to accomplish my goal, forgive me and check me so I do not do this again.

inma-ibanez-24380 cherries.jpgYou have said “we will know them by their fruits.” A cherry tree only grows cherries. Some cherries are rotten, ruined by insect, weather or disease. My hope is to produce “cherries” in accordance with your law of love. My crop is not always bountiful and sometimes my cherries are rotten, tainted by pride, greed, fear. Some are immature, sour to the taste because they have not gathered the sweetness that develops as they remain connected to the tree.

Lord, be the master farmer who tends this cherry tree of yours. Guard me against external harm that would ruin my fruit, and against silent, but deadly disease that seeks to destroy the sweetness of your Spirit’s work. Offer through me life and sweetness.

And teach me to pay attention to the fruit other people’s ministry bears in my life. Does it promote a stronger connection to you? Does it increase the Spirit’s fruit in my heart? Does it move me to love others in word and deed? If so, blessings on that life-bringer. And let me share with them the gift they have given me. If not, grant me the grace to let them go without judgment. Thank you and amen.

Dear friend, learn from my example. Let me be your cherry tree, and let the Lord be the farmer who tends your fruit.

With you on the journey,

Debby

Ego’s death march (I wish)

Ego’s death march (I wish)

photo by Ben White

pray in secret?

Thoughts on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Alms, prayer and fasting, all to be done. Done quietly, obediently, without drawing attention to self. Hmm. My prayers are done in the quiet of my heart and home, but then I share them with others in my blog and hope many people read them are are blessed. (In fact, I wish more people read them than are currently doing so.) How do I honor my mission to hear your voice of love and share it with others, and your instruction about praying secretly in my closet?

I guess the key is the motive behind letting your “piety” be seen by others. Jesus describes those whose intention is to show off their piety so that others are impressed by their righteous practices. The impression they make is the reward of their righteousness; it is temporary, not eternal, it corrupts their character rather than purifying it.

My intention is to let your love penetrate my heart, transform it and then to let your light shine through me. I am not perfect in this process. I am a human, tainted by sin, and all I do is touched by the stain. I am a work in progress. The enemy of my soul uses this crack in my vessel to shut me up. Since part of me wants the attention of others, I should not publish my prayers. It is my ego, my selfish ambition driving me, hoping others will think highly of me.

The enemy uses the truth against me and against God’s kingdom. It’s true, my motives are not 100% pure, but I will not be 100% pure until I reach perfection in heaven. So am I to not share the good news of God’s good work in me now? No, I must share it. It is in fact proof of the gospel. God takes an imperfect vessel like me, pours his truth into it and then uses it to encourage other broken vessels to let God love them.

Ego be damned. God is bigger than my selfish ambition. His love overshadows my puny need for attention. God be glorified.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9,10

His power is made perfect in my weakness. Shine, Jesus, shine. Use my impure self to show off your generous grace. And melt my ego in the process. Thank you and amen.

noah-silliman-194615.jpg

photo credit: Noah Silliman


Friend, don’t let your tainted motivation keep you from the good God has given you to do. Own your brokenness and your beauty and run the race set before you, even if you limp as you run. 

With you on the journey, Debby

plucking weeds

plucking weeds

amelia-bartlett-78174

photo credit Amelia Bartlett

Thoughts on Matthew 5:21-32

It all begins in the heart, for bad or good. Murder, adultery are the fruit of a bad seed. Uproot the seed and the fruit will not appear. Easier said than done. Living in the country has taught me how expedient it is to whack off the top of the weed rather than dig out the root. Expedient, yes, efficient, no. We had a poison ivy expert come and give a quote on removing the poison ivy and other invasive weeds on our property. He said it is a long, slow, labor intensive process. It takes years to rid a parcel of land of poison ivy. Roundup shrivels the leaves, but it doesn’t kill the plant.

Jesus says poisonous, death-dealing fruit such as murder and adultery need to be plucked out, not just suppressed.

In my little parochial world I do not have much worry about committing adultery or murder, but what fruit do the seeds of lust or anger bear in my life? Let’s pause and let you examine me, Holy Spirit.

The word that comes to my mind as I sit quietly with the question is pettiness. Ouch. Dictionary.com defines petty as “behavior characterized by an undue concern for trivial matters, especially in a small-minded, spiteful way.” How am I petty? Irritated that Jack doesn’t load the dishwasher the way I think it should be loaded. Frustration with B’s disregard for my time schedule. (he says he’ll be here in 25 minutes and shows up an hour later.) Pettiness raises her head because I don’t have anyplace I have to be, so it really doesn’t matter if he shows up at noon or one o’clock!

I know I can’t not feel the emotional reactions I have to these situations. Feelings are feelings, they are amoral. But what they can lead to is definitely a moral issue. Lord, pluck out the anger that produces such pettiness in my life. Heal the wounded place that demands my way, my time, me, me, me. Plant your great love within my heart. When I notice pettiness emerging I will bring my soul and the source of my pettiness into your presence. In your light small-minded, spiteful thoughts diminish. It’s a long, slow, labor intensive process, but you are on the job. Thank you and amen.

Your invitation to dazzle!

 

Thoughts on Matthew 5:13-15

Salt and light. That’s who you are. You may not always feel very salty or very bright. But Jesus names you and invites you to flavor and dazzle the world. You are salt, may you bring out the best in the people you encounter today and the earth God has given you to tend. You are light, shine so that others can see their beauty and their brokenness. All for God’s glory, point to Jesus! Amen.

The path to bliss

Thoughts on Matthew 5:1-12a (the beatitudes)

God you know us so well. You begin your teaching about the kingdom by addressing what human hearts longs for: happiness. We are created to live in a state of well-being and are restless because we do not experience it. You alone provide the true, unsullied source of bliss. Our longing provides us with great energy. It is like a powerful stream of water rushing through a hose, unless held and directed, it dangerously flies about like the banned toy from the 1960’s –  the water wiggle.

Yet the way to this state of blessing seems backwards – happiness through poverty, grief, meekness? You draw me in and then turn my world upside down. Of the many blessings you mention, I’m drawn to the blessedness of “seeing God.” It belongs to the pure in heart.

A pure heart – one not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material (dictionary.com)

A clean heart – like soiled laundry washed clean of stains.

A purged heart – one that houses only the purist thoughts, feelings, motives with nothing evil or worldly left in it.

An uncompromised heart – one surrendered totally to the reign of Christ.

A heart absorbed by the contemplation of God

Lord, purify my heart. A pure heart will see you everywhere in all places, people and lives face-to-face with God.

My paraphrase: Oh, the blessedness of having a clean, correctly motivated heart for I will see the face of God everywhere I look.

My heart sings the praise song.  “I want to know you I want to see your face…”