God keeps faith forever

Thoughts on Psalm 146:5-10

The Lord, our God, keeps faith forever.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

God keeps faith in you. God is convinced that God’s good work in you will come to its perfection.

God believes in you, you cannot see the wholeness God is working in you, but God does. Your loving Lord keeps faith that all will be as God envisions it; God sees the you God intended you to be and has faith you will emerge.

God keeps faith, holds steady, remains fixed on the target: you, complete and whole.

God never tires of working to lift you from shame, of nourishing your soul and your body, of releasing you to walk about freely, of opening your eyes to beauty great and small.

God keeps faith for you, loving the ways you line up with God’s goodness;  the way you value what God values, how you care for the ‘least of these.’ God strengthens you to stand against what violates love.

God reigns forever and keeps faith forever. Praise our God.

A prayer for inauguration day

Psalm 85:8-13
Listen for what the Lord will speak to you today. He will speak peace. Whenever I turn to him, his peace will be mine. I need such a peace, Lord. Our world needs such peace. Let us fear you, receive your salvation and display your glory. Oh, my heart says, “If only it were so, if only steadfast love and faithfulness were to meet in our country.” I doubt it’s ability to happen. Yet I must hold hope; for I can practice love and faithfulness; the women at the retreat tomorrow* can practice love and faithfulness and it will be more likely experienced. As we practice faithfulness here in our lives your righteousness will rain down upon the places we tread. Loving God, let your righteousness go ahead of us, making a way for our feet to follow. Amen.
* Tomorrow I am leading a retreat on the subject of Hope in San Francisco, CA.

When your faith wavers (a lesson from John the Baptist

Have you ever had this experience? The faith you confidently held and expressed throughout your life suddenly seems thin and wobbly. What you previously believed without a doubt you now find yourself questioning. If so, you are in good company.

So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another? Luke 7:18,19

John, the one who while still in his mother’s womb recognized Jesus as the Messiah; the one who didn’t want to baptize Jesus because he felt unworthy to even untie his sandals; the one who pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world;” this John, the one who was convinced Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, now has doubts. John, in prison and anticipating death because of his faith, now needs reassurance that Jesus is indeed the Christ.

What did John do when he was experiencing a crises of faith? 

He asked his friends to go to Jesus on his behalf. He had a trusted community with whom he could share his doubts, ones who would approach Jesus when he could not. Do you have such relationships? Your doubts might cause you to withdraw or isolate yourself. Do the opposite. Confide in your friends, admit your doubts, ask them to pray, borrow their faith until yours returns.

. .demons love darkness and hiddenness. Inner fears and struggles which remain isolated develop great power over us. But when we talk about them in a spirit of trust, they they can be looked at and dealt with. Once brought into the light of mutual love, demons lose their power and quickly leave us.  – Henri Nouwen The Road to Daybreak

How did Jesus respond to John’s dilemma?

He says, “look at the fruit of my ministry.” It’s so like Jesus to not answer a direct question with a direct answer. He’s committed to building our faith, not coddling our doubts. His answers cause us to examine our lives, pointing us to the ways we are no longer blind, lame, sick, deaf, dead or poor. His answers to our questions drive us to trust his character. Our faith, even as we doubt, is solid and true. Doubts will pass, our faith abides; and remember, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Hebrews 11:6

The great exchange: despair for confidence!

It’s crazy, I know. But maybe you, like me, are living on the edge of despair.

God certainly got my attention this morning in my daily lectio divina reading. “I will hear what the Lord has to say.” Ps 85:8-13 Ok, Lord, what have you got to say? (from my prayer journal)

“Peace.” Peace because we belong to you. Thank you. Peace because we are your friends. Thank you. Peace because we turn to you in our hearts. Thank you. Your help is near; Glory, come dwell with us here at 246 Willow Tree Road.

Mercy and Faithfulness have joined arms; justice and peace are best friends. This property, this home at 246 Willow Tree Road will produce God’s faithfulness and God will be God in his judging of our lives. Look down, Oh God, and see your own faithfulness growing in our lives and in our land. Go ahead of us, Lord, we will follow you; where you tread, favor blossoms, fruit blooms. Your justice goes ahead of you and peace and I follow in your steps.

And God continues: Isaiah 12:2. You are my savior, I can be confident and unafraid. You are my strength and courage, you have always been my savior. Dan 10:19. Fear not, beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong.” 2Cor 4:1 since we have this ministry through the mercy show us, we are not discouraged.

I must admit, though, I read these words and my gut reaction is fear. What is going to happen today that will require me to have such confidence and courage? I fall on your mercy and ask your forgiveness for my doubt and healing of my wounded soul that assumes the worst.

Join me, if you can, in taking God at his word and exchanging your despair for confidence whatever this day holds.

As the sun melts the snow…

Thoughts on Psalm 9

All my heart praises you; my joy knows you are it’s source, my fear is converted to trust when I pause and focus on your promise of provision; worry dissipates in the warmth of your sun rise. How does my discouragement praise you? I lay it before you and it melts like the snow under the warm sun. You have always been there for me; you have saved me countless times from the enemy’s clutches and from my own folly. Thank you. I rejoice and let my heart rise in gladness as the sun rises this morning showing the snow dotted garden.

Insecurity and doubt are turned away from my doorstep because you guard my home, I can see their emptiness and clumsiness as they depart from your presence. You alone are the one who announces the validity of my life and you have called me valued. Thank you.

Under your rule prejudice and harmfulness are eliminated from my heart. There is nothing in me that seeks destruction and the promotion of my cause at the cost of others. You are worthy to determine the merit and the truth of my case.

In you is relief from the pressure of my circumstance, my days are held in your heart. I know you, you will never abandon me. All my heart praises you. Amen.

Take comfort and hope

Thoughts on Isaiah 51:3

The Lord shall comfort Zion. I am Zion, but I am consciously unaware of my need for comfort. I have no major loss in my life right now. Of course there is the existential loss of all around me. Maybe I am feeling no sadness because I am comforted by you. Let my comfort not immobilize me or make me callous toward the lack of comfort I observe in the world, in my friends. etc.

The Lord shall have pity on all her ruins. You will have pity on all that was in my life, all the things I built, created or was part of that are no more;  just the memory of them, the bones of their being remain. You have pity on me, cry with me over their demise, acknowledge their function and their beauty. You honor my ruins, recalling all that went into their creation. Thank you.

Her deserts he shall make like Eden. My dry places, waterless places you shall cultivate and cause to grow into a lively and lovely garden. You will bring water, soil, seeds for flora and you will tend me until I rise up and bear fruit, offer shade, beauty and shelter. It is a long process, you are patient, let me also be patient.

Her wasteland like the garden of the Lord. My wasteland, the place where I dump my garbage, my unwanted, used up, worthless items. Can you take this refuse and make it a garden? Can  you compost my trash and turn it into something that can feed my garden? Come Holy Spirit, do this, in your timing and in your way.

Joy and gladness shall be found in her. Make me the home of joy and gladness. Let my countenance shine with joy and gladness. Draw all who thirst for joy come and find your gladness for them when they are with me. Let me carry your joy with me wherever I wander today.

Thanksgiving and the sound of song found in her. Let these be on my tongue and coming from my heart as a constant theme. Thanks for your work and wonders, a little ditty about you springing up from my heart at all times.

Today, this snowy morning, I need my wastelands turned into a garden. How about you?

The dual faces of God

Isaiah 40:10-14

Here comes the Lord, are you ready for him? He is a strong ruler, when he comes he brings your reward and your payback. Will you welcome him?

Here comes the Lord, do you need him? He is a tender shepherd, he feeds his flock, he carries them when they can’t walk, he is patient with the cares of their heart. Do you want him?

There is none like God, he holds the waters of the seas in his cupped hand, he measures and rules the heavens and it’s contents, he weighs the dust of the earth and keeps in balance the mountains and the hills. No one can give God guidance, he is the source of all wisdom, why do you even try?

Which aspect of God do you need today? His power or his tenderness? He is both and wants to offer you his arm to lean upon or to strengthen you. Welcome your God.