Tag Archives: Trust

Faith Not Seen

wpid-wp-1415681701178Lent
March 24, 2016

Scripture Reading: John 20:1-18

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. –John 20:3-10

What was it that the other disciple believed? My first thought was he believed Jesus had been raised from the dead, but then it goes on to say that they did not yet understand about Jesus’ rising from the dead.

English is a challenging language. We have, for example, transitive and intransitive verbs. The former requires an object for its action. The later does not. The verb “believe” can be either. When used in the intransitive form it means: to have a firm or wholehearted religious conviction or persuasion: to regard the existence of God as a fact. When used as a transitive verb it means: to take as true, valid, or honest.* The Greek word translated here, pisteuó, is more in line with the intransitive form of the English word believed—had faith in.

At that moment in time and place, the other disciple, at the very least, felt deeply that there indeed was much more to this story than he could comprehend and at the same moment had complete faith that this Jesus, he had followed so devoutly, was the real deal.

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

Prayer: Lord, at times we get hung up on proving things, fact checking. Guide us in differentiated the things for which it is important to fact check and the great mysteries of your love that deepens each time we experience faith in you without proof. Amen.

*http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/believe

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

The Fuel of Love

faith works-nohostLiving in the Spirit
September 4, 2015

Scripture Reading: James 2:1-17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. –James 2:14-17

Works vs faith, one of the great theological discourses of all times, often finds its way back to this scripture in James. One of my favorite church sign quotes I saw many years ago was “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.” But faith is not merely what we believe. Particularly those of us who are inheritors of the science of reason. For what we believe is often rooted in what is provable, what the facts support. Faith is about trust and trust is centered in relationship.

True, it could be argued that trust itself is the result of our testing relationships, keeping a scorecard of how often what was promised was delivered. I am in the process right now of changing from a bank I have used for 30+ years because after hours of time spent on the phone and in actually going to the bank, I cannot access my account since the bank upgraded to a different computer system. I have lost trust in the bank to safely care for my money.

Faith and trust in God goes deeper than a checklist of services delivered or not. It rest in the sure and certain knowledge of God’s eternal, unconditional love. It is that fuel that fires our response to nurture the wellbeing of ourselves and others.

Prayer: Called as partners in Christ’ service, with your love as the source of our love, use our love to nurture the wellbeing of ourselves and others. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Dance, Dance

Jesus loveLiving in the Spirit
August 23, 2015

Scripture Reading: John 6:56-69

66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” –John 6:66-69

These are hard, hard words to digest. Eat my flesh; drink my blood. It is not surprising that many disciples turned back. Even the ones who stayed were less than enthusiastic. Where else could they go? Some turned back because they thought he was crazy. Some turned back because they understood what he was asking. Ever been there? I have. I have felt the hopelessness of situations that led me to the feet of Jesus because it was the only place I had left to go. I am not proud of that. I wish I had at all times the faith and trust and especially the hope in Christ every time I must face a challenge but I sometimes have weak knees even as I have experienced the power of God working in my life in similar situations.

I remember once coming home from a particularly disappointing day of failure at work. My soul was disturbed and I could find no peace so I tried an imaging prayer, I had been reading about where one imagined her or himself in one of the stories of Jesus. I chose the story of the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her tears. As I sat, in my mind’s eye, at Jesus’ feet feeling really sorry for myself, he reached down tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Let’s dance.” And he waltzed me off into the air turning and whirling like pros with our feet never touching the ground. Never had that happened to me before and never since but it was the most amazing way to refresh my hope and get me out of my self-pity. I now grin every time I sing or hear Lord of the Dance* particularly the chorus:

Dance, dance, wherever you may be
I am the lord of the dance, said he
And I lead you all, wherever you may be
And I lead you all in the dance, said he

Prayer: Lead us Lord, keep us from defeating ourselves, from turning away from you just as we begin to make sense of your mission. Grant us your peace of spirit as we strive to do your will. Amen.

*Lord of the Dance by Sydney Carter see at http://celtic-lyrics.com/lyrics/309.html
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Right Words

FarmerAdvent
December 22, 2014

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61:10-62:3

 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
   and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
   to spring up before all the nations. — Isaiah 61:11

Saint Augustine advised Christians to Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. This phrase sounds to me more like something a farmer would said and not a man who spent his younger years in wealth and hedonism. In those years the closest he came to a garden was probably when he was caught stealing fruit for a snack*.  The phrase is good advice. By the time he said it, he had turned his life around.

The advice does go along with the life of a farmer who works very hard at his vocation but is totally dependent upon the nurture of the earth and nature in general for a crop to result. It is an interesting commingling of faith and works. In our scripture today, Isaiah is telling a people who no longer trust in themselves and are most likely strongly questioning whether God was truly with them that just as nature causes what is sown in the earth to grow at the proper time so too will God cause righteousness/justice to become a reality for all people that indeed will be a time for praise.

Isaiah had a tough job giving people hope in a time of hopelessness. We are also called to give hope to the world. We do that every time we share the story of Jesus particularly in the way we live our faith, but if need be, in our actual word. The writers of Matthew and Luke have given us a great script from which we can start the conversation.

Prayer: Lord, I hate it when people try to cram something down my throat and I don’t want to come off like that to others. I think it just turns them off. I do love you and you have made such a difference in my life, I want to tell others but I don’t know what to say or do. Give me the right words when words are right and right actions when leading by example speaks louder than words. Amen.

*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Trusting God with Our Loved Ones

Living in the Spirit
July 31, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Romans 9:1-3 

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. — Matthew 11:23

One of my relatives had no time for religion or any of its trappings. He was not necessarily obnoxious about it but he was unwilling to even give it any consideration. My mother never stopped trying. He just would laugh and make a little light fun of her as he did the last time I saw him. We were getting ready to leave from a visit, and Mom’s parting words were I love you and God does too. She said more but he had long ago tuned her out. I felt sorry for her. He hugged and kissed her goodbye and she left thinking she had failed him. He died some months later and she mourned her failure once more.

Paul wanted to bring the hope of Christ crucified and resurrected to his brothers and sisters in the temple and synagogues, but he was rejected and he eventually turned his attention to the gentile population and the Jews of the dispersion. Like my mothers’ pain, it hurt him to the core of his being.

I do think that we need to tell the story of Jesus with our lives and our words whenever and wherever we can and do it with all the love we can muster. Ultimately though an individual’s relationship with God is just that his or her relationship and we must do what we can and trust God through Christ to do the rest in mercy and with grace.

It is at that point that a rich prayer life is absolutely necessary. Our roots in God’s mercy and grace must be deep indeed to release our loved ones to his care.

Prayer: God grant me the serenity
 to accept the things I cannot change;
 courage to change the things I can;
 and wisdom to know the difference*. Amen. 

*From the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr (Read the full prayer at http://www.cptryon.org/prayer/special/serenity.html)

 

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Trusting God

Living in the Spirit
June 25, 2014

 Scripture Reading: Psalm 13 

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
   How long will you hide your face from me? 

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
   my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
 I will sing to the Lord,
   because he has dealt bountifully with me.—Psalm 13:1, 5-6

My alarm goes off at 6:00 am each morning, but I am always awake when that happens. I find the time between when I awake and my alarm goes off as a precious, quiet time to spend with God.  I go over my plans for the day, reshape then at times, remember the people or situations on my prayer list, and seek guidance on any response needed. Two mornings this week at a few minutes before 6:00 am, just before my alarm goes off and just before I close out my time with God, my whole house has been rattled by an earthquake.

We live in a tumultuous world. Yesterday tornadoes tore across the midlands, a terrorist army advanced into Iraq, and a young pregnant woman lost her baby in a domestic violence beating. It sure feels like the Lord has forgotten us. We long for control and we have none.

In times like these we need a Savior and the good news is that we have one. In the midst of storms and terror, we can cling to Jesus Christ and trust that God is working God’s purpose out.  God has not hidden God’s face from us. The question that we really need to consider is whether we are turning away from God?

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to:
Turn [our] eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace*. Amen.

*Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus by Helen H. Lemmel

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.