Monday, April 11, 2011

His Indwelling Presence!

Romans 8:6-11 (NRSV)
6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Recently, my local community was shocked by the tragic death of Karlee, a 7-year-old girl who was killed when her father’s gun accidentally fell and fired. Karlee was a member of the church I attend and her death deeply affected our congregation. We grieved with her family and grasped for answers to the unsettling questions.
We also celebrated Karlee’s life through stories that made us laugh and cry. A friend of Karlee’s dad, Jay, wanted to bring just the right gift to the funeral. Beef jerky came to mind, but the thought seemed absurd and out of place. The thought lingered, so he brought a bag of jerky. During the service, he learned about Karlee’s unusual food tastes of raw mushrooms and beef jerky. Beef jerky even replaced candles one year on her birthday cake. How encouraging it was for both he and Jay when his gift was lovingly laid to rest with Karlee’s body at the grave site!

In times like these, we whose minds are controlled by the Spirit of God lean heavily on the promise that, in Christ, there is life and peace. 
In the midst of pain, this reality almost surprises us with its tender, but powerful presence.
The God of peace is with us breathing life into our shaken faith.

We, who have the Spirit of Christ living inside wait with hope and great assurance for the day we will see Karlee again. Because we live now in that hope, we surround Karlee’s family and others who grieve, sharing comfort and continuing in prayer for them.
Teach us to trust you, Lord, in the difficult times of death. Give us patience with ourselves and others as we navigate through the grief. Bring us the peace you promised. Thank you for your amazing gift of eternal life.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Boxed In and Content

Ps. 16:6.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Have you ever played the comparison game?

I wonder what it would be like to have so much money that I wouldn’t have to worry about how much I spend.

If only I had a supportive, more Godly husband, then I could be successful in ministry.

Wish I wasn’t caught in the middle of making too much money to qualify for government college grants, yet not enough to keep my child from accruing horrendous debt.  It’s not fair!

If only my boss would appreciate his employees and give raises when they are due!

Maybe it’s health issues or physical features.  Or choices others have made for us that we didn’t have a voice in; we feel limited and helpless.

Whatever it is that tend to suck you into discontentment, remember, God knows your name and your needs.  Those circumstances just might be a set up to lead you to his greatest delight—an intimate relationship with you that is out of the realm of this world.

As I realize the inheritance I have in Him, I can pray,
“Lord, thank you for the boundary lines that have fallen for me in pleasant places.”

If only my husband bought me spontaneous and outrageous gifts….
“Thank you for my steady-Eddy.”

If only I had money to get a manicure every week…
“Thank you for food and housing and my nail file.”

It’s really about learning to be content in a Father who loves us and has promised to meet all our needs.  It’s when his timing and methods don’t make sense, that I need to press in closer to listen to his heart of love and step up my responses to his initiatives of friendship.

The time may come when he moves a boundary line for me. Will I make the adjustment gracefully?   Or he  asks me to push back against an enemy’s encroachment into my territory.  Will I rise and fight?

In those places where I can’t change my lot, Lord,  help me to declare your goodness and embrace the present.  You dwell with me on this acre, and your love never fails.