Daily Inspiration, 9 May 17

 

“Resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and wrong.  Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.”
Walter Scott

“I am capable of loving, but I am also capable of not loving. That cannot be said about God. God cannot stop loving, because love is God’s nature. It is not my nature to love. I must learn to love, and only by God’s grace am I able to love as He loves.”
James Bryan Smith

“Christianity isn’t for the little engine that can, it’s for the train-wreck that can’t”
Daniel Emery-Price

“Many people are hanging by the very thinnest of threads.  If you treat them well, without knowing you may very well be that thread.”
John Pavlovitz

“…He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
Psalm 103:13-14

My Prayer today is for sympathy.  For sympathy that falls like light from heaven, and rises like mist from earth.  Matthew 5 says that God ‘causes his sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’.  When we call people wrong, is it because they simply sin differently to us, or because their mess is more apparent?  We have all been in a mess, a mess held together by threads.  Talking to my daughter about self-responsibility tonight, I felt convicted by her generous sympathy for those, in my own mind, undeserving.  It caused me to reflect, does God put a limit on his love and generosity, his light and his rain?  People must earn our trust, yes, but love and sympathy is often a gift to the unworthy.  How can we not go to great lengths for others, when God goes to such lengths for us.

picture

Daily Inspiration: 8 May 17

 

“Often hobbling through our church doors on Sunday morning comes grace on crutches — sinners still unable to throw away their false supports and stand upright in the freedom of the children of God. Yet, their mere presence in the church on Sunday morning is a flickering candle representing a desire to maintain contact with God. To douse the flame is to plunge them into a world of spiritual darkness.”
Brennan Manning

“We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.”
St. Francis of Assisi

“I think I would rather live on the verge of falling and let my security be in the all-sufficiency of the grace of God than to live in some pietistic illusion of moral excellence. Not that I don’t want to be morally excellent but my faith isn’t in the idea that I’m more moral than anybody else. My faith is in the idea that God and His love are greater than whatever sins any of us commit.”
Rich Mullins


‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.  And this is not from yourselves.  It is a gift of God.’
Ephesians 2:8

My Prayer today is for grace. Grace that works itself out through love.  Grace that is enabled by his love and grace to us.  Perhaps as C.S. Lewis notes below, we were able to see the holy in our neighbours, as well as their humanity, then despite appearances on the surface we might see more of ourselves in them.  We might be able to accept and identify with their difference, or their struggles. We might even be able to, despite their brokenness and fallibility, receive them whole.

 


Grace is the father who searches for us,
in our hearts
where we are blind
and lights up all the dark,
until there’s no more hiding.

And we understand then, never to judge,
another’s stumbling walk,
or to be too proud of our own.
For there is a time for us all,
when our deep need brings us to our knees.

And his great grace is beyond what we knew, or understood, before.
And we realise then, in our weakness, that only the unworthy receive.

From my Poem ‘Grace’

 
lewis

Daily Inspiration, 4 May 17

“When I choose happiness, I am not denying the pain of this world. I am refusing to give into it.”
Jennifer Dukes Lee, ‘The Happiness Dare’

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Brother David Steind-Rast
“One grateful thought is a ray of sunshine. A hundred such thoughts paint a sunrise. A thousand will rival the glaring sky at noonday – for gratitude is light against the darkness.”
Richelle E. Goodric

“Gratitude is an opener of locked up blessings.”
Marianne Williamson
“…Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thess 5:18
 

My Prayer today is thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is not always the same as gratitude.  We are grateful for our blessings –  we are grateful for what warms and soothes us, feeds and strengthens us, that brings joy and security and pleasure.  We are grateful for those who make us feel good – competent, worthy and valuable, appreciated.  While we often reel at those things that chill us, scare us and drain us, those things that disempower and unsettle us.  We recoil from those who cause us to feel bad – incompetent, unworthy or disrespected.  We are grateful for the blessings that identify themselves as such, while in truth our power lies in being thankful for the challenges and the blessings that come in disguise.  The things that really grow and stretch us, and ultimately strengthen us.  The ability to look for and find the image of Christ in everyone, even those who upset us. Like iron sharpens iron we are made stronger for the frictions we endure.  And as my friend Jenneth Graser reminds me in her beautiful poem, ‘The Layers of Thanksgiving’, as we shed the layers to reveal the true treasures for which we should be thankful, we shed our immature selves and grow into the full measure of maturity.

The Layers of Thanksgiving
Open the day with thanks
as you shrug back the curtains into the view.
Stop for a moment, remain.

Peel back the layers of thanksgiving:

1. everything beautiful in your past to be grateful for.
Delve deeper and you find:
2. the painful things that have shaped your life for good.
Go into a new layer and you find:
3. the small, seemingly insignificant things that make a difference.
Deeper again, peel off another layer:
4. gratitude for the present moment.
Then you become thankful for:
5. the patience you learn through irritations.
6. the challenging people who teach you to love and forgive.
7. the big things you often take for granted.
Then you discover thanks for:
8. the best that is yet to come.

The emotion of gratitude takes over
and you realise the layers won’t ever stop,
because at the ever-unveiling heart of thanksgiving you find,
something invaluable:

9. the spirit of contentment.
Jenneth Graser

thanksgiving

Daily Inspiration, 2 May 17

“The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another.”
Jack Kornfield

“My circle is small but the love is enormous and genuine.  It gets no better.”
Alex Elle

“Pour out your life in small moments that add up to the monumental. The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you…but to leave noticeable marks of His love everywhere you go.”
Ann Voskamp

“And none will hear the postman’s knock without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”
W. H. Auden

“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.  It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.  Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”
Song of Songs 8:6-7

My Prayer today is for connection.  William Blake in his poem, ‘The Little Black Boy’, says that  ‘… we are put on earth a little space, that we may learn to bear the beams of love’.   Ann Voskamp above talks about leaving marks of his love.  These little impressions of love and concern, kindness and tenderness,  humour and shared experience, generous giving and reverent receiving, touch us deep and bond us together with hoops of gold.   My prayer today is that we remember, and seek out each other intentionally, asking what we can give one another that will cause the quickening of each other’s hearts to subside in relief that we are not forgotten, but rather cherished and loved.

listen

Daily Inspiration, 1 May 2017

 

“God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.”
C.S. Lewis

“I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.”
Wendell Berry

Love, love, love. And hurry as fast as you can along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.  Then, go to sleep.  Give up your body heat, your beating heart.  Then trust.”
Mary Oliver

“A billion stars go spinning through the night, glittering above your head, but in you is the presence that will be, when all the stars are dead.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Col 1:27

My PRAYER today is for awe.  Someone asks us to dance, each day.  A dancing partner for life.  Someone we have not seen, or touched, but who we know in some deep part of us, loves us.  Walking tonight (delivering circulars in the dark for my son), the trees, and the night sounds, and the clouds skimming across the stars, gave such a sense of otherworldliness, that one could be forgiven for thinking thoughts deep as the stars, hanging so close in the milky way. Yes, at times like these, if we allow them too, our thoughts can wind back to those most elemental, fundamental questions of life.  ‘Why are we really here, is there truly a God, a God who made us and loves us and has promised us eternity?’.   As Christians, we believe and feel God’s love and existence, but at times, we almost want to test it.  And the more we come into the mystery of God’s presence and the wonder of his omnipotence and our existence, then the more we feel we’re no longer standing on solid ground.   This is not the ground we know and understand, this is not the tangible world we touch, and the comforting world of ordinary things – this is an entire galaxy of mystery, and the spread of eternity both backwards and forwards.  I think at times like these, when the mystery is too much to comprehend, we have to, again and again, give up what we think is our right to know, and take in trust the hand that is offered out to us.  Shifting carpets require that we dance.  It’s the only way to keep our balance.

DANCE

Daily Inspiration 27 Apr 17

“For although he is right with us and in and out of us and all through us, we have to go on journeys to find him.”
Thomas Merton

Each moment contains a hundred messages from God. For every cry of “Oh God!” He answers a hundred times “I am Here!”
Rumi

Don’t expect to arrive at a place of knowing.
You are on the road of discovering, my friend,
and the flame in your heart
will only inconstantly let you know
that there also walks the Beloved…”
Steve Garnaas Holmes

“A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, ‘I can’t prove a thing, but there’s something about His eyes and His voice. There’s something about the way He carries His head, His hands, the way He carries His cross – the way He carries me.”
Frederick Buechner

“…Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, and opening the scriptures to us?”
Luke 24: 32

My Prayer today is for seeking Him.  Awareness is inconstant.  We cannot hold our attention.  It moves outward and inward like the tides.  It turns both towards the darkness and the light in us –  we sway between selfishness and generosity, rigidity and flexibility; between fear and confidence, and thoughts of lack or plenty.  We are human and as Steve Garnaas Holmes reminds us we are not meant to arrive at a place of full ‘knowing’, or as Thomas Merton reflected, ‘he is right with us’ but ‘we have to go on journeys to find him’.  We remember the bible verse, ‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.’  (1 Cor:13:12) For we see him right now through a mirror, whose image is determined by the light or darkness with which we look for him.  A reflection is only visible in a mirror when the light hits it, and as we dance between the light and dark in ourselves we see him and then we don’t, although always we are always aware on some level that he is there.  My prayer today is that we might intentionally seek the one who has never left us, knowing that from time to time we will find him, sometimes even being floored by his radiance, while at other times we might feel an absence, as though he were on the other side of that dark curtain, not far at all but too far for the weak light in us to illuminate.

Ah but he’s here.  For me often, just the awareness of that is encouragement enough.

Prayer

These are drawn from daily prayers and reflections I write my Chaplaincy colleagues.  

 

Daily Inspiration, 26 Apr 17

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
Maya Angelou

“Duty makes us do things well…but love helps us do them beautifully.”
Author Unknown

“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it.”
Henri Nouwen

“Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Col 3:23

My Prayer today is for the work of our hands, our minds, and our hearts.  What does love have to do with our work?  Only everything.  Love fuels and enables us.  We do things with love, for love, because of love.  The old saying, ‘whatever is worth doing is worth doing well’, has both truth and power in it.  Its truth, is in the knowledge that our work’s value is found in our contribution to the bigger picture, the integral part that we play, essential to the whole.  The power in it, is the conviction that even when we don’t feel like it, when our work feels tiring or unrewarding, that we do it well, not because we want to but because it’s worth doing.  Work is good for us, and necessary for a healthy and thriving community and society, and our deepening spirituality, as Henri Nouwen states, should not draw us away the from the world and society, and from taking part in it, but deeper into it, and fulfilling our purpose and God’s will in tangible and practical ways.  Love is a response, not just a feeling, but a call to action.  Its love that makes things possible, and although we can work without love, we can never love without working – without giving and offering something of ourselves for the benefit of those around us.

work

These are drawn from daily prayers and reflections I write for my Chaplaincy colleagues.

Daily Inspiration, 25 Apr 17

“Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life reveals just the opposite: that letting go is the real path to freedom.”
Sogyal Rinpoche

“But the spiritual truth that leads to freedom is the truth that we belong not to the world but to God, whose beloved children we are.  By living lives in which we keep returning to that truth in word and deed, we will gradually grow into our true freedom.”
Henri Nouwen

”Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”
Charles Spurgeon

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have, cannot be my disciples.”
Luke 14:33

My Prayer today is for freedom.  Real freedom is to be released from our chains. The chains that often only God can truly see, and which we often don’t ask for release from, except for those times we might feel their chaff.  And then we read verses, like ‘anyone who wants to be my disciple must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children… ‘; ‘must sit down and count his blessing and renounce them all for me’.  We are to, ‘sell’ all we have to have ‘treasure’ in heaven’ and then we are asked to ‘follow him’.   I noted that many of these verses started with a giving up of something (like our ‘life’), denying of something, leaving something, releasing something and then, following him.  As though these things otherwise would weigh us down, or redirect our affections or our energy, or would replace God on the throne in our lives.    I think if you and I were honest, we can say that they do.  And if we were truly honest, we would say that we are sometimes adhered more to things of this world than to God.  We can’t have both, and as I continued to read flicking from page to page, God showed me the picture of a marriage, So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”   If our relationship with God, is a covenant relationship the same as marriage, we are either adhered to each other, or we are divided.  When his desire is for us to be one, then there is no room for another. There is no in-between. We cannot follow him, and stay put. We cannot hold on to things and build treasure in heaven.  We are not to let any ‘thing’ or any ‘one’ come between us.  My prayer for us today is the daily giving up that he calls us to.  So that just as we turn to our husband or wife when we wake, we might turn again to God each day as though he were the only one.

freedom

These are drawn from daily prayers and reflections I write for my Chaplaincy colleagues.

Daily Inspiration, 3 Apr 17

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Socrates

“God of goodness, you enable us to rely on the faith of Abraham and of all the believers who have gone before us. May your love give us the courage to leave our securities behind, in the confidence that your Holy Spirit leads us step by step.”
Taizé Lent Time Prayers

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new beginning.”
Carl Bard

“Our prayers are answered not when we are given what we ask but when we are challenged to be what we can be.”
Morris Alder

“In the morning let me hear of your gracious love, for in you I trust. Cause me to know the way I should take, because I have set my hope on you.”
Psalm 143:8

My Prayer today is for progress.  For challenges that cause us to remind us who we are.  For strength to reveal the treasures that he’s formed in us.  For grace to speak his love, and courage to speak his truth.  There is a saying along the line that challenges do not change  a man so much as show him who he already is.  Today may we remember who we belong to and who has called us and keeps calling us.

A beautiful prayer below from Northumbria Community:

Lord, you have always given bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor today I  believe.

Lord, you have always given strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak, today I believe.

Lord, you have always given peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart today I believe.

Lord, you have always kept me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am, today I believe.

Lord, you have always marked the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, you have always spoken when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now, today I believe.

progress

Daily Inspiration, 31 Mar 17

“sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within”
Galway Kinnell

“Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.”
Bob Goff

“Always there is something worth saying about glory and gratitude.”
Mary Oliver

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John 4:19

My Prayer today is insight.   Insight to see Christ’s image in one another.   Care enough to pay attention and re-state the good and beauty that we see, and to give solace, compassion and encouragement where it is needed.  Advice can run off each other like water falling against a wall.   Moral superiority will garner no followers, but love that comes from the heart changes hearts and minds.  This is the love that Jesus had for us, and gave so generously, and it’s that love that we are called to give as his followers.  Let us love others because of the love he first had for us, because it His love that reaffirms our worth, time and time again.
in someones heart