Our Father or My Father?

for me the emphasis in this prayer is focused on the word Our rather than the word Father. . . In the Christian Church no one has more special ‘access’ to Our Father than another – we can all pray to God, we can all listen, we are all called to be in God’s family.
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If Refrigerators Could Talk

OH!!!! I’m not sure I really want to write this post – but the thought has been on my mind for a couple days and today, when I opened the frig and smelled that ‘I need to be cleaned’ smell I laughed inside. And when my husband said ‘Oh, and if you’ll clean the refrigerator today it would be good because garbage day is tomorrow.’ I kind of cringed . . . I prefer to get the frig cleaned before he recognizes it needs cleaning. But the moldy cucumber in the produce box could be seen and I suppose it was the combined scents of a slimy slice of deli sliced turkey and a little dab of leftover baked ham that had the familiar ‘it’s getting old sheen’ that had made our noses wrinkle this morning when we opened the door for our glasses of juice – cranberry for me and orange for him. He’s on what I call an ‘inconvenient fast.’

Inconvenient because we don’t share regular mealtimes together – but that’s another story feeding into this one because what’s left in the refrigerator right now speaks to me about more than this inconvenience of not eating meals together. We are each on our Lenten journey and while it isn’t drawing us closer to one another, perhaps we are each being drawn closer to God.

So if refrigerators could talk mine would ask – “Why did you buy so much lettuce, such a big head of broccoli and such a big onion? And why did you buy that cucumber and those two peppers when you know you don’t digest them?” And I would say – “I bought it for my husband before I knew he was going to be fasting.” And now I’m asking myself “Why didn’t you find someone to give them or take it to the food pantry, instead of throwing it away?” Aaaarrggghhhh – a good thought a little too late . . .

I hate throwing food away – I remember my father telling us at meal time that we should clean our plates because children in other countries were starving. And yes, I did ask my father one day how my stomach being too full could help someone somewhere else to not starve. He said it couldn’t so maybe I should think about them before I put the food on my plate. And I still wondered how that would help those other kids. That was then, and tonight I think . . . If my refrigerator could talk it might say something like this – ‘Don’t you realize there are families whose refrigerator drawers and shelves are almost bare?’ And I would have to say ‘Yes, indeed I do and this is what I’m going to have to do. Buy less for my husband and me and give more to them.’

If refrigerators could talk during the season of lent they might give us some common sense and lead to some changed lives . . . .

. . . give us this day our daily bread . . .

Interesting that cleaning my refrigerator led me to thinking about The Lord’s Prayer . . .

I am more aware now, that if I can use more restraint at the grocery store when shopping for my husband and I, I will reduce the amount of guilty stress I feel by ‘wasting food.’
I am also more aware that when I use more restraint at the grocery store when shopping for us, I will be able to help reduce the stress level of a family in need who is praying ‘give us this day our daily bread’ with true sincerity and hope.

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Lent as a Season of New or Re-Birth

DoveOften Lent is spoken of in terms of repentance and/or forgiveness, and yet those two actions lead to a birthing of new love in our hearts and minds.
What are we to repent of? We give up stuff, but what good is giving up something if our minds and hearts aren’t changed? With New and with rebirth we give up old ways of thinking – Jesus began his preaching ministry saying – ‘Repent and believe in the good news.’ Maybe more people would participate in a Lenten discipline or program of some kind if more churches began the season with those words instead of reminding everyone about how wretched we are . . . how we aren’t worthy . . . Think about when John the Baptist told his own followers he wasn’t worthy to untie the thong of Jesus’ sandles – What was Jesus’ response? Jesus told John the Baptist to baptize him. To me this is certainly a message about John the Baptist’s worthiness according to Jesus, according to God. Later Jesus told his disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

So, what do you think about your own baptism? I’ve talked with people over the years who fear they are not worthy to be baptized with water much less the Holy Spirit. And I’ve talked with some people who say they don’t want the Holy Spirit because they don’t want something weird to happen to them. But the power that the Holy Spirit gives us is power to overcome wilderness experiences of temptation that Jesus overcame.

What do you think about forgiveness? So many people talk about the challenges of forgiving other people. I’ve heard people say “I’ll never forgive so and so!” And I’ve heard people say “I can’t forgive myself!” In having conversations over the years I’ve learned that if a person thinks they can’t forgive themselves or other people they often believe that God has not forgiven them. It seems to me that when we experience lack of forgiveness we are experiencing a sort of spiritual death. For our spirits to come alive, we must receive the Holy Spirit, in the same way that Jesus encouraged his disciples to receive the Spirit.

The Spirit helps us to Repent and Believe in the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness towards us and other people. We have not received authority to condemn, we have received a command to forgive. Let your spiritual birth or rebirth begin with forgiving yourself, for seeking forgiveness for your own wrong actions and thoughts and then forgive others.
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Thoughts about Being Still

DoveToday when I woke the words ‘Be Still and Know’ were rolling through my mind as I walked down the steps into the kitchen, made a cup of coffee and began getting ready for the day. My heart it’s true was full of wonderings and some worries and I just kept trying to push them away . . . and when I left the house I fell into the trap of letting worries and wonderings begin to take root. It was a horrible experience, one I’m sure many other people have endured, at least the Bible and the stories about the saints and holy men and women of God let me know that feelings of anxiety have crept into everyone from time to time. ‘Be Still and Know’ . . .

Know what? I wondered – – – I know the ending of the verse is ‘. . . that I am God.’ so why, I wondered, don’t those words roll through with the first?

Now, bear with me as I share this because maybe this answer is for you as well. The verse is from Psalm 46:10 and there may be times in your life when you need to be reminded that God is who God is and that he will be exalted . . . and then there are times that you need to be reminded that you yourself need to be still so that God may be exalted through your stillness rather than your anxiousness or doubt or wonder or stubbornness or hurt or broken heart.

Be Still and Know that . . . sometimes being still is enough. Sometimes it’s what God wants from us . . . we don’t have to do everything, we don’t have to say everything and we don’t have to worry . . . we can give it all to him . . .our worries, our wonderings, our stubborn, hurt and broken hearts . . . we can just be still and let him exalt himself in us so that once again we may exalt God . . .

Sometimes just being still and listening to the word of God as it comes to you or as you read it or listen to it is prayer enough.

This is a good season for us to be reminded that he wants some of us to just be still and be quiet. We can rest in this knowledge, that we can trust God to handle the work of changing the world while we work a little more at changing our own hearts and minds so we may love and think and live in a more godly way.

What do you think? How do you feel about being still?