Thursday, December 29, 2011

More meditations

Here is more of the retreat I have been working on, it is not finished but it is where it is now. I have had my parents in town for the last two weeks so blogging has slowed but there are some cool things to share and I hope to get to that soon. My daughter has a few pictures of children on Ebeye I would love to share and hope to do so soon.

I hope these meditations and your time in prayer brings you healing and peace.

Part Two
The sessions in part two are a sessions of meditations connecting with Christ’s suffering. Connecting with his passion helps us to be better understand our own suffering and to see it in light of Christ’s presence and redemption. These might be difficult sessions since the look at the wounds we have in our lives but ultimately they are designed to be times where the Great Physician can begin a healing work in us. Take your time with these sessions, be gentle with yourself and after the retreat share your experience with a trusted friend or mentor. Begin each session saying the Lord’s Prayer then simply be with God in each meditation.

Read Isaiah 53:3a
This is a precious verse for us to consider in our retreat.  We need to understand that Jesus suffered and was familiar with sorrow.  If he didn’t know suffering how can we connect our suffering with his?  If he didn’t know sorrow we might be lead to think that being a Christian means living without rejection, pain, sorrow and suffering.  We would be at such a profound loss because we would miss the compassion of Christ and feel the guilt of our own pain, somehow thinking we weren’t good enough.
Suffering and Christianity go together because suffering and life go together.  We are called to connect our suffering with the suffering of Christ.  This gives meaning and purpose to our pain and it gives it a direction; redemption.  It gives us healing and hope and ultimately the freedom of the saints in light.
The focal point for Jesus’ suffering is on the cross.  It is there we see him at his weakest and most vulnerable.  We will connect first in his rejection by humanity.
* Read Mark 15:1-15 à Journal about the rejection of Christ which is summed up in the words “Crucify him!”  When have you been rejected by people?  Who rejected you, how did it feel?  Are those feelings of rejection still driving you somehow?  Christ probably didn’t feel loved at that moment.  How did you feel in those moments?
As you see that both you and Jesus have been rejected let him minister to you in your pain and hurt.  Let him begin to heal you, know that he knows how it feels.  Spend prayerful time with this connection.
Take a break if needed or go right into the second session.
* Read Mark 15:21 à  Jesus wasn’t able to carry his cross by himself.  This is a profound insight for so many of us who want to do it alone.  We think that it somehow shows weakness or lack of faith to have help.
Notice again that Jesus needed help carrying his cross.  Each of us has a cross to carry, we have burdens we must live with.  We don’t have to do it alone, if Jesus needed help then it is okay for us to need help.  Allow God to help you through people.  For Jesus it was Simon of Cyrene.  Who is your Simon of Cyrene?  Who will help you carry your cross?  For some it is an AA group, for others a pastor, counselor, spiritual director.  Yet others find close friends and support groups.  The key is to connect with a Simon in your life, they are God’s gift to you.

This is a good time to break for a while…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Retreat on Grace Parts 2 and 3

Here are the second and third meditations on the retreat on grace. Again, take your time (slower is better), bring a journal and come with an openness to Christ's leading. These are sessions to come back to multiple times over a series of weeks.

The second session focuses on the deliverance God has done and is doing in your life. Center yourself by saying the Lord’s Prayer and then begin.
Read Exodus 13:3-10
Remember how the Lord brought the Israelites out of the land of slavery.  See how they began to know God as deliverer.  In what way has the Lord acted as deliverer in your life?  Think about this, journal on it and afterwards write a prayer of thanksgiving.
How does seeing God’s deliverance in the lives of Israelites and your life teach you about God’s grace and your place in the heart of God?

The third session picks up again the theme of your belovedness and the power of God’s love for you. Again, enter the space with the Lord’s Prayer.
Read Jeremiah 31:3
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
1.      Memorize this verse.
2.      Who is the lover?  Who is the beloved that is the one receiving love?  How long is the lover loving the beloved?
3.      What are the results of this love?
Meditate on your status as God’s beloved.  Think on that as your identity.  How long does God intend on loving you for?  Again, how does this shape your identity?  Let yourself receive the gift of belovedness.  Let it simply come to you as the gift that it is.  As you receive, if you are moved to confess, do so and then receive the forgiveness Jesus offers.  If you are not moved to confess, let it go and simply be with God as He sees fit.
What are the outcomes of God’s faithfulness in your life?  How has God been faithful and what does faithfulness look like in terms of eternity?
Notice God’s faithfulness is tied to His love and not us or our abilities.  How does this notion free us to simply be with God and to live for God out of freedom?  How do we live for God out of our identity as His beloved?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Least of These Message

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on my initial reflections aboout Jesus' words about how we care for "the least of these" being connect to how we care for him. Last night I posted my sermon that came from those reflections. I recommend checking it out. I am sure that every preacher thinks that every message is essential and life giving and most likely I fall into that category. That being said I feel like this message gets at the heart of Christian spirituality in a way that is accessible. At least that is my hope. The link to my online messages is on the right and my goal is to update it weekly.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

4-H Blog

Sophie has been participating in the 4-H cooking club this year and two of the clubs on our atoll made the 4-H Pacific blog this week. To check it out and see a picture of Sophie in 4-H click here.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Retreat on Grace Draft Intro and Part One

Following is a draft on a short three section retreat on grace. It is designed to be done in a day with space to really dig into the questions and to prayerfully reflect on the answers. This isn't something to speed through. Below is a draft of the intro and the first meditation. I'd recommend at least two hours on it to give yourself the space to work through the issues. Later I'll post the other sections I am working on along with a healing retreat I am almost through with. If you choose to spend the time on it I pray that God will meet you in that time.

In this short retreat we are going to “consider the steadfast love of God,” Psalm 107:43 NRSV.  The purpose of the retreat is to create a space to deepen your understanding and integration of the steadfast love of God and your identity as His beloved.  This is central if we are to understand and integrate grace into our lives.  Grace flows from God’s love for us and it comes as a gift out of the riches of God.  It is not conditional on our need; rather it is the natural outflow of love, and yes we need it. 
In a retreat we can’t program what God will do, it is between the individual and God, yet we can create space, we can come open and available to the Spirit.  In a retreat we use the gifts of God’s Word, prayer, our mind and tools like pen and paper to do our work with God.  Whatever we plan in the retreat, God’s plan is better.  So use these devotions and the plan as a guide only.  Hold to them loosely.  If God wants to dive more deeply into one and ignore the others, follow the Spirit’s lead.  If you are tired you probably need a nap, our bodies are often over tired and over worked.  If you need “light” times, take “light” times.  Take a walk, draw a picture, and take photos of the beauty around you.  In all of this cultivate an open and willing heart.  Let it be a sacred space and let yourself take a risk in these devotions.  Take a risk to grow and to stretch into a deeper and fuller person, one who lives rooted and centered in their belovedness and grace.  Peace be yours as you retreat.
Part One
When you arrive at your retreat site put all your belongings away, get settled and just sit for a bit, relax and unwind from the trip. After this consecrate the time, offer as much of yourself as you can to God and then say the Lord’s Prayer slowly and let each phrase sink in. Say it two or three times and let it guide you into a prayerful place. This will be the start of each session.
First session for meditation and journaling:
Read Luke 15:11-32
This story is about two sons who have broken relationships with their father and each other.  Some of it is rebellion, some pride and some stubbornness.  As you pray through the story, where do you connect?  Who do you connect through now?  Is it the younger son, the elder son, even perhaps the father?  How might you have connected differently in the past?  Is there growth?  Underlying the story is unconditional love which is highlighted in the embrace of the younger son in vs. 20.  How has God embraced you?  Have you ever felt like you had to earn this embrace?  Is there a sense you might have resisted the embrace?  Maybe thinking it is too good to be true, that it can’t surely be for me?
* Read Romans 8:39 à what does it say about the eternal embrace of the Father through the Son?  How does that impact and shape your sense of self, who you really are?
The true self is who we are in Christ.  It is the deepest part of what is real and true.  So often we choose to live at the surface, substituting a lesser version of ourselves for who we really are.  We allow the superficialities of the society shape our self image and not the depths of the soul’s embrace by God.  We are indeed temples and vessels of the Holy Spirit; therefore we are God bearers in our world, children of the Heavenly father.  We are so much more than we often realize or even know.  Our business clouds our understanding and we live like we are asleep, all the time called to awaken to the presence of God in our lives and the world.  Life is to be lived at the depth, deeply centered and as Psalm 1 says “a tree near streams of water.”  Our identity as discovered in prayer and the scriptures and enforced by the witness of the Spirit is to be our source of life and the place where we live from.  This gives us a centered and rooted life.
Think now about all the identities you have and use.  Start with “I am” statements, like “I am a…”  Fill all those in.  Seek to discover the depth of who you are in Christ.  Let that sink in, pray over it and then probe what it would look like for you to live from this center.
Finish the meditation with the Lord’s Prayer. Rest, read, relax and take some time to be after this time of prayerful reflection.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I have added two more messages to my channel on sermon net.

One is my Reformation Sunday message where I focus on two key words in the Christian life: freedom and grace. The other one is part of my series on prayer. In this series I look at various biblical people, their life and how that influenced their prayer. This particular message is looking at King Solomon and his prayer for wisdom.

The link is here