Spiritual Thought for Today Archive Week #7

Awaken Me!

"Awaken me to the holy, to the divinity of all creation; O, that I might honor the sacredness of all life!" Psalm 109 (Translation by Nan C. Merrill)

Every now and then we need to be awakened from the sleepwalk of life that our daily life can become. We need to have our eyes opened to the beauty of each particle of God's creation.

It is so easy for us to blindly live each day ignoring all the wonder in every moment. It is so easy to be deaf to the revelation of every spoken word, to hear the melody of creation playing a symphony to the creator. Perhaps the greatest evil of this dormant lifestyle is not what we are missing but the way we treat life as a result.

We see interruptions where in fact there are likely visitations. We encounter tribulation and suffering because our way never quite fits into the way things are. It doesn’t have to be that way, in fact in reality life is only the way it truly is. Will we curse it or bless it?

Open my eyes; Lord that I might see! Open my ears that I might hear. Loosen my tongue that I might praise you!

Spiritual Warfare Part II

The ancients were well aware of the spiritual warfare waged by the demons. Again they felt that “the enemy” could do no more than present images in the minds of the individual Christian.

Yet these images could lead one to doubt their faith, worry about things that led them away from Christ or take their focus away from God. An example of a demonic image may be found in the Scripture when Jesus comes to the disciples on the lake in the midst of the storm. Peter gets out of the boat at the Lord’s bidding and walks on the water, until the scripture says, “he took account of the storm.”

This type of presentation is familiar to us, in the countless anxieties, and distractions of daily life. Are all of them evils? Of course not, it takes discernment though to determine which are truly beneficial and which are deterring us from the path we should walk.

The first step of any discernment is vigilance, to realize that there is something that is “the enemy.” To see that anything that prevents you from being fully you is something that is not good and trying to overcome the fears and stress engendered by such a force.

Pay attention to the movements in your day today. What images come forth in your mind that fear you or paralyze you? Are the images real (based in fact) or phantasms?

Say a short prayer to God asking for light, and watch to see what effect it has on the thoughts. Do they go away?


Spiritual Warfare Part I

The early Christians had a keen sense that the believers of Jesus were engaged in warfare. It was rather easy for them, since the basis of their faith was centered on the arrest and execution of their leader who just happened to rise from the dead and win the first battle.

But for the believers that was the first of many battles. Arrest, imprisonment and execution were the mainstay of the Christian faithful during the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence.

The government (i.e. "the world") was not the only force that was against the believer. There was also "the Enemy."

Even though "the Enemy" had no real power over Christians since he had been defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus, he still was around trying to convince them otherwise. According to the early spiritual writers the devil's power was limited to "presenting images to us." These "images" could be external in extreme cases, for instance when naked women would appear to the fasting desert fathers, but in most cases these images presented themselves at night in dreams.

It's interesting to think that the only real power the devil has over a Christian is that of presenting images for us to ponder. What we do with these images is our choice.

Do we choose to believe the lie? Do we dwell on it and allow it to consume us?

The early spiritual writers felt that we had an arsenal that could destroy the work of "the enemy" and I will come back to that in ensuing days. One of them was the praying of the psalms.

What images trouble you?

"Restore us O Holy One! Let your face shine upon us, teach us your love! (Psalm 80)"


He Explained Everything to Them

“When he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything to them.”

The Gospel of Mark left us with an insight not limited to the experience that the disciples had with Jesus, but one that we can also share. If we take the time to sit alone with Jesus, everything will become clearer to us.

I have spent most of my life searching for answers. I have looked in books, taken notes in classes both in college and graduate school, but have never learned as much as I have from sitting in a quiet church and spending time in prayer. There is something mystical that happens; a heart speaking to heart that fills the void left by all the unanswered questions that education raises.

The mystery that one encounters in prayer is an answer to the mysteries of the universe. I cannot explain it; I can only invite you to experience it.

Today in the midst of all your busy-ness, find a space to be alone with Jesus and allow the questions of your heart to be answered by the beating of his.


The Great Peace

“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

One of the strange aspects of reading the Bible is that certain passages seem to accomplish the very thing they counsel. Reading Paul’s words to the Philippians, for example, one can feel a release of nervous energy just by reading the passage.

Paul’s advice is to not allow anything to take over our lives. When we are anxious about anything it is a sign that we are making a mountain out of a molehill, no matter how big the molehill may seem at the time.

In another place in Scripture, Jesus asked the rhetorical question, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” In other words anxiety even about the gravest of matters does not accomplish anything.

Paul advises us to turn all of the things that worry us to prayer, that we turn to God and speak to God about them, trusting that in God we have someone who has the power to accomplish the very things that all of our anxiety cannot.

In exchange for handing over our worries to God, Paul promises a peace that is beyond all human understanding. That sounds like a good deal to me.


Jesus- The Burden Lifter

"Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."

Jesus did not come to make life harder for any of us, and those who read scripture and come away with that opinion are neglecting the condemnations that Jesus hurled at those who made a living out of making people feel that following God was difficult.

If we are made to feel that a job is difficult, psychologically we will experience it as difficult.

Jesus came to lift our burden, not add to it. Whatever our current state in life is, it would be helpful to reflect on that, Jesus came to help me, not burden me.

How do I experience the savior? Do I allow him to make life easier for me, or do I listen to those who do the very thing that Jesus condemned?


Who's on first?

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be attentive to the one and despise the other."

I suspect that many of us (including me) would immediately say that we serve God if asked the question. But do we really?

Is God first in our lives?

A simple test to take to determine where God is in the priority of our daily lives would be to ask how much time does God receive on a daily basis? A question to determine if God is first in our lives is to ask ourselves how often do we blame God?

Jesus pretty much lays out this test when he says a servant will either love one master while hating the other or listen to one and despise the other. Do we see God as the bad guy in the mix?

Who is worthy of serving in this life? What ultimately can bring about our salvation?

A famous spiritual writer once said, "Without God everything is nothing, but with God nothing is everything."

It may be time to get our priorities in order.