Wednesday September 17, 2014

IT’S EASY TO MAKE a narcissistic career out of spiritual growth. After all, theology is fascinating. Kindred spirits are usually wonderful folks to be with; retreats are relaxing; books are compelling.

However, the beautiful process of spiritual growth moves in a cycle of blessing that doesn’t stop with me, mine, and my development. It moves outward in a dynamic flow.

As lofty as that sounds, we know from experience that sometimes decisions about where to invest our time, money, and energy can vex and overwhelm us. Ideally, our inner work energizes our outer work, and we become less attached to what others think, what they expect of us, and whether they approve of us. We become less chameleon-like in allowing others to dictate and define who we are.

Our decisions about intentional service need to emerge from a thoughtful, reflective place where we weigh the needs around us and see where they intersect with our gifts, graces, and passions. That sacred intersection points to our place of service at any given time.

- Linda Douty

Tuesday September 16, 2014

I FIND GOD in the unexpected,
the unexpected places
where I least expect to find
the presence of the Living God.

It is in these unlikely places
that the undeniable sense of
holy-overwhelming arrests my attention.

I find God in the unexpected,
the unexpected times
when I would rather
wallow around in the muddle of my mind
and rehash old, unresolved issues.

God pierces through the wall of my wailing
and shines glory on my being
so I can see a new path,
a new direction,
a new purpose.

I find God in the unexpected,
in people whose lives seem so fractured.
Yet they, like shards of a mirror,
reflect the image of God so clearly
and profoundly
that God becomes flesh again.

I find God in the unexpected,
those situations that seemed trivial:
a passing comment,
a line from a movie,
an image on a screen.
Serendipity turns spiritual in unguarded moments
because God chooses to speak to me
through the unexpected.

I find God in the unexpected.
Slowly, I’m beginning to learn
to expect God – in the unexpected.
– Kwasi Kena

Monday September 15, 2014

SOMETIMES, WHEN LIFE IS INTERRUPTED, we feel confused. What is God up to? we wonder. Why is this happening? Our heads spin. We all face questions with no easy answers. We easily get caught up in all the question. Let’s not forget – questions are good!

May we ask questions and bring them before God. Jesus will be with us always, even in the questions. He sees our hearts. He sees our pain. Like the paralyzed man, we need healing, and Jesus desires to give it. Like the scribes, we also have questions in our hearts. We are welcome to ask them, and Jesus meets us in our questioning.

- Jacob Armstrong

Sunday September 14, 2014

SOMETIMES IT TAKES going into the wilderness to learn who we are and what we need. From time to time, God draws us toward a terrain where the familiar contours of our lives disappear, where we leave our landmarks behind, where we let go the people and patterns and possessions that orient us. It doesn’t often require taking ourselves to a literal wilderness in the manner that Jesus did. But his sojourn there reminds us there is wisdom in knowing when to turn toward a place, a person, or a practice that can help us see what we cannot always see under our own power.

In this and every season,
may you travel toward the place
God desires for you.
May you walk in the company
of those who know the way.
May you go well.

- Jan L. Richardson

Saturday September 13, 2014

OLD AGE IS NOT A PUNISHMENT but a divine gift. Your life experiences have enriched you beyond measure. Your life brims with countless memories, relationships, stories, and images. Now is not the time to unplug from life. Invite a new passion to settle into your thoughts. God can restore a brighter outlook as you look forward to a new day.

Heavenly Father, take away the dimness of my soul. I confess that I have allowed ____________ to steal my enthusiasm for living. Ignite a passion within me. Reawaken me to your presence. Where there is grayness, let me see color. Enable me to find purpose in living when there seems to be none. Amen.

- Missy Buchanan

Friday September 12, 2014

BOOKS PILE HIGH and fill my mind,
surrounding me on every side.
“Get work done, no time for fun.”
It seems that life keeps piling on.

I’ve learned it’s easier to find
some peace within my worried mind
when I can stop for just a while –
letting go of the weighty pile –
to think of Jesus and the promises he made,
of his great love that will never fade. …

I don’t think God meant for me
to live my life so stressfully;
so the next time this angst hits,
I’ll think of Jesus and the peace he gives.
–Ian Kraft, age 18

- Stepping Out on Your Own: Devotions for High School Graduates