Sunday Scripture ~ John 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”   (John 1:1)

John begins his story about the life of Jesus on this planet by revealing to his readers what it had taken him nearly three long years to absorb:
Jesus, the man who walked dusty Palestinian roads, who ate and drank and got tired and spoke gritty truth, was more than just a teacher or a prophet. He was God in the flesh.

John wants his readers to begin with awe and then move on into the stories of what Jesus did and what he said, for the words and the deeds will support that feeling of awe. Jesus, the Word, embodied God’s message to us. He bore witness to the truth about God and he, himself, is the message from God.

This Sunday, let’s rejoice in God’s great rescue plan, and may He help us to see the glory of it and to worship in response.

Ever in awe,

Advertisements

Sunday Scripture ~ Genesis 1:1

The New City Catechism asks, “Who is God?” and then provides an answer based on the very first verse behind the leather cover of your Bible:

“God is the Creator of everyone and everything.”

Whether you are personally in the business of creating by threading a needle or making music on a keyboard or by stringing together sentences on another kind of keyboard, your urge and ability to create come from your Creator.

From the time when Adam took up residence in Eden with no instruction manual other than God’s permission to “master it,” humanity has been unwrapping God’s gifts and glorifying Him as co-creators, even if some fail, in this life, to acknowledge His role in it all.

This Sunday, let’s delight in God’s creation and in His gift of creativity,

 

 

Reaching Out for the Adjacent Possible

“Nine chapters, one hundred fifty two pages—how hard can this be?” I thought, as I loaded a well-known Christian classic onto my Kindle.

Slogging through chapter two, reality began to set in.

I had always been an avid reader but felt a need to be more intentional in my reading choices. The holes in my theology needed sturdy patches of truth, and I longed to benefit from the wise words of classic Christian writers.

By the time I reached chapter three, I was seriously discouraged . . . and I never made it past chapter four. Reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy seemed like a great place to begin, but I soon learned a lot of really hard paragraphs lived between all those inspiring quotes I had swooned over on Instagram.

If I had chosen a book closer to what I’m accustomed to, would I have had more success?

Look for Small, Positive Steps

The concept of ‘The Adjacent Possible‘ has changed the way I approach adding spiritual disciplines and healthful practices to my life.

Adjacent means ‘in close proximity’.
If I am looking for The Adjacent Possible, I stop scanning the horizon for a “eureka” moment and begin looking close by for a small positive step in the right direction.

I’m writing more about this process of discovery over at Living By Design where I’m sharing a guest post today! I do hope you’ll come on over and read the rest.

Photo by Olav Tvedt on Unsplash

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Cherishing Hope for the Dream that Sticks Around

Most of the dreams that carried me forward and burned brightly in young adulthood have lost their luster years ago.

My twenty-something self would be mortified at the woman I’ve become.
I can imagine her indignant voice, hand on hip, eyes wide:

“What? No gym membership?”

“How many kids did you say you have?”

“What is this shipwreck you’ve made of our resume?”

But then, for most of us, there is a dream or two that sticks around, still cherished and yet unfulfilled.  It reminds us of its presence with a subtle pressure, like a pebble in the shoe.

Uprooting Bitterness and Planting Hope

Dreams with a long shelf life can light a spark in middle age, or . . . they can become the seedbed for bitterness and regret.  Sarah (Old Testament wife of Abraham and matriarch of the Hebrews 11 “faith chapter”) knew well the taste of disappointment and frustrated dreams. Over and over she heard about The Promise, a major topic of Abraham’s heart-to-heart talks with God:

“The Father of a Great Nation,” God had promised.
“Children as innumerable as the stars in the sky,”

God had spoken, and Sarah had worked hard to believe.

“If Abraham’s the father, that makes me the mother. Doesn’t it? Couldn’t we get started with just one . . .?”

As the years wore down Sarah’s hope and her joints, she may have found remedies to ease arthritis, but nothing took the edge off yearning.

Then one day when Sarah was 90 years old, the promise came once again. Picture an arid landscape. Abraham, now a very old man, is resting in the doorway of his tent to escape the heat of the day. Three men approach, and the gracious old gent hops up to show lavish hospitality, Middle-Eastern style. (Genesis 18:1-16)

Is it possible that Abraham and Sarah recognized one of their visitors as the angel of the Lord? This pre-incarnate embodiment of God the Son carried news that made Sarah’s heart skip a beat as she listened through the tent wall:

“Abraham, when I see you again, your wife, Sarah, will have a son.”

Twenty-four years had passed since this promise was first spoken out loud, and for the first time, Sarah was hearing that her own DNA was also important to its fulfillment. And suddenly there was a time frame on the table! This was all too much for her heart to absorb, and the text goes on to record Sarah’s response there, in the privacy of her tent:  She laughed.

Believing Over the Long Haul

Dreams with a long shelf life can light a spark in middle age, or . . . they can become the seedbed for bitterness and regret. Sarah (Old Testament wife of Abraham and matriarch of the Hebrews 11 “faith chapter”) knew well the taste of disappointment and frustrated dreams.

And may I ask, tenderly:

 How long have you been waiting for your dream to materialize? 

While others have moved forward into solid futures that look crazily like the one you’ve imagined, you feel as if, somehow, you’ve been left standing still.

Tired, faith stretched thin, the idea that anything good could happen, that blessing could wash up on your personal shore . . .?
Pfffff . . . Snort! Do you feel a cynical chuckle coming on?

Time bound and short-sighted, we need a sinewy faith to stave off bitterness when hope has been bleeding out for years.

Together, let’s join Sarah in pressing an ear against the tent wall to hear God’s words of choosing and commission

 Let’s join Sarah in pressing an ear against the tent wall to hear God’s words of choosing and commission. Your DNA is needed in this family of God. Press hard against the Tent Wall of Scripture and hear God’s voice today saying that His ultimate plan is for fruitfulness and joy. Soak in the record of prophecy fulfilled, the promises kept, the hand of God at work in stunning intervention, and then read in Psalm 126 about the laughter of dreams fulfilled that follows the tears of sowing seed and long waiting.

Can we trust the God who filled Sarah’s empty womb to fill our empty hearts? He longs to come to your tent, to lock eyes, and to share a meal with you. Listen carefully, and let the smile spread slowly over your incredulous face, for the truth is that He brings good news — and it’s for you.

//

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

This post was first shared at God-sized Dreams .

Evidence of Grace in the Cycling of Seasons

When my thrifty mother-in-law made mincemeat, she would start with the venison roast from a deer who may have had the audacity to nibble on her tulip leaves.  From there, she would improvise, adding whatever needed using up on that particular day:  a batch of jam that didn’t “set up” just right or an over-abundance of applesauce.  Somehow, the mincemeat always simmered fragrant and delicious.

When I make mincemeat, I follow a recipe – to the letter. But it is likely that if any of my daughters-in-law find a need for that particular pie filling, they will just buy a jar off the shelf.
(Or I will give them one of mine!)

I’m well aware that generational change is a given.  Good and exciting things happen quickly once our kids hit the double digits, so I’m braced and on board.  Change is on the menu whether I like it or not.

I’m choosing to like it.

Today I’m anticipating the cycling changes that come as the tilt of the earth’s axis begins to register longer days and more direct sunlight. However, here just below the 45th parallel spring is still weeks away and will arrive in its own good time.

The majestic evergreens and the kindness of low  bushes that turn a deep red after they drop their leaves are all that rescue my early spring landscape from a panorama of sepia and gray.  Last night, Venus and the waning crescent moon were veiled in mist, and the damp cold that is seeping into my bones today tells me that change is on the way.  And I welcome it.

If spring is still an unfulfilled promise anyway, then let it be cold.  Let the ground stay hard, and let the sky send a fresh, clean blanket of white every few days to relieve the monotony of all that has expired.  Better to walk on frozen ground or across the crunch of snow than to sink into the mud of early spring acedia.  Better to bring my mittens, my shovel, and my small resiliency to a beautiful world than to mourn the slow and uncertain advent of spring.

I can never make less than six quarts of anything!In this season of slow sunrise, when the daffodils snooze and the robins make angry phone calls to their travel agents, I will make kielbasa bean soup and fill up the empty spaces around my table with people who need the full feeling that comes from a hearty welcome.  After all, no matter how earnest my intentions, I cannot make less than six quarts of anything.  (And I can’t shake the idea that if Jesus had walked the frozen fields of New England instead of the dusty roads of Galilee, He would have worked His way with a metaphor around an abundant kettle of steaming chowder.)

With sons coming and going, who knows how many bowls I will need to put on the table?  This ever-changing count provides a concrete measure, a confirmation of the vague sensation I carry that someone, somewhere has thrown a lever, releasing a huge gush of life from this busy and crowded home.

This season of change includes kids with parenting questions, kids with careers, kids with house-buying dreams–and “the baby” just bought a car! I’m certain that the boy behind the wheel was napping in his crib just yesterday, while I weeded green beans and scribbled in a journal.  We gave him a cell phone to keep in his car–just in case. (He is happy to leave it there, because it’s not a very cool model.)

My first cellphone had a tiny antenna on it.  It rang infrequently, but when it did, I usually missed the call anyway, because, buried in my purse, it sounded like a distant chainsaw in the woods.

I still keep my phone in my purse, despite the “fervent counsel” (i.e. nagging) of my children.
Them:  “Where were you?”
Me:  “In the garden.”
Them:  “Why didn’t you take your phone with you?”
Me:  (momentary silence while I try to adjust my wording and tone to be kinder than I am feeling)  “Because I carried a baby monitor around in the garden for ten years.”

Is it a sign of progress that, now, when I hear a distant chain saw in the woods, I run for my cell phone?

A more urgent question:  Am I willing to “outgrow” my crankiness and claustrophobia about technology in order to connect with the important people in my life?

Facebook updates me on the steady advance of the cancer that is tunneling its way through one more friend or of the dementia that steals the self-hood and the memories of yet another precious personality whose creativity and warm laughter will be forever lost to this world. Thanks be to God that the offset of all this lament comes in celebration of the full-body smile of my grandson and the mischievous giggle of my blue-eyed granddaughter. Both have absolutely no idea how much joy they add to the world just by inhabiting their own tiny skin.

And while it is true that it is the voice of the Lord that “strips the forest bare,” it is also true that when “winter is past [and] the rain over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth . . . and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.  The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance,” (Song of Solomon 2:11-13).

I will bring what I am learning about patience from this cycling of the seasons to my navigation of a life of perpetual change.

I will start where I am with my full days and my inconsistencies and my pitiful mixed motives.

I will use what I have, putting it all in the pot to simmer, and somehow, by the grace of God, I believe that it will be enough.

//

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Surprise! God Has Your Best Interest at Heart

When C.S. Lewis wrote Surprised by Joy, he was clear that it was a “spiritual autobiography” designed to track his pilgrimage from atheist to deist and, finally, at long last to “the most dejected, reluctant convert in all of England.” In Christian circles, we’re fond of talking about finding God, until we realize that He has been there all along—and like C.S. Lewis, we are surprised by the joy of a love that came to us before we ever reciprocated, an unconditional love.

Growing up in a home in which mental illness and addiction seemed to be setting the agenda, it was a surprise (and a joy!) to discover that God was actually mightily involved in every detail of my life. In the midst of the chaos, He was NOT standing idly by, but was deeply involved in bringing me to Himself. He was longing to be gracious and to show me compassion!  He had His own agenda in mind for me that He would be faithful to fulfill!

In my small hometown in Northern Maine, God bent over backwards to connect me with godly mentors and opportunities to test His faithfulness. When I bought a one-way ticket to California for my first semester of college, I pictured myself taking flight and pulling up my roots in Maine. I had learned a love for teaching the Bible, so I majored in Christian Education, transferred to a small college in northeast Georgia, crammed a bachelor’s degree into three years, and began wondering where in the world my next adventure would take me.

God is full of surprises! I landed right back here in Maine, and there’s so much more to this story, so I invite you to click on over to Mary Geisen’s writing home where she has opened wide the door for me to tell my story and, in doing so, to also #TellHisStory, because, after all, every story circles back around to Him.

Let yourself be surprised by joy,

Michele Morin


If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

When You’re Sitting in the Winter Room

When life sends a hard turn in a direction I am not expecting, all the cracks and flaws in my theology show up.  The wheels come careening off my carefully constructed orthodoxy, leaving me in the ditch with all the prosperity gospel folks or the “Where was God?” finger pointers. When God does not “cooperate” with my vision of success or yield to my will for Him, I am slow to yield my own will to a rogue story arc that may eventually untangle itself in the passing of years . . .or not.

While I am familiar with Paul’s words about having been “afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down,” somehow it always comes as a surprise to me that believers are not exempt from the usual challenges and inconveniences of life. Peter devoted an entire letter to the topic of “fiery trials,” exhorting believers to take them in stride, and yet, my feet trip over the plain truth as my brain struggles to instruct my heart. Suddenly, it is my mission to relax all the tension in the gospel, to disconnect glory from suffering, and to drag the not-yet of redemption into the right-now.

When I insist upon picking and choosing inspired words as if some might be optional, I take a seat in the Winter Room alongside King Jehoiakim.  On the day he received the scroll containing Jeremiah’s scalding prophetic words, the content came highly recommended by his advisers. Unfortunately, the king was already nursing a grudge against Jeremiah . . . something about a prophecy in which Jeremiah predicted for King Jehoiakim a donkey’s funeral on the city’s garbage dump–a consequence of his slipshod spiritual leadership.

Therefore, instead of receiving the inspired Words of God with joy or in a spirit of repentance as his father King Josiah had done,  Jeohoiakim sliced them up with a knife, line by line, as they were read to him and then tossed them into a fire that was burning nearby to keep the Winter Room comfortable for his royal highness. Jehoiakim did not reckon with God’s commitment to preserve His Word, nor did he comprehend that, like Jeremiah, God the Holy Spirit values the good of the reader more than He values the reader’s good opinion of Him. The king’s  unwillingness to receive the truth diminished its urgency and its sway over his life not one iota.

The View from the Winter Room

The earth’s axis is slowly tilting toward the sun in these days of late winter, but here on the far reaches of the Northern Hemisphere it will be a while before I can feel the effects of this seasonal shift. Even so,  I will not sit with Jehoiakim in the Winter Room, filleting Truth for my own comfort and employing every available defense mechanism against the parts I’d rather not accept.

Sitting in the Winter Room, truth becomes less important than self-justification. The view from the Winter Room is small and limited, and suddenly the sovereignty of God is not a comfort but, rather, a threat to be managed as eyes dart frantically in every direction for a way around the revealed will of God.

Leaving my chair in the Winter Room, I have found two undeniable truths about God’s written Word:

Better to be burned by its searing statements about reality than to dismember it in dangerous denial;
Better to embrace the fiery words and reckon with their truth than to sit in the Winter Room, warming myself before a small fire kindled by my own willfulness.


If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular content delivered to your inbox. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging communities on a regular basis. They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week. I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.