Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2022

Seeking Shalom

MEDITATION:

Written by Michael Wittmer, a contemporary professor of systemic theology and author. This is an excerpt from his book “Heaven is a Place on Earth.”

How do we serve Christ in a world where globally everyone is our neighbor and locally few are? One response is to think globally and act locally. We should always keep the large, global picture in mind, monitoring trends and evaluating how are actions inadvertently help or hurt others on the other side of the world. But though we follow and seek to influence the global picture, most of our concrete, specific steps for shalom will occur within our local communities. There, in our personal touch with our fellow image-bearers, lies our greatest opportunity to advance shalom. These local networks include the neighborhood in which we reside, the colleagues we work alongside, and the family within our home. While these are all important, our greatest opportunity to promote shalom lies not in our neighborhoods, offices, or even our homes, but in our local churches. Jesus Christ established his church as a beacon, a beachhead for shalom within this dark world of war and division. His supreme passion is for his people to enjoy the fruitful unity that comes from the shalom of God. On the evening before his death, Jesus’ final prayer in the Upper Room was for his followers to “be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Paul applies this passion for peace to ethnic and religious strife, explaining that Christ has overcome centuries of animosity between Jews and Gentiles, reconciling them to each other as he reconciles each to the Father. So now “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This unity among individual believers—church community—is a recurring emphasis throughout Paul’s writings…Paul urges the believers to use their distinctive gifts to serve the body, humbly honor and care for one another, live peaceably among all people, support and submit to government authorities, love others, allow diversity of opinion about matters of Christian freedom, protecting the weak while not condemning the strong and patiently bear one another’s burdens, seeking to benefit their neighbor rather than themselves…Each person will only flourish and find delight in God to the extent that the entire body experiences shalom. Our spiritual health depends both on receiving help from our brothers and sisters and giving our gifts to serve them…Although we may never fully succeed in restoring shalom to our selfish world, there is at least one place where we should expect to find the flourishing, wholeness, and delight that comes from genuine community. Christ intends his church to be a herald of shalom. When this collection of diverse individuals chooses to sacrificially serve one another in the name of the Prince of Peace, we silently announce to a troubled world that the kingdom of shalom is present in our midst. In this way we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, proving by our conduct that sin does not have the last word, but just as shalom once permeated the original creation, it has come to Christ’s church and will come again to his world.

PRAYER:

Written by Cheryce Rampersad, a contemporary Christian author.

Dear God, allow me to be a replica of Your love. Let Your light shine through. Allow me to have mercy on myself as well as others. Let me follow in Your footsteps. May I forgive just as You forgave the world. Soften my heart so that I can touch the lives of others. Lead me, guide me and walk beside me, as I portray You in all that I do.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

This Little Light of Mine:   Performed by Bruce Springsteen (Live in Dublin).

This popular gospel song is of unknown origin. It is often reported to be written for children in the 1920s by Harry Dixon Loes, but he never claimed credit for the song and the Moody Bible Institute where he worked said he did not write it.

Read Full Post »

MEDITATION:

Written by Alan Goodman.

I became a member of the Village Church in 2015. Being a member means different things to different people. I did not want to just occupy a pew seat on Sundays. I did not want to give token financial support to the church, etc. I also wanted to really participate in other things.

I started tithing several years ago while at SBPC. The blessings from God have been “off the charts” and growing since doing this. I never thought that a God-first approach to stewardship worked so extremely well. I have seen the fruits of doing this personally. In addition to volunteering in a variety of church activities, I have come to feel closer and closer to living life as Jesus would want me to live. I am definitely a “work-in-progress” however.

More recently, Pastor Jack invited me to participate in group 2 of his “Kingdom Academy” initiative. Our whole team is looking into the very essence of improving our relationship with God in every aspect of our lives.  As a group, we are looking into ways to get from here to there to actually achieve this goal in a very tangible way. Having been a Business Operations consultant in my past life has given me a very direct foundation to even participate in this for the church. This group effort is going to make my own life more Jesus-based as an absolute gift.

I think more deeply about my personal (and improving) journey with Jesus, and I give thanks to God daily. Hallelujah!

PRAYER:

Written by David Mathis, a contemporary author and editor at desiringGod.org.

Lord, thank you for your abundant, abounding grace. Thank you that we don’t have to earn a drop of the mighty river of grace that flows freely for us today. Thank you for the unexpected, unmerited favor you’ve showered on my life. Help me put myself in the path of your love and grace. Help me not neglect the disciplines I need to meet with you regularly and to drink from the water of life. Thank you for your rich love. Amen.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley   Performed by The St. Francis de Sales Choir.

The origin of this folk hymn are unclear, but it first appeared in U.S. hymnals in the second half of the 20th century. It is a conflation of the Appalachian folk song tradition and the African American spiritual.

Read Full Post »

MEDITATION:

Written by Max Lucado, a contemporary pastor, author, and speaker. This is an excerpt from his book “Learning to Live Together.”

My daughter and I boarded a 1:00 a.m. flight in Tel Aviv which would carry us back to the States. Traveling is always hectic, but that night it was especially bad. The plane was packed, and we were delayed because of extra-tight airport security. As we boarded, I realized that our seats weren’t together. We were separated by an aisle. With no time to seek help from the front desk, I determined to persuade the fellow sitting next to Jenna to swap seats with me. Surely, he’ll understand, I thought. He didn’t. He was already nestled down for the ten-hour flight and wasn’t about to move. “Please, I begged, “let me sit by my daughter.” He leaned up and looked and my seat and leaned back. “No thanks,” he declined. Growl. I took my seat and Jenna took hers next to the thoughtless, heartless scoundrel. As the plane prepared for take-off, I dedicated my mind to drawing a mental sketch of the jerk. Wasn’t hard…By the time the plane was backing up, I was plotting how I’d trip him if he dared walk to the restroom during the flight…I turned to intimidate him with a snarl and saw, much to my surprise, Jenna offering him a pretzel. What? My daughter fraternizing with the enemy! An even worse, he took it! As if the pretzel were an olive branch, he accepted her gift and they both leaned their seats back and dozed off. I eventually dozed off myself, but not before I’d learned the lesson God had used my daughter to teach me. In God’s house we occasionally find ourselves next to people we don’t like. If we could ask them to leave, we would, but we aren’t given the option. All of us are here by grace and, at some point, all of us have to share some grace. So, the next time you find yourself next to a questionable character, don’t give him a hard time…give him a pretzel.

PRAYER:

Written by Callie Logan, a contemporary teacher and writer.

Father, we ask today for Your hand in our lives. We pray for the restoration of our lives by Your process. That process may not look like what we would think or plan, but we know that because You see all that is, was, and is to come…that ultimately, You will do what is most compassionate and best. Father, today we come before Your Holy throne to ask for Your restoration in our lives. We submit ourselves to Your ever-loving Will and kindness throughout.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

Make Me a BlessingPerformed by The Haven of Rest Quartet.

George Shuler and Ira Wilson were roommates at Moody Bible Institute in 1924. They combined their talents to write this hymn. Wilson wrote the lyrics and Shuler the music.  

Read Full Post »

MEDITATION:

Written by Vickie Stone.

One of the ways I see God at work in the world today is when I hear of situations of amazing forgiveness. One such example I recall was from a horrible car accident 5 years ago here in San Diego….The driver was a 33-year-old woman. Driving home to Encinitas late one foggy night she glimpsed a vehicle, with no lights on, coming straight toward her. Everything went black. She woke up in her car with the dashboard and windshield sitting in her lap, a stranger trying to put flames out with a fire extinguisher, rescuers using the jaws of life to free her from her crushed vehicle. The wrong-way driver was a 20-year-old college student who had been out drinking with his friends. His car was a fireball, and he did not survive. She had no insurance; her family was back in Australia, and she was recently divorced. I remember thinking how would I manage such a situation?

She was in a coma for a week and woke up not able to feel or move her legs; with staples down her torso holding her together. The doctors told her the right side of her body had been crushed with broken bones from her feet to her neck.  Two weeks in the hospital, five surgeries, and a month in rehabilitation provided her plenty of time to think. She was determined to get better. Instead of self-pity, she envisioned the accident as the path to use her misfortune to help others.  She opened a healing-from-within center to mentor others that experience traumatic events. The family of the wrong-way driver reached out to the woman after the crash. She assured them that she forgave him; that he was a boy being young who did something foolish which cost him his life. Every year she takes flowers to the side of the freeway on the anniversary of his death. She prays for him regularly. Much can be learned from such forgiveness from someone that suffered so much and yet reaches out to help others.

PRAYER:

Written by Kirstyn Mayden, a contemporary Christian author.

Dear God, when we feel hopeless, restore our hope in who You are. Reaffirm our strength and hope that are found in You, and not what we see. Remind us of the purposes that you have for us and the resources to accomplish what You have called us to do. Remind us of your faithfulness and to not lose hope in Your goodness, provision, and sovereignty. Revive our hope in You to inspire, encourage, comfort, and restore all that has been lost and broken.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

In Christ AlonePerformed by Josh Groban.

This song was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the musical Carousel.

Read Full Post »

MEDITATION:

Written by Timothy Keller, a contemporary pastor and author. This is an excerpt from his book “Generous Justice.”

What does it take to help entire neighborhoods to self-sufficiency? Most of the best answers to that question begin with a look at the life and work of John M. Perkins. Perkins, born in 1930, founded ministries in both rural and urban areas of Mississippi, as well as urban Los Angeles. His work has included a dizzying variety of programs, including daycare, farm co-ops, health centers, adult education centers, low-income housing development, tutoring, job training, youth internships, and college scholarship programs, as well as vigorous evangelism and new church planting. Perkin’s approach at the time was revolutionary because he combined very traditional, evangelical Christian theology and ministry with a holistic vision for both ministry to the whole person and rebuilding entire poor communities.

Charles Marsh, professor at the University of Virginia, makes a strong case that Perkins and his movement have taken up and carried on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision for “the beloved community.” After King’s death, Marsh argues, the Civil Rights Movement lost its “unifying spiritual vision”—its belief that social reform could come through grassroots, local communities of faith. The movement came to rely completely on politics and government. But without denying the importance of public policies such as integration, equal employment opportunity, and welfare, “Perkins…concluded that government programs alone failed to address the deeper sources of hopelessness in black communities.” When Perkins tied social reform, economic development, and vigorous evangelism all together into a seamless whole, he confounded both the secularized liberal civil rights establishment and the conservative churches. Leaders of both sides did not know how to regard him, but many younger Christian leaders were inspired, and in 1989 they formed the Christian Community Development Association, which now includes hundreds of churches and local development corporations.

PRAYER:

This prayer was published by the Great Plains United Methodists Conference, a jurisdiction of the Methodist Church in the Kansas and Nebraska region.

Almighty God, you have created all people and all of creation. We give you thanks for this gift we’re invited to engage with hope, joy, and love as your disciples. Open our hearts and our eyes to see our communities as you would have us to see them. Help us to find the courage to sit and hear others when so often we want to be heard first. You are good and you are gracious, O God. Let us see all people as children of you, who created us all. It is in the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

In Christ AlonePerformed by BYU Vocal Point.

This song was a collaborative effort between British songwriters Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. It was written in 2002 with a theme of the implications of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

Read Full Post »

Simple Wisdom

MEDITATION:

Written by Valerie Weaver.

I have never liked heights and my 7-year-old granddaughter shares my discomfort. One day she was with me as we were driving on a road that had a steep drop off to one side. I immediately saw her discomfort and told her that she need not worry as the cliffside of the road had continuous guardrails to keep us from falling off. That seemed to calm her until we came to a place where there had obviously been an accident and the guardrails had been knocked down. In anticipation of her discomfort and fear, as she looked at the stretch where the rails were gone, I assured her that they would be replaced soon. Had I not been driving her response would have brought me to my knees. “Of course, they will be fixed grandma”, she said. “God does not ever want us to fall off a cliff”. Her simple faith and wisdom said it all to me. These past two years and the uncertainties of the future have been so stressful and strange for so many of us. We have been masked, separated, isolated, and fearful. I worried that life had changed forever, and I was saddened and aggrieved. Her simple faith that God would always provide our guardrails humbled me. I was reminded that His love, grace, and protection were all the guardrails in life that I could ever need.

PRAYER:

Written by Clement of Rome (?-99 A.D.), Bishop of Rome and considered to be the first Apostolic Father of the Church.

We beseech You, Master, to be our helper and protector. Save the afflicted among us; have mercy on the lowly; Raise up the fallen; appear to the needy; heal the ungodly; Restore the wanderers of Your people; Feed the hungry; ransom our prisoners; Raise up the sick; comfort the faint-hearted.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

What Wonderous LovePerformed by The St. Olaf Choir.

The hymn dates to the 11th century and is often ascribed to Gregory the Great. others believe it to be of English origin.

Read Full Post »

Locked Out, Locked In

MEDITATION:

Written by Michael Hoy, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from his book “The Healing Marks of Jesus.”

We do not generally lock doors to keep ourselves in but to keep others out. There are many in our world whom we have locked out because we find them unimportant, uninteresting, or offensive to us. We have preconceived notions that they are not to be trusted and convince ourselves so. All of this in the name of “being safe” – and who doesn’t want to be safe? But it is also a clever disguise and denial of our true feelings toward others. What we are unaware of in all of this is how much we have also become locked into just ourselves. Our hearts become hardened not only to others but also to God—whose creatures we and all others are. Brothers and sisters are crying for our help, but that thought never enters our mind as we turn the bolt. It would be damning were it not that all barriers—even the barriers of our isolated hearts—are not the final obstacle to our risen Lord. Watch for the Stranger!

PRAYER:

Written by Michael Hoy, author of today’s meditation.

Lord, we have denied all those who bear the scars of suffering and neglected humanity. Lead us to welcome the stranger in our midst. Amen.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

Poor Wayfaring StrangerPerformed by Narrow Way.

This American folk song, about a plaintive soul on the journey through life, likely originated in the early 19th century. Lyrics were published in 1858 in Joseph Bever’s Christian Songster, a collection of popular hymns and spiritual songs of the time. For several years after the Civil War, the lyrics were known as the “Libby Prison Hymn” because the words had been inscribed by a dying Union soldier incarcerated in the prison.

Read Full Post »

Why Show Mercy?

MEDITATION:

Written by Rick Warren, contemporary pastor, founder of Saddleback Church, author, and speaker.

God wants you to be an agent of mercy in the world. Everyone needs mercy because everyone has messed up. We’ve all hurt other people and made mistakes. We’ve all sinned and we all have hurts, habits, and hang-ups as a result of the mistakes we’ve made. Mercy changes the lives of people who have made mistakes, and we who have received mercy freely can change the world around us by showing mercy to others.

Here are four reasons to keep showing mercy to others. 1) Show mercy to others because God has been merciful to you. The Bible says that God is merciful. It is emphasized all throughout the Bible. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of verses that talk about God’s mercy and his love, his compassion, and his grace…2) Show mercy to others because God commands you. God says if you want a summary of what life’s all about, and if you’re going to be in his family, this is what’s required of you: You need to do what is right with others, to love being merciful to others, and to live humbly in fellowship with God. One-third of God’s requirement for you on this planet is to learn mercy. Why? Because God is merciful. 3) Show mercy because you’re going to need more mercy in the future. You’re not going to be perfect between now and when you get to Heaven. The Bible tells us we cannot receive what we are unwilling to give…It isn’t the people who have kept more rules than anyone else who get to face their eternity with the greatest confidence. It is believers who have shown mercy to other people. 4) Show mercy because it produces happiness. The Bible teaches over and over that the more merciful I am, the happier I’m going to be…Being kind to other people actually blesses you and makes you happier in life. And mercy certainly produces greater joy in those to whom you’ve shown it. Would you rather live in a world that is harsh or a world where the people around you value mercy? You get to help shape a world of mercy around you and allow more people to find freedom from their past when you’re willing to show mercy.

PRAYER:

Written by Cheryce Rampersad, a contemporary Christian author.

Sovereign Savior, I approach your throne of grace and mercy asking that you touch my heart. Lord, grant me a merciful heart. Engulf and fill my heart with the type of mercy you gave, when Jesus died on that cross to save a lowly sinner such as myself.  I do not deserve such a beautiful gift. But yet You gave to me without question. Your love poured out as the precious blood of the Lamb flowed so that we can have that same mercy. Amen.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

O Sacred Head Now WoundedPerformed by Fernando Ortega.

The words to this classic hymn are based on a poem written by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). It was set to music in 1601 by Hans Leo Hassler. his traditional spiritual was arranged for choral performance by Mark Butler in 2005.

Read Full Post »

Avoiding Rash Judgment

MEDITATION:

Written by Thomas A Kempis (1380-1471), the author of “The Imitation of Christ”, one of the most popular and best-known Christian books on devotion.  This meditation is an excerpt from that book.

Turn your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable. We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost. If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along with it. Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are soon disturbed and saddened. Differences of feeling and opinion often divide friends and acquaintances, even those who are religious and devout. An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be led farther than he can see. If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in any case slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above all human wisdom.

PRAYER:

Written by Ephraim the Syrian (AD 305-373), a Syriac Christian deacon and theologian who wrote a variety of hymns, poems and sermons, and other theological documents.

O Lord and Master of my life,

give me not the spirit of laziness,

despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of sobriety,

humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord, and King

grant me to see my own transgressions

and not to judge my brother,

for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

Signs of the JudgmentPerformed by by the Colorado State University Concert Choir.

This traditional spiritual was arranged for choral performance by Mark Butler in 2005.

Read Full Post »

Humility Versus Pride

MEDITATION:

Written by Dr. O. S. Hawkins, a contemporary author, retired pastor, and financial manager. This is an excerpt from his work “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

The Lord requires us not only to do justly and to love mercy but also to “walk humbly with your God,” a requirement that clearly addresses our attitude. We are not to allow the perpendicular pronoun to raise its ugly head. Pride, the “Big I,” is one of the greatest hindrances to receiving God’s blessing…The emphasis is on the action we take in response to Micah’s instructions. We are to walk humbly before God and others and walk refers to how you live your life. Enoch “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22), Noah “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9), and so has every man and woman who have known God’s favor.

What is required of us? Justice… you must DO it! Mercy… you must LOVE it! Humility… you must WALK it! And Jesus is our ultimate example. Knowing that divine justice demanded payment for the penalty of mankind’s sin, and even though He Himself never sinned, Jesus went to the Cross to “do justly.” And from the Cross we see how He loved mercy, saying to those who had driven the spikes into His hands, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

Did He walk humbly? Even on the evening of His betrayal and arrest — the evening of His greatest need — Jesus was on His knees, washing His disciples’ feet. Micah 6:8 is not a suggestion, but a requirement. So keep your hands busy: do justly. Keep your heart broken: love mercy. And keep your head bowed: walk humbly with your God.

PRAYER:

Written by John Newton (1725-1807). An Anglican cleric, captain of slave ships, and later abolitionist. He wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

I want more liberty at a throne of grace, more knowledge of the Scripture, more zeal for God, more love to souls. I want larger measures of humility, thankfulness, spirituality, and faith. I want wisdom, courage, patience, tenderness in my work, and I want to see my poor labors attended with a more abundant and extensive blessing. I want a single eye and a simple heart, to follow, trust and obey the Lord, like a little child.

MUSIC MEDITATION:

Act Justly, Love Mercy, Walk HumblyPerformed by Pat Barrett.

This song was written by the performer, who is a contemporary worship leader, and was released in February 2021.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »