Friday, July 6, 2007

Fragrant Forgiveness

"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Matthew 11:25)

When someone does something that causes us pain, it is natural to nurse a grudge against him (or her). But the lesson of the Gospel is that we are called to forgive just as God forgives us. In fact, verses like this one may lead us to think we can only receive as much forgiveness as we extend.

When forgiveness is genuine, it is a beautiful, spiritual thing. Mark Twain once said -

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heal that has crushed it."

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. (James 1:2)

"Storms make oaks take deeper root." (George Herbert)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Loving Creation

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
God creates. We construct. The difference is God brings something to life out of nothing. We simply take something God has already made and shape it according to our desires.
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about God before He created the heavens and the earth, but the story of creation and all that follows shows us that God’s primary motivation in creating is love. This love is far beyond what we might feel toward something we’ve constructed.
G.K. Chesterton once said -

"A thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed, but a thing created is loved before it exists."

Monday, July 2, 2007

Spiritual Preparation

"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." (Esther 4:16)

Esther has become aware that there is a plot to kill her people. She is faced with a crucial decision. Will she stay in hiding and try to preserve her own life? Will she go to the king and risk death to save her people?

We see here that Esther resolves to go to the king. But first, she asks for the spiritual support of her people (through fasting). Through this, Esther is able to summon up the courage to act and her people are rescued.

Fasting is not commonly practiced in the faith community today, but there are other spiritual practices that take its place. One of these, of course, is prayer. We need to draw on the spiritual resource of collective prayer before we rush into action. This will help us be more effective in our mission. Prayer helps us hone our activity down to what is most essential.

Abraham Lincoln once wrote -

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe."

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A Leap of Faith

"Lord, if it’s you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14:28-29)

You’ve got to admire Peter’s courage to step out on the water with only the assurance that the voice of the Lord had invited him. It would take a lot more for most of us to take such a risk.

To move forward in faith, though, we’ve got to step out of the boat. We’ve got to take that first step even without the guarantee that we won’t sink.

I like the way Ray Bradbury puts it -

"Sometimes you have to jump off cliffs and grow wings on the way down."