Wednesday, April 30, 2014
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Giant Swallowtail on Red Pentas, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
Some take time and take care in choosing their clothes - what they need for their day - for work - for planned activities. Even to just lounge around the house requires the right clothes - Hard to relax in a tie or heels (for most of us, anyway).
We really should worry about what we wear, but in this way and for certain: Paul has it right - do we clothe ourselves with love? For that activity is our calling, our life, our all. And to fail to dress properly is to fail to be a true ambassador for Christ who became love for us and for the world.
Monday, April 28, 2014
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
This bird is my buddy in the parsonage butterfly garden. April 2014
This. Is. Very. Hard.
The emptying of ourselves. The giving of ourselves away.
And joyfully at that. Willingly and joyfully.
Hard because of our need for self-worth that often risks judging others and finding them wanting and our being glad about that.
Not being last. Not being the worst. Not the heaviest or loneliest or poorest or most frustrated. And on and on.
We are instead, in and through Christ, invited to risk dying to ourselves in order to truly live.
O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you, I will praise your name;
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
For you have been a refuge to the poor,
a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.
Isaiah 25:1, 4a
Skipper butterfly sheltering under Jasmine leaf, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
Did people encounter the hospitality of such refuge this week among your gathered congregation? How is the praise and exaltation of our worship related to our embodying Christ for the lost, the weary and the broken?
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,"See, the home of God is among mortals.He will dwell with them;they will be his peoples,and God himself will be with them;
4he will wipe every tear from their eyes.Death will be no more;mourning and crying and pain will be no more,for the first things have passed away."
5And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true."
Blanket Flower, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
Friday, April 25, 2014
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Swallowtail landing on Red Pentas, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
Thursday, April 24, 2014
So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
10AM at the Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
If that is not the will of God, then we need to be willing to risk a great deal more than our comfort with that status quo, our cherished nostalgia for which we gift far too much credit, and our own egos, and our timidity and fear. These little ones have so much to teach us about the Kingdom of God, but we have made idols of that which marginalizes them. If God's will is to be truly done in our midst then we need to discern it and embody it and consider the children our partners in everything.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
Zebra Longwing on Purple Porterweed, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
We do not worship nature but nature itself reflects the hand of the Creator, a reflection of God's glory, the power of the Spirit. It is only when we slow down and be that we can truly see the merest speck of what God called into being around us.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
But you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.
Zebra Longwing at Red Penta, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
It isn't about how great our faith is - it is about how great our God is. Humility gives us eyes to see that. And with eyes wide open our only response is awe and wonder.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may be restored
Necklace pod, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, April 2014
God is not the God of headlines, but of hearts. When we bring division instead of obeying the call to oneness, we bend God's word and shape it to our own ends. As ambassadors for Christ our calling is to proclaim a gospel of restoration to those near and those far. Our calling is not to sort people, but to embody Christ before the world.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
From the CROSSES WE FIND ALL AROUND Picture Collection produced as a Cross+Generational Sunday School adventure LENT 2012.
Let's promise each other that we will never use the phrase "He/She/It is my cross to bear." Because as soon as we insert a pronoun or go all in and include an actual person's name, then we zigged when we should have zagged. Then we make following Jesus about complaining, about suffering as a work worthy of praise, and not about giving ourselves away for the sake of the world. The cross is where we die to ourselves so that we can live for Christ, in Christ and through Christ. When we pick up our cross and follow Jesus, we get out of the way of ourselves so that we may more deeply embody Jesus' way of compassion, mercy and love.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
1 Peter 1:3-4
Newly emerged Monarch Butterfly, getting the feel for its wings, Parsonage Butterfly Garden, Home. April 2014
New birth. A living hope.
The imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance kept in heaven.
This inheritance should not draw us as a people into focussing on a future that dwells in the future. In Christ, the future, our future, has in part broken into the present and claims us and shapes us. We are already a kingdom people. We are already living into the promised hope that awaits us. And that makes all the difference in the world!
Friday, April 11, 2014
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.
Fairchild Botanical Garden Spring 2013
To be led requires the willingness to open oneself up to the seeking the will of God. It is having the guts or the humility or perhaps both to pray the ultimate prayer: Not my will, but yours be done. If we end up where we think we should be - the most familiar place, the most comfortable place - chances are we are trying to lead God and not the other way around.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Warbler, Long Key Natural Area, Davie, Florida, January 2014
The Spirit will speak in sighs too deep for words and will always give voice to the needs of our heart when we weighed down by the burdens of life find ourselves in unexpected silence before God.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
for now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come
Song of Songs 2:11-12a
Along the shore of Burns Lake, Big Cypress National Preserve, April 2014
We find renewal for our faith in the most unexpected of places, the beauty of the work of the Spirit, the sure evidence of the hand of God. And our only response is pure joy. But this requires eyes willing to see and feet willing to carry us out into such places and hearts prepared to encounter a God that will not be limited by how we have paced off our world and drawn our boundaries.
Monday, April 7, 2014
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139: 9-12
Litchfield Beach, December 2012
The worst of our days, the most anxious, the most stressful, those that threaten to pull us in and down and deep shall not define us. They are robbed of speaking the final word. Before the Lord who has claimed us, who accompanies us, who enwraps us with his mercy and love, darkness must flee, for in Christ the light is dawning and will ever dawn until our tomorrows lead us into the eternity of our rest in him.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.
Pelicans, Litchfield Beach, December 2013
To follow Jesus is to take his commandment to love seriously. We show our love for God mostly deeply and most plainly in our love for the other, especially those most unlikely to reply in kind quickly or easily or even ever. It is there where Jesus invites us to join him: binding up the brokenness of the world.
Friday, April 4, 2014
I will lead the blind
by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do,
and I will not forsake them.
Litchfield Beach, December 2013
Getting lost is easy. As the parent's of any three year-old. Ask anyone before the age of Goole Maps and Garmin and turn by turn directions. Ask anyone who has ever driven in Washington, DC at any time. But there is a different kind of lost. About the untethering of soul from hope. About wandering aimlessly and falling into endless patterns and cycles of actions and behaviors that lead us nowhere or at least nowhere good. God has promised that wherever we walk, whatever we do, that God's love for us will not be withdrawn. And that there will always be a light to guide us. To lead us in welcoming splendor through a better way to the place of fully realized joy.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
...but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence...
1 Peter 3:15-16a
Osprey, At the Marina, Flamingo, Everglades National Park, February 2014
We all have a story of hope dwelling within us; A testimony of the power of grace in which we, ourselves, have encountered the crucified and living Christ. Such narratives of hope are not only for ourselves, or primarily for ourselves, but serve as that through which the story of salvation is encountered by others as we live out the Great Commission.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let your glory be over all the earth.
Hollywood Beach, Florida, March 2014
Plain and simple: we know love because God first loved us. And God's love-bearing presence is made most truly manifest in Christ who embodied God's love in humility and servanthood and faithfulness. The glory of that love echoes all around us. Look. Slow down. See with your heart and mind and Spirit, signs of the Master's hand.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
LORD, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust,
and say, "Turn back, you mortals."
Snake Warrior Island, Miramar, Florida, March 2014
Our life is but a series of turnings, turning back from our way and seeking God's way. The scriptures become our path. Not a book of rules to use to condemn others, but that which reveals the deepest desire of God's own heart: to gathering us from the north and the south and the east and the west and enwrap us in such a grace-infused love in and through Christ Jesus that we, ourselves are transformed by it.