Quotes: Community

Community Dance by Naomi Gerrard

Psalm 133 (NRSV)
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NRSV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

The community stagnates without the impulse of the individual.
The impulse dies away without the sympathy of the community.
-William James

Running throughout our sacred texts, traditions, and experience is the thread of God’s desire for union, inclusivity, non-violence, trust, patience, and healing. – Richard Rohr

I used to want to fix people, but now  just want to be with them. – Bob Goff, Love Does

It is in community that we are tested and purified. It is in community that we learn what forgiveness and healing are all about. It is in community that we learn who our neighbor is. Community is the true school of love. -Henri J. M. Nouwen

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself. – Lillian Daniel

Christianity promises to make men free;
it never promises to make them independent.
– William Ralph Inge

It’s much easier to do church than to be church. – Bishop Peter Storey

We are designed by God to be doubly dependent. First, directly upon God, and second, indirectly upon God through those people God brings into our lives. Our existence is to be one of interconnection, not isolation. – Karen Sloan

John 13:34-35
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Community is mutual vulnerability and openness one to the other. It is liberation for both, indeed, where both are allowed to be themselves, where both are called to grow in greater freedom and openness to others and to the universe.
Jean Vanier, l’Arche website

If you really want to be in healthy relationships, stop “guarding” your heart and start using it. Walk through the mistakes you will inevitably make and learn from them. Find a community of people who are practicing vulnerability. Fill your heart full of the love that makes it come alive, full of grace, full of determination to walk with pain rather than around it, and you will be much better off than any heart that has been merely “guarded.” If you want to learn vulnerability, allow God to really truly love you, exactly where you are, with a love that disintegrates shame. My capacity to love has grown exponentially since I stopped guarding my heart.
– Emily Maynard, I Stopped Guarding My Heart Ten Years Ago

Community means caring: caring for people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says: “He who loves community destroys community; he who loves the brethren builds community.” A community is not an abstract ideal. We are not striving for perfect community. Community is not an ideal; it is people. It is you and I. In community we are called to love people just as they are with their wounds and their gifts, not as we would want them to be. Community means giving them space, helping them to grow. It means also receiving from them so that we too can grow. It is giving each other freedom; it is giving each other trust; it is confirming but also challenging each other. We give dignity to each other by the way we listen to each other, in a spirit of trust and of dying to oneself so that the other may live, grow and give. -Jean Vanier, From Brokeness to Community

Acts 2:41-47 (NRSV)
A description of community life in the early church

So those who welcomed [Peter’s] message were baptized, and [on the day of Pentecost] about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

—————
For an original hymn text entitled Community, click here

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Reader's Theater: The LORD Calls Samuel

This simple reader’s theater version of 1 Samuel 3:1-10 brings together different generations to share a profound Biblical truth: God seeks and God speaks. God cries out to little Samuel in the quiet of the night, before Samuel has a relationship with God. Even though his aging guardian Eli has failed God many times, Eli’s heart is still soft enough to recognize God reaching out to Samuel. Eli instructs Samuel, and us, in how to respond to God’s call, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

Click Here: Call of Samuel: Reader’s Theater PDF

Quotes: Costly Discipleship

A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.- Martin Luther

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

All to Jesus, I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
I surrender all, I surrender all
All to Thee, my blessed Savior
I surrender all – J.W. Van Deventer

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Life Himself came down to be slain
Bread came down to suffer hunger
The Way came down to endure weariness on His journey
The Fountain came down to experience thirst.
Do you, then, refuse to work and to suffer?
-Augustine

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
attributed to Dal­lan For­gaill, 8th Century

When people truly encounter [the kingdom of heaven] and realize what it is, it enters their hearts, seizes their imaginations, and overwhelms them with its precious value. No price is too great; nothing that they own can rival its value. Everything they possess goes on the auction block for the sake of possessing the kingdom.
Tom Long, Commentary on Matthew

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
by Isaac Watts

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

*************
For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Quotes: Take Up Your Cross

voskamp lent wreath 3

This Lenten Wreath is designed by Ann Voskamp’s son, Caleb. See the note below for more information. 

Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-37, and Luke 9:23-25 (NRSV)
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. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Him,
we become nothing more than fans.- Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan

The cross that Jesus invites us to take up is not an abstract thought, nor does it denote religious faith, no matter how devout. The cross in Jesus’ day was not a logo or a metaphor. It was not a kneeling bench on which believers felt holy. The cross was an instrument of pain, shame, absolute loss and death. It was a real weapon; the only way to “take it up” was to become its victim. What can it mean to “take up our cross” but to suffer it? It means to be in solidarity with those who are oppressed, to be one with those who are condemned, to carry in your heart the sorrow of those who suffer, and to pray and to act on their behalf. It is to live for the sake of the least of your sisters and brothers. To take up your cross is to let go of your ego, your willfulness and your desires, and be led wholly by God’s self-giving passion for the world, especially for the poor and the powerless. It is to be willing to suffer for the sake of the world, to work and even endure loss for the sake of the community’s gain. You do this not out of duty, or belief that you ought to be miserable so others can be happy, but you do it out of joy, pure joy in the gift of life, and pure love. To take up your cross is to give your life for the life of the world because that is your delight, trusting that as you empty yourself of your one small, lone life for the sake of compassion, the One who gives life gives it to you abundantly—infinitely and eternally, and still full of joy, overflowing with joy, radiant with divine, immortal joy. – Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Take Up Your Cross (2012)

voskamp lent wreath 4Jesus invited people to “follow” him in bearing the mystery of human death and resurrection. Those who agree to carry and love what God loves, which is both the good and the bad of human history, and to pay the price for its reconciliation within themselves—these are the followers of Jesus—the leaven, the salt, the remnant, the mustard seed that God can use to transform the world. The cross is the dramatic image of what it takes to be such a usable one for God. These few are the critical mass that keeps the world from its path toward greed, violence, and self-destruction. God is calling everyone and everything to God’s self (Gen. 8:16-17, Eph. 1:9-10, Col. 1:15-20, Acts 3:21, 1 Tim. 2:4, John 3:17). But God still needs some instruments and images who are willing to be “conformed to the pattern of his death” and transformed into the power of his resurrection (Phil. 3:10). They illuminate the path because they allow themselves to be used. – Richard Rohr

Galatians 5:24 (NRSV)
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 2:19b-20 (NRSV)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

He who seeks not the cross of Christ,
seeks not the glory of Christ.
– John of the Cross

Click Here for a powerful prayer entitled Taking Up My Cross by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them,
and all His plans have death to self in them.
– E. M. Bounds

Take Up Your Cross (2014) by Steve Garnaas Holmes
The Christian faith is not a set of opinions about Jesus.
It is a life of following him, practicing his self-giving love.
To follow Jesus is to enter the suffering of the world.
The cross is not an annoyance, a burden, an injustice.
Your “cross to bear” is not the overbearing aunt.
It is the fear of the abused, the tears of the deported,
the rage of the dismissed, the weariness of the exploited,
the despair of the condemned, the loneliness of the forgotten.
It is bearing in your heart—perhaps even in your flesh—
the suffering of others, and their infinite worth,
to act for the sake of grace in their lives,
to be in solidarity with the poor for the sake of justice.
It is to embody God’s grace amidst human failings.
It is your grateful choice to suffer for the sake of love.

Lay down the sword of doctrines and arguments,
the shield of your separate self, your privileged security,
and take up the the cross of Christ,
the risk and vulnerability of the Gospel,
the courage to confront injustice and embody healing,
the love of God, weak, naked and tender in this world,
and more powerful than a hundred armies.

*****************
The wreath featured in today’s photos was designed by Ann Voskamp‘s son, Caleb. He and his siblings make the wreaths and Ann takes the photos. They use the wreath in their home throughout the year for family devotions, especially during the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas, the season of Lent in preparation for Easter, and for the great fifty days of the Easter Season. Click the following links for how they use it during Advent, Lent, and Easter and for ordering information.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 30: Psalms of Worship

Worship by Jun Jamosmos

Today we finish our Summer in the Psalms series. I am thankful for your companionship and look forward to new adventures together. Soon I will post the next stops on our Biblical journey, passages on God’s Whispers.
– Lisa <><

Today’s Reading
Psalms 33, 34, 145

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. – Psalm 34:3 (NIV)

Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love their cow- for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God, when they love Him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost Truth. -Meister Eckhart

Observation
The psalmist provides an interesting pattern for worship, beginning with a call to corporate adoration and praise. (v. 1-3) Next are testimonies to God’s power to save. (v. 4-8.) This is followed by a lesson on how to live a life that reveres God in word and deed. (v. 9-22)

Application
Worship… Reverence… Devotion… Veneration…
Love… Adoration… Honor… Glorify…

Our private times of prayer, study, and devotion prepare us for corporate times of prayer, study and devotion. Likewise, the corporate prepares us for the private. They are interdependent. Each is weak without the other. Each is strengthened with the other. If we are “not being fed” in one area we must ask ourselves- How are my efforts in the other?

Prayer
Glorious One, Father-Son-Spirit, help us to worship you, alone and with others, in spirit and in truth. Make us faithful to love you,to seek you, quick to testify and sing and shout of your goodness. Save us from every distraction and excuse. Renew in us the joy of salvation. Rekindle our hope and passion. Manifest your kingdom in our hearts for the honor and expansion of your Name. Amen.

***********
Thank you to Jun Jamosmos for permission to use her artwork as part of today’s post. Be sure to check our more of her beautiful art and writing at www.jamosmos.com 

You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 29: Psalms of Wisdom

Today’s Reading
Psalms 90, 107, 111

For quotes and other scriptures related to Psalm 90, click here

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.
Psalm 111:10

Wisdom consists in doing the next thing that you have to do;
doing it with your whole heart and finding delight in doing it.
And this delight is the sense of the sacred.- Helen Luke

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
– William Shakespeare

Observation
In Psalm 111, the author praises God’s works (great, full of honor and majesty, wonderful, faithful, just) and God’s character (righteous, gracious, merciful, provider, trustworthy, redeemer, eternal covenant keeper, holy, awesome). All of this leads up to the last verse, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.”

Application
Are we to fear God? For most of us, fear implies dread, horror, and terror. We fear bullies, monsters, or tyrants. This understanding of “the fear of the Lord” isn’t helpful or truthful. It doesn’t draw us to God or reveal the true character of God. The point of the psalmist is literally lost in translation, the translation of the word fear.

I find it helpful to replace the word fear with respect or reverence. When the deepest understandings of respect and reverence are linked with God’s awesomeness and otherness, we have a translation that draws us into worship, relationship and the pursuit of God’s transcendent wisdom.

Reverence of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.

Assuredly, Loving Souls, you should go to God with all humility and respect,
humbling yourselves in His presence,
especially when you remember your past ingratitude and sins.
– Alphonsus Liguori

Truly humble people are grounded in reality;
they neither preen under illusions of greatness
nor suffer agonies of self-hatred.
– Paula Huston, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Re-new Your Spirit

Fullness of knowledge always means some understanding of the depths of our ignorance; and that is always conducive to humility and reverence. – Robert Millikan

Prayer
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord
Great and Faithful One
God of Honor and Majesty
Wonderful and just are your deeds
Your ways are trustworthy, gracious, and merciful
Draw us into reverent relationship with you
Save us from shallow understanding and selfish motivation
Pour out your wisdom upon us
That we may know you and adore you
And fulfill your will now and forever.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus,
Your Truth made Flesh,
Your Love made Sacrifice
Your Light to us and the world. Amen.

***********
You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Day 28: Psalms of Victory

Stop the Violence by Bashir Malik

Today’s Reading
Psalms 21, 76, 144

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
Scripture
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues the peoples under me.
Psalm 144:1-2

Observation
Psalm 144 is a warrior’s psalm. The warriors turn to God in the heat of battle- train our hands, deliver us, rescue us, fight for us so that we are able to raise our children and raise our crops in peace.

Application
I am uncomfortable with images of God’s people as warriors and the “expansion” of salvation via force. I think of how often it has been abused- the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust and countless other acts of genocide, discrimination and violence. We are never to be the aggressors, the tyrants, nor the persecutors.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matthew 5:9) Jesus calls us to engage deeply in peacemaking – praying for those who persecute us, turning the other cheek, forgiving 70 X 7, shaking the dust from our sandals as we leave.

Some Christians take these commands as an absolute commitment to a life of nonviolence. I believe the scriptures leave room for those rare occasions when all else fails and life must be defended.

It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work.- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Prayer
Jesus, Prince of Peace, You do not give as the world gives. You give your peace. A peace that passes understanding. A peace that is everlasting. Help me to join you in the hard, hard work of peacemaking. Grant me wisdom, patience, and compassion. Save me from rushing to judgment and anger and domination. Victory without peace is no victory.

Defend those who find themselves in the midst of violence-
Violence between countries
Violence between races
Violence between religions
Violence between students
Violence between family members
Violence over land, over ideas, over food, over rights

Change the hearts of all who seek their way by evil and violence means. End the violence and the death and the hate. Let there be peace on earth. Amen.

***********
You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms.  To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan

As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.

I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><

PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.