Growing in Resilience: Eyes to See, based on Isaiah 51.1-3

eye heartGrowing in Resilience
Day 12, Read Isaiah 51
Reflection: Eyes to See, based on Isaiah 51:1-3

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

You woke me
You tore the veil in two
You wiped the scales from my eyes
Eyes now seeing your saving grace
Eyes to see and to follow
To pursue you
To pursue peace and righteousness
Right relationship with you and with others
Right relationship with the earth and myself

I now see you and seek you
The fullness of your grace
Your Kingdom come

What do I see?
I didn’t see it before but now I have eyes
Eyes to see
our wasteland- the dissipation and squandering
our wilderness- the isolation and preying
our desert- dry to the bone

I see
Look at all I see

Lord God, help me to keep looking
To see it all and to see even more
All that was, all that is, and all that is coming

Help me look to the rock
The hardness of who I used to be
Now broken against the cornerstone of your love
Broken for good

Help me look to the legacy
Foremothers and Forefathers of faith
Their following and frailty and victory
I am not the first, I am not alone

Help me look to the promises
The wasteland will be a garden again
The seeds of truth are budding
As are the seeds of justice and hope

Eyes to see your consolation
Eyes to see your redemption and new birth
Eyes to see joy and gladness blooming
Watered from springs of thanksgiving and song

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Click Here for more on the Growing in Resilience Reading Plan sponsored by Bishop Ken Carter and the Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Eyes to See © 2018 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Grant Me Your Wisdom (Proverbs 3.19-24)

wisdom-sophia-bailey-768x512

Based on Proverbs 3:19-24

Merciful and Mighty God, how wondrous is your wisdom! Your wisdom is eternal, beautiful, creative, powerful, good. The strong foundation of life itself, all of life.

Grant me your wisdom that I may discern faithfully and be a bearer of your life, goodness, and truth

Grant me your wisdom that I may walk with you all my days, clear-eyed and sure-footed

Grant me your wisdom that I may be your peace and rest in your peace, each night and forever.

I ask this for the honor and glory of your name, for the building of your kingdom, for the good of my neighbors and myself. I ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Grant Me Your Wisdom © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer of a Minor Prophet by AW Tozer

will of god aw tozerFrom A Passion For God: The Spiritual Journey of A. W. Tozer by Lyle Dorsett (Chicago, IL; Moody, 2008), pp. 65-68.

This is the prayer of a man called to be a witness to the nations. This is what he said to his Lord on the day of his ordination. After the elders and ministers had prayed and laid their hands on him he withdrew to meet his Savior in the secret place and in the silence, farther in than his well-meaning brethren could take him. And he said:

O Lord, I have heard Thy voice and was afraid. Thou hast called me to an awesome task in a grave and perilous hour. Thou are about to shake all nations and the earth and also heaven, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. O Lord, our Lord, Thou has stopped to honor me to be Thy servant. No man takes this honor upon himself save he that is called of God as was Aaron. Thou has ordained me Thy messenger to them that are stubborn of heart and hard of hearing. They have rejected Thee, the Master, and it is not to be expected that they will receive me, the servant.

My God, I shall not waste time deploring my weakness nor my unfittedness for the work. The responsibility is not mine but Thine. Thou hast said, “I knew thee—I ordained thee—I sanctified thee,” and Thou has also said, “Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.” Who am I to argue with Thee or to call into question Thy sovereign choice? The decision is not mine but Thine. So be it, Lord. Thy will, not mine, be done.

Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou wilt honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live.

It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pastures and the sheep are torn and scattered. And false shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock. The sheep are deceived by these hirelings and follow them with touching loyalty while the wolf closes in to kill and destroy. I beseech Thee, give me sharp eyes to detect the presence of the enemy; give me understanding to distinguish the false friend from the true. Give me vision to see and courage to report what I see faithfully. Make my voice so like Thine own that even the sick sheep will recognize it and follow Thee.

Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should become a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling. Save me from the curse that lies dark across the face of the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet; not a promoter, not a religious manager—but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from the bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house. Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world. Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I accept hard work and small rewards in this life. I ask for no easy place. I shall try to be blind to the little ways that I could make my life easier. If others seek the smoother path I shall try to take the hard way without judging them too harshly. I shall expect opposition and try to take it quietly when it comes. Or if, as sometimes it falleth out to Thy servants, I shall have grateful gifts pressed upon me by Thy kindly people, stand by me then and save me from the blight that often follows. Teach me to use whatever I receive in such manner that it will not injure my soul nor diminish my spiritual power. And if in Thy permissive providence honor should come to me from Thy church, let me not forget in that hour that I am unworthy of the least of Thy mercies, and that if men knew me as intimately as I know myself they would withhold their honors or bestow them upon others more worthy to receive them.

And now, O Lord of heaven and earth, I consecrate my remaining days to Thee; let them be many or few, as Thou wilt. Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven. Though I am chosen of Thee and honored by a high and holy calling, let me never forget that I am but a man of dust and ashes, a man with all the natural faults and passions that plague the race of men. I pray Thee therefore, my Lord and Redeemer, save me from myself and from all the injuries I may do myself while trying to be a blessing to others. Fill me with thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength and tell of Thy righteousness, even Thine only. I will spread abroad the message of redeeming love while my normal powers endure.

Then, dear Lord, when I am old and weary and too tired to go on, have a place ready for me above, and make me to be numbered with Thy saints in glory everlasting. Amen.

Two Simple Questions for Spiritual Self Examination

Open, Listening. Taken at the Life Enrichment Center Fruitland Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Open, Listening. Taken at the Life Enrichment Center Fruitland Park. Photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

Examen by Steven Garnaas-Holmes
From his blog Unfolding Light
Reprinted with permission

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
”Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight a path for the Holy One:”
… Bear fruit worthy of repentance.
                  —Matthew 3:3, 8

The ancient examen, or examination of consciousness, is a simple, two-part prayer of discernment, reviewing a recent time period (a day, an hour, week, whatever).

         • When did I feel closest to God or most in harmony with life?

Give thanks for the “consolations:” those moments when you felt the gift of life, and the presence or grace of God. Be mindful that the grace in those moments, and the God who granted it, are still with you.

         • When did I feel most out of touch or out of harmony with God or life?

Embrace also the “desolations:” the sorrow, warning, loss or other response arising from those moments when you felt out of harmony, when you felt life drain from you. Be mindful that God was with you then and is now. The inner discord you feel is the Spirit nudging you back toward the path of Life. Within you is an innate desire to be in harmony with God. Dwell with that longing; it is your repentance. Follow it: it is the path of the Holy One. Let it guide you. It is the light that will lead you through the darkness to God.

Being Present to God

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

If you know the name of this work or its creator, please let me know so I may give proper credit.

Psalm 46:10 NRSV
Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.

Honestly, I think I did feel God’s presence more clearly in Costa Rica. But it’s not because He was more present, it’s because I was paying more attention. I was lonely, scared, and anxious, and totally dependent on God to sustain me. So I looked for Him everywhere. – Jamie Wright, The Perfect Shade of Greige

If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you will know what His will is. -Amy Carmichael

If I did not simply live from one moment to the next, it would be impossible for me to keep my patience. I can see only the present, I forget the past, and I take good care not to think about the future. We get discouraged and feel despair because we brood about the past and future. It is such folly to pass one’s time fretting, instead of resting quietly on the heart of Jesus. – Théresè of Lisieux, quoted in A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People by Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck

It is living in the naked now, the “sacrament of the present moment,” that will teach us how to actually experience our experiences, whether good, bad, or ugly, and how to let them transform us. Words by themselves invariably divide the moment; pure presence lets it be what it is, as it is. When you can be present, you will know the Real Presence. I promise you this is true…. Presence is the one thing necessary for wisdom, and in many ways, it is the hardest thing of all. Just try to keep (1) your heart space open, (2) your mind without division or resistance, and (3) your body not somewhere else—and all at the same time! Most religions just decided it was easier to believe doctrines and obey often arbitrary laws than the truly converting work of being present. Those who can be present will know what they need to know, and in a wisdom way.
Richard Rohr, The  Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

What would my life be like if I just stopped praying altogether? I mean, what if God promised me that things would stay the same regardless of whether I prayed or not: would I still continue to pray? That’s a hard question. But I’ve thought about it because on a whole other level I’m a little curious about why some of us feel compelled to pray, even when our scales of belief are tipped toward the negative. But even with a sporadic prayer life, I can’t imagine a life without prayer, without some effort to reach for God with all the cares and worries I drag with me wherever I go, and without some effort to invite God to speak to me in the times when I am sensible enough to just be quiet. Plus there’s a side of me that doesn’t really know how to express my love for God without prayer in my life. I’m not sure when or how I started feeling this way, but somewhere along the line, I’ve discovered that when I do pray, I am reminded of who God is and who I am. It’s hard to pray for anything without at some point naming God as one who is capable of all things. – Enuma Okoro, Reluctant Pilgrim

Exodus 33:12-14 NIV
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friend, is what it really means to be a Christian. ― Brennan Manning 

The spiritual life is a journey to the center, the center in which we come in touch with the pain of God as well as with the love of God, the pain of our world as well as the hope for our world, the pains of our own lives as well as the light that breaks into our darkness. It is a journey in which we resist the many distractions that pull us away from the center with an endless number of things that quite literally “occupy” us. And it is a journey of prayer in which we stand in the presence of God with a listening heart.
– Henri J.M. Nouwen, A Spirituality of Homecoming

Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The closer we wish to come to God, the more of our carefully constructed selves we must relinquish. We have to give up our illusions, our defenses, any selfish personal goals, our carefully designed sense of who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do. This sounds terrible, and it can be painful. However, as we give up these areas, we open ourselves, and God enters more fully.
– Sarah Parsons, A Clearing Season: Reflections for Lent

The Word is God knowing us deeply. God’s Word is the act of paying attention, more like listening than speaking. The Word of God is a presence—indeed, a person— who knows you, who understands what moves you, who feels your reality form within you…
– For the rest of Steve Garnaas-Holmes’ powerful post, Piercing Word, click here

For a prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled You Are Here, click here

Extended quote by Steve Harper from a blog post entitled See God in All Things.
I especially appreciate how Harper quotes so many well know Christians to remind us that God’s presence is a long standing Christian belief. – Lisa <><

We call God “sustainer.” That means there is not a split second or square inch where God is not present and active. Discernment is learning to look for God in every moment and every event of our lives.

In the Christian tradition this is called “ordinary holiness.” Jean-Pierre de Caussade called it “the sacrament of the present moment.” Oswald Chambers put it this way, “One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is revealed” (My Utmost for His Highest, February 7).

One of our best examples is St. Francis of Assisi, who expanded the vision of God beyond the monastery, convent, academy, and cathedral—and helped Christianity see God in Brother Sun and Sister Moon.

John Muir did similarly as he discovered the wonder of nature in lands “out West” that (thanks to his untiring advocacy) became National Parks. A Christian himself, Muir believed “God’s Cathedral” always surpassed human cathedrals.

Discernment means being on the lookout for God all the time and everywhere. As John Wesley said (borrowing from the Puritan tradition), “Every moment is a God moment.”

John 15:9 NRSV
Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

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

Call to Prayer for General Conference

God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it.
— John Wesley

From April 24 through May 4 of this year, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will be meeting in Tampa, Florida. This gathering of laity and clergy are the decision making body of our denomination.

In preparation for the event, a resource has been written entitled 50 Days of Prayer Before & During General Conference 2012. This guide will allow United Methodists all over the world to actively support the spiritual preparation needed before the General Conference and intercede faithfully during the ten days of the Conference.

Through use of this resource, we will unite in prayer for God’s will to be done in God’s way and in God’s time. The kingdom of God comes through prayer and discernment. We want God to lead and shape the future of The United Methodist Church.

This is your official invitation, whether you are Methodist or not, to be part of this prayer movement. It will be a powerful time for God’s people to be praying with and for one another. – Lisa <><

You can receive this resource in several ways:
•   Purchase a printed copy by phoning 855-469-3386 or buy one online through the link on the right side of the page
•   Download a free PDF version to your computer or reading device in English, French or Portuguese. Look for the links on the left side of the page.
•   Have each day’s reading sent to your e-mail address. Subscribe on the right side of the page.

Quotes: Busyness

Be Still and Know by Michael Mize

Though I am always in a haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with perfect calmness of spirit. – John Wesley

There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence, and that is activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of this innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone and everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.
– Thomas Merton

John 14:27 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

“Compulsive” is indeed the best adjective for the false self. It points to the need for ongoing and increasing affirmation…. The compulsion manifests itself in the lurking fear of failing and the steady urge to prevent this by gathering more of the same- more work, more money, more friends. – Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

We live in an age of unprecedented workaholism and burnout. Businesses continue to downsize, leaving fewer people to do more work. Superwoman was tailor-made for these conditions because she lulls us into thinking that we can do it, and that everyone else is already doing it. She convinces us that there are no boundaries. She entices us with the belief that everything is possible if we just work hard enough. But living with the Superwoman myth is living in a dream world — a nightmare, actually. In that world we are destined not only for exhaustion but fragmentation. We will never be able to move toward wholeness if we fail to set boundaries for ourselves. We cannot experience the centeredness that God intends for us if we falsely believe we can do it all.
– Kimberly Dunnam Reisman,
The Christ-Centered Woman: Finding Balance in a World of Extremes

Our task is the opposite of distraction. Our task is to help people concentrate on the real but often hidden event of God’s active presence in their lives. Hence, the question that must guide all organizing activity in a parish is not how to keep people busy, but how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence. – Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Hundreds of men are hoarse from continual speaking, and are wearied out with running here and running there. If things slow down, we evolve yet another type of meeting. And when this new and added wheel is spinning merrily with all the other wheels, there may be no spiritual outcome whatsoever, but there is a wind blowing in our faces; and we hot and sticky engineers have a comfortable feeling that something is going on.
Arthur John (A. J.) Gossip

Seeking slowness is essential in the stew of discipleship. Cultivating a culture saturated in the embodied life of Jesus requires purposeful patience. A new character needs to be developed while leading in this type of atmosphere. Slow is not something to bear with, it’s something to embrace. … In this stew we need unhurried time and grace-filled space for: long conversations, unearthing conflicts, detox from consumerism, facing missional fears, relearning how to listen, frustrated prayers and moving beyond suspicion to trust.
– Dan White Jr., Missional-Marinating

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Click here for a short, excellent article on a spiritual practice called Breath Prayer. This practice is a great remedy to busyness.

Click here for Michael Mize’s comments on the creation of his piece, Be Still and Know

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