Photo Quote: Calm the Storm

storm clouds with quote

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Click here for a collection of quotes entitled Jesus, Calm the Storm
Click here for a worship resource entitled Stand by Me

Recently, I discovered PicMonkey, a free, online picture editor. It’s super easy to use and has lots of great fonts, filters and other editing goodies. Someone with limited artistic abilities (like me) can feel very accomplished very quickly. – Lisa <><

PS- The picture of the storm clouds came from here on wikimedia commons.

Worrying, Believing and Trusting

trust1Matthew 6:25 (NRSV) 
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

Extended quote from Freedom from Worry by Patricia Wilson
An old Swedish proverb says “Worry gives small things a big shadow.” It’s these “big shadows” that hang over your head like a great gray cloud of doom, gloom, and negativity. You may not realize it, but people around you can see that big shadow over your head because of how they feel when they are with you. As you worry and fret, your negativity takes the joy out of any moment and casts a stifling pall of unhappiness over any situation. …Sadly, the biggest shadows are usually created by the smallest worries built up in your mind. From a lost item to a blister on your big toe, those little worries compound in your mind until you feel overwhelmed and powerless. Corrie ten Boom writes, “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made a burden.” Paul said much the same thing: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). Note that Paul couples thanksgiving with prayer. As your little worries begin to build up into big shadows, consider the ways in which God has blessed you. With the thought of those blessings in your mind, present your worries to God in prayer. Most importantly, remind yourself that no worry is too small for prayer.

When we ask why in our prayers, we have somehow recognized that we are permitted to bring every question, every issue, every confusion, and every struggle to God. We may not understand what’s going on, but God knows that we cannot pray authentically unless we can honestly express every thought and emotion.
– Steve Harper, Talking in the Dark: Praying When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

Sometimes it’s good to let them see you sweat even when it feels awkward. Fear seems to grow in the darkness of isolation. But when you expose it in the light of community, it tends to lose power. Sharing my fear is often the path that leads to courage. – Emily Freeman, Why You Need to Tell Someone How Scared You Are

No matter what you call it, worry is still sin. In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us not to be anxious about anything. Romans 14:23 says, “Everything that does not come from faith is sin.” That’s pretty clear to me. Worry is the opposite of faith; therefore, it’s sin…. Worry, in essence, is the sin of distrusting the promises and the power of God. It’s choosing to dwell on, to think about, the worst-case scenario. It’s faith in the bad things rather than faith in God. – Craig Groeschel, The Christian Atheist: When You Believe in God But Live as if He Doesn’t Exist

Faith, as we see in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jesus’ usage of the same, is much closer to our words “trust” or “confidence” than it is about believing doctrines to be true (which demands almost no ego surrender or real change of the small self). We have wasted too many centuries now defending such an intellectual notion of Biblical faith. Real faith people are, quite simply, usable for larger purposes because they live in and listen to a much Larger Self.- Richard Rohr

The older I get, making sure all my “beliefs” of God are lined up as they should be loses more and more of its luster. I see the Bible focusing a lot more on something far more demanding: trust. Try it. Which is harder to say? I believe in God or I trust God? I see a huge difference between “I believe in a God who cares for me” and “I trust God at this particular moment.” The first is a bit safer, an article of faith. The latter is unnerving, risky–because I have let go. You’ve all heard of the “trust fall.” There’s a reason they don’t call it a “belief fall.” Belief can reside in our heads. Trust is doing it, risking it. Trust is humility, putting ourselves in the hand of another. Trust requires something of us that belief doesn’t. – Peter Enns, Why I Don’t Believe in God Anymore

Luke 12:25 CEB
Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?

Prayer: Free Me From Worry
Eternal One
Overcoming One
Author of Life and New Life
Free me from worry
Break the chains of discouragement
Loose the doors of perspective
That I may follow your Son on the path of purpose and hope
Amen

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For a worship resource entitled Trusting God’s Provision, based on Matthew 6:25 and following, click here

For a devotion entitled Psalms for Fearful Times, click here

Prayer: Free Me from Worry © 2013 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia.
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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

Mary and Martha

If you know the artist of this work, please let me know so I may give him/her credit.

Luke 10:38-42 (NRSV)
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Extended quote by Henri Nouwen from the book A Spirituality of Homecoming
We are needy people. We need attention, affection, influence. These needs are so strong that we may find ourselves arranging our lives in order to satisfy them. But this is a tragic trap because we can never find the attention, influence, or care that really fills our needs. This leads to a life filled with tension as we seek what we cannot find.

Why are we so needy? I think it comes from an awareness of woundedness. We have doubts about our selves. These doubts trace back to deep, early experiences that cause us to feel not fully acceptable as we are. We are not at home with our selves. From our feeling of woundedness we become needy. And in our neediness we wound others. There is an interlocking relationship between needs and wounds that stretches backward and forward from generation to generation. This is the context of what we call “love.”

The gospel breaks through this chain of interlocking needs and wounds. The great message of Jesus is that God loves us first and that we can love one another only because God has loved us first. Jesus calls us to come home to that first love, which precedes all human loves. This is the original blessing, the original acceptance, our original home. The Christian life means to love one another with God’s love and not with the needy, wounded love that can end up harming others.

Extended quote by D.L. Mayfield from a guest post on Rachel Held Evans blog entitled Martha, Martha
I know what happened Martha, because it happened to me too. I see your desire to single-handedly fix all the problems (feeding the disciples, cleaning the sheets, acquiring health permits, doing volunteer background checks), your deep-down desire to do good. How this desire, left on its own, morphed into a series of programs and activities that ultimately kept you from Jesus. I see how we got confused about it all, and took the easy route of fixing problems instead of becoming engaged with the lives of those around us. How we found our safety and security in doing, and eventually became brittle with the loneliness of trying to become the savior, instead of listening to him.

I do find comfort in this: Jesus doesn’t shame you. He calls you by name, twice (“Martha, Martha”, the first time cutting through your heart, the second time healing it). He gets to the root of all your existential angst, and he shows that there is no need for the amount of space you carve out for anxiety, worry, righteous indignation.

Instead, paradoxically, it turns out we find Jesus when we sit down, when we fall at his feet and listen. This is, he says, the very best thing, and it can’t be taken away from us unless we do it ourselves. The busyness of the savior complex, our quick-response culture, even our desire to do good with the limited amount of time that we have–can take Jesus, his love and his grace,  away from us. But he wants us, Martha, and he likes us even when we aren’t saving anyone. We are just his children, the ones he knows by name, and he wants to be with us.

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Freedom from Worldly Concerns

romans 8 38Romans 8:6, 14 (NRSV)
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

There are three evil forces that stand in opposition to the three Persons of the triune God. Satan stands against Jesus as Lord, the flesh wars against the Holy Spirit as Enabler, and the world system opposes God as Creator.
– Frank Viola, Rethinking Water Baptism

As disciples of Jesus, being in relationship with Him must be our focus. When we allow others’ perceptions of us (or even our perceptions of their perceptions!) to control how we live, we are enslaved. We become entrenched in the ways of this world and do not live as citizens of heaven, which is another kind of kingdom altogether. Though there is a sense in which this kingdom of God is still future (Zech. 14:9; Acts 1:6–7), there is also a sense in which it is here now (Matt. 6:10; 12:28). As citizens of this kingdom, we are called to live in a way that reflects the reality of the kingdom of God. When we become overly concerned about our appearance, our spiritual reputation, our coolness, and our acceptance, we are living as citizens of this world rather than as ambassadors. – Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Neither expelling nor excluding (conservative temptation), nor perfect explaining (liberal temptation) is our task. True participation in God liberates us each from our control towers and for the compelling and overarching vision of the Reign of God— where there are no liberals or conservatives. Here, the paradoxes— life and death, success and failure, loyalty to what is and risk for what needs to be— do not fight with one another, but lie in an endless embrace. We must penetrate behind them both— into the Mystery that bears them both. This is contemplation in action.
Richard Rohr, Contemplation in Action

When will we acknowledge that none of our freedoms are absolute? My freedom of speech is balanced with my respect for people who disagree with me. My freedom to worship is bounded by the freedom of others to worship God as they are led or to ignore God entirely. My freedom to own guns (a freedom I’ve never exercised) is held in balance with our national vision of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
– Jim Harnish

Be my armor, God of love,
my skin, my world, my home.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, selection from The Armor of God

Do not care much who is with you and who is against you; but make it your greatest care that God is with you in everything you do.
-Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

The Imitation of Christ would like to offer Thomas à Becket as an example that Christians today might emulate when trying to discern their vocational path. … Becket decided, finally, that the only honor worth defending was the honor of God. He freed himself from the burden of trying to please everyone, including himself, and choose to follow a calling that the world—and especially the king—could only regard as madness. Trying to please oneself as well as one’s family and friends can be an overwhelming burden. In contrast, Jesus said his yoke is easy (Matt. 11:30). While it might seem to be the most demanding, depressing, demoralizing, and debilitating thing in the world to try to defend the honor of God—to live as if the good name of God depended on your behavior—in fact, when we take on this “yoke of Christ,” we find just the opposite. Thomas à Becket made clear the true nature of things when he said that defending the honor of God was the most freeing thing he had ever experienced.
– Gregory S. Clapper, Living Your Heart’s Desire: God’s Call and Your Vocation

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Click here for another terrific post by Steve Garnaas- Holmes entitled Lay Your Burdens Down.

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

Claiming Sabbath and the Bread of Life

Noonday Rest by Jean Francois Millet

We live in a work-work-work, busy-busy-busy, stress-stress-stress, flying down the road at 100 mph with your hair on fire culture. The 40 hour work week is long gone for many of us, especially with employers asking more and more of their workers rather than hiring more workers. With the advent of the internet, e-mail, text, tweet, Wi-Fi, laptops, 24 hour super stores, smart phones, online banking, online shopping and … and… and… it’s now possible to literally work 24/7/365.

One of the most radical things a Christ-follower can do in our culture is to practice Sabbath. Sabbath is a Hebrew word which literally means “to cease.” It’s so important to our well being, God models it for us in creation and makes it one of the Big Ten (commandments that is). God invites us to “cease” working, to unplug in order to rest and reconnect with God and others. Sabbath ceasing includes setting aside an entire day of the week for God and setting aside shorter daily Sabbaths throughout the rest of the week.

In Sabbath ceasing, God is also inviting us to cease worrying, striving, and straining to provide for ourselves and our loved ones in our own strength. God provides. (Matthew 6:25-33) When we cease the work and the worry, our actions embody faith and trust in God’s provision. We claim the Bread of Life, rather than the bread of anxious toil.

This worship resource was born out of a desire to accept God’s invitation to live differently, to reclaim all that God provides. May the peace of the Lord be with you, now and always. – Lisa <><

Claiming Sabbath and the Bread of Life
ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 127:1-2 (NRSV)
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.

ALL SINGING
Mystery by Charlie Hall (CCLI #5208445)
Verse, chorus

ONE SINGING: John 6:48, 51 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life….I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

ALL SPEAKING
Give us this day our daily bread.

ALL SINGING
Mystery by Charlie Hall (CCLI #5208445)
Verse, chorus

ONE SPEAKING: Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)
Jesus said, “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.”

ALL SINGING
Mystery by Charlie Hall (CCLI #5208445)
Bridge twice, chorus twice, first two lines of the verse

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compilation © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

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