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Posts Tagged ‘trust God’


Ezekiel 45:13-17Offerings

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Written on February 19 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We have spent time with Ezekiel 45 before but today we focus on the offerings portion – what it is we offer back to God.  I am thinking about how much more meaning our lives might have if we were to each day give something back to God that we have produced.  What would it be?  In our ultra modern, techno-savvy, global, sophisticated way of living . . . what do we actually make with our hands, hearts and minds?  We have come so far from the primitive beings who first inhabited Africa and the Tigris-Euphrates areas of the prehistoric world that . . . I am wondering if we have not tricked ourselves into thinking that we do not need to trust God.

When early tribes were hunters and gatherers, it was clear who and what provided for them.  As they followed herds and crops they dealt with drought, deluge, scarcity and plenty.  They had to learn how to conserve and share.  They had to learn both the basics and complexities of survival, and then they passed these lessons on to their offspring.  I am wondering if we have not fooled ourselves into thinking that we have mastered nature . . . and so do not need to rely on God.

Our Western life is worlds away from the poor of the second and third worlds.  We may forget that only a small portion of the those of us living on the globe today have running water, enough food for our children, decent clothing and housing, and basic medical care.  Now that humanity has made so many advances in the fields of medicine, nutrition, and technology, I am wondering if some of us have made these our gods and have kept ourselves safe while not thinking about others . . . and I am wondering if we have not deluded ourselves into thinking that we do not need to love God as God exists in each and all of us.

I am wondering if we could each evening bring forth the products of our day in order to place them on the kitchen table as we sit to eat our evening meal if we would recognize what it is we have made.  And I am wondering what it is we would offer back to God . . . in gratitude for his care for us that day.  I am wondering if these offerings would come from our best.  I am wondering if these gifts would be found gracious in the eyes of God.

I am wondering . . .


A re-post from September 7, 2011.

Image from: http://jameswoodward.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/harvest/ 

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Genesis 43The Second Journey

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Bacchiacca: Joseph receives his brothers

Just when we think we have reached a plateau in our journey where we might walk along the flatland rather than clamber up and skitter down the mountain sides . . . we find that we have to go back to repeat a leg of our passage.  Just when we have begun to relax at the oasis where we have filled our water sacks and rested in the shade from the heat of the day . . . we are told that we must move on.  Just when we are beginning to become comfortable in the little fortress where we are hiding from our foes . . . we hear the voice that calls us to make a second journey.

Today we find ourselves in the Joseph story at the point where the brothers have returned home to Jacob to tell him that they must go back to Egypt . . . and this time they must take the favored son Benjamin with them.  Just when Jacob thought his problem of famine had been resolved . . . he is told that he must relinquish the last person who brings him comfort.  Despite his age and the litany of difficulties he has undergone, Jacob must trust God and allow himself to suffer again.  The brothers who had sold Joseph into slavery know that they must make a return trip to Egypt.  Little do they know that well-hidden secrets are about to be revealed, questions will be asked and answered, truths will be spoken.  They plan to go to Egypt to purchase food for their families.  They do not plan to encounter the brother they have delivered to slavery and death.  They do not know they are about to make a further journey.  We do not hear from Benjamin, the young boy whose full brother wields power second only to Pharaoh, but we can imagine that he feels both anxiety and excitement.  Everyone in this story will suffer.  Everyone in this story will be rewarded beyond their wildest imaginings.

I am reading a book by Richard Rohr which a friend gave to me.  In FALLING UPWARD, Rohr posits that in life each of us is given the gift of a second or further journey. “[I]n my opinion, this first-half of life task is no more than finding the starting gate.  It is merely the warm-up act, not the full journey.  It is the raft but not the shore . . . There is much evidence on several levels that there are at least two major tasks to human life.  The first task is to build a strong ‘container’ or identity; the second is to find the contents that the container was meant to hold.  The first task we take for granted as the very purpose of life, which does not mean that we do it well.  The second task, I am told, is more encountered than sought; few arrive at it with much preplanning, purpose, or passion”.   (Rohr viii and xiii)

Rohr cites W. H. Auden:  We would rather be ruined than changed.  We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the present and let our illusions die.  (Rohr 65)  And on page 73 we find this from Matthew 16:25-26: Anyone who wants to save his life must lose it.  Anyone who loses her life will find it.  What gain is there if you win the whole world and lose your very self?  What can you offer in exchange for your one life?”

Jacob believed that his sons were going to Egypt to purchase food that would save the family.  He did not know that his lost son Joseph would be their savior.  Joseph’s brothers thought they were purchasing food to save their lives . . . they did not know that they would also redeem their souls.

Just when we believe that we have convinced everyone of the reality of our illusions . . . we are given the opportunity to leave our comfort zone and enter the second half of our lives.  We are blessed with the gift of seeing clearly that we are created to love honestly and suffer well.  We are created to take the second journey of our lives . . . the journey that promises far more than suffering . . . the further journey that brings us more reward than we can ever imagine.


Rohr, Richard. FALLING UPWARD: A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE TWO HALVES OF LIFE. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.

The painting above is housed at the UK National Gallery.  To see more detail, click on the image and follow the link.  A spy glass on the museum site will allow you to see detail by zeroing in.   You will also find a link to other scenes from the life of Joseph which may interest you. 

A re-post from August 16, 2011.

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Numbers 34The Lovely Paradox

Monday, September 3, 2018

We have tackled this theme before: The importance of knowing our appropriate limits.  We have reflected on the subtle ways in which vanity creeps into our lives, allowing us to believe that we do not need God or worse . . . that God does not exist at all.  We already know that if we are not prudent, humble and watchful, arrogance will make a stealthy entrance into our lives.  We preen a bit too much when we are complemented.  We allow ourselves to forget that it is God who creates us and fills us with the talents we so easily take for granted.  When we know our limits – and when we know God’s beneficence – we keep well away from the subtle snares of pride.

We may puzzle a bit over why the Lord is so particular about dividing the tribes into designated territories, and if so then we will want to recall that the land from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River Euphrates is part of God’s covenant promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:18.  The Lord understands that unless demarcations are made we humans will constantly squabble over control.  The Lord also knows that once we relinquish ourselves to God’s boundaries, we learn to rely on God rather than ourselves.   

We may object to this laying out of lines and the designation of supervisors.  We may believe that God does not really understand what it feels like to be in our shoes.  We may think that our burdens are too heavy, our challenges to great.  We may even think that God does not understand us, and in this we would be incorrect.

For the lovely paradox is this . . .

When we learn to rely on God alone for everything we are and do, we will find it easier to remain within the human limits that define us.

When we learn to thank God for all that we have and all that we are, we will find it easier to empty ourselves so that God might enter.

When we learn to ask God for help in everything we do, we will find it easier to overcome the obstacles in our path.

In doing all of this, we hand ourselves over to God.

In doing all of this, we find our own divinity . . . and this is the lovely paradox.

A re-post from Wednesday, August 3, 2011.


Image from: http://midwestpoet.wordpress.com/2008/07/03/stones/ 

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Job 40-41: God Runs the Universe

Sunday, August 26, 2018

We have accompanied Job as he questioned the wisdom of God’s plan and defended his innocence against his friends. We have entered into our own intimate dialogs with God as we thirst, complain, seek, defend and question. Today we spend a bit more time with these two chapters as we compare THE MESSAGE translation of these verses with other versions. Today we experience the full impact of the dialog Job has with God. Today we understand not the why or how, but the reality of the fact that God runs the universe.

Chapter 40: Verses 1-2: God then confronted Job directly:

“Now what do you have to say for yourself?
    Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?”

What charges do we press against God? What human acts do we blame on the LORD? What do we have to ask and to say?

Chapter 40: Verses 3-5: Job answered:

“I’m speechless, in awe—words fail me.
    I should never have opened my mouth!
I’ve talked too much, way too much.
    I’m ready to shut up and listen.”

Are we in awe of God? Do we believe we may have said too much or too little? Are we ready to spend time with God each day so that we might listen?

Chapter 40: Verses 6-7: God addressed Job next from the eye of the storm, and this is what he said:

“I have some more questions for you,
    and I want straight answers.

Are we prepared to give God straight answers? Do we have the courage to answer God truthfully? Are we able to willingly and freely admit that God runs the universe?

When we spend time with these chapters and verses today and ask questions as we look through the lens of multiple translations. As we ask honest questions and listen to hard answers, we come to a deeper appreciation of God’s economy and plan.


Images from: https://hanswidener.com/2017/02/09/relinquishing-control-lesson-1/  and https://becomingchristians.com/2013/07/09/scripture-of-the-day-will-you-deny-gods-existence/

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Psalm 73:23-28: Staying Close

Saturday, August 11, 2018

When we are beleaguered or alone, we remember that God is always with us.

Yet I always stay close to you,
    and you hold me by the hand.
You guide me with your instruction
    and at the end you will receive me with honor.
What else do I have in heaven but you?
    Since I have you, what else could I want on earth?
My mind and my body may grow weak,
    but God is my strength;
    he is all I ever need. (GNT)

When we struggle against odds and obstacles that we fear are greater than our strength, we remember that Christ always show us The Way.

Nevertheless I am continually with you;
    you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will receive me with honor.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (NRSV)

When we are overcome with anxiety or grief, we remember that the Spirit heals all wounds and transforms all loss.

When I was beleaguered and bitter,
    totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me.

You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
    Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God—
    oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
    God, I’m telling the world what you do! (MSG)

When we are overcome, we rely on God’s strength. When we experience injustice, we recall God’s righteousness. When we suffer deep betrayal, we trust in the healing of the Spirit. In all circumstances, in all days and at all times, we remain close to God.


For a reflection on Psalm 73, visit The Trial of the Just post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/24/the-trial-of-the-just/

Images from: http://bernidymet.com/5-steps-closer-to-god-taking-step-3/ and https://blog.spiritvoyage.com/mantra-for-feeling-close-to-god-mere-ram/ 

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Proverbs 2:9-15: Knowing What to Do

Sunday, July 29, 2018

If you listen to me, you will know what is right, just, and fair. You will know what you should do.

This advice brings us comfort.

You will become wise, and your knowledge will give you pleasure. Your insight and understanding will protect you and prevent you from doing the wrong thing.

These words are ones we want to hear.

They will keep you away from people who stir up trouble by what they say—those who have abandoned a righteous life to live in the darkness of sin, those who find pleasure in doing wrong and who enjoy senseless evil, unreliable people who cannot be trusted.

In out tumultuous world, change permeates every facet of life. We look for places to stand when familiar foundations crumble. We ask for assurance. We know that we must put aside fear and replace it with trust in the Lord.

God says: Although the world seems a dangerous place, you must trust that I hold each of you in my hands. My servant Paul tells the Ephesians – and he tells you – that I chose you to be holy, with every spiritual blessing, before the foundation of the world. My son Jesus tells you that you ought not let your hearts be troubled. I tell you that despite the troubles surrounding you, my mercy and justice will lift you above the battles of your days and the uncertainties of your nights. Remain in me as I remain in you so that my peace and love will permeate your every fiber to bring you even closer to me.

When we move against injustice, we must allow God to guide us. When we speak up about hatred, we must allow Christ to show us the way. When we are betrayed by people and institutions we once thought just, we must allow the Spirit to heal and bless. And this allowing will show us clearly what we are to do.


Read Paul’s message in Ephesians 1:3-14. In John 14:1, Jesus calms our fears.

When we compare varying translations of these words, the light if understanding will lead us to Christ’s serenity. 

Click on the image to read an NPR Science opinion piece about how confusion con sometimes be helpful. Or visit: https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2015/12/14/459651340/sometimes-confusion-is-a-good-thing 

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John 1:12-13: A Child of God

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

God tells the faithful, “I am who I am”. Jesus says to us: “I am the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Door, the Resurrection, the Life, the Way, and Truth. I am the great Vine to your Branches”. Today we begin a series of posts on who we are to God. We open with an adapted reprise of a Favorite posted on August 3, 2012.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. 

For a long time I have reflected on the idea of how God determines who receives the gift of faith and who does not.  I have had conversations with God in which I ask why it is that some of us are so stiff-necked and others of us have the gift of patience.  I trust God’s plan, I believe that we are created to be God’s children, and here in the Gospel of John, in one simple sentence, we are enlightened.  I will have to refer to this citation when the questions rise again to pull me from the core of my belief.

Believing in Jesus as the Word, as Resurrected, as brother – this is what makes us children of God.  Through him, with him, in him, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is infinite pre-existence.  Jesus is all of creations’ eternal future. Jesus is the Incarnation – the word and thought and touch of God amidst us.  Jesus is an offering, a gift freely given by a loving and passionate God . . . a God who loves us so deeply and so endlessly . . . that God brings God’s self to us without our even asking.

When we act in child-like trust rather than childish petulance, we experience the faith of one who is sister and brother to Christ. When we act in outrageous hope that the Father loves each of us more than we can imagine, we experience the bond we have with Jesus. When we act in compassion and mercy toward those we love and those who do us harm, we experience the Holy Spirit’s healing, truth, and transformation.

We are all the Children of God.

What a wondrous God is this.

The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten. (THE MESSAGE)

Relying on God as a trusting child does, we pray Psalm 25 as we close our day. When we repeat the antiphon, Teach me your ways, O Lordwe place ourselves in God’s enormous, loving, life-giving hands. 

Tomorrow, we are branches.


When we compare other translations of these verses, we find that we have gathered at the Father’s knee, we are cradled in the Mother’s arms, we are EACH and ALL blessed by the Holy Spirit as precious and valued children of God.

Enter the words Children of God in to the blog search bar and explore more posts. 

Images from: http://wouldyouliketosingasong.blogspot.com/2013/01/practicing-i-am-child-of-god.html and https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/500000-afghan-children-affected-by-drought-unicef/articleshow/63893237.cms 

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Matthew 19:24: The Eye of the Needle

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Supposed Eye of the Needle Gate in Jerusalem, Israel

We know the story the story of Jesus saying that one must unload possessions before entering the kingdom; and the reference to “the Eye of the Needle Gate” in Jerusalem is a tempting one. Scholars do not agree on the translation between Greek and Aramaic so today we have the opportunity to ponder varying theories; yet, no matter the opinion, we have the gift of this image to ponder.

What does Jesus mean when he says it is difficult for the rich man to enter into the kingdom? What are the possessions we must jettison? And who are those who must unload the camel they have burdened with a heavy load?

When we consider the word possessions, we might imagine our worldly gain of property, objects and wealth. We might also consider our long-held beliefs, prejudices, or misconceptions. And we might reflect on the people we cling to or depend on more than we rely on Jesus. What have become the encumbrances we insist on owning and controlling?

Eye of the Needle Gate in Jerusalem, Israel

The camel we have encumbered might be close relatives or friends, colleagues or co-workers, communities or churches. Where have we placed the burdens we insist on carrying? Whom have we asked to share the encumbrances we insist on moving from place to place as we move through life?

Finally we consider the gate that stands before us promising prosperity and comfort just beyond our reach . . . the eye of the needle that asks us to winnow and trust . . . the slender door that blocks our line of vision forcing us to believe in someone who is just beyond our line of sight.

The load, the beast, and the door we want to transit. The elements of this image of the camel passing through the needle’s eye call us to evaluate our relationship with Christ and the world. They persist on urging us forward into the unknown. They present to us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, and the love Christ offers us today and all days.

Tomorrow, Jesus is the Light. 


To learn about the discussion regarding the translation of this verse, click on the images or visit  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/317926054924875118/  and http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/2016/07/17/5-popular-sermon-myths-that-need-burned-at-the-steak/

More about the discussion surrounding the translation of this verse, see http://www.biblicalhebrew.com/nt/camelneedle.htm 

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Mark 15:29-32Wrath and Justification 

Friday, May 25, 2018

As we explore the ways in which Jesus is the resurrection, we consider what we might do with our anger and our desire for revenge. 

We looked at Mark 15 a little more than a year ago to reflect on the power we will find in offering our sacrifices for others and holding tightly to our trust in God.  Today we see Jesus execute the greatest act of mankind: he hangs in pain from a cross while the crowds jeer at him and use his very acts of mercy as taunts against him.  This reminds me of MAGNIFICAT’s Evening Prayer from Isaiah 53: Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. 

By his wounds we all are healed. 

This is a tremendous act of self sacrifice and one that we will likely never have to make, again from MAGNIFICAT: Not all opposition to faithful Christian belief and life comes from the violent.  Many voices, loud and subtle, argue against the idealism of the Gospel.  Resisting the familiar, popular values and viewpoints which would undermine our discipleship can cause as much pain as enduring the more dramatic forms of persecution. 

Jeremiah 18:20: Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.

The Wrath of God.  We see it in the Old Testament narratives and in the Psalms so often.  The calling down of God’s power against the wicked, the petition for annihilation of our enemies . . . and all of this ugliness turns to justification with the singular sacrifice made by Christ.  All of the anger and fear are transformed through Christ into love.  In his final moments, Christ does not feel his mother’s comforting caress upon his face.  There is no warm bed, clean sheets or clothes.  There is grinding, relentless pain . . . and the jeers from the crowd, from the people he has come to save.  But Christ is held by hands that are great enough and powerful enough to hold and comfort us all . . . the hands of God.

The MAGNIFICAT Evening Intercessions are apt.

To the God who delivered Jesus from death through resurrection, we pray: O God, hear our prayer.

For those who hate goodness and good people: grant them conversion of heart.  O God, hear our prayer.

For those who suffer for their goodness: grant them strength to persevere.  O God, hear our prayer.

For those who have died for their fidelity to the Gospel: grant them eternal life.  O God, hear our prayer.

And we might add . . .

For ourselves, as we struggle to move away from wrath and revenge, may we move toward resurrection and light.  O God, hear our prayer.

For our enemies, as they harbor fear and live for the thrill of pain, may they come to know the comfort of authentic love and passion.  O God, hear our prayer.

For our loved ones, as they accompany us in our pilgrimage, may they always find protection and guidance in you who have loved us so well.  O God, hear our prayer.

2 Samuel 2:6: May the Lord be kind and faithful to us. 

And may we be kind and faithful to Christ as we see him in all of God’s creation.  May we move from God’s wrath to justification.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.12 (2009). Print.  

A favorite from March 12, 2009.


Image from: https://beyondtheborderlinepersonality.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/until-theres-nothing-left-self-sacrifice/

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