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September 2013

Eucharisteo

Do you eucharisteo? This elegant-sounding word is simple in meaning: To give thanks. The Greek root word of eucharisteo is charis, which means grace, a derivative of chara–Greek for joy. Thanksgiving, grace, and joy all wrapped up in one word, one way of living.

For the past three Monday nights, I have enjoyed the privilege of learning and growing in eucharisteo with a group of friends, acquaintances, and a few new faces. These precious evenings, plus practicing eucharisteo everyday, have been life changing. Eucharisteo is choosing to give thanks, to be intentional about noticing the many, many things in life for which we can be grateful. Though I may be sad when I visit a friend in the hospital, I can give thanks for and find joy in the beautiful sunset that I see on my drive home. It’s about watching my boys play hard in the dirt and being thankful they are are physically able to move (incredibly fast!) and are having fun, rather than focusing on the dirty laundry to come.

Eucharisteo is incredibly beautiful but does not come naturally for me. Giving thanks during pain, struggle, and misunderstanding goes beyond my basic instinct and doesn’t even begin to touch logic. But I have seen and felt and known what living eucharisteo can do. I am telling God that I trust Him, that even in the midst of chaos and great hurt, I believe He is ultimately good and is bringing to life for me Jeremiah 29:11, “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.”

As a daily recipient of His grace, I can claim joy as my own, even when I’m shedding tears. It’s not thanking God for the devastation directed toward or surrounding me and those I love. It’s about revering Him as the One True God, even when I can’t see what’s good about the moment.

I blogged a few days ago about the miracle of the loaves and fishes. In that passage, Jesus gives thanks before he multiplies the meal. This happens also in the raising of Lazarus from the dead and at the last supper when Christ shares communion with his beloved Disciples. As my friends and I are learning, in eucharisteo thanks always precedes the miracle. I know I’m not willing to risk losing out on a miracle by refusing to give thanks.

Give thanks everyday and find joy in the ordinary–fish on a line, snowflakes on the tongue, hot coffee on a chilly morning. This is eucharisteo.

Kate-Grace

A Prayer for Our Daughters

I had a plan for today’s blog. I knew the subject and my heart was ready to speak to the matter. Before I could click to add a new post, my eyes traveled to the latest by Ann Voskamp whose site, A Holy Experience, I follow regularly. Ann shares a prayer for daughters. It says what I want to say. What I want to pray. For my daughter. For my nieces and great-nieces. For daughters everywhere.

So for today, hear a piece of me through words of another by clicking the link.

http://www.incourage.me/2013/09/a-prayer-for-a-daughter.html

What’s in a Name?

Have you ever looked up the meaning of your name? It can be fun or disappointing, depending upon what you are hoping for. For example, Cindy = Light. Very cool but also an expectation to live up to. I’m sure some of you are wondering if my momma misnamed me. She didn’t. And I don’t say that because I’m confident that I live up to my name meaning. 

I say it because I believe that ultimately God names us and He’s never wrong. 

Take His Son. Jesus. This was the “name of the day” in the late BC era. Every village had at least a few fellows named Jesus, yet God chose to give His only Son this very common name. I’m pretty sure He planned it long before the baby was supernaturally conceived. After all, Jesus means “Savior.”

Whatever you think of your name, check out its meaning. And don’t dismiss it if you don’t like the definition. There’s a meaning just for you.

Not Walking on Water

Continue reading “Not Walking on Water”

The Things We Do for Love

How many times in a year can one couple watch The Bourne Ultimatum? Forty-two. Yes, you read right. Now, keep in mind I’m not talking about the entire movie–at least not since the first viewing probably 5 years ago.

What we do is catch only the middle or the end. Or snippets. Sometimes we watch one snippet only. Other times many snippets between channel switches to football, Duck Dynasty, and Pawn Stars.

Are you wondering why? Frankly, I’m amazed if you aren’t. Now, I can’t answer for the man who holds the remote, but I can tell you my reason: Because that remote-toting man I love is watching. The middle. The end. Or snippets. I might not be paying complete attention to what Jason Bourne and Pamela Landy are up to, but I’m hanging close to the love of my life. And that’s worth doing. Forty-two times a year times five years.

Enjoy today. And love well. I gotta go–Jason is on the run again.

Get Yourself a Lorica

Are you missing something? Could be you need a Lorica. You know, a breastplate. Body armor, that is. Protection.

This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything to take your stand. (Ephesians 6:13 HCSB)

Do I want to resist evil? You bet! Am I prepared? Not even close–although I am making progress. Ephesians 6 is our map for being able to take our stand when the time comes. If we don’t start equipping ourselves now, we might topple pretty easily in the face of evil.

So put on your armor as prescribed in Ephesians 6. And consider invoking St. Patrick’s Lorica every now and again.

I haven’t been involved in a church that uses liturgy as a regular part of worship for a seriously long time, and sometimes I miss it. Because I am longing for something resembling liturgy right now, I share with you this beautiful prayer entitled St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the judgement of Doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In prediction of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me.
God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and souls,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
of the Creator of Creation.

20130920-231048.jpg

A Tale of Loaves and Fishes – Or Something More?

Most of us have read or heard the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. An incredible miracle no doubt. In John 6, Jesus and the Twelve have gone up a mountainside. When Jesus looks up, he notices a huge crowd coming toward them. Huge meaning approximately 5,000 men, plus women and children. Thousands upon thousands. 

He asks his disciples how they will feed this crowd. There is some speculation by the Twelve, with the conclusion there aren’t enough financial resources to do so. I wonder if the disciples are incredulous that Christ wants to feed the mob and perhaps even more incredulous that he doesn’t seem to realize they don’t have food or money to do so. 

Andrew speaks up and says, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (Johns 6:9) Does Andrew sense the potential for a miracle? Or is he just noting that one person (a kid at that) out of so many was wise enough to bring along a snack? 

What speaks to my heart is that “Jesus took the loaves and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated–so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.” (John 6:11)

Another brain twister. Did Christ give thanks because he knew of the miracle to come? Or did the miracle occur because He gave thanks? I’m sure there are biblical scholars who can answer this question, but since I’m not numbered among them, I’ll give you my non-scholarly interpretation: It’s both.

Christ believed in His Father for provision. He knew that if he trusted, the miracle would come to be. He also knew that giving thanks to God and praising His Holy Name must come before all other things. The miracle was on the cusp of unfolding when the thanks given pushed it over the top.

And they filled 12 baskets with pieces from the five barley loaves that were left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:13)

Joy

I’ve shared before that I am a cynic and pessimist by nature, with a tendency toward melancholy. What that meant for me for a long time is that joy came only in brief spurts, during the true highs of life that cannot be maintained indefinitely. It’s euphoric to experience that kind of joy, but it lasts only for that moment and the afterward is bittersweet.

In professing and choosing to believe that God is Good All the Time, I’ve had to reexamine a number of things about myself. One of them is my attitude. And while I have a LOT of serious work left to do in a lot of areas there, one piece of myself that I have gotten a bit of a handle on is living joyfully. Even while coughing up the the dust that life sometimes dumps on us.

The first step for me was understanding that true joy doesn’t have to be occasional and felt only during the “big moments of life.” Joy weaves itself around us constantly; we just need to become aware of it. And if you tend to be a half-empty girl, that means you have to become intentional about recognizing it.

Do you love the beach? There is joy in the warmth of the sun, the feel of the sand on bare feet, and the sound of the waves. Do you enjoy a stroll along a wooded path? The glimpse of wildflowers in bloom and sunlight dappling the trail where the sun breaks through the branches of the trees become marvels when you take the time to savor the beauty. Maybe it’s a truly clean kitchen that brings you happiness. If so, recognize that and be thankful when you’ve swept away the last of the crumbs.

The point is to start to see the joy that is in each day. At first, it will catch you by surprise when you recognize it in your child’s dimples, the artwork brought home from school, and the caress of a soft breeze along your cheek. Before you know it, you are slowing down, you are recognizing joy in unexpected places, and you are learning to deeply breathe in every moment of life.

Make joy your newest, best habit. By giving thanks and extending grace, you open your arms to all that Jehovah Jireh (the name of God as our Provider) has for you. When you open your arms, you open yourself to receive all that He has for you. And then the Joy runs deep and rarely fades.

 

 

Scottish daffodils

A Glimpse Inside My Head (Don’t be Afraid)

There is so much of the bible I just don’t understand. Admittedly when I come across a passage, a chapter, a verse that I simply can’t fathom, I just move on.

A couple of days ago I read through 1 Kings 19 and it left me totally bewildered. But this time, I didn’t move on. I stayed put until I thought I understood and “lo and behold” it was a message I definitely needed to hear.

Here is what happens leading up to 1 Kings 19. Jezebel, perhaps the wickedest of all women throughout history, had tried to kill off all the prophets of God. Fortunately, there was a servant in charge of the King (Ahab at that time–also incredibly wicked) who had the foresight to hide 100 of God’s prophets in a cave and supply them with food and water.

At that time, Elijah, for lack of a better term, is “the greatest of all prophets.” I don’t know if Elijah joined the others in the cave or if he simply outwitted the pursuers Jezebel set after the prophets but he was alive and busily at work prophesying after the wicked lady’s edict. But I digress . . .

We’re still before 1 Kings 19. Elijah meets King Ahab and tells him to assemble all Israel at Mount Carmel where he will publicly challenge the 450 prophets of Baal (a wicked pretend god) and 400 prophets of Asherah, whom Elijah refers to as the whore goddess (also wicked and pretend).

Read 1 Kings 18 for the details, as it’s great reading, entertaining, and shows God to be the only true God in a very dramatic and supernatural way. Here’s a spoiler, but the 450 prophets of Baal end up being massacred by the crowed.

I’m telling this a little disjointedly, but also in 1 Kings 18, there is a time of terrible, terrible drought. I’m no theologian, but I understand the connecting cause to be the fact that the prophets of Baal are running the joint under the direction of wicked King Ahab whose strings are being pulled by excessively wicked Jezebel, and the One True God is withholding the rain as punishment.

Forward to 1 Kings 19 – Ahab reports the incredible interaction between Elijah and the prophets to Jezebel. (Hmmm, a king reporting to a rich, evil woman . . . something is rotten in Denmark–I mean Israel.) Jezebel reacts as she always does when she doesn’t get her way. Quite simply, she kills what she doesn’t like. She sends a messenger to Elijah to let him know he will be dead by the next day.

Keep in mind that at the end of 1 Kings 18, it rained. It rained like crazy. It rained until the parched moisture-deprived ground sang for joy.

I’m pretty sure Jezebel desired the rain as much as any person in the land. But she desired having her way more. So even though Elijah’s obedience to God was responsible for bringing the rain, she couldn’t get past the fact that her pretend gods didn’t win. And she plotted Elijah’s immediate death.

We’re finally to the part of this post that I started with. Thanks for hanging with me.

Elijah “ran for dear life” according to the Message version of the bible. He collapsed (he’s pretty old by now) under a bush and told God he’d had enough and wanted to die. Who could blame the guy? He took on hundreds of evil folk the day before, stood up ALONE for God, was obedient in a tough situation, and is going to be rewarded with imminent (and likely painful) death. After he’s done telling God how he feels, he falls asleep.

“Suddenly” an angel shakes him awake and says, “Get up and eat.” I imagine Elijah was in a state similar to when I crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and don’t want to be disturbed by anyone. I wonder if his initial reaction was irritation or if the surprise of being woken by an angel overshadows any thoughts of sleeping. Anyway, he wakes to find a loaf of baked bread and jug of water. We are told he eats the meal and goes back to sleep.

Huh?

The angel comes back and the sequence is repeated. Only this time the angel tells Elijah he has to eat more because he has a long journey ahead of him. Elijah eats again, drinks his fill, and sets out on a 40-day journey. Forty days! By foot!

Huh again? This is normally where I would just look for something else to read.

But this time I didn’t. I stayed in that chapter. And I prayed. And I asked God to give me understanding. I told him I’m really trying to figure out what he’s telling me, that I didn’t understand this and I sincerely wanted to.

It wasn’t long before all the pieces came into my head, and here is what I received: God had (lots more) work for Elijah to do. And he wasn’t going to send Elijah out without provision. He allowed him to sleep (twice) and fed him (twice) before sending him out.

You may be thinking, Jeez Cindy, that isn’t much of a revelation. It’s pretty obvious. But it wasn’t obvious to me. Especially because I am in a season of trusting in God’s provision and direction myself. Sometimes what we need the most is the hardest to see. So I didn’t recognize what was right in front of my eyes. God PROVIDED for Elijah. He provided rest–certainly much needed after a day of supernatural display, praying for rain, and slaying wicked prophets who served a pretend God. He provided meals. In the middle of the desert, baked bread and water appeared. They were necessary to allow the old prophet to make the lengthy journey that God required.

And perhaps the most personal of all, he wakes to the angel’s touch. That has to be restorative and healing.

Take what you need from 1 Kings 18 and 19. What I’ve received from it is that no matter what we have going on and no matter what is coming our way, God is there for us in a BIG way. He is there to provide for our needs and bring spiritual healing. We are not alone no matter how long or daunting the journey.

Blessings – Cindy

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