Preparing for Lent

24 02 2009

Hey guys,


The year is moving right along.  I can’t believe February is almost over!  Crazy!


Anyway, Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday.  I don’t know if you do anything to observe Lent or not.  I read this little description in my devotional today that helped explain this time of year and helped me get ready…


The Season of Lent is like a roller coaster ride with emotions that are down and up again and again as the story of our salvation makes plain our sinful ways and the cost of our redemption.  We begin with Ash Wednesday where we roughly bump against our own mortality.  Here we know that sin and death are real, and they are real not just for someone else.  Sin and death are real for us.  This is where we begin the Lenten Season, with our face pressed hard against the reality of our sin and our death.  If we did not know how the story ends, this would be a dark and depression journey.  But we do know how the story ends and therefore in the midst of austerity and fasting we remember our faithful Savior and the Easter declaration that life is always victorious over death, always!


In the forty days of Lent we experience the temptations of Jesus and remember our own.  We recognize in the rapidly rising hope of a triumphal entry some of our own expectations and hopes for a world of peace and love.  But then comes Holy Week, and we see so many of those hopes dashed to their death.  A somber time to be sure, but even in Lent we remember that each Sunday of the year is a little Easter.  Therefore we take courage, our hearts grow strong, and once again we determine to throw our lives into the struggle on the side of peace, justice, and love…


A season that begins with ashes pressed upon our heads ends with the fragrance, sight, and touch of flowers racing through our senses and inviting us to join the triumphant song “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!”  Now we know as never before that our mortality will put on immortality.  Death and resurrection are now claimed as our own.  Fear has given way to inexpressible joy, and doubt has given way to triumphant hope.  Christ is risen!

            (from A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck & Rueben P. Job)


Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
   Who got the last word, oh, Death?
   Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!                            

    1 Cor. 15:55-57 (MSG)


Praying for you as you enter into this season of preparation and expectation.  May you find ways to experience the death and resurrection of your Savior.


To the King!



God is…

19 02 2009

Hey guys,


So we had a great time here at WYM last weekend talking about discernment together.  I’ve heard some great feedback about the Retreat this past weekend being very timely and relevant for everybody.  So with that in mind and looking toward preparing our hearts to begin the season of Lent next week I thought I’d share these thoughts.


What does it mean that God came to earth?  To live as one of us?  To sacrifice His one and only Son?  To send a counselor and provider to guide us?  What kind of a God is that?


The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Gen. 2:7


I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.  I will confirm my covenant between me and you. 

Gen. 17:1-2


My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

Ex. 33:14


The LORD bless you and keep you;

the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Num. 6:24-26


He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.

They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

2 Sam. 22:17-20


I have set the LORD always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,

because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
       with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Ps. 16:8-11


The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
       he delivers them from all their troubles.

Ps. 34:17


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Isa. 7:14


My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.

Ezek. 37:27-28


The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
       He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

Zeph. 3:17


Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Matt. 28:20


That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:21-23


You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…

Acts 1:8


If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Rom. 8:11


My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

2 Cor. 12:9


I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Eph. 3:17-19


For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Heb. 4:12


Be content with what you have, because God has said,
   “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,
   “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Heb. 13:5-6


May you feel the power of this God in real ways this week.  May His presence infiltrate your life and fill your brokenness and questions.  May His love surround you and comfort you.


Praying for you.


To the King!



P.S. Internship Applications are now available.  They are due March 1st!!!!!!


God’s Love

19 02 2009

Hey guys,


Happy Valentine’s Day!!  Whether you’re celebrating the big day with a loved one or not I hope you can take some time this week to think about the love God has for you. 


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:7-19)


May you be surrounded by love this week.


A prayer for you:

I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling-place.


Lord, may I never take the gift of freedom for granted. You gave me the great blessing of freedom of spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and Your joy.  


To be conscious about something is to be aware of it. Dear Lord help me to remember that You gave me life. Thank you for the gift of life. Teach me to slow down, to be still and enjoy the pleasures created for me.

To be aware of the beauty that surrounds me.

The marvel of mountains, the calmness of lakes, the fragility of a flower petal. I need to remember that all these things come from you.


Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person Lord. I think I might say “Thank You Lord” for always being there for me. I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord, when it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.




To the King!



P.S. Please contact me ASAP if you are at all interested in being a WYM Intern this summer.  Applications are now available and are due to the WYM Office by March 1st.  Make your summer plans now!



6 02 2009

Hey guys,


I really want to encourage you all to come to our WYM Winter Retreat next weekend.  If you’ve ever wondered whether God was speaking to you or to the Church, this retreat is a great opportunity to look at the process of the Holy Spirit speaking into our lives and how we respond and make decisions.  There are so many important, and not so important, decisions that you’ve got running across your path on a daily basis.  What framework do you use to make those decisions?  Do you always know which decision is the “right” decision?  What happens when you come to the fork in the road and both paths look equally appealing?  How do you know?


Discernment – to see or understand the difference; to make distinction; as, to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood.


It’s such a churchy word – discernment – we don’t really use it in every day language that often.  But at the same time it’s something many do on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  You may not even realize you’re doing it.  We, as Quakers, have a fairly unique view of discernment.  Very few denominations place so much emphasis on encouraging the Body of Christ to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking in their midst.  That’s a pretty cool thing.  The Richmond Declaration of Faith, a faith statement that was written in the 1887 and recently re-affirmed by Friends United Meeting, states this:


He [the Holy Spirit] takes of the things of Christ and shows them, as a realized    possession, to the believing soul (John 16:14). Dwelling in the hearts of believers (John 16:17), He opens their understandings that they may understand Scriptures, and becomes, to the humbled and surrendered heart, the Comforter, Support, and Sanctifier…The Holy Spirit must ever be distinguished both from the conscience which He enlightens, and from the natural faculty of reason, which when unsubjected to His Holy influence, is, in the things of God, very foolishness. As the eye is to the body, so is the conscience to our inner being, the organ by which we see; and, as both light and life are essential to the eye, so conscience, as the inward eye, cannot aright, without the quickening and illumination of the Spirit of God. One with the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit can never disown or dishonor our once crucified and now risen and glorified Redeemer. (Richmond Declaration of Faith, The Holy Spirit)


It’s important to recognize that the Holy Spirit will never contradict itself.  The book Practicing Discernment Together; Finding God’s Way Forward in Decision Making is the basis for the Retreat next weekend and one of the authors, Bruce Bishop, will be joining us as our Speaker.  In that book, they make the observation that the Holy Spirit, Scriptures, and the Faith Community, when a part of the discernment process, will all be in agreement.  That’s a good judge for whether a decision is the “right” decision or not.  You’ve got three sounding boards…your own revelation through the Holy Spirit speaking into your life, the truths presenting in God’s Word, and the clearness of the People of Faith who surround you and support you.  The power of three.


In the New Testament we see many examples of how the early church made decisions.  Acts 15 is a great story of how the first Christians made a discerning decision about whether new Gentile believers needed to abide by the old Jewish customs (namely circumcision…guys aren’t you glad for the Holy Spirit’s intervention in that one!)  And in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth he writes:

No eye has seen,  no ear has heard,  no mind has conceived  what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

(1 Cor. 2:9-16)


Praying that you may have the mind of Jesus Christ our Savior, through the Holy Spirit speaking into your life as you go about the decisions of each day.


To the King!



P.S. Internship Applications are now available for this summer.  Contact me if you are interested.  They are due March 1st.