Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trust: A Pathway to Peace

I've had a remarkable few years. Like the little drummer boy, I gave God the most precious gifts He gave me to use for His purposes. As I've stepped more fully into His calling on my life, I trust that the One who called me will continue to equip me. It's an exhilarating process that still amazes me daily as I recognize that it is possible to have what you most desire. Psalm 37:4 agrees,  

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

One of the disciplines I took on as I became more intentional about fulfilling my purpose involves a commitment to do those things that nurture my soul and keep me full of the Lord's Spirit. This includes reading God's Word, spending time surrounded by nature, pursuing inner stillness, volunteering my time and talents to serve others, and pouring into key relationships in my life, among others.

Today I read a chapter from Brennan Manning's book, Ruthless Trust. Here's what spoke to my soul, "The splendor of a human heart which trusts that it is loved gives God more pleasure and delight than Westminster Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel, and all the other human glories combined. Why does our trust offer such immense pleasure to God? Because trust is the preeminent expression of love."

Brennan's words resonate within me and are close to my experience. As I've come closer to God, I know Him better. And the more I know His character, the more I trust Him.

As I trust God more, I have more joy, more peace, and I am more whole. And then, naturally, my attitude, thoughts, and actions reflect that trust. Others notice, which gives me the opportunity to share Him with them as well. I believe this sequence of events that flows from a trusting heart makes God (and all of heaven) smile.

The more we trust God, the more we learn to rely on His strength, which means we move away from relying on our weakness. We learn to rest in Him, which moves us away from a natural inclination to worry and fret (my previous specialty!). As we trust God more, we experience a peace that is beyond understanding even in the toughest moments.

Trusting God is a fruit of faith, and it bears its own fruit of other-centered living.

Today, resolve to seek strength outside of yourself. Choose to get to know God and His character better, and you'll enter into a relationship unlike anything you've ever known.

Trust God!
Dr Mari

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inspiration for Today

 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world....

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, 

my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:1-4; 7-14 

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, 
so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20 

Photos courtesy of Manuel Díaz Photography. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Prayer: A Way of Life

I recently came upon this quote by one of my favorite Christian writers, Henri Nouwen. He said, 

"To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put Him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings.... 

Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts -- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful -- can be thought in the presence of God."

I agree with Henri's thoughts on prayer. There is so much written about this subject, and some of it is helpful. But as my own prayer life has changed and deepened, I've learned that prayer is much more than words and requests. 

Prayer reflects a relationship between one who surrenders and One who reigns. This relationship, one that is marked by transparency and a desire to seek God's best in all things, is central to a powerful and transforming prayer life. As this relationship matures and becomes central in someone's life, prayer itself becomes a way of life. This makes perfect sense. 

The one who gets to know God and His character never wants to leave His presence. Why would we?

Prayer is words, thoughts, and even gazes toward God. It is seeking God's face, His presence, and His wisdom in every circumstance. Such prayerful living keeps us safe, softens our hearts, and helps us live for others. It exposes our true selves and looks to God as the source of love, goodness, and peace. 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, the apostle Paul urges us to pray without ceasing, 

Be joyful always;  
pray continually;  
give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I believe such praying without ceasing begins to happen naturally as we get to know God and His character -- His goodness, faithfulness, and love. As we learn that God is trustworthy and faithful, we want to live in His presence more and more, and so we pray continually, calling Him into every circumstance, good and bad.

James 5:13 points to the joy and wisdom of praying at all times,

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

In good times and bad times, prayer brings us into the presence of God. Prayer is the overflow of a life that is learning to trust the One who knows everything and cares about everything. Today, regardless of what you're facing, look to God as the answer. Pray that He will reveal Himself in the midst of your need, and continue to abide in Him through prayer as you wait for the answer. When you wait prayerfully, you wait in good company!

So, today and every day, choose to stay close to God, and pray!
Dr Mari

Prayer is also about learning to live in Love's Grip; read more about that here
The importance of prayer is emphasized in my new book, Walking with Jesus in Healthcare.

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