Monday January 16, 2017 Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Day Beautiful

Posted January 16, 2017 by bgovanus
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How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!  Romans 10:15  quoting Isaiah 52:7

I was blessed to march in the 60s for the Civil Rights Movement.  My High School nuns organized buses to take any of us who wanted to go and participate.  They marched alongside us.  I never had the privilege of hearing Dr King speak in person but my history teacher would share his speeches in class calling it History in the MAKING!  Indeed, it was.  The MARCHES of the turbulent 60s and the Marches this week brought together like-minded people who want to express a call for change.  If you see a wrong and try to right it, this is the good news.  Doing as Jesus did, as He taught makes even the ugliest feet beautiful.

I received a Fitbit for Christmas.  I am much more aware of my steps, stairs and heart rate these days.  I do wonder sometimes how many steps would one of these contraptions would have clocked on Dr King, Mother Teresa or St Francis.  Those feet moved constantly bringing good news.  They were never about the miles they walked but about the lives that they touched.  I smile and think my grandsons would break the limits as they never stop and their mother who runs 15 miles on a slow day, yikes.

Much of my walking is about the exercise and the opportunity to stretch my body.  God invites me today to use my steps to pray for those who like Dr King use theirs to preach the good news.  The Women’s March on Washington is this Saturday.  There will be every cause and message touted on shirts, hats and banners.  Those who are Pro-Life mixed with those who are Pro-Choice.  Those who are supporting LGBTQ and those who want “Marriage” to mean a man and a woman.  I pray for each person to be safe and respected because each one is preaching the Good News, that God created each of us as equals with the right to state what each believes in an open forum.  If Dr King was alive he would certainly be marching and singing too.

Lord, open my ears to hear the good news and give me voice to proclaim it.  You have given us the blessing in our country of free speech.  Keep those who march safe.  Let them hear Your good news and share it with all who they meet. 

Sunday January 15, 2017 NEW

Posted January 15, 2017 by bgovanus
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Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.  Ephesians 4:22-24

New can be hard… it requires CHANGE!  No matter what age or personality, making dramatic changes can be hard.  Jesus came to a rural community of fishermen and said “Follow ME” and these men left their family and their trade to walk alongside this itinerant preacher.  Even in the best of circumstances this would be hard but Jesus told them it would NOT be the best of circumstances.  He shared that He had no place to stay, that they would be persecuted because of Him and would likely die.  That is not a recommendation that would draw a big following.

When I was young and we moved from St Louis to Springfield, IL.  I remember confronting my mother about CHANGE!  I told her in no uncertain terms that I did NOT like change.  I did not like living so far from Grandma and I missed our house.  She sat me down and asked me to make a list of the things that were still the same.  I did… it went something like this:

  1. I was with my brother and sister
  2. My birthday was still on the same day
  3. I had my doll
  4. We still went to church and it was the same.  (back then it was in Latin so I could not see any difference at all.)
  5. I still got to jump rope and play pick up sticks.

Mom added a few more items to the list and we made a game of looking for new things that we both liked about our new home.  I don’t think she was very happy about the move either so this game may have helped her as much as it did me.  Before long we moved back to St Louis but funny thing, it was a NEW house, a different neighborhood and we added another baby brother to the mix.  I never forgot how important it is to realize that even in change there are constants: Love, Family, God and all the truly important things don’t go away no matter my surroundings.

Paul invites the Corinthians to put on the NEW.  To become changed creatures of Christ.  It is the hardest thing in the world to change.  Paul knew this so he explained the eternal benefits were better than the hardships that his followers would face.  His encouragement continues to make the prize worth the effort!

Lord, help me to put on the NEW creation and embrace the changes that are required to make me Your creation.  Help me to shake off the old corrupted ways and put on the NEW self which You are calling me to be.  It is not easy for me so I ask You to teach me!      

Saturday January 14, 2017 Afraid

Posted January 14, 2017 by bgovanus
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He said to His disciples. “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”  Mark 4:40-41

The scene is the Sea of Galilee and a boat filled with experienced fishermen are so frightened by the terrible squall that they wake Jesus and exclaimed to Him… “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?”   I am certain that I have screamed at God with those or similar words…  Lord, don’t You care that I am drowning in debt?  God, can’t You see I am overwhelmed by depression?  Father, can’t You see I am engulfed in loneliness?  Being afraid and not trusting that God is large and in charge has made me ask Him for His aid.

Mark’s Gospel tells of four miracles to establish the proof of Jesus divinity.  In this instance, his first miracle, I learn in a profound way that Jesus is human, he is exhausted and soundly sleeping in the back of the boat and that He is divine because the storm instantly obeys Him.  This lesson is crucial to all believers and shows me that my fears are being addressed even when I am impatiently waiting.  The interesting thing is that Jesus allowed the storm to be so severe as to frighten these men.  If He had not, they would not have ever asked the question, “WHO is this?”

God allows me to be in my own frightening situations so I know that I am not in control.  If I lived inside a perfect bubble, would I ever reach out and ask Jesus for help?  Probably NOT!  I would never hear God utter, Be Still as He deals with my problems.  I need GOD!  I am constantly reminded of how much, when I see the limits of my own ability.  I can’t keep people I love from being sick or dying.  I can’t change the wind or the weather.  I can’t make the sun rise.  I have asked who is this… and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who calms my fears.

Lord help me each day as the winds blow and the world frightens me to turn to You, my solace and refuge.  I know You are the Son of God sent to call sinners to repentance.  Help me to seek you with a contrite heart.  NOT because I am afraid but because I know You are my Savior!

 

Friday January 13, 2017 New

Posted January 13, 2017 by bgovanus
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I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  John 13:34

Jesus was a conundrum for the people who heard Him.  He was preaching a NEW way of living.  No more “An eye for an eye.”  No more law first, kindness and love second.  He did not throw stones at harlots and he hung around with sinners and tax collectors.  Everything He was and every He did were NEW and totally unexpected.  There were those who could accept this but many could not.  People resist change 2000 years ago just as they do today.

Having Jesus sitting at table knowing what people “THOUGHT” scared the Pharisees a bit, I am sure.  When they looked on disapproving of the waste of expensive nard being used on His feet and this sinner touching Him… He challenged His host!  Jesus knew human nature and created opportunities for its ugly underbelly to be revealed and chastised.  How beautifully He taught using parables and situations to shape a NEW WAY of living.

I love the insights that I gain each time I read scripture.  Jesus opens every heart that willingly comes to Him and pours in NEWNESS.  New ways to see the world.  New ways to accept others who are different from me.  New ways to forgive those who have hurt me.  The way to LOVE one another is to offer newness and openness… no prejudice or judgement.  Jesus showed me that in every encounter He made while traveling for three years among the foothills of Israel, that LOVE is the only way.

Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to show me the way to love.  Help me to be NEW and pure in my love of others and myself. 

Thursday January 12, 2017 Sound of Silence

Posted January 12, 2017 by bgovanus
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Then the Lord said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord—but the Lord was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the Lord was not in the earthquake;  after the earthquake, fire—but the Lord was not in the fire; after the fire, a sound of sheer silence.  1 Kings 19:11-12

Great song by Simon and Garfunkel about the “Sounds of Silence”.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fWyzwo1xg0  They touched the heart of an entire generation with their lyrics and haunting melody.  There really is no SILENCE in this world.  When I quiet myself enough to really listen, I learn there is a clock ticking, a fly buzzing, the ice tumbling into the bin.  Truly there is no silence!  I tune so much out because the noise today is overpowering.

What can I hear when I tune out the hub bub?  The only time that I can hear God is when I quiet myself to be able to realize that there is sheer silence.  He told Elijah that He was coming.  Has He told me the same thing and I missed Him because I was too busy, too preoccupied or I was overwhelmed with the noisy world.  There are certainly big and violent winds… just recently in CO and Ca that were able to blow down giant redwoods.  There are earthquakes that crush the homes of thousands and fires that swallow up millions of acres of forest, homes and highways.  God is not in any of those.

Lord. Help me to stop and appreciate the Sounds of Silence where You speak. 

Wednesday January 11, 2017 Tested

Posted January 11, 2017 by bgovanus
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Because He Himself was tested through what He suffered, He is able to help those who are being tested.  Hebrews 2:18

When even great saints like Mother Theresa, admit to having dark nights of the soul, it is reassuring to know that Jesus accepted testing and suffered as I do.  Nothing was out of bounds in Christ’s life… He faced the death of friends, incredible pain and suffering, betrayal of friends… every emotion and physical distress that I can imagine.  It is reassurance indeed to know that Jesus knows when any and all of these come into my life how I feel.

When the figures of the Old Testament struggled, they prayed earnestly to God and He listened and in many instances gave them an answer.  He spoke to them through prophets, angels, even came to Moses in a burning bush.  But none of these great people had the assurance that you and I do that God could and does empathize in a real way with the pain that encompasses our soul when the road gets hard.  This fact alone gives me courage that brings me through even the hardest trial.  When Jesus lamented in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was in so much agony He sweated blood.  When He was scourged, He cried out.  When He was carrying His cross, He fell over from sheer exhaustion.  He suffered and was tested beyond what any human could bear.  When He was hammered to the cross and hung there, He struggled for each breath.  He died with onlookers mocking Him but rose in spite of all that to let me know that this life is NOT the end.

As hard as the trials are, as deep as the pit of self-pity may be that I wallow in, Jesus knows and holds me close.  He was tested to illustrate to me and all who have followed Him that this world does not win.  As long as I can believe in Him and place my faith in the truth, HE will set me free.

Dearest Father God, how impossible it must have been for You to stand by and watch Your Son go through the tests of this difficult life.  Thank You for loving me enough to ask and allow, Jesus, to suffer this life to save this unworthy race.  Thank You, Jesus for becoming the living sacrifice that saved a wretch like me. 

Tuesday January 10, 2017 Favor

Posted January 10, 2017 by bgovanus
Categories: Uncategorized

At this she bowed down with her face to the ground.  She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me, a foreigner?”  Ruth 2:10

The story of Ruth has always been one of my favorites, a simple woman who stayed with her mother in law after both their husbands died.  In those days, widows were not looked after by the government but left to fend for themselves.  Ruth could have returned home to her parents but she decided to stay with Naomi and help her survive.  Their lives were past difficult.  Ruth was forced to gleaning fields which meant she was grubbing through the countryside picking up grain after the harvest.  A dirty and difficult job.  When Boaz made an effort to help her, she uttered this verse as she bowed low.

The kindness of Boaz may have been totally altruistic or it may have been that he saw a pretty girl and was attracted to her.  No matter the reason, he made things happen and Ruth and Naomi benefited.  Ruth’s dedication and willingness to sacrifice herself for someone else did not go unnoticed.  Favor sometimes follows grace under fire.

It is rumored that the phrase “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of ‘beauty’” was scribbled on a placemat in a restaurant in 1982 by writer Anne Herbert.  It has since been popularized through film and literature and really become a part of our culture.  If each person would practice a random act of kindness every day, what would our world look like?  To create more Ruth and Boaz type people who bestow favor on others with no expectation of return would be a world changer!  Each of us has the power to do a random act of kindness, no one will know except God.  I could choose no one else as scorekeeper in this game of life!

Lord, thank You for the example of Ruth and the stories that inspire me each day of those who show favor to someone less fortunate.  Help me to see the opportunities to serve and to seize them with a joyful heart.