Terri Kraus

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bestwords Blog

100 Most Beautiful Words

Spread out, not focused or concentrated
Sweet, sugary.

Reflections on Lent:  Dennis Bratcher

Lent is a way to place ourselves before God humbled, bringing in our hands no price whereby we can ourselves purchase our salvation.  It is a way to confess our total inadequacy before God, to strip ourselves bare of all pretenses to righteousness, to come before God in dust and ashes.  It is a way to empty ourselves of our false pride, of our rationalizations that prevent us from seeing ourselves as needy creature, of our "perfectionist" tendencies that blind us to the beam in our own eyes.  Through prayer that gives up self, we seek to open ourselves up before God, and to hear anew the call "Come unto me!" We seek to recognize and respond afresh to God’s presence in our lives and in our world. We seek to place our needs, our fears, our failures, our hopes, our very lives in God’s hands, again. And we seek by abandoning ourselves in Jesus’ death to recognize again who God is, to allow His transforming grace to work in us once more, and to come to worship Him on Easter Sunday with a fresh victory and hope that goes beyond the new clothes, the Spring flowers, the happy music.  
        But it begins in ashes. And it journeys though darkness. It is a spiritual pilgrimage that I am convinced we must make one way or the other for genuine spiritual renewal to come. I have heard the passage in 2 Chronicles 7:14 quoted a lot: ". . .if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." This usually is quoted in the context of wanting revival or renewal in the church, and the prayer is interpreted as intercessory prayer for others. But a careful reading of the passage will reveal that the prayer that is called for here is not intercessory prayer for others; it is penitential prayer for the faith community, for us. It is not to call for others to repent; it is a call for us, God’s people, to repent. It is our land that needs healed, it is our wicked ways from which we need to turn, we are the ones who need to seek God’s face. 
        Perhaps during the Lenten season we should stop praying for others as if we were virtuous enough to do so. Perhaps we should take off our righteous robes just long enough during these 40 days to put ashes on our own heads, to come before God with a new humility that is willing to confess, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner." Maybe we should be willing to prostrate ourselves before God and plead, "Lord, in my hand no price I bring; simply to the cross I cling." That might put us in a position to hear God in ways that we have not heard Him in a long time. And it may be the beginning of a healing for which we have so longed.
O Lord, begin with me. Here. Now.

Receiving Forgiveness:  Ruth Haley Barton

“While the truth that we cannot escape God’s all-seeing eye may weigh us down at times, it is finally the only remedy for our uneasiness...Only under God’s steady gaze of love are we able to find the healing and restoration we so desperately need.”
Marjorie Thompson, Soulfeast

Confession is good for the soul because it opens us to the extraordinary experience of being forgiven. All of the lectionary passages for this week affirm the joy of forgiveness and the excitement of new beginnings as part of our Lenten journey.
The Gospel reading, in particular (Luke 15:11-32), records Jesus’ powerful parable in which the prodigal son returns home radically humbled, seeking forgiveness, and finds himself in the middle of a party—not a birthday party or a wedding party or a retirement party but a forgiveness party! He discovered what we all have the opportunity to discover—that while the “godly grief that leads to repentance” is real, confession does not ultimately lead us to shame or obsession with our sin; rather it leads to the experience of cleansing and release. You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free, Jesus.

Lenten Quotes
Oswald Chambers:

It is not repentance that saves me; repentance is the sign that I realise what God has done in Christ Jesus.

Sinful men and women can be changed into new creatures by the marvellous work of God in Christ Jesus, which is prior to all experience.

Martin Luther:

There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.

Lord Jesus,
You are my righteousness,
I am your sin.
You took on you what was mine;
yet set on me what was yours.
You became what you were not,
that I might become what I was not.

Jean P.F. Richter:

Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness, or else forgiving one another.

Frederick Buechner:

[cross+red+7.jpg]Romantic love is blind to everything except what is lovable and lovely, but Christ’s love sees us with terrible clarity and sees us whole. Christ’s love so wishes our joy that it is ruthless against everything in us that diminishes our joy. The worst sentence Love can pass is that we behold the suffering which Love has endured for our sake, and that is also our acquittal. The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one.

Francois Fenelon:

When you find that weariness depresses or amusement distracts you, you will calmly turn with an untroubled spirit to your Heavenly Father, who is always holding out His arms to you. You will look to Him for gladness and refreshment when depressed, for moderation and recollection when in good spirits, and you will find that He will never leave you to want. A trustful glance, a silent movement of the heart towards Him will renew your strength; and though you may often feel as if your soul were downcast and numb, whatever God calls you to do, He will give you power and courage to perform. Our Heavenly Father, so far from ever overlooking us, is only waiting to find our hearts open, to pour into them the torrents of His grace.

Rain at Winter's End
Ruth Haley Barton

‟Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person's hand
is rising out of the sea!″

~I Kings 18:44

I love the way the rain comes at winter's end
     to hose down the sooty earth,
          and wash away the dirt that comes from who-knows-where.
Oh God,
I need a cleansing rain in my life,
     dirty as I am with the grit and grime of these dark years.
My heart is hard and crusty
    like patches of old snow in the yard,
            my life littered with trash I don't recognize
                             and dead, brown grass where it used to be so green.
Today I would settle for a little cloud
    no bigger than a person's hand
            far off in the distance
                 rising out of the sea of this disillusionment.
Today, if I saw such a cloud
     I would run like Elijah--
            loins girded,
                 strengthened by the hand of the Lord
                        in hopes that I could be there when the deluge came.
Warm rain
            Softening the hardness of my heart
                        Washing away the pain
                                    Enlivening this dead earth.
Today, if I saw even a hint of such a cloud,
            I would lay myself down upon the earth
                        and bow my heart low
Waiting for the miracle that would signal the changing of the season
            the end of this drought
                        the coming of spring
                                    in the winter of my heart.

Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps. 
Luke 9:23

Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, `Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.' I didn't come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners. 

Matthew 9:13  

God's kindness leads you toward repentance. 
Romans 2:4

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