Tag Archives: negative

Sixth Sunday in Lent – Be Gracious to Me, Lord! Please!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 29, 2015

God is my comforter Psalm 56-8

Sixth Sunday in Lent – Be Gracious to Me, Lord! Please!

Reading the Psalm for today, Psalm 56, I found myself plunged into that dark, scary emotional hole. Yet another time. This time, I wasn’t there to stay for a while. I recognized that pit, and I hesitated before I dove in. Yay, me!

Ever have the experience of enemies rising up against you? Fighting against you? King David sure did! Yet, he was able to go to the Lord and take refuge in Him.

I can remember several times when my negative momentum got the best of me, and carried me down into depression. I am glad I didn’t have such serious enemies threatening me, like David did! I praise God that I can count on Him, whenever I need to. As David said, if God is for me, what can mere mortals do to me?

I am grateful to my friends, spiritual leaders and pastors, and especially God. Some combination of them all help keep me centered and spiritually healthy. Thank You, God!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 21, 2015

repentance a gift from God

Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.

Repentance is the word for today. Repent! Reminds me of seeing stern, dour-faced street preachers with bullhorns, standing on street corners, crying, “Repent! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

But, that’s not quite what our prayer guide, Rev. Howell, had in mind for today. Actually, it’s not precisely what I think Jesus had in mind, either, in the verses that accompany this short chapter in the book The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray: Mark 1:14-15. Moreover, this is from the passage I am considering and praying over, from which I will deliver a sermon on Sunday.

Yes, the Hebrew word “repent” (or, shuv) means to turn around, or make a 180-degree turn. It’s like I am going the wrong direction, so I make a u-turn. Go the right direction, instead. And Mark was Jewish; so was Peter, his friend and mentor, and presumably the source for most of the material in Mark.

Except, the Gospel of Mark was written in Greek. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoia. This word has a slightly different focus, or vector. Yes, the simple definition is “change one’s mind.” However, when expanded, this word can also mean changing one’s behavior, reorienting to new insights and understandings, framing new objectives and making new goals.

I am greatly relieved to hear this! This means that I do not need to grovel and crawl in the dust. Like a worm. (From somewhere back in my memory, a long time ago, I am remembering a state called by some pastor “Christian Worm-ism.” Pretty descriptive, if you ask me!)

So, I am reorienting myself, from the inside out. What a positive thing this can be! Not negative, laden with guilt and shame. (Especially shame! We have recently talked about both of these, yesterday and the day before.)

Reminder to self: God does not want to make me feel small or insignificant or guilty or especially shame-filled. No! But I know who does—sin, the devil, or Satan, or evil tendencies or wicked spirits. Whatever or however you may want to describe those negative feelings and emotions and urges that are not of God. Instead, we can be positive, and look forward to new opportunities.

Yes, we are angry and sad that we messed up. Yes, we can feel hesitant, even shy of going forward in life. But we can have confidence that—with God’s help and support—we will go forward with God at our sides.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

Grace and Mercy? In Prayer!

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, September 14, 2014

FORGIVE we must learn to forgive

Grace and Mercy? In Prayer!

One of my favorite psalms of all time is Psalm 103. One of my favorite verses of all time (well, at least for right now) comes from that psalm, verse 12: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] removed our transgressions from us.”

This verse is precious to me. Precious beyond all measure. I hold it close to me, on occasion, when I feel lost. Alone. And especially, sinful. Dirty. Defective. Worthless. But how do I turn my negative thoughts around? How can I start thinking in a positive direction? A direction that is worthwhile, upbuilding, and pleasing to God?

If I think of verses from this psalm, I will naturally be oriented towards positive, loving thoughts. For example: God loves me. God has compassion towards me. God shows me grace and mercy. I can kick those negative, mean, depressing and hateful thoughts right out of my head.

Sometimes, those negative thoughts can come from outside. From thoughtless or mean comments that some people make, or from sad or mad situations that occur in each of our lives. Yes. And sometimes, similar negative thoughts start from inside of us. Negative self-talk is so self-defeating. (“I’m no good,” “what use am I?” or “that was a stupid remark/action.”)

Knowing that I am loved, that I am regularly shown compassion, that God extends grace and mercy toward me? All of these things are priceless! Priceless, like me! And—know that God extends all of these things towards you, too.

It’s so hard to be loving and caring towards other people when I don’t feel good about myself, when I feel that somehow I am faulty and defective. I suspect you have found that to be true, too. But when I feel that God loves me, cares about me, has compassion towards me—even forgives my sins and transgressions, I feel so wonderful! It is then that prayer comes naturally to me! Prayer of gratitude to God, prayer of thanksgiving for what I receive, prayer of intercession for others. Thank You, God.

Let’s pray. Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for loving me. Thank You for extending Your grace and mercy towards all of us who love you. Thank You for not treating us as our sins deserve. Lord—who, then, could stand? But with You is abundant forgiveness. Thank You, God! Thank You for Your compassionate, caring presence, now and always, amen.

@chaplaineliza

(also published at www.matterofprayer.net

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Penitence - Larry Poncho Brown

Penitence – Larry Poncho Brown

Remember, Ashes to Ashes

Rush, rush. Hurry, hurry. I’ve been doing so much already, it seems like a day-and-a-half has been packed into just a few short hours. Yes, most of what I’ve been doing today is quite necessary. But what does God want from me today? I really ought to slow down and check in with God. See what I need to do to help my spiritual self stay right with my Higher Power.

Today marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of preparation before Easter. Today is also Ash Wednesday, a day of holy penitence, confession and absolution. I take the Lenten observance of the cross of ashes on the forehead as a serious, penitential act. But I find I’m not acting like it today. Sure, I’m doing necessary stuff, busy stuff. But I need to slow down. Do some inward reflection on my habitual thoughts, words and deeds. And most importantly, I am advised to do some inward reflection on the state of my soul.

First, before I can even confess my sins of thought, word and deed, and then even ask for God’s forgiveness (much less accept it into my heart and mind), I need to slow down enough to focus on spiritual things. I need to attend to things of God, and not to be distracted by the world. Or even by needful, necessary things that take my eyes off where they need to be. God, help me focus on You, on your forgiveness, grace and mercy.

As I turn to inward reflection, meditation and prayer, I also reflect upon Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. After all, He is the reason that I am here, in prayer. His words to us—to me—to come to Him with our—my heavy burdens. It is Jesus who gives rest to the weary, the sinful, the world-worn. To those burdened with care, with worry, with anger, with unforgiveness, with resentment. God invites me to release all those negative, worrisome mental states and attitudes. God blesses me with the forgiveness of those sinful thoughts, words and deeds of commission (what I’ve done) as well as omission (those I have neglected to do).

Instead of merely writing about confession, forgiveness and pardon, all intellectual-like, let’s actually do it. Let’s pray.

Dear God, We confess to You that we have sinned. Each of us has stubbornly turned to our own way, like those sheep Isaiah talks about. Forgive me, God. Wash me clean, make me white as snow, dear God. Have mercy on me—on us, in Your loving-kindness. Thank You for the Good News of the Gospel, and for the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God, in Your grace and mercy, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Carrying Baggage

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, January 8, 2014

smiley ball

Carrying Baggage

My memories are powerful. When I experience life today, I can’t help but think of today through the lens of my memories.

Emotions get involved, too. For example, I can talk to a family member and at the same time remember past interactions I’ve had with them. Happy, sad, angry, or frightened. These memories might color the present conversation I’m having today.

Sound, sight, hearing, understanding, aspects of my body—all of this affects my memories, too. I was particularly struck by Tilden Edwards’ comments on Re-membering from his book Living in the Presence. Instead of positive memories coloring my understanding of today’s happenings and conversations, our memories can be haunting. Running the old tapes over and over reinforces negative thinking. It might affect my perception of today and cause it to become unhelpful, unfruitful, even painful.

As Edwards suggests, God wants us to come closer. To draw near. To “participate in making all things new (Rev. 21:5).” God offers fresh moments to each of us, each day. I don’t have to carry all kinds of baggage with me—whether physical, spiritual, mental or emotional. I am urged to put down those old bags, those raggedy, tattered bags, those stinky, rancid bags. God can make all things new. God can make me new, each day. Can free me from carrying a heavy pack  on my back. God can make you new and fresh and free, too.

A clean slate, new every morning. Thank You, God!

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for Your promises, new every morning. Thank You for your faithfulness to each one of us, every day. Forgive me for fleeing from You, for staying in my own head, and running those negative tapes over and over. You want to free me from all that! Thank You for urging me to put down all the unnecessary bags I’m carting around. Thank You for making all things new. Including me. Amen.

@chaplaineliza