Thinking_woman_clip_artRejoice always, pray unceasingly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Paul says we are to pray unceasingly, to blend prayer into our lives in a way that everything we do is a form of prayer. This seems impossible to do in this jangling, modern world. I so often run amuk in my efforts to pray, entertaining thoughts of everything but what I was praying about. Prayers for family are interrupted by my grocery list. Intercessions for friends become mixed in with my worries about my unpaid bills. And even petitions for my own concerns become mired in frustrations about things over which I have absolutely no control. I don’t just entertain stray thoughts; I invite them in, give them a comfy place on the couch, and lavish them with my full attention for longer than the nanosecond I just spent praying. My prayer life is interrupted so often by my regular life, but that is exactly Paul’s point.


I’m not alone. Sixteenth century theologian Teresa of Avila admitted to having nomadic notions during her prayer time. The quest for a more fulfilling prayer life lies not in how much time we devote to prayer, but in how we embrace the concept of “praying unceasingly” as part of our very spiritual being. When my husband and I are home together, I may enter the room where he is reading and have a brief conversation with him before moving to another part of the house do something else. So it is with God. We can pray each time we think of something to talk to God about, and listen in between, just as we would with a human loved one. And if we seek His will by reading and studying His Word, soon everything will remind us of our passion to run to Him for a little talk.


Paul wrote to the church at Colossae about a “servant of Jesus Christ” named Epahras who was “wrestling in prayer for (them), that (they) may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12). How comforting to know that others “wrestle” in prayer for us too, each day, as we remember to pray for those on our hearts and minds.


God the Spirit, fill me with the desire to talk to You often. Amen



Jesus-washing-feet-12After that, He poured water into a basinand began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel. John 13:5

A local church held a “Spa Day,” for women at a local  domestic violence shelter. “I’ll help,” I said. “I worked with domestic violence survivors when I was a county social worker.” I was assigned to  the pedicure area, with home foot spas loaned by church members.

Washing feet. I had never done this before. My first reaction was to say no, I can’t lift and carry the foot spas to change the water for each new recipient. But I had come to the event to serve, and I believed God would provide the strength that I would require. I prepared several foot baths, and soon I was kneeling before a line of women. Most were young, late teens to early thirties, of all shapes and sizes, many women of color. All appeared as anxious as I was, in this intimate setting with a total stranger preparing to wash and dry their tired feet.

I knew that domestic violence in the United States is not going away quietly. Between 2001 and 2012, more women were murdered by current or ex male partners (11,766), nearly double, than all of the American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq (6,488). One in four women and one in seven men will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, black women experience brutality at a rate 35% greater than white women. Sexual assault occurs in almost half of all cases. Woman leave and returns an average of six times before finally pulling the pin. When they leaves, they are seventy times more likely than the average citizen to be murdered by the partner.

Jesus washed the feet of each of His disciples, an intimate act showing Christ’s profound humility and His purpose of serving people. I found serving these beleaguered women at the spa day to be as uplifting for myself as I hoped it would be for them. At least for a short time, they might have forgotten the savagery they so recently experienced and find peace in the moments a retired woman washed their feet.

Serving Lord, help us to give generously of what we have. It may do more good than we dare to think. Amen


hooponopono-meditationThen Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22


Over the years, I have learned that many cultures embrace values that we may be surprised to learn are just like those we find in the Bible. When I was in my twenties and before I had given my life to Christ, I played percussion for a Polynesian road show. The leader of the group was a man of Hawaiian descent mixed with other ethnicity, and one day he overheard me making a thoughtless comment about him. When it was brought to my attention that he was hurt by what I said, I went to him to apologize. At first, he told me that his mother had a saying when someone had hurt her. She would tell the person to take a feather pillow, cut it open and throw it to the wind. When the offender had then collected all the feathers, she would forgive that person. I was shocked, and I thought this man was saying he would never forgive me.


“My mother was not Hawaiian,” he said, “and I believe in a custom my father taught me.” He then told me about an ancient Hawaiian forgiveness and reconciliation practice called ho’oponopono. “Ho’o means ‘make’ in Hawaiian,” he said, “and pono  means ‘right.’ Using ‘pono twice in a row means ‘very right.’” The process involves at least one elder, a haku—a wise person with lots of life experience, to convene those having a disagreement or hard feelings and help them work through the problem. It’s not about who’s right,” he continued. “It’s just about resolving an issue, about forgiveness and moving on in a relationship.” The exercise involves telling the other person four things: I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you. If two people can come to a place where they can say these things to each other, most often the relationship between them is restored.


Jesus told Peter to be prepared to forgive those who do him wrong not once but “seventy times seven.” We are to “make things very right” with our enemies.


Lord, we thank You for Your wisdom and for the wisdom of many cultures in our beautiful world.


MY MIND AS HOSTAGEDo not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6


“If you work on your mind with your mind, how can you avoid an immense confusion?” These were the words of an ancient Chinese philosopher named Seng-ts’an. It’s true: in human terms, I cannot fathom the way that pesky mortal mind works sometimes—not by my own wisdom, experience, education, or the amount of time I spend cogitating. This might cause me great concern—were it not for my relationship with Jesus Christ.


Anxiety and fixated thinking sometimes seem to hold my mind hostage. I’m reminded of the words of Mark Twain: “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Most often when I fixate on a problem, the solution evades me as long as I am obsessing. Only when I ask for God’s guidance do I begin to work constructively on a solution.


The Bible says we should seek to have “the mind of Christ.” It’s God’s job, not ours, to concern Himself with the anxious thoughts that “find us and bind us.” In Psalm 139:23, David prays, “Search me, God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” This is not a pass/fail “test” for David; it is a cleansing of David’s mind. David knows that God always has our best interests in mind. And when we are experiencing anxious thoughts, we can ask—and expect—God to help us banish those thoughts from our minds. To try to do otherwise is to reject the power of the Living God which flows unchecked in all who believe in Him. “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).


Jesus told His disciples not to worry about what they would need to say when they were arrested by the Romans. “Just say whatever is given you at the time,” He said, “for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11). The same is true when our lives are “arrested” by anxiety: we can always rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to guide us in banishing restless apprehensions in our lives here on earth.


Steadfast Lord, instill in us trust and assurance that You will be with us during life’s worst trials. Amen


TOMB OF THE UNKNOWNSVery rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. Romans 5:7


The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sits on a hill at Arlington National Cemetery overlooking Washington D.C. An unidentified American soldier from World War I was buried there on March 4, 1921. The bottom of the grave vault was lined with two inches of French soil, taken from various battlefields. The guards, called “Sentinels,” keep watch twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Bad weather doesn’t bother them; the Sentinels consider it an honor to endure the “discomfort of the elements.” The walk has been conducted continuously since 1937.


Each Sentinel makes twenty-one steps across the mat—symbolizing the twenty-one gun salute, the highest honor given any military dignitary. The guard then turns and faces the tomb for twenty-one seconds, walks the opposite way for twenty-one steps, and repeats the process until the Guard Change ceremony, usually every hour on the hour. The all-male 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) had been solely given the duty until 1994 when the 289th Military Police Company was attached to the Old Guard. The 289th includes females, who are now also allowed to apply for Sentinel duty. It is considered a high honor to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb, where nameless military personnel are honored for the ultimate sacrifice of dying to ensure the freedom of the citizens of our country.


The Apostle Paul spoke of the ultimate gift of sacrifice for another human being in Romans 5. Paul said that many people would not be easily convinced to offer their lives to save another. He commented that “for a good person someone might possibly dare to die” (v. 7). But Paul explains that “Christ died for the ungodly” (v. 6). And we are all “ungodly,” missing the mark of being “good” people every day. Salvation comes through Christ alone, a gift of grace from God with no strings attached. The freedom we enjoy in our United States is hard won by the sacrifice of our military personnel. This Fourth of July, let’s celebrate our liberty by serving others as Christ would have us do.


Atoning Father, thank You for the sacrifice of military personnel, and for the gracious love we have through Your Son. Amen