Living Lent…and other Oddities

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Daily Prayer for April 7

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16–17, NIV

Lord our God and our Father, we thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit, who binds us to you. Give us continually afresh something of this Spirit so that we can go forward with light shining on the paths we must follow on earth. Grant us your Spirit, grant that light may break into our whole life and we can rejoice because we experience so much of what you are doing. For through the power of your Spirit you can help us toward your future and all that is to come, that we may live not only in time but in eternity. Amen.

 

Daily Dig for April 7

Jane Tyson Clement

Bird on the Bare Branch

Bird on the bare branch,
flinging your frail song
on the bleak air,
tenuous and brave –
like love in a bleak world,
and like love,
pierced
with everlastingness!
O praise
that we too
may be struck through with light,
may shatter the barren cold
with pure melody
and sing
for thy sake
till the hills are lit with love
and the deserts come
to bloom.

Source: The Heart’s Necessities

 

 

 

Living Lent Daily

Fifth Sunday of Lent

The disciplines of Lent bring with them the promise of renewal.

Scripture

“I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:19

 

Reflection

The season of Lent brings with it the promise of spring. We are moving out of winter, spring flowers will be budding out of the ground, and the vestiges of the season of cold weather will soon be a memory. Isaiah promised a similar renewal; he told the people that the memories of the hard travels they have had were in the past: “Do not remember the former things, / or consider the things of old” (Isaiah 43:18). Rather, he encouraged them to look forward to the newness God was creating for them.

Even though he was in prison when he wrote his Letter to the Philippians, Paul did not let his imprisonment or the memories of past persecution dampen his hope in Christ. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1‒11). The religious authorities brought the woman accused before Jesus for judgment. (Note, the man involved was equally guilty and subject to the same penalty, but we hear nothing of him.) The woman was nothing but an excuse for the authorities to entrap Jesus. She was not named―she was an object in their eyes, truly a person on the periphery of her society.

Should Jesus have excused her, he would have been criticized for not obeying the Law. If he told the authorities to carry out the judgment and stone her to death, he would have been seen as heartless. Jesus stooped to the ground and, ignoring the authorities, traced lines in the sand. He then stood and told the authorities, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). He then stooped to the ground once again. Those who were ready to stone the woman disappeared.

Accepting the woman as a person, Jesus asked who was there to condemn her. “No one, sir,” she said. Then Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11).

In a personal encounter with Jesus, the woman had received mercy as only God can give, and she was offered the possibility of a new life in a new relationship with God. Jesus offers us that same possibility when we approach him with a contrite heart.

 

Lenten Action

► Reflect on this Sunday’s Gospel with Arts & Faith: Lent.

Palma il Vecchio, “Christ and the Adulteress,” circa 1525–1528

Arts and Faith: LentPalma il Vecchio’s Christ and the Adulteress invites us into the crowd standing with the Pharisees to hear how Jesus will judge the woman caught in adultery. Palma il Vecchio’s depiction invites us into close proximity with Christ, the woman, and three Pharisees, creating an intimacy that inevitably leads one to examine his or her conscience. Christ’s direct gaze at us, the audience, reinforces this proximity and demands a look inward.

The woman in this scene is modeled after Violante, an ambiguous figure in the painter’s life, whom he regarded as a daughter. Her face appears frequently in Palma’s work. Rather than an ashamed, frightened, or penitent face, the face of this woman is somewhat defiant, unconvinced that her accusers have the right to charge her. Her raised eyebrow is evocative: it is as if she has owned up to her adultery, while at the same time remaining skeptical that her accusers are any better than she is. In this one lifted eyebrow, Palma tells us the story of “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” While these are Christ’s words in John’s Gospel, here the words echo from the woman’s expression. To be a carrier of God’s Word gives her a vocation and returns to her the dignity that is stripped from her when she is labeled an adulteress and marked for execution.

If the woman’s raised eyebrow communicates the sin and hypocrisy present in this story, Christ’s direct gaze at us is the visual depiction of the words: “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” His gaze is gentle but honest, firm but encouraging. It is a gaze of truth and life, the same gaze perhaps that fell upon the Samaritan woman at the well, or the penitent woman who shed tears on Jesus’ feet. In this image, the gaze rests not on the woman caught in adultery, but rather on us.

Meeting Christ’s gaze is an opportunity for conversion. It is a chance to come into Christ’s truth and life, and to discover once again the dignity and vocation of being God’s beloved.

 

► Read Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead.

by Andy Alexander, SJ, Maureen McCann Waldron

The following reflection is based on John 11:1–45.

Reflection

Martha speaks profound sorrow at the death of Lazarus, but it is tinged with blaming Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Francesco Trevisani - The Raising of Lazarus - WGA23058Where do I resent the losses in my life and somehow blame God for them?

Even when Jesus tells Martha, “I am the one who raises the dead to life!” she finds it hard to believe. Where do I doubt that Jesus can bring life?

Jesus stands before the tomb weeping. He places no barriers to his feelings about death. Could he be staring at and facing the tomb of his own death? Can I be with him there? Can I stand before and face the tombs in my daily life?

Jesus shouts the liberating words of life, “Lazarus, come forth!” How is he shouting that to me today?

The grace will come when I experience how my “deaths” will not end in death but in giving glory to God. When I experience how entombed I have been, tied and bound, no longer alive, dead for a long time, I will sense the power of the command of Jesus that I “come forth.”

Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet - The Raising of Lazarus - WGA12033

 

► Read “Cletus, Come Out” by Maureen McCann Waldron.

Perhaps because I feel as if I have been brought back to life after a 12-day siege with the flu, I have been thinking a lot about Lazarus.  It’s such a deep and wonderful Gospel with Jesus standing at the end of the tomb, peering into the darkness and calling us back to life: “Lazarus, Come out!”

It’s that kind of summoning back to life, the invitation to unbind ourselves from the things that tie us up that gives such power to our relationship with God.  Lent is a time of becoming aware of how much God longs for a deeper relationship with us, one where we realize that God is not in our minds, but deeply settled in our hearts, just waiting for us to notice.  It’s a gift of faith that I deeply wish for those I love the most.

My dad, who died about 9 years ago, was always terrified of death.  He actually dwelled on it a lot, but it was often in kind of a maudlin way and it was clear he was afraid of it.

Now, when I think back on his life, I can also see that he was raised to be terrified of God.  He knew that at the end, he was going to be punished for his bad life.

My dad was a hard man in many ways but finally, toward end of his life, I had the grace to see him with new eyes, maybe looking at him as Jesus does. He had lived a good life, raised six children and did his best. In his faith life, he never missed Mass. He read a number of Catholic magazines and lots of books and in retirement often had long conversations with his pastor about Church issues, Church politics, and reform.

But perhaps he could never move his relationship with God from his head to his heart.  It was rare for him to talk about his relationship with God, but when he did, it was clearly one of fear with God as a judge.  It didn’t seem to be a warm relationship but more cautious and leery.

He never had the sense that at the end, he would be falling into the arms of a loving God.

He didn’t know he would hear Jesus saying, “Cletus, come out!”

 

Prayer

Help us, O Lord, to approach you with a contrite heart so we may receive your mercy.

 

 

 

Verse of the Day

Logos.com

 

 

Catch Me if You Can

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. Jonah 1:3 WEB

It was late one Saturday afternoon when a friend stopped by and invited me to go to church with him the following morning. I politely declined because the thought of getting dressed up in a suit and pretending to be someone else one day a week did not appeal to me. Besides, I knew some of the people there, and during the week they often behaved worse than me. Even the friend that invited me had probably smoked a joint on the way to my house.

Like Jonah, I ran from God and evaded Him for years, or so I thought. In time, He caught me. One night while playing music at a party, I met the Lord and suddenly my whole life changed. My friends no longer knew me. Suddenly I wanted to know everything there was about God. My old interests and friends soon faded away.

Over time I learned that you don’t have to wear special clothes or pretend to be someone else to please God, for that is only man made traditions. We should always be ourself, seven days a week, and not have to put on ‘The Church Face.’

It is not just a Sunday thing, but more of a Monday through Friday thing. God so loved us that He gave His only Son to save us, just as we are. When you fall, get up and take another step. God is not mad at you, and when you turn to Him, He will immediately accept you.

Sure you should live a life that demonstrates faith in God, but you don’t start out perfect. You won’t even end perfect, but you will get better. Know that God is seeking a personal relationship with you while at work, just as much as when you are at church.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for accepting me just as I am. I want to serve You Lord with all my heart. Please continue to draw me to You. Consume me with Your love and deliver me from the things that hinder me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Zimri was king of Israel for only a week (1 Kings 16:15-20)

 

 

with Jesus: ‘Presuming on Grace?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Caiaphas spoke treacherously about Me. At the same time, he also unwittingly spoke God’s truth about My mission:

Caiaphas, the High Priest That Year:

…it’s better… that one man should die for the people so the whole nation won’t perish.

… As high priest that year, Caiaphas prophesied (without knowing it) that Jesus would die on behalf of the entire nation, and not just for the children of Israel — He would die so all God’s children could be gathered from the four corners of the world into one people.
(John 11:50-52)

Many of My own people would reject Me (John 1:10-11) and have Me crucified by the Romans (Acts 2:22-23Acts 3:13-15). However, My death and resurrection would draw all kinds of people — Jews and non-Jews alike (John 12:32-33) — to Me as disciples. I didn’t die just for one group, but I died for the sins of all people (1 John 2:1-2).

I want you to hear My loving, but firm, words of truth. No group, no race, no country, and no region can grow calloused and presume they are the only recipients of heaven’s grace! We — Father, Son, and Spirit — called Abraham to be the father of a new nation. This nation was to live in a special relationship with Us and be a blessing to all nations of the world (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, received Our promises and shared in the blessings of Our covenants. We called Israel to be a light to the nations. Israel was to be a blessing to those trapped in the darkness of sin, paganism, and ignorance. Yet throughout Our long history of loving patience with Our chosen people, you will find exceptional person after exceptional person who was not an Israelite by race. And each of these remarkable people became part of Israel’s great story of faith — people like Rahab, Ruth, and several centurions you meet in the New Testament. So as I near My chosen city that is about to reject Me, you shouldn’t be surprised by the thankful outsider in the story below. This outsider is the only one who returns to thank me.

Years earlier, Moses had repeatedly warned the Israelite people never to forget all that their great I AM had done for them. Regardless, how quickly they did forget. So I ask you not to presume on the grace you have received. Don’t assume that Our blessings are yours by national privilege, racial preference, religious heritage, or your own righteousness. As Hosea declared and the apostle Paul repeatedly pointed out, My righteous people will live by faith. What’s more, that faith will motivate them to take the grace they have received and share it with others.

Verses to Live

As you read the verses below, think back on the blessings that you have received. Ask yourself if you are more like the nine insiders who didn’t offer thanks for their healing or the one outsider who returned to thank Me.

Jesus was still pressing toward Jerusalem, taking a road that went along the border between Samaria (considered undesirable territory) and Galilee. On the outskirts of a border town along this road, He was greeted from a distance by a group of 10 people who were under quarantine because of an ugly and disgusting skin disease known as leprosy.

Lepers (shouting across the distance):

Jesus, Master, show mercy to us!

Jesus:

Go now and present yourselves to the priests for inspection of your disease.

They went, and before they reached the priests, their skin disease was healed, leaving no trace of the disease that scarred them and separated them from the community.

One of them, the instant he realized he had been healed, turned and ran back to Jesus, shouting praises to God. He prostrated himself facedown at Jesus’ feet.

Leper:

Thank You! Thank You!

Now this fellow happened to be, not a Jew, but a Samaritan.

Jesus:

Didn’t all ten receive the same healing this fellow did? Where are the other nine? Was the only one who came back to give God praise an outsider? (to the Samaritan man) Get up, and go your way. Your faith has made you healthy again.

(Luke 17:11-19)

Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. I want the reign of Your grace to completely capture my heart and continue to change my attitudes, my words, and my actions to reflect my deep appreciation for the grace You have given me. I recognize that I am saved by Your grace. I trust that Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection defeated the power of sin and death, purchasing my pardon and making me Your child. May I never presume on Your amazing grace, O Lord! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

KindredKGgrace

There is a Mission style antique chair that sits in our living room. The legs are marked up, the corners worn. The stain has been rubbed off the arms and back from use.

I want to be like that chair. Standing firm without giving anyone splinters. Transparent enough to show the wear without wearing a mask.

Community has been an integral part in the Father’s gentle wearing off of my rough edges. But I know He has so much more to do.

Here at Kindred Grace, we believe there is no room for self-righteousness or for self-condemnation in hearts that have been given life by His transforming love.

And we are dedicated to fellowship through words in order to glorify God and to encourage each other.

We would love to encourage you, friend. In the words of Paul to the Philippians, “We have you in our hearts.”

Would you help us out? Would you hit “reply” to this email and answer this question:

In what area of your life are you having trouble applying grace?

We would count it a privilege to pray for you.

~Gretchen

 

 

(Photo by Joey Banks on Unsplash)

When I went to Bible school in 1982, an elder in the body of Christ warned me. He basically told me that knowledge puffs up and makes one proud, and that I was going into a spiritual jungle and would hear many new things. I was only 18 months old in the Lord, and he was concerned that I would not discern between what was human, divine or even demonic. He was concerned that as a young convert, I would lack discernment to rightly divide the things of the soul and the things of the Spirit, or that which was “good” versus that which was truly born of God.

By the grace of God, I thrived in Bible school and cultivated a healthy, intimate prayer life with the Lord, and He kept me from stumbling and falling into error or pride. I learned great truths from a general in the faith, the late Kenneth E. Hagin, who had the deepest prayer life and love walk of any man I’ve known to this day. The supernatural followed his life and ministry, and even though he was a man of the Word, spectacular visions of Jesus marked his ministry. And yet to this day, he is one of the most misunderstood ministers, and many still fail to receive his ministry and the many truths and light he brought to the body of Christ.

When I survey the landscape of Christianity today, I have similar concerns to those the aforementioned elder had for me all those years ago. It is a vast spiritual jungle out there with many more false apostles, false prophets and false teachers than there were back in my earlier Christian days. There are many conferences and a host of celebrity-type ministers who are polluting Christendom with teachings and practices that are thoroughly unscriptural, and even some that border on the occultic.

We must familiarize ourselves with the real Spirit of God and be grounded in the Scriptures, or we could succumb to the spirit of error that is prevalent in this hour.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

“But the anointing which you have received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. For as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in Him” (1 John 2:27).

Be very careful, my friends. There are some popular names out there that are in grave error concerning doctrine and practice, and they even have questionable lifestyles. Some have a multitude of followers even numbering in the millions. Just because someone has a big name, a big ministry or a mega-following does not mean they are following God. Jesus warned us that we would know them by their fruits.

Where many miss it is that they judge these misguided leaders by the fruit of their ministries, their gifts, talents, popularity, size and influence of their ministry instead of by the fruit of their lives, their character, marriage, children, home life and so on. Who you are in the home is who you really are. Don’t be fooled.

I could say much more, but this is sufficient for now. The safeguard against deception is to cultivate humility, teachability and a strong Word and prayer life as well as a love for the truth. Surround yourself with true fathers of the faith and elders in the body of Christ.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24).

Our books are forerunners to personal holiness, the move of God and the return of the Lord. They also combat the departure from the faith and the turning away from the truth we are seeing in our day.

Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, has authored several books with an emphasis on helping to restore the true spirit of Christianity in the Church today, including his latest book, Passing on The Move of God to The Next Generation. Follow him at Bert Farias and Holy Fire Ministries on Facebook and @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

 

 

 

The Ground of Hospitality

Norman Wirzba

The christian church has multiple saints associated with gardening, farming, and food. There’s Saint Isadore, Saint Urban, Saint Fiacre, Saint Patrick, and, of course, Saint Francis of Assisi. I especially like Saint Phocas, who farmed in the region of Sinope, a fairly remote Turkish peninsula jutting into the Black Sea. During his life he aided Christians being persecuted by the emperor Diocletian (284–305). He regularly opened his home to strangers and travelers, and he fed the poor with food he had himself grown. Phocas was well known across the country for being a man of great charity and virtue.

It was his reputation for hospitality that got him into trouble. Scholars believe that sometime around AD 303 Diocletian singled him out as one Christian especially deserving of death. The emperor promptly dispatched two soldiers to do the job. They had an enormous distance to cover, much of it through treacherous and hostile terrain. As they approached Sinope, they came upon Phocas’s farm. They explained their mission to him. Phocas insisted that they spend the night at his home. He assured them that he could direct them to the man on the following day. Meanwhile, they needed a good meal and a good night’s rest, which he provided.

While the soldiers slept, Phocas went to his garden to dig a grave.

The next morning, having enjoyed a good breakfast, the soldiers asked for directions. Phocas told them they need look no farther, since he was the man. The soldiers were astonished, perhaps even embarrassed, having just enjoyed such extraordinary hospitality. But Phocas insisted. If they failed to kill him, the emperor would likely kill them. And so they went to the garden, where the soldiers cut off his head and buried him in his grave.

While the soldiers slept, Phocas went to his garden to dig a grave.

I have no doubt that Christian training played a major role in Phocas’s development as a man widely known for his kindness, generosity, and hospitality. But I also believe that his work in the garden contributed directly to his hospitable manner. By giving himself to the ground he learned in the most visceral manner that the ground is constantly giving in return. The ground isn’t simply a stage on which people do their thing. It is, rather, the miraculous matrix that cradles, supports, and feeds life.

To work in a garden is to be surrounded by the mysteries of germination, growth, and decay, and it is to be overwhelmed by the gifts of raspberries, tomatoes, and onions that surprise us with their fragrance and taste. But it isn’t all pleasantries. To garden is also to be frustrated by the disease and death that are beyond one’s control and power. Where did this blight come from? Why won’t this seed germinate? A late frost again? The temptation is always to give up and walk away. But that isn’t really a viable option. If people are to eat, they must eventually return to the ground.

Saint Phocas understood that if the land gave itself to him, then he must give himself to the land in return. He did this daily, in the actions of cultivating, seeding, watering, weeding, pruning, and harvesting. He didn’t simply take what the land provided. He invested his time and skill, his devotion and energy. At the end, he even gave his body to the ground. I like to think that it pleased him to know that his flesh and blood would nourish the ground itself, feeding the life below that feeds the life above.

Gardening is one of the most vital practices for teaching people the art of creaturely life. With this art people are asked to slow down and calibrate their desires to meet the needs and potential of the plants and animals under their care. Gardeners are invited to learn patience and to develop the sort of sympathy in which personal flourishing becomes tied to the flourishing of the many creatures that nurture them. A garden, we might say, is a living laboratory in which we have the chance to grow into nurturers, protectors, and celebrators of life. This, I believe, is why the first command given to the first human being was to come alongside God the Gardener and “till and keep” the Garden of Paradise (Gen. 2:15). Gardening is hard and frustrating work, but it is not a punishment. To garden well – in the skillful modes of attention, patience, sensitivity, vigilance, and responsiveness – is to participate in the way God gardens the world.

We must become hospitable to the soil that is hospitable to us.

Among contemporary writers, few have understood and articulated these insights as well as Wendell Berry. Whether in the form of poetry, story, or essay, Berry has argued that apart from a people’s commitment to repair and nurture particular places and communities, the world comes to ruin. His call to “return to the land” is not the expression of some romantic yearning to relocate urbanites within an agrarian arcadia that never existed. The issue is not relocation, but the development of the sympathies and skills that make for an enduring, responsible, and beautiful livelihood. One doesn’t need a farm to do that. All one needs is a place within which to learn to exercise care and commitment. He knows it won’t be easy, especially in cultures characterized by speed, rootlessness, and a spectator approach to life.

From an agrarian point of view, one of humanity’s most important postures is looking down. Though plenty of spiritualities encourage people to look up and away to a better world beyond the blue, looking away causes us to forget that in fact the ground beneath our feet nurtures us. Scripture made the point inescapable (Gen. 2:7, 3:19): to say the word human (adam) is to be reminded of the ground (adamah) from which we come, by which we are fed, and to which, upon death, we return. To ignore the soil or, even worse, to despise it, is to cut oneself off from the love of God and the power of life that circulates through it.

As people have moved out of agrarian ways of life, soil has mostly disappeared from their imaginations. If it registers at all, it is often as “dirt” – the substance to avoid because it makes one “dirty.” This is a tragedy, because soil is indescribably complex and miraculous in its ability to create the conditions for life. In his early essay “A Native Hill,” Berry described it this way:

The most exemplary nature is that of the topsoil. It is very Christ-like in its passivity and beneficence, and in the penetrating energy that issues out of its peaceableness. It increases by experience, by the passage of seasons over it, growth rising out of it and returning to it, not by ambition or aggressiveness. It is enriched by all things that die and enter into it. It keeps the past, not as history or memory, but as richness, new possibility. Its fertility is always building up out of death into promise. Death is the bridge or the tunnel by which its past enters its future.

It would be a mistake to dismiss this characterization as a poetic flight of speech. Hans Jenny, one of the great soil scientists of the twentieth century, noted that sixty years of study only reinforced his realization that soil is fundamentally a mystery. The border between life and death, the biotic and the abiotic, is nearly impossible to draw. Soil is constantly receiving massive quantities of plant and animal corpses, and so should be a stinking mass of death. But it isn’t. Somehow death, by circulating through soil, is transformed into the fertility and fecundity of life.

Soil, we could say, is the first earthly site of hospitality, because it makes room for death, welcomes and receives it, so that new life will germinate and grow. The more primordial power of hospitality, however, is God’s. For good reason, the Garden of Eden story presents God as the one who creates by kissing soil, breathing into it the life that is you and me and all the plants and animals. In this gesture, God communicates that the divine nature is never to be far away or aloof. God is near, and stays intimately close as the breath within our own breath and as animate soil that circulates throughout all our eating. God’s creating, creative power is a hospitable power that constantly makes room for everything else to be and to flourish. God is the primordial host who prepares the beautiful, fragrant, and delectable feast at which all creatures are fed and find their true home.

Ángel Bracho, The Wheat Ear, detail

Ángel Bracho, The Wheat Ear, detail Artwork by Ángel Bracho
View Full Artwork

In his book Life in the Soil, the biologist James Nardi takes readers on a fascinating journey into soil. By following the routes of roots, he notes that after just four months, a single rye plant will send down 15 million roots totaling 380 miles. These roots make surface contact with an area of approximately 2500 square feet. If one adds to the equation the innumerable, miniscule hairs that attach to roots, then the length of the overall root system extends to 7000 miles in length and 7000 square feet in surface area.

Above ground a plant may appear to be a solitary, self-standing thing. But the roots reveal a different story. Plants crave contact and (chemical) communication. To be healthy, they need a dense network of nurturing relationships. A healthy plant, however, doesn’t simply take from the soil and all the microbes alive within it. The plant receives sunshine and transforms its energy into food, especially sugars, that it sends down through the roots to feed the fungi and other microscopic creatures that make their home near the roots. The more the roots grow, the more hospitable the soil becomes, further aiding the fertility of life. The vitality and vigor of plants, not to mention the tastiness of their fruit, depend on maximizing the flow of hospitality that circulates through sunshine, stems, roots, and soil. The destruction of life begins with the erosion, denuding, and poisoning of soil.

Agrarians believe that few tasks are more fundamental than for people to become hospitable to the soil that is hospitable to them. The work of making room for others, noting their need and potential, and committing to care for them, is the indispensable work. It is here, in the giving and receiving of nurture, that we learn the meaning and the point of life. If you want to experience life’s abundance and potential joy, give yourself away. This is what the gospel teaches. It is what God has been doing since the beginning. It is what the soil witnesses to every day.


Ángel Bracho, The Wheat Ear, detail

from “Enriching the Earth”

Wendell Berry

To enrich the earth I have sowed clover and grass
to grow and die. I have plowed in the seeds
of winter grains and of various legumes,
their growth to be plowed in to enrich the earth.
I have stirred into the ground the offal
and the decay of the growth of past season
and so mended the earth and made its yield increase.
All this serves the dark. I am slowly falling
into the fund of things. And yet to serve the earth,
not knowing what I serve, gives a wideness
and a delight to the air, and my days
do not wholly pass. It is the mind’s service,
for when the will fails so do the hands
and one lives at the expense of life.
After death, willing or not, the body serves,
entering the earth. And so what was heaviest
and most mute is at last raised up into song.

Source: Wendell Berry, Farming: A Hand Book (Counterpoint, 2011).

 

 

 

Spirit-Led Woman

(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

Over the past 15 years, I have worked at leaving my past behind and walking in my new identity in Christ.

One thing that has been critical to this journey is surrounding myself with verses about what God says about me and my new identity in Him.

The Bible is filled from cover to cover with verses about who we are in Christ and about the fact that:

  • God’s thoughts about us are numerous.
  • God’s plans for us are prosperous.
  • God’s redemption of us gave us new life.
  • God’s sacrifice secured us in His family.

And these verses line my war room wall (part of it is now located in my pantry and the other part in my journal) to remind me of what God says about me in those times when the enemy wants to remind me of my past.

And when he reminds me of my past, I remind myself of what God’s Word says because that’s even better than reminding the enemy of his future.

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It’s better because instead of being focused on the enemy, I turn my focus immediately to God’s Word.

I fill my mind with Scripture.

I replace the lying thought with biblical truth.

I catapult myself out of negativity into victory!

10 War Room Verses to Help You Combat the Devil’s Lies

—”I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I have heard from My Father have I made known to you (John 15:5).

—”See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isa. 49:16a).

—”Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him, so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6).

—”Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

—”Put on the new nature, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

—”But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

—”I will praise you, for You made me with fear and wonder; marvelous are Your works, and You know me completely” (Ps. 139:14).

—”I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

—”But our citizenship is in heaven, from where also we await for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

—”If you then were raised with Christ, desire those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on earth. For you are dead, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3). 

Rosilind Jukica Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together, they live with their two active boys in the country, where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an associate degree in practical theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of “A Little R & R,” where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You may follow her on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google +.

 

 

 

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