Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gratitude and Prayer

“Gratitude is not only the posture of praise, but it is also the basic element for belief in God.

“When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good. We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves. We proclaim that our existence, and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God. Gratitude is the alleluia of existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as tribute to the ongoing, everlasting presence of God.”

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, NZ

“We must learn to pray out of our weaknesses, so that God can become our strength.”  from Joan Chittister

Clinton River, New Zealand, Milford Track

Saturday, January 24, 2015

We are a container holding His Presence

"As I grew older, I recognized this inner presence as a dynamic source of guidance and consolation. I became even more rooted in the belief that this indwelling God loves me totally and unconditionally.  To this day I draw comfort and courage from the belief I am a container holding the presence of God. This awesome and humbling gift of the Divine Indwelling constantly enlivens my spiritual path and seeds my transformation.”  Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Our Life

When I  hold and alive this insight, each moment of my life takes on new meaning.

Milford Track

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Reflections on Psalm 139

Psalm 139 reminds me again and again that nothing separates from God's loving Presence. He is always with us, regardless of where we are--physically, mentally, spiritually.

Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!

“God loves us because this kind of affection is unique to the Creator and the created.  God’s knowing us this deeply does not pose a threat to our independence as individuals with free will, but comes as  a gift of good news.

"Have you consider the feelings that accompany being loved in this fashion—loved inside and out for all that you do, think, and feel?  When you feel absent from God’s presence, deep in stress and suffering, reread these verses to remind you of the unbreakable connection with your omniscient God, the one who ‘knows’ you—inside and out.” J. Dana Trent

“Nothing is real without deriving its reality from God.”  Henri Nouwen

Ohope Beach, Bay of Plenty

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Enjoying His light

I especially enjoy waking early enough to see the sunrise spreading across the sky over the Bay of Plenty or the Ohiwa Harbour here in Ohope.The Bible begins with God creating light, and later, showing us His light in human form: “His life brought light to everyone." Whether here or at home, the morning’s freshness reminds me that each day allows me to begin anew. The light indeed overcomes the darkness, and my life can do the same. Each day, God offers us the opportunity to step beyond whatever holds us back from receiving His love and living fully within HIs family.

Whale_Island_NZ,  Ohope

Ohiwa, Ohope

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Whale Island

Whale Island, or Moutohora in Maori (meaning whale), lies five and half miles off the coast of Whakatane, in the Bay of Plenty, of North Island, NZ. It is the remnant of a volcano. Purchased by the government in 1984, the island still displays its history with active hot springs-- including a warm sand beach where access is not allowed.  The Department of Conservation has eradicated goats and rats and reintroduced native birds, bushes and trees. 

Meg and I enjoyed a late afternoon kayaking adventure paddling around the island with an outfitter, KG Kayaks. We returned in a gorgeous sunset. We had hoped to see blue penguins coming back on shore for the night, and dolphin. No such luck, but we were well entertained by seals doing wonderful ballet movements as we paddled close to the rocks where they hung out. We also enjoyed the lovely pohutukawa trees that bloom in December and are only found on coastal areas of North Island. We had missed doing this trip on earlier visits.  In the future, it is now on our “to do” list.

Whale Island from Air New Zealand flight to Whakatane

Meg paddling around Whale Island with KG Kayaks

Whale Island, KG_Kayaks

Kayaker with seal on right on rocks

Seal, Whale Island

Whale Island from Ohope beach

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Letting go of old hurts

"One of the hardest things in life is to let go of old hurts.  We often say, or at least think:  'What you did to me and my family, my ancestors, or my friends I cannot forget or forgive. ... One day you will have to pay for it.'  Sometimes our memories are decades, even centuries, old and keep asking for revenge.

Holding people's faults against them often creates an impenetrable wall.   Indeed, we cannot let go of old hurts, but God can.    It is God's work, but we are God's ministers, because the God who reconciled the world to God entrusted to us "the message of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:19).  This message calls us to let go of old hurts in the Name of God.  It is the message our world most needs to hear.” Henri Nouwen

As we move forward into this new year,  seeking to keep the "Christmas spirit," Nouwen provides us excellent advice. Old hurts, once acknowledged, need to be surrendered, so we can heal, move forward, and let God's "tender mercies" guide, support, and free us.

Ohope, Bay of Plenty, NZ

Thursday, January 1, 2015

“Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world"

“Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world—stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death—and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem 2000 years ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?  Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you can keep Christmas for a day, why not always?”  Henry Van Dyke

Tongariro_Crossing, Tongariro_National_Park