January 31, 2016

Scripture Scrapbook- I and J

MEANS: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness,
the state of being whole and undivided, the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.
FROM:  late Middle English, from French intégrité or Latin integritas, from integer ‘intact,  (see integer).[Root of integer: early 16th century (‘entire, whole’): from Latin, ‘intact, whole,’ from in (not) + the root of tangere ‘to touch.’]

BIBLE VERSE: Several Psalms talk of being judged and found righteous because of the integrity of heart. (Psalm 7:8, Ps. 25:21, Ps. 26:11, Ps. 41:12, Ps. 101:2
A Psalm of David. Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering. (Psalm 26:1)

THOUGHTS: I find it interesting that integrity comes from the same root as ‘integer’. As we learn early on in math, an integer is a whole number. When we walk with integrity, we are whole before others and God. We are not a human and a half. Nor are we a quarter of a human. We are God’s own chosen creation-whole and intact.

To have integrity is not something that is talked about a lot in the modern world. Tony Dungy in his book Uncommon says that “integrity is the choice between what’s convenient and what’s right.” CS Lewis noted that “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” We may find it easy to point our finger at others who are not showing integrity in life. However, it starts with the way we live our own life.  For Christians, the thing that keeps us on target is the Word of God. Then, like David in the Psalm, we know that we have measured our self against the Lord and have not wavered. 

PRAYER: Creator of all, help me to see myself as an important whole piece of your work and creation. Guide me to measure my actions against your Word and to act with integrity.

MEANS: just behavior or treatment, the quality of being fair and reasonable, the administration of the law or authority in maintaining this, the personification of justice, a judge or magistrate
FROM:  late Old English iustise administration of the law, from Latin Justitia- jus-law, right.

BIBLE VERSE: Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1 & Matthew 12:18)

THOUGHTS: There are over 100 citations that use the word 'Justice' in the Bible! I guess that means it’s an important concept to God. The one I chose is found in both Isaiah and in Matthew. It is one of the Old Testament scriptures that points to Messiah. In Matthew it is found right after Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath, causing consternation and condemnation. He has just pointed out to the Pharisees that “it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”.
The Justice of God is mercy and healing. Just a couple verses later in Isaiah we hear, “he will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick, till he bring justice to victory; and in his name will the Gentiles hope.” The Justice of God is certainly different than human justice in many cases. We are called to forgive and to love and to help the unlovable. Then we are the hands and feet of God’s continuing justice in the world.
Recently we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day. His work, among many others, reminds us that there is much still to be done before justice truly prevails.

PRAYER: Dear Loving Father, help me to be an instrument of your justice and not seek the world’s justice against those who I think have wronged me. It isn’t easy, and I seek your help.

How are you intact and whole in God? Is there a picture or image that exemplifies that for you?
What things speaks to your heart as needing God’s justice? Perhaps you can list them in your scrapbook to revisit.

Consider how your integrity in God is related to being a channel of justice. 

January 24, 2016

Scripture Scrapbook: G and H


MEANS: obtain or secure (something desired, favorable, or profitable), reach or arrive at (a desired destination), come closer to (a person or thing pursued), increase the amount, rate, value
FROM: Late 15th century (as a noun, originally in the sense of ‘booty’)

BIBLE VERSE: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:26, see also Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25

THOUGHTS: In the Message translation, this citation, starting in verse 24 says, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get (gain) everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
The word is derived from a word indicating 'booty'-something a pirate might acquire-like treasure. To rephrase the Message translation, just a bit more. "What sort of deal is it to get all the BOOTY (treasure) you want ...but lose yourself? What sort of booty could you ever trade your soul for?"
Following Jesus is counter to the ideas we get from the world around us, isn’t it? We are told that to ‘succeed’ we need to be first and on top. We have to strive to have the 'most marbles', the biggest pile of booty! This can result in the loss of our identity. Sometimes we end up living up to everyone’s expectations except God’s. God’s way is simple-follow Jesus. It seems like we would lose our self when we embrace suffering and self-sacrifice with Jesus. Then we find that the truth is that real living is in offering our life to God.

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to remember that it is not the way of the world that I should follow, but your way of self-giving. No matter how much booty I have, if I have forgotten to let you hold my soul, it isn't worth anything. 

 MEANS: grasp, carry, or support with one's arms or hands, keep or detain (someone), an act or manner of grasping something; a grip.
o     FROM:  Old English haldan, healdan, of Germanic origin (halten); the noun is partly from Old Norse hald (hold, support, custody)

BIBLE VERSE: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

THOUGHTS: In this citation from the Letter to the Philippians, Paul notes that he hasn’t arrived, but continues to try to ‘get a grip’ on the righteousness found in knowing Christ. Just a few verses earlier Paul states, “whatever gain I had [as a Jewish man] I count as loss for the…surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…and through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God.” (Philippians 3:7-11) For Paul, and for us, we are called to work for the ‘upward call of God’. The Booty we are to work to get is a right relationship with God! Quite different from a pile of earthly treasure, isn't it? 
(I hadn't expected these 2 words to work together like they did-isn't the Holy Spirit surprising, sometimes!)

PRAYER: Living God, you ask me to let go of self in order to take hold of you. Help me to release my grip on things that are not of you, so that the treasure I do gain and hold onto is the right relationship with you.

What might you have to give up to ‘gain your soul’? You might journal about these in your scrapbook.
How do you ‘take hold’ of the call of God? Are there things that hold you back? You may want to draw some of these things or find images to glue in to the scrapbook.

Maybe you want to answer the question from the Message translation: “What kind of deal is it to get everything (all the booty) you want but lose yourself?”

January 17, 2016

Scripture Scrapbooking- E and F

MEANS: successful in producing a desired or intended result; operative; fulfilling a specified function in fact, though not formally acknowledged as such.
FROM: late Middle English: from Latin effectivus, from efficere ‘work out, accomplish’
BIBLE VERSE: I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Philemon 1:6

THOUGHTS: We hear a lot about being ‘effective’ in work, or having an ‘effective ministry’. Paul points out that it is in PARTNERSHIP that faith and understanding are increased. Life is not something we do by ourselves. It is meant to be lived in community and communion with one another. John Wesley famously said, “There is no such thing as a solitary Christian.” We can retreat for times of quiet and individual reflection, but our lives are lived with one another. In partnership we can 'deepen our understanding...for the sake of Christ'. We work out our individual ministries more fully when working together. 
A recent post by Dave Peterson on the High Calling website notes that we are part of an interconnected web. "...People are not solitary, freestanding individuals, but rather part of a vast and complex web of interconnected relationships. We are all uniquely gifted, and we exist for the sake of others...[in] Paul's letter to the Corinthians, he sketches out the spiritual mechanisms by which God directs this vast, interconnected web…You belong to and are part of the whole world you experience…the true World Wide Web is powered by the Spirit of God at work in the world."

PRAYER: I pray that each of us may be effective in deepening the understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ as we work in partnership with one another and with God.

MEANS: put someone or something into (a space or container) so that it is completely or almost completely full; become full of; become an overwhelming presence in; cause (someone) to have an intense experience of an emotion or feeling; appoint a person to hold (a vacant position); hold and perform the expected duties of (a position or role); occupy or take up (a period of time)
FROM: Old English fyllan (verb), fyllu (noun) of Germanic origin-fill
BIBLE VERSE: Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. Psalm 72:19

THOUGHTS: Some mornings I look out and the sky is a glorious red or rose or gold. Like the picture of the sun highlighting the Tetons as it rises, we are brought face to face with the grandeur of our God. I am reminded that the earth is indeed filled with God’s glory. 
Erasmus is said to have stated, “Bidden or Unbidden God is Present”. Carl Jung posted this above his door (and is often credited with saying it). When we are not expecting it, God can come and fill the earth, and fill us, with glory! 

PRAYER: May each of us be open to being filled with the Glory and Love of God, even when we don’t expect it, and carry that love to the world. Amen.

What images come to you as you consider something or someone that is effective? A leader, a machine, a teacher?
Does hearing that the ‘earth is filled with God’s glory’ bring anything to mind that you might draw or find a picture of?

Do you think you are filled with God’s glory in order to be an effective witness?
Can you find an image or write about how that makes you feel, or how that would be represented?

January 10, 2016

Scripture Scrapbooking: C and D

MEANS: protect and care for (someone) lovingly; hold (something) dear; keep (a hope or ambition) in one's mind.
FROM: Middle English: from Old French cheriss, from Latin carus care
BIBLE VERSE: For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live”. (Proverbs 4:3-4)

THOUGHTS: This citation from Proverbs is talking about human parents, and it is even more true of our Heavenly Father. Our Loving God says, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live.” God cares for us so deeply that God only wants what is best for each of us. Because of that love, God also gives us free will. As the saying goes “If you love something set it free…” And God does set us free. Like a truly loving parent, God is also there to pick us up when we fall down!

PRAYER: Father God, I pray that I may be aware of your cherishing Love in each and every daily activity.

MEANS: have the courage to do something; defy or challenge (someone) to do something; take the risk
FROM: Old English durran, of Germanic origin; from an Indo-European root shared by Greek tharsein and Sanskrit dhṛṣ-‘be bold’
BIBLE VERSE: Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8)
THOUGHTS: To dare is to be bold and courageous. This verse from Romans always reminds me of A Tale of Two Cities and the courage of Carton who saves Darney. In Dicken’s novel, it is about love and intrigue. St. Paul is saying something very different. He says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We do not have to be acquitted or get our lives in shape before God accepts us. We are beloved just as we are. Pretty good news!
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, too often I think I have to be perfect in order for you to love me. Help me remember that you took all sin to yourself on the cross, and declared me sinless. Let me dare to live believing in that amazing love.

SCRAPBOOK PROMPTS: Can the idea that God cherishes you and me, and all creation change the way you interact with others and with the world?
Are you willing to dare to act boldly for God?

Do images come to mind for either of these words? A child held in loving arms? A bold soldier marching off to war? Something else? Use them in your scrapbook. 

January 3, 2016

Spiritual Scrapbooking: A and B

MEANS: consent to receive (a thing offered); believe or come to recognize (an opinion, explanation, etc.) as valid or correct.
FROM: Late Middle English: from Latin acceptare, from ad- 'to' + capere 'take'
BIBLE VERSE: Those which were sown on the good ground are those who hear the word, and accept it, and bear fruit, some thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times (Mark 4:20 NIV)
THOUGHTS: I like to look at the etymology of a word because sometimes it will put a whole new idea into my mind about a phrase, or in this case a familiar Bible verse. If you substitute the Latin root ‘take’ into the citation we read, “Those which were sown on the good ground are those who hear the word, and take it, and bear fruit, some thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times (Mark 4:20 NIV)
To me, ‘take’ has a more active sense than ‘accept’. I can take a walk or my time or a toy, but I passively ‘accept’ a gift or weather. The word ‘take’ seems to demand action or response. When we ‘take’ the word of God, we might feel called to act. On the hand, we do have to ‘accept’ the free gift of God’s grace and love-we have to ‘take’ it into our hearts in order to bear fruit.
PRAYER: Grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change…

 MEANS: begin to be; (of clothing) look good on or suit (someone)
FROM: Old English becuman 'come to a place, come (to be or do something), of Germanic origin; bekommen 'get, receive'
BIBLE VERSE: And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"… (Matthew 4:3-4 NIV)
THOUGHTS: Jesus was faced with the temptation to change the stones into bread. Satan suggested he make the stones ‘become’ something they were not. We are often tempted by social media and advertising to ‘become’ different than who we are. ‘Buy this and look rich or gorgeous’, ‘share this without considering if you have other thoughts’, ‘win a reality show to make the news and be famous’… God wants us to ‘become’ simply daughters and sons who share the Light. There may not be fame or fortune, but there will be peace of heart when we ‘become’ who we really are meant to be.
PRAYER: Living God, in the wilderness you refused to turn stones to bread. Help me to become more aware of the ways I bend to become what the world offers, rather than listening to your Son. Amen.

SCRAPBOOK PROMPTS: What inspiration do you find in these first 2 words?
Are there any insights into how you can accept (take) the Living Word and share it, or what it means to be in the process of becoming a Child of God?
Do any images come to mind when you think of either of these words? For me the image of a plant is one that might symbolize what it means to become. A seed changes to a seedling, then to a plant with flowers and seeds of its own. Becoming is an ongoing cycle for the plant and for me throughout life. And…that is something I need to accept.

You may want to write, or find, your own prayer using one or both words. 

Scripture Scrap Booking 101

During this Epiphany to Easter period I invite you along for a time of exploring A-Z Bible words through Scripture Scrap Booking. This will give you the chance to explore what some ordinary words mean to you when looked at in the light of scripture, prayer, and your own life and theology.
Each week I’ll present a couple of words in my Sunday post. You’ll learn what it MEANS. I’ll give you the root of where it came FROM because sometimes that will give additional insight into the word. You’ll get a BIBLE VERSE using the word, and a PRAYER. Sometimes it will be my own prayer, sometimes borrowed from someone else. Finally I’ll provide some questions as SCRAPBOOK PROMPTS that may help you consider what the word means in your life and spiritual journey.
We’ll be doing 2 words a week-in order to be done by Easter, so you may want to do one at the beginning and one in the middle of the week.
Since this is Scripture Scrap book, I’d suggest you make a small (26 page) “scrapbook”. You don’t have to get fancy. Simply a 3-ring binder and some paper will work. You can download the backgrounds I’ve provided (here) or use plain or colored or patterned paper of your own. If you are someone who likes to craft, you can certainly get a beautiful scrapbook. This may actually be something that you revisit as a spiritual aid in years to come. I did one many years ago (see picture above), and I still flip through it from time to time and I’m always reminded of the Grace of God in my life. This time I'm using a small journal from Stampin' Up, but you can use anything you'd like. 

Some steps to a successful Scripture Scrap book:
1.       Say the word aloud. Think about what it means to you before reading the definition or etymology.
2.       Read the definition and etymology. Are you surprised by the meaning or where it was derived from?
3.       Meditate on the scripture and prayer. Stop and think about what they say to your heart and soul.
4.       Now comes the ‘scrapbooking part’. You can print out the word, scripture, prayer, and even the definition and etymology to paste onto the scrapbook page… OR
5.       Think of other prayers, poems, sayings, pictures, scripture that bring that word to life for you. Perhaps you want to sketch something that brings the word to life for you. Write or paste them into your scrapbook… OR
6.       Maybe you just want to write what comes to mind about the meaning of the word in your life today and in the past, so you have more of a journal than a scrapbook. That is fine.
7.       You may decide to ‘embellish’ (to use a craft term) your pages with stickers, ribbons, etc., but it’s not required.

If you don’t like the scripture I’ve provided for the word, you can probably find another scripture by using a concordance, or look up the word in an online Bible like www.blueletterbible.org. Google is a great resource for images that might just fit what you are thinking of-although beware, you can get trapped for hours searching for the perfect picture.
You can, of course, do this with pretty much any word, so if one week the chosen word doesn’t have any interest for you, feel free to find another.

Check out the next post for the first 2 words to get started!