A Celtic Prayer of Faith

I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
God’s power to guide me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s eyes to watch over me;
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to give me speech,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to shelter me,
God’s host to secure me.

Brigid of Gael, (c.451–525)

Saint Brigid of Brigid of Ireland is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba. Irish hagiography reveres her as an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare.

 

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Faith vs. Hope

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.”  Hebrews 11:1-2

I couldn’t let the month past without blogging on these verses from Hebrews, my favorite book of the Bible.  It’s chock full of inspiring statements and this particular one hangs on my bedroom wall.

My husband, who is a pastor, tells me that when he visits people who are ill or dying, he often hears these words:  “I believe in Jesus, and I hope I am saved.”  This is not quite right, because there is a difference between having faith and having hope (check it out on the website Beth Ann recommended, https://www.differencebetween.com).  Hope is anticipating that something may come to pass;  faith is an assurance that it will.  The author of Hebrews in exactly right:  if we have faith in Christ, we do not merely hope in our salvation we can be sure of it.  It also means we can be assured of many other promises of God, such as:

  • He is working all things out for our good
  • He will never leave us or forsake us
  • He will supply all our needs
  • Nothing can separate us from Him

and more.  Even those before Christ had this kind of faith because trusted in the promises of God even without seeing their fulfillment.

“These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13

They were looking forward to something;  we are looking back.  Shouldn’t our faith be even stronger since we have the privilege of knowing our salvation has already been accomplished through Christ’s death on the cross?

Have faith, friends.  You can be sure.

“If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9

 

Grown-Up Faith

I can’t fairly call this post a book review because I started reading a book called Grown-Up Faith by Kevin Myers and didn’t finish it.  Not because it’s a bad book, but simply because after the first few chapters, I didn’t seem to be learning anything new.  I actually would recommend it for a small group, especially one with newer Christians, to read and discuss together.  At the end of each chapter, there is a summary about “Grown-Up Faith in Action” and some chapters in the Bible to read before tackling the next chapter.  These passages take the reader from Genesis through Revelation, giving a good overview of the Bible and its’ message.

Grown-up Faith: The Big Picture for a Bigger Life by [Myers, Kevin]

I did like the premise explained by the author at the very beginning.  Here it is:

“A grown-up faith requires the involvement of the whole person.  It doesn’t come from half measures.  We can’t be half-in and expect whole results.”

If we want to be mature Christians, we must engage our mind (Biblical knowledge), our heart (spiritual intimacy with God) and our will (holy obedience).  How many of us stop at some point in this process?  Or develop only one in one area, ignoring the others?  This can lead to several problems such as:

  • Intellectualism:  Biblical knowledge without any real relationship with God or obedience to His Word
  • Emotionalism:  A relationship with God without knowledge of the Bible and obedience
  • Legalism:  Obedience to the Bible’s “rules” without an understanding of the full meaning of the gospel or spiritual intimacy with God

Individuals and even denominations can fall into the trap of being less than whole Christians because they neglect some areas, or overemphasize one.  My big take-away is something I’ve heard for years at Via de Cristo retreats:

There is no Christian life without Christian action

And it might be added, that action must spring from a correct motivation — one that flows out of a heart-felt relationship with Christ and a true knowledge of His teachings.

This book gives us all something to think about.  On which area am I (and possibly my church) weak?  I would say the Lutherans with whom I’m most familiar, lean toward intellectualism.  We know our Scripture well, but don’t always have a true hunger for Christ and obedience to His Word.  We know we’re saved by grace, isn’t that enough?  Well, it is and it isn’t.  True grace will lead us into true relationship and true obedience. Wherever you find yourself, go one step further.  Grow up in your faith.

 

 

Flee to the Scripture– A Quote by R.C. Sproul

“When you struggle with your faith, when you face the dark night of the soul, when you are not sure of where you
stand with the things of God, flee to the Scriptures. It is from those pages that God the Holy Spirit will speak to you, minister to your soul, and strengthen the faith that He gave to you in the first place.”
R.C. Sproul, What is Faith?

 

My Faith Looks Up to Thee

This well-known hymn was written by Ray Palmer, a young man who was preparing for the ministry.  It was his personal prayer for renewed courage and energy at a time when he was feeling exhausted and lonely.  He wrote the poem for himself with no plan to ever show it to another person.  Two years later (1832) he ran into his friend, Lowell Mason who asked him to compose some hymns for an upcoming hymnal.  Palmer was still too overwhelmed with the responsibilities of his life to feel up to writing something new, so he opened his journal and offered Mason this poem.  Mason promptly set it to music and told his friend,

“Mr. Palmer, you may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of ‘My Faith Looks up to Thee.'”

When your faith is flagging, and you are afraid you can’t keep going, remember this hymn.  Ray Palmer did become a pastor, and wrote other hymns, but this is the most famous.  You can have faith that God uses us even in our weakest moments.

Who’s Got Your Back?

Robin“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25-27

I’ve worked at some places that had “Team Building” exercises.  I hated one that came out (and I don’t know if they still do this), but you had to stand with your back to two or four people and just fall backwards and trust that they would catch you.  I never trusted the people behind me to catch me.  I couldn’t do this exercise.

But in my life I’ve learned to trust the Lord.  Now I figure trusting is just about the same as having faith.  They go hand in hand.  I looked up the differences between trust and faith, and there are differences.  According to http://www.differencebetween.com (yes, that’s a real website!) faith is used in the sense of ‘belief’ or ‘devotion’ and the word trust is used in the sense of ‘confidence’ and ‘reliance’.  Hummm, do you trust in your faith?  Or put another way, do you have confidence in your faith that the Lord will take care of you?

While I was the caregiver for my husband I found that I didn’t have confidence in my faith.  Why did my husband get sick?  Why did this happen?  I was terrified of being a single mom of two teen-aged sons without out a penny to put towards a funeral for my husband if he died.  Life just wasn’t supposed to happen this way.  But it did.

I read Matthew 6:25-27 and this verse held a whole new meaning for me.  I had faith in the Lord, but did I have the confidence that He would take care of my life?  At that time, the answer was no.  So I started to try to build my confidence in my faith.  The Lord helped by opening up my eyes and showing me all the little things in my life that He was taking care of.  As  my husband got worse, He brought people into our lives to show us that help was out there and they pointed me in the right direction.  We had in home aides so I could work and a chair lift so my husband could go up and down the steps.  These helps didn’t cost us a penny, but they were priceless.  As a result, my confidence got stronger.  Today, I know the Lord is looking out for me and has a plan.  I just have to listen to Him.

So, if you feel your confidence flagging, remember, God’s got this!!  He has your back.