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Creekwood's Blog

Welcome to our blog! We will be blogging about current events from a Christian perspective, expanding on our weekly message, or just blogging about interesting items we feel could be relevant to your Christian walk. Check back often and feel free to leave us a comment on each entry!

Daily Examen

Author:
July 09, 2015

"For centuries, many Christians have practiced Daily Examen, a spiritual practice that involves finding a comfortable place everyday to sit with God and to survey your day through reflection, meditation, and prayer. 

Try and set aside fifteen minutes-- as a family, with friends, or by yourself-- and read Psalm 11. Then, use the Daily Examen as it is explained below to guide you in a time of prayer. Get comfortable with the idea of not only praying to and talking with God, but also enjoying quiet time and listening for how God might respond."


Waiting for the world to turn.

Author:
July 01, 2015

Turn again, O God of hosts; look down from heaven, and see;
Have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted.
They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
May they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
The one whom you made strong for yourself.

-- Psalm 80

It's no secret-- to God or us-- that life can be hard and heartbreaking. When we read about the history of God's people: oppressed by cruel captors, wandering in the wilderness, and watching their homes and houses of worship destroyed ... we quickly make the connections in our world, woefully recognizing familiar pain and recurrent themes that wound God's beloved ...

Over the weekend, 10,000 Burundian refugees sought asylum in neighboring countries, fleeing political unrest and violence.  Since April, over 144,00 Burundian citizens (mostly women and children) have been displaced.  

Tens of thousands of citizens in the Dominican Republic have been declared stateless and are facing the threat of deportation because of legislation that discriminates against persons with Haitian heritage. 

 In the last ten days, eight historically Black churches have been impacted by fires.  Some of the fires have been confirmed as arson and others are still under investigation.

The list could and does go on; the world is full of heartbreak, unrest, and injustice that cause the people of God to cry out.  What do we do when we encounter such brokenness?

Well, a few things:

1. We can cry out, too.  Share a prayer, lamenting the sad things you have seen, heard, and felt in this world.

2. We can provide resources and support. There are people who are equipped and prepared to respond in times of crisis, and their response will be all the more powerful when we pitch in with our resources.  Visit weekofcompassion.org or http://www.unhcr.org/ to see how you can donate.

3. We can be allies and advocates for those who continue to be harmed by evil in the world. You can visit with your friends, neighbors, and loved ones to dispel hurtful ideas and harmful ideologies.   

The Psalmist asks God to have regard for this vine, meaning God's people.  One of the most important things we can do, as we look and listen for God to take action amid the heartbreak and pain in our world, is to also have regard for God's people.  If we turn our heads towards God's people who are hurting and in harm's way, then we have already invoked the presence of God.

Building the sanctuary.

Author:
June 24, 2015

God dwells within each of us. 

 Each of us is a child of God.

 There is a divine spark that we kindle within us.

The truth and power of these words stir up feelings of comfort, joy, and love.  Hopefully those feelings encourage us to demonstrate comfort, joy, and love.  If we are mindful that each of us provides an entrance for others to the sanctuary of God, how do our interactions with the world change? 

What should I say as the entrance to the sanctuary of God?

What should I do as the entrance to the sanctuary of God?

Spend some time this week, thinking about your answers to these questions. Then, do a little more than thinking about the answers: live the answers.

A few suggestions for living as the entrance to God's sanctuary:

1. Ask a friend how you can pray for them this week. Often, we talk to our friends without ever letting them know we lift them up in prayer.
2. Find a candle or two in your house, set them in a prominent place.  Begin or end each day by lighting these candles and sharing aloud (or silently if it's just you), where you saw God today.
3. Write a prayer note-- something simple, like thanking God for a beautiful day or praising God for loving us so selflessly.  Leave your note somewhere that a stranger might find it.

For the beauty of the earth.

Author:
June 17, 2015

 

Grab a blanket. Pack a picnic. Find a spot outside underneath a shady tree. Call your nearest and dearest, so they can join you. While you eat sandwiches and watermelon, notice everything happening around you:

- Is anyone else nearby? Do they look like they're enjoying the day? Where do you think they'll go later today?
- Look up at the sky. What does it look like? Are there birds? Planes? Where do you think these winged things are going?
- Exchange a smile with the folks who have gathered with you. Are you thankful to be with them? What are some sweet words you would like to tell them?

When we stop and notice God's creation that surrounds us, we are spending time in prayer. God has provided a beautiful and strange world for us to inhabit, to care for, and to practice kingdom living. Picking up a picnic basket and pressing pause is only one way that we can spend some intentional, prayerful time celebrating and reveling in God's creation. Find a way that feels meaningful for you.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Build a table top terrarium-- a small scale, low maintenance garden that can sit on your table as a daily reminder. Click here for terrarium ideas and instructions. 

2. Visit Google Earth and look up a random place in the world. Pray for the people who live there.

3. Learn about an environmental issue that affects the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Think about what a faith response or action might be. 

The big, loud, and bright bits of God.

Author:
June 10, 2015

 

Psalm 18 is a larger-than-life psalm. Its fifty verses tell us of a God who is big, loud, and bright:

- God whose presence is made known from the high towers and strongholds.

- God whose power conjures images of smoke, fire, and war. 

- God whose provision provides comfort and light.

Read for yourself the words of Psalm 18, either in your Bible or by clicking here. Underline, highlight, and take notice of the imagery the Psalmist uses to describe how God moves within their world. Then ask yourself and anyone nearby:

Is that how God moves in your life?
Would you describe God's presence in your life as big, loud, and bright?

Really consider these questions.  Serious consideration might mean pulling out some stray pieces of paper and crayons, so you can draw the movement and presence of God in your life. Spend some time, using colors and shapes to create images for who God is in your life. 

When your piece of art, your work of God, stick it on your refrigerator.  Keep it there this week. Each time you are in the kitchen, spend some time basking in how God is moving in your life.  In big, bright, and loud ways, sure.  And maybe, in small, quiet, twilight moments too.

Poetry of the heart.

Author:
June 03, 2015

The Psalms are considered to be the poetry of the heart, expressing the many emotions, attitudes, and beliefs of the people of God throughout their time in exile and in the early days of their return to the Promised Land.  In times of great grief, bitterness, and anger, the Israelites cried out to God—begging Him for mercy and justice.  When even the mildest sense of joy or contentment stirred, they praised God’s name and affirmed their commitment to pursue God’s desire and design for the lives.  Originally songs that were eventually recorded for us to read, the Psalms help us connect to God and our spiritual ancestors across boundaries and barriers of time, experience, and language. 

Those of us who love poetry, easily find spiritual inspiration in these electric, eclectic phrases where one word carries the weight and meaning of twenty.  We marvel at the economy of words, the care of expression, and the raw feelings that a communicated in a few powerful verses. 

Those of us who prefer complete sentences or think that the two most poetic lines ever uttered are, “Roses are red, violets are blue …” are sometimes puzzled by the hyperbolic, intense language of the Psalms.  We have a hard time connecting the dots of emotion and spirituality across those boundaries of time, experience, and language.

Today, we encourage both apathetic and ardent poetry readers, alike, to spend some time searching for connection in the Psalms today.  Perhaps you want to return to Psalm 23, the familiar standby mentioned in last week’s blog post.  Or, you could try reading a few of these Psalms as a family or during a time of personal devotion:

Psalm 19
Psalm 51
Psalm 66
Psalm 100

As you read and reflect, consider these questions:

  1. How do you think the author of this Psalm was feeling when they wrote it?
  2. How do you feel when you read this Psalm?
  3. Briefly look at the Psalm before it and the Psalm after it.  Do they have the same tone or feel to them?
  4. Can you imagine the circumstance under which you would write a Psalm like this? Describe that scenario.

After reflecting on the Psalm for a little bit, you are encouraged to rewrite the Psalm in your own words.  If you are reading the Psalm in a group setting, with family or friends, you may each write your own versions to compare or write a version together to share.  When you rewrite the Psalms in your own language you experience an opportunity to connect with God’s word and people through creative and holy practice. 

 

If you feel comfortable, you can share your Psalms by commenting on the blog.

 

A familiar beginning.

Author:
May 27, 2015

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul …”

So begins Psalm 23, one of the most familiar and easily recognizable pieces of Christian scripture.  For folks who have made themselves at home in church families from an early age, Psalm 23 is likely familiar and reminds you of early days in Sunday school classes and memorizing Bible verses.  For others who began worshipping God in community and reading the Bible later in life, odds are good that you were introduced to Psalm 23 as the definitive Psalm—a piece of scripture that explains who exactly God is and how faithfully God loves us.

When a piece of scripture becomes so ubiquitous, or commonplace, we sometimes neglect to hear the power those familiar words possess. Spend some time this week sitting and studying Psalm 23.  Search your heart by remembering how God’s word has spoken to you in the past.  Strengthen your soul by discovering how God’s word is speaking to you today.  Stretch your imagination by dreaming of new ways that God’s word might affect your life.

To help you connect with Psalm 23, you can visit the links below to hear and experience this familiar scripture from a variety of perspectives:

  1. Consider how Psalm 23 must sound to a child who is committing these words to memory and heart for the first time: Abby recites Psalm 23.
  2. Experience how melodies and images can transform Psalm 23, making it even more meaningful and personal: Bobby McFerrin's Psalm 23.
  3. Notice how we include our own ideas thoughts as God’s word becomes real in our lives: Psalm 23 as Spoken Word

Listen and look for God as these words resonate with your this week.

 

 

Questions to Guide You:

  • When do you first remembering hearing, reading, or reciting Psalm 23?
  • Do you have a favorite verse in Psalm 23?
  • Which of these three versions of Psalm 23 was your favorite? Why do you think that is?
  • Do you think you could spend some time this week seeking out other versions of Psalm 23 that are meaningful for you?