Building One Another - Vol. 12, No.16
When my son and I were in Japan a few years ago we saw a Shinto Shrine for the worship of what its followers believe to be the spirits of nature and of past heroes.
In front of the shrine was a rope, maybe three inches thick, that went from eye level up to a bell mounted on the ceiling overhead. We asked our guide what the rope and bell were for.
He said the Shinto belief was that you had to ring the bell to “wake the god” – to “wake the spirit.”
It so happened that at the time my son and I were working on memorizing Psalm 121, which begins:
“I lift up my eyes to the hills - from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:1-4*
Our God is always alert, never sleeps, never needs a bell to awaken to our lives and our needs!
Whatever is going on in your life at this very moment our Lord is closer to you than your next breath, fully aware of all that concerns you. As another Psalm puts it, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
Seek him and trust in his love!
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Building One Another - Vol. 12, No.15
What do you do when, as a friend of mine put it, “You feel so low that your rear end is erasing your own tracks!”? How do you go about stirring up your own spirit when you are down?
After the Amalekites captured the families of David and his men, we learn: “Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept, until they had no more strength to weep.” I Samuel 30:4* David was feeling as low as a person can get!
Furthermore, “David was in great danger; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in spirit for their sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” I Samuel 30:6 David focused on his Lord for strength and encouragement!
Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun of the sixteenth century who was asked by her superiors to write a book on prayer, which she didn’t feel like doing at all. “Few tasks… have been so difficult as this present one of writing about matters relating to prayer: for one reason, because I do not feel that the Lord has given me either the spirituality or the desire for it; for another, because for the last three months I have been suffering from such noises and weakness in the head that I find it troublesome to write even about necessary business.”
In other words, “I’ve been commanded to do this. I don’t feel qualified. I have a headache. I am not in the mood. It’s a hassle!” “But, as I know that strength arising from obedience has a way of simplifying things which seem impossible, my will very gladly resolves to attempt this task [She is encouraging herself in God].”
“Although the prospect seems to cause my physical nature great distress; for the Lord has not given me strength enough to enable me to wrestle continually both with sickness and with occupations of many kinds without feeling a great physical strain. May He Who has helped me by doing other and more difficult things for me help also in this: in His mercy I put my trust.”
Encourage yourself in God!
 Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, (New York, Image Book,) p.23.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Building One Another - Vol. 12, No.14
Dear Friend,On Saturday morning I dug a hole in the backyard for a large tomato plant I’d picked up at a farmer's market, sprinkled in some fertilizer, and put in the plant. Thinking about it later I realized the ground I dug the hole in was very hard clay and that it would be difficult for growing roots to penetrate and to find nourishment in that soil.
So I dug out the tomato plant, made a larger hole, added some potting soil, and re-planted the tomato! The softer soil will make it much easier for the plant’s roots to grow and be fed.
Sometimes our own human hearts can be pretty hard and simply not open to the reality and presence of the God who loves us or to new ways of thinking. If arterial sclerosis is the hardening of the arteries then attitudinal sclerosis is the hardening of the attitudes. Scripture often refers to people as being “stiff-necked” which again suggests hearts that are simply closed to our Lord, closed to people.
The good news is that our Lord loves to melt human hearts. In speaking about restoring the nation of Israel we read, “I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 11:19-20
Pray with me: “O Lord, where my heart is hard, brittle, and closed to you, closed to people and closed to your call on my life, I ask you, the Lord who loves me, to soften my heart. May I be more fully aware of your presence, of the people you have put into my life, and of the purpose you have for me.” Amen.
With joy - E. Stanley Ott
Copyright 2013 E. Stanley Ott
*Scripture from the NRSV
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