Lent Devotional 3/21/17

Good afternoon!  I hope you had a wonderful Spring Break and found the time to rest, catch your breath, and the respite required to come back with the energy that is needed for the remainder of the semester.

Our Lenten devotional for today comes to us from Nancy Styles.  Nancy serves as the Executive Assistant for the Vice Chancellor for Government Affairs and assists Margaret Kelly in the Office of Community Projects.  If you’ve spent any time on the top floor of Sadler Hall you have undoubtedly been met by the warmth of Nancy’s smile and experienced her deep love for TCU.  Likewise, because of her deep connection to her faith, Nancy was recommended by more than one person as someone who might be a good person to write a devotional.  I am grateful for her willingness to do so, and for the words she invites us to reflect upon today.  Blessings on your journey…

Philippians 4:4-9     Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

REJOICE!  That word is used close to 150 times in the Bible.  Do you think the Lord was trying to tell us something?  “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!”  I don’t know about you, but that’s not always an easy thing for me to do.  I take this verse to mean that we are to rejoice in Him no matter what our circumstances are!

If you’re like me, it’s easy to rejoice when something fun or exciting is going on.  Like when your daughter/son is getting married, when your newest child or grandchild is being born, when your favorite sports team is winning, seeing and spending time with your children or grandchildren, etc.  But, it’s a lot harder to rejoice when we’re going through a catastrophic event in our life (death of a loved one, experiencing or watching someone go through a sickness or cancer, divorce, etc.) or even in the mundane, everyday things of our life.  I recently went through an event in my life where I just kept focusing on all of the negative aspects of the event and was very anxious about what the outcome would be.  And, unfortunately, a lot of the people around me kept feeding to that negativity.  Instead, I should have been looking for the good in what was going on and focusing on that.

As we go through the Lenten season, I would encourage each of us to focus on the positive aspects of our lives and not on the negative ones.  Surround yourselves with encouragers and not discouragers.  2 Corinthians 13:11 says “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”

Father God, thank you that you are the giver of life.  As we go through each and every day, help us to focus on YOU no matter what our circumstances are.  Help us to be an encourager and not a discourager to others. And above all, help us to REJOICE!  Amen.

Lent Devotional 3/16/17

Our Lenten devotional for today comes to us from our Campus Minister to the Baptist Student Ministry, Doug Cherry.  Doug and his wife Kiki joined our campus ministry team last summer, and have been working hard this year cultivating their ministry to our TCU students.  Doug’s kind and easy-going presence offer a comforting place to process, discern, and grow in your faith, which is why I invited him to write a devotional during this season of Lent.  I hope and trust that they will invite you to pause and reflect on this day as you continue on your Lenten journey.  Blessings to you, my friend…

“(Jesus) emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:7-8 (esv)

According to John 1:14, Jesus humbled himself to become a man.  He moved from timeless eternity, and infinite divinity, to become human.  In many ways, he set aside the practice and demonstration of his divinity.  While he was and always is divine, he entered the world, and voluntarily chose to live a life within the confines of humanity. While there is no doubt that Jesus is fully God, it is worthwhile to contemplate how much he chose to do, not in his own divinity, but in a human like dependence on the power of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

For example, there are countless times when Jesus retreats to the wilderness to pray.  If he was operating from his divinity, would it be necessary for him to pray?  He sought the presence of God in the same way we would, by crying out to the heavenly Father in prayer.

Philippians 2:7 tells us that “God made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant”.  And, in Hebrews 2:14 we learn that Jesus “shared in our humanity”.  So why did Jesus do these things?  In part, he chose to seek the Father and depend on the Spirit in order to demonstrate to his disciples how they too were to receive his power for their lives and ministry.

In this season, let us consider the humanity of Jesus as he approached the Cross.  Jesus had the power to demonstrate his glory and stop his own arrest, trial, and crucifixion.  However, he chose to move forward as a man, and to bear the penalty of the sins of the world.  He was totally dependent on the Father and the Spirit for strength in this moment.  In Matthew 26, we see Jesus respond to the hour at hand when he says, “my soul is very sorrowful, even to the point of death”, and, “if it is possible, let this cup pass before me”.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of Jesus.  By choosing to live as a man, he has demonstrated to us how we are to abide, and depend on you and your power.  Amen.

Lent Devotional 3/14/17

Good morning!  I hope your Lenten journey is going well in the midst of this Spring Break.  Our writer of our Lenten devotional today is my good friend and colleague Bianca Newton.  For those of you who might not know Bianca, she is the Program Manager in Alcohol and Drug Education and she formerly served as Residence Hall Director during her tenure here at TCU.  I’ve enjoyed getting to know Bianca over the years, whether that be through seeing and hearing her pretty stellar karaoke skills or hearing about her most recent mission trip.  Whatever she invests herself in she brings a lot of warmth, a bright smile, and a certain degree of intentionality.  I think you will find that’s exactly what she has done for us today.  Blessings on your journey…

Colossians 3:15-17New International Version (NIV) 

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Have you ever gotten a song stuck in your head? I mean like really stuck? The “I know I’m singing the words wrong, but I love that tune and I know the adlibs by heart” kind of stuck in your head?  Well that’s where I was a couple of days ago.  I always think if a song gets stuck in my head, especially if it’s one with a positive message, that maybe it’s something that I am meant to share. It could be as simple as sending it to a friend via social media or singing it while I’m with others.

I think that God has things that He places on our hearts not for us to keep to ourselves but to use to send a message of encouragement, love and hope to others.  I think of how I can share things I’ve learned from reading and researching and from interacting with those far more wise than myself and then try to encourage those around me.  During this season of Lent, I’m thankful for the people that have impacted my life in such a positive way and I hope that through the word of God and songs of praise I will be reminded daily of the promise that He has for my life and how I am called to lift up and serve others around me. I hope this passage reminds you of what He has placed in your path and how He calls us to reflect on His goodness with gratitude and service!

Our Good and faithful Father, thank you for being the giver of all good things.  Thank you for the grace, mercy and love that you show us every day. Remind me to lift up those around me with kind words and pray for the peace that only you can provide.  When life gets busy and noisy I pray that I focus on you, your word, and what message you want me to hear from the people and opportunities you have placed in my path.  Amen.

Lent Devotional 3/9/17

Good morning!  Our Lenten devotional for today was written by Karen Lindsey who serves as the Associate Director of The Center for Career & Professional Development.  It’s been a pleasure getting to know Karen over the course of the past several years.  I have always appreciated her kind, warm, and energetic personality.  She is the type of person who has never met a stranger and is always eager to share a fresh and new perspective.  She is a wonderful colleague and a trusted friend.  I was excited to see what she might write for her Lenten devotional and she didn’t disappoint.  I trust that you will find her words for us today to be reflective, challenging, and meaningful as you continue on your Lenten journey.  Peace be with you…

John 4:14 (NKJV)
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never be thirsty. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

 

Have you ever been thirsty? Whether it’s yoga, running or a cycle class, I know I need water before, during and after a workout to sustain and fuel my activity. I have tried Gatorade and other drinks to quench my thirst. There are even flavored waters or the kind with electrolytes that are advertised as being a substitute for just plain old water.  Sometimes we fill our water bottles with these substitutes or even allow them to sit empty. Yet, I have found that nothing truly replenishes me better than good, long, deep sip of pure water after a workout.

It’s been said that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. I try not to wait until I feel thirsty but in the course of a busy day, week or month of working out—it suddenly creeps up on me and I am thirsty. I am grateful that water is so easily available to me.  It’s not always in a fancy bottle or flavored. I can simply go to the tap and out flows the water. During this Lenten season, I am reminded of how much we need to regularly partake of the Living Water to avoid dehydration in our lives. May we admit that sometimes we are a little dehydrated but can be refreshed in prayer and the Word. How will you quench your thirst? As I reflect on this Lenten season, my prayer is:

Dear Lord, let us allow the Living Water to pour into hearts and souls. May your hand touch the dry bones of our faith.  Allow us to sip and drink deeply of your Word and your forgiveness for those things we have done that have caused you sadness and those things we should have done that would have brought you joy. Remind us often Lord, that when we are feeling thirsty that we are already dehydrated and simply need more of you. Bring us back to that place where we are no longer thirsty. We seek to quench our thirst by immersing ourselves into the streams of grace, hope, fasting and prayer. Oh God, refresh our souls and let us journey toward revival in our daily lives, on our campus, in our local communities and in our interactions with others. Thank you for loving us enough to let us drink in this time of reflection, restoration and renewal as we faithfully rejoice that the resurrection is coming!

Lent Devotional 3/7/17

Good morning!  Our Lenten devotional for today was written by Kelly Guilbeau.  Kelly is a Senior Biology major from Lafayette, LA.  I have gotten to know Kelly over the past two years as she has served as Co-President of the TCU Catholic Community.  During that time I have come to know someone who is committed to her faith and intentionally practices it daily.  Her time at TCU has been formative for her in many ways, and her involvement in the Catholic Community has been especially impactful.  After graduation in May Kelly plans on serving as a missionary with FOCUS, where she can help other college students more intentionally live into their faith while attending their university.  While we will definitely miss Kelly on our campus, our thoughts and prayers go with her as she makes a difference in the lives of countless others.  May her words be a helpful companion for you today as you continue on your Lenten journey. – Rev. Todd Boling

Isaiah 58: 9-11

“If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted;

Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; Then the LORD will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” 

A couple of weeks ago, I asked a friend out for dinner. My intentions were to call him out on something. I thought that I knew what would be best for him. But during our time together, I couldn’t bring myself to confront him. I was enjoying my time with my friend, and I didn’t want to ruin it. We don’t get to see each other very much, and when we got to catch up, we were talking and laughing so much. Though it was in the back of my mind, I never brought up the accusation I’d intended to. At the end of the meal, he said, “Thank you so much. I really needed this.” I knew he had been bogged down recently with pressures of college, so I knew what he meant.

We don’t have to try to fix things or people or situations. We only need to be attentive to the ways God wants us to act as His instrument. When I invited my friend for dinner, I had a plan. God had a different one–he wanted me to be able to show my love for my friend. The verse I chose says “If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted,” then the Lord will guide you and strengthen you. If my life is my bread, this verse is calling me to give of it to the hungry and the afflicted. I am to give of my life to intentionally love to each person I meet. We see and interact with a LOT of people on a daily basis in college (well, unless you’re pre-law…then maybe you coop up in the library all day). What if we loved each of these people the way God wants us to? It is said that as St. Teresa of Calcutta walked through the convent, she would BOW to each person she passed “because she saw Christ in them.” How incredible is that? What if we recognized every person’s need to be loved and we met that need? What if loving means putting our own predispositions aside? Give up being judgmental for Lent. Give up following your own plans for Lent. Instead, be God’s instrument for Lent.

Let us pray.

Lord, let me be your instrument to love today. Put aside my plans and show me how to love each person I meet.

Lent Devotional 3/3/17

Good afternoon and thank you for joining The Office of Religious & Spiritual Life as we approach this season of Lent.  Over the course of the next six weeks we will be sending out a devotional every Tuesday and Thursday written by a TCU student, member of the faculty, staff member, or campus minister, that we hope will be a helpful companion for you on your Lenten journey.
 
Today’s devotional comes from our very own Minister to the University, Rev. Angela Kaufman.  Since 2004 Angie has served the TCU community and has grown The Office of Religious & Spiritual Life from a department of 2 to a department of 6 staff who work to support 24 student religious organizations and the nearly 30 professional staff members who work with those communities.  Her love and commitment to this university is only surpassed by her deep love for her family and God. I trust that her insightful words for us all today will be helpful as we begin this Lenten journey and time of reflection together.  Peace be with you…
 
 
Psalm 139:14-16New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.”
 
In the short time that I’ve been the proud parent of two boys there’s been many areas of expertise I’ve picked up along the way. Some days I am a master Lego builder and other days I’ve learned the basic principles of rocket launching. Among it all, one of my favorite discoveries over the years has been how to break open a geode.
 
Our friends in the geology department would certainly share a better explanation, but my second grade geologist would tell me that geodes are hollow rocks formed in areas with volcanic or sedimentary layers, while my five year old geologist would simply say they’re “cool rocks with crystals inside”.  Both are correct, and while all the sciences are a source of fascination in our house, geodes hold a particular joy for my kids because the act of discovery is as rewarding as the result inside.  They are perhaps like the tootsie roll pops of the science world.  Sometimes my other half will go out to the garage and get the soil pipe cutter so we can approach it with technical precision, but most times we take a layperson’s approach as we wrap the geode in a large towel and find a safe location to strike it with a hammer. There are few times that we tell our kids to whack something as hard as they can with a hammer. This is one of them.
 
Anybody who has cracked open a geode can tell you that sometimes when they’re hit exactly in the right spot they open perfectly in half. However, many times they don’t simply split cleanly into two pieces, but break into many smaller ones. The latter is what happened to us the other night when after a strong whack one of the geodes broke into countless small pieces of rock, crystal and dust all over the place. The youngest in our family was less than pleased and made it perfectly clear that he wanted a different geode. He wanted to start over.
 
Most of us at some point or another in life feel the same way. We as individuals and as communities strive towards a misplaced idea of perfection that’s only encouraged by our culture. We want to have it all together. We want everything to be arranged just right on the inside and out.  But our faith tradition as a whole and Lent in particular calls us to take note of how we are often like broken geodes – sometimes rough around the edges and in other places perhaps a bit sharp and jagged. In some moments of life we may even be shattered into tiny bits that we don’t know how to reassemble.
 
This is why thankfully Lent never calls us to just look inward in isolation. It calls us to be bi-directional perhaps – to both turn inward reflecting upon ourselves and yet equally as important to turn towards God.  It’s in this moment of doing both that we make the most humbling rediscovery. That is that alongside our own imperfections and jagged places is always the never-ceasing presence of God. A God who remind us that we and all of creation are fearfully and wonderfully made. A God that says that like that geode there is something stunningly beautiful inside us. A God that beckons us through Christ’s love to recognize that same beauty in others.
 
God tells us through scripture and through the generations that like the geode, we may not look perfect when we’re cracked open. Indeed and thankfully, that’s because we’re not perfect.  What is rough around the edges is still beautiful. What is not quite perfect is still quite perfectly holy. I believe this is what we find when we crack open the Lenten season.
 
 
God as we enter fully into Lent, call us to that deep quiet place where we can see ourselves more fully and hear your voice more clearly. Urge us to place our own jagged places and rough spaces before you knowing that through Christ we are made whole, and through you we see the imperfect beauty in one another and in our world.  Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/21/16

December 21, 2016, Dr. Michael Faggella-Luby

Scripture: Zechariah 9:9

Rejoice Greatly!

I recently received a Christmas gift from someone and found myself totally unprepared. I was embarrassed at the overwhelming generosity, thoughtfulness, and kindness of this sweet soul. With exams piled high on my desk, a paper to write for deadline, and my own children’s gifts barely imagined, I stood humbled in front of her. Much like the little drummer boy, I had no gift to give.

As I stood desperate to make an appropriate response, I recalled how appropriate this moment was to the season. The season of light in the darkness, when the gift of God’s love is delivered in the form of the child Messiah. God’s light that is bright, and warm, and sustaining against the darkness. Light that we may believe we do not deserve, light that we are not prepared for, light that we do not have to earn, but light that we are given anyway. So how do we respond:

We rejoice greatly! We remember all that is meant by the coming of the Christmas season! We smile a little easier, we laugh a little more, and we sing songs of hope a little louder! We rejoice in the gift of God’s love for us and the gift of the baby Jesus come to be with us! We rejoice for the gift we are unprepared for, because in the rejoicing we are our most thankful!

Loving and gracious God, we rejoice in the gift of your love and the gift of light in the darkness. May You hear the sounds of our laughter and singing in grateful thanksgiving. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! 

Advent Devotional 12/19/16

December 19, 2016, Zach Gutierrez

Scripture: Luke 1:45-55 – Mary’s Song

Rejoice and Glorify the Lord.

My girlfriend just texted me “A speeding car just ran through a red light and almost killed me but I’m okay.” I gently collapsed onto my carpet and gave glorifying praise to the Lord through tears—thanking Him for protecting my sweet girlfriend. I continue to find great strength and joy in this form of collapse-like worship. While recovering from chronic fatigue, my worship would frequently take this form. After a long day, I would come home and collapse on my couch and praise the Lord for the strength He gave me to do the day’s activities. I am always so grateful and humble in these moments. These moments create space in me for great joy. In these moments I feel most connected to heaven and to pure joy. I believe Mary experienced a form of this praise as she must have laid down on her cousin Elisabeth’s lap, and perhaps she whispered this song of joy and adoration for the chance to conceive the Christ child.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the strength you give us in our weaknesses. Help us to always be humble enough to realize how desperately and deeply we need you. Help us to be honest and real enough to humbly collapse in praise and glorify your name for the many miracles and near misses you provide us with every single day. Forgive us for when we overlook your many blessings. Help us to have wider spiritual eyes to see your many miracles and your bounteous protection upon us and this nation. Help us to let go of our pride and create space for joy so that we can more fully rejoice. Help us remember that joy can be soft and mysterious and does not always have to be in bright or loud things. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/16/16

December 16, 2016, Michael McCluskey

Scripture: Ephesians 4:2

Imperfection.

This is the season when most people take a resolution to do something better in their life. Whether it is to spend more time with family, to exercise more, or to work harder for a promotion, most people resolve to do something better in this season. Growing up, I remember sitting on the couch next to my Grandad and watching Scrooge with him on Christmas Eve. I remember how the old man was mean and held no regard for other people. (Scrooge, not my Grandad.) As the story progressed, however, I would grow to understand Scrooge’s circumstances and how they influenced his becoming a “mean old man.” As the three ghosts took Scrooge on a tour of his life, he was called to reflect on who he was and what caused him to be that way. I remember reflecting with Scrooge, thinking about my past, my present, and my future.

We are imperfect beings, created by a perfect God; it would be unfair both to ourselves and to our God to present ourselves as anything less than imperfect. God loves us for our imperfections because God created our imperfections.

We don’t have to get the perfect gift to show someone how much we care; we don’t have to make Christmas dinner like a Cordon Bleu chef; we don’t have to make every amend because “‘tis the season”.  We just have to breathe, accept our imperfect humanity, and leave room for the Spirit.

Scrooge does more than just renounce his old ways. It takes more than just deciding one day to do better, though it is a start. In order to do better, we must know who we are and where we are on our path. We must honestly name our imperfections, celebrate them for what they are, and pray for the courage to work with them.

So, in this season where we try and get Christmas as perfect as we are, we must remember that we are imperfect and that’s okay.

God of Love and God of Grace,

We pray for peace. In this advent season, may we pay more attention to the world around us. Help us to shake off the fog of Christmas perfectionism and rather focus on the love that surrounds us. Help us to live in the moment and to celebrate with a joyful heart the graces in our lives. We pray for the courage to make our world a better place for all of Your creation.  We pray that one day that we will be able to boldly love our neighbors, our enemies, and strangers.  Amen.

Advent Devotional 12/14/16

December 14, 2016, Dr. Keith Whitworth

Scripture: Romans 13: 11-12

About face.

“Advent” simply means “coming” in Latin and beckons us to make ourselves worthy to celebrate the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love. For Western churches, the season of advent has become a celebration of the expectations and anticipation of the coming of Christ represented in the nativity scene, wreaths, and calendars. For Eastern Orthodox churches, advent is more complex as it represents a time of fasting and penitence for sins. This focus is more in line with HOW are we “to make ourselves worthy” to celebrate the advent season. The apostle Paul captures this concept of repentance by stating we are to “cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” as we prepare for Christ’s coming. Decades ago I heard “repentance” described as being similar to soldier marching in one direction and then abruptly doing an “about face.” This concept struck a strong chord within my heart as it called me to not hold onto sin in my life but to abruptly confess and discard it. Sin has a way of creeping into our lives, and this season encourages us to shine the light from the Advent candles into the crevices of our heart. As a nation and as individuals, we are to turn away from hatred, greed, judgment, pride, intolerance, and insensitivity. We are to turn toward the light of Christ and be a beacon of love, generosity, acceptance, humbleness, tolerance, and sensitivity.

God, help us to be worthy to celebrate your coming. Help us to cast off the deeds of darkness. Help us to cast your light of love to the world.