Our Thoughts

What do we do with those thoughts which come un-invited? Those oppressive or nagging thoughts which assail us?

As King David brings the song of Psalm 139 to a close, he demonstrates his own progression of self awareness and the contradictions, tensions and unresolved conflicts within his and our own hearts and minds. In the midst of that revelation, we are invited again to re-shift our gaze back onto the One who sees and knows us through the eyes of love. Let us keep turning and returning to God who has the power to transform our hearts, minds and actions, guiding us along the path of life.

Psalm 139:19-24 (NLT)
O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer. Journal your conversation.

Can you name an emotion which you felt as you heard these words? Where do you feel it in your body? Without judging it, can you bring it before God in prayer?

Reflect on your own experience of hatred. What affect has it had on you? How might you bring hateful thoughts into your prayer with Jesus? How does he meet you or speak to you about them?

Owners, Renters and Squatters

More than a metaphor, a parable invites us to make our home in the story. Jesus uses this means to invite us to dwell with him in the heart of his family - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we enter the home, we can look around and notice, how does the family treat one another? What tone, or culture does the parent establish for the family? What is valued and esteemed? Is it safe to be vulnerable and make mistakes in this family? How is injustice treated? Where do we notice love and grace lived out in the family?
This particular parable has been labelled The Parable of the Wicked Tenants or The Story of the Vineyard. Another perspective might name it The Story of a Vulnerable Landowner. Regardless of the name, Jesus invites you to enter the story to see and listen.

Mark 12: 1-12 NLT
12 Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. 2 At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. 3 But the farmers grabbed the servant, beat him up, and sent him back empty-handed. 4 The owner then sent another servant, but they insulted him and beat him over the head. 5 The next servant he sent was killed. Others he sent were either beaten or killed, 6 until there was only one left—his son whom he loved dearly. The owner finally sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
7 “But the tenant farmers said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ 8 So they grabbed him and murdered him and threw his body out of the vineyard.
9 “What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?” Jesus asked. “I’ll tell you—he will come and kill those farmers and lease the vineyard to others. 10 Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures?
‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
11 This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.’”
12 The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away.

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with them for a while. Ask Jesus about them. Is there more that Jesus says to you?

Dwell in the parable. What do you come to know about this landowner? What do you notice about his vulnerable response to injustice?

Reflect on the things and people you consider "mine". How does this story intersect with what you own or attempt to manage, control and be responsible for?

Where do you recognize God's messenger's coming to you?