Monday, March 31, 2014

PSALM 130:1-2
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
Cry out!
I join the faithful who have cried out,
Hannah in her childless anguish,
the Israelites enslaved by Pharaoh,
Job out of his deep pain,
Bartimaeus out of his blindness,
Jesus from the cross...
My prayer is their prayer;
their prayer is my prayer:

"Lord, have mercy upon us!"
You alone know my anguish;
You alone know my need;
You alone know my failures;
You alone know how often
I have sinned against You
in thought, word, or deed
by what I did or by what I left undone.

"Lord, have mercy upon us!"
Kyrie Eleison.
"Christ, have mercy upon us!"
Christe Eleison.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

He restores my soul...

PSALM 23:1-3a
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.

thank you for shepherding me
through the dark valleys
into the green pastures
beside the still waters
restore my soul again.

When I am with you,
I am at home.

But then again,
when am I not with you?
Or better,
when are you not present with me?
Your goodness, your mercy
are with me no matter,
if I wander far,
or stay close to Your heart.

As St. Augustine once prayed,
now so do I:
Our hearts are restless
until they find their rest in Thee.
until we find our home in You!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


I Samuel 16:1
The LORD said to Samuel,
“How long will you grieve over Saul?
I have rejected him from being king over Israel.
Fill your horn with oil and set out;
I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite,
for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

often I get stuck
holding on so tightly to what was,
with hands so full of the past
that I cannot grasp
Your grace in the present
nor can I reach for Your future.

Help me grieve the past
using my tears
to cleanse my sight
to see Your vision of the future.

Today, Lord,
send me by Your Spirit
to anoint those I meet
with gracious words
and acts of blessing,
for You are bringing
Your future hope to life through us.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On the way to resurrection hope...

Romans 5:10-11
For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
during this season of Lent,
we are on our way
to the cross of Calvary.
Through the cross of Christ,
you have reconciled us,
forgiven us, set us free.

But I am afraid too often
we have fixed our gaze
on the bloody badly beaten body on the cross
with a fixation on the horror and gore of your suffering.
Why are we fascinated
by such a bloody death
that we desire to see the gory detail?
Are we just feeding our addiction to violence?

The cross is an important part of the story,
but without the resurrection,
the cross is only a torturous death.
Easter day's empty tomb
is what saves us from sin and death,
emboldens us to tell your good news,
strengthens us to be faithful
in the face of
persecution, torture, suffering and death,
even death on a cross.

Yes, this Lent, Lord,
we take up our cross
and follow you
on the via Delarosa, the way of pain,
But only because the cross of Good Friday
and the mourning of Holy Saturday
lead us to the Halleluia of Easter Sunday.
We are reconciled through your dying on a cross,
but saved by your rising to new life!
Thanks be to God!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I belong to God

Psalm 95:6-7
O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O God,
today by bending my knee,
bowing before you,
I make a statement
to you and to myself,
"I am not my own;
I belong to God,
the God who made me,
the God who loves me.
I am not my own."

I'm reminded of
the Heidelberg catechism question:
What is your only comfort
in life and in death?
that I belong
body and soul
in life and in death
to my faithful savior, Jesus Christ.

I am grateful to know
that I belong to you, loving God.

Today, I will lean back
into your arms of grace
resting my head on your chest
like the child of God that I am
held in your everlasting arms.

No matter what I face today,
I will take comfort
knowing I belong to you, O God.
And that is enough.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Many opportunities to put this prayer into practice...

Again, while this is not my writing. I am compelled by this prayer and am glad to share with you.

Matthew 23:11-12
The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
as I go about my day today,
I will have many opportunities to put
others ahead of myself.
Help me to recognize those times
and to respond as you would have me respond.

I will have opportunities
to practice humility.
Help me to recognize those times
and to not take myself too seriously.

People will not always treat me
the way I deserve to be treated.
Help me calm my anger
and to respond with compassion.

Someone might criticize me
and make me feel small and foolish.
Help me to forgive and to turn
my pain over to you.

I may face times
when others take credit
for my work.
Help me to seek justice justly,
and to let go of what
is best forgotten.

I will meet people who need
my help or at least a kind word.
Help me to help them without
expecting praise and thanks.

I will be in a position
of power over others.
Help me to use this power
justly and selflessly
and for the benefit of all.

Lord, I will have many opportunities
to put this prayer into practice.
Forgive me when I fail,
and help me always to try again.

written by Dan Connors

Monday, March 17, 2014

God's Transforming Love

Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.  I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

O God,
how often do I wonder the same thing
"Is the LORD among us or not?"
Too often I focus on the negative,
the hard, the frustrating, the irritating.
I see the rain, the grey clouds,
the tears, the pain.
I cry out in wonder, "Where are you, God?"

Remind me again this Lenten season,
you are the God who brings water from rock,
beauty from brokenness, rainbows from rain,
possible from the impossible, life from death,
Easter Sunday from Good Friday.

Help me do as the Apostle Paul says,
"whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is pleasing,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence and
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things."

Today, Lord,
I will think about
your transforming loving
that changes
sinner into saint!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Honesty in praying...

I didn't write this one... but I wish I had.
This comes from a daily prayer email
that inspired my own prayer writing and sharing. The below is written by their editor: Dan Connors, editor

Matthew 7:7
“Ask, and it will be given you;search, and you will find;knock, and the door will be opened for you."

Lent is the time to look
honestly at my relationship with you;
so, respectfully, I have to ask:
do you really expect me
to believe what you say in today's gospel?
I can point to lots and lots of faithful people
who have prayed in their anguish
and seen their prayers go unanswered.

I'm not talking about the
"let me win the lottery" prayers;
I'm talking about the prayers rising
from deep in the human heart, to which,
from you, as the psalmists says,
there is no reply.

Even in the example you give here,
how many famine victims have
cried out to God
while they watched
their children die of hunger?
The "stones" they got instead of bread
could mark the graves of millions,
most of whom probably died thinking
it was their own fault--
they didn't pray hard enough, or
it was punishment for their sins.

"Ask and you shall receive."
You say things like this so often.
And we, your people,
have been struggling to make
sense of your words ever since
they were written down.
We spiritualize them;
we say we ask wrongly;
We say you always grant
an answer but we don't recognize it;
we say you always answer
but sometimes the answer is no.
We hold on to those occasions
when it seems prayer
has been answered,
while at the same time
doing our best to ignore the
many times it apparently hasn't.
The excuses we make go on and on.
It's got to be our fault,
we tell ourselves.
It certainly can't be yours.

But you didn't say
"Ask and sometimes the answer will be no."

Lord, if I am to follow you,
commit my life to you,
I need to know
I can trust what you say.
And this passage
and others like it
keep me up at night.

Help me, Jesus, to understand and believe.
And hear me when I cry with the psalmist:
"If you love us so much, Help us!"
and "God, don't just watch
from the sidelines. Come on!"

Help me to believe, with the psalmist,
that "God delivers generous love,
God makes good on God's word."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It depends on faith

Romans 4:16
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham for he is the father of all of us.
Mark 9:20-24
Jesus asked the father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

God of grace,
thank you for extending your blessing
to "those who share the faith of Abraham".
Abraham trusted,
even when life and experience seemed to prove him wrong.

Give me such trust,
the trust that sees 
beyond the limits of humanity
beyond the power of sin
beyond the failures and violence and injustice
The trust that sees your reign among us.

it depends on faith.
I can't faith any harder,
So I join in the prayer 
of the father whose son needed healing:
"Lord, I believe;
help my unbelief."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Scarcity to Abundant sharing

GENESIS 12:1-2

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing..."

God of blessing,
God of promise,
thank you for blessing me.
From the simple to the abundant,
everything is a gift from you.

According to the story of Abram (later Abraham),
your gifts come with expectations.
Your blessings
are not to be hoarded but shared.
And that's the hard part for me.

How do I know there will be enough
when I need it?
Shouldn't I save some for a "rainy day"?
But that's scarcity thinking,
your blessings, O God, are abundant.

You bless me,
so that I may be a blessing to others

Teach me the joy of your overflow,
for letting your blessings flow to others,
for truly, my cup runneth over.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Raise my Gaze

Psalm 121:1-2
I lift up my eyes to the hills; 
  from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the LORD, 
  the maker of heaven and earth.

O God, 
our Help in ages past,
this psalm was part of the worship journey
up the mountain to the temple in Jerusalem.

While the sanctuary in my town is on the level plain,
its steeple rises heavenward 
pointing me beyond my self-concerns
putting the needs of others first.

And what do they need?
A word of hope spoken in grace,
An act of compassion given freely,
Your tangible presence reaching through me.

O Lord,
Raise my gaze 
to see your reign come 
in my life 
and in the lives of those I meet today.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rain & Sun & Word

Isaiah 55:10-11

10 Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
        and don’t return there without watering the earth,
        making it conceive and yield plants
        and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater,
11     so is my word that comes from my mouth;
        it does not return to me empty.
        Instead, it does what I want,
        and accomplishes what I intend.

in my community we've experienced your rain and snow.
Some would say, 
"what we need now is plenty of sunshine."
But there is still draught.
In some places the rains have yet to fall.

But the draught I experience 
is not a lack of precipitation,
but a lack of hearing your voice.

Send your Word again.
May your Son shine 
speaking again your words 
of life, of love, of grace, of challenge.
Give us ears to hear
that we soak up your word
and bring forth fruit 
of faithfulness, of compassion, of discipleship.

Your Word will not return to you empty,
but it accomplishes your purpose.
May I be attentive to your Word
and about your purpose today.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My heart's desire...

Psalm 37:1-5

Do not fret yourself because of evildoers; 
  do not be jealous of those who do wrong.
For they shall soon wither like the grass, 
  and like the green grass fade away.
Put your trust in the LORD and do good; 
  dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
Take delight in the LORD, 
  and he shall give you your heart's desire.
Commit your way to the LORD and put your trust in him, 
  and he will bring it to pass.

too often I measure of my life, my success, my happiness 
in terms of others.
But you invite me to measure 
in a different way,
with the "yard stick" 
of trust and delight in you.

With my trust in you, 
you promise to give, my "heart's desire".
What can I desire more than you?!
So today I join in St. Augustine's prayer,
"Lord, our hearts are restless,
until they find their rest in Thee."

Today may I desire nothing more than 
to find my truest self in your love.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pray & Watch

O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
I come to you in prayer
because you invite me to come,
to share my longings,
to share my heart, my hurts,
my dreams, my worries.

I speak, and you listen.
But I'm not as good at the 2nd half of prayer:
you speak, and I listen.

Today, O God, help me keep watch,
watching for how you are answering my prayers,
watching for where you are at work,
watching for where you are calling me to join in your work,
watching for your love, your grace, your peace.

This morning I plead my case to you.
Help me watch.

And now as I end my prayer,
may I open my eyes not to end my devotion,
but to watch for your reign in our midst.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Blow the Trumpet & Gather!

JOEL 2:15-16
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
sanctify a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Sanctify the congregation;
assemble the aged;
gather the children,
even infants at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her canopy.

I hear the blast of the trumpets,
the cadence of the drums,
the cheer of the crowd.
No, it's not football season.
It's not a parade -- at least not your typical parade.

The faithful are gathering,
the pilgrims are on their journey,
young and old, aged and children,
even the infants are coming.
The bride and groom interrupt their honeymoon!

What's so urgent?
Lord, what calls for such attention?
Repentance. Returning. Remembering.
You, LORD, 
YOU are the cause of celebration.
YOU are the urgency.

So let us 
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let us return to the Lord, that God may have compassion on us,
and to our God, for God will abundantly pardon." from Isaiah 55:6-7

And so you will, Lord.
And so you do.

Also see my podcast:
Most recent sermon: In the Face of Glory