Wednesday, August 27, 2014


James 5:13-18 (The Voice)
Are any in your community suffering? They should pray. Are any celebrating? They should sing praises to God. Are any sick? They should call the elders of your church and ask them to pray. They will gather around and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayers offered in faith will restore them from sickness and bring them to health. The Lord will lift them up from the floor of despair; and if the sickness is due to sin, then God will forgive their sins. So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life.
Remember Elijah? He was a man, no different from us. He prayed with great intensity asking God to withhold the rain; God answered his prayers and did not allow a single drop of rain to fall for three and a half years. It did not rain until Elijah prayed again for God to open the skies, when the rain came down and the earth produced a great crop.

 Listening Lord,
you invite us to pray for one another:
To pray for the suffering, the celebrating, and the sick.
To pray for leaders of nations, states, and towns.
To pray for enemies, persecutors, and haters.

James tells us,
"Your prayers are powerful
when they are rooted in a righteous life"
Then James compares us
with the GREAT prophet Elijah.
And I think to myself,
"Oh, that my prayers were as powerful as Elijah."
James says they are.
I'm not so convinced.

But then I'm reminded
of what one father said to Jesus,
"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."

So today I pray --
I pray for the sick people in my community.
I pray for healing.
I pray for the suffering people.
I pray for comfort.
I pray for those who celebrate good news.
I pray for JOY.
I pray for leaders
of the world, my nation, my state, my county, my town.
I pray for wisdom.
I pray for my enemies.
I pray for compassion.
I pray for those who persecute others.
I pray for changed hearts and lives.
I pray for those who hate.
I pray for love.

take my simple prayers and make them powerful.
Take my simple life and make it meaningful.
Take my simple acts and make them transformative.
Take my simple words and make them grace.

I'm reminded of the hymn:
Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. 
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose. 
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

A brief note about the translation of the Bible I chose.
"The Voice" is a translation that I am enjoying.
Like "The Living Bible" it seeks to put the Bible in common language.
My favorite part is the way it frames conversations and narratives in the Bible
as if I am reading a script for a play or drama.
(James quoted above is note unique but see Exodus 3 for example.)

Such a format opens up those narratives to be acted out more easily (thinking readers theater)
But it also helps me hear the interchange between characters in the Bible stories.
Another tool for seeking to understand the stories of faith!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back to school praying

Proverbs 1:1-7 -- from the Common English Bible (CEB)

The proverbs of Solomon, King David’s son, from Israel:
Their purpose is to teach wisdom and discipline,
to help one understand wise sayings.
They provide insightful instruction,
which is righteous, just, and full of integrity.
They make the naive mature,
the young knowledgeable and discreet.
The wise hear them and grow in wisdom;
those with understanding gain guidance.
They help one understand proverbs and difficult sayings,
the words of the wise, and their puzzles.
Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

today I was honored
to represent the Christian community
and pray with and for
the whole Bladen County School system.

O God, you are wisdom herself.
Speak through those who teach,
administer well through those who lead,
create a beautiful clean safe place of welcome
through those who care for buildings and grounds,
because learning starts at the time of the sun rise,
to the bus ride, to the welcome at school, to fields of play...

and open the minds of all students
that they may learn your wisdom
and discover with awe and wonder
the great diversity of your great works.

I'm reminded of a wise saying
my father, a biology professor, kept on his desk.
"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

May we, all of us, united in sharing
your wisdom, your life skills,
that will sustain bodies, minds, communities, and indeed the world for good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mixed feelings and surprising grace.

GENESIS 45:1-3
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Send everyone away from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph. Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, so dismayed were they at his presence.

O Lord,
sometimes I'm so overcome
like Joseph I need some space,
some time to reveal my true self.

I wonder when Joseph
"wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it"
did the Egyptians, the bystanders
understand his weeping --
a mixture of remembering all the bad that had happened
and marveling at all the good that had come.
a mixture of anger and sorrow,
of longing for family, even the ones who betrayed,
the longing for home.
a mixture of forgiveness and joy to embrace family.

I know how mixed feelings can be:
fear, unknown, scared,
loved, accepted, forgiven,
needed, looked to for answers,
lonely, depressed,
surprised by grace
Mixed all at the same time.

Through it all,
you Sovereign Lord,
were working for Joseph's good
indeed for the whole family's good
to save those who sought to kill him.

Come, Sovereign Lord,
work in my life too,
be at work for my good
and indeed for the good of all
saving all who need it most.
Give me a glimpse of how you are using me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Storms rage, and God is here.

MATTHEW 14:22-33
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  
but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 
But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

when we are afraid
we assume the worst.
When the storms threaten to overwhelm us,
we are blinded by our fears;
we cannot see you coming to save us.
We cry out in fear.
We see only imagined ghosts.

Instead you come in ways we can't imagine
walking on water
striding in the midst of the waves
conquering the very thing we fear.

And you speak to us.
You say plainly,
"Take heart, it is I!"
"Have courage, I am here!"
"Fear not!"
"No more being afraid!"

The wave still crash;
the winds still blow.
The storm hasn't changed.
But you are here.
You are with us.
And that only makes all the difference.

So hold us close, O Lord Jesus,
as the storms rage on.
We find comfort just being in your presence.
"Be still, and know that I am God."
Thank you, for being God and for being here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Cry to God and Trust.

Psalm 22 
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest. 
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

O God,
we cry out to you
from our pain
from our fears
from our worries
from our situations in life.
Hear our prayers
and come to our aide.

Indeed our ancestors put their trust in you
and you were faithful and delivered them
Know we do the same.

O God of comfort,
give us your peace.
O God of wisdom,
give us your discerning mind.
O God of love,
wrap us in your loving embrace.
O God of healing,
bandage our wounds, our hurts, with your Spirit.

If you turn your face from us,
we will be ruined.
So hold us in your strong hands of grace.

Today we put our trust in you.
Do not let us be put to shame.