Saturday, May 30, 2015

Children of the King

ROMANS 8:12-17
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ — if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Abba! Father!
Hear your children 
when we call to you.
Remind us what it means 
to carry your name on our hearts.
Children of the God Most High
Children of the King
Princes and princesses
Sons and Daughters of God.

All that we do,
All that we say 
reflects on who you are.
Help us act consistent 
with who you are.
So that those who see us,
 those who watch our lives,
See a glimpse of 
your grace, majesty, peace, and amazing love.

We pray with our brother, Jesus,
who taught us to pray:
Our Father 
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, 
and the glory,
for ever.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Thank you for sharing in prayer for my mother and family. Her surgery went well. Now the hard work of physical therapy begins.

Thank you, God.

Thank you,  God,
for the great cloud of witnesses--
family, friends, sisters and brothers in Christ
who surround us in prayer.

Thank you, God,
for the acts of kindness, text messages, calls
that express love.

Thank you, God,
for being close to us
when we need you most.

Thank you, God,
for good news
about my mother's surgery.

Thank you, God,
for your self-giving love
revealed to us in Jesus Christ
and continually lived out
through the Holy Spirit
in the Body of Christ, the church.

Thank you, God.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Praying for Mom

Dear praying ones,
Today I invite you
to pray for my mother.
She is undergoing major back surgery today.

O God,
The Great Physician
You who healed
with a word, with a touch.
Send your healing Spirit
to guide the doctors and nurses
and therapists and all of us who care.
May our hands be the hands of Christ who heals.
As my mother, Glenda, faces surgery
May your guardian angels hold her
And comfort our family.
We entrust her to your care.
We put our trust in you just as our ancestors did:

"Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and strengthens the powerless.
30 Even youths will faint and be weary,
and the young will fall exhausted;
31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:27-31

May it be so today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Prayer for Testing

O God,
This week so many students
In my community are testing.
And so much funding
school pride, publicity, teacher evaluation etc
Depends on these test results.

So today,
I pray for
calm hearts,
clear minds, and
a sense of peace
to be upon our students, our children.
And remind us all
that the worth of each child
is NOT determined by grades or scores
But rather by who YOU made them to be!

My prayer, O God,
is for adults to look and
see the beauty and creativity
of each child
encouraging that child to become
the wonder-filled man or woman
God created them to be!

During a week of testing
and on every day,
may it be so, Lord.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Praying on Memorial Day

I found the below prayer helpful as I reflect today on Memorial Day.

Gracious, Sovereign God, Lord of all nations,

On this Memorial Day, we pause to reflect upon our blessings as a nation and the high cost of those blessings for many.

Thank you for the freedom we enjoy in this country, for opportunities to flourish, and for the security of our land.

Thank you for those who have served in the armed services of our country, risking their lives for our liberty.

Thank you for those who have given their lives in service to our country, sacrificing in such a costly way for the sake of others, including me.

Thank you for a day set apart, not just for celebration, but also for solemn remembrance as we consider the sacrifices of so many in our military.

O Lord, may we be more aware of just how blessed we are as a nation. May we be more grateful for our blessings, more faithful in stewarding them well, more eager to share them with others.

We pray today for the families and friends of those who have given their lives in service to our nation. May they be comforted in their sadness. May they be reassured that the sacrifice of their loved ones contributes to a worthy cause. May they be proud of those they have lost, entrusting their ultimate fate into your gracious hands.

Even as we remember those who have given their lives in the past, we also think of those whose lives are on the line today. We think especially of the men and women who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and in other places of conflict and violence. Protect them. Encourage them. Bring them home safely . . . and soon.

Give wisdom to the leaders of our armed services, that they might know how best to deploy the troops in the cause of freedom. May their efforts be successful, so that true peace with justice might be established in our world.

Guide those who lead our nation in international affairs. Help them to pursue diplomatic paths that prevent needless conflict. May they have your wisdom about when and how to use the military might you have entrusted to us.

God of peace, stir in the hearts of the leaders of all nations and in all who would use violence to further their cause. Change their hearts and minds. Give them a passion for peace. Bring an end to the pain, suffering, injustice, and violence in our world.

We know, dear Lord, that ultimate peace will not come until your kingdom is here in all of its fullness. Nevertheless, we pray for a foretaste of the future. We ask for the growth of peace throughout our world today, so that fewer and fewer men and women will have to risk and even to sacrifice their lives. We long for the day when people will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:4).

May your kingdom come, Lord, and your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven!

All praise be to you, God of grace, God of mercy, God of justice, God of peace!


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Come, O Spirit

ACTS 2:1-21
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes Cretans and Arabs — in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Giving Spirit,
Enabling Spirit,
Speaking Spirit,
Transforming Spirit,
descend among us in power
embolden us to speak
about Your deeds of power
in the language people need to hear --
the language of hope,
the language of forgiveness,
the language of challenge,
the language of peace,
the language of self-giving love,
the language of Christ.

Giving Spirit,
Enabling Spirit,
Listening Spirit,
Transforming Spirit,
descend among us in power
open our ears to hear
about Your presence already at work in the world
Your mission among
the least, the lost, the last, the lonely
enable us to hear
Your message of hope,
Your message of forgiveness,
Your message of challenge,
Your message of peace,
Your message of self-giving love,
Your message of Christ.

No matter what the circumstance is
You are among us

Come, O Spirit,
speak again
through us
Your humble
simple servants.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bag of Bones to In-Spirited Hope

Ezekiel 37:1-14 The Message (MSG)
God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”
God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’
“Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it.God’s Decree.’”

O Breath,
O Wind,
O Spirit,
O Ruah of God,
(the Hebrew word "Ruah" can be translated: breath, wind, and/or spirit)
sweep across
this great expanse
of dry bones:
spiritual bones dusty and lifeless,
bones of despair,
hopeless bones,
complacent dead bones,
lazy bones.

Breath new life,
new vigor,
new hope,
new urgency,
new vision.

May this old bag of bones
in me, in your church,
rise up,
stand firm,
speak boldly,
act strongly,
as an army not of warriors
but rather
as agents of grace,
workers of peace,
hands and feet of Christ,
hope in action.

Will these bones live?
O Ruah,
only by your power.
Come breath again
in-spirit us again.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Made to play

PSALM 104:24-30
 O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
 Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
creeping things innumerable are there,
living things both small and great.
 There go the ships,
and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
 These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
 when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
 When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.

Creator of the creatures great and small,
I look at your world in wonder.
My eyes see the works of your hands,
and yet my father's microscope taught me
there is world hidden from my eyes
-- a tiny world equally full of wonder,
the colors and variety of things great and microscopic
are too wonderful for my small mind.

Just consider a drop of water from the pond
with creatures swirling and swooping and being.
Each creature with its place in the ecosystem
connected intertwined living together.

Why? I wonder. 
Why, Lord? 
Why did you make them all?
The psalm writer says you made 
Leviathan to "sport" in the sea.
You made the great sea beast 
to play and splash and laugh in the waters
much like a seven year old at a water park.
You made us to play! 
the child  

I am glad you made us.
Today help me 
and re-create!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Prayer for Commencement 2015

An Embodied prayer for Commencement 2015

Today I invite us to pray not only with our hearts and minds, but with our bodies as well.

Take a slow deep breath
Let it out slowly.
Again slowly in.
And slowly out.
Breathe in the mercies of God
Breathe out the mercies of God to others.

By your Spirit, O God,
you breathe life into us.
As we breathe deeply of your Spirit,
filling our lungs from our bellies to our chest
make us mindful that each breath is a gift of life from you.
As we feel your breath across our lips,
We open our lips and offer our praise to you.

We praise you O God for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
From the tips of our toes
To the hair on our heads
You know us completely.

As you are comfortable,
I invite you to raise one hand to heaven.
Lord your thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
As high as the heavens are above the earth.

And now I invite you to raise the other hand to heaven
Ask God to fill you.
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
That we may proclaim your praise in voice and action.
Fill us, O Spirit, to serve you, your church, and your people in the world.

And now slowly bring your hands down.
And rest them openly on your lap ready to receive
whatever gift God has to give you today.
Lord you are the giver of every good and perfect gift.
Today we thank you for so many gifts:
Hear us as we thank you
For those men and women of faith who first taught us about your love (silence)
for the gift of family who have supported us through our studies and work (silence)
For those who are confirming your call in our lives (silence)

for the companionship of friends and colleagues who have challenged us and encouraged us along the way (silence)
for the mentorship of faculty who have sought to draw out the best from us and equip us for ministry in the church (silence)
for the gift of Columbia Theological Seminary (silence)

Lord today, we are mindful of the daily bread, the daily sustenance,
the daily needs of our world.
Hear us as we pray…
for places where violence tears us apart in our world, in our streets, in our families, in our hearts. (silence)
For those hurting in mind, body, and spirit. (silence)
For those still unclear about your call for their lives (silence)
For your church’s witness both here and around the world. (silence)

Now I again invite you to lift your hands to heaven.
O God, to you we lift our prayers to you.
O Holy Spirit, embolden us to be the hands and feet of Christ
Making your love a real and tangible felt presence in the world
O Christ, when we end our prayers and
open our eyes may it not be to end our devotion
but rather to watch for your kingdom coming and your will being done.
Hear us as now we united our voices as one praying…
Our Father
who art in heaven
hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come;
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory

Today I will lead this prayer during the commencement service of Columbia Theological Seminary. I will be receiving my doctor of ministry degree. It is the culmination of six years of study. I am very grateful to many for their prayers and support.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Great is Thy faithfulness

PSALM 98:1-3
O sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things.
His right hand and his holy arm
have gained him victory.
The LORD has made known his victory;
he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

"Great is Thy faithfulness,
O God my Father!!"

As I think on
your faithfulness, O God,
I am caught up
in Awe and Wonder!

Not matter how many times
we, your people,
forsake you
betray you
curse you
ignore you
turn away from you
deny you...
You will not leave us.
You choose not to leave us.

You stand firm
in your resolve to
keep faith.

I wish
I had that kind of faithfulness.
that cannot be shaken,
that trusts in the face of threats,
that speaks boldly,
that holds on tenaciously,
that works constantly for the good of others,
that calls the wayward back,
that draws all in love with you.

Today, I bring
my little broken faith
"I believe, Lord;
help my unbelief."
And I open my lips
to sing your praise.

You, O God, remember your
steadfast love and faithfulness
to all your children.
"Great is YOUR faithfulness!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Love as I have loved...

JOHN 15:9-17
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

"Love one another as I have loved you."
Lord Jesus,
that's setting the bar high!
You loved people I can't imagine.
the outcast,
the drunk,
the foreigner,
the zealot,
the conservative,
the liberal,
the rebel,
the demon possessed,
the convicted criminal,
the betrayer,
the forsaker,
the friend,
the sister,
the mother,
the brother,
the religious leaders,
the minority,
the political leader,
the enemy,
the executioner,
the sick,
the dying,
the deceased,
the unclean,
the baptizer,
the sinner,

That's a long list.
That's a lot of love.
That's a lot of forgiving.
That's a lot of energy.

And you loved by
calling to account,
praying for,
praying with,

I can't possibly
do all that!

"Love one another,"
you say
"as I have loved you."

I want to say,
"I'll try."
but I just watched Star Wars
and I'm mindful of what Yoda says,
"Do or do not;
there is no try."
While I don't think
Yoda is a Christian Theologian,
I do think you might
agree with that advice.

So today,
I choose to love
in easy and hard ways;
I choose to love
those who are easy to love
and those whom I struggle to love.
I love because you love!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Open our hearts

Heavenly Father,
help me remember
that the one who cut me off
in traffic is a single mother,
worked nine hours that day,
is rushing home to cook dinner,
help with homework,
do the laundry and
spend a few precious moments
with her children.

Help me to remember
that the pierced, tattooed,
disinterested young man
who struggles to make change correctly
is a worried 19-year-old college student,
balancing his apprehension
over final exams
with his fear of not getting
his student loans
for next semester.

Remind me, Lord,
that the scary looking man,
begging for money
in the same spot every day
is a slave to addictions
that I can't even imagine
in my worst nightmare.

Help me
to remember
that the old couple
walking annoyingly slow
through the store aisles,
blocking shopping progress
are savoring this moment,
knowing that,
based on the biopsy report
she got back last week,
this will be the last year
that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, 
remind us each day that,
of all the gifts You give us, 
the greatest gift is love. 
It is not enough 
to share that love 
with those we hold dear.

Open our hearts, 
not to just those 
who are close to us, 
but to all humanity. 
Let us be slow to judge, 
quick to forgive, 
showing patience, 
empathy and love.

May it be so 
in my life today.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Prune me, Lord...

JOHN 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
God of the Vineyard,
I grew up in the city,
none of this vine talk
made sense to me
until you brought me
to Elizabethtown.

I just thought
the vine's "bad" branches
got pruned off.
I just thought it was
a sort of cleansing
that you spoke of.

But here in Bladen County
as I drive by the vineyards,
the whole vine has been pruned.
Only the strong root
and main branch remain.

Those branches
that do not get pruned
year after year
bear no fruit.
The large clusters of grapes
the biggest, best, juiciest grapes
only come from branches
that have been pruned.

used too I was okay
with the thought of
you pruning away my worst.
But know Lord,
I am learning
that even some of my best
must be pruned back
so that I can be fruitful for you.
That comes as a surprise.

I want to hold on to my best;
I want to show it off;
I want it to be seen and praised by others.

And here you come
shears in hand
to trim it back.
Humbling me;
inviting me
to watch and see
what fruit you can produce
through me this year.

Prune me, Lord,
so that I can bloom
and carry your best fruit
your fruit
fruit of your vine.