Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lead a life worthy of the calling

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
Worthy? Lord,
who is worthy?
Worthy of your love
of your calling
of being claimed and named by you...
No one is worthy
except you, O Lord.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!!

How could I possibly lead
a "life worthy of the calling?"
Only with deep humility,
gracefulness, gentleness, patience,
forgiving others as I have been forgiven.
And these are gifts, abilities, graces
that your Holy Spirit gives to me, to us.

On my own,
I tend to hold grudges,
stew in anger,
stay trapped in the vortex of anxiety, worry, despair...

With you, by the power of your Spirit,
I lift my voice in praise.
I lift my eyes to your glory.
I lift my heart to your very heart of love.
I live my life by your standards.

Come, Holy Spirit,
enable me to live up to your high calling:
Beloved Child of God
Disciple of Jesus Christ
Member of the Body of Christ
Creature among Creation
Set free,
Charged to love and to lead.
Only with your help, Holy Spirit,
Only by your help.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Seeking direction

Seeking— On our journey, we seek direction

 Hebrews 12:1–2  (Eugene Peterson, The Message)
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 

In what ways did you experience seeking today?

In what ways did you experience finding today?

O God,
we pray for direction.
We pray for the road ahead.
Thanks to you for being with us along the way.
Prepare us to come home and share your love with others.
We name our needs, our concerns to you...

Be our vision along the way.
Light our path.
Walk with us
until we arrive at home,
at rest in you at the last.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Found, claimed, and named by God

Found— We are found, claimed, and named by God

James 1:2–4 (Eugene Peterson, The Message)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 

In what ways did you experience seeking today?

In what ways did you experience finding today?

When have you found yourself in danger, and in what way was God involved in your rescue?

O God,
in our baptism,
you welcome us into the your family.
Reminds us that we are
completely dependent upon You.
Even our faith,
which we sometimes claim
as being from our own strength,
is truly a gift of your Spirit.
Still, as human beings,
we sometimes find that our faith is weak.
Renew your gift of faith within us.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sought by God in love

Sought— We are sought by God in love 

Jeremiah 1:4–10 (Eugene Peterson, The Message) 
This is what God said:
“Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you: A prophet to the nations— that’s what I had in mind for you.”
But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me. I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”
God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’ I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there. I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it. Don’t be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.” God’s Decree.
God reached out, touched my mouth, and said, “Look! I’ve just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered! See what I’ve done? I’ve given you a job to do among nations and governments—a red-letter day! Your job is to pull up and tear down, take apart and demolish, And then start over, building and planting.” 

In what ways did you experience seeking today? 

In what ways did you experience finding today? 

In what ways have you experienced being found by God? 

Pray for forgiveness and a new beginning. 
Just as the prodigal confessed his wrongdoing 
to his father and received forgiveness, 
so are we all called to confess 
where we’ve gone wrong. 

This week Middle School age students from Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church have traveled to Maryville College outside of Knoxville, TN to join with hundreds of youth at the Montreat Middle School conference.

Pray with us, pray for us, pray that we will experience God in new ways.

The above thoughts are taken from our daily themes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Living Water

John 4:5-30, 39
So [Jesus] came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?”Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he,the one who is speaking to you.”
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him. 
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.”

Sometimes the stories of our lives and the stories of those who lived during Biblical times get messy and complicated.

In the reading from John 4, what good news do you hear?

In the story of the Woman at the Well (John 4: 5-39), Jesus offers the woman “living water.” When have you experienced a time when you felt like Christ was offering you living water?

Today, we are so thankful, Lord,
that you chose to love us so much
that you created us to be your sons and daughters.
Even when we mess up and disappoint you,
we know that you are the ever-loving parent
who never stops loving us,
no matter what,
and always welcomes us back home.
Be with all your children this night,
especially those who are facing hard times
Help us to be the sons and daughters
you created us to be.

This week high school students from Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church are together with hundreds of other youth at the Montreat Youth Conference.

The above thoughts are taken from their daily themes.

Pray with us, pray for us, pray for the courage to tell our story!

Monday, July 20, 2015

We've a story to tell

from the hymn: We've a story to tell to the nations
We've a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.

God has given each of us a unique story to tell. A story of life, a story of love, a story of God in our lives.  It is a good story, a story of Good News! a story that needs to be shared.

What can make telling our stories feel difficult when we get back home? 

Why does it feel easier to talk about who we are and what we believe when we’re at Montreat or church? 

How can we better support one another in our journeys of faith and in telling “Our Story” when we get back home? 

Thank you, God, 
for collecting and bringing our group 
here to Montreat this week. 
Help us to grow as your disciples 
so that we can go back home 
to live and tell your story 
of love, peace, justice and grace 
in our homes, in our schools, 
at our churches and among everyone we meet.
Be with us as we continue to grow here 
and open our minds and our hearts 
to receive what You need us to hear. 
In Christ’s name we pray, 

This week high school students from Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church are together with hundreds of other youth at the Montreat Youth Conference.

The above thoughts are taken from their daily themes.

Pray with us, pray for us, pray for the courage to tell our story!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

the REAL help in prayer

Romans 8:26-27
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
O Spirit,
pray for me.
Do the praying for me.
Intercede before the throne of God for me.
Groan and sigh, O Spirit,
as only you can.

Holy Spirit,
you are the REAL help in prayer.
Breath through me.
Utter to the very heart of God
the secrets that I hold in my heart -- 
secrets, desires, longings 
that are often hidden from my own knowing.

Words fail...
quiet comes
love, embrace, stillness
at home with You...
the embrace of silence 
between to lovers...

It is enough.
It is a gift.
It is love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A help in prayer

Today I share with you
a help in prayer
that I use regularly called:

Pray As You Go.

Pray as you go is a daily prayer session, designed for use on portable MP3 players, to help you pray whenever you find time, but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc.

A new prayer session is produced every day of the working week and one session for the weekend. It is not a 'Thought for the Day', a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer.

Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection.

The aim is to help us to:
  • become more aware of God's presence in our life 
  • listen to and reflect on God's word 
  • grow in our relationship with God

I have found it very helpful connecting me with the life of God through prayer, Scripture, music, quiet reflection, deep questions, and time -- time with God.

I encourage you to try it today:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Who shall ascend??

The earth is the LORD's and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
and established it on the rivers.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts,
who do not lift up their souls to what is false,
and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the LORD,
and vindication from the God of their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
But O Lord,
who of us has truly clean hands?
Who of us has a truly pure heart?
Who of us has not worshiped what turned out to be false?
Who of us has not swear or lied?
Only you, Lord Jesus!

You have received blessing for God Almighty.
God vindicated your sinless life 
and saved you from the dead.

And you, Lord Jesus,
share those blessings with us
share that vindication with us
share salvation with us!

Help us live out our salvation
with gratitude, joy, and service
sharing those same gifts
with others, especially young others.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gratitude for our nation

God of the nations,
Ruler of all lands,
Today I thank you for
the freedoms I enjoy as
a citizen of the United
 States of America.

I bow my head in gratitude for
the privilege of worshiping  you without fear,
the privilege of expressing my beliefs, opinions, disagreements, and worldview without fear,
the privilege of caring for my neighbors and living peaceably with people of wide diversity,
the privilege of responsibility to the least of these your brothers and sisters in this nation and beyond.
Let me never take for commonplace the gifts of this land, your land, a land to enjoy and share.

O Lord,
I am well aware that
We are far from a perfect nation.
We have abused our power.
We have ignored the oppressed.
We have stood silent.
We have looked out for our best interest without thought of our neighbors who share your planet earth.
I pray for your forgiveness.

Reform us into a more prefect union.
Use us as you will
May your kingdom come,
Your will be done
In earth and by us!
As it is in heaven.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Mountain reminder

Psalm 121
Out I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

I love the majesty of your mountains. 
As I make my way up the highways, 
Just the sight of the mountains
Rising in the distance 
Makes my heart sing.

Some love the beach;
Some the seas;
Some the lakes and rivers. 
But for me, 
My heart beats in your mountains. 

I think it all began
As a child traveling over the mountains 
To visit my grandparents in Tennessee and Kentucky. 
Then as a teen going to Montreat youth conferences. 
Then as a newlywed hiking in the mountains. 
And now as an adult resting, playing, studying, and exploring with my son in Montreat. 

I'm reminded of what Dr. Cliff McLeod, Sr (the pastor who baptized me) said, 
"Montreat is the first stop on the way to heaven."

I left up my eyes to these hills, 
And I am reminded 
that You, O Lord are my help.