Sunday, August 30, 2015

Take a long look in the mirror

James 1:22-25
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act-they will be blessed in their doing.

we stare into mirrors
making note of every grey hair,
every wrinkle, every pimple, every flaw
obsessed with our looks.

What if we took that same gaze
to examine your Word, Jesus Christ.
True, we would see 
our every sin, every failure, every flaw,
But we would also see 
Your every act of love, every drop of salvation blood, every grace filled moment.
We would see a child of God worth loving, worth dying for, 
worth rising for, worth blessing.

That's the mirror we find in your Word, Jesus Christ.
The mirror of truth, 
both convicting us of our sin and convincing us of Your love.

Today I will take a long deep look 
in the mirror of Jesus Christ.
Help me walk away remembering who I am:
always a forgiven sinner, 
always a redeemed servant,
always a freed slave,
always a beloved Child of God,
always a creature made to praise You,
always one to bring Glory to God alone!
Alleluia! Amen!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Generous giving; First fruit living

JAMES 1:17-18
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

O Father of Lights,
thank you for every generous act of giving...
not just your giving
but any and every generous act of giving...
they come from your Spirit --
a Spirit that moves us
from complacency to generosity,
from greedy to giving,
from hoarding to sharing,
from abundance for some and scarcity for the others
to enough for all.

Enable us to be
your first fruits among your creatures.
Help us embrace our role among the created order--
living humbly before you,
caring for all creation,
giving glory to Your name,
sharing Your the same measure of the grace you give us
with all of Your children on this earth.

May it be so with me today
in big and small ways

Sunday, August 16, 2015

8 out of 10

Dear Lord,
you know the statistics:

8 out of 10 teenagers drop out of church.

Those are numbers worth fighting.
If we the church truly believe
the only thing that really matters in life
is a life-giving relationship with you, Lord Jesus,
then we will commit ourselves,
our time, our money, our energy,
our talents, our schedules, our loves
to make certain
the teenagers in our midst are connected to you.

How do we do that?
The same way you demonstrated love to us, Lord.
By coming among us,
by offering us acceptance and friendship,
by living and loving with us.

Help us commit to the youth of our church and community:
Meeting them where they are,
Calling them by name,
Extending acceptance and friendship,
Valuing their voice,
Exploring and asking hard questions of life and faith together.

That's the vision.
That's the work.
That's the mission.
That's what you call us to do.

Help us answer that call.

These thoughts taken from Genon Ministries founded 50+ years ago by Rev. Dale Milligan.  See his story in the video above.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Do whatever it takes!

John 1:1-7
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John”  —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized—  he left Judea and started back to Galilee.  But he had to go through Samaria.  So he 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."

Lord Jesus,
you met the woman at the well.
You met her where she was.
You met her in the midst of her daily ordinary life.
You went to her.

Too often in church, Lord,
we wait for people to come to us.
But your model of ministry was to go to them.

Today I pray for the church:
give us the courage to do whatever it takes.
Going into the streets, schools,
homes, businesses,
hospital rooms, lonely places,
violent places, broken places,
ball fields, locker rooms,
email inboxes, Instagram posts,
snap chats, Facebook...
meeting people where they are.
Doing whatever it takes to share your love.

make us uncomfortable in our pews
so that we don't sit too long, too complacent,
but instead having been nourished
by your Word, the waters of baptism and bread of life,
send us by your Spirit to meet people where they are.
Help us do whatever it takes.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Come and see

John 4:28-30, 39-42 
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.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

who needs to hear my story today?
The story about your love in my life
how you know everything about me
and still you love me,
forgive me, and
use me to express your love to others.

Give me the courage to tell my story,
give my witness,
inviting others,
especially young others,
to "Come and see"

Come and see the Lord
who loves, forgives, heals, equips, and sends.
Come and see! what my God can do for you!
Come and see! what my God can do with you!
Come and see! what my God can do through you!
To the Glory of God.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fulfill my thirst

John 4:7-15
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.”

Loving Lord,
how often I miss the point.
You offer life giving water
that has eternal significance,
but too often I am focused
only on my temporary thirst.

Not that you think my thirst for water is unimportant,
but you see a bigger picture,
a wider view,
a fullness of life.

Today, O Living Water,
fulfill my thirst for a drink,
fulfill my thirst for well-being,
fulfill my thirst for fullness of life in you.

Flow through my soul today
so that others may know
your love in full measure.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Text a prayer or verse

Today try this:

Send a prayer or Bible verse via text message to someone who needs a lift.

Most text messages are 140 characters (including punctuation and spaces) so try to write a brief prayer or send a favorite Bible verse. Such discipline in writing prayers encourages brevity and getting to the heart of the matter quickly.

Some examples follow specific to the starting of the school year:

Loving God, bless my son today at school. In his work, in his play, with his friends, may he discover your joys today! Amen.

Only Wise God, guide the teachers at my daughter’s school today. May they lead her to discover the wonders of the world you created. Amen.

God, our one true friend, as the school year begins help (insert name) make friends who will be a support and encouragement this year. Amen.

God who calms the storm, calm our nerves during this first week of school. Help us focus to start the year off strong. Amen.


With school starting soon, imagine a student receiving a Bible verse or prayer via text from you during their day at school!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Write a letter of encouragement

Today try this:
Write a letter of encouragement.

The Apostle Paul wrote letters to strengthen the followers of Christ, the church. He hoped to support the churches by offering them words of encouragement and hope.

Today I invite you to write a letter, not to the church, but to a family member or a friend. Like Paul’s letters, let your letter be an encouragement focusing on what you know to be true and good about God.

Mail or send your letter of encouragement and offer the following prayer:
Great God,
We give you thanks for the ways your encourage us. Help us to encourage each other as we try our best to follow you. Amen.

School is starting soon.  What would it be like during the first week of school for a student you know and love to receive a letter of encouragement from you?

Ideas above adapted from:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Share 2 Things

Today try this:

Take some time, 
sit together with God 
without ANY distractions.

Share two things from your day. 
Tell God what happened.
AND tell how you felt 
or what you thought about the situation.

Then let God have a turn.
Simply to listen.
Hear what happened in the life of God today.
Hear how God felt and what God thought.
Don't try to fix it.
Don't give advice.
Listen and take it in.

By the way,
this same process works well for deepening any relationship.
Share two things that happened today.
How you felt, what you thought about the situation.
The other person listens, trying to take it in and understand.
Don't fix it, don't give advice, just listen.

Then switch roles.

Try it today.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Do your eternal good in the world

JOHN 6:24-35
So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal." Then they said to him, "What must we do to perform the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." So they said to him, "What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Then Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."
Our vision is so small, Lord.
There you are,
Lord of Heaven and Earth,
standing right before us,
and all we can see is small temporary needs.
We ask for bread to fill our stomachs,
but you offer bread to fill our lives.

in a conversation recently,
I was reminded of the prayer lists
I kept in a journal in college.
At the time, those things seemed so BIG so urgent...
then just a few months later
I'd reread those same lists and realize how you took care of it.
I was amazed to see, in hindsight,
the thread of grace you were weaving in my life.

Today my needs still seem urgent and big, and they are.
But Lord, lift my eyes again
to see your face,
to see the light in your eyes,
to see the larger picture, the long view:
the view that shows me ways
that you are working
in me, through me, in spite of me
and through others
to do your eternal good in the world.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Ephesians 4:7-13
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people." (When it says, "He ascended", what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
Lord God,
it is your ministry,
your work of reconciliation,
your work of forgiveness,
your work of grace,
your work of acceptance and embrace.
And yet you entrust that ministry to us.

You give us
"grace according to the measure of Christ's gift."
That's a LARGE measure.
Sufficient grace.
Enough grace.
Amazing grace.
Plenty-left-to-share grace.

You give us grace and gifts
in order that we may fulfill YOUR ministry
so that we may build up the body of Christ
so that we may be united in faith
so that we may be matured into the FULL stature of Christ.
That's a TALL order.

Our world is so divided --
Political divisions,
Social divisions,
Racial divisions,
Religious divisions,
Economic divisions,
Family divisions...

Unity escapes our grasp
even (or maybe especially) in the church.
No wonder you give us
"grace according to the measure of Christ's gift."
It's going to take THAT MUCH grace
to stand united,
to measure up to the full stature of Christ.

So today, I pray BOLDLY:
give us the FULLNESS of your grace
the FULLNESS of your gifts
so that we may fulfill
your mission and ministry in the world
uniting ALL in the faith and knowledge
of your Son,
Savior of the world,
Jesus Christ.
May it be so today,
and every day!