Morning Has Broken

Scripture:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Thought for the Day:

Do you remember the words to the last verse of “Morning Has Broken?”

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning! Born of the one light Eden saw play! Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s re- creation of the new day! 

I have always sung that song as a celebration of creation. We have an extravagant Lord who cannot be outdone! Through the power of the resurrection, all of creation has been transformed, changed, renewed! Through the power of the resurrection, we have been transformed, changed, renewed. We have been re-created!  Made like the new day dawning. It is in the newness of each day that the light shines and the darkness is unable to overcome it. 

Oh, we have all felt the loneliness of hurt and heartache darken our day…
We all know the darkened days of ignorance and unknowing…
We all know the sense of abandonment when we can’t find our God…

And sometimes, when the darkness is especially thick… we think ourselves content to simply see the stars. But let’s not short-change ourselves!  God’s act of re-creation, the resurrection of Jesus, Christ, casts out all darkness! It cannot overcome us! 

We don’t have to accept, we don’t have to settle! When we embrace in our hearts the Good News of God’s peace… the darkness turns to the morning! God works a miracle of transformation! Our differences and diversities fade away. Our fear is gone! Sin and death are no more!

We experience the dawning of a new life. God’s re-creation of a relationship with us is complete.

While we were still weak, at the right moment, God showed his love for us, Paul says: “Christ died for ungodly people.” (Ro. 5:6-8)

That Christ died for our sins is in line with the scriptures, he was buried and rose on the third day (1 Co. 15:3)

My Lord what a morning! Use your senses…. smell the presence of God, hear the presence of God, see the presence of God, taste the presence of God, feel the presence of God… 

Know that God is here and “there is nothing in heaven or on earth or under the earth that is capable of separating you from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:32)


Prayer for the day:

Creator God, even as you re-created each new day, create within me the dawning of a new life and new love for Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Buying Time

Scripture:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” - Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thought for the Day:

A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5 year old son waiting for him at the door.

"Daddy, may I ask you a question?"

"Yeah, sure, what is it?" replied the man.

"Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?"

"That's none of your business!  What makes you ask such a thing?" the man said angrily.

"I just want to know.  Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?"  pleaded the little boy.

"If you must know, I make $20.00 an hour."

"Oh," the little boy replied, head bowed.  Looking up, he said, "Daddy, may I borrow $10.00 please?"

The father was furious.  "If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight  to your room  and go to bed. Think about why you're being so selfish. I work long,  hard hours every day and don't have time for such childish games."

The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door.

The man  sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy's questioning. How dare him ask such questions only to get some money. After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son.  Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $10.00, and he really didn't ask for money very often.  The man went to the door of the little boy's room and opened the door.

"Are you asleep son?" he asked.

"No daddy, I'm awake," replied the boy.

"I've been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier," said theman.

"It's been a long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here's that $10.00 you asked for."

The little boy sat straight up, beaming.  "Oh, thank you daddy!" he yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled up bills.

The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man.

"Why did you want more money if you already had some?" the father grumbled.

"Because I didn't have enough, but now I do," the little boy replied. "Daddy, I have $20.00 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?"

 Is there someone in your life do you need to spend some more time with? Friend? Spouse? Child? Sibling? Savior?

- Author Unknown
Prayer for the day:
Dear God, if I am neglecting any of the relationships you have placed within my life, please give me the time, energy, and interest in rekindling them. Amen.

Charged Up and Ready to Go!

Scripture:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” - Ephesians 3:14-19

Thought for the day:

I have two portable cellphone chargers that I use in emergencies when my cellphone battery is running low and an electrical outlet is not available. Though I don’t need them often, it is comforting to know that I have “backup” energy when my phone needs it the most to remain connected.
Well, I needed it and it functioned wonderfully! Later that night, I plugged it in to recharge and when I came back to it in the morning, it still wasn’t charged. I made sure that I had plugged the charger completely into the outlet; I checked the cord to make sure wasn’t frayed or damaged; I even checked the outlet to make sure that it was working properly. I couldn’t find anything wrong. The charger should have charged! Upon closer inspection, I realized was using the wrong the connector cord. The connector fit into the charger but it didn’t match and so there was no electrical exchange and thus no “charging” took place. Shortly after I began using the proper connector cord, the charger was once again ready to “back me up!”

We all come across times in this crazy world when our faith resolve seems to be “running low.” Hopefully, it doesn’t happen often because we are intentional about staying “plugged in” to body of Christ. Nevertheless, when life gets away from us and we get away from God, is our “backup” ready to recharge us?

There are a lot of ways in which we appear to be engaged and connected with God. However, God gave us the community of faith, the church. When we engage and connect with God through the body of Christ, through worship, fellowship & accountability groups, scriptural study opportunities, service options and such, we can be sure that we are “recharging” our “backup” for those times when we are at risk of losing our connection to Christ.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me connect or reconnect to the body of Christ so I might guard against those days in which I find myself stymied by a “low energy” faith. Amen.

Yes or No?

Scripture:

“A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” - Luke 18:18-23

Thought for the day:

“To meet the Messiah in a yes-or-no encounter forces us to examine and to admit what we hold absolute, which is exactly what happened to the rich young ruler long ago. Jesus had - and still has - a disturbing way of putting everything into a different perspective. In his presence we cannot get by with “almost” or “maybe” or “later.” A confrontation with Jesus is always a rigorous examination of the “musts” of our life. It is not unlike sifting through the ashes after a fire has destroyed our home and the possessions of a lifetime. In that aftermath we slowly relearn what we actually keep and what we value most. Or it is not unlike lying in the intensive care unit of a hospital after a massive coronary. In the silent darkness of early morning, we ask where all the hurrying and demanding, all the striving and spending bring us - at last.”

— From Meeting the Messiah by Donald J. Shelby

Prayer:

Gracious Savior, give me the courage to examine and admit what I hold absolute, even when it humbles us in the knowledge that we are not who you wish us to be. And then give me strength to say “thy will be done.”

We've A Story to Tell

Scripture: 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” - John 3:16-17

Thought for the day: 

As I browsed the newsfeeds and Facebook, it grieves my heart to see just how focused the masses are on “all that is wrong with the world.” Don’t misunderstand me, there are injustices and evils that need to be brought to light and the struggle against both can never wane! We, as Christians with God’s help, must constantly strive to “make a difference, transform a life, and build the kingdom of God. 

However, we are a people of the Word, and the Word, while it acknowledges sin and separation from God, is primarily the story of “all that is right within the world.” Ours is a story of victory snatched from defeat; our is a story of salvation in the midst of condemnation; ours is the story of the one true God who “so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)  

It is so easy to get caught up in the heartache brought on by the brokenness of our world. Given the opportunity to focus “all that is right with the world,” on the story of: God with us, makes for a much better day!

H. Ernest Nichol wrote a hymn back in 1896 called “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations”  that speaks to the story…

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.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword, and shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above that sent us his Son to save us,
and show us that God is love, and show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow hath trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God, might come to the truth of God. 

Refrain

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.


Prayer for the day:

Gracious God, please instill within me the joy of your incredible salvation story and give me the desire to share that story wherever and whenever you deem it necessary. Amen

Multi-tasking

Scripture:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” - Matthew 22:37-39

Thought:

I like to think of myself as a multi-tasker, able to juggle many experiences without losing focus. I walked into my office, looked around and was instantly depressed. It is a mess! In an instant I realized that multi-tasking is not gift, it is politically correct terminology meaning “unorganized and/or unfocused.” In fact, studies show that in most cases, multi-tasking impairs performance.

I think that humanity has always struggled with issues of multi-tasking. We are constantly being distracted from that which is important and as “stuff” piles up… well… we become overwhelmed.

The wonderful thing is that God gets it! God isn’t one to pile it on. In fact, God is pretty adamant about wanting us to focus on that which is most important.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” - Deuteronomy 5:7

In other words, nothing is more important than our relationship with God, so we shouldn’t get so carried away with politics, career, the accumulation of wealth, or whatever else tempts us to forget who we are and who’s we are.


That said, God knows us all too well, God knows that we will not resist temptation and God, in his infinite love for us, gives us an opportunity “scratch the itch” of multi-tasking:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” - Matthew 22:37-39

Prayer:

Dear Lord, we are constantly struggling and juggling the distractions in life that keep us from focusing on you. Give us the means to narrow our focus so that you and others always come first. Amen.

Trust and Obey

Scripture:

“As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; and their sight was restored.” - Matthew 9:27-30

Thought:

There is an old hymn entitled, Trust and Obey with the lyrics indicating, “…there is no other way to happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Sometimes I find those words providing me a gentle joy; other times I simply find them tiring.

Well, I was reading a tidbit written by Joan Puls, from Every Bush Is Burning, that basically said our willingness to trust and obey is dependent upon our relationship with God. So insisting that someone trust God when that person has no relationship with God is wasted energy. Calling for obedience to God without the intimacy of divine experience is a fool’s request. 

Puls goes on to say: “Obedience is the offspring of a deep and intimate relationship between our own hearts and the God who embraces us and who shares with us a joyous delight in and passionate concern for all of creation. When God is the one in whom we live and move and have our being, then our spirits will reverberate and our lives echo that limitless love.” 

In the ebb and flow of faithfulness, what might we do to continually grow a closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus so that trust and obedience are byproducts of a joy-filled faith rather tiring chores for a demanding God?

I believe that expressions of limitless love born out of our own intimate relationship with God are, hands down, the best way to find joy in our own lives and to encourage others to explore a relationship with God built first on trust and then on obedience. 

Prayer:

Gracious God, I know that you can do all things! Grant me the will to joyfully express your limitless love to everyone I encounter today.  Amen.



Sin Dwells Within Me, Cleanse Me

Scripture: 

“I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” - Romans 7:18b-19

Thought for the day: 

A few years back there was a news article about Burger King’s Twitter account being hacked into by someone who began posting (rival company) McDonald’s information. The hacker then went on to post racial epithets, references to drug use, and obscenities. Obviously a rough day for Burger King as the terrible image of the restaurant being projected to the public wasn’t real!

As I was remembering Burger King’s misfortune, I began to realize that the image we project to the public often isn’t real either. Why? Because our lives have been hacked, not through social media but through sin. Sin colors our view of creation, constructs controversy over our true values, and ultimately ruins our reputations. Like the apostle Paul, hacked by sin we “do not understand (our) own actions. For (we) do not do what (we) want, but (we) do the very thing (we) hate.” 

While sin can never change the fact that we are God’s children, nor can it change the immensity of God’s love, it does change our relationship with God.  It does change how we perceive ourselves and how we perceive and are perceived by others. The blessing is that, if you are reading this post, it isn’t too late to address your misfortune. Regain control over the sin that has breached your life through a renewed focus on the security one finds in a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Prayer for the day: Heavenly Father, sin dwells within me and I do not do the good I want to do. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness and free me to serve you fully.  Amen.

Commit To The Eternal

Scripture: 

"Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” - Luke 12:15

Thought for the day: 

Last week I was asked to “sell my soul” to Verizon wireless for two more years so that I could upgrade my cell phone. I really wanted a new iphone but in the end I just couldn’t justify upgrading a phone that works perfectly fine and meets my “needs” if not my desires. 

Anyhow, it got me to wondering about how willing we are to “sell our soul” for things. I made a two year commitment to a cell phone company so that I could have instantaneous access to others and they to me (at least within the realm of the “most reliable network.”) 

We all make these commitments... Whether it is a two year commitment to a cell phone company or a five year commitment to a bank for financing reliable transportation or something else... What have you “sold your soul” to receive? How often we commit our current resources well into the future for something that is temporary. 

Jesus told this parable: "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (Lk 12:15-21)

What commitment have you made to God? As members of the United Methodist Church we have publicly committed to: a) Confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. b) Believe in the Christian faith as contained in the Old & New Testaments. c) Promised to live a Christian life and d) to uphold the United Methodist Church with one’s prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. 

How are you doing with your commitment to God? Is it time to upgrade your commitment? Is now the time to reallocate your current resources of time, talent, and tithe from those things which are temporary to that which is eternal? 

Prayer for the day: Merciful God, as I review the commitments I have made, I know that I have not been faithful. In my life, help me to first attend to that which is eternal. Amen.


God Sightings

Scripture: 

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. - Ezekiel 1:28


Thought for the day: 

I found a devotional in my library that I haven’t noticed in quite sometime. The book is called: God Sightings: Learning to Experience God Every Day.  I don’t know how it first came to be in my library  but I am grateful to have it. The book has started me on a path of intense scripture reading, prayer, and contemplation that I haven’t done, for personal enrichment, in quite some time. I am finding new life in old scriptures. Coming alive once again are the stories of Abraham, Isaac and that rascal, Jacob. Psalms and Proverbs are revealing secrets that I didn’t remember existed in God’s Word. Insights into the tenacity and audacity of those early fathers of our faith are coming to me that I had never before realized. 

I must confess having felt that one thing most people feel but fear to verbalize: There are times when faith can feel kind of “ho hum”. The God Sightings authors use the words: “dry, dusty, grounded in principles rather than passion.” Well, now that I have once again been encouraged to start looking for God in everything... Guess what? I’m seeing God in everything! 

An early drive revealed the sun cresting the trees as I came across an old barn. The world was aglow with sunlight! The bright red of a newly painted roof was so warm and vibrant as it radiated the morning light. The weather worn walls hinted at shades of darker pigments, streaks of reds, oranges and browns contrasting beautifully as the entire structure was framed by the shimmering green foliage that God used as a backdrop beneath a crystal clear blue sky. 

Simply breathtaking! It was a God sighting that caused me to stop and offer praise and a prayer. How many times I have driven past that place and never noticed anything remotely special... But on this day, after having been primed for the presence of God, God showed up in a glorious array of splendor. 

Are you primed for the presence of God? Or... Are you kind of “ho hum” about seeing the great things God is doing.

Are you excited to see the blessings in your life? Or... Has your faith become “dry, dusty, grounded in principles rather than passion”? 

I hope you see God every minute of every day but if you don’t... let me tell you that you’re missing out! Go back to the beginning. Go back to the Word and start reading it with new eyes and new expectations. Go back to God in prayer and let the divine sink deep into your heart as you begin to embrace the expectancy of hope and holiness, forgiveness and freedom. Go back and begin again to witness the profound and yet simple truth: Love is the constant expression of God and if you choose to look... you WILL see God! 

Prayer for the day:

Dear Lord, open my eyes that I may see the expressions of love you have for me. Amen.


Live in Awe of the Almighty

Scripture: 

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” - Psalm 8:1

Thought for the day:

I remember the first time I went “elkin’” in Benezette, Pa. I had never witnessed elk in the wild and I was amazed! The beauty of creation was right there for all to see and folks came from all around to pay homage to these magnificent creatures. 

Two things caught my attention quickly: first, I was amazed at the audacity of some people who were trying vainly to “call” the elk. The pathetic attempts to “speak” elk made me chuckle as I pondered what an elk might think of those people. The second thing that amazed me was the lack of respect some people had in their approach to these animals. Yes, they are beautiful! Yes, they are magnificent! They are also wild and unpredictable! Signs were everywhere telling people to stay on the paths and keep their distance, yet there were a few people roaming through the woods, even attempting to feed the animals. Dangerous...

At any rate, I begin to think that perhaps this is how we treat God. We make our pathetic attempts to speak with the Creator of all things and I sometimes wonder at the audacity of my prayers. Yet God chooses to answer me. Occasionally, I find myself treating God as if he were a lapdog: cute, cuddly, even controllable. I sometimes forget that, in the words of Chris Tomlin, our God is “indescribable, uncontainable, all powerful, untamable, incomparable and unchangeable” and yet God covets our attention. Amazing!

Nonetheless, let us never forget that our God is not to be toyed with. We must always approach the Lord of Life with humility and respect, remembering that the presence of God is, in itself, an act of majestic grace. 

Live in awe of the Almighty in all that you do, remember always just how wonderful and how marvelous our God really is and then pay him homage with all that you are and all that you have.

Prayer for the day:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Empower my life to pay homage to you with all that I am and all that I have. Amen.


If Every Day Was Like Today...

Scripture:

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” - Psalm 118:24


Thought for the Day: 

So I have this app downloaded on my phone that works in conjunction with my running app to count calories ingested and expended everyday.

When I finished my first day of calorie counting, the app told me that: “If every day is like today... you will gain 10 lbs at the end of 5 weeks.” I have to tell you that was not what I was expecting! 

Have you ever gotten to the end of a long day and thought: “If everyday were like today...” How would that sentence end for you? 

“If everyday were like today, I’d be on cloud nine forever!” 
“If everyday were like today, I’d be miserable for the rest of my life!”
“If everyday were like today, I’d be perfected in God’s love in this lifetime!”
“If everyday were like today, I’d be competing for the devil’s job!”
“If everyday were like today....”

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a spiritual app that we could use to accurately measure how many spiritual calories we were ingesting and expending everyday? Wouldn’t it be great to end the day with a spiritual assessment that told us that: “If everyday were like today... you would be perfected in faith at the end of 5 weeks.” 

Obviously we don’t know exactly how each day will pan out but we can choose to assess ourselves. Regardless of how well we feel about our walk with God, if we honestly assess our spiritual health we might find something we were not expecting. If you want to get started on a spiritual assessment, check out the following passages and then ask yourself: “If everyday were like today, how did I do?”

  1. Matthew 5-7

  2. Matthew 22:36-40

  3. Deuteronomy 5:1-21

  4. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

  5. Ephesians 5:1-21

  6. Philippians 2:1-18

Prayer for the day:

Thank you God for a desire to grow closer to you. Allow me to constantly assess how my faith relationships are doing and when I need help, grant it. Amen.


A Good Front

Scripture:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” - Psalm 51:10-12

Thought for the Day: 

I’m sitting in my living room and I am positioned to look out into the back yard as well as the front yard. 

As I gaze out the front window, I am able to see my freshly freshly cut lawn. It wasn’t long ago that I was ashamed of myself because the grass was growing out of control. Now, I feel a sense of satisfaction because it looks the yard looks nice, not perfect, but nice. 

And then I look out the back window and there is a mess! The grass still isn’t cut. The bushes that were overgrown and hacked down are now attempting to regrow but honestly, they look horrid. And lurking around the corner, just out of eye-site is some severely overgrown spearmint burying the sidewalk on one side and a wealth of unrelenting, always returning, weeds blocking the steps down to the garage on the other side.

Why am I ratting myself out like this? Well, because I see an analogy that rings all too true in our lives. 

So many of us are great at keeping up a good front. The person in us that others get to see is nice, not perfect, but nice. Our days are always going good, our problems are few… We tend to convey the tag line from the “Old Milwaukee” beer commercials: “It doesn’t get any better than this!” 

However, we know that if people could see inside of us, there is a mess. Proverbs 20:9-10 asks, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?”  

How often we are inundated with grudges that we can’t dismiss, affronts that we won’t let go, injustices that we cling to, and hurts that fester. We may look good on the outside, but we are racked with sin on the inside and it makes a mess of things in our lives. 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.” - Psalm 51:10-12

When the messy inside is cleaned up and cleaned out to match our approachable outside, when we become fully authentic in who we are before God and others… then life truly “doesn’t get any better!” 

I pray that life for all of us! 

Prayer for the day: Create in me a clean heart, O God! Empower me to be fully authentic, so that my thoughts and my actions are one before you and others. Amen. 


All Tucked Away...

Scripture:

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp-stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:14

Thought for the day:

Not all churches care for their property as well as Grace UMC. I remember one time, years ago, we had water throughout the laundry room every time the clothes were washed. Each time it happened, my wife told me about it. But it wasn’t until she said, “ED! I’M NOT MOPPING THE FLOOR AGAIN AND THERE WILL BE NO CLEAN CLOTHES UNTIL THIS IS FIXED!” I found time to go down and look at the washer. Long story short, I found the leak and got the Trustees of the church to fix it. But this story isn’t really about the leak, it is about the water on floor.

When I finally acknowledged the problem, I picked everything up off the floor to keep it dry, well, almost everything. There were a couple of boxes and foot locker tucked back in the corner that weren’t easy to reach and it didn’t look too wet over there so I didn’t bother to dig them out. I figured that the walls of the foot locker would protect the contents and the boxes didn’t have anything all that valuable within in them. BAD DECISION!

Once the leak was fixed, I realized that there was more water in the corner than I anticipated. So, I pulled everything out of the corner. When I opened the foot locker I found that, while the walls of the foot locker kept the flood out, the moisture creeped in and created enough humidity that mold had taken its toll on the contents which included a large Bible.


Sometimes we have a tendency to lock our faith away believing it to be safe, protected from the destructive effects our world showers upon us only to find that when we pull it out, it has nothing left of value to offer us. We find that, as protected as we think we are, the evils of the world can still seep in and destroy our closely guarded faith.

It is important to realize that the word of God tucked away for our own private enrichment, will always rot away into words totally devoid of power because that is not what the word of God was intended to do! God’s word is intended to be transformative. It’s power is in it’s daily presence. Let’s resolve never to tuck our faith away trusting that it will survive in solitude.


Prayer for the day:

Lord, when the problems of life flood my heart and soul, help me move towards the higher ground found in the transformative power of your daily presence. Amen.

Worry Not!

Scripture:

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Phillipians 4:6-7

Thought for the day:

I was remembering an article sent to me by my mother-in-law a few years back, when she was living in New Hampshire. It was written by Larry Chase for the Concord Monitor newspaper. The article was about the lack of worry among children today. In his article, Chase recalls a day spent with his grandchildren where he accompanied them throughout the day from one outrageous activity to another while noticing that the children hadn’t a “worry in the world.” He then recalled a litany of worry that this parents constantly placed upon him:

Accidents can and will happen.
Candy can rot your teeth.
Don’t pick at that. It’ll get infected
Get your clothes dirty and you’ll be sorry.
Turn that down. You could burst an eardrum.
Keep reading that stuff and you’ll rot your brain.
If you don’t brush your teeth right, they’ll all fall out.
If you don’t go to sleep right now, the bogeyman will get you.
If you go swimming right after lunch, you’ll get cramps and drown.
Keep picking your nose like that and some day your finger will get stuck up there.

These are just a few of the worries listed in the article that Mr. Chase remembers being cautioned of as a child and I actually remember a few of them myself! At any rate, the article concludes with a lament about how his grandson is living a worry-free life and he is not.

Perhaps the reason that there is so much worry in the world is because the older we get, the less we trust.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” - Phillipians 4:6-7

Maybe if we would remember the resurrection and allow it’s celebration to linger a bit longer in our lives, we would prayerfully gain confidence in the power of the risen Lord. “Fear not! For I am with you!” says the Lord.” We all know that accidents can and will happen, but for those who believe in the one who has conquered sin and death...there is simply not much left to worry about. The assurance of our Risen Lord be with you all!

Prayer for the day:

Dear Lord, grant me so much confidence in the power of your resurrection that I am set free from the worries that imprison my heart and mind. Amen.

Is Today the Day?

Scripture:

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” - Colossians 3:13

Thought for the day:

Have you been slighted? Betrayed? Read on…

“Two devoted friends and brilliant minds—John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—fell out with each other over politics, personal slights, and both feeling betrayed by the other. The feud not only embittered both, causing them to abandon all correspondence and relationship of any kind for many years, but it troubled their closest companions who could not imagine these giants of the Revolution becoming estranged for the rest of their lives.

In 1809 a mutual signer of the Declaration of Independence, Dr. Benjamin Rush, had a dream about the two former Presidents, wrote it down, and sent it to both men. In the dream he saw the alienated statesmen renew their friendship and begin corresponding with each other. John Adams, again in the dream, addressed a short letter to Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson responded. These two brief letters were "followed by a correspondence of several years in which they mutually reviewed the scenes of business in which they had been engaged, and candidly acknowledged to each other all the errors of opinion and conduct into which they had fallen during the time they filled the same station in the service of their country." Both Jefferson and Adams politely but separately acknowledged their friend's account of the dream and thought no more about it.

Three years later, at Rush's urging, Thomas Jefferson sent a very tentative letter to John Adams who responded with a guarded reply. One letter followed another until John Adams wrote to Jefferson on July 15, 1813: "Never mind it, my dear Sir, if I write four letters to your one; your one is worth more than my four … You and I ought not to die, before we have explained ourselves to each other.”

Bitter enemies prodded by a friend's dream were brought back together for the last several years of their lives until they died—both on the same day and only three hours apart: July 4th, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.” [by Fred Smith, Forgetting the Little that Divides, The Gathering blog (10-22-15)]

Perhaps today is the day to begin the journey in which you regain your freedom from estrangement and your friend?

Pray for the day:

Lord, where I am imprisoned by bitterness, blame, or betrayal, set me free for renewal and reunion with those who I have hurt or by whom I have been hurt. Amen.

Time to Mix It Up?

Scripture:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” - Hebrews 12:1-2

Thought for the day:

So... I am more than half way through 2019 and still running with a passion and loving it. I even achieved my goal for the 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon this past May. Each time I lace up my shoes, I realize once again how much I missed running regularly these past couple of years. I also realize how much more prepared I am to handle life after a run.

If you are anything like me, there are times when life threatens to overwhelm you. You know deep in your heart that you have to do things a bit differently. For me, I allowed “differently” to be defined as “virtually not at all.” As a result, the one real outlet in my life, that one thing I needed most, I gave up...

That happens in our faith journey as well. Sometimes living our faith becomes difficult because life is so overwhelming. The job isn’t going so well, the bills are adding up, the family is fighting, friendships are faltering. You get the picture. We know that something has to give; something has to change. We have to do things a bit differently. Occasionally, if you’re like me, we allow “differently” to be defined as “not at all.” The one thing we need the most, connection and conversation with God and with other Christians, we allow to “fall by the wayside.”

I’m doing things a bit differently now; instead of just running the roads, instead of doing the same course day in and day out, I am mixing it up a bit. I have found trail running to be challenging because I have to watch where I’m going - stumbling blocks are everywhere. In fact, I ended up doing a “tuck and roll” when a tree root reached out to grab me during one run. But I’m  so much more engaged now. I have days when a simple, mindless long run is just what I need to refresh my mind, my soul, and my body... Other days, I need the added challenge of the trails or possibly speed work. Regardless, I’m gaining the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of running.

Perhaps, we would do well to approach our faith journey in the same way. Instead of just Sunday worship, mix it up a bit. Add in something to challenge your walk with God on a daily basis; maybe a different devotional. Try a Sunday school class or even a new Sunday school class. Perhaps participation in a small group will offer a different perspective.

If you really want to challenge yourself commit to reading a quality author who maintains a different Christian perspective than you are accustomed too. Change up your prayer life in subtle or significant ways or review the theology contained in your favorite hymns and praise songs. Allow your church family to help you grow.


The point is to get your faith flowing again. You can be sure that there will be stumbling blocks but approaching your faith differently will force you to engage God in a way that will enhance your connection and conversation, not just with God but with others as well! It will also make you much more prepared to handle life when it threatens to overwhelm you. 

Prayer for the day: Heavenly Father, life can be overwhelming. Help me to engage with you today in ways that enhance my connection and conversation with you and those around me. Amen.


Keeping His Kingdom First Place

Scripture:

“Someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works,’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:18)

Thought for the Day:

I participate in a fantasy baseball league with other pastors for bragging rights in the conference. My problem… I forgot draft night this year… Granted, the computer managed to get me a decent starting lineup, but I have no depth. I have been scrambling ever since in an attempt to upgrade my roster.  

It got me to thinking. I wonder how many times we have an opportunity to do something good for the Kingdom, but then we forget about it. Do you say, “Oh well!” and move on or do you scramble to make things right? 

“Someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works,’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:18)

As much as God loves us and cares for us, we are given the opportunity to practice the grace that love and care provides. Are we scrambling to do the good works of piety for the Kingdom by focusing on reading, meditating and studying the scriptures; through prayer, fasting, regularly attending worship, and sharing our faith with others? Are we scrambling to do the good works of mercy which includes doing good works, visiting the sick and those in prison, feeding the hungry, and giving generously to the needs of others?

God understands that we aren’t perfect and forgetfulness isn’t the end of the world! God understands that our high hopes and best intentions aren’t always realized and God is there to make sure that, even in the midst of our own failures, we have decent chance at the great life God intends for us. But sometimes we are going to have to scramble. Living in faith requires our active participation. We mustn’t forget that we are to be the ones adding depth to our relationship with God. 

May the depth of your relationship with God and others continue to develop, and through you, may the Kingdom grow for God.

Prayer: Dear God, please help guard me against any forgetfulness of faithAmen.