Scripture: Psalm 5:3
LORD, in the morning you hear my voice. In the morning I lay it all out before you. Then I wait expectantly.
Thought for the Day: We’ve all heard the phrase, “In God’s time,” but I don’t know if folks have really thought through what it might mean. To speak of waiting, or in the case of the Psalmist, waiting expectantly, I don’t picture God distracted, too busy or taking a nap. We wait because God is working with and using human beings to achieve the amazing and miraculous work for which we are waiting. I have witnessed times when clearly God was inviting an individual to participate in some important work, yet the answer was “no” or “maybe” or “I’ll need to think about it.” I’ve watched these people come around in time and participate in some pretty amazing things. Of course, there were others who were waiting patiently or not so patiently. To speak of something happening “in God’s time” is to speak of a God who respects human freedom even when it requires God to be patient.
Prayer: So often we claim to wait for you, Merciful God, when in reality you are waiting for us. Let each of us be mindful of your calling to participate in bringing miracles into the lives of those who are waiting expectantly. Amen.
Scripture: Genesis 20:2
Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar took her into his household.
Thought for the Day: I have been enjoying the Made for a Miracle study. I love the way the author, Michael Slaughter, can spin a phrase. He writes:
It’s not our ability but our availability that God is most interested in.
I’m going to probably overstate this, but that might be one of the most insightful statements about one of the most important ideas in scripture. Let’s be honest – scripture has so many amazing individuals who were really a bunch of boneheads when God first called them. Many of them continued to stumble all over themselves even after the call, yet God remained faithful to them. Abraham is just one example. He made himself available to God, even when the destination was unclear. He took a leap of faith. Of course, along the way his insecurity played itself out as he protected himself by lying about his wife. This was not an isolated mistake, for it was the second time it happened. I’m not suggesting that we play-up our boneheaded mistakes, but it is good to know that God appreciates and works with our willingness to try even when our attempt is less than stellar.
Prayer: Thank you, Gracious God, for being gracious! Thank you for being patient and kind as I try my best. Amen.
Tonight at 7pm
the possibility of selling
a portion of the property
to the County
Scripture: Psalm 139:13
You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
Thought for the Day: I watched Rupi Kaur’s TEDx Talk a few days ago, and its power left me feeling uncomfortable and a little sick. Her poetry, specifically on sexual violence, is so vivid that only the most insensitive could go away unmoved. As I listened to her presentation, I came across a quote…a portion of a poem she wrote:
we are all born
the greatest tragedy is
being convinced we are not
I don’t know the exact context from which those words emerged, but so many people have become quite good in their ability to convince themselves of that so-called truth – believing they are not beautiful.
The poetry of the Psalm offers a counter narrative to the voices within us (or the voices of others) that try to devalue and dismiss the divinely given beauty that was woven into us before we were even a thought. Today, allow that counter narrative to be your defining narrative, not only as you think about yourself, but as you think about others.
Prayer: Why have we allowed ugly thoughts shaped by the unhealthiness of others to define us. O Creative God, allow your opinion to be the defining opinion I have of myself and of every living creature. We are beautiful, created in your elegant and holy image. There is something so sacred about each of us, and for that reason, we need you to continue to reveal the glory knitted into each of us. Amen.
6:30pm – Dinner
7:00pm – Study
Cramer Retreat Center
Prayer for the Week: The words of Paul stir within us — There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. What have you done, Gracious God, for Paul to declare something so beautiful and awe-inspiring? What are you doing among us this day, Holy God, to expunge and eliminate all the silly yet painful divisions we have created and tolerated? What are you doing to make us one? In our fractured and factious world, we need you more than ever. Allow for our living and loving, our kindness and compassion, to be added to all the kingdom-work happening in the world. Allow us to live above the pettiness of self-serving politics, and to do so through humility and self-sacrificing love. Let us rise as we kneel, let us lead by lifting others above us. We will do such things only if we center ourselves on the ways of Jesus, and the values of your kingdom. Let us learn all that we can, and then through your encouraging Spirit, let us strive to reveal your kingdom – the body of Christ – your family created in love. This we request in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 13:45-46
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it.
Thought for the Day: Years ago, I remember a preacher using this passage to encourage good investment strategies. It was all about finding that diamond (in this case, pearl) in the rough. Once you figure it out, invest heavily in it and watch the money flow in. Once again, we allow a 21st Century capitalist perspective to completely undercut the Jesus message. Jesus is inviting people to give everything away for the sake of the Gospel which really is not a good investment strategy if one wishes to retire early. As I read these words, I imagine Jesus hoping his disciples, over time, are able to gain a perspective that allows them to see where God is at work in the world – where the Gospel of grace and love is transforming lives. At that place, invest everything you can – your time, energy, resources, etc. Yet before you can start investing yourself, it is important to gain the eye of a “merchant” who has some expertise when it comes to picking out the fine pearls. Don’t be fooled by those who are trying to sell you something that really has nothing to do with the unconditional and sacrificial love of Jesus.
Prayer: Grant me the wisdom to know you and your ways, O Loving and Compassionate God. Allow me to see where you are at work, and then give me the courage to invest myself in that work…your kingdom work. Amen.
TODAY — IMPORTANT
Scripture: Matthew 18:12
What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off?
Thought for the Day: Borrowing a phrase from Dr. Mark Whitten, I believe Jesus was looking for the “yuck factor” when saying these words. What I mean is that Jesus had been challenging a culture that was dismissing and devaluing the marginalized among them. He spoke about humility as the way of discipleship, and then he presented a parable of sorts that spoke of a single sheep wandering off and getting lost. We are quick to jump to the saving act of the lost sheep, but sheep and shepherding was yucky business. It wasn’t something these disciples would be caught dead doing. I imagine Jesus watching his disciples to see if they grimaced or rolled their eyes or gagged just a bit when sheep were mentioned. It’s the difference between loving the ways of Jesus in theory and loving the ways of Jesus. The parables, though simple on a very superficial level, are in fact complex and controversial and counter intuitive. Jesus could tell by their body language whether or not the disciples were getting it.
Prayer: What does my body language say to you, Gracious God? Help me to understand the beauty that most of the world has dismissed as ugly and worthless. Amen.
…and then don’t forget:
THE INFORMATIONAL MEETING
Sunday at 10:10am
Scripture: Matthew 13:34-35
Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
Thought for the Day: Jesus was quoting Psalm 78 which emphasized how the parables being shared were what had been told since ancient days, yet such things were told and retold so the message would continue to be shared for generations to come. Think about it for a moment, how many generations have heard the parable of the Good Samaritan or the parable of the Mustard Seed? I don’t know the exact answer, but it is a lot. The use of parables allows for those things hidden in plain sight from the very beginning to continue to reveal, engage, inspire and transform every unique generation that comes along. There is something unusual and beautiful about how parables remain relevant even in a high tech world…even what comes next.
Prayer: Speak your stories and parables again to me, O Lord, and allow their ancient message to shape my current reality. Speak them to me and into me so what is hidden, yet so essential, becomes a part of who I am. Amen.
To Share Important Information
This Sunday at 10:10am