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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poor Child - Prayer Child

I watched a real time story on television where a local organization sponsored a Christmas shopping spree for underprivileged children at Wal-Mart. Each child was given an adult mentor and $100 with which to buy gifts for family and friends. The mentors were to guide the children in their selections.

The mentors were also told to see that each child bought something nice for herself/himself.

The children were smart shoppers. Their gift choices were wonderfully appropriate and dollar wise. I saw it on TV, the kids running up and down the aisles, excited, laughing, having fun. They chattered happily as they considered, compared, then chose their gifts. They had fun.....

.....until..... came time to buy something for themselves. Suddenly the children’s enthusiasm vanished. The mentors were put to the test. They urged the children to get themselves a gift, something they wanted or needed, something nice.

The children were hesitant, reluctant to spend on themselves. But finally, with their mentors’ encouragement, each child did select a personal gift. And having put that challenge behind them the childrens’ thoughts turned to once again to gift giving. Their joy returned. They were more than happy. They were satisfied. How wonderfully curious that even the poorest child finds greater joy in giving to others than in providing for self

There is a prayer parable here for those feeling small, inadequate, unworthy.

In it we are the children. Happy and eager to pray for others. Hesitant to pray for ourselves. But blessed when we do.

Prayer child, take the mentor’s advice to heart. Do something nice for yourself. Draw near to Jesus. And you will be blessed this Christmas.

# 87 - Ephesians 3 Prayer

Here’s a way to pray for individuals when you don't really know the details of what's going on in their lives. It works for anyone. Use this Biblical language of Ephesians 3, or similar words of your own.
Hear my prayer for __(insert name)__, O Lord.
I pray that you may grant, in accordance with the riches of your glory, that he/she may be strengthened in his/her inner being with power through your Spirit.
I pray that you will dwell in his/her heart by faith, as he/she is established and grounded in your love.
I pray that he/she may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, the breadth and length and height and depth of your love: to know this love that surpasses knowledge.
I pray that he/she may be filled with all your fullness, O God.
By the power at work within us you are able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine. To you be glory in the church and in Jesus Christ to all generations, forever, and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas in the Trenches

Sojourners first published this Christmas reflection by editor Jim Wallis in 2002. With the ongoing conflicts raging during each passing year, it remains tragically relevant, particularly this year as we think about Afghanistan.

Silent Night , by Stanley Weintraub, is the story of Christmas Eve, 1914, on the World War I battlefield in Flanders, Belgium. As the German, British, and French troops facing each other were settling in for the night, a young German soldier began to sing “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.” Others joined in. When they had finished, the British and French responded with other Christmas carols.

Eventually, the men from both sides left their trenches and met in the middle. They shook hands, exchanged gifts, and shared pictures of their families. Informal soccer games began in what had been “no-man’s-land.” And a joint service was held to bury the dead of both sides.
The generals, of course, were not pleased with these events. Men who have come to know each other’s names and seen each other’s families are much less likely to want to kill each other. War seems to require a nameless, faceless enemy.

So, following that magical night the men on both sides spent a few days simply firing aimlessly into the sky. Then the war was back in earnest and continued for three more bloody years. Yet the story of that Christmas Eve lingered – a night when the angels really did sing of peace on earth.

Jim Wallis concludes, "My prayer for the new year is for a nation and world where people can come out of their trenches and together sing their hopes for peace."

Folksinger John McCutcheon wrote a song about that night in Belgium, titled “Christmas in the Trenches,” from the viewpoint of a young British solder. Here are several poignant verses:

The next they sang was “Stille Nacht,” “Tis ‘Silent Night’,” says I. - And in two
tongues one song filled up that sky - “There’s someone coming towards us!” the
front line sentry cried - All sights were fixed on one lone figure coming from
their side - His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright - As
he bravely strode unarmed into the night.

Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man’s land - With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand - We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well - And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave ‘em hell. - We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home - These sons and fathers far away from families of their own - Young Sanders played his squeeze box and they had a violin - This curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more - With sad
farewells we each began to settle back to war - But the question haunted every
heart that lived that wondrous night - “Whose family have I fixed within my
sights?” - ‘Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung - The
frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung - For the walls
they’d kept between us to exact the work of war - Had been crumbled and were gone for evermore.

Monday, December 21, 2009

# 86 - A Christmas Prayer

I’m thinking of the prayer a baby would pray. Hold me please. Feed me please. Take care of me please. Sing to me please, and sweetly whisper gentle words in my ear. Love me please, with all your heart. Perhaps the new born Jesus offered just such a prayer as he first looked into the soft, warm eyes of his virgin mother, and first felt the good strong hands of his earthly father. Perhaps it is the prayer he still offers every time he is again a newborn, born anew in every human heart. It’s Christmas. Can you hear him praying? asking of you to be cherished and adored, loved and cared for? “O Holy Child of Bethlehem, be born in us today.”

Friday, December 18, 2009

Receiving Christmas

Q. What is Christmas?
A. Christmas is a gift, God’s gift to the world.

So many people think of Christmas as a time for giving. But they are wrong. Christmas is a time for receiving.

Two Bible verses dealing with the birth of Christ come to mind. The first is that "when the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of woman ... so that we might receive adoption as God's children" (Galatians 4:4-5).

The second verse is that “he came to his own but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, … he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:11-12)

When babies are brought home from the delivery room, it is the custom even today to wrap them in receiving blankets. There is a difference between bringing a child into the world, and receiving a new born into your family. The act of receiving in an intentional, purposeful act, an act that changes the receiver. Being given something and receiving it are quite different things.

The act of receiving creates community, builds relationships, and shapes one’s character. I’m a city kid and not much of an outdoorsman. But imagine that I buy an acreage on which there is some timber. Imagine also that my son decides I need a chain saw and buys me one as a gift.

Well, there are two responses I can make.
1. I can accept the gift I’m given with thanks, stick it in my shed, thinking that I might need it someday. Perhaps I might even get him a gift in return, maybe the gas grill he’s been wanting. (Being given the gift)
2. Or I can receive the gift with appreciation, seeing in it my son’s invitation for me to adjust my priorities and spend some quality time outdoors. Perhaps I might even give him a gift in return, maybe invite him to spend time with me working the timber together. (Receiving the gift)

Most of us are better skilled at giving than at receiving. This Christmas I invite you to spend more time practicing your receiving skills. Make an effort to receive every card and gift given you. And make an effort to receive God’s precious infant gift, wrapping him in the receiving blanket of your heart. The change it will make in you will be so marvelous; it will make the angels sing.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

My first call as pastor was to a rural church in a small Pennsylvania town. I remember the Banter family, so handsome, tall and gangly – mom, dad, and both boys. Religious, and so talented they were. David was the older boy, college age and working also. He had a girl friend, Elsa. She was beautiful, tall and, like the Banters, had a heart for God.

Soon after David and Elsa got engaged, Elsa got sick. It was cancer and back then, in the 1960’s, there wasn’t much hope. Elsa improved for a while, then got really bad. She spent days of weakness and sickness in her hospital bed with David by her side. And then finally the news … not long to live.

“Pastor, will you marry us?” they asked. “Will you marry us right here in the hospital?”

“Yes, of course,” I said. “I’d be so honored.”

So with all haste plans were made. The wedding dress, now several sizes too large, was re-made. Flowers, artificial of course, and a wedding cake were purchased. The service was planned. And the lounge down the hall from Elsa’s hospital room was delicately decorated. Elsa’s whole life, every ounce of her remaining energy, was joyously surrendered to the glorious purpose of becoming Mrs. David Banter.

Oh, it was a beautiful wedding. Never have I attended a wedding so holy, so complete, so perfect. The newly weds, Mr. and Mrs. David Banter, exchanged their vows, and kissed, sharing, so long ago, the most bittersweet moment I have ever witnessed.

The wedding was over. Greetings all around and Elsa, so exhausted, was ready for her bed, the sick bed, of course, not their wedding bed. As she and David were leaving the makeshift chapel, they called me over.

“Pastor, will you preach my funeral when I die,” Elsa asked in the weakest of whispers. “We very much want you to do that for us?”

“Yes, of course,” I said. “I’d be so honored.” And just three weeks, I did.

- - - - -

David and Elsa had no regrets. They lived their lives passionately, clear to the end, growing through their pain and problems, showing others how love transcends and transforms, and leaving an amazing legacy of faith and grace.

Imagine what your life, your world would be like if this year you were to celebrate a no regrets Christmas, a Christmas as if it were your last. If we all …… Yes, if we all did, there would never be a more beautiful Christmas than this one.

# 85 - Letters To God

Conscientious Christians grow. Some grow slowly and steadily, some in fits and spurts. Trouble is, not recognizing their gradual spiritual growth many become discouraged. Writing letters to God is a good way to pray, and re-reading them later on is an encouraging way to track the presence of God in your life and your spiritual growth. How re-assuring, during those times when it is hard to pray, to turn to your own written prayers from the past and experience the ministry of your very own words in prayer. How wonderfully affirming it can be to connect with the faith of your spiritual past. Start today writing letters to God. Write often, or just once in a while. Send the prayers off to the Lord in the spirit, but save the pages on which those prayers were written as an encouraging blessing to yourself when the days turn dark.

Monday, December 7, 2009

# 84 - Tranformers Prayer

Transformer Robot Heroes are among the favorites on the toy shelves these days. Their flexible and well engineered joints allow children, by twisting and turning their parts, to transform or reshape them, from looking like a standing robot to looking like a car, a helmet, or a fighting vehicle. We are such toys in God’s hands. If we allow God to transform us, God will reshape us, configuring our hearts, minds and lives to serve the purpose God has in mind for us at the moment. The Transformers Prayer is simple, but not easy. It has been offered in many forms over the centuries. Here is one of my favorites.
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

10 Tenors Salute our Military Heroes

My patriotism soars whenever I watch this powerful music video by the 10 Tenors. Some say it makes them cry. Others just want to stand and salute. The song is Here's to the Heroes: A Military Tribute. And it is such an outstanding and honorable salute to all the members of our United States armed services, past and present.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Soul Food Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Having a wonderful time. Hope you are too.

What? Not ready for Christmas yet? Wanting it to come. Waiting for its blessings. And oh so much to do before it does come. Yeh, I know. Me too.

Busy making ready. Bordering on panic. Doing again this year what I promised myself I would never do again. I’m forgetting the Christmas Spirit and getting caught up in Christmas preparations.

Doug Rumford, a pastor friend of mine, lays out a marvelous 4-step plan for renewing spiritual vitality. He introduces the topic of spiritual health with a discussion of the uncomfortable symptoms of soul neglect. Here are three symptoms I relate to.
low-grade or holiday depression
the resurgence of unhealthy habits
a diminished resistance to impulse and temptation
When I recognize these appearing in my life I know that it’s time to work on refreshing my soul.

Hmmm. Soul neglect! Running on spiritual fumes! Well, I’ll be. And here I thought that the cold weather and the fewer hours of daylight caused my pre-Christmas emptiness and irritability. Or is it the memories of Christmases past? Or the frustration of too little time, money and energy?

Reading my friend Doug’s spiritual vitality plan, I’m thinking I can have a better, happier, and more spiritual holiday season this year. Here’s my plan.

First, connect with God’s Presence. Read the Christmas story and focus on the birth of Jesus, God with us.
Second, connect to God’s Perspective. Read the Christmas story again and focus on the heavenly glory and eternal plan of God there revealed.
Third, connect with God’s Power. Read the Christmas story yet again and focus on the awesome power of God to overcome despair and doubt, and even Herod’s death squad.
Fourth, connect to God’s Purpose. Read the Christmas story one more time and focus on God’s saving love, on justice and mercy, peace on earth, and good will to all.

The Christmas story is excellent food for the soul. It brings spiritual vitality, and drives away the symptoms of soul neglect. Now, soul food is not fast food. For it to be truly nutritional, the Christmas story must enjoyed slowly and long savored.

May God fill your Christmas preparations with Christmas Spirit through your thoughtful reading of the Christmas story. The real Christmas story is told in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke in the Bible.

# 83 - 'God With Us' Prayer

The first movement in prayer is to center on the presence of God. As you begin your prayer, deliberately put yourself into the presence of God. This is a decision you make, regardless of how you are feeling. Close your eyes, change your posture, light a candle, or whatever. Focus. Open yourself to God who is always with us. Pray something like this:
Here I am, Lord Jesus. I am here to meet you. I acknowledge your presence. I am going to spend this time with you. Help me to realize that I am in your presence and that you are with me, even though I may not feel your presence. Remind me that you are Emmanuel, which means ‘God With Us.’
-- taken from the Upper Room brochure ‘Pray Where You Are”

Monday, November 23, 2009

# 82 - Great Things Prayer

The Great Things Prayer is a courageous prayer. The idea comes from William Carey (1761-1834), a shoe cobbler in England before his conversion, and the first great missionary to India. His motto was “Believe great things about God; expect great things from God; and attempt great things for God.”
The Great Things Prayer is a prayer that eventually is a prayer shared by many. Great things begin with one person’s vision, one person’s prayer, one person taking a first step in faith. But, truly great things are well beyond the accomplishment of one person alone. Great things for God are accomplished in communion with others.
The Great Things Prayer is a prayer of surrender. For great things to happen God must be in charge and the one offering the prayer must yield the vision and submit to the humble role of being obedient servant to the King of Kings.
So here is the Great Things Prayer. 1. Believe – catch a vision of God’s purpose. 2. Expect – share it, let it grow and take shape in a community of faith. 3. Attempt – surrender you life’s plan and yield your life in service to the Great Thing God has placed on your heart

Monday, November 16, 2009

# 81 - Pray in Tongues

In chapters 2, 10 and 19 of Acts and chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians, the Bible discusses ‘speaking in tongues’. When my 73-year old cousin-in-law, and occasional missionary to India, learned how we are exploring 100 Ways to Pray she wrote me, “Have you listed any ways to pray that use the charismatic gifts? I know that it may be controversial to mention these, but really it is just another way to pray.” So, today, I’m mentioning praying in tongues. The charismatic gifts, tongues included, are gifts of passion, soul-passion. Praying in tongues is soul-prayer, prayer with the deepest concern about something or for someone whose need you feel but for which the words you find, if any, are woefully inadequate to the greatness of the concern. Praying in tongues is giving utterance to urgent, unspecific, yet prayerful yearnings within. Often this form of prayer is private, although there are places where in spiritual fellowship it is commonplace. If spoken or sung, praying in tongues may sound like a beautiful mantra, a scream, or just plain gibberish. No matter. God understands, and our prayers are only for God anyway. If written, a tongues prayer may look like scribble or even an alien language. No matter. God understands. God hears and answers. Just pray.

Monday, November 9, 2009

# 80 - Last Words Prayer

The Last Words prayer looks at Luke’s version of the “last words” Jesus spoke from the cross. It takes those three lines and turns them into a personal prayer. The three brief lines may be repeated over and over as many times and as often as you would like. Each time you offer the prayer, offer it quietly, taking deep breaths and speaking slowly. You might also try praying with your feet comfortably flat on the floor and your hands on your knees with your palms upraised to let the Spirit of the Lord flow through your body and into your soul. Visualize the crucifix and pray.
Father, forgive me.
Jesus, be with me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit.
Repeat many times.

Monday, November 2, 2009

# 79 - The Always Prayer

An important word to remember in prayer is the word “always.” “Always” means eternal. God has always existed and always will. God is glorified when we acknowledge God’s eternal qualities. So begin each prayer petition with an “always” statement. Here’s an example. Start with, “God you are always present, even when we feel abandoned…” Then mention your prayer concern, “My friend has isolated himself from everyone right now, but you are there. Break through his shell. Let him feel your touch.” We can apply the word “always” to every one of the characteristics of God. Here are a few of those characteristics. God is always powerful, always knowing, always fair, always holy, always truthful, always patient. Can you think of other parts of God’s “always” character that are not on this list? Make your own list. But most of all, call on the colorful characteristics of God to help you shape your prayers as you talk to God each day. “Always” prayers are powerful prayers.

The Abundant Life: Where Has It Gone?

In the last several weeks I’ve encountered several people, some here in the community, whose lives are miserable. Much of their misery is caused by well-intentioned people in their lives who seem to think they know better “what’s good for them.”

A long time ago I learned that there are only three roles to choose from when in a relationship. One can assume the role of a child. One can assume the role of a parent. Or, one can assume the role of an adult.

Healthy relationships are adult-adult relationships.

Sadly, I am discovering that a ton of people prefer the parent role. Apparently it is easier and simpler for the many “bullies” out there to “parent” the whole world, imposing their notions on everyone. They would rather not listen to, reason with, or accept as true and valid anyone else’s idea, understanding, or preference.

I guess the parent role works pretty well for the “ones who think they know best.” But their bullying is misery for everyone else around, especially their family.

I have never met a grown up who appreciates the indignity of being treated as a child. I have never met a bully who is, even in the least little bit, ever satisfied.

Jesus came to break that chain of violence and oppression. At the beginning of his ministry, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, he says,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives … to set at liberty those who are oppressed …

I truly believe that if God could hate, he would hate bullies the most. Why? Because the misery bullies inflict sucks the ever-lasting life out of the souls of God’s beloved ones. Whereas Jesus, speaking of himself as the good shepherd, says,

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

God gives life. The Gospel of John tells us that. Ezekiel 34 explains that God stands over against oppressors and bullies. Be assured of that.

May the oppressed reach out to Jesus, and receive him.
May those who live in misery find freedom to stand in the power of Jesus, and live.

Monday, October 26, 2009

# 78 - Hitchin' Post Prayer

Dr. Floyd C. Enfinger shares this prayer lesson which his Papa taught him. Back when, before automobiles, you tied your horse to a hitchin’ post when you went to town.
Picking a sturdy one was important. “In our prayer and devotional life, Papa stressed the importance of tying our lives to something eternal.” (p. 25, My Papa Told Me …) Quite often during our evening devotion he would invite the whole family to go out onto the porch, gaze far into the Milky Way, watch the evening star, stare at the moon. After gazing at the Heavens, he would say, “Now that we have seen something bigger than ourselves, let us go inside and pray, and then go to bed.” The Hitchin’ Post prayer is a confident prayer rooted in the vast, eternal majesty of God. Look to the heavens at bedtime. Thanks to Dwight Joy for loaning me the book.

Monday, October 5, 2009

# 77 - Anniversary Prayer

Would it surprise you to learn that an Anniversary Prayer is a 2-part prayer? An Anniversary Prayer is more than a simple prayer of remembrance. Just as an anniversary is a ‘from-to’ moment marking a significant moment of change in a person’s life, so, likewise, the Anniversary Prayer acknowledges the reality of the ‘before’ and the ‘after.’

The Anniversary Prayer affirms that God is a God of history, journeying through time, leading and redeeming those who would follow. So, when praying an anniversary prayer, first mention the moment of change the anniversary commemorates, that significant God Moment. And second, end with mention of the promise that change yet affords.

Monday, September 28, 2009

October 4th Bicentennial Communion

Our Humeston congregation is rich in denominational heritage, having deep roots and local history in two denominations, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and the United Methodist Church. We are richly blessed, having been able to come together to form one united congregation. Our very existence is a rich witness to the possibility of Christian unity.

On World Communion Sunday 2009 we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

It was September 7, 1809 when Thomas Campbell presented to a small group of unity-minded pastors a document defining the basis on which Christian unity might be achieved.

This document, The Declaration and Address of the Christian Association, proposed the radical notion that all church members, whatever their denomination, should be able to commune at the Lord’s Table in each other’s place of worship.
At its heart is Proposition 1: “That the Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one..." Ending division among Christians was the reform Thomas Campbell, together with his son Alexander and his later friend Barton Stone, so passionately sought.

In his fiery eloquence Thomas Campbell wrote, “The cause we advocate is … the cause of Christ and our brethren of all denominations. Are we not all praying for that happy event, when there shall be but one fold, as there is but one chief Shepherd? What! Shall we pray for such a thing, and not strive to obtain it!”

The Stone-Campbell Movement of 200 years ago put forth a vision of Christ’s disciples, serving different callings but meeting at one Communion Table, and there enjoying together on earth a foretaste of the Great Heavenly Banquet prepared for all believers by Christ himself.

Come to the Table, Disciples Together, this Sunday, October 4th.

Help us celebrate how extraordinary our ordinary weekly gatherings for worship are.
Join us as we lift high Christ’s great vision for the church (John 17) “that they all be one.”

# 76 - "Ought" Prayer

There are 2 kinds of “ought” prayers. First, “ought” is a curious word to use in the context of prayer, because “ought” generally carries the connotation of reprimand or judgment. You “ought” to pray can be taken to mean, “Don’t be negligent in your duty to pray.” Q. How can you pray when you feel or are challenged to pray for someone or about something you have little-, no-, or even dis-interest in? Ans. Admit to God where your heart truly is, and ask God’s help to cover your human limitations. Second, Jesus used the word “ought” in a positive, encouraging sense, teaching his disciples who did pray that “they ought always to pray and not lose heart,” inferring that the blessings of God are certain to those who, in faith, will persist. (Luke 18:1) Q. How do you pray a positive “ought” prayer? Ans. Reassure God of the certain commitment of your heart as, “You know my passion for (whatever).” Then ask three things: 1. for God to help you perfect the language of your prayer; 2. that you might recognize the answer already unfolding; and 3. that you might be so transformed as to become the very answer to your prayer.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Butterfly Circus

Apology: Sorry I haven't been blogging much.
Excuse: I spent the summer becoming comfortable with additional social networking tools. Had fun mastering Facebook and Twitter.

On Twitter I especially enjoy receiving messages every day from people whose thoughts and words inspire me. By my own choice I also receive 30-40 one sentence prayers everyday. What a blessing these twitterers are to me. Glad to share them with you if you ask.

On Facebook the other day one of my preacher friends, Natalie, posted a link to a short (20 min) film called The Butterfly Circus. Why I took the time to watch it I'll never know. But, oh my, was I ever glad I did.

In my book it tops all the amazing inspirational stuff out there. It's about HOPE. It's about COURAGE. It's about being an OVERCOMER. It's about VICTORY, dare I say victory in Jesus.

I see Jesus in the ringmaster of The Butterfly Circus, the Jesus who welcomes every person just as they are and transforms them into the glorious gift they were meant by God to be. The film is about how new life "commeth" and then "runneth over" touching others, lifting and healing.

The hero of the movie, Nick Vujicic, who plays the character Will, has lived an incredible life. His foundation offers help and hope to the physically challenged all over the world.

I hope you will take the time to watch this movie. Watch it together with a child, a partner, a friend. Then, when it is over, look into each other's eyes, relish the glow, and dream -- dream of the person God has meant each of you to be.

Monday, September 21, 2009

# 75 - Prayer Center

A prayer center is a place where one can experience the holy. You can establish your own prayer center by simply setting aside some small place in your life, and offering it to God as the place where you will meet often. For it to remain a holy place you will have to honor the space by first using it, and second, by using it only for holy purposes, for prayer. Such a place might be a special floor mat placed at the foot of your bed, a candle and evening chair next to a west-facing window, the passenger seat of your car in the parking lot, the stone at the end of the garden walk, a corner in the office lounge, a special towel you place on a bench in the locker room, a spot on a lamp post you touch while awaiting the bus, or just standing tip-toed at the window in your prison cell. We create holy places. God honors them. They are of our own making, but surprisingly, in times of need, they re-create and sustain us. Where is your prayer center?

Monday, September 14, 2009

# 74 - Tuning Prayer

Just before the orchestra begins to play, the concert master rises, raises his violin, and draws his bow across the strings. Each member of the orchestra then tunes his or her instrument to the exact pitch of the concert master’s violin. Only then can the orchestra produce the most beautiful music possible. The well-rehearsed members of the orchestra know the music perfectly. Their instruments are of brilliant quality. But still they must tune together. And they must tune together every time if they hope to accomplish the will and purpose of both maestro and composer. Soloists do the same, tuning to the perfect pitch of pipe or tuning fork. We are the instruments of God, and as such, must constantly be tuned to God’s perfect pitch. We can only bring high praise and glory to God when we are attuned to God and in tune with all who would serve God. Tune your hearts to God by first listening and then adjusting the instrument of your life to the Master’s. This act of listening and adjusting is called prayer, the Tuning Prayer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

# 73 - Dedication Prayer

The purpose of the Dedication Prayer is to glorify God. From ancient times God’s people have dedicated to God’s glory their holy places – temples, churches and holy sites. The word ‘dedicated’ here means ‘holy’ or ‘set apart for.’ Since the Resurrection of Jesus the Christian church has dedicate the first day of the week to his glory. In some traditions Christian parents dedicate their children to the Lord. Others incorporate this into the Sacrament of Infant Baptism. That portion of one’s income dedicated to the Lord is called a tithe. Some Christians dedicate a portion of their day to prayer and fasting, or disciple-making, or visitation, or burden-bearing. And new believers, knowing that God is glorified when they give their lives to Jesus, are bold to dedicate themselves to him. Ask, “What all have I dedicated to God, set apart for God’s glory? How am I doing at keeping it pure and holy?” So many wonderful ministries for children, for the ill, and others around the world began with one grateful person dedicating all or part of his/her life to continue to others the blessings that had come to them. Use the Dedication Prayer whenever you are ready to seal or renew a commitment to glorify God.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

John L. Lewis Legacy - A Prayer for Labor Day

In 1969 political, racial and economic division shook our nation. A war was raging.

On July 11th of that year, John L. Lewis, the fierce, controversial and often divisive labor leader died, iconic titan that he was.

The prayer delivered at Mr. Lewis's memorial service placed in larger and broader, dare we say heavenly, context his passionate, combative and life-long struggle for justice for the American worker.

That was 40 years ago. Except for its archaic language the prayer delivered that day might be well prayed today.

Eternal God, the source of our life and the father of mankind, we praise thee for the courage
• of those who lead when the way is difficult;
• of those who perceive clarity when the horizon is clouded; and
• of those whose commitment to the cause of justice is greater than the fears that cripple lesser men.
Raise among us men of the future with the power of leadership we have seen in the past in thy servant John Llewellyn Lewis.

Grant that the necessary conflicts of democratic disagreement may not impair the greater unity we share.
Help us to hold fast to our principles when we believe them to be right, and yet to listen with humility and respect to those of another side.

Thou has blest our land with abundance and power.
Grant that our industry and labor, our wealth and our enterprise, may always be placed at the service of justice and peace for mankind, so that thy kingdom may surely come on earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.

This Memorial Prayer for John L. Lewis was delivered by the Reverend John C. Harper, Rector of St. John’s Church, Springfield IL a few days after Mr. Lewis’s death June 11, 1969. Copy of this prayer was donated to the John L. Lewis Mining and Labor Museum by Dr. Ron Roberts. The museum is in Lucas IA.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

# 72 - Acceptance Prayer

This grand prayer is prayer by which the petitioner seeks grace sufficient to accept and welcome others. It asks not only an increase in one’s appreciation for the other, but also the diminishment of oneself and one’s judgments in relation to the other. It is more easily prayed by the youthfully innocent or the spiritually mature than the casual Christian. It is a useful prayer to help one grow in the ability to embrace “outsiders,” to welcome them into the family, the community, the church. It is truly powerful when sincerely employed by those experiencing conflict as it leads to the blessed rewards of obedience to God’s order. Recall Jesus’ injunction, “But I say unto you, love your enemies.” If only the people of God could find it in their hearts to pray daily to be more accepting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

# 71 - Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is the classical monastic practice of the prayerful reading of the Bible, not with the intention of gaining information but of using Scripture as a pathway to the living God. This type of prayer is challenging and presumes you have a huge desire for God. Typically Lection Divina is practiced every day for an hour at a time. Imagine it as a spiritual mealtime, a feasting on the Word of God, in 4 courses: taking a bite, then chewing on the Word, then savoring its essence, and finally digesting the Word. My friend says, “We read a passage of scripture several times. We listen for a word or phrase that stands out, we listen for an image or feeling or memory that arises, and we listen for an invitation from God.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

# 70 P.S. Prayer

We are looking at post script prayers today. Have you ever come to the end of a prayer, said “Amen,” and only then remember something you had planned to pray about? Is it ok to just go ahead and add that thought, or do you have to start over with a “proper” beginning to an altogether new prayer? Friends, just pray. Don’t worry about beginnings and endings. Any prayer, every prayer is appropriate so long as you remember that you are not all-knowing and that God is. Actually, in my experience, my p.s. prayers (or tack-on, or after thought) prayers generally prove to be way more honest and sincere than my “real” prayers. My p.s. prayers just seem to pop into my consciousness, more raw and real than my more thoughtful prayers. P.S. prayers are fine. Cultivate the practice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

# 69 - Heroes Prayer

Name a hero of faith. Read about or meditate upon the character of this saint. Invite God to speak to you out of this person’s life, reputation and witness. Perhaps you would select a Biblical hero. You might choose a great hero or saint from church history. Or, perhaps there are people of spiritual stature in your own experience. Is God using what faith you see in your hero to guide you in your own journey? What would be your prayer if you prayed like Peter, Paul or Mary Magdalene; like Ruth, Daniel or King David; like Martin Luther, Sister Teresa or Michael W. Smith? Choose a different hero every day and grow in grace.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

# 68 - Google Prayer

Stuck at your computer? Busy at work or addicted to games? Connecting with friends? Take a break. Go to your home page. Enter the word “prayers” in the search bar. Wow! So much information, so many prayer choices instantly at your fingertips. Dealing with debt, new love, illness, unemployment, amazing grace? Thinking about global peace, world hunger, the international expansion of the church? Thankful, troubled about the state of your soul? Google and Yahoo have it all. A mere click or two and “wal-lah” you’ve leaped from your present space to touch eternity. Ahh, a prayer, a moment of sanity midst all the craziness. Just chillin’ with Jesus.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Brother Like That

At Picnic Church in Chariton Sunday, Linda spoke about Jesus feeding 5000.

"Jesus always meets the needs of his followers," she said, then told the story of a young man whose brother gave him a very expensive car.

One day the young man was out polishing his car when a boy came by and asked the young man where he got such a nice car. The young man answered, “My brother gave it to me.”

As the boy began to reply, “Oh I wish …” the young man thought to himself, “Oh no. Here we go again. I’ve heard it so many times. ‘I wish I HAD a brother like that.’”

But to the young man’s surprise the neighbor boy said, “Oh I wish I COULD BE a brother like that.”

The neighbor boy wanted to be like the "generous" brother, not like the "lucky" one. He dreamed of giving lavishly.

Compare that attitude to the many other admirers of the car. They dreamed of living lavishly.

Even when our hearts are generous, we live in a world that for the most part is not genereous. So always we debate with ourselves: lavish giving or lavish living.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

# 67 - OTC Prayer

Everyone prays for healing, maybe not about headaches and colds, but certainly about more serious illnesses. Trouble is: because we haven’t practiced on little prayers we are inept when it comes to the big ones. Colds, headaches, and other ordinary ailments generally respond to Over-the-Counter remedies. They also respond to OTC prayer, seriously offered and regularly dispensed. Rule of thumb: pray anytime you use any item purchased OTC from the pharmacy and health care sections of your local store. And don’t be casual about it. Your prayer should be as intentional as is God’s 24/7 concern for your well-being – heart and mind, body and soul. Practice, practice, practice and when the big one comes, you will be ready and able.

Monday, July 13, 2009

God Will Do Wonders Among You

Pastor Linda O'Connell (Lucas & Chariton) is using the Des Moines Presbytery blog to report from the 2009 Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women, in Louisville July 11-15. The theme for the Gathering is "God Will Do Wonders Among You."

As Moderator of the Presbytery Women, Linda is a member of the national coordinating cabinet and therefore a voting delegate in Louisville. She will be reporting on some of the business actions. No doubt her reports will reflect her rich experience, as she has attended 8-10 triennial gatherings over the last many years.

Her roommate, Nancy Lister-Settle from Dallas Center, who is the Presbytery's Hunger Action Enabler, is also reporting. You will enjoy her impressions of the workshops and just the whole experience. Nancy's reports will reflect the fresh eyes and enthusiasm of a first-time commissioner.

Good balance makes good reading. Hope you enjoy.
Click here for more great pictures and official news reports from the Gathering.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

# 66- National Prayer

Question: “Pastor, is it ok to love your country above all others?”

Answer: The Scottish-born Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall, distinguished pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. from 1937 to 1949, and U.S. Senate Chaplain 1947-1949, would loudly shout “Yes!” Here is part of his famous

Prayer for America.

To Thy glory was this Republic established…. We would pray that all over this land there may be a return to the faith of those men and women who trusted in God as they faced the perils and dangers of the frontier…. Thou didst bless their efforts. Thou didst bless America. Thou hast made her rich. Wilt Thou also make her good? … Bless this land that we love so much, our Father, and help her to deposit her trust, not in armies and navies, in wealth and material resources, or in achievements of the human mind, but in that righteousness which alone exalteth any nation…. The Prayers of Peter Marshall, by Catherine Marshall, 1949, page 101-2

Friday, July 3, 2009

What's Best

Student A scores “a perfect 10”, the only student to do so, but only expends a 70% effort in doing it. Student B, on the other hand, gives a “total effort of 100%”, the only one to do so, but only scores a “7”. Which is the best student?

Is Shawn Johnson really the best dancer?

At the Wayne County Fair one jar of applesauce is judged “Best of Show”. How is “best” determined? by whether it is tart enough, chunky enough, the perfect color, or interestingly presented?

I read a report earlier this month of the 10 Best Cities to live in. I wouldn’t want to live in any of them. Who decides what’s best? what’s best overall? and what’s best for me?

Doing My Best Sometimes I have actually done my best. Surprised me too! The goal of doing my best helps, but not always. I’ve learned that a relaxed pace is sometimes healthier, more productive and satisfying.

My best is different on different days, too I concentrate best in the morning. I exercise best in the late afternoon. I am not at my social best on Saturday night with my mind drifting toward Sunday’s coming. What is my best? And what’s best for me?

What’s Best for Me Aside from the obvious (like don’t drink and drive), if I don’t know what’s best for me, how can anyone else? Oh, others have been a great help to me, for sure. When I ask they share what they think is best. Their advice is helpful and worth considering. But it isn’t always the best. Do you know what’s best for me?

What’s Best for Others Do you know what’s best for my family? or anyone else?
Do you know what’s best for the economy? the church? our country? or “those” people?

I served as an inner-city pastor for 4 years. I spent a month in Ghana, West Africa. I was a chaplain in the National Guard, the national park system, and Valley Hope Alcohol Treatment facilities. I’ve been a pastor for 40 years, back east, out west, in Appalachia and in the heartland. I’ve read the Bible.

Two Things I’ve Learned First, as it applies to myself and what’s best for me – it’s up to me, like this little poem from my childhood says.
Good better best,
Never let it rest,
Till your good is better
And your better best.

And second, as it applies to what’s best for others, in whose shoes I’ve not walked.
God knows. And I’m not God.

# 65 - Perseverance Prayer

Perseverance is one of the secrets to answered prayer. In Matthew 7:7, Jesus didn’t suggest that we ask just once and forget about it. He meant for us keep praying about something for as long as necessary. Jesus knew God, and that God answers every prayer. But Jesus also knew us. He knew that if we kept on praying about something, our prayer would gradually change. And as our prayer changed, so would we be changed. Perseverance prayer changes us from being the person who wants what we want to being the person who wants what God wants. When we are transformed into that new person, praying the prayer God has shaped in our hearts through our perseverance, then God answers our prayer. Persevere, my friend, and be made new.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jesus Gives Us Power

Jesus Gives Us Power was the theme of the Power Lab VBS material we used in our Mission Outreach Vacation Bible School in Garden Grove last week.

We experienced God's POWER in many ways.

The Power of SHARING. What an awesome power this is. Last year Trinity Christian Church in Decatur shared their Power Lab material and props with LeRoy Presbyterian Church. This year LeRoy Presbyterian Church shared the same materials with our mission outreach in Garden Grove. When the Decatur church heard of this they shared even more, giving our outreach project enough craft projects for 30 kids for 3 nights. The kids loved them and got the message that not only God, but other Christians love them also.

The Power of COMMUNITY. Wow! the Garden Grove Community Club, the kids and their families, and helpers from nearby churches all came together to create the family of Christ on those 5 nights.

The Power of GIVING. The kids excitement for our mission project grew every night. Their offering was going to build a Shallow Well in Malawi through Marion Medical Mission. Every night the kids brought pockets full of coins, and the Community Club helpers brought also to share with those who had no coins. 9 families, 15 kids. And we gathered $110 toward the $350 needed for a well. The kids were mesmerized by the video clips of a well being built, and drawn in by the "Thank You Jesus" song we played each night from the end of the DVD. It seemed to really touch their soul. On the last night the kids all had an African shirt to wear during the program.

The Power of PRAISE. The kids really got into the songs, especially the old favorite re-done, Power In the Blood.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

# 64 - Father's Prayer

Every good father prays. Prays for his children whatever their age. Prays for them in the morning. Prays for them in the evening. Prays in their waking, aloud, that they might learn also to pray. Prays in their sleeping, selflessly, that they might increase in Christ. Every child whose father prays is truly blessed. On this Father’s Day, be a godly father. Pray for your children. Never have? Start today. Kids grown and gone? You’re still their father. Pray, man of God, pray.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

# 63 - Reality Prayer

Are you like me when you pray? Since in prayer I’m talking with God, I kind of clean up my act and pray from the “more ideal” side of me. But God knows me through and through, the Psalmist says, having formed me in my mother’s womb. So the question is, “how can I be really real and honestly down-to-earth in my prayers?” Here’s a suggestion. Everyone keeps records – calendars, check registers, old “to-do” lists, diaries and journals, tax files, travel or usage logs, and, on the internet, “cookies” and “favorites.” Go back to some past month. Select one of the above and pray about each and every entry. Now that’s reality! and a solid basis for genuine prayer. But watch out. Reality prayer has been know to change lives.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For Father's Day

Jason loaned me Tony Dungy's great book, Uncommon. It is a must read.

About the same time I reconnected with my old friend Damion through Facebook. Damion works in pro sports (for the Cavaliers) and recently spent some good time with Tony Dungy at the June 6 All Pro Dad event at the Football Hall of Fame in Canton. See Tony's Hall of Fame June 13 Blog post.

Damion, like Tony Dungy, is an active Christian man and really good Father.

Father's Day is coming. I found a timely message from Tony Dungy. This Video Clip shows Dungy, whose son James committed suicide in Dec '05, reflecting on being James's Father and having Jesus in his life.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

# 62 - Poet Prayers

Poets, like Mary Oliver, get right to the heart of a matter.


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a fewsmall stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

# 61 - Doodle Prayer

When you need to pray and words don’t come, try the Doodle Prayer. Take a blank paper and colored pens or crayons. Write the name or topic of concern in the middle of the page and doodle around it. As other words come to mind, write them randomly elsewhere on the page and doodle them. Slowly your prayer will find words; your soul will find expression and relief; and you will have a colorful reminder of God’s mysterious way of love.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Owen's Gift

On Sunday, Pastor Dale told a story from his vacation to Branson. It was about Owen, one of the 6 Knudsen brothers who perform in Branson as the group called SIX. The brothers sing. But they do so without any instrumental background, choosing instead to make the many instrumental and percussion sounds themselves, hissing, blowing, popping, whining into the mic.

The key to it working so wonderfully is Owen's talent as a vocal percussionist. Pastor asked us to imagine how many times as a child Owen's "gift" might have been perceived as something other than a talent, an annoyance perhaps and cause for discipline. Probably a lot. But now, his "gift" is the very foundation of SIX.

The lessons, of course, are simple. 1. Everyone has a gift, and 2. we must invite and welcome the gifts others are willing to offer for the good of the whole. St. Paul makes the same argument in writing to the Corinthians (chapter 12, first letter).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

# 60 - Icon Prayers

Pray with eyes wide open. Many of us were taught to close our eyes when we pray. Praying with icons (i.e. pictures or symbols) is an ancient practice that involves keeping our eyes wide open, taking into our heart what the image, symbol, or icon visually communicates. Popular icons used in prayer are the empty cross, the crusifix, a candle, a visual of the sky, a picture (praying hands, Jesus at Gethsemane, etc.) a smooth stone. Find a icon that represents God to you, something that will help your thoughts to rise heavenward. Meditate, and let its image inform your prayer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Give Free Food. Every Day. From Home.

There are so many good things anyone can do that cost nothing and only take a second. Here's one.

Give Free Food every day with just two clicks. Click here or just scroll down and click the Give Free Food banner on the side panel, then click the orange tab on The Hungersite page that opens.

Thanks, and God bless you for caring.

# 59 - "Guard Against" Prayer

Prayer is protection, spiritual protection. Wesley cautions, “Guard against the wicked spirits who continually strive to infuse the saints of God with unbelief, pride, idolatry, malice, envy, anger, hatred and the like.” Prayer is the shield against all such spiritual threats. He continues, “That you may still keep your armor on and still stand upon your guard, you must still watch and pray.” And weren’t those the words of Jesus himself (Mark 14:38)? “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation.” Remain in prayer to guard against temptation. Return to prayer to escape the tempter’s grip.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

# 58 - Harvest of Life Prayer

Light a small candle. Watch the flame. Inhale. Focus on your life in Christ. And pray, “Dear God of the harvest, thank you for the harvest in my life. I now realize that my very life is a harvest for you because you did the planting with care. Please constantly remind me to look at the full basket that I have and help me to be a blessing to others. Amen.”

# 57 - Personal Prayer Calendar

Jonna, a missionary, mailed me a prayer calendar. On it are things she wants me to pray for. These things are arranged in 4 columns. Column 1 is for the months, Column 2 is for her self, Column 3 is for the programs she and her colleagues work in/with, Column 4 is for the people she serves and thier country. I thought I should make my own prayer calendar, too. For example, in June I would likst that my arm to continue to heal and grandson's brithday (column 2), in column 3 the Iowa Annual Conference, Garden Grove VBS, and John L Lewis Museum. In column 4 I would mention the farmers in their work and cooperative weather, children at the pool/park/library, new businesses in town. What would you list on your summer prayer calendar for June? For July? For August?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Remembering Easter

I only ever attended one pro-football game that I remember. It was a playoff game in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and the Oakland Raiders. The remarkable thing about the game is how it ended. On the last play of the game Terry Bradshaw threw a desperation pass. The receiver missed it, the ball was batted in the air, and before the ball had time to hit the ground Franko Harris scooped it up and ran it into the end zone, scoring the winning touchdown.

My Dad was there at the game with me, but he didn’t see the play. He was gathering up the blankets we had been bundled in. “What happened? What happened?” he asked when the crowd suddenly went absolutely nuts, “did we win? We won? How? What happened?”

We were both there. I saw it. He didn’t. But we both knew it happened. It was an absolutely unbelievable experience. Over the years we both enjoyed remembering that day, going back over the game, recalling that wonderland feelings. How fortunate we were to have been there, at the beginning of the rise of the Steelers to football dominance.
What an experience!

Friends, I tell this story to make a point, a very serious point, and the point is this. Our experience of that day had nothing to do with the Steelers winning the game. Neither did our experience that day have anything to do with the Steelers rise to football dominance. What Franko Harris, Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers did, they did on their own. What Dad and I experienced has nothing to do with their accomplishments. What they did is one thing. What we experienced is another.

I tell this story as a parable about Easter. Easter is about that moment in time, that last play of the game, when Jesus miraculously rose from the dead. Game over. Eternity won.

Easter is about Jesus, what he did, and whether we believe he did it. Easter is a fact, a done deal. Easter does not depend on anyone’s experience of it. It happened, thank God, and it changed the world forever.

I saw Franko catch the ball. My Dad did not. But we both know it happened, and in happening it changed the franchise of the Steelers forever. Steelers fans still experience that day with great relish. Raider fans still experience that day, but much differently.

Back to Easter for a moment. When all is said and done, Easter is a fact. Our feelings about it, whether affirming or denying, don’t change a thing. Jesus is Risen. That’s all that matters. Believe it or Not.

Monday, April 27, 2009

# 56 - Praying the Psalms

Psalm Prayer is always an answer prayer, a response if you will, to God in our face, to God's revelation. The Psalms present a true picture of ourselves either hedging on our behavior and feelings or pleading to have them satisfied. The Psalms also present a true picture of God – as He is, not as we wish he was. The truth is, “when left to ourselves, we will pray to some easy god who speaks what we like hearing, or to that part of God we manage to understand and enjoy.” But Psalm Prayer is listening to the God who speaks hard words to us in the verses of the Psalms, and then responding prayerfully to everything He reveals to us. The Psalms train us in that conversation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Ripples

It’s Tuesday morning and I’m reflecting on the rich blessings from God enjoyed by our parish beginning on Palm Sunday and continuing through Easter.

Palm Sunday morning began with breakfast at the LeRoy church followed by the children reading the Easter story and leading the Palm Parade. At Humeston, another Palm Parade. The choir offered both a seasonal anthem and a beautiful baptismal prayer, 3 Baptisms, 1 family joining the church, and Hailee singing Wake Up America by Miley Cyrus. At both services we celebrated communion.

The Maundy Thursday Last Supper proved to be quite intimate with everyone feeling they themselves were at table with Jesus, singing O How He Loved You and Me.

We included in our Good Friday bulletin Redemption's Drama, by Greg Asimakoupoulos and read the Biblical drama of Jesus' trial and crucifixion.

The Easter Sunday sunrise service was inside the church. We based the lesson on a children's puzzle that put the events of holy week together in the shape of the cross. It was kinda cool. Then we ate breakfast. The men had prepared it. Sausage and bisquits and/or sausage and eggs.

Easter Worship services were jam-packed. Oh my gosh, what fun to see so many families together in worship. I do believe that the old axiom "The family that prays together stays together" has some truth to it. Again the Humeston choir was able to lift our spirits heavenward, and then when Hailee sang once again ... so powerful. She hushed the congregation as she sang LeAnn Rimes version of Amazing Grace.

I think God was truly Glorified this year. And we were changed. All praise to God for showering us with blessing upon Easter blessing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

# 55 - Put "feet" in Your Prayer

This is a say yes type of prayer. Prayer means saying yes to life, saying yes to growing in faith, and saying yes to being a disciple. Recall a few things you have prayed for recently, and then ask God to show you how to put “feet” in those prayers. Let your prayers call you to do something. Don’t just think or say a prayer. Open yourself for God to possibly use you as a part of the answer to those prayers.

Monday, March 23, 2009

# 54 - Pray the Sounds You Hear

Sit with your eyes closed and listen for all the sounds around you. Try to make each sound a prayer. For example: if you hear a bird, pray a prayer for creation. If you hear a cough or sneeze, pray for the sick. If you hear a phone, pray for friendship and peace. If you hear trucks, pray for those who work. If you hear your stomach growl, pray for those who don’t have enough to eat. It may take a while for you to actually hear all the sounds around you, so take your time. And also, welcome every interruption as an opportunity for prayer as well. Enjoy your world in prayer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

# 53 - Pray with Charity

“Charity” has two popular meanings. Sometimes it can mean to give financial support to a volunteer organization or persons in need. At other times it can mean to treat people with love and understanding, especially those with whom we might find cause to be critical. To pray with charity requires a) learning to love and genuinely praying beyond our judgments, and b) to contributing to their relief and aid. Thus the charity prayer is a prayer of a changed heart and an open wallet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Welcome Rev. Russ Melby

We were excited to hear from Rev. Russ Melby who spoke in our churches on Sunday March 22. Russ serves all churches in Iowa as the Regional Director for Church World Service and CROP Walks. He spoke of a postor of an African woman walking in a river with two children in her arms, probably seeking refuge somewhere. He spoke of Matilda, whom he met in Africa, and the brief Christ-centered meeting they and others shared one day. You can listen to his encouraging and informative message at Our Church Video Site.

Click here to meet Russ online. And from there you can follow the links to learn more about the unbelievable needs in poverty areas of the world and how you can be a part of saving lives and saving souls.

Come to church any Sunday. LeRoy at 9:00, Humeston at 10:30. Hear of the work of the Lord. Yield to him. Lift your praise to God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

# 52 - Glory to God # 2

Glory be to God on high. We praise Thee. We bless Thee. We adore Thee. We glorify Thee. We give Thee thanks for Thy great glory.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who takes away the sins of the world, who sits at the right of the Father, Thou only art holy, Thou only the Lord, Thou only the most high, O Lord Jesus Christ. Together with the Holy Ghost, and in the glory of God the Father, we praise you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

# 51 - Glory to God # 1

Lord God, heavenly King, Almighty God and Father, we worship You, we give You thanks, we praise You for Your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, You are seated at the right hand of the Father.
You alone are the Holy One. You alone are the Lord. You alone are the Most High and worthy of all praise.
Holy Spirit, Presence of God, Inspirer of our hearts, we praise and bless you. Glory be to God!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

# 50 - Trouble Tree Prayer

The “trouble tree” provides a visual focus for a family’s intercessory prayer during Lent. It’s simple; just a bare tree branch in a container filled with plaster or sand kept near the kitchen table. Near it keep a supply of long, thin strips of paper on which to write the names of people who are looking for work, fighting sickness, facing tests, our undergoing other challenges. Anyone can add petitions for all to pray. And daily prayer beside the tree can draw the family together. Begin with the Sign of the Cross (see “Ways to Pray #44”), mention a few petitions, and end with this short prayer, Jesus, we know you came to love us, to forgive us and to make us new. We give you all of our troubles, large and small. Help us as we walk with you now on your way to the cross. Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

# 49 - Fasting

Fast for one meal a day for a week, or from eating for a whole day, or from an activity.
The battle of prayer is against two things: wandering thoughts and lack of intimacy with God. Fasting confirms our dependence upon God as we find in Him a source of sustenance beyond food. As bodily food fattens the body, so fasting strengthens the soul
Is it because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world that our souls are stuffed with small things? There’s nothing magical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with him. When exercised with a pure heart and a right motive, fasting may provide us with a key to unlock doors where other keys have failed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

# 48 - The Money Prayer

This is a 7-day exercise, and extremely challenging. On Monday, set aside 7 dollar bills, one for use each day of the week. (Any coin or currency may be substituted.) Each day for 7 consecutive days identify a need, one you have not previously addressed, and personally give your dollar, or its equivalent. Then, having given, lift the need once again to God in prayer. This exercise will require much prayer, both in finding a daily need every day and in meeting it. For example, take a dollar to the local food pantry, or use your dollar to buy yarn for a shut-in who knits.

Monday, February 2, 2009

# 47 - Touch Prayer

Everyone you know, no matter how “together” their life seems to be, needs God’s touch. The Touch Prayer is when in prayer you gently rest your hands on another’s hand, back, or shoulder, and prayerfully let the Spirit of God flow through you to them. Breathe deeply and slowly. The other person doesn’t have to know at all what you are doing. Just touch, be still and pray, and imagine God ministering to their deepest need. The Touch Prayer is a prayer you can feel. You can feel the warmth, the spiritual energy, even the wholeness (or shalom) of God as you share the powerful presence of God in those silent extended moments of grace. They can feel it too, but may never tell you so. The Touch Prayer is a selfless prayer, a prayer you can only give away. Bless someone you love with it and watch your relationship grow—you and them and God.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Colors of Love

How we love and want to be loved

In some ancient cultures the colors of the rainbow represented the stages of human and spiritual development, beginning with the red clay of the earth and rising to the colors of the heavens, fairest violet, white and gold.

Red, the foundation of the rainbow, represents personal identity, “who I am,” “me, myself, and I.”

Red love, therefore, is characterized as loving a person just as they are, for who they are, and is the kind of love everyone of us most seriously wants and desperately needs (approval, worthiness, the right to exist).

In elementary school my Mom told me I had to give a valentine to everyone in the class, not just the ones I liked, “because everyone deserves a valentine.” Was she teaching me about red love? or about John 3:16?

Orange Love is characterized by affection and friendship, relationship and romance. This kind of relational love and emotional intimacy is the love that meets one’s deepest yearnings and overcomes the ache of isolation and loneliness.

Yellow Love is energetic and productive. It is the love of work and those with whom one works, of being satisfactorily invested in something worthwhile, of vocation and avocation. It is the love on which brotherhoods and sisterhoods are built, and on which community thrives.

Green Love, at the center, the very heart of the rainbow, is caring love. It is the pure, unselfish love of others. This generative and re-generative love (the love that gives life) is far more difficult to receive than to give, for it comes only as grace and can never be repaid. Yet, when received, even in times of turmoil, it brings quiet to the soul.

Blue Love is the love of pursuing higher truth together, of listening and sharing. Blue love connects virtual strangers together in their search for and the celebration of grand ideas commonly held. It is the basis of the arts, of public rallies, of civic and religious communities. We experience it as a need when we have strong but unclear ideas and feelings and no way to let them out.

Purple Love is creative, empowering, transforming love, love that sees a vision of something grand and in it finds purpose, structure and order. Purple love is wisdom, like Solomon’s. It is the passion for peace and good will among all, and motivates the high-minded among us—prophets and saints, philosophers, entrepreneurs and world leaders, everyday dreamers—who, having a dream, are selfless and of highest virtue in its pursuit.

White Love (sometimes Gold or Violet) is eternal love, perfect harmony and unity with Christ. It is the grandest of all loves, its need etched deep in the being of every creature, but only momentarily, if ever, experienced until its total embrace is ultimately gained.

In your life’s journey what color of love best characterizes your most pressing need? And what color love needs do others have? Do you need to love in new ways?

Monday, January 26, 2009

# 46 - Names for God

Knowing one’s name, calling one’s name, that’s power! that’s connecting! There are many names for God in the Bible, and as well, for Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Set aside some time, a day maybe, and list all the names for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit you can. Probe your memory. Search the Bible. Use Bible helps. Ask someone to help you with the project. Google Names for God. Think (or talk) about each name you find. If you are patient and prayerful your vision of God will expand. Each name you recall will bring greater glory to God and a rich blessing to you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

# 45 - Five Finger Prayer

1. The thumb – as it is nearest you, pray for those closest to you.
2. The pointer – as it gives direction, pray for those who teach, instruct, guide.
3. The middle finger – as it is the tallest, pray for all who lead.
4. The ring finger – as it is the weakest, pray for those in need.
5. The little finger – as it is smallest, pray for yourself, but let that prayer be least.

Monday, January 12, 2009

# 44 - The Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross is made with the right hand, your fingers touching first your forehead, then your heart, left shoulder and right shoulder, thus tracing an imaginary cross on your body. While touching your forehead say “In the name of the Father…” While touching your heart say “…and of the Son…” At your left shoulder say “…and of the Holy Spirit” and at the right shoulder say “Amen.” On the vertical (forehead to heart) one can visualize the Son coming down from the Father. On the horizontal (shoulder to shoulder) one can imagine the Son reaching out to all the world. Such a beautiful prayer in so few words. Use it often.

2009 - Imagine

It’s 2009 already, a new year, time to remember once again that God is faithful and will remain faithful to The GGP, God’s Great Purpose. You play a part in God’s Great Purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us - 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'

In Genesis 28:10-18 we read of Jacob’s ladder reaching to heaven and God promising - I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

Deuteronomy 31:8 records the words Moses spoke to Joshua as he turned over to Joshua the leadership of the Israelite people. Moses assured Joshua of God’s faithfulness -
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

These are words of promise and hope. These words are true, true because the Bible is true. These words are true because God is
• the God of promise and hope
• the God who delivers and leads
• the God to whom the future belongs

God never promises to make our plans and dreams come true. God promises to make us a part of making God’s plans come true.

God’s plans are so beyond our wildest dreams, and their fulfillment so totally satisfying that one would be foolish to settle for less in 2009.

At the beginning of this new year, regardless of your past or present circumstances, resolve to dream God’s dreams, to conform your will to God’s purposes, and inherit the future God holds for you.