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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.