Month: January 2012
Scripture: 2nd Timothy 1:5
I am reminded of your sincere faith, malady a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.
Thought for the Day: Today is significant because it is the 167th anniversary of an important amendment to the Constitution of the United States (the Amendment to Abolish Slavery). In no way am I attempting to eclipse or dismiss its importance, but today also carries with it some personal importance. January 31 is the anniversary of my mother’s birth. I won’t tell which anniversary (though I don’t believe she would have disowned me had I shared it), but I hope you will allow me a point of personal privilege. Like the grandmother referenced above, my mother’s name is Lois. And like the Lois of scripture, my mother has the amazing gift of sharing and instilling a part of her faith in the lives of those she has met. It never comes across as pushy or overbearing, yet it is unmistakeable. Not that we should ever compare our faith to someone else’s faith, but my faith comes nowhere close to that of my mother’s. With that said, it is because of her selfless and abundant faith that I and others have a faith-system that is full of grace, forgiveness and service. I hope everyone of you has a Lois in your life, a person whose copious faith spilled out upon you and now resides in you.
Prayer: O Giver of amazing and special gifts, including those whose life witness has blessed us, we offer you both our gratitude for and our desire to imitate their witness. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 29:11
May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Thought for the Day: One of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum, wrote: “Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.” We know this because God first gave peace to us, and from that initial act we started to make peace, started doing peace, and started becoming peace. And as we got better at it, we were able to do as God taught us…to bless others with the gift so they could begin to make peace, to do peace, and become peace.
Prayer: The Gospel of Peace is your greatest gift to humanity, O God, and we hope our lives are capable of spreading it to each and every person. Amen.
Thought for the Day: Glen Miles, a wonderful pastor in the Kansas City area, recently posted the following quote from Richard Rohr (the author of the next book we will be reading at FCC):
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
Not to make you paranoid about every little thing you do, but it is the little things we do that become the habits that will later define us and our destiny. Don’t freak out on me at this point because there is always hope, even late in life, to change our destiny by simply changing the thoughts we have. I won’t pretend it is easy, but healthy God-centered practices lead us toward an end that honors God and celebrates the gift of life given to us.
Prayer: Walk with me and encourage me, O Loving God, as I seek to make changes at the most basic level of who I am. Amen.
Scripture: Revelations 14:12
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, advice those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.
Thought for the Day: I was struck by this quote from Benito Mussolini: “The history of saints is mainly the history of insane people.” From a certain vantage point, buy cialis the sacrificial living (and dying) offered by the Christian saints might look a little ludicrous, illness even downright crazy. These were people who loved in the face of hate, prayed for their persecutors, and chose to care for the sick when it meant they too would contract the disease. You could understand why Mussolini would say such a thing. Maybe the world needs a little more faithful folly out of those who follow Jesus, the one who was described as being “out of his mind” (John 10:20).
Prayer: I cannot follow you, O Lord of Life, if I’m not willing to go against the grain and be called foolish or even worse. Provide me a courageous spirit when some are calling me crazy. Amen.
Scripture: Matthew 5:7
Blessed are the merciful, online for they will receive mercy.
Thought for the Day: What goes around comes around. You get what you deserve. Karma. What you dish out for others will be your meal in the future. What you give to others will be like a boomerang coming back to smack you upside the head. With that one, viagra sale I’m pretty certain I have made my point. Though my concern is that goodness is not always reciprocated. Generosity does not always return to the one who was initially generous. I wish we lived in a world where, like gravity, we could trust a perfectly tuned cause and effect system. Whatever you did, good or bad, would return to you. Yet we have all seen the opposite occur. The good samaritan who is killed in the act of compassion. The greedy and mean individual who appears to receive blessing after blessing. So how can we claim, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” Maybe the return gift is not fully realized in this world. Maybe the gift comes in unexpected and unusual ways that is unobservable to most. Whatever the case… whatever my common sense seems to say, I strangely trust this part of Jesus’ sermon. Not that I’m expecting an immediate or even 24-hour return on my gift of mercy, but I believe that God is always sharing with the world bountiful gifts of grace, kindness, love and mercy. Maybe in my choosing to share it, I am opening myself up to see and embrace what God is already attempting to share with me.
Prayer: I do not do the good things I do just so I can get good things from you, O God. I do them because they are good to do. Amen.
Scripture: Numbers 15:27-29
An individual who sins unintentionally shall present a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the one who commits an error, sickness when it is unintentional, troche to make atonement for the person, who then shall be forgiven. For both the native among the Israelites and the alien residing among them—you shall have the same law for anyone who acts in error.
Thought for the Day: I have sinned unintentionally, and I believe it is important to confess. Those who receive our church newsletter through the mail will notice a significant mistake on the first page. The date says it is January 26, 2011. Now some people would not have noticed, and the four set of eyes that proofread the newsletter were unaware that we had moved into 2012. I’m not pointing my finger at them because I was the one who typed ‘2011’. It is my fault…no one else! With that said, I do appreciate how the Jewish Torah provided a ritual of forgiveness for mistakes. This passage is not referring to the big stuff like murder or adultery, hate or greed. It is lifting-up those unintentional screw-ups for which we are all guilty. My first reaction is to say, “But these are just little mistakes. Do we really need a defined ritual? Can’t people just get over it?” I think the answer is, ‘YES,’ we do need a ritual because, ‘NO,’ people cannot just get over it. It’s funny how we sweat the small stuff and allow those minor errors to really bug us. When this passage speaks about forgiveness, it means to pardon or even forget. I cannot imagine God desires for us to cling to the small stuff, but often we need a ritual to remind us that it is time to do what we can to right any wrong and then move on. I’ve corrected the newsletter for the online version, and now it is time to move on with my life.
Prayer: Thanks for your forgiveness and the rituals that remind me of it, O Lord of liberating grace. Amen.
Scripture: Leviticus 13:45-46
The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, prescription “Unclean, stuff unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
Thought for the Day: Leviticus is one of those books in the Bible that we have learned to ignore. People don’t like it because they find it boring, and at times, a little gross. Among its chapters is a great deal of discussion on skin diseases, specifically leprosy. Many people wonder why those with this illness were treated so poorly, but it is important to remember that such laws were originally intended to protect the larger community. When you traveled together and lived in such close proximity to others, the danger of seeing a single illness turn into a pandemic was very real. The problem was when the theology started to change and those with an illness were viewed as outside of God’s love…that somehow their disease was a sign of God’s disfavor. Suddenly the use of a quarantine was not simply a difficult but necessary act for the sake of the larger community, but punishment for some perceived wrong. Do we ever mistreat or judge someone who is simply a victim of disease? What would Jesus have to say? Where would we find Jesus in those situations? And where should we find the body of Christ?
Prayer: When I am at my weakest point, O Lord, renew me in the glorious news that I remain one of your beloved children. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 18:13 (the Message)
Answering before listening is both stupid and rude.
Thought for the Day: I’ve heard many people tell the slightly syrupy tale: “A wise old owl sat on an oak; The more he saw the less he spoke; The less he spoke the more he heard; Why aren’t we like that wise old bird?” I guess the question being asked is rhetorical and doesn’t really expect a response, yet I would suggest that too few of us are like the wise old owl because we are not an owl and we can lack wisdom at crucial moments in life. Of those two, wisdom is the necessary component. It is something other than book knowledge. It cannot be measured on a standardized test. Wisdom assumes we have the capacity to read the world, like the person who first witnessed the owl ever so quietly watching from its perch. This day will probably give each of us a chance to respond to the inquiries of others, but the underlying question for us is this: Will we listen carefully to what is being asked before sharing our thoughts? Or will we charge ahead, offering our wealth of knowledge that may have little to do with what was really being requested? I’m a little embarrassed to confess how often I have fallen among the “stupid and rude” as the scripture describes.
Prayer: Give me peace and patience, O Gracious One, so I can pause my mouth and engage my attentiveness to the world around me and its genuine needs. Amen.
Thought for the Day: Yesterday, a few dozen folks gathered at First Christian Church in LaBelle, Florida. We were there to meet our new Regional Minister, Juan Rodriguez. There was no grand vision presented, though it was not the time for it. There was no inspiring sermon offered, though preaching was not the purpose for our meeting. There was no demanding request made of those sitting around tables, though we were not yet ready to make such a commitment. Our meeting time was a lot like a first date where each party tries to look their best while trying to determine who the other really is. With all of that said, the one thing I took from our time together was hope. As a Region, we have and will continue to face some difficult challenges, but Juan was this voice of unquestionable hope. The future can be pretty uncertain, but when someone’s attitude exhibits an unquestionable hope, seeing a detailed future is unnecessary. Hope allows us to believe in what is yet unseen. We need more people with hope that is based in the One who can see what is yet unseen.
Prayer: O Lord, I wait with hopeful expectation for the divine future we have yet to glimpse. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 8:20
I walk in the way of righteousness, buy viagra along the paths of justice…
Thought for the Day: Ever since reading this article on CNN’s website (CLICK HERE to view the article), mind I have been troubled beyond words. Maybe I spend too much of my life attempting to live in an imaginary world where children are allowed to be children. Yet forced labor among children occurs around the globe. It would be wrong under any circumstance, buy viagra but in this case, it is done so that some of us can enjoy our favorite candy bar or ice cream. In the article, we read:
“Chocolate’s billion-dollar industry starts with workers like Abdul. He squats with a gang of a dozen harvesters on an Ivory Coast farm. Abdul holds the yellow cocoa pod lengthwise and gives it two quick cracks, snapping it open to reveal milky white cocoa beans. He dumps the beans on a growing pile. Abdul is 10 years old, a three-year veteran of the job.”
This is not intended to make you feel guilty, though I am feeling guilty enough for all of us. It is a reminder that we are to be more than observers of the ways of righteousness and justice, but to take up the walking stick ourselves and journey with Jesus who shows us the way to life…a fullness of life for us and for all of humanity. In this case, for a 10 year old who is forced to pick coco beans so I can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I unknowingly participate in acts of injustice in this world. With your marvelous gift of mercy, may I also feel the tug of your spirit to act with righteousness and justice for all of humanity. Amen.