June 29

In my job, I need to think and plan far ahead, sometimes as much as a year ahead, but certainly months ahead.  I do this, knowing that as that event or date approaches, changes will need to be made.   Stuff happens, and persons can or cannot attend at the last minute.  There are times when the whole theme needs to change because world or community events impact our church.  It boggles my mind to think that God knew everything all the time, from forever ago.  I understand that God allows us to make choices, but still God knew the end from the beginning.  It is too complex to grasp.

Holy Lord, you are beyond my thoughts or imagination.  Your power and knowledge are unfathomable.  And although you know what I will choose, you still allow me to make that choice.  How gracious and merciful you are!  Thank you, Lord, for your love and patience.  Amen.


June 27

Prayer Fitness

Frequently I see people checking their ‘Fitbit’ bands to assess their fitness readings. Have you ever checked your prayer fitness? I work in a building with 10 flights of stairs and my office is located on the sixth floor. I take the stairs each morning and combine my daily prayers with the exercise. For each flight of stairs I concentrate on a prayer. I call this my Prayer Fitness.

Today went as follows:

Flight 1: God, help my dear friend, Bev, recovering from eye surgery. Provide comfort and healing and lessen her anxiety.

Flight two: God, help me with my staff meeting I am leading today. Guide my ability to provide clear information and promote the skills I need to accomplish the agenda.

Flight three: God, bless my brother who is taking a new medicine for his long term struggle with Parkinson’s. Continue to provide relief from the side effects associated with the previous medicine. Keep him hopeful.

Flight four: Bless my daughter who is now the mother of three. Help her to have patience and understanding with the older children. Please help them to feel confident of their love and place in the family.

Flight five: Continue to bless my daughter and fiancé as they plan their wedding. Provide answers to the planning and decisions. Help in the selection of invitations!

Flight six: Help me provide encouragement to my co-workers today and seek out those who need a moment of kindness.

Maybe it is a flight of stairs, a walking trail with benches, blocks around the neighborhood, laps in a pool, street turns on a bike, or stores in a mall, I encourage you to find ways to be ‘prayer fit’. 


June 25

"He said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lamp stand? For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light."
"Let anyone with ears listen!"-Mark 4:25

Let your light of Christianity shine bright in the darkness and let Jesus rule the night.
Let your love and compassion flow through you and do not be afraid to express your faith openly.


June 23

Who is God?

God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet.
God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who know him.
God’s love is ever and always eternally present to all who know him.
Excerpted from Psalm 103:8-17. The Message

Dear God,

I am certain that you want to be good to me and are just waiting for me to ask. And when I do, I know that my asking will fall short of your giving. Help me to spread my arms and welcome you into my life. Help me to live larger in you and to feel the divine embrace of your love. Amen.


June 21

Asking for things can be hard and risky and scary.  When we ask someone for something, we have given them a certain power.  They know that we want/need whatever, and they can choose to give it or they can choose to withhold it.  We are vulnerable.  Life is like that.  The moment we are conceived, we are vulnerable.  That sounds pretty terrible, but we are all in the same position- all of us in a balance of control and helplessness, of power and vulnerability.  What a magnificent blessing that God is in control and all powerful.  We are God's children and dearly beloved.  The one who is almighty holds us in the palm of a loving hand!

Lord and Savior, hold us all in a loving embrace.  May we be strong in you.  May we be merciful, forgiving, and loving to all humans, knowing that they are as vulnerable as we are.  Grant us mercy, forgiveness, and love.  Amen.


June 19

               A colleague of mine has a printed, framed alphabet sampler hanging near her door. Each letter has either a full or partial Bible verse beginning with that letter, usually from the King James Version.
                No matter how many times I see it, the letter that always grabs my attention is the letter G. The verse associated with G is from the Great Commission; specifically, Matthew 28:19. “Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
                You can’t really see the verse, though, unless you look at it up close. What you can see from a distance is that not only is there a large capital G in the square, but there’s also a globe next to it. So from a distance, it looks like the first word of Matthew 28:19 – “Go.” That never fails to amaze me.
                “Go” is not a suggestion, nor is it a passive word. “Go” indicates action, as in “Go ye, therefore…” This makes the Great Commission not a suggestion, but a Biblical imperative. “Go” means get off your duff and get out there and do something. Simple, right?
                Well, unfortunately, we humans have made it not as simple as it needs to be. No matter how well-intentioned we may be, no matter how much willpower we have, more often than not, it is our “won’t-power” that wins the day. More correctly, that should be our “Don’t-want-to-do-it” power.
                Each of us, me included, is guilty of exercising that power at least from time to time. When it doesn’t fit in with our schedules, we push it aside and maybe – maybe – we get to it later. Then “later” becomes “next day,” and “next day” becomes “next week,” and so on, until we either do it or forget about it completely.
                We’ve turned “go” into “stay.” If we had not only gone out and followed the Great Commission as set out by Jesus – and not just teaching and baptizing, but by actually living the ideal that is Jesus – we might now be living in something approaching the Garden of Eden.
                But since we’re not living in the Garden of Eden, it falls on us, here and now, to try to overcome our inertia and follow those Biblical imperatives: go… do… shall… love.

Lord, these are Your words. You have given us active words, but still we prefer our passive world of if-we-feel-like-it. Bestow upon us a spirit of action so that we shall – not may – go, do, and love in Your name. Amen.


June 17

I'm driving along the road with my daughter and feeling grumpy because of the rain. The windshield wipers are swishing, the radio is playing a station my daughter picked, and she is quiet.  Then, she says, "I love the rain.  It makes me feel so cozy."  Not what I was feeling, but suddenly my perspective is changed.  It IS kind of cozy with the rain, in our car, listening to music together.

Thank you, Lord, for the rain.  Thank you for fresh perspectives.  Thank you mostly for my daughter. Amen.


June 15

It is the end of the school year and once again, we face the dilemma of what to give the bus driver as a token of appreciation.  This woman takes the lives of our children in her hands twice a day for months.  She keeps them safe in truly hazardous conditions.  She should receive some kind of medal or similar symbol of bravery, but we usually give her food or hand lotion or some such consumable product.  We definitely don't want to clutter her life with a "dust catcher", however cute or humorous.  We would love to give her something that lightens her load and lifts her spirits, something that demonstrates our admiration of her gentle steel and of her almost certain love of adventure.  Whatever we give her, it will be offered with prayers and affection.

Gracious God, please bless all bus drivers.  Bless those who drive our children (all kinds of children) in all kinds of weather and circumstances.  Bless those who drive the public (all kinds of people) in all kinds of weather and circumstances.  Keep them safe as they keep us safe.  Give them joy in their jobs and help us to be one source of that joy.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


June 13

The last few days, I have experienced that oppressive heaviness that arrives before a thunderstorm.  As the day wears on, the atmosphere bears down.  Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed, a few drops of rain fell.  A couple days, that was all.  The weight of the air persisted.  The heat prevailed.  One day, the storm came.  It was tremendous, scary, Rain pelleted, cascaded to the ground.  Thunder and lightning detonated.  Then the storm passed, the rain almost caressing as it fell.  The air was clear and cool and light.  We could breathe.

Thank you, God, for storms- for the literal storms to lower our temperatures and clear our atmosphere.  Thank God, for storms- for the storms of life that unsettle and re-arrange the pieces of our lives.  Thank you, God, for the clearing that those storms can give us, for the clarity, for the opening up of new ways and the recovering of old ways that storms can give us.  Thank you, God, for being with us, steadfast and true, through all our storms.  Amen.


June 11

Tomorrow is a day of birthdays.  I will be wishing 4 people a happy birthday and many more.  Each year, we are given the opportunity to say thank you to God for the person/people in our lives who were born that day: gifts whom God has given to the world and to us who know and love them. Each year, we are given the opportunity to say thank you to God for our own birth.  We have been the given the gift of learning and growing and making a difference in the world, the gift of loving God and one another.

Thank you, gracious Lord, for creating us and for giving us to ourselves and to one another.  Help us to make of our lives a gift to be given back to you.  Amen. 


June 9

We all have times when we feel overwhelmed in our lives. No matter our age,
we all face challenges and may sometimes wonder how we will get through
these times. Some of these challenges may involve relationships, our careers, or
possibly health problems. How do you deal with these times in your lives? Do you
feel so stressed and worried that you can't even think? Does your anxiety level continue
to climb? Do you begin to feel hopeless? God reminds us that He is with us and will
give us strength and wisdom during these times. We need to focus on Him, and He
will see us through these times.

Don't be afraid for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will
strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious hand.  Isaiah 41:10


June 7

The world is so accessible; it's marvelous.  We can talk to family and friends from all over the planet, and sometimes, we can even see them as we talk!  We watch news that is happening as we watch, or maybe was happening as we slept.  The world is still tied to the rhythms of nature: day and night, seasons of the year, weather patterns.  As marvelous as technology is, it isn't failsafe.  We remain at the mercy of much in our world.  That is an odd phrase: at the mercy of.  Technology has no emotions and cannot show mercy.  The forces of nature are not personalities and cannot show mercy.  We use the phrase to communicate a lack of control, a circumstance that is out of our hands although we would like to be in control.  We need, or want, a certain outcome but it is beyond us to make that happen.  Whether we are unable to wish a grandchild a happy birthday or are staring at the rubble which a tornado left behind, we feel helpless.

It is difficult to realize how little we are in control.  It is difficult to place our lives, the whole of our lives, in someone else's hands.  It is difficult to place our dreams and hopes, our future, the wellbeing of our loved ones, our health, our possessions, our pains and frustrations at the mercy of another.  Yet, when that other is God, we can trust that all will be well.  All will not necessarily be the way we want it to be, but all will be well.

Lord, you are in control of all things from the beginning to the end of all things.  Still, I grumble and fret when I don't get what I want.  I even rage and cry out when painful things happen to me or those I love.  There is so much that I don't understand.  Please help me to trust you.  Please hear me and hold me tenderly when I cry out in disappointment or fear or anger or pain.  Please show me mercy.  In Jesus' name, Amen.


June 5

Last month on The Voice, Pharrell Williams commented to contestant Koryn Hawthorne that her performance proved she realized the word impossible was just a word and that "... Anything is possible when you put God first." She was outstanding. And her belief in and love of God beamed around her. It was a beautiful moment. 

Dear Lord,
Help me to be strong. Help me to realize that all I have and all I share is because of you. Keep me on your path. Please continue to send angels like Pharrell into our lives to remind us to keep you first and that everything else will then fall into place. Amen.


June 3

            I recently took a brief three day trip to see family.  The route north went through mountainous scenery.  The highway is halfway up the mountainside and for a long way there simply stretched the majestic mountains, dressed in that light fresh green of spring foliage while the river twisted ribbon-like below.  I couldn’t help thinking of the Psalm: “I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where will my help come? It comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1)  And since my  trip back to Maryland made a big loop, I returned by traveling along another river—wide and scenic and quiet.  The view reflected how I felt.  I’d visited family, including four cousins whom I had not seen for four years.  It had been a wonderful time.  There were other Psalter words flowing through my mind and heart: “God leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2b}

            The psalms catch both the majesty of God’s creation and the state of our own  minds and hearts. And in those holy words we find comfort, identity, hope and peace.  As the world happens all around you today, be ready for the hands of God to enfold you and be grateful for recalled words of scripture that speak to you.  For a moment, let your prayer take some form like this: “Be still and know that I am God.” ( Psalm 46:10).   Amen


June 1

Thoughts on Prevenient Grace              “The Light is ON for You”

It’s about love, love, love.  It’s about love.
Love is stronger than any power and weaker than any resistance.
It’s not only what we do – it is the way we do it. 
Love is first.  Not sin.  Not judgment.  Not limitation.  Love is first.  God’s arms are open wide.

You see, God is seeking you.  Even before you seek God, God searches you out. 
God has “unconditional positive regard” for you.  There is no hesitation on God’s part.  No assumption that you are on a “not going to make it” list.  God’s intention is for everyone to be saved.  God intends no one left behind.  The assumption that some are saved and some are damned from the beginning is not a Methodist belief.  The assumption that we are sinners who are always and irredeemably sinful is not Methodist.  Methodists believe that we are sinners who can be freed from the power of sin so that we are not irredeemably lost.  John Wesley believed that as we accept the grace of God in our lives, “sin remains but no longer reigns” in the Christian. 

For Methodists, grace is not limited.  It is offered to all.  It is free not only to some.  There are no exceptions.  God loved the world, and to that end finally Jesus died on a cross at Calvary.  So, Wesley believed that every person could heed the Gospel call.  He was especially mindful of those others passed by – the poor, the sick, the illiterate, the outcasts of society who felt unwanted and unloved by most church folk of his day.

My gracious master and my God, assist me to proclaim: to spread to all the earth abroad the honors of thy name.

May you know the power, peace and promise of God’s unconditional love for you!