Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Need to Put You First

Father, forgive me for my many transgressions,
     for being a hoarder,
     for refusing to give You the first fruits,
     for the reverence I give to worldly possessions,
     things that do not breathe or sacrifice for me,
     things that have sentimental value because
           they belonged to beloved people,
           or speak of happy times in my life.
Father, forgive me for holding onto stuff I don’t need,
     inanimate stuff, which I stubbornly worship
     with the awe and zeal I should exhibit for You alone.
Forgive me for cherishing these worldly idols,
     that speak of success and promise to provide comfort.
I do set them in special places, bring them out to show off.
Forgive me for my narrow-mindedness,
     my obsession with worldly possessions, so-called luxuries,
     that never fulfill my needs or fill me with contentment.
Give me Your peace, Your love, Your mercy, Your joy.
Forgive me when I so foolishly let my childishness rule my heart.
Give me Your strength to resist worldly temptations,
Keep my heart and mind focused on You and all that You promise me.
Accept my love for You and Your Son,
Let me rejoice in a meaningful, personal relationship with You.
Keep me close to Your heart and pinch me when I stray.
Thank You for all the blessings and patience You have shown me.
Thank You for being my “Abba” and for calling me Your beloved.
Lord, help me to put You first in my heart and in my mind.
In Christ’s name I pray.  Amen and amen!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pretty is as Pretty Does

My father’s family, my aunts, uncles and cousins, have always made me feel loved.  Many of my favorite—and not so favorite—memories were made when I was with them.  When I was in the first grade, the U.S. Air Force sent my dad to England for six months.  Because my mother, who was from England, had not learned to drive and had no family in this country, she and my dad decided it would be best for her, my younger sister, and me to stay with my paternal grandmother in North Carolina until he returned.   

My grandmother’s house was my favorite place in the entire world.  She lived in a small house which had only four rooms.  Three of the rooms served as bedroom-living room combinations, and the fourth was the kitchen. She did not have running water in her house to the day she died; and until I was a teenager, she cooked on a wood stove which meant someone had to bring in wood for it.  Hers was a happy, welcoming house though; and on weekends, there was usually a crowd of relatives visiting her.  Most of the time, it was a fun place for a child to be and for me, it was always home. 

I loved my grandmother dearly, and she taught me a lot about Jesus, about remembering and practicing the Golden Rule, and about being a good person.  I never doubted that she loved me too, and she would often take up for me when my mother was being especially strict—which was usually the case.  For example, once, when my mother was giving me a hard time about eating a second hot-dog that I had asked for but suddenly felt too full to eat, I felt my grandmother, who was sitting beside me, nudge my leg. When I looked down, I saw her hand turned up signaling for me to give her the hot-dog.  After I had quickly given it to her, she ate that hot-dog without my mother ever knowing what my grandmother had done.  That day she was not only my champion, but she was also my partner in crime!!

I adored my cousins, Pat and Evelyn, and loved to be with them too.  But a girl who lived across the road and down a piece from their house could always manage to annoy me when she came to play.  She liked to brag that she would be a movie star someday and;  maybe I was jealous, but I really didn't like her.  One sunny morning, when I was home from school, my grandmother told me to go over to this girl's house to play. I told my grandmother I didn't want to play with her.  When she asked me why, I shocked her by replying truthfully,  “She’s ugly. She’s too ugly to play with!”
Grandma didn't spank me, but she lectured me about judging others, made me sit in a chair in the yard for what seemed like half a day, and meditate on the thought: "Pretty is as Pretty does." (I still remember the purple verbena and the snapdragons planted near my chair!)  When I finally assured her that I would never, ever, say someone was ugly again, she let me go to play.  

In truth,  knowing I had disappointed my grandmother by showing her I wasn't the girl she expected me to be was worse than having to sit in that chair while the other children were playing.  Sixty two years later I still remember the lesson I learned that day,and I easily recognize those girls who are my grandmother’s kind of girls---the ones who are “pretty is as pretty does.”

1 Samuel 16:8  “Truly, God does not see what man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD sees the heart."

Make Me Yours, Lord

Most Holy and Gracious, Lord,                   
Almighty, Omnipotent God,
Touch my heart with Your loving Spirit
And fill me with Your joy, Your powerful goodness.
Fill me with Your love for Your creation
     and with hope for the future.
Remind me that You will always be with me wherever I go,
     into safe, comfortable places with friends and family
     or into dangerous, unfamiliar territory

     full of people and things that would harm me.
Forgive me when I am pompously self-sufficient,
     when I rush forward foolishly,
     become too confidant in my own abilities,
     think I can do all things by myself,
     forgetting who I am and Who You are.
Let me remember to hide in You and to let You lead. 
Lord, I do love You and thank You
     for all the treasures in my life. 
I ask You to use me to minister to others in Your name. 
Keep me in a servant –spirit so that I can do those things
     You want me to do humbly, lovingly, and unselfishly .
Please, don’t let others see me as conceited and critical.
Let those who come into my world find a sunshine
      that radiates with Your love and peace.
Let them see something in me that might nudge them to seek You.
Let me remember that I am to glorify You and make disciples for You.
Draw me nearer to You, mold me, and make me completely Yours. 
I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son and my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Prayer of Confession for June 9, 2013

God of birth,
God of joy,
God of light,
We come to you
      a people hungry for good news.
Dead to miracles,
     we have missed the world’s rebirth.
Preoccupied with our own pleasures,
     we have ignored Your gift of joy.
Concerned with making a living,
     we have missed the life You planned for us.
Forgive us, gracious God.
Open our eyes and our hearts
     to receive Your gift.
Open our lips and our hands
     to share this gift with others in our lives.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Prayer of Confession for June 2, 2013

Our Heavenly Father,
In humility, we come,
     confessing who and what we are.
Afraid, we are often unresponsive.
Fearing what You want us to do,
     we turn deaf ears
     when Your Spirit calls.                 
Embarrassed to speak Your Word,
     we close our mouths
     when Your Spirit touches our lips.
Afraid that our ordered lives will be disrupted,
     we close the windows of our hearts
     when the breezes of Your Spirit blow.
Afraid of the new life it might bring,
     we quench the flame,
     when the fire of Your Spirit touches us.
Forgive us, O Lord, we pray.  Amen