Sunday, November 16, 2014

Lord, empty me of self and fill me with You.
Remove from my heart the desire to take revenge
for the hurt I have received from those who I think
      should love me.
Remove from my heart all traces of jealousy
      stemming from my insecurities.
Help me avoid the urges to indulge in pity parties
      because I don't get my own way,
      and others don't give me
      the attention and glorification
            I selfishly think I deserve.
Let me serve with a glad heart.
Let me show abundant mercy instead of spitefulness.
Let me bestow grace to others.
And let me love,
     especially the despised, the rejected, the lonely.
Lord, let me remember
     that You are God,
            and I am not.
Let me be still and quiet
      and content to let You be God.
Let me trust Your promise of eternal life
      for those who believe in Jesus Christ,
               Your beloved Son.
Help me take up my cross and follow You
      confident that You will never ask more of me
               than You and I can do together.
Show me where I need to go, what I need to do.  
Let Your kingdom come, Lord.
Let Your Will be done

      on earth as it is in Heaven.                     (Mab)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Lessons from the Guineas

While John and I were visiting his cousin Randy one afternoon, we watched a line of guineas pompously marching to the bird pen. As the guineas approached the open gate of the pen on the side where the gate was pulled back to make a small angle with the pen, the first two guineas, walking in tandem, smartly went around the gate, hopped over the threshold, and entered the pen.
     All of the other guineas behind them, however, followed the third guinea’s lead; and instead of going around the gate into the pen, they all walked into the center of the angle where the gate touched the pen.   They then looked as if they were moving in a sideways “V”!!
    The third guinea stopped when he literally couldn't go any farther because he was jammed between the fence and the gate.   The other guineas following him continued to move forward until they too had to stop because they had bumped into him.  They had crowded so tightly into him that he couldn't move forward or backward.  After several seconds, the birds finally gave up, turned around, and marched back into the woods.   Randy then had to walk behind them and herd them into the pen from the other direction to make sure that they were safely home at last!

While it was amusing to watch the little guineas,  the incident reminded  me of how we humans can also get ourselves into similar predicaments when we brainlessly follow the leader.  
1. We can run into dead ends with no instructions for getting ourselves out of a situation.
2. We must watch where we are going and not assume our companions know the way to go; we must question them and pay attention to the world around us. 
3. And then, when we can’t find the way to our shelter, we need a leader who is bigger, more powerful, and smarter than we are who will have compassion on us and herd us into a safe place. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 25, 2014 Call to Worship

May 25, 2014 Call to Worship 
( revised from church bulletin)              
Let us set aside this Sabbath
              as a most special day
              to rest our tired bodies,
              refresh our weary minds,
              renew our sagging souls
              and gather our scattered lives.
Let us celebrate this Sabbath day
              and offer praises to God
              for His creative, providential power,
              for his grace and loving kindness.
Let us give God thanks and praise
              for all the many awesome blessings,
  the generous mercies we receive each day.

Revised Prayer of Confession
(from church bulletin May 25, 2014)

O God, our God, we confess to You
                  that we have lifted up our souls
                                    to what is false.
                  We have deceived ourselves and others.
                  We have led a life that is not worthy of
                                    our Sovereign, Jesus Christ.
                  We have imprisoned others
                                    and not set them free.
                  We ourselves are bound by
                                    our prejudices and inhumanity.
Forgive us, O God,
 for we cannot live
in our deceit
and unfaithfulness.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Read the Bible

The B-I-B-L-E                                                                 
When I was in my first childhood, I looked forward to singing favorite songs when I went to Sunday school: “Jesus Loves Me,” “Fishers of Men,” This Little Light,”  “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and, let’s not forget “The B-I-B-L-E.”  (“Yes, that’s the book for me!”)
And, what is the B-I-B-L-E?  Of course, we all know that it is the Word of God, for indeed, the words in this great book are “God-breathed”; and how amazing is the first verse of the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (KJV)  The Word is God!!  How awesome to think about that sentence!!  The Word is God!!    
A couple of weeks ago one of the writers of my Sunday School materials challenged the way I read my Bible. First of all, he referred to the Bible as God’s symphony.(And what music could ever be sweeter than that which the Creator of the Universe has composed?). Secondly, he said that the Bible is “God’s painting of His indelible love and lament.” (And what artist’s work could be more effective and impressive than the original works our God, who planned the natural beauty of our world, has designed?) Thirdly, the writer called the Bible God’s literary epic “expressing such yearning compassion for humanity that He invites us to join Him in His ongoing story.” (And what literature could be more beautifully written than that story which God Himself has plotted?) 
Since Sunday I have been questioning the spirit and attitude with which I read my Bible.  As a retired high school English teacher, I always watch the writer’s craft as I read, highlighting or copying phrases or sentences I want to remember so, yes, I do agree and will argue that the Bible is a literary epic.  I have no problem with the writing I find there.  But I am concerned about listening for God’s symphony when I read.  Do I hear the music, the various sections of the orchestra led by a masterful Conductor?   Do I recognize and enjoy the crescendos, the violins, the harmony? At the same time, I am also concerned about seeing and absorbing the beautiful images God paints to illustrate what I am reading.  Do I take time to  see the brilliant colors and spectacular scenes that only God can create?  Or do I just read my verses as quickly as I can so I can hurry on to check my email, watch television, or do something else? Do I miss the joy and pleasure that reading the Bible with my ears and eyes as well as my mind will provide?  What do I put into my Bible reading?  Before I begin reading,  do I ask God to open my heart to the message, to enable me to read with all of my senses, to experience all the feelings He has provided for me in His Word? 
There is certainly no doubt that I need to slow my daily life-pace down and truly appreciate God as a master composer, artist, writer;  I need to appreciate the Bible as a work of creation  about creation.  Music, painting, and literature, three mediums that give beauty and inspiration to a life, and in the Bible there are examples of them all if I will just pay attention.  I pray that as I read the Bible now,  I will savor the music, the paintings, and the literature I find there.  And, when I do, reading the B-I-B-L-E, which is still the book for me, will be a richer experience.