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Sprinting Through a Marathon

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

— Hebrews 12:1-3

“When living seems too much to manage, circumstances too difficult to cope with , the future too gloomy to consider — call time out. Stop and discover the nurturing, renewing gift of the Holy One: rest.” Disciplines 2017, page 347.

A handful of years ago, working with my District Superintendent and with the gracious permission of the Effingham (IL) United Methodist Church, I was granted a brief study sabbatical.

During that month I looked at why some people are able to go the distance in life and finish their race strong, while others don’t.

“The Disciples of Grace” was a class that enriched my understanding in that time and since. One simply profound take away: while it’s God’s gift of grace through Christ that saves us, living into our salvation requires something on our part.

Some of that is the stewardship of our physical and emotional resources.

We talk about pacing ourselves. But that pace can increase until we’re furiously, and foolishly, trying sprint our way through a marathon.

Some of us need to reach back into our heritage —

“I will give you rest,”

God promises us in Exodus 33:14,

and

“Come to me, all you that are weary

and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest,”

Jesus beckons to us in Matthew 11:28.

Maybe you’re like others of us.

Maybe your own exhausted panting is drowning out what those Scriptures offer us.

Then today, let’s make one small change and actually “call time out. Stop and discover the nurturing, renewing gift of the Holy One: rest.”

How will you do that today?

And when?

 

 

 

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46% of Us

“Forty-six percent of American adults have a friend or loved one who has struggled with drug addiction,” says this week’s issue of Time magazine.

Addiction is at its essence a hijacking,” it goes on.

“Parts of the brain that are dedicated to rewarding behavior and triggering feelings of satisfaction and calm are kidnapped.”

Forty-six percent of us are close to someone who knows how true those words are.

Some of us may be there ourselves.

There is hope.

There is help.

Ask.

Please.

 

 

Prayer is.., part 2 of 2.

Quick Review: my pastor, Rev. Harvey Gaither, said in his sermon this past Sunday that “Prayer is action.” This came in the context of yet another tragedy, in this case a Texas church shooting the previous Sunday that left many dead and many more wounded. Some Christians say they’re tired of praying and want to see the Church spring into action.

Okay…whaddya think?

Seems to me that Harvey’s right, and is in line with the best of our various Christian traditions and denominations: “Prayer is action.”

I’ll bet you noticed that he did not say that prayer is the only thing we’re called to do.

If you read what have been called “the red letter parts” of the New Testament, just the things that Christ Jesus said, we have a clear call to both pray and to make a difference.

I’m with Harvey: “Prayer is action.”

Especially when we listen.

And when, if possible, we then take follow-up prayerful action.

It’s kinda like that classic line, “Don’t pray for God to guide your path if you’re not willing to move your feet.”

 

 

Prayer is….

Every time there’s a tragedy of some sort, social media is filled with two things from Christians: some saying they’re praying, some saying they’re tired of us just praying and want some action.

This past Sunday, my pastor, Rev. Harvey Gaither, said in his sermon that “Praying is action.”

What say ye?

Give that some prayerful thought, and let’s think together about this tomorrow. See you back here then.

Joy & Stephen & Your Prayers & NK

They’re part of a group of about 200 Americans who have been living and working in North Korea.

Alumni of a Christian university, Joy Mercer Yoon and Dr. Stephen Yoon both grew up in South Korea.

Right now, they’re waiting in China to get back to the Pyongyang Medical University Hospital, where he’s been teaching a team of 28 physicians in a developmental disability program.

“We were able to convince and convey to the North Korean government that the kids with disabilities have value and can be a part of society,” he says.

Join the rest of us in praying for the work that is this ministry.

 

Stumbling into the Pew

Y’all make it look so easy.

After 40 years as a parish pastor, I’m still adjusting to this next chapter.

It still feels new to go worship without being up front. You’ll notice that I wrote “being up front” rather than “being in charge.” I got over thinking I was “in charge” of the worship service a long time ago.

I like sitting with Patty when she’s not in the choir, sharing a hymnal and a Bible with her, and getting to put my arm around her.

But wow, I messed up one of the times we were celebrating Holy Communion.

We had gone up the center aisle, been served at the altar railing, and went back to our pew by the side aisle.

Seeing people going to the same pew, I politely got out of the wait by stepping aside. They entered. Sat down. And there in the aisle we stood, with the way to our spots in that pew now blocked by a row of people.

One stood up, smiled at us, and motioned for us to come ahead. Climbing over the others, I said something apologetic like, “Sorry, I’m really out of practice at this whole pew position stuff.”

They were gracious. Patty claimed not to be too embarrassed.

I was just glad I didn’t fall down and didn’t injure anyone.

It’s not as easy in the pew as it looks, and I have a lot to learn.

 

 

Oatmeal, part 2 of 2.

NOTE: If you missed yesterday’s installment here of my Fresh-Brewed Daily, scroll down one entry and you can catch up easily.

Quick Question: Whose oatmeal can you stir today?

“Right now, and every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” — Galatians 6:10

And so what are you waiting for?

Again, Whose oatmeal can you stir today?