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BONUS BLOG: Pray with Scotty and Me

SCOTTY SMITH is a friend and colleague and seminary professor from another Christian tradition (Hello, Reformed friends!). He sent this out this morning, and I’m inviting you to join in this time of prayer with this edited version —

Dear praying friends, yesterday was one of the most disturbing, heartbreaking days in my years of life as a Christian with American citizenship.

With no further commentary on the events that took place in Washington, D.C., I simply want to pray the Scriptures with you today.

1st Peter was written to help believers live as citizens of heaven in the secular world of Rome. These words apply to Christians in every generation and nation.

God have mercy on us all.

1 Pet. 2:1Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Lord Jesus, we praise, bless, and adore you for being our perfect Savior and reigning Lord. You are our peace, and you have called us to a life of peace-making and neighbor-loving. We’re not to be passive, but passionately yours—serving you with thoughts, words, and actions becoming the Gospel. In these coming hours, days, and months, fill our hearts with your grace and Spirit, that we might rid ourselves of our unbelief, malice, and sin.

1 Pet. 2:9 – You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

More so than any flag we wave, or passport we carry, or tribe we cherish: you have declared us to be uniquely yours—chosen, beloved, a holy people; a people called to bring light to, and your praise among, the nations. The only unshakable, lasting Kingdom is yours, Lord Jesus—a Bride you are redeeming from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9).

1 Pet 2:12 – Live such good lives among the unbelievers that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Free us in these coming days to live good lives, godly lives among our neighbors. May our words and works of grace make the Gospel beautiful and believable to everyone. And if we are persecuted, may it not be because of our obnoxiousness, but your righteousness. May the two most important days on our calendars be today, and the Day of your return. We want to live in light of eternity, and love whoever you place in front of us today.

1 Pet. 2:16-17 – Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, respect the government. 

Lord Jesus, thank you for setting us free from sin, death, and judgment. May we use our freedom for your glory, and our neighbors good. Show us how to live respectfully, faithfully, and expectantly… until the Day you return to finish making all things new.

Amen.

You Say You Want a Resolution?!

 

[QUICK REVIEW: Colleague Michael Williams wrote —

What do you resolve on the first day of a new decade? (Though many herald a new decade when the year number ends in 0, the decade actually begins with the year ending in 1.)

“Consider a different question: What would your prayers be for Christians across the world as we navigate this important transition? Let me share a few of mine.

“First, I pray that we as Christians are more determined to live out God’s commands to love God and our neighbor than to make everyone believe exactly the way we do.”

“Second, I pray that Christians include as neighbors every part of God’s creation.”]

Third, I pray that Christians would talk less and do more to respond in love to violence, poverty, hunger, homelessness, loneliness and hurt.]

“Fourth, I pray that Christians look for Christ in cultures and tradition different than their own. This practice may protect us from turning Jesus into an idol who simply mirrors ourselves.”

— I can still only add my personal Amen today. Mercy.

BONUS BLOG: “Welcome to Your First National Crisis”


Dean Sweet is a friend in real life, was the Lay Leader of a church it was my joy to pastor, and is an attorney who guided me through some rough patches (often with a golf metaphor). He sent this to his grandchildren the evening of Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, and his daughter and I think it’s well worth sharing — 
Welcome to your first National crisis.
My parents had the slow crisis of the depression where there was talk of over throwing the Democratic government like several countries did in Europe and Asia.
Then they had the sudden World War 2, where hundreds of thousands died, and we continued to have elections and maintain a democracy, with all its flaws.
Our generation first dealt with the shock of Kennedy’s assassination. Was it a plot? We had a new President and moved on.
We had years of riots over the war in Vietnam with hundreds of thousands protesting, bombings, take over of government buildings and facilities.
At that time we had Freedom Marches against segregation and racism. ‘
We had one President resign in disgrace, which many called a Constitutional Crisis.
We have had two Presidents impeached.
Now we have your first obvious challenge to our way of government. (I know you were around for Trumps impeachment.)
In a couple of weeks Biden will be President.
Our Democracy will carry on.
This violence is wrong in every way. Unfortunately that has become the case in recent years.
To a much lesser degree there were riots and looting four years ago.
Too often groups are using violence to attack or destroy what they may dislike.
Violence is never the right answer for either side.
Whatever our faults, we should be proud of our country and work to improve its faults, not tear it down.
I’m proud of the many advances we have made against racism, the environment, women’s rights, to name just a few.
Watch this event. Remember it well as you will see many more challenges in your lifetime.
I hope you do as well as your grandparents and we did. We made good start.
Now you finish the job.

BONUS BLOG: A Call to Prayer

Donna Claycomb Sokol is a colleague and online friend pastoring the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church in downtown DC (900 Massachusetts Ave NW, in fact). She graciously gave permission to share this today
“And having been warned in a dream
not to return to Herod,
the magi left for their own country
by another road.”
— Matthew 2:12
Herod always wants us to believe he has more power than is actually entrusted to him.
Herod knows how to manipulate people with fear. Herod doesn’t care if innocent lives are lost as long as he is winning. Herod cannot tolerate his power slipping away.
And no matter what year it is, there always seems to be someone taking their cues from the history of this King who has a central role in the story of Epiphany, the day Jesus was revealed to the magi, the day we celebrate and remember today, January 6.
The magi presented gifts to Jesus and then left by another road. They resisted Herod.
Today, I am praying for an epiphany that illuminates people with the courage and conviction needed to go another way—
to pivot from theories to truth,
from lies to integrity,
from the evil of white supremacy to the reality of all people made in God’s image,
from injustice to justice,
from worshipping the golden calf of party or person to loving God with one’s all,
from love of self to love of neighbor,
and from violence to peace.
Will you please pray with me throughout this day?
Yes, and Amen. You, too?
Image

You Say You Want a Resolution! For Epiphany?

— This EpiphanyCOVID-19 image

comes to you with gratitude

to the people who are

Journey Church in Freeburg, IL

 

QUICK REVIEW: Colleague Michael Williams wrote —

What do you resolve on the first day of a new decade? (Though many herald a new decade when the year number ends in 0, the decade actually begins with the year ending in 1.)

“Consider a different question: What would your prayers be for Christians across the world as we navigate this important transition? Let me share a few of mine.

“First, I pray that we as Christians are more determined to live out God’s commands to love God and our neighbor than to make everyone believe exactly the way we do.”

“Second, I pray that Christians include as neighbors every part of God’s creation.”]

Third, I pray that Christians would talk less and do more to respond in love to violence, poverty, hunger, homelessness, loneliness and hurt.”

— Again, here’s simply my Amen in agreement, and I hope to see you be back here tomorrow.

You Say You Want a Resolution?

[QUICK REVIEW: Colleague Michael Williams wrote —

What do you resolve on the first day of a new decade? (Though many herald a new decade when the year number ends in 0, the decade actually begins with the year ending in 1.)

“Consider a different question: What would your prayers be for Christians across the world as we navigate this important transition? Let me share a few of mine.

“First, I pray that we as Christians are more determined to live out God’s commands to love God and our neighbor than to make everyone believe exactly the way we do.”]

“Second, I pray that Christians include as neighbors every part of God’s creation.”

— I can only again add my Amen and hope to see you back here tomorrow.

You Say Want a Resolution

Colleague Michael Williams wrote —

“What do you resolve on the first day of a new decade? (Though many herald a new decade when the year number ends in 0, the decade actually begins with the year ending in 1.)

“Consider a different question: What would your prayers be for Christians across the world as we navigate this important transition? Let me share a few of mine.

First, I pray that we as Christians are more determined to live out God’s commands to love God and our neighbor than to make everyone believe exactly the way we do.”

— I can only add my Amen and hope to see you back here tomorrow.

The Things That are Behind

“Forget the things that are behind,

the moment they are past,

leaving them with God.”

Hannah Whitall Smith includes that line in her timeless work, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. There she says it’s something she “came across in an old book.”

Profound advice for you and me on this first Sunday of a new calendar year: “Forget the things that are behind, the moment they are past, leaving them with God.”

What are some of those “things that are behind” you? 

Are you able to be “leaving them with God” today? 

Once again:  “Forget the things that are behind, the moment they are past, leaving them with God.”

 

 

Every Day, Every Moment, Every Breath

The Magic of a Fresh Start

by Leo Babuata

One of the biggest obstacles to sticking with a habit change, a new system, a goal or long-term project … is that we get disrupted.

Something interrupts our progress — we skip a workout day or two — and then some programming in our brains turns that into a message of how we’re not good enough, we can’t do it, we should just give up.

It stops us from simply starting again.

This is because most of us don’t realize the power of a Fresh Start.

A Fresh Start is when we get to start anew, with a blank slate. It’s waking up to a brand new morning, with a day we get to use however we want.

There’s a lot of power available to us in a Fresh Start —-

  • We can see the habit or project with fresh eyes, as if we’d never seen it before, and bring a sense of wonder and curiosity to what we’re doing
  • There’s a sacredness to letting everything go from the past and just showing up in a new moment
  • We can learn something from the past failure or disruption, and use this new start as a way to get better at that difficulty, armed with this new information, so that every Fresh Start becomes a new opportunity to learn, grow, get better at something
  • We get to reinvent ourselves, reinvent what we’re taking on, reinvent what we want to make our lives to be
  • We can recommit, and remind ourselves of why we’re committed to this.

The beautiful thing is that a Fresh Start is available to us not only when we get disrupted or stumble … but in every moment.

Every day.

Every new breath.

Every Day, Every Day, Every Day

“Every day is a pleasure.”

— Keith Richards

This is the very day God acted—
    let’s celebrate and be festive!
Salvation now, God. Salvation now!
    Oh yes, God—a free and full life!

— Psalm 118:24

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

A Covenant Prayer in The Wesleyan Tradition