Grow LOVE

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Working in the garden, I have seen the first signs of fall this week.  A bit of brown on the tips of leaves, the annuals are starting to grow weary, and the summer perennials are done with.  

 

Why am I furiously digging in August?  A wedding in two weeks.  An only daughter being married is something close to a State Dinner for a mother.  Wedding dress, florist, photographer, organist, soloist, guest lists, centerpieces, family members from afar–way far, as in Australia, food, accommodations, rehearsal dinner, reception, brunch, and last but not least–the yard must look like Buckingham Palace.  

 

Are my priorities askew? Maybe not.  The garden is where I can really relax–pray–and lift all the things that may be making me anxious up to God.  

 

Love, Love, Love has been the theme this summer.  From 1 Corinthians 13 (Love chapter) and the phrase “Love is Kind” has been my catch phrase.  

Jesus said, “By this all will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35

Even the disciples had to be kind to one another….

 

As I garden, I keep thinking, “How can I be kind to those who are prickly?”  Love is kind…even to those who are difficult.  Dig deeper Paula, maybe the answer will come with the next weed pulled.  

 

The UPS driver pulls up.  He has a delivery.  Small succulents–another wedding thing.  I open the neatly packed cacti.  These small potted plants need air and light.  The directions are written on a piece of paper with a card attached.  The card has a pretty imprint of a cactus with the company name and a slogan:

ALL THINGS GROW WITH LOVE

 

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Yes, prickly plants AND people WILL grow with love. 

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.  That is the theme this summer.  Even in the garden.  

Prayer:

Dear God strengthen me in your power and love.  Lead me to love and be kind –even the prickly people.  When I am prickly, you love me–thank you.   

 

At home, at work, in the garden , –remind me–ALL THINGS GROW WITH LOVE.  

AMEN. 

PASSWORD

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What is your password?  Yep, the infamous question.  The one that always has you scrambling…where did I put that?  Did I update that?  Is that in my super secret file?  Or in my notebook?  Is it my birthday with my favorite number? Backwards, with a cherry on top… My kid’s favorite number….

 

No password needed for prayer.  Nope.  Imagine if there was a password needed?  Would it make it more popular?  Maybe if there was a prayer video game that God had…and you had to navigate a certain number of levels just to get to Him?  

 

What do you need to pray today?  Think about it…what if you had to put in a password or a credit card number, or wait on hold?  TRULY EASY ACCESS….don’t take this full access for granted.  

 

**There ARE some faith traditions that require “passwords” to access their god.  Jesus Christ accomplished everything for us.  AMAZING GRACE.  AMAZING PASSWORD.  

 

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Eph 3:12

 

Prayers:

*Give thanks that we do not need a password to pray!

*Give thanks for your job and the business you are in…

*Pray for all who work together at your work that they be blessed in their work environment in safety, and a positive culture.  

*Continued favor in your industry…that current customers remain loyal and new customers seek your company out for advice and orders!

*Thank God for each and every conversation that you have –and ask God for guidance when confronted with a challenge.  The challenges may be an opportunity in disguise.  

*Pray for the health of all your co-workers…

 

Lead Like Jesus

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Strong leaders can help an organization to maximize productivity and achieve business goals.  

Strong leaders have certain personal characteristics: integrity, confidence that is mixed with humility, passion, patience, focus, honesty, transparency, courage –and  are committed to communication.  

 

If you communicate your ideas and thoughts clearly with integrity you become an agent of change. You are able to engage a workforce to produce value, create an environment of innovation, and create a competitive edge for your organization.  

 

Jesus was the ultimate communicator.  Look at his message and method.  He had to tell the world he was the Messiah, teaching along the way…remaining sinless.  

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*He never wrote down a single word.

*He spoke in parables.

*He formed relationships with people. (12 close relationships and a few others, but relatively small circle)

*He was humble in all he did.

 

Today, all the rage are TED talks.  The acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design — and have found their way into church life. The talks influence preachers and are shown in a variety of church settings to spark discussion.

The talks are video-recorded in front of live audiences and shared worldwide through the Internet. They’re typically brief (about 18 minutes), anecdot

al and focused on a single idea about which the speaker feels passionately.

 

According to Alyce Mckenzie, teaching professor at Southern Methodist University, preachers can learn from TED talks in that the same principles work:  “Be clear. Be interesting. Be vivid. Waste no words. And then sit down.”

You see–Jesus taught in the same way too. CLEAR. INTERESTING. VIVID. WASTED NO WORDS. AND THEN HE SAT DOWN…that is when it got interesting….

 

Business Leaders: You don’t have to write it down.  Form a relationship with your team.  Tell a story–your story.  Be trustworthy.  Give a talk today: Clear, Interesting, vivid, waste no words. Then sit down.  Take it from the best.  TED talks–no Jesus.  

 

3 Simple Rules

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Go out today and be the living answer to the prayer of Jesus:

Holy Father,protect them in your name that you have given me,so that they may be one, as we are one”  John 17:11b  

John Wesley had a blueprint that fleshed it out, taught it, and practiced it:

**Three Simple Rules

  • Do No Harm

  • Do Good

  • Stay in Love with God

We are not the first to struggle with faithfulness to God.  The follower of Jesus Christ is God’s chosen one and as such deserves and demands a certain way of living.  

IMG_5893“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  Above all. Clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.   Paul’s letter to the Colossians 3:12-14  

My theme for 2017 has been “Love is Kind.”  These 3 rules help “clothe” me in what Paul urges the Colossians to wear.

Head into work today with a new “outfit” — keep it simple.

Prayer:

Loving Teacher, come and make your home in our hearts today.  Teach us today to do no harm, to do good, and assist us so that we may stay in loving relationship with you and our neighbor.  Help us today to be an answer to another’s prayer to that we may be a sign of hope in the world you created and love.  

Give us vision for work, hearts for the lost, and strength for the day.

AMEN

**See Three Simple Rules, A Wesleyan Way of Living, by Reuben Job

Holy Club

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Holy Holy Holy…Lord God Almighty…

 

When John Wesley was a student at Christ Church in Oxford he longed for a group with whom he could share his spiritual growth. As a student, he never quite found what he was looking for.

When his brother Charles arrived in Oxford to study at Christ Church, John may have hoped that being in the same town would give them opportunity to support one another in their discipleship. Their mom Susanna had instilled in her children a routine of spiritual accountability from an early age.

It didn’t work out right away…Charles was slow to pick up the spiritual zeal, John went on to study to become ordained a priest in the Church of England at Lincoln College–a short walk from Christ Church College, and after graduation, at the request of his father, the Rev. Samuel Wesley, rector, of St. Andrew’s Church in Epworth, John went home to serve as the associate pastor in the congregation in which he and his brothers and sisters were raised.

One day, John received a letter from Charles. “I … awoke out of my lethargy,” his younger brother wrote of his renewed desire to focus on his spiritual growth. He also asked for tips on keeping a spiritual journal, a practice John found helpful.

John returned to Oxford to visit his brother.  Reunited in Oxford, the brothers periodically met with Charles’ friend William Morgan for prayer, Bible study, and conversation. They also received the Lord’s Supper at least once a week, earning them the nickname “Sacramentarians.”

Slowly, more Oxford students joined the group. They visited the poor and elderly, taught children..visited the imprisoned.  

Other students noticed them, and did not understand them.  They gave them names like:  Supererogation Men , Methodists, HOLY CLUB…BUT they kept meeting even with with the mocking and name calling.  The labels were meant to be discouraging to the men.  

John Wesley never liked the name ‘Methodist’, but it stuck.

The Holy Club, the slang name for their group around Oxford, was adopting a holistic approach to their Christian formation. They studied the Bible, prayed, and worshiped together and served others in need.

Even though the names were given as a form of mockery, the members made significant contributions to generations of the faithful.  (John Clayton, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Wesley, Thomas Brougham, John Gambold, James Hervey, Benjamin Ignham)

Never let your faith be shaken when you know you stand on HOLY ground…are you part of a Holy Club 2017?  Who do you share your faith journey with and who holds you accountable?  At home?  At work?  In the middle?  

 

Next Week: John Wesley’s Three Rules

Prayer:

IMG_5880Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…as it says in the old hymn, to speak often with you.  

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…to read your word, and feed on your word.

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…to make friends with your children, and help those who are weak.

Lord, let me “take time to be holy”…and be calm in my soul, led by your Spirit, for your purpose today.  

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. Worldly

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“Nope…you are wrong”, says the world.

 

 “Going to church on Sunday is just old fashioned and weird.  The people you meet there are judgmental and stodgy…most are old and move slowly. Reading the Bible is for those who are in a rut and can’t push all the right buttons on their computer for Netflix.  God’s word is outdated.  It is WAY too rigid.  You must be tolerant of behaviors that make one feel good about themselves.  God understands.  It is YOU that has a problem…maybe it is YOU that needs counseling and to look inward.”, say Mr. and Mrs. Worldly.   

 

My question to Mr. and Mrs. Worldly,  “May I have a value system, and if so, is it appropriate to demonstrate?”  

 

Mrs. Worldly whispers back, “Oh, yes, you may, but the value system is flawed.  So flawed.  And Mr. Worldly says that he sees everyone not following “the rules.”  You Christians are all a bunch of losers.”

 

Christians have always been “not cool.”  The Way –has always been “out of the way.”  

We don’t have rules…we have commandments.  We sin, we confess, we are forgiven.  

 

We have a Savior.  We have Grace.  We have Mercy and Love.  

Our value system is not flawed, we are.  

 

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You better believe in God’s word! 

 

  (Allie age 6–David chipping golf balls before the dance recital)  

Prayer: Lord, let us trust in you, not the world.  We hear so much rumbling from the outside.  We let our eyes be deceived, and our hearts pulled by negative thoughts and words.

Help us today be STRONG at work. Use our words to prosper your agenda.  

Help us today be LOVING at home.  Use our hearts to see what others need.  

Help us today be KIND in the world.  Use us as ambassadors of the Way.  

AMEN.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

WOW GOD

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Went to Vacation Bible School.  Yes, even at my age, you can learn and make new friends in an alternative way.  I was in the Middle School class.  These kids were:

     

                                      Vibrant, energetic, dynamic.  Great week.

 

We had a curriculum that provided a one line theme each day.  If the one-liner was said–for example– “GOD IS ALWAYS WITH YOU”,   you would shout–   “WOW GOD!”  The older kids thought it was a little funky

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Hearts and Tissues! 

 at first, but it caught on by the middle of the week.  They were really into it by Friday….

So here I am with this WOW GOD stuck in my head.  Everything I see that is amazing or not-so-amazing I say, “WOW GOD!”  

 

For the entire time Jesus was on earth, there are only two recorded instances of Jesus being amazed!

One was because of  incredible unbelief, the other was because of incredible belief.  

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“And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any mighty miracles among them except to place His hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their unbelief”. –Mark 6:5-6

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” –Luke 7:9 (the centurion who believes in Jesus’ authoritative word)

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Even Jesus had “Wow God” moments.  He was amazed.  Jesus acknowledged belief and

unbelief.  He knew who He came from:

“I and the Father are one.” , and he had the emotion of amazement.   

Some things cannot be taught.  They are caught.  

WOW GOD!

This phrase caught me.

Prayer:

WOW GOD, I believe–yes, I do!  Help me to cast away my unbelief.  Thank you for all of your gifts in creation and undergird me today with strength, wisdom, and vision in my work and home.  AMEN

 

 

Lord’s Supper Table Talk

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Thought I had covered the 10 commandments.  Knew them and said, “I can handle staying between the lines on these ten.”  Then I read these questions to consider….and understood their enormity.  I must come empty and remember….

Ten Commandments List

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall make no idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  10. You shall not covet

 

The following taken from David S. Schrock 9/16/2014 “Preparing Your Heart for the Lord’s Supper”  see Twitter @Davidschrock

 

What follows are a few questions you can ask yourself as you prepare for the Lord’s Supper. They are derived from the Decalogue (Exodus 20), and aim to search your heart for idols, pockets of sin, and other issues of life that may hinder your walk with God.

Is there anyone or anything you’re worshiping above God? What’s first in your life? Family? Money? Ease? Or God? Does your passion for ______________ exceed your passion for God? If so, why?

  1. Are there wrong ways you have thought about God this week? Are there harsh thoughts towards God in your heart? Do you worship God based upon the way he has revealed himself in Scripture and the Son? Or do worship God based upon personal experience or the influence of other books or teachers?
  2. Does your life reflect the Lord? Are you walking in a IMG_4642manner worthy of Christ and his gospel? Would you be ashamed to speak of Christ to others because your life doesn’t match your profession?
  3. Are you resting in the Lord and what Christ did on Calvary? Or are finding your identification in your labors? Is there anxiety gripping your heart? If so, why? What are resting in?
  4. Are you honoring your parents? Are you loving your children? Are hobbies coming before family? Are you neglecting the ones in your family that you should be caring for?
  5. Are you murdering anyone in your heart? Are you withholding forgiveness? What unchecked desire has prompted anger? Are you blaming others for your anger? If so, read James 4:1–2.
  6. Are you walking in purity? Are there relationships that are compromising your sexual integrity? Are you loving your wife as Christ loved the church? Or are you lovingly submitting to and respecting your husband, as the church does Christ? If single, are you using your freedom to serve the Lord?
  7. Are you trusting God for your daily bread? Are you working in order to share with others? Are you generous? Or are you stingy with your resources?
  8. Do your words reflect the truth of God? Do you intentionally hide behind vague words? Are your words building up or tearing down others? What does the overflow of your speech reveal about your heart?
  9. Are you guarding your heart from discontentment? Can you say that God is enough? What idol are your coveting? What step can you take to grow in contentment with the Lord?

As these questions expose sin, confess them to the Lord and look to the cross. The Law of God is never meant to leave us in our guilt. The law, when used lawfully (1 Tim 1:8–11), leads us to the gospel. It heightens our need for grace and by consequence it prepares us for the Lord’s Supper.

Therefore, as you read these questions, pray for God’s Spirit to prompt conviction and then look again to Christ. Trust in him. Flee from sin. Make peace with others. Get help if needed. And give thanks for the Christ of Communion.

LOVE...so amazing, so divine, demands…and at least my attention during The Lord’s Supper.   

 

Power to the Faint

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Albert Morris ca.1950

I look to Isaiah for wings when I need strength.  Perhaps this is where my grandfather looked also:  

May 9: “He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.”  Isaiah 40:29  

 

Pray:

Morning Prayer: O, God of might, who upholds all things in earth and sky and sea, help us that we may faithfully and constantly discharge our daily duties, both to Thee, and our fellow-men.  Help us to appreciate the strength and wisdom which Thou does provide, and may we use it to Thy glory, for Christ’s sake. Amen

 

(from Day by Day, Short Prayers for Daily Use, 1916 Central Publishing House/Cleveland OH   This book was given to my grandfather, Albert Morris, by his grandfather, Jacob Flick in 1918.)

Away We Glow

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We “go” to work each day.  Even if you work from home, there is a work position…in front of a computer, on the phone, and our physical body is part of the work process.  There is a visceral response to work.  

 

I am planning a  “Spiritual Formation” guide in our church–and I have found that it requires the human spirit (inner being) AND it involves the body because that’s where we live and what we live from.  Transformation of the whole person/spiritual formation is never merely inward.

 

Think about how you position yourself today at work–physically.  

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Smiling with Allison…

Does it reflect your Spirit?  

 

What message do your physical responses send?  

 

If someone were to describe your countenance–what words would they use?  How are you different than someone who does not know God?  

 

                                                       …………AWAY WE GLOW…….

 

Prayer:

“All that is to be, now is!


The reign of God is now with us.

Return to God’s way,

And LIVE out the Good News.

Amen.”

–from, A Guide to Prayer for all Who Seek God, Upper Room Books