Friday, September 26, 2014

Grand Advice!

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 18:12)

            My mom used to use some interesting terms and expressions when describing humanity. One of her favorites was “fool hardy” when someone did something out of line. Another was that “It is better to be silent and be thought a fool that to speak out and remove all doubt.” Somehow, when we are proud in the context of today’s text, we are not paying attention. When we kid ourselves with false pride, it helps us grow to have an appreciation for the realities of life.
            We are often overconfident. It seems that the younger we are the more likely we are to suffer from “cockiness”. Somehow that is God’s way of teaching us. We constantly have to monitor our pride and confidence. The elders of society have knowledge and experience but are not always correct. Technology and society are changing faster than fifty years ago. Therefore many of the rules of life have changed.
In our spiritual lives, the rules have not and will not change. We need to take inventory on our pride and be real. The ethics, love and traditions taught to us by Christ will endure regardless of technology changes and cash flows. We need to hold up our values to serve the Lord in an ever changing world.

Thought for Today: Every day is the first day of the rest of our lives. The mistakes and experiences of our past are nothing more than learning experiences and enable us to move forward with confidence. Today let us focus on being humble and dealing with the realities of our individual worlds. 

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, today we give thanks for the lessons we have learned and the great loves that we have. Through all that Jesus taught us and what we learned from the past, thank you for putting it before us.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be Yourself!

(Galatians 5 vs. 22 & 24)
“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
"gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law
….Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Thought for the Week: We need to focus on our daily lives for survival, there is no truer fact. With that said, today let’s do what we need to do to survive but keep Paul’s letters and the word of our Lord in our daily lives. It will fit in if we let it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Be Courageous!

“Be strong and very courageous.
Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you;
do not turn from it to the right or to the left,
that you may be successful wherever you go.
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;
meditate on it day and night,
so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.
Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
(Joshua 1 vs. 7&8)

            The passage above is one that we need to apply in our daily lives. Our society is a distraction and to get through each day without drifting from our Christian standards seems to be more difficult than it used to be. I guess it is that we have over complicated our lives in developing our new millennium life style.
            In my Friday bible study there are several who grew up on farms here in the mid-west. They often talk about caring for the livestock before school; going to school for the day, (often a long mile walk) and the prize was getting home to help on the farm before doing the homework! That was not my life in Boston or my children’s life and is certainly not my grandchildren’s today.
            Even as a retiree with good calendar control I get waylaid and off target. The easy path is not always the Godly path. It takes a certain amount of courage to say no to a distraction and another bit do what needs to be done. We need to recognize when our control is slipping away, meditate and pray for guidance. The correct path will always be clear and the courage to take it is available. God is with us but we need to let Him into our day!

Thought for Today:  Today let us slow down, smell the roses and exhibit our good side. Let this be a relaxing and productive day.

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, today we pray for peace, love and enjoyment. We pray that we can contribute to each of those things by doing your will here on earth.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Call for Help!

"The Lord said, 'Call to me and I will come to you.'"
(Jeremiah 33:3) 

            It is easy to go through a busy day without acknowledging the presence of God in our lives. In fact, sometimes when we get to the end of a day and look back, the day seemed out and out un-Godly. That is our own fault. When that happens, we have not done the best job of caring for ourselves.
            We will have busy and stressful days. Whether working or playing, bad things happen to all of us. Confusion and stress always seem to find their way into our lives. Counselors will advise us to put ourselves first for a part of each day. That requires a bit of selfishness to help maintain our sanity. The results make us a better worker, a better parent and overall a better person. There is nothing selfish about that!
            Henri Nouwen called it a still place “…This still place is where God can dwell and speak to us. It also is the place from which we can speak in a healing way to all the people we meet in our busy days.” We all need to think about that. 

Thought for Today: As our economy changes and adjusts to market conditions, many of our friends and neighbors are undergoing unplanned changes in their lives. Let us pray that God will be present in their lives as they pursue the opportunities presented to them through these changes. 

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, the world around us is confusing, sometimes cruel and always difficult to understand. Please allow us time to step aside from our busy schedules and dwell upon "your will" rather than "our needs". Let us find the peace or stillness to allow "…thy will to be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Monday, September 8, 2014

New Harvest!

It’s still four months until harvest’?
I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!
They are ripe for harvest.”
(John 4 vs. 35)

            We are in the fall of the year and in the Midwest our fields are full of bounty. We had a wet spring and the crops have developed well. We tilled, planted, watered, pruned and now we will harvest. Along the way there was wind, rain, hail, heat and all the forces of nature that we have no control over. For the most part, where we live, the crops have done well.
            Jesus is not talking about a food harvest, his disciples are. Jesus is talking about making converts, telling the story, inviting people to worship. To that task there are no seasons. Hold on to that thought because there just may be times of harvest in our churches; times when we are more invitational than others.
            There are times when we are fairly open to inviting people to worship, Easter, Christmas, rally Sunday and many special events throughout the year. It is fairly easy and most of us feel comfortable inviting people to join us at those special times. However, there are 52 weeks a year and most of us hold on to our invitations to worship way too much. 
            We are all proud of our faith, our congregations, and our church and are willing to share on special occasions. We are asked to “…open your eyes and look at the fields!” In the fall, people have closed their lake homes, returned to the city routine. Often that includes sleeping in on Sunday morning! These are the fields that Jesus mentions!
            Our church year is just beginning and many Christian churches are declining in membership. Now is a great time to initiate an invitational ministry. What I mean is talk about the exciting things that will occur this fall and invite someone to come along with you!

Thought for Today: Many of us are members of declining Christian churches. Today let’s think about why.

Prayer for Today: Dear Lord and Father, our troubled world seems to often take control of our lives. Trouble seems to supersede your will. Today we give thanks that in our personal world we have a choice to follow you. We pray that we can choose to contribute to doing your will here on earth by following Jesus teachings.

Friday, September 5, 2014

New Beginnings!

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
he is a new creation;
the old has gone,
the new has come!”
(2 Corinthians 5:17) 

            Today is the first day of the rest of your life; believe in it. We have a great chance every day to start over. Yesterday is past, tomorrow the future and today is a gift from God. It is up to us how we are going to use it; carry around our old baggage or go out and harvest new joys. It is our choice.
            To use a golf analogy, life is like match play, hole by hole versus day by day. A bad golf hole in match play does not cost you the match, it counts as one of eighteen! In life, a bad day is painful and certainly not wanted and may contribute to a bad week. However, it can be a bottom and life can be all uphill from there, or not. We can turn bad into good.
            One of the benefits I get out of writing these is the phone calls and emails from readers. A year ago my mobile rang and it was a non recorded number. I was way too busy to answer a call from someone I did not know and was going to let it ring through. The old softie in me answered after four rings and it was from an old friend and Good News buddy. She was having a really bad day and gone to the Spirit of HopeUMC web site looking for relief. She found my messages and the first one she opened applied to her issue. She made my day by calling to say thanks for being there.
            If you are reading this today you are on the right track and giving yourself the opportunity for a better day. Meditation and prayer will jump start your day and open the window to the light of our faith.

Thought for Today: Today let us start a new beginning and reach out and help another do the same. 

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father we give you thanks for our many blessings and especially for a new day. Today we pray that we capture the joys of life that you lead us to and that we may help someone else also find them.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

More Trust!


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding."
(Proverbs 3:5).

            We often try to make things happen in our lives while driving toward human goals and dreams while conforming to modern society’s standards. It is easy to get diverted from a solid spiritual track when we track our way rather than the Lord’s way; when we pursue possessions rather than peace of mind.
            The question "how do I know God's will?" has been asked many times. But before
this question can be answered, another question should be asked. "Am I ready and willing to do God's will?" If the answer is yes, then the other question can be asked. Remember that in order to do his will, what he has in mind for you may take you by surprise. Perhaps it is best expressed by Isaiah 55:8-9:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
 neither are your ways my ways', declares the Lord.
 'As the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways
 and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
            To know God's will there cannot be any power struggle; he wants our will to be submissive to him. The more we value control and power, the greater a struggle we will have. To be at peace, He needs to be in charge.

Thought for Today: Today let’s try to do God’s will through our daily activities.

Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, today we search for clues to help do your will here on earth. We pray that we can contribute to making your world a better place.