Monthly Archives: February 2011

Give us this day our daily bread…

Gospel Matthew 6:7-15

[7]”When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for
they think that they will be heard because of their many words. [8]Do not be
like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

[9]”Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
[10]     Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
[11]      Give us this day our daily bread.

[12]      And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
[13]     And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
[14]For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also
forgive you; [15]but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses.”

Holy One,

Feed us.

Sustain us.

You have already given us water in baptism.

Give us the bread of life today.

For this is not a one-time commitment, this is a daily commitment to be your disciples.  We turn to you each day to receive this bread from you, this gift of new life.

On this particular day when I have already eaten breakfast, I am drawn to those who awoke to an empty cupboard.  Where will they receive their bread?  Who is baking for them?  In 10 days on March 9, the Dallas area will celebrate Community Hunger Day sponsored by CitySquare (formerly Central Dallas Ministries).

Should you choose to meet the challenge, we are asked to go hungry (as your health allows) for the day on March 9 in honor of the men, women, and children in our community who do not have adequate food.  Donate the amount you would have spent on your food  to a local food pantry.

Poverty has exploded in the past seven years in the United States.  We cannot afford to wait on a program to fix the problem.  We can volunteer one-by-one to help feed another.  This will make a difference.

Thanks be to God for daily bread.

 

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What if all companies believed in One for One

It has been a long time since I have been to the Galleria on a Saturday.  And on this particular Saturday there was a huge event at the American Girl store and a cheerleading competition at The Westin.  There were little girls everywhere!  The shoe-of-choice today was silver Toms.  There must have been 10 girls trying them on, including my daughter.  It felt good buying that pair of shoes knowing a pair would be given to a child who needs shoes.  If you haven’t heard Tom’s story, it is worth a look:

What if all companies believed in One for One?  Tom dreamed it and found a way to live it out.  What is your dream for a better world?  And how might you make that dream come true?  It doesn’t have to be a big dream like Tom’s.   Small dreams transform lives, too.

May you be blessed in your dreaming today that you find the next step toward making that dream come true.

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NO ONE can serve two masters

Matthew 6: 24
No one can serve two masters;
for a slave will either hate the one and love the other,
or be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and wealth.
Wow, is it still the Sermon on the Mount?  Yikes!
As if we haven’t been beat up enough over the past few Sundays realizing how incapable we are of being faithful to God.  NO ONE can serve two masters.  NO ONE, yes, that includes me.  NO ONE.
So what do I do with that?
Why should I try if it is impossible to attain?
Maybe I am asking the wrong questions here.
Maybe the most faithful question is, “How can I serve God today more than I served God yesterday?”  For if I cannot attain wholeness/completeness/perfection, I can grow in my intention to serve God.
Looking at this Homer Simpson cartoon with the classic angel/devil dilemna,  the angel is heard more than the devil.  My attention is turned toward God.
And when my attention is turned toward God, my service is turned toward God.
My presence is with God.
I am more complete and moving toward wholeness which is God’s desire for me.
Thanks be to God!

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Country Stong-ly Diss-appointed

I have been waiting since December for my daughter to go with me to the movie Country Strong.  And as of February 10, I was still waiting.  If something better comes along, I wait.  Well, I got tired of waiting and went to see the movie this week while she attended one of the premier’s of the new Justin Bieber movie with her friends.  I must say, I AM SO THANKFUL I did not see the Country Strong movie with my daughter.  As a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow, I have been anticipating this day.

But now, having seen this movie…WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!?  I am OUTRAGED at the negative messages about women in this movie.  (If you haven’t seen the movie and you want to, stop reading because I am about to give away the punch line.)  I have a teenage  daughter, and I fight for her everyday in the craziness of the messages she sees, and hears, and lives in the world.  But suicide as an end to a movie billed to be country STRONG?  This is insane.  This poor woman is controlled by her husband, for what?  A career that HE pushes?  She has no control over her life except to take it.  And this is a good thing?

I have a request of the film industry….QUIT MAKING MOVIES LIKE THIS.  Our daughters need your support, not your ratings.  There are so many teenage girls right now who want to be the next Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Pickler, the list goes on.  The movie set could have been one of their own sets.  Come on, people!  THINK!!

Hug your children today and let them know how much you love them.  Let them know how much God loves them.  Let them know abuse and violence and control are not love.  And if they ever find themselves in this situation, there are people and agencies AT THIS VERY MINUTE who have real love to offer.  In Texas, you can call 211 at any time to be connected to a health and human services agency that can help.  Teach your children that reaching out is STRONG!

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The REAL MiracleGro is God

7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. 9 For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

 

There is division in the church in Corinth.  Some leaders are beholden to Paul.  Others are beholden to Apollos.    One has planted.  One has watered.  Who is the wiser of two?  The one that plants or that one that waters?

If you have ever been part of a church split, you might relate to this question.  If you have lost a beloved pastor because of personality conflicts, you might relate to this question.  If you have a favorite teacher or mentor, you might relate to this question.  It is a chicken/egg sort or predicament.

And what Paul tells us in the text above is that we are so human to be asking this question.  We are so human to think that we are the reason things grow.  We are so human when we raise one up on a pedestal above another.

So do not deceive yourselves, people, humans.  We are merely servants, laborers, conduits of the source of growth.  It is because we belong to Christ that we are able to serve in this way.  The REAL MiracleGro is God.

I like MiracleGro, actually.  It keeps me from having to re-pot my plants as often.    God actually needs us and MiracleGro to tend to God’s creation.  We just need to remember we are servants to the glory of God and in our work as servants we need to be careful about putting human leaders on a pedestal.  For the impending fall will threaten  many good things that have been built up.

To God be the glory.



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For all my Preacher-type friends…

While having lunch with my Intern Growth Group friends at Flying Fish in Dallas yesterday…we all noticed this wonderful “Preacher’s Special.”

But wait… $0.50 oysters?

What about $0.50 Shiner Bock?

Now you’re talking!!

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Puppy Love

Psalm 119: 1-8- The Message

1 You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. 2 You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. 3 That’s right – you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. 4 You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. 5 Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; 6 Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with your counsel. 7 I thank you for speaking straight from your heart; I learn the pattern of your righteous ways. 8 I’m going to do what you tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me.

 

I dare you…

to read these verses of Psalm 119 out loud…

to the picture of the puppy above.

Look into her eyes.

She so wants to please you.

She is eager to learn.

She does not want to make mistakes.

She knows how to sit…but to stay is just too much for her.

She is still a puppy.

Oh, but look at the love in those eyes!!

“Don’t leave me.” she says.   “If you stand right there, I can stay.”

Our intentions are great.  They are as great as puppy love.  But a puppy’s attention is intermittent just as we are intermittent with our attention to God.  Through God’s mercy we are forgiven when we lose our focus and turn away.  And through God’s grace we are met with loving eyes and open arms when we return.

Thanks be to God!

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Natural Beauty

Isaiah 58:6-9a

6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of theLord shall be your rear guard. 9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

 

This is one of my favorite places to walk by.  It is an outdoor staircase.  What intrigues me is the natural beauty of the space.  Other than the moss, I might be inclined to call the other growth, WEEDS.  But in this place, they are not WEEDS, they are new growth in an old staircase.  It is a beautiful expression of new growth.  It is natural beauty.

What I notice when I look deeply at this picture is that in many yards, the WEEDS would be pulled, the cracks in the stairs would be fixed, and the grass would be mowed.  Because we as a society in the big city are yoked with perfection: the perfect house, the perfect yard, the perfect body, the perfect car, the perfect hair style, the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect ___(you fill in the blank)____.

What happened to natural beauty?  If we don’t celebrate it in the landscape of our creation, how will we celebrate it in the very blooming of our lives?

Natural beauty is living authentically.

Natural beauty is real.

Natural beauty is accepting one another as is.

Natural beauty is truth

May you celebrate the natural beauty in and around you today.  For surely you will be set free from the bondage of expectation and share truth with one another.  And upon further reflection, may you see the fingerprints of the Holy One.

 


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Flower Power

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.
– Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Take time to look around you and see what is real.  It will not be in the midst of the rush.  It will be in the beauty of noticing something small, like the beauty of this camelia.

I’ve had lots of time to look around this week with what my kids call a “6-day weekend” from the gift of ice and snow in Dallas.  Yesterday was the great thaw.  I noticed as the snow was melting the daffodil bulbs had already begun to grow.  I thought about the promise they bring of a colorful spring.  I noticed how warm 45 degrees felt, a heat wave compared to the teens we have encountered four straight days.  I noticed how nice it was to be gathered together by the fireplace, 5 people plus two dogs.  Wow! Our kids have grown!!

May you be blessed today in noticing the smallest details of your life.  May you be blessed to see God’s fingerprints on those blessings.  May you be filled with the peace that surrounds them, in the quiet places where you can take a long, loving look at what is real in your life.

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Like a watered garden…

Isaiah: 9b-12   If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.

I like to keep fresh flowers in my office.  This morning when I walked in my office, it was quite clear I forgot to water the pink tulips I bought at the store the other day.  After a good drink of water, they have perked up and seem to be happy now.  Their happy state has given me a lift, too, feeling like a watered garden today.  What has filled me, I wonder?

Certainly lots of laughter in our home going on our fourth snow day.  A beautiful fresh blanket of snow covers the angry ice underneath.  My daughter’s 5-month old Maltese jumps playfully in the four inches of this new-found fun.  She has never experienced snow before.  There is a peaceful calm amidst the chaos of snow clothes, shoes, towels constantly going in and out of the dryer.

What’s missing?  The stress and pressure of homework, schedules, and deadlines are lifted.  The calendar is blank because all things have been canceled.  Even at the church I have time to prepare for Sunday before Sunday.  Tonight’s 9 pm basketball game for my 10-year-old has been canceled.  Indoor sports never get canceled.  This is awesome!!  Everyone is drinking in the stillness.  This is refreshment.

Thanks be to God for the waters of refreshment.  May we continue to find this feeling in the midst of our busy lives so we do not allow ourselves to get parched!!

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