Saturday, May 20, 2017

Abiding... United in Purpose

This morning I knew I needed to spend some time abiding, so I picked up my copy of Macrina Wiederkeher's Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God, a Bible, and a cup of coffee.  I headed outside to the patio.  It was already warm, but still nice to be outside.

I found my place in the book.

I am nearing the end of it.  Chapter 5-- "Return to Your Original Love"

In the introduction for this chapter, there are words that challenge me: "How easy it is to allow the flame of our early devotion to be snuffed out because of busyness and deadlines." (168)  Yep.  There are times when it is a battle to make space to be with God, to listen to God, etc.  Sometimes I am able to carve out time.  At other times it isn't enough.  Truthfully, the busier it is, the more time I need carved out.  Isn't that a paradox.  I do try to go on walks so I can listen and pray.  I use the time in my car for that too.  Yet, that isn't always enough when there is so much going on. I know that I need to fully abide, to "Be still and know" (Psalm 46:10)

Actually, I know the time is coming soon for a day apart and I just need to go ahead and schedule it with The SoulCare Project.  If I schedule it, it will be on my calendar and I will go.

Back to this morning's abiding.

Today's reading is 1 Corinthians 3 and the title for Macrina's chapter is "United In Purpose".

The focus verse is verse 10.

This passage mentions the spiritually immature, not dealing with others or God in healthy ways.  It exhorts the believers to move beyond their personal desires and focus more on what is God's purpose and way.  There is more, but that's a start.  I linked to the passage above and from there you can choose whatever version you would like to read.  It starts out in The Message version on BibleGateway.

In Macrina's chapter she notes: "The fact that he is preaching these words suggests that Paul has been informed of disharmony and divisions in the community.  He has heard about their quarreling." (170)

Later she writes: "Paul's response to all this bickering was that they should make every effort to become united in mind and purpose.  They are to return to their original love and embrace again the moment they became one in Jesus Christ." (170)

That reminds me of the song "They Will Know We Are Christians".  If we are not showing love to one another in the body of Christ, if we are not loving God, then how can we love others?

This paragraph was food for thought for me:

"When we see the heartbreaking violence and evils enacted by well-educated and intelligent people in our world today, it does seem that the so-called wisdom of this world is absurdity.  We certainly are not united in purpose.  We are far from putting on the mind of Christ." ((171)

A challenging question: "What kind of transformation needs to take place in our lives in order for us to live without divisions?" (171)

In the "Reflection and Prayer" section, this question stood out to me above the others: "Is giving up your own will a part of your spiritual practice?" (174)

As I seek to live, love, and lead like Jesus, I desire to be united in purpose with others in the kingdom.  Loving God, loving others, and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is what it boils down to for me as I look at who Christ was, how he lived, what he said.

As Christ came to serve and not be served, may it be so with us.

As Christ said in John 6:38-- "for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me." (NRSV)

How do I see kingdom life? Here are some quick thoughts.  I see it that we are: to live, love, and lead like Jesus; to serve others; to love God and others; to do the will of God;  to be united in purpose; to be growing in faith; to be connected to the vine and connected in community.  

May it be so as the journey continues.

Peace and blessings to you on your journey, 


P.S.  You might desire to pray the closing prayer from this section.  Here it is:

"O Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,
It is love we need.  Your intent has always been to gather us together as one people.  How difficult it is for us to have one mind and one heart.  Look upon our hearts and minds so scattered and divided in their many loves. Plant in each of us a desire to be united with Jesus in a common purpose.  Make our longing for unity deeper than our longing to do our own will.  Give us a heart for others.  Give us the signs, the wisdom, and the love we need to learn the art of forgiveness, which is really the art of loving.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen." (174)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Combat Medic Prayer

I learned about a new prayer yesterday.

Before yesterday I hadn't heard of the "Combat Medic Prayer".  It's a prayer that really could be used by anyone in any type of medical emergency field by adapting some of the wording.

How did I learn about this prayer?  Through an unfortunate situation that turned out good, thanks to the quick response of folks.

It's a neat prayer.  Check it out:  Combat Medic Prayer.

In case you don't want to click on the above link, here is the prayer written out for you:

Oh Lord, I ask for the divine strength
to meet the demands of my profession.
Help me to be the finest medic,
both technically and tactically.
If I am called to the battlefield,
give me the courage to conserve our
fighting forces by providing medical
care to all who are in need.
If I am called to a mission of peace,
give me the strength to lead by caring for
those who need my assistance.
Finally, Lord help me take care
of my own spiritual, physical
and emotional needs.
Teach me to trust in your
presence and never-failing love.


I am grateful for the gentleman who wore this prayer on his back yesterday and who lived out this prayer literally by putting his faith into action yesterday in a situation.

We are called to live out our faith in action.  We are called to put up our radars to be attentive to the God moments in our lives.

Watching this man who was wearing this combat medic prayer t-shirt live out his faith in action was one of those God moments.

The last part of this prayer is a prayer we can all pray, whether or not we are in the medical field:

"Lord, help me to take care of my own spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. Teach me to trust in your presence and never-failing love. AMEN."

Blessings on your journey,


Lions, tigers, and bears-- Oh, my!

When three or more things happen together, the phrase, "lions, and tigers, and bears-- oh, my!", comes to mind.    I imagine many are familiar with this phrase and the movie from which it hails, "The Wizard of Oz".

Last week kinda felt like that for me in ministry.  Similar, yet not exactly the same.  It wasn't something to be scared of, it was something to celebrate.

Funerals, and weddings, and baptisms, oh my!

Last week was my first week in ministry where I had a funeral, a wedding, and a baptism.

That wasn't all that the week held.  There was a meeting with the family at the funeral home early in the week, visitation, a wedding rehearsal, two church services (with communion and the one with a baptism), and a leadership meeting.  Oh, the pre-conference briefing and the farewell reception for our D.S. were in there too.

[We also had our District Pastor meeting up at Camp Lookout last Tuesday and celebrated a wonderful time together with table fellowship, the passing of the leadership baton between the District Superintendents, and a special time of Holy Communion (which was bilingual in part and I got to lead in the Spanish.) I almost forgot about that special, holy, and affirming time.]

For the two church services, it was the kick-off Sunday to a 4 week series on "Building Relationships for Real Life", based on the book "Get Their Name".  We're doing it as a sermon series and a book study in all three churches in the Holston Georgia Parish.

There was much to prepare for and do last week.

It wasn't my first funeral.  In fact, it was my 12th.

It was my first wedding (as an officiant).

Though it wasn't my first baptism, it was my first infant baptism.  She was 7 months old and only one day younger than me.  (Her birthday is one day after mine, so she is younger than me by a day. Go with it.)

As I contemplated the liturgy for the week, there was one book from which is all came, the Book of Worship.  Some of it can be found in the hymnal and online too.  I have a copy of the pastor's pocket edition of the Book of Worship that goes with me in the car.  I am finding it to be a great companion.  I have another little green book, a smaller one, with other prayers that was recommended by a colleague that goes with me to hospitals at times.

One of the nudges I had for the funeral was to share from the Costa Rica mission trip journal from the year 2000 from the person's own words.  We had gone to Costa Rica together that year on a mission trip so I had known him longer than these two years in my current appointment.  As I read over those words in preparation for the funeral, those words spoke to me as appropriate for his home-going.

One of the nudges I had for the wedding was to share the bookmarks that had been given out at the showers for folks to pray for the couple.  They were scripture based and personalized for the couple.  It was a neat way to keep them in prayer and bless them.  It impacted me so much that it got woven into the service.

For the baptism, there were two nudges that became part of that service.  I felt led to provide baptism, encouragement, and prayer cards for everyone in attendance to fill out for the child.  These would be given to the parents to be read to the child and/or given to the child at an appropriate age.  In talking with the family about the baptism, we discussed using a shell and they mentioned having a special one at home.  They brought it.  We used it.

With the message on Sunday for the series being "Do You Know Your Own Story?", both churches had elements of either the wedding or the baptism woven into it, as well as some other God moments and faith story things God had done in community in my life recently.

Ministry can be overwhelming at times, especially when it comes together all at once.

But, I am blessed and humbled to be where I am, doing what I do, serving the people in the churches and in the communities I serve.

My faith story continues to be written as I live, love, and lead.

What an adventure this journey continues to be as I seek to love God and love others as a Christ follower.

To all of those who pray for me, encourage me, and join me in this journey, thank you.  I can not do it alone.  None of us can.

I don't know if or when I will ever experience a "trifecta" like a did last week with a funeral, a wedding, and a baptism all in one week, but I am grateful for the opportunity and experience.

Blessings on your journey,