Thought for the Day: Let me begin by acknowledging my discomfort with Paul emphasizing at the end of the verse how he and his companions were the inspiration of the good works in Thessaloniki. It might be true, but I do not know if that is exactly how humble people approach it. At the same time, I am no Apostle Paul. With that said, I do love how Paul encourages his readers to keep on living the way they have been living, and encouraging them to grow beyond where they are. It is so positive and uplifting! Those words I can echo to the people of Cypress Creek Christian Church: Keep living the way you already are and be prepared to do even better in how you live and please God. What you have done is quite amazing, but because we serve a gracious and inspiring God, there are even greater works for us to do.
Prayer: Continue to inspire us all, O God who is generous beyond measure. Continue to encourage us as we find new ways of showing care and concern for the world around us. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: Like you, I have always asked how does a person pray continually. There is nothing I choose to do that I do continually. It’s funny how space has been created this last week for many of us, a space that we usually would have filled with all kinds of good (and maybe not so good) activities. Today, there are periods of time that are more open. A nap is an option; reading that book that has been sitting on the bedside for 7 months is a good idea; doing some crossword puzzles or playing a board game is always healthy for the mind. But why shouldn’t prayer be one of our go-to options? I know the reason for our current downtime is painful and frightening, but this is something that we, as people of faith, should do well. Do we make ourselves busy with busyness that may not necessarily be all that productive? How much more useful and productive would our time be if we spent some of it in prayer?
Prayer: I have time, a few minutes here and there, to participate in your glorious web of connection. O Merciful God, bring us together in prayer as we share one another’s burdens, as we share in our common strength. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: I have been fascinated with all the changes and postponements of Sporting Events. There might be a few strange unpopular sports out there that never get a crowd, but all the others have been canceled or pushed back a few months. This really impacts ESPN. When you already have a number of channels on which you show old sporting events, what do you do with the channels that showed live sports? You can only do a certain amount of news and commentary as there is no new news to report or discuss. What happens when your purpose no longer exists? That’s tough.
Many people are currently pondering and fretting over what churches will do if they cannot worship. I understand that reaction, but when did being the church become the same as worship? It is important! Absolutely! But being a part of the community that follows Jesus is so far beyond worship. We are going to find ways of connecting in worship and praise in the weeks ahead, but no matter how successful or not we are with this online approach, the Holy Spirit is immune to this Virus. The church, the empowered followers of Jesus, will keep on going.
Prayer: As you call us to be the church, Mighty Spirit, let us never confuse a single aspect of Christ-like living with what it means to be one who lives the Gospel. Amen.
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For a Video of the Prayer: CLICK HERE
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Thought for the Day: Most all of us like to be in control, and even more importantly, we like to be in control of the things we cannot control. In moments like this when it feels as if a storm is raging and there does not appear to be an end to it, the desire for control and the ability to control appear further and further apart. These are the moments when finding refuge in the mercy of God is an act of surrender to what is beyond our capacity to determine. Let me be clear – I can talk a good game, but I am not very good at this. My starting place is usually to find a comfortable seated position, and to focus my attention on my hands. I open and close them, making a movement as if I were relinquishing something from grip. This is done in conjunction with some deep breaths. And of course, prayer. The words are usually something like: Where there is no control within my grasp, O Lord, may I give to you my desire to keep on trying. I will probably be seeking that comfortable seated position at some point in the near future.
Prayer: We pray this day for all those who are finding more and more of their lives swirling out of control. Merciful God, you are the gentle and welcoming refuge when every attempt to determine the what, where and how is not within our power. Center us and provide us the serenity of your everlasting presence. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: What happens when you want to love the Lord, but your heart is broken, your soul is crushed and your strength is gone? Trust me when I say that God is not upset in those moments. God very much understands. In fact, those are the moments when you hear God say, “But I love you with all my heart, with all my being and with all my strength.” If need be, just take a few moments and imagine God speaking those words over you and your life.
Prayer: The Psalmist announced the word, “Your love, O Lord, endures forever.” It is your love, O Lord, that endures beyond the generations, beyond time itself. When crisis occurs – When foundational components of life are shaken – When uncertainty seems to be in the driver’s seat, we go in search of a love that is unwavering. Our hearts yearn for your presence that is steadfast and unchanged by the happenings of this current time. Bring us close to you and to the Good News of Jesus Christ, even as we are attempting to keep a safe distance from one another. It is strange and challenging, but our faith provides us a confidence that is not rooted in traditional definitions of what the culture believes to be sound and secure. Our convictions are founded in what is made visible in the life of Jesus and in the Body of Christ. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: As I drove home from the church last night, there was a rather strange looking bug clinging to my windshield. Though my top speed on my drive home was 41mph, the little guy seemed to hold on quite well. Though every time I stopped, he would move around, might I say that it looked like a dance. And then I’d start driving again, and he’d hunker down. Finally, at the second stop light along Louetta (I was trying to get to 45mph, but the light stopped me) he danced for a moment and then flew off. That bug offered me some truth last night. There are times when we just hunker down and hold on, but when the breaks come (no matter how short), it is time to dance. When James spoke of testing, he was not suggesting that God was behind the testing. Sadly, that’s where a lot of folks go in their thinking. The world and life in general can test us quite well. God is not the source of our tests, but the Source of love and grace amidst the testing. Today, you might feel as if you are being tested by all that is happening in our world. I think that’s fair. But remember that you are loved without any conditions; that grace abounds beyond measure; that you are a beloved child of God. For that reason, when you have those momentary breaks, take the time to dance. It doesn’t ignore the difficulty or challenges that will return shortly, but it reminds us – even in those moments when we are desperately clinging – that there is nothing that can separate us from God. Nothing!
Prayer: In those moments, no matter how short, allow me to find a way to joyfully celebrate your love, O Lord. Whether it is a short-lived moment of joy for me alone or a gift I can give to someone else, I desire to be defined by my status as a beloved member of your family. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: Is anyone feeling a little on edge these days? There is a lot happening in our world, and some of the voices on tv (social media) are not creating a sense of peace and calm. I remain committed to the words I shared before: We are not alarmist or naive, but smart. In recent days, many of you have chosen to make some good modifications to your daily lives. Some of you who have underlying health concerns have chosen to act proactively. This all falls under the smart response. As experts encourage us to be mindful of our social interaction, specifically touching, handshakes, hugs, kisses, etc, it feels as if church has been impacted. We are the community that is prepared to offer a hug or to pray with someone while holding his/her hand. We are the community known for standing close in crisis and not being deterred. Do we give up being church? Of course not! We can still be who God is calling us to be for God’s steadfast love and comfort have not changed. How we announce and embody this expression of the divine life might require some creativity. When you think about the church historically, it has weathered so many moments of turmoil and fear. The church has often been the entity of stability. Remember, you are part of the church. You are standing in the gifts of God’s steadfast love and comfort. Allow yourself some time to receive and then think about how you are an agent of those gifts in this time of uncertainty. How might a phone call be the gift someone is needing? How might an email or Facebook message provide some of that God-comfort to a sister or brother who is afraid. Remember, we remain the community that Puts Love First. It’s not simply a slogan, but a way of life.
Prayer: It is your love and calming Spirit, O Rock of Life, that is ever present. When concern and anxiety are heightened, provide me a voice to speak your grace and peace into the moment. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: I’m backing up a few verses from yesterday as I often slide right past these words. One moment we’re talking about good trees producing good fruit, and the next moment it appears as if Jesus is suggesting we are children of snakes. He’s got my attention!
Now I don’t know the mind of Jesus, but from what I glean from scripture, I see him using sarcasm, irony, and the occasional shocking phrase to awaken anyone who was dozing off. I think the snake thing is Jesus grabbing the attention of his listeners. John the Baptist used similar language early in the Gospel, yet in each case this rather stinging language was focused on specific folks. Are we to simply say, “Well thank goodness he’s not talking to us!” Or should we occasionally allow his confrontational language to grab our attention? Grace always needs to be present, but occasionally grace can shake us up if we allow it to do so. At the end of the day, it is still grace – God’s unmerited love – yet grace is given with the hope of transformation. I’m pretty certain there have been moments when I’ve needed a system shock to awaken me to a little snake-like behavior within my own life.
Prayer: I want to produce good fruit, O Giver of Grace, but snakes don’t produce fruit…only more snakes. I know my prayer is mixing metaphors, but wherever I need to be awakened to something in my life that is not like Jesus, I ask that you use whatever means to do so. Amen.
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Thought for the Day: On Sunday after church, I was walking to the parking lot feeling good about the morning. I had a couple of really good conversations with people, and I was looking forward to my kid getting home from the Youth Spring Retreat at Gonzalez. As I reached for my car door, I felt something strange. Ugh! I had just stepped in gum, and not a small piece. Oh no, it covered half the heel on my shoe. I grabbed a wrapper from the floor of the backseat and tried to get it off… but no success. I finally had to take my shoe off and drive home where I spent a long time trying to get the gum off. What a pain!
You’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “What does that have to do with the scripture?” Absolutely nothing! Well actually, it was a good reminder how some of the things that I can so easily consider to be a problem are nowhere near a problem. Yet too often we can allow something less than perfect in life to consume us negatively, and then we draw our emotions and reactions from that negativity. Suddenly the gum on the bottom of a shoe is the catalyst for rude, nasty or even hateful words… and then it might move beyond just words. I’m not suggesting that gum on the bottom of a shoe could start WWIII, but there is a wealth of good treasure within us all assuming it doesn’t get lost in the negative. And there are folks out there dealing with real bad stuff who need our positive words and energy that shouldn’t be touched by some gum on the shoe.
Prayer: Keep my spirit and attitude positive. Help me, Holy God, to be the blessing you need me to be in this world. Amen.
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