Thursday, December 29, 2011

Acts 3:17-26 - A Time of Refreshing

Scripture: Acts 3:17-26

Summary: This section continues Peter's description of Jesus. He said that God fulfilled what had been fortold through all the prophets. Repent and turn to God so that your sins could be wiped out, that he may send the Messiah, Jesus. You are descendents of the prophets and the covenant that God gave to your ancestors.

Thoughts: This scripture says "Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord..." In this time, between Christmas and New Years, the thought of a time of refreshing is very appealing to me. Right now I long for the time of refreshing that may come from God's presence in my life. The scripture says that I have only to repent and turn toward God. So with Christmas behind me and the coming of the saviour so fresh in my mind, I turn toward the New Year and the uncertainty that it brings. And I pray that God's presence will bring me a time of refreshing, allowing me to face the New Year with hope and the promise that God will provide. Because God promises to be with us throughout each hour, each day, each year. God will indeed provide.

Prayer: God, pour upon me a time of refreshing. A time to wipe my sins away and begin again with the new year. For You make all things new, even me! Amen.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Acts 3:11-16 Believe in the Miracle!

Scripture: Acts 3:11-16

Summary: After Peter and John heal the lame man, everyone is astonished. Peter tells them that they didn't heal the man with their own power, but with the power of faith in Jesus Christ.

Thoughts: Peter says "the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you." The disciples were able to do amazing things because they had faith in Jesus. Especially in this time of Advent, while we are awaiting the birth of the Christ child, I wonder what miracles we might be a part of. I have seen lives changed by Christ. So why is it that I still lack faith in the power of faith in Jesus? Why am I hesitant to trust that God will provide what I need: healing, food, shelter, work? What kind of miracle do you need in your life? How might you be a miracle in someone else's life during this season in which we wait for a glimpse of the child who changed everything?

Prayer: God who sent Jesus to earth to be God with us, help us to have faith in you. Help us to be a miracle in another's life this holiday season. Let us open our hearts to the child you sent. Amen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Acts 3:1-10 - Look Intently at Each Other

Scripture: Acts 3:1-10

Summary: Peter and John are headed to the temple to pray and they come upon a man who has been lame since birth. He asks them for money but Peter tells him to look at them. He does and Peter tells him that he doesn't have money but tells him to get up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ. He begins walking and leaping and praising God and everyone who sees him is filled with wonder and amazement.

Thoughts: What strikes me today about this scripture is Peter and John's immediate response to the lame man. The scripture says "Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said 'Look at us."" How many times have you walked or driven past someone who needed help, trying to avoid eye contact? I have often found myself staring at the light, wishing that it would go ahead and change so that I didn't have to look at the man outside my car asking for help. Now I have heard before that it is not a good idea to give a beggar money because they will most likely go spend it on alcohol or drugs. But Peter didn't give the man money either. Instead he gives the man what he has to give. He heals him so that he can walk. If I want to live like the apostles did, what should I give to the next person that I see in need? Perhaps I can't give them money, but I could give them a package of crackers or a bottle of water. But the most important gift I can give them is to look at them. Just as Peter and John did, I can really see them and recognize them as a child of God.

Prayer: God, help me to be more like Peter and John. Help me to really see everyone that I pass today and be kind to them. Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Acts 2:42-47 - the early church

Scripture: Acts 2:42-47

Summary: The people of the early church had all things in common and they gave to all who had need. Each day they spent time together in the temple, ate at home together with glad hearts, praising God. Each day the Lord added to their number those who were saved.

Thoughts: This scripture is a beautiful yet short description of the early church. It includes all of the components that we should include in our church today. They share everything that they have so that no one is in need. They spend alot of time together, at the temple. They break bread together (communion) and they eat together in each other's homes, with glad and generous hearts. They praise God and they have the goodwill of all the people. The outcome of all of this is that God adds more people to their church each day. What a long way we have come from this description of the early church! The church of today could more honestly  be described as follows: they share with each other what they can easily afford to give up, they spend 1-4 days a month at the church, they have communion together once a month, they alienate many people outside of the church by telling them what they should do and say. What a difference 2000 years makes! What will we have to do to move from the church of today to the church of 2000 years ago? Is God calling us to build bigger and better facilities to use one day a week or is God calling us to share what we have with those in need? Where is God calling our church?

Prayer: God help us to listen for your word for our congregation. Open our eyes so that we might see the need all around us. Open our ears so that we might hear your call to us. Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Acts 2:37-42 - The Promise of Jesus

Scripture: Acts 2:37-42

Summary: The people that had heard Peter preaching were cut to the heart and asked the apostles what they should do. Peter told them that they should repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that their sins would be forgiven and they would receive the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you.

Thoughts: "The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him." The promise that Jesus brings us, through his life, teachings, death, and resurrection, is for all of us. It is for you. It's not just for those who deserve it. Because in reality, who among us can claim to deserve the promise that Jesus gives us? What a wonderful thing to contemplate as we prepare for the season of Advent. That the promise of Jesus is for me. And for you. And for that surly cashier at the grocery store. And for the guy that weaves in and out of lanes on the freeway, almost running me down. As Thanksgiving comes near, let us remember what we have to be thankful for: that Jesus Christ gives new life to us; to all of us. What do you have to be thankful for?

Prayer: Lord, open my heart so that I can see those around me as children of God, as the receivers of the promise of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Acts 2:29-36 - Just follow Jesus: If only it were that easy!

Scripture: Acts 2:29-36
Summary:   Peter continues preaching: God raised Jesus up, exalting him, and Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. God has made Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.

Thoughts: The scripture says that we should know with certainty that God made Jesus both Lord and Messiah. Jesus, the same guy that we crucified, is Lord and Messiah.  We use these words so often that perhaps we don't usually take time to think about what they mean. What does it mean that Jesus is my Lord and Messiah?  For me, this means that I give my life to Jesus Christ. That I stop thinking about myself and try to figure out where Jesus would have me go, what he would have me do.  We are called to follow Jesus. A call to follow Jesus doesn't mean getting the biggest house we can buy, or the fastest car, or the best clothes. Instead a call to follow Jesus, the Messiah, means taking the time to see where Jesus is leading us.  This is not an easy call.  I struggle each day with the temptation to follow my own path. But on a regular basis Jesus calls to me, reminding me that I must follow him, not find my own way. So as I struggle with finding a new job I have to continually remind myself that I am following my Lord and Messiah, Jesus Christ. And if I let him, he will lead me to the place where I need to be.

Prayer: Lord, help me to follow Jesus; such a simple request, but so difficult to do. Amen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Acts 2:22-28 What does Steve Jobs know?

Scripture: Acts 2:22-28

Summary: Peter continues preaching in this section. He says that even though Jesus was killed, God raised him up, freeing him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

Thoughts: I think that this is one of the central tenets of the Christian life, that even though Jesus was killed, God raised him from the dead. Jesus has power even over death. If death is no longer our master, what amazing things will we be capable of?!?!  I heard that before he died, Steve Jobs said that he wasn't sure what would happen to him after he died. He wondered if perhaps he would just be no more. This is why he never wanted to put an off switch on any Apple products! As Christians, we don't have to wonder what will happen after we die. We know that God has already taken care of that. This knowledge gives me great freedom to concentrate on the here and now, rather than worrying about the afterlife. I can focus on making a difference now, rather than worrying about later. And I can do this because Jesus conquered death. What an amazing gift this is that God has given us! Thanks be to God!

Prayer: God, you have power over everything, including death. Help me to focus on living, rather than on dying. Amen.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Acts 2:14-21 - Watching for the Holy Spirit

Scripture: Acts 2:14-21

Summary: After the Holy Spirit has descended upon Jesus' followers and they spoke in tongues, Peter preaches to the crowd who is assembled. He tells them that the disciples are not drunk but the Spirit is causing them to prophecy.

Thoughts:  When the observers heard the miracle of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit helps the followers to speak in multiple languages, the first thing they think is "Oh, they must be drunk!" Every time I read this scripture, I wonder why this is the case. Why is it so much easier for us to assume a negative cause for the outburst before we look for a positive cause? Why do we have so much trouble believing in miracles? It's easier for us to say that it was good luck that something happened, rather than thinking that perhaps God had a hand in the outcome.  In fact, I believe that the Holy Spirit is doing amazing things in my life on a daily basis. Sometimes I am just too limited to see it. I was just recently told that my currrent job would be ending in December. I have 3 more months in this youth ministry position. So I find myself needing to look for the presence of the Spirit in my daily life. I find myself in a dry spell, longing for the quenching waters of God's presence. There is so much more that I want to accomplish before I go, but I will have to be satisfied with what I can do in the time I have been given. Where do you need God's help in your life? Where has the Holy Spirit been working there?

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, come. I have been ignoring your work in my life for too long. Please make your presence known to me. Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Racism Rears It's Ugly Head

Thoughts: I saw a bumper sticker on a pickup truck in Carrollton, TX today. I was so disturbed by it that I have decided to blog about it and go back to the study of Acts later. The bumper sticker read: "DON'T RE-NIG IN 2010" I am so offended by this that I don't even know where to begin commenting about it! I understand that there are alot of people in this nation that don't like our president. I understand that there are many who will put bumper stickers on their vehicle encouraging others not to vote for Obama for president in 2012. But the racist nature of this bumper sticker makes me sick to my stomach. It makes my eyes fill with tears to think that there are some people who are so angry with him that they are willing to put a shortened version of the infamous "N word" on a bumper sticker on their car. Is this person really ready to insult 12% of the population in this country? Every time that I think we are beginning to beat back racism in this country, I run across something like this! Every single person in the world is a child of God and should be treated as such. This is true no matter their race, gender, skin color, ethnic background, sexual preference, height, weight, or any other distinguishing characteristic. Personally, I am going to do whatever I can to educate people I come in contact with about the evils of racism and what our creator God is calling us to do about it. I hope that you will join me in this task. Apparently there is alot of work to still be done.

Prayer: Creator God, you created each of us in your image. Help us to work toward the elimination of racism in our country and in your creation. Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Acts 2:1-13 - Speaking in Tongues?

Scripture: Acts 2:1-13

Summary: On the day of Pentecost they were all gathered together when suddenly from heaven there came a sound like a violent wind. Divided tongues of fire appeared and a tongue rested on each of them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages. People asked what it meant and some said that they were drunk.

Thoughts:  This is just the first part of the Pentecost story, so be sure to check back later for part two! There are several interesting parts of this phenomenon. First, there is the "sound like the rush of a violent wind" filling the entire house.  All of them are filled with the Holy Spirit and then there is the "divided tongues, as of fire" with a tongue resting on each of them. Then each of them speaks in other languages. Not only that, but people from other places can understand the speech in their own language!  There is alot of controversy surrounding this scripture, especially the part about speaking in tongues. But when you study this text, it is clear that the disciples were speaking in the languages of other people around them. They weren't speaking in a language that was not understood by anyone. The Holy Spirit had given them the ability to speak the langauge of the people in that place. So I find myself wondering how this text is interpreted by people that "speak in tongues" in their local congregations. I believe that the Holy Spirit can give us the ability to communicate "God's deeds of power" to people who aren't like us. What gifts is the Holy Spirit giving us so that we can share the good news with those who are different in our community?

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, come! Give us gifts that allow us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with all of our neighbors. Amen.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Acts 1:12-26 - Are You the Twelfth Disciple?

Scripture: Acts 1:12-26

Summary: The disciples return to Jerusalem and gather Jesus' followers together. Peter tells them that they need to replace Judas, who betrayed Jesus and then killed himself. Two men are proposed, Joseph and Matthias. They cast lots and Matthias is chosen.

Thoughts: I heard someone speak about Matthias the other day (sorry, I don't remember who or I would give them credit!).  I searched through my on-line Bible, and discovered that what the speaker said is true, Matthias is never mentioned in the Bible again after he is chosen. So it makes me wonder, why did the writer of Acts feel that it was necessary to tell us that the disciples chose someone new to replace Judas, but never tell us what this person did? When I read the Bible, I often wonder why the writer chose to include something. In this case, I wonder what is the significance of making sure that there are 12 disciples. Why did they chose one more person to be a disciple? Why not let both men be disciples?  Wouldn't it be better to have more? Having just been Commissioned as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church, I understand that it is important to recognize those that God is calling to ministry. It gives us authority to do the work that God is calling us to. I'm afraid though, that what gets lost in all of this is that each of us has a call from God. Just because I work in a church doing ministry, doesn't make my work any more important than the work that others do. Even though you are not the one "chosen" to be the twelvth disciple, your ministry is valuable. God is still calling you. What is God calling YOU to do?

Prayer: Help me to follow in the footsteps of the original disciples, who were following in the footsteps of Christ. Speak to me, God, and show me the way you would have me go. Amen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Acts 1:6-11 - When is the second coming?

Scripture: Acts 1:6-11

Summary: Jesus told the disciples that they won't know the time when he restores the kingdom of God, but they will receive powers from the Holy Spirit and will be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. Then Jesus was lifted up into a cloud. They were told by angels that Jesus would come in the same way as he left.

Thoughts: When I read this scripture I can't help but think of the prophet who has been telling everyone who would listen that Jesus would come back to the earth on May 21, 2011 and the rapture would occur, taking everyone who was worthy up to heaven.  Well, it's now June and I'm pretty sure that the rapture didn't occur or if it did, none of us were worthy!  Now this prophet is saying that he miscalculated and his new date is October 21, 2011. I find myself wondering why people believe in this sort of thing. It says pretty clearly in several places in the Bible that no one knows the time or place and yet several times in my lifetime people have predicted exactly when Jesus was coming (with no serious results). Why is it that we feel like we need to know exactly when something is going to happen? Especially something like the second coming of Jesus? Don't we have enough to worry about without worrying about when this is going to happen?  I believe that we have two choices about how we live our lives. We can spend our lives worrying about when something is going to happen: the second coming, the tornado, our own death,...  Many people spend their lives this way, in constant worry.  Or we can spend our lives making each day count: loving those we come in contact with, praying for others, working to move toward the kingdom of God! What choice will you make? What are you going to do with the rest of your life?

Prayer: God, help me to focus my time today on things that I can change, things that I can do to make a difference in our world! Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Acts 1:1-5 - Waiting for the promise of God

Scripture: Acts 1:1-5

Summary: The book of Acts is a continuation of the book of Luke. After his death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, speaking about the kingdom of God. He told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the promise of God, when they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: It's time to move into the book of Acts and study it. Acts is the story of the early church and there is much here for us to learn 2000 years later. In this scripture the disciples are told by the resurrected Jesus that they should stay in Jerusalem and wait for what God has promised them. When I read this I wonder what the disciples must have been feeling. They are ecstatic that Jesus has risen from the dead and they have all personally seen the risen Lord. How amazing this must have been! But now he has told them to wait where they are, in Jerusalem. I imagine that they didn't feel very safe there. After all, this is the city where the crowd turned against Jesus and crucified him. They are probably wondering if the same thing is going to happen to them. And they know that Jesus is gone. They can't count on him for protection. But still they are supposed to wait. Waiting is the hardest thing for me to do: waiting in the hospital to talk to the doctors, waiting to get your test scores after you take the SAT, waiting 9 months when you are pregnant before you have the baby. But just as it is important to wait 9 months for a baby, so that it will be fully developed, it was important for the disciples to learn to wait for what God had promised them, through Jesus. We just had Senior Sunday at my church last Sunday. As I watched these amazing young people lead both of our worship services, I was struck by what that morning represented. They are finishing their 13th year of school and have done alot of waiting. But now they have brand new opportunities in front of them, full of promise and hope for the future. It is good for us to know how to wait patiently. But when the time comes it is good to know how to act. What are you waiting for? How is the promise of God going to change your life?

Prayer: God of promise, please stay beside me as I wait and help me to act in faith when the time comes to act. Amen.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

2 Peter 3:14-18 - Be At Peace

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:14-18

Summary: While you are waiting for the day of the Lord, strive to be found at peace, without blemish. Some of what Paul wrote is hard to understand. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

Thoughts: The writer says "while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace." This is what I long for in my life, to be at peace. Even when the world is crazy around me, I long for the peace of God. If I have God's peace, then I find that the insanity of the world around me doesn't take me along with it. I am able to resist the temptation to be drawn into the whirlwind. But my ability to achieve this peace is fleeting. I am often found wanting in this regard. So that is what I pray for today. Peace for me, peace for my family, peace for my church, peace for my community, and peace for the world. For we have been too long without it. And by "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" we can learn how to be at peace.

Prayer: Give me peace, Oh Lord. Help me to spend more time growing in your grace so that I can share it with others. Amen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2 Peter 3:8-13 - Hastening the day of the Lord

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:8-13

Summary: One day for God is like 1000 years. God is not slow about fulfilling promises but is patient, wanting us all to repent. But the day of the Lord is coming when the heavens will pass away. What sort of person ought you to be, leading lives of holiness, hastening the coming of the day of God?

Thoughts: We know that at some point the day of the Lord will come. This day is referred to by many names, but in essence it is the day when God's dream will come true, when everything, on earth and in heaven, is as God would have it be. But in the meantime, what sort of people will we be? Will we be judging everyone that we meet, telling them that they are not following God's rules and what the consequences of that will be? Or will we be loving everyone that we meet, telling them about God's love and the difference it has made in our own lives? The choice is ours.  What sort of person ought you to be?

Prayer: God help me to live for You, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord. Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

2 Peter 3:1-8 - God's time

Scripture: 2 Peter 3:1-8

Summary: Remember the words of the prophets and the commandment of Jesus Christ spoken through the apostles. You will have people making fun of you and asking when Jesus is coming back. But 1 day for God is like a thousand years.

Thoughts: The early Christians believed that Jesus would return in just a few years. So when this book was written, many of these Christians were wondering why Jesus had not already come. This writer reminds them that time for God is different than time for us, saying that one day for God is like 1000 years to us. How many times do we need to be reminded that God is working in God's time, not in ours? When I find myself frustrated because of conditions in our world, I try to remind myself that God is not working on my schedule. So I have come to accept that the Kingdom of God will probably not be completed here on earth in my lifetime. But I know that what I am doing is important, just as what you are doing is important, to the fullfillment of God's kingdom. I look forward to the day when Christ returns, but I am not anxious for it, because I know that there is much work to be done. What are you doing to forward the Kingdom?

Prayer: God help me to see how your people are making a change in the world and help me to encourage others in this process.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2 Peter 2:4-22 - A God who rescues or a God who punishes?

Scripture: 2 Peter 2:4-22

Summary: God cast the angels who sinned into hell. God destroyed all humans except for Noah and his family in the flood. God burned Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, but rescued Lot.

Thoughts: This scripture lists examples from the Bible when God rescued the just and punished offenders. It also says that it would be better for people to never have known the way of righteousness than to turn away from it, having known it. What do you think about this? Personally, I think that it it better that they have at least known God, through Jesus Christ. That way, there is at least some hope that they may rethink their decision to turn away from God. It seems to me that the more people that know about Christ and the God that he tells us of, the better. As for the issue about how God punishes offenders, I think I will leave that discussion to Rob Bell in his new book Love Wins. Suffice it to say that it is difficult for me to believe that the loving God that I believe in would allow people to suffer in hell for eternity. In the meantime, I'm going to live my life always thinking about what I can do today to change the world that I live in for the better, rather than worrying about what my existence will be like after I die.  What do you think?

Prayer: God, help me to tell everyone that I meet about you, through my words and my actions. Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2 Peter 2:1-3 - False prophets: Is it I, Lord?

Scripture: 2 Peter 2:1-3

Summary: False prophets arose and false teachers who will bring in destructive opinions. Many will follow them. In their greed they will exploit you.

Thoughts: The warnings about false prophets continue in this scripture. We all know the obvious examples: like Jim Jones and David Koresh. In my town, Garland, Texas, there was a group who thought that extraterrestial visitors were coming to whisk them away. They all bought houses in the same neighborhood expecting UFOs to come get them on March 31, 1998. When that didn't happen, the leader changed his story, saying that they had all become gods. These type of false prophets seem to me to be easy to spot. But what about the false prophets that are mainline? What about the pastor who has an affair with someone in his or her congregation? What about the preacher who preaches the prosperity gospel, telling people that if they believe (and possibly donate large sums to the church!) they will be blessed by God with prosperity? How do we determine which prophets are false? I think that we do that by evaluating their message. Is the gospel that they preach in line with the God that we know: a God of love and compassion, with a preference for the poor? Also, take a look at their actions. Do they preach the gospel as loudly with their actions as they do with their words? And we should be judging ourselves by the same standards, for we are prophets to others. What do our actions and message say about us? Are we false prophets?

Prayer: Give me the wisdom to evaluate the various messages that I hear, Oh Lord. Help me to sift out the chaff and know what is really coming from You. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2 Peter 1:16-21 - Who should we believe?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:16-21

Summary: We have been eyewitnesses to Christ's majesty. He received honor and glory from God. So we hve the prophetic message confirmed. Prophecy is not our own interpretation, it comes from the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: When we tell other people about Jesus Christ, whose authority do we have it on? I think I base much of my faith on the Bible, especially the New Testament. But what did the early Christians do before the New Testament books were written down? Before a council got together and decided which books were holy and should be included in our current Bible?They depended on prophets. They depended on people who told them about Jesus and who he was and what he said and did. This left alot of room for false prophets to confuse people with different versions of the truth. This writer is very concerned that the community to which he is writing has been hearing from false prophets. So the first thing we should look for when we hear a prophet speak is whether or not their truth comes from themselves or from the Holy Spirit. We certainly still have false prophets today. Some of them are extreme and can be seen leading people away from God, like Jim Jones in Ghana or David Koresh in Waco. Others are more difficult to spot. I have always thought that religion would be simpler if someone just told me what to believe. This is why many churches do so well. They are attracting people who don't want to think for themselves, who just want an authority figure to tell them what to believe. But the United Methodist Church encourages each of us to decide for ourselves what we believe. So my entire life will be spent refining what I believe about God and creation and the truth about Jesus Christ. Which means that I will have to be watching for false prophets, constantly evaluating what I hear from others to see if I believe their truth came from themselves or from the Holy Spirit. Yes, the other way seems simpler, just to be told what to believe. But God wants more from me. God wants me to use my mind, my heart, and my soul to reflect on my theology because then it becomes truly mine.

Prayer: God help me to always be searching for the truth about you. Don't let me become complacent, feeling that I know enough, because you have so much more to teach me. Amen.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2 Peter 1:12-15 - What have you learned lately?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:12-15

Summary: I intend to keep reminding you about these things, even though you know them, as long as I am alive. And I'll make every effort so that after I'm gone you will recall these things.

Thoughts: I've been to many training sessions where, even though I knew everything that was discussed, the training was very valuable to me. Because I need to be reminded on occassion of the truths that I know. The writer of this scripture knows that it is not enough to hear the truth just once. Of course, there is always that first time that you understand something, when the truth burns in you and you are overwhelmed with the knowledge. But even those things that are vitally important to us, such as the knowledge of Jesus Christ and what he brought to us, need to be revisited regularly. Not only do we need to be reminded of the truths that we know, but we need to revisit them and re-evaluate them, so that new truths can be gleaned. We are never too old to stop learning, especially learning things about Christ. What have you learned lately?

Prayer: Lord, help me to continue studying your Word and learning about you so that I continue to grow. Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2 Peter 1:10-11 - Do you hear the call?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:10-11

Summary: Be eager to confirm your call because if you do this you will never stumble. This will give you entry into the eternal kingdom of Christ.

Thoughts: I've been thinking alot about my call lately. I have passed my first set of interviews and will be Commissioned as a Deacon in the United Methodist Church at Annual Conference this June. It was late in the year of 2011 that I first admitted that I was hearing a call from God and it was this call that led me into youth ministry. My life is very different now than it was 10 years ago. I have gone from making a 6 digit salary in the Software industry to a salary in the church that is one quarter of that. I have gone from managing 20 people to managing none (although I could consider myself sort of managing the adults and youth that I work with at church!). My family is also different. My children, who were 5 and 9 are now 15 and 19. My husband is now the CEO of the Youth Worker Movement. I have transitioned from a youth ministry volunteer to a full-time youth minister, in leadership with youth in the Conference and the Jurisdiction. And even though I have been in ministry for almost 10 years now, I sometimes find myself unsure of what I am doing. I still wonder what God is going to call me to next. That's the exciting part of following God's call on your life. Once you let go and begin to follow where God is leading, you never know where you will end up next. So as far as the scripture goes, I think I am still going to stumble, even though I have confirmed my call. But even when I stumble, I know that God is there, to pick me up, dust me off, and set me on God's path again. I just have to remain open to God's leading!

Prayer: God, Help me listen for your call for my life and help me be open to new experiences and possibilities as you open new doors for me. Amen.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

2 Peter 1:5-9 - What do I need to prop up my faith?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:5-9

Summary: Support your faith with goodness, with knowlede, with self-control, with endurance, with godliness, with mutual affection, with love. They will keep you from being ineffective. For without them you are blind, forgetful of cleansing of past sins.

Thoughts: It is critical for us, as Christians, to have faith. Without faith, we are nothing. Faith is what is required for our salvation in Jesus Christ. But to continue to have faith, we have to support it with goodness. We have to choose good in our daily lives. And the goodness must be supported by knowledge. We need to continue to read and study so that our knowledge doesn't decay. The knowledge must be tempered with self-control as we make good choices in our daily lives. And endurance is required for those days when our self control fails. Endurance, not only in the long races, but in resisting the tempations that our lives are sprinkled with. Then we need to cultivate godliness, trying to follow in the path that Christ leads us. And we need to care about all people. Yes everyone. Even that person that drives you stark raving mad! But most importantly, we have to love. Love is the foundation that ultimately supports our faith. Without love, we are nothing. As Christ himself showed us, love can turn the world around. Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to cultivate all of these aspects of faith in my life. Amen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2 Peter 1:1-4 - How much is enough?

Scripture: 2 Peter 1:1-4

Summary: May grace and peace be yours in abundance through the righteousness of God and Jesus Christ. His power has given us everything that we need. The things he has given us can help us escape the corruption of the world.

Thoughts: As I read this scripture I keep coming back to one line: "His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." If God has given us everything that we need, why do we continue to struggle so hard to get things for ourselves? We teach our children that they have to make the best grades in school, so that they can go to the best colleges where they need to make even better grades, so that they can get a job making the most money, so that they can buy the biggest house and marry the best looking spouse. Where does it all end? If God has given us everything that we need for life why do we continue to try to get more? At what point do we get off of the merry go round and take a job that we love? When is it enough? Perhaps, instead, we should teach our children to have well rounded lives and to find a vocation that gives them a sense of fullfillment, rather than a high paying job. Let's show our children, through our own choices, what a well rounded, fulfilled adult looks like, so that they will have something meaningful to strive for.

Prayer: God, you have given me everything that I need "for life and godliness." Let this be enough for me. Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1 Peter 5:6-14 - A Day without Shoes: Suffering with my sisters & brothers

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6-14

Summary: Be humble so that God might exalt you in time. Give God all your anxieties, because God cares for you. Resist evil because your brothers and sisters around the world are also suffering. Afterwards, God will restore, support, strengthen and establish you.

Thoughts: I've been feeling anxious this past week. One of those unformed anxieties that doesn't really have a source. Things are actually going pretty well for me lately. I have finished the taxes for my mother-in-law and my dad and my own taxes are almost complete. I'm caught up with work (for the most part!). Everyone in my house is healthy. So why am I anxious? I don't know. What I do know, however, is that I can cast these anxieties on God, because God cares for me. Today has been designated by Tom's shoes as "a day without shoes." So I am trying my best to go the entire day without shoes or socks. I already find myself more aware of my feet and their discomfort. How much worse would it be if I lived in a village with dirt roads and had to go my entire life without shoes? And so it seems fitting to me in this time of Lent that I go one day without my shoes so that I will remember my brothers and sisters around the world who are without shoes. So during this Lenten season, I want to practice casting my anxieties onto God. I also want to suffer with my sisters and brothers who are suffering. These two things seem tied together to me. God will take my anxieties but it makes me want to "pay it forward." I need to remember the suffering of the world and do what I can to ease it.

Prayer: God, keep me from getting to tied up in my own life. Help me to remember my sisters and brothers around the world who are suffering. Amen.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

1 Peter 5:5-6 - Authority of elders?

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:5-6

Summary: The younger should accept the authority of the elders. Be humble in your dealings with one another.

Thoughts: After reading this scripture, it would be easy to fall in to the trap and turn to my kids and say, "See, the Bible says that you should accept my authority!" On the surface, I agree with this statement, because children need their parents to attempt to keep them safe and teach them how to be good people. So when you tell a small child not to run in to the street, it is important that the child listen to you. At some point, however, my children are going to have to be able to make decisions for themselves because I won't be there to help them. They will have to decide for themselves if they want to run in to the street (or whatever!). So now that my kids are older, I am trying to step back and allow them to make their own decisions and live with the consequences. But for all of us, younger and older, it is important to remember to be humble with one another. Because we can all learn from each other. Some of the most important lessons in my life, I learned from a young person, which is why I love my work in youth ministry! Adults, we need to remember that the youth are children of God and bring a unique perspective to share with us. Youth, perhaps you could give us a little bit of credit for our life experience, and listen to us on occassion. As children of God, we need to have a large dose of humility in our dealings with one another.

Prayer: God help me to be humble with all people that I meet, young and old. Amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1 Peter 5:1-4 - Am I leading my flock?

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Summary: Tend to the part of God's flock that is in your charge. Don't lord it over them but be a good example. Then when Jesus appears you will win the crown of glory.

Thoughts: It's easy when you read this to think that this scripture only applies to the senior pastor of the church. After all, the rest of us don't have a flock, do we? I think that we do. In my case, as the youth minister at my church, I can fairly easily see that the youth are my flock. And beyond that, there is probably a good case to be made that the entire congregation is my flock, since I preach to them on occassion. This scripture also applies to the youth who are on the Youth Council, and to the adults on Ad Council, and those on the worship team and the mission committee. But I'm sure there are still a few of you who are reading this and saying to yourself that you aren't in leadership at the church and so you don't have a flock. However, even those folks who are not in an official leadership position are still leaders in our church. For example, the people who donated blood last Sunday are leading by example. And each of you lead those outside of our church walls by the life that you lead. So, if we are all leaders of a flock, what is this scripture saying to us? Tend your flock, don't lord it over them, but be a good example. By showing every person we meet that we care about them, we are tending a part of God's flock. And if we lead by example, rather than by force, we are following the example of the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ. And isn't that what the Christian life is all about? How will you lead by example today?

Prayer: Christ, help me to live in your shadow and be the sort of example that you would be. And never let me forget that I am the shepherd for a part of your flock. Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

1 Peter 4:12-19 - Do Christians Suffer?

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12-19

Summary: Don't be surprised by suffering, but rejoice because you are sharing Christ's suffering. Don't suffer as a murderer, etc., but if you suffer as a Christian you should glorify God.
Thoughts: I'm sure I've said this before, but life doesn't get easier when you become a Christian. Yes there will be times when God blesses us with good things, when we feel that we have everything that we need and more! And we should rejoice in those times. But there will also be times when we will suffer. Being a Christian does not make our lives perfect so that we will be free from suffering. Even worse, sometimes we may suffer because we follow Christ. The hopeful news about our inevitable suffering, is that God will be with us. I have had several times in my life when I was suffering severely. As I looked around me and saw the support that I had from my church and my friends, I found myself wondering how I would handle the suffering without the help of these friends and family and the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit. When things are at their worst I still feel that God is there with me, walking beside me.  So, as this scripture says, I will "entrust myself to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good."
Prayer: Christ, walk with me on this journey that you have set me on, so that I might rejoice in my suffering that I share with you. Amen.

Friday, March 25, 2011

1 Peter 4:8-11 - God gives me strength!

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:8-11

Summary: Love one another, be hospitable, serve one another. Speak the words of God, serve with the strength that God supplies.

Thoughts: I love this scripture! When I try to describe God to someone, the word love always shows up in my description. God is love. So this scripture, which encourages us to love each other and serve each other only cements the concept of love. As God loved us, we should love others. This scripture also says that "whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ." I am well known for being kind of a nut about missions. I think some of my best moments happened when I was on a mission trip. I've been on 40-50 mission trips in the past 10 years. So you might think that it would get humdrum. But they never do! Each trip is different. Sometimes we go to a different place, but there are always new people to get to know on the trip (people traveling with me and people that I meet on the trip). My point is that on every trip, I have some point when I realize that I don't have the strength that I need. And when I realize that my strength is gone, God supplies me with strength. With that strength, I am then able to do what needs to be done, to the glory of God. Where in your life is God supplying you with strength?

Prayer: God, thank you for loving me and giving me strength when I most need it so that I can do Your work. Amen.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

1 Peter 4:7-9 - The Discipline of Prayer

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:7-9

Summary: The end is near so be serious and disciplined for your prayers. Love each other and be hospitable without complaining.

Thoughts: There's alot of good stuff in this scripture of just 3 verses, but what draws my attention today is the first sentence: "be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers." Prayer has been a struggle for me all of my life. As an extrovert I find it difficult to follow the words of  Psalm 46 to "be still, and know that I am God." Being still is not my forte. I am an active sort and have been all of my life. So it's hard to take time to pray and even harder to take time to listen. After all, it took 40 years before I heard God calling me to ministry. Perhaps God waited that long to make the call, but it is more likely that it took me that long to hear God! Having said that, I should also say that when I take the time to be still, when I take the time to read scripture and contemplate what God is saying to me on that day in that text, when I take the time to listen, it is amazing what God shares. And so I continue, in my limited way, to open myself to God, knowing that God can use me if I make myself available.

Prayer: Lord help me to continue to work to develop the habit of prayer so that you can develop incredible things inside of me! Amen.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

1 Peter 4:1-6 - Led by God, to do what?

Scripture: 1 Peter 4:1-6

Summary: Don't live by human desires but by the will of God. You have spent enough time doing what the Gentiles like to do. However, we will all have to be judged at some point.

Thoughts: It is so easy to give in to human desires. For example, lately I've been having trouble resisting sweets. It's entirely too easy, when I'm sitting around watching TV, to grab an unhealthy snack. But it's difficult for me to give up sweets entirely. So I am trying to eat them in moderation. As I type this I am thinking about the delicious looking cake in the office, calling my name, wanting me to come and get a piece to eat! And this is just a small example of the ways in which I allow myself to give in to human desires. I also find myself spending money on things that I really don't need or putting off until tomorrow something that really needs doing now (like straightening my desk!). And these are just the surface things. Below the surface are more important decisions. One such decision is my choice of vocation. Do I choose a vocation based on my human desires (a job deemed important by the world, making lots of money) or do I follow Christ and choose a job based on God's will? I hope to live my life, as this scripture says, "no longer by human desires but by the will of God."  So help me God.

Prayer: Christ, who endured much suffering, did not take the easy way. He set aside human ways and followed the will of God. Please, Lord, help me to do the same. Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

1 Peter 3:18b-22 - Remember your baptism

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:18b-22

Summary: Christ was killed but made alive in the spirit. Just as God saved 8 people through water in the flood of Noah's time, so our baptism saves us with water.

Thoughts: I'm having a hard time making the connection between how God saved Noah from the flood by having him build an ark. and baptism. It seems that in the flood it is the water that killed people, but in baptism it is the water that saves us. It is through the sacrament of Baptism that God brings us into the family of God. The water is used to symbolize the cleansing of sin from our lives. Perhaps that is the connection. The water of the flood cleansed the earth of the sin of its sinful inhabitants. But even then, this connection doesn't work for me. Baptism is a life giving event in our lives, one that doesn't need to be repeated because it is the work of God. So I take this opportunity to thank God for my baptism, for the opportunity given to me to become a member of the family of God!

Prayer: Lord help us to remember our own baptism each time that we see someone else baptized. For it is truly a mystery why you would take a frail human being into your own family, but a blessing that you do. Thank you! Amen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

1 Peter 3:13-18a - Building a home in Juarez, Mexico

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-18a

Summary: Better to suffer for doing good, rather than for doing evil. Christ suffered in order to bring you to God.

Thoughts: This scripture makes me think about our recent mission trip to Juarez, Mexico. The week after Christmas our family joined a small mission team who went to Juarez to build a concrete block house for a family living in a cardboard house. We went even though almost every one of our friends and family had urged us not to go. We knew that there had been alot of violence in Mexico in the past year, especially in Juarez. Because of the violence, I had stopped taking youth on mission trips to this area. But I was still feeling called to go to Juarez. I wanted to see all of my friends in the area and I wanted to build a house for one family. We work with Proyecto Abrigo in Juarez, a religious organization that has gone from building hundreds of houses each year with the help of volunteers, to building 15-20 houses in a year. And it's not like the violence is keeping the poor people from migrating from central Mexico to Juarez. There are still more jobs in Juarez than in the central part of the country. Since the poor people are still moving to Juarez, I wanted to show someone that we still cared about the people there. And so we went. Despite the warnings from everyone, including the US border guards. This scripture says perfectly why we went to Juarez. First, we hoped that since we were going there to do good, perhaps no one would harm us. Second, even if we did suffer, we would be suffering because we had been doing what was right. Although I am not willing to put other people in danger, I was willing to put myself in danger, for what was right. And I was willing to let my children make the same decision for themselves. Because we follow the Christ who suffered for us and we are called to follow his example.

Prayer: Christ, it is beyond comprehension why you were willing to suffer for us, the lost creatures that we are. But in response, I are called to follow you. Help me to take up my cross, perhaps suffering because of it, so that your will might be done here on earth. Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

1Peter 3:10-12 - Running After Peace

Scripture: 1Peter 3:10-12

Summary: If you desire life, don't speak evil or deceit. Instead do good and seek peace. God's eyes are on the righteous, God's ears open to their prayers. God's face is against evil doers.

Thoughts: Right in the middle of this scripture, I am struck by the sentence "turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it."  The author not only encourages the readers to seek peace, but to pursue it. This emphasis on peace strikes me as interesting. Don't just look for peace. Instead you should run after it. Don't just glance around you as you go through life, looking for peace wherever you might be. Instead you should go to where the peace is.  What does this mean for me in my life? I shouldn't just work for peace when it is convenient to me, but I should be going out of my way to encourage peace. I should work for peace with those I see every day. I should work for peace in my neighborhood. I should work for peace in my country. I should work for peace in the world.

Prayer: God of peace, remind me daily of my task to be a peacemaker in your world. Amen.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

1 Peter 3:7-9 - Who is my Beloved?

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:7-9

Summary: Husbands, show consideration for your wives, they too are heirs of life. Be united in spirit. Don't repay evil with evil.

Thoughts: I think today I will just skip over the fact that this writer calls women the weaker sex. I'm going to tell myself that this refers to our physical strength, which is usually less than the strenght of a man! Instead I want to focus on verse 8. "Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind."  If we really loved one another, even those people that we don't like, it would be alot harder to treat other people badly. For when you love someone, you want to treat them well and you want them to be healthy and happy. What if we lived as if every person with whom we came in contact was a loved one? The clerk at the grocery store, the woman with two squirmy kids in worship, the obnoxious driver on the freeway, the homeless man on the street corner. How would our attitude change toward them if we regarded them as a loved one? Perhaps I should use this season of Lent to remind myself that every human is a loved one of God and thus should be a loved one of mine.

Prayer: God, you are a father and mother to us all. But that means that all of these human beings on this earth are my siblings. Some of them are easy to love, but some are not. Help me to see the image of God in each of them, loving them with a tender heart. Amen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

1 Peter 3:3-6 - A New Easter Dress?

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:3-6

Summary: Don't worry so much about dressing up on the outside, but instead focus on your inner self.

Thoughts: It's usually around this time of year that I begin to notice how old most of my clothes are. I start to yearn to buy new clothes or a new piece of jewelry. At the very least, I tell myself, I need a new dress for Easter!  But the truth is that what we wear on the outside only impresses other people, and only for a little while. Even the best dress will get old and fall out of style. Instead this writer encourages us to "let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight." It is so easy in the world in which we live, to allow ourselves to focus on external things. We all want to have pretty things around us and have nice things to wear. But what is precious to God is my inner self. That gentle spirit that can lift up others. I'm hoping this Lenten season to focus on my inner spirit, through Bible study and prayer, letting go of my desire for pretty things. I don't think that God will be impressed by a new Easter dress.  Instead I want to focus on what is precious to God, my inner self.

Prayer: God, you have already given me so many pretty things, including the budding trees and the little birds who populate them. Let that satisfy my desire for beauty, so that I can spend my time focusing on my spirit as I become closer to you, Oh God. Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

1 Peter 3:1-2 - Authority of men?

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:1-2

Summary: Wives accept the authority of your husbands so they may be won over by your conduct.

Thoughts: I have been tempted on several occassions to take a marker and mark out the first verse of this chapter. Just as I imagine that the last chapter we read was used to promote slavery, I believe that this verse has been used to subjugate women. We live in a world where women are treated as less than men in so many ways. In many Muslim cultures women are not allowed to leave their homes without a male escort. Many women in our country put up with abuse from their spouses because they are afraid to leave their situation. I am not aware of any profession where women make more than men, given the same amount of experience. So to see scripture that says that women should "accept the authority of your husbands" is infuriating to me. This is another moment when I remind myself that these words were written thousands of years ago, when women were property. But when I look at the second part of this sentence there is a little bit of redemption. The writer says that even if your husband doesn't obey the word (doesn't follow Christ), perhaps the way that the wife leads her life will win him over to Christianity. So perhaps I need to read this in a new light, considering how my conduct can influence those around me who do not follow Christ. Perhaps I can redeem this scripture by applying it in my own context.

Prayer: God, even in the difficult scriptures, you can find a way to give me a word. Thank you. Amen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

1 Peter 2:18-25 - Who is enslaved today?

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:18-25

Summary: Slaves should accept the authority of their masters with all deference. Christ suffered for you, leaving us an example.

Thoughts: No doubt this scripture was used by slave owners who used the Bible to explain why slavery was OK It's difficult for me to read scriptures like this that tell slaves that they should accept their situation. Not only does it say that slaves should accept their master's authority, but they should do so even when their master is harsh. Ugh! There are times that I want to ignore parts of the Bible, pretending that they don't exist. But I know that the New Testament was written a couple of thousand years ago by people who were in a totally different situation than I am. And so I have to accept the fact that I am not going to be able to take everything that I read in the Bible at face value. I know that there are times when we will have to accept suffering.  But that does not mean that slavery is acceptable or that it is OK for one person to hurt another. The God that Jesus Christ tells us about is a loving God who does not want any human being taking advantage of or enslaving another. Rather he calls us to free the slaves and the oppressed.

Prayer: God, we know that you desire only the best for each of your children. Help us to fight oppression wherever we find it. In your name we pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1 Peter 2:13-17 - Accept the authority of the emperor?

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:13-17

Summary: Accept the authority of human institutions. Live as free people. Honor everyone and fear God.

Thoughts: It's Ash Wednesday.  The day we go to church, have ashes put on our foreheads in the shape of a cross, and try to think of something to give up for Lent. So on this Ash Wednesday, I find myself thinking about what I should give up.  I think of the young person who gave up Facebook last year for Lent and her testimony about how it served to show her how much time she spent on-line. Although I am tempted to do the same, instead I feel God calling me to be more intentional about getting into the Word. And so, I am going to attempt to blog each day of Lent, in order to remind myself to spend more time with Scripture.

But about today's scripture, I find myself returning to these words: "As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone." God wants us to be free. But we need to live within the laws of our system of government. Don't use your Christianity as an excuse to break the law, saying that you serve God, not the government elected by mere people. However, what the writer doesn't say, is that if the law goes against God's law, then we need to fight against it. Just as the people in Libya are fighting against those in power in their country. That's what I hear when the writer says "Honor everyone." As Christians we must find a way to live within a system that is not Christian. Sometimes that means that we should accept the authority of the emperor, but sometimes that means that we should stand up against those in power in order to be in solidarity with the oppressed. Because we serve a God of love, not a power hungry God.

Prayer: Lord give me the strength to stand up against any system which does not treat people equally and help me to do what I can to support people around the world who are doing the same. Amen.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

1 Peter 2:11-12 -Living Honorably

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:11-12

Summary: Abstain from the desires of the flesh and conduct yourselves honorably, so that people may see your deeds and glorify God.

Thoughts: The people to whom 1 Peter was written lived in communities with very few Christians. In this scripture, the writer is encouraging them to be honorable among these non-Christians, letting their deeds speak for themselves. How well do I let my deeds speak for myself? In some aspects of my life I do a good job of living honorably. I treat other drivers with consideration, giving them space to merge in to my lane. I tell the cashier when I have been given too much change back. But it's more difficult to act honorably when the actions cost significant time or money. Like using and washing a coffee cup at church rather than using the disposable cup or buying the free range chicken instead of the chicken raised in horrible conditions. But God is calling all of us to live honorably so that we can glorify God in all of our actions, not just when it is convenient or cheap. Which aspects of your life need more honor?

Prayer: Creator God, help me to make the honorable choices today, considering my fellow travellers in this life, as well as the creation around me. Amen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

1 Peter 2:9-10 - Winter Retreat shows God's people at work

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9-10

Summary: We are a chosen race, God's own people. God called us out of darkness into God's light.

Thoughts: We are the people of God. God has claimed us. We were called by God our of the darkness that we inhabit, into the marvelous light of God.  How would our lives be different if we lived as if we were God's people? I think I saw an example of this a week ago at Holy Covenant UMC's youth Winter Retreat.  It was a beautiful weekend. The days were warm, which was much appreciated since it had been snowing only a few days before and had been bitterly cold (for Dallas, anyway!). We went to Turner Falls in Oklahoma for the day, but much of the snow and ice that had fallen had not melted there. So the paths that are normally easy to scramble up and down were much more treacherous. It was there that I saw a youth group, that often splits into specific sub-groups, turn into a cohesive whole. I saw chains of 8-10 youth helping each other down the mountainside and some youth going back up to help others down. Unfortunately, we did have one injury (sorry Katelyn!) but I believe that it could have been much worse if we had not all been working together to help each other. What if we took this lesson, that the path is easier to traverse when working together, and extended it to our daily lives? What if we lived as God's people, treating everyone else around us as a special child of God? How would the world be different?

Prayer: Lord, help me to live as one of your chosen people, loving those around me unconditionally. Amen.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

1 Peter 2:4-8 - Bricked into a wall or into a fluid community?

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:4-8

Summary: Christ is the cornerstone of our spiritual houses.

Thoughts: There is some interesting imagery in this scripture. For example, "like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house."  At first glance, this makes me nervous. Being built into a spiritual house sounds like allowing yourself to be bricked into a wall. It sounds restricting, like once it happened you would never be able to move or change again! Perhaps I could instead think about being built into a spiritual house like my church congregation, which is fluid and ever changing, but built on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. For with Christ as our foundation, there is so much opportunity to effect a change in our world. We can be a spiritual house that reaches out to others. We can be a spiritual house that not only invites others to join us, but that goes out into the community to change it for the better. Making change is very difficult. But with Christ as our foundation, as our cornerstone, we can not only change our community, we can change the world, one person at a time!

Prayer: Christ, our cornerstone, chosen and precious, give us strength, support us, so that we your brothers and sisters in love, might be your hands and feet in this world. Amen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1 Peter 2:1-3 - tasting God?

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1-3

Summary: Get rid of all malice, guile, insincerity, envy, and slander. Long for the pure, spiritual milk.

Thoughts: Get rid of all the bad stuff in your life, this scripture says. Rid yourself of it. Throw it away. Then, like babies, we should long for the "pure, spiritual milk." Clean your life and then feed yourself on the purest of foods, the spiritual milk from God, so that you can grow in salvation. We must work every day at our salvation, changing our lives, making different choices, so that we can slowly change ourselves into the likeness of Christ.  And this scripture ends on an interesting note. All of this we should do "if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good."  We have heard all of our lives that "God is good.'  And we have seen many instances where the Lord provided good things for us. But have we tasted that the Lord is good? Has God become such an integral part of us that we have tasted the God is good? I know that I have tasted that God is good during communion. As I ingested the body and blood of Christ, given for me, I have known with my entire being that God is good. All the time. And so, in response, I will try to clean my life and feed myself on pure, spiritual milk so that I may grow in God. Thanks be to God.

Prayer: Help me to work this day on cleaning out my life so that I can feed on your pure, spiritual milk. Amen.

Friday, January 14, 2011

1 Peter 1:22-25 - born anew into love

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:22-25

Summary: You have purified your souls and have genuine mutuual love, so love one another. You have been born anew through the word of God. Our flesh withers but the word of God endures forever.

Thoughts: I have just finished a week at Perkins School of Youth Ministry.  If you have never been, PSYM is a place were youth ministers gather from across the country to learn and fellowship together. I always leave PSYM feeling renewed.and challenged to continue God's work of bringing young people into relationship with God through Christ. Although it is easy to get disillusioned and disheartened by the state of the world, the state of the economy, or the state of youth today, I gain new hope from the stories of these people who work daily with youth. I find comfort in learning that I am not the only one dealing with the problems that I face and I always come away from PSYM with new ideas for my ministry. This scripture today reminds me of PSYM in 2 aspects. First, it tells us to "love one another deeply from the heart." I heard over and over again this week that relationships are the key to youth ministry. So I am returning my focus this year to loving each youth that I encounter, hoping that a glimpse of God's love for that person may be seen in my love.  Second, the scripture says that "You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God." We have been born again. We all have the chance to remake ourselves in the image of God, as shown us by Jesus Christ. Let's take that chance, each day, to be like God as we love one another deeply!

Prayer: Loving and passionate God, create in me a new desire to be like You, to love all of those around me. Remind me each day that I have the chance, in that day, to start afresh, living my life following Christ. Amen.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1 Peter 1:17-21 - Christ leads us, will you follow?

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:17-21

Summary: You were ransomed from the futile ways of the world by Christ. Through him you come to know God.

Thoughts: Some folks get all caught up in the 'blood of Christ.' It becomes so important that Christ died for their sins that they forget what else Christ did. He lived a life that showed us how awesome God is. He told us stories and parables that explain how much God loves us, just as we are. Yes, he did die and that is important to the story. But it's important because after he died he was resurrected by God, proving that even death had no power over him. So my favorite part of this scripture is at the end. "Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God." Jesus Christ points us to God and leads us to the pathway of God. The entire story is important from birth to death to resurrection. Christ did die for us but he also beat death for us so we no longer have to fear death!  Let us set our faith and hope on God so that we too might follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Prayer: God help me to trust in you and learn to set my faith and hope on you, in all things. Just as Jesus Christ taught us to. Amen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1 Peter 1:13-16 - Living the Christian life

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:13-16

Summary: We need to discipline ourselves and be holy as God is holy.

Thoughts: Living a Christian life really has two parts. (It might have more, but today I'm focusing on 2!) First we have to learn about God, through Christ. We learn about God and God's people in the Old Testament and we learn about Jesus Christ and what he showed us about God in the New Testament. Learning about God helps us to build up our faith. But what happens as we develop our faith? A strong faith begins to show on the outside. We begin to be more like Jesus. We begin to show concern for others. We begin to strive to be holy. And we continue to move in God's direction all of our lives. We continue learning more about God and it continues to show in who we are and what we do. We should never stop growing and seeking God. And it should never stop showing up in our lives.

Prayer: God, may I become so focused on you that it just automatically spills out of me and into the lives of everyone around me. Amen.