Day 37: Missional excellence

1.jpgGenesis 1:1-2
When God began to create the heavens and the earth—the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters—

As a child, I learned this verse as “God sweeping over the chaos the water.” Over time I replaced the phrase “the face of water” with “the chaos of water.” The word chaos grows as an apt metaphor for my life.

Monday morning dawns reflecting on the sermon delivered, just hours ago. But the reflection is replaced by the revelation the next sermon is due in a few days. Looking into the weekly calendar, I find Bible studies, prayer services, and committee meetings. These fill the columns and set time aside. Hospital, nursing home, and home visiting needs attention. Oh, and the phone will ring for an unavoidable crisis.

The family calendar is no lighter. Doctor visits, PTA meetings, and afterschool activities will require time. I haven’t called mom and the dog needs to go to the vet. This is the normal weekly chaos of life. What do I do with this chaos?

Perhaps it is a good thing I learned the first two verses as God swept over “chaos.” Perhaps I should reflect on what God was doing while sweeping over “chaos.” God was creating. God is still creating. Just as God led me through the last sermon, so shall I be led for the next. My cluttered calendar of responsibilities and requirements are reminders, God through Jesus is with me and leading me.

The Good News is this: in all times, even the chaotic times, God through Jesus is with us, loves us, and saves us. Could there be any greater thing than to lead someone through the chaos of life into the peace of Jesus Christ?

Prayer: May I accept God’s presence in the midst of my chaos. May I see each event, requirement, or responsibility as an opportunity to share the Good News and to do greater things.

The Rev. C. Kevin Marston
Chairperson, Fellowship of Local Pastors & Associate Members-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 36: Transformational presence

1.jpgJohn 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Our final morning in Jerusalem took us to the Garden Tomb. My spirit was heavy on this last day of our pilgrimage. What a beautiful place! What a heavy heart I carried! As we walked, I noticed along the side of the pathway that there was a young, mid-thirtyish man kneeling next to a tree in the garden and praying. He was stocky built, wearing a blue shirt, Middle Eastern in his skin tones. His hands were resting on the tree with his head bowed in prayer. I noticed a shiny gold wedding ring on his left hand. I don’t know why I noticed him. He was being quite unobtrusive in his quiet sanctuary.

I sought a path to a deeper garden spot to be alone for a quiet moment of meditation before re-boarding our bus. I sat down on a single concrete bench. In a few moments, I was distracted by the sound of a hedge cutter being started immediately behind me. As I turned toward the sound of the noise, I saw the young man who had been knelt in prayer beside the tree along the pathway when we had entered the garden. Although I never saw his face either time, it was the same shirt, the same mid-thirtyish stocky build, the Middle Eastern skin tones and the shiny gold ring on his left hand. My heart was strangely warmed as I realized that it had been the caretaker of the garden whom I had seen knelt in prayer. That was a precious thought to me. I got up from my seat and moved back toward my group to get on the bus to depart for our next stop.

The next day after arriving home, while thinking and praying, I heard clearly and distinctly a statement that would change my life forever, “Diana, Mary thought I was the gardener, too.” Oh, my goodness! I can’t begin to find words to describe what I felt at that point. I cried the rest of that day, and into the next. I saw Jesus! It was Him! I actually saw my risen Lord in the garden near the tomb where His body had been laid over 2000 years ago; along the path where Mary had encountered her risen Lord, mistaking Him to be the gardener, until He spoke to her and her eyes were opened, as had been mine (John 20:15-16).

Prayer: Lord, open our eyes to see your Presence. Open our ears to hear your voice. Open our hearts to be transformed by your love. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

The Rev. Dr. Diana M. DeWitt
Chairperson, Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference
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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 35: Pastoral excellence

1.jpgMatthew 1:23
Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will call him, Emmanuel.

Emmanuel—“God with us.” Neither God with me, nor God with you, rather “God with us” together. Pastoral excellence and church vitality grow out of this holy plurality. As surely as God is triune, so does God work in spirited relationships. God with me or you alone grows too easily into a God who looks and acts too much like our own pet emphases and projects.

“God with us” requires much checking-in with God and with each other. “God with us” understands that deepest renewal arises out of deepest relationships, and that God’s full image can only be borne relationally.

“God with us” insists that what we do together, while more difficult, remains most lasting and substantial. “God with us” invites us to explore the relationships that God places along our journey, especially welcoming the strangers as friends whom God gives us to serve. “God with us” refuses a lone ranger model and resists every temptation to clutch too tightly the many gifts God provides.

“God with us” depends on a trusted conference conferring what John Wesley pointed out as a means of grace and on which he built the practical disciplines of Methodism. As we approach this Annual Conference, may we anticipate it as amazing treasure—a three-day gathering with trusted Methodist neighbors in order to listen to God as we worship, commune, study the scripture, pray, fast/feast, and puzzle over vexing issues of faithfulness, confident that God promises to show up with truth that sets us free!

Prayer Focus: Pray for the communion of saints, living and dead, on whom you count for wisdom, courage, clarity, and correction. Pray for that cluster of people out of which your life of faith arises and flourishes. Pray for the gathering of saints which constitutes the Annual Conference towards which we now point.

The Rev. Gregory Waldrop
Co-Chairperson, Order of Elders-Memphis Conference
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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 27: Congregational excellence

27.jpgMark 12: 30-31
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

A little boy said to his Sunday school teacher, “The pastor said our congregation is healthy. When did we go to the doctor?” In other words, the little boy was asking who is qualified to check us out and make this pronouncement.

What makes us a healthy, vital congregation?

God gave the ultimate sacrifice, his only son Jesus, to atone for the sins of the world. A congregation that understands the magnitude of this sacrifice and the depth of God’s love is also a congregation that embraces God’s Kingdom and loves all creation.

A healthy congregation expresses their love of God in all they do. They love the world unconditionally as God loves us.

A healthy and vital congregation is passionate, joyful, and always ready to serve.

We are healthy because we have embraced the lifestyle of the Great Physician.

Prayer: Oh God, help us to love one another as you have loved us. Teach us to live in solidarity with all creation as we yearn to make disciples for Jesus Christ. AMEN.

The Rev. Roger Hopson
Executive Assistant to the Bishop

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 20: Missional excellence

1.jpgRomans 10:8-10 (Read verses 8-11)
But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation.

Have you ever noticed how many of our favorite hymns are about trust? “Only trust him,” we warble contentedly. “Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus,” we advise in song. And what is more uplifting than standing in the great congregation, surrounded by family and friends, singing happily “Through it all, I’ve learned to trust in God?” But do we really? Trust in God?

Trust the God of Jesus Christ, Paul says. God is generous and God will save if only we trust. Paul seems pretty sure that this trust issue is a problem for Christians; so sure that he writes about it to the church at Rome – a church full of people Paul has never met! If we say that Jesus is Lord, Paul suggests, we ought to trust that the same God who ordered Jesus’ life will order ours. We might even believe that the same God who raised Jesus to transformational life in the Resurrection will transform us in the Resurrection life!

“Trust in God” is not just words, it’s a way of living in the world that says that we have placed ourselves in God’s hand. We place so much trust in people and things every day. Our employer will pay us for our work; our computers will not crash; drivers will obey traffic laws; the grocery store will have groceries. We put huge chunks of our lives in the hands of others. So why is it so hard to trust that God is faithful and will lead us to whole and healed lives through the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

As we take this walk with God, we need to slow down a little and think a lot. Think about how our response to God’s love in Jesus is shown in the lives we live as we trust God to help us order our lives as Jesus ordered his. Then we may truly sing with joy, “Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus.”

Prayer: Wondrous God, your love for us is faithful, no matter what. Help us in this season of prayer to give our hearts to Jesus’ way of living in the world. May this journey truly transform us as we learn to more completely trust in you. Amen.

The Rev. Lucinda Nelson
Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

– – – – –
REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 19: Congregational excellence

1.jpgColossians 3:16
The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

We are given the assurance that, “where two or three are gathered” (Matt. 18:20), in the name of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of the Lord is there. One of the ways we can feel that most deeply is singing together.

Being a “Minister of Worship and Music,” I am, obviously, biased when it comes to the presence and prominence of music in the church. However, what you may not know is why I feel so strongly about it.

It is oftentimes difficult to explain the movement of the Holy Spirit to a non-believer, but it is easier to grasp this experience when in the presence of a singing community. Put simply, singing kindles the flames of the Spirit.

Music has the ability to speak to people in ways much deeper than mere words, and it helps us connect with the church through all ages—the past, present, and future. Singing old and new songs is more than a way of giving identity to our own generations; it unifies us with the Body of Christ in all ages and times.

What are you doing in your churches to encourage healthy congregational singing?

It may surprise you, but one of the most important things I have learned in this endeavor is to build and nurture trusting relationships. Within your churches, I would encourage you to ask, “How is it with your soul?”

But I would also add, “How is it with your song?”

Prayer: God, help me to “tune my heart to sing your grace,” and make me ever attentive to the needs of your people to proclaim their faith through singing. AMEN.

The Rev. Jackson Henry
Chairperson, Order of Deacons-TN Conference

– – – – –
REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 18: Pastoral excellence

1.jpgLuke 24:36 
While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

I was tired, worn out, and stressed to the max! I was mostly annoyed at the inconvenience when I first got the call from my doctor to tell me that I had cancer. In my war-wearied state of total burn-out, I remember thinking that it might be nice if I actually had cancer, then maybe I could get away for a while.

My melt-down came when I was informed that surgery could not be scheduled for several weeks. I wanted the cancer out of my body immediately! I broke down into uncontrollable tears. I remember sitting at my computer, desperately trying to e-mail my Spiritual Director for prayer. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see through the tears. My whole body was racked with sobs. I could barely catch my breath.

At one point, as I wiped the tears away, I saw my dog, Gus, sitting on the floor beside me. He was looking up at me with the most compassionate eyes I had ever seen. Around my feet lay all of his favorite toys. I had been oblivious to his efforts to cheer me as he had fetched all of his toys from around the house. Gus was dangerously possessive of his toys. No one was ever allowed to touch any of his toys. If he caught you picking up one of his toys, he would pounce on you, growling his warnings to back off. In his concern for me, though, Gus was now sacrificially extending his love in the only way that he knew how. Some people may think this is a bit of a stretch, but I saw the eyes of Jesus reflected in Gus’ big, brown eyes as he looked up at me in that moment of sacrificial love.

When we extend sacrificial love to those in pain; when we are willing to give all that we have to help another bear their burdens; when we lay down our lives for others, it is then that we see the transformational power of God’s love at work. I am physically, spiritually, and emotionally whole today because of the sacrificial love extended to me through the many friends and family that became Jesus for me when I was broken and weary.

Prayer: Lord, help us to bring the authority of your love to our families, our churches, and to the world around us. As you call us to greater levels of excellence in ministry, may we learn to love well.

The Rev. Dr. Diana M. DeWitt
Chairperson, Spiritual Formation Team-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 17: God’s transforming presence – Offering Christ to a hurting world

1.jpgLuke 13: 10-13
Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you are set free from your sickness.” He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God.

“God’s will, done His way, and in His timing” is a powerful prayer for individuals and for the church. However, when Jesus healed the crippled woman on the Sabbath He offended the synagogue rulers. Jesus called them hypocrites because they showed less compassion for this woman of sacred worth than animals in their care.

Jesus’ simple prayer, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment,” was filled with the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. The spirit that had been crippling her for eighteen years left her. She stood up straight and began praising God.

Healing of body, soul, and spirit causes us to praise the Lord who is the true source of all healing.

Since God’s healing, transforming power so dramatically changed this individual, can we also believe that the Lord will transform families, congregations, districts, and annual conferences? Our theme from John 14:12 certainly encourages us to pray for even greater things than these.

“God’s will, done His way.” Those are challenging words. God’s way is always better than any program, plan, or agenda that we could contrive.

Together let’s consciously submit our will to God and pray that we’ll be led by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we believe your transforming power and presence can change individuals and our churches and our annual conferences. Place your hand on our lives, set us free from any infirmity, and allow us to praise You wholeheartedly. AMEN

Margie Burger
Director of Prayer Ministries, Aldersgate Renewal Ministries

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 16: Missional excellence

1.jpgActs 2:42-47
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.

Today’s Scripture reminds us that we are called to do what the early church did. They fellowshipped and were obedient to the apostles’ teaching and participated in communion and prayer. Then, greater things began to happen.

The community began to notice the signs and wonders performed by the apostles. The new believers were generous in selling and sharing their possessions with glad and sincere hearts. They were living transformed lives and it was contagious.

We’ve heard a lot of questions about becoming vital congregations and about being disciples of Jesus Christ. But a better question to ask might be, “When did we stop being disciples and vital congregations?” As I reflected, Jesus softened my heart and encouraged me to return to the ways of the early church.

Over the years I have been able to identify others as missionaries (like school teachers) or evangelists (those that share Jesus). But I had been making excuses – that Jesus had called and gifted others, not me. Then, Jesus taught me that I am called and empowered to offer Him to others. Now I am intentional about not only meeting physical needs, but also sharing the Good News of Jesus through His transforming love.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for calling us to follow You. Empower us to share You with everyone we meet. Yes, Lord, GREATER THINGS are still to be done! In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.

Today may we look for the opportunities where God is already at work — and join Him!

Holly Neal
Lay Leader-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 15: Congregational excellence

1.jpgLuke 21: 1-3
Looking up, Jesus saw rich people throwing their gifts into the collection box for the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow throw in two small copper coins worth a penny. He said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than them all.

Some weeks back, the church I attend was damaged by either a tornado or, at least, severe straight-line winds. The fellowship hall had a tree fall on it causing damage to the walls, floors and both roofs, including the roof over the sanctuary. Trees littered the property and parking lot. Our brothers and sisters from UMCOR have been a constant presence giving whatever it takes to help others in need. They give not from their abundance, but they gave and continue giving all they can to God.

Amazingly, last year the church applied for a church extension grant to fix the leaking roof, fellowship hall and a few other items. Out of the chaos of the storm and disaster, God has blessed us with a new roof and repairs that we, otherwise, would not have been able to accomplish. Three days after the roof was completed, as it rained and rained, we all stood in the church thanking God for the sound of the awesome rain falling on that new roof.

So what is a healthy congregation? Could it be that a healthy congregation is one that not only withstands the storms of life, but one which thrives through the storms of life? A healthy congregation is one that is able to celebrate in the rain, when the safety net of God’s love and grace is firmly in place through surrendered servants who love the Lord with all their hearts, and who love their neighbors as themselves.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, giver of all good gifts, help us in this season of worry, doubt and mistrust to trust you as that faithful widow did so long ago. May we not only give out of our abundance, as so many of us often do, but to give our all to you as the widow who gave out of her poverty. Move us into your divine health. AMEN

Gerry Campbell
Lay Leader-Memphis Conference

– – – – –
REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 14: Pastoral excellence

1.jpgExodus 16:4
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I’m going to make bread rain down from the sky for you. The people will go out each day and gather just enough for that day. In this way, I’ll test them to see whether or not they follow my Instruction.

Years ago I remember reading about a Methodist missionary recounting a visit from a student. He had been reading the Bible and said, “It writes here that when Jesus will come again, he will come with a shout. What will Jesus shout?” Reflecting on his walk with Christ on the mission field he replied, “Christ will shout ENOUGH! Enough poverty….enough suffering…enough hunger…enough hatred… enough death. Enough.”

That word “enough” is one we struggle with in our culture. Voices bombard us daily saying we don’t have enough. We must buy one more electronic gadget so life can be easier. We must acquire more money to be comfortable. We need more work on the house so it will compete in the market. We need one more car to make life fun. “Enough” gets stretched further and further from our reach. When is enough?

God tried to teach the Hebrews in the wilderness that “enough” was a matter of trust in God’s love, provision, and grace. The Biblical narrative is full of illustrations of good people not getting that lesson. We see it all the way down to Jesus as he stood before the multitude. He kept telling the disciples that a few loaves would be enough.

This is a lesson the church continues to struggle with. We are filled with fear of the future. We are afraid there will not be enough time, energy, money, resources or whatever to take care of the “have to’s,” much less risk caring for those outside our circle. But Jesus patiently keeps saying, “Enough.” Jesus keeps suggesting that we look at our “have to’s,” again. Do they reflect, “I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself?” Enough! That shout transforms us because it shatters fear and releases us in trust to live the life Jesus called “Abundant.”

Prayer: Lord, Jesus, in your power and in your love, release us for “enough.” AMEN.

The Rev. LeNoir Culbertson
Murfreesboro District Superintendent-TN Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Bishop McAlilly announces pilgrimage to the Holy Land

HolyLand

Bishop Bill McAlilly announces pilgrimage to the Holy Land February 17-26, 2014

Jerusalem, the Holy City! Since the earliest days of Christianity, pilgrims have made their way to this place. In 2014, we will follow in the ancient and venerated footsteps of these faithful Christians.

As we travel together, we will worship and learn. We will visit sites where Jesus walked, where he taught and prayed. We will discover the images that he used to illustrate His parables. We will come closer to understanding Him as we gain understanding of world in which He conducted His ministry.

I hope many of you will accompany us on this spiritual pilgrimage. This will not be a commercial tour! This will be a true faith experience and I would consider it a privilege to have you with us.

Brochures, tour host information, and general information is available by contacting the following persons:

Project Coordinator for the Tennessee Conference: Randall and Brenda Ganues, rganues@gmail.com or 615.804.5345
Project Coordinator for the Memphis Conference: Philip and Vida McClure, vmcclure1227@att.net or 270.653.3352


Day 13: God’s transforming presence – offering Christ to a hurting world

40Days_Logo_day13John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

John 14:12 
I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.

In John’s gospel the “greater things” are rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ, “the Word become flesh…full of grace and truth.” We are created to “do the works” that Jesus did—preaching, teaching and healing—calling men and women to become disciples who make disciples. There is nothing more important, nothing more central, and nothing more urgent.

45% of the UM churches have not made a disciple in years. According the major study conducted before the 2012 General Conference, only 15% of our congregations are “vital.”

Jesus made disciples. We will never do thus until we repent of our disobedience and change. The first step to transformation is repentance.

Secondly, we are called to believe the gospel. In Jewish and Wesleyan teaching, belief is never separated from behavior. If we believe, we act in obedience. If we are not obedient and active, we do not believe.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit that was in Jesus and is now poured out on all who ask and seek and knock. This Spirit is the reason that we are able to do greater things. The third essential is to receive the Holy Spirit.

Our response is joyful, intentional obedience. This is Christian maturity.

Prayer: Forgiving God, I repent of my failure to make disciples. I am called to this. I believe there is nothing more important. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and empower me for joyful obedience.

The Rev. Dr. Tom Albin
Dean of The Upper Room Ministries & Ecumenical Relations GBOD | The United Methodist Church

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…
READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 12: Missional excellence

1.jpgActs 2:42-45
The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. All the believers were united and shared everything. They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them.

In these verses we have the earliest recording of the practices of the Church in its beginnings. Whenever I hear folks lament over not singing the “old” hymns, or missing the “old” style of preaching and worship, I remind them of the events in Acts 2. Certainly, things evolve in time and context, but the bones of who we are as missioners and disciples still live in these words of scripture.

The words of the old hymn that says, “Give me that old time religion,” set before us a challenge to look at our lives and our churches and to assess whether we can sing those words with sincerity. If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, we would be devoted to Bible study, prayer, worship, and fellowship within the Body of Christ.

If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, we would be in awe of the many miracles and signs of the “greater things” about which Jesus spoke.

If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, there would be no poverty, no brokenness, no loneliness, and no lack, for we would give out of our own resources to make certain that no one had needs that were unmet.

If, in fact, we truly embraced that “old time religion” of the apostles, we would “be” Jesus to our families, our communities, our churches, and the world around us.

Prayer: O Lord, help us in our devotional and disciplined lives that we might not ever forget the essentials, that we might not major in the minors, and that we might not just become disciples, but that we might make disciples, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

The Rev. Sky Lowe-McCracken
Paducah District Superintendent-Memphis Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions


Day 11: Congregational excellence

1.jpgActs 3:9-10 (Read verses 1-11)
All the people saw him walking and praising God. They recognized him as the same one who used to sit at the temple’s Beautiful Gate asking for money. They were filled with amazement and surprise at what had happened to him.

Two recently Spirit-filled disciples make their way to the temple, expecting to do what they had done so many times before…pray. Everything is likely quite familiar to them. Familiar people are walking alongside them toward the temple. As usual, some friends compassionately carry their crippled friend to his familiar spot at the gate to beg for his daily sustenance. Though unnamed, the man has certainly become a fixture at the Beautiful Gate. Expectations are quite normal as well. The people would go into the temple to pray and this crippled man would receive alms from many of them. But for Peter and John and this unnamed man this day is different. The man will ask them for his normal alms, expecting to get something from them. But Peter and John expect greater things! God uses a couple of penniless, Spirit-filled disciples to genuinely connect with this man and become instruments of transformation for both the man and his normal reality.

I have lived with this story for the past ten years or so. Bishop McAlilly is challenging us to take Jesus at his word and approach our mission together “Expecting Greater Things.” Peter and John show us that for greater things to occur, our focus must move beyond what we don’t have so we can more powerfully offer what we do have. The Greek word for resurrection literally means to stand up or stand again. The crippled man at the temple gate experienced a resurrection in this sense. He has new life and renewed hope as a participating part of the faith community. He is a compelling example of persons in our mission field that healthy congregations are learning to love and to reach. Healthy congregations operate out of the basic premise that God accomplishes so much more through us together than we can each do simply on our own. In this we can indeed expect greater things.

Prayer: Loving God, enable us to move our focus from unhealthy scarcity to your healing abundance so we might become power-full vessels of your grace, seizing every opportunity to provide an environment for transformation needed by us all. Amaze us all as we expect greater things, in Jesus’ name! AMEN.

The Rev. Dr. Richard W. Clark
Jackson District Superintendent- Memphis Conference

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REFLECTIONS FOR THE DAY |
Use a program on your computer, a traditional journal, or feel free to use the comment section of this blog post to record your reflections as a conversation with others…

READ – What spoke to me as I read today’s meditation?
REPENT – Where is God showing me that I have failed to be obedient to the call to discipleship today?
RECEIVE – What words of redemption and grace is God offering to me?
REMEMBER – Who and what is God calling me to remember in prayer related to today’s reading?
RESPOND – How is God calling me to respond today?

RESOURCES:
> DOWNLOADS – 40 Day Walk prayer guide (.PDF), 40 Days of Doodles kids journal (.PDF)
> CLICK HERE for sermon starters/suggestions