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


Day 10: Pastoral excellence

Luke 4:31-36 
1.jpg
Jesus went down to the city of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people each Sabbath. They were amazed by his teaching because he delivered his message with authority. A man in the synagogue had the spirit of an unclean demon. He screamed, “Hey! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are. You are the holy one from God.”

“Silence!” Jesus said, speaking harshly to the demon. “Come out of him!” The demon threw the man down before them, then came out of him without harming him. They were all shaken and said to each other, “What kind of word is this, that he can command unclean spirits with authority and power, and they leave?”

“They were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with authority” (Luke 4:32). What did those gathered in the synagogue on that day hear, feel, or see that would spawn such a comment? Jesus’ authority was evidenced by the creative power he carried in his voice, his touch, and his actions. He had the power to make the deaf hear, the blind see, the captive to be set free. Jesus could “author” deep changes in a person, a group, or a world. That’s authority! On this day spoken of in Luke, chapter 4, Jesus loved a tormented man, and the result was that man gained a right mind. That’s power! That is authority of love!

Jesus’ love is a working love. It is powerful. It authors changes. I don’t have this kind of powerful love. I can, however, come under the authority of Jesus’ love for me and the world he created. I can be “refashioned” and “re-passioned” by Jesus love if I invite it to work on me instead of my working against it.

When I walk into a church that I am appointed to serve, there is not a chance of my love being of the ilk that creates changes of “Biblical proportions.” I don’t have that kind of “authority,” but I sure like to see Jesus’ authoritative love unleashed upon the people I serve and into the world that surrounds me. It is this powerful love that saved me, freed me, changed me and is re-creating me. All I can do is serve this Jesus who is so gracious as to have used His power on me…and then I can get to watch Jesus work!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, bring me under your authority. Mold me. Make me. Use me to your glory for the sake of this world you love….and are changing.

The Rev. Jay Archer
Cookeville 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


DAY 9: 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.

As we reflect on the transforming presence of Jesus in our lives, what a remarkably sweet gift is the healing presence of Christ that is always with us! Jesus reminds us that many of us are bent over, weighed down, overwhelmed and burdened. Every now and then, we need someone to speak a word of encouragement and lay gentle hopeful hands on us in His name that we may be able to stand up straight and tall, liberated through faith.

What must it be like to not have to look down at the ground, but look up to the Lord because we have been set free?

What must it look like to no longer be looked upon as cursed, but blessed and highly favored because we have been healed in the place of worship and praise?

What would happen if all those who came to the House, the Temple, the Church where we gather each Sunday morning; and brought those who were bent over because they were nameless, faceless and voiceless; and they were able to leap and jump and praise God for deliverance?

What would healing look like in each congregation if we all came expecting Jesus to be present to do great things in us, with us and through us?

Prayer: Precious Jesus, hear us when we pray for healing that we might stand up, reach up, look up and hold out until our change comes! Your transforming presence gives hope that we are not forgotten, invisible, or helpless. Heal us of the things that cause us to stoop over and not look up to give thanks to you. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Davis
McKendree 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 8: Missional excellence

1.jpgRomans 8.26-27
In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.

One of Jesus’ disciples asked of him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11.1). The Lord must always teach us to pray, “For we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8.26). Prayer is God’s gift that enables us to long for, seek, and call out to God. Through prayer we are able to answer that we are children of God, not slaves to fall back in fear. (Rom 8.14-15)

Without God helping us to pray, we are left in the world of our own making. But through prayer God teaches us to imagine, experience, and see possibilities beyond ourselves. Prayer is radical openness to God’s possibilities.

If we don’t pray with radical openness, we are limiting what God can accomplish in and through us, and we are limiting the reign of God’s grace and the fulfillment of the creation. Through radical openness in persistent prayer, we can begin to see God’s “greater things.”

Jesus embodied radical openness to God and thus the fullness of God’s mission to save the world. Prayer is the way we grow into Christ to see the missional and evangelistic possibilities before us.

If we allow God to cultivate the mind of Christ in us, then we are habitually in the mindset of mission with Christ.

We are habitually noticing God showing up in suffering, care, hope and transformation.

We are habitually seeing the neighbor as ourselves. And we are joining Christ in the work he is already doing among our neighbors and us.

Prayer: Lord, teach us and help us to pray so that we might not miss the opportunities to serve alongside you.

The Rev. John Collett
Nashville 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


Day 7: Congregational excellence

1.jpgColossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Colossae folks first heard the gospel from Epaphras, a beloved co-worker of the apostle Paul. Ever since the Colossians had received and understood the message of God’s grace, fruit and growth had taken place. Paul gives thanks for this church, reminds them of their rescue through Christ, and now, in this passage, Paul’s words are offered as encouragement for even greater things.

Prayer: O Lord, help us put on Love like a beautiful garment to wear! Thank you for setting us free from sin by love for love! We understand that this gift we receive is the same gift to be given.

In all our congregations, our sisters and brothers in faith, may we remember and renew this awesome work of your grace on our behalf: your compassion for us, kindness to us, humility, gentleness and patience with us, your forgiveness of us and this incredible experience of your love through Christ Jesus.

Considering all that you have done for us, may we now with joy do the same, not only with each other, but with ALL! AMEN.

The Rev. Karen Barrineau
Clarksville 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


Day 6: Pastoral excellence

Matthew 25:39-40
1.jpgWhen did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? Then the King will reply to them, “I assure you that when you have done it for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.”

It was 1998. My family’s life had taken a dramatic turn the summer of ’96 when I answered the call of God to become a pastor. Friendships were forming for my son in his new high school, and life was going well, though, as family adjustments were being made. We had slowly moved into our new family “normal.”

Then, my son came home from school one afternoon telling me that he had heard that a friend of his from his old school had been arrested for murder. He asked me to go visit him in Juvenile Detention. We were about to enter into a new world.

Murder was something one might see on TV or in the movies, but certainly was not a part of our lives. My son continued to press me to find time to go and visit his friend. Several weeks later, my son came to me with a letter that he had written. I wept as I read my 16-year-old son’s letter to his friend. He shared in the letter about the freedom that he could find in his heart and life through repenting of his sins and asking Jesus Christ to be His Lord and Savior.

One day, sitting outside the chaplain’s office at the prison, while reading to my son’s friend from Romans, chapter eight, I found myself overcome with deep emotion as I shared with him how much Jesus loved him. I began weeping, while feeling an indescribable love well up in my heart for this young man. I, then, realized that God was pouring out His love “through” me to him. We were both deeply moved that day by the power of God’s love at work in and through us.

Fifteen years later, while he still sits unjustly behind prison bars, I can honestly say that nothing has impacted me more deeply in life than the love that God deposited into our hearts that day. “Jesus loves us this I know, for the Bible tells us so!”

Is there anything greater than love? I think not. We read in I John that God is love. May we walk in no other authority than in the authority of God’s love!

Prayer: Lord, teach us how to love well. Give us your heart for others, so that we might serve with excellence the sheep of your pastures.

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 4: Missional excellence

4.jpgActs 1:8
Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

When the call came, I felt the very life knocked out of me. How could it be?

Surely this was a bad nightmare that would go away when I awakened!

But I was wide awake, and the nightmare was real. My son had been murdered!

How could I now survive?

The anger within me burned like a fire that was all consuming. Revenge was on the edge of the insanity that was consuming my heart…how does a parent move beyond such pain and grief?

The answer came as my wife and I and our younger son were driving down the mountain toward Florida where the random shooting had taken place in a church parking lot. The questions, both spoken and unspoken, were filling the air inside our car like a dark blanket that was almost suffocating us. How could something like this happen? Why did this happen? Why Jason? Who did this? Why? Why?

Why?

It was 15-year-old David who broke through the dark myriad of unanswerable questions. He said, “We know where Jason is, but what do we do about the boy who killed him?” 

I heard myself say, “We forgive him!” It was at that raw moment when healing began for our family. Forgiveness is that point where life begins for all of us.

Jesus died so that we might live. That is the story that must be shared to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Prayer: Lord, help us to share our stories of faith so that others may find life through Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Tom Halliburton
Cumberland 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


Day 3: Congregational excellence

3.jpgEphesians 3:17-19
I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you will know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

It had been coming for quite a while, but we had not recognized it for what it was, as I believe that we should. We lost precious children and teachers in a horrific event at Sandy Hook School. We also lost a parent and her troubled child.

But, God came to save all of the cosmos in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Doesn’t that call us to accept our shared humanity with all of its brokenness? To do so would open in each of us opportunities for the pain of others to be felt. By acknowledging and feeling the pain of others, we can begin to respond with compassion. After all, the word “compassion” means “with passion.”

Compassion is not regret. Regret forgets until the next time. Compassion is active involvement in the healing process.

I pray that you have never had to suffer the horrific pain of such violence. And, I pray that you never will. I also pray that we will be more sensitive to the pain and struggles of others on all levels, whether in our own country or in other lands across the globe.

There are no easy answers to the pain and brokenness that surrounds us. There is, however, hope. Hope came in the form of an innocent child:
• exposed to the elements,
• the neglect of the community,
• and the retaliatory fear from both religious and secular leadership.

Hope came through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this hope that draws all of us to gather together in the loving embrace of a congregation where mercy and compassion reaches out to one another to bring healing and wholeness.

Prayer: God, grant us compassion for those You came to save. Place in us your heart for others, that we might find the fullness of life through living in the embrace of your love in our churches and in our conferences. May our congregations be healthy examples of your forgiveness and grace.

Dr. John R. Bonson, Sr.
Director of Connectional Ministries-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 2: God’s transforming presence – Offering Christ to a hurting world

2.jpgPsalm 139:7
“Where could I go to get away from your Spirit? Where could I go to escape your Presence?”

One Sunday afternoon I had just finished preaching my third sermon for the day. I was completely exhausted and drained of energy as I was driving the thirty-five miles back home. Then suddenly there it was right before my eyes. I stopped the car and got out, only to behold the glory of God’s beautiful creation.

The majestic mountains rolled on both sides of me. Just below the dark-green and waxy leaves of the trees reflected the glow of the sunlit sky. There were tiny buds covering the ruby-leaf plum trees. The porches and lawns of the houses were filled with colorful flowers. The vines covering the walls and porches splashed of bright orange, yellow and red colors. It was a magnificent sight!

As I beheld the beauty of God’s creation that summer day, suddenly I felt the Holy Presence surrounding me, filling me with little whispers of peace and love. My tired and worn body was completely transformed into a ray of energy, joy and new life. God’s presence hushed my sighs of weariness, bringing a breath of cheer and ease to my troubled soul.

I am convinced that we can discover God’s presence in all, yes all, of our daily lives; not only in the beauty of the earth, but in the faces of all our brothers and sisters. We can know God’s presence when we serve others living with poverty and injustice; when we stand up for truth, justice and righteousness, when we protect the least, the lost and lonely, when we reach out to the poor, the homeless and imprisoned. How many times have we looked back over our lives only to realize that God’s presence was there with us all the time: in the close encounter of an accident, the reconciliation of a family member, in caressing a new born child.

When was the last time you felt bathed in God’s majestic presence? When was the last time you recognized God’s presence in the ordinary, mundane circumstances of day-to-day living?

Prayer: Loving God, open our hearts to see your Holy Presence in all of our daily lives. May your closeness burst forth in the purity of the dawn and in the glowing ray of sunset, speaking your words of hope, joy and new life. May we always know your Holy Presence as we offer Christ to a hurting world. AMEN.

The Rev. Bettye P. Lewis
Director of Connectional Ministries-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 1: 40-Day Walk With God

1.jpgI John 4:9
This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through Him.

Our grandson, Thomas, is 18 months old. He can say a few words now, but my favorite is “Papa.” He calls me Papa and sometimes calls his grandmother Papa. It makes me smile when I hear him say my name. Sometimes Thomas says “Papa” as praise. Sometimes he cries it when he is wounded and hurt. There are other times when he says “Papa” as a prayer.

Recently, in my own prayer life, it occurred to me that when I pray to God, call God’s name, God must surely smile as I do when Thomas calls my name. In its simplest form, this is what prayer is. Sometimes when I say God’s name it is praise. Sometimes it is when I am in pain. At other times, it is simply as a silent prayer.

Inviting God’s presence to give us a deep sense of the many ways God’s love is being revealed into us and through us is our hope for this prayer guide. For the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world, we invite you to commit the next 40 days to a “Season of Prayer.” We invite you to journey with us as we seek to bear witness to the love of God in the world.

Across the Nashville Area, we are calling you to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who will invite others to become a disciple who will then change the world. May this prayer guide be a tool to assist us as we lean into God’s movement across our conferences.

We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. (I John 4:14)

Prayer: O Lord, speak to us with clarity as we seek to bear witness to the world of your love. Keep our lives focused in you as we live into your desired future. These things we pray in the strong name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Bishop William T. McAlilly
Nashville Episcopal Area Leader

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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


A 40 Day Walk With God starts tomorrow morning!

1.jpgBeginning tomorrow morning the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences will embark on a 40-day journey together with God and through prayer. As we prepare for this upcoming Annual Conference season (Memphis – June 2-5, Tennessee – June 10-12), consider walking with us!

“We will join hands and hearts across Conferences as we enter into a 40-day season of intentional prayer together and with God. I believe this call to prayer will change your life and our churches as we prepare for Annual Conference.” – Bishop Bill McAlilly

RESOURCES:
There are several options for participation during the 40 Day Walk…

  • Physical prayer guides: there might still be a few of these floating around, contact your District offices for info (Memphis | TNUMC)
  • Digital prayer guides: DOWNLOAD (.PDF) for printing or for reading on your computer
  • 40 Days of Doodles for kids! CLICK HERE to download (.PDF)
  • Subscribe to the Bishop’s Blog: by subscribing with your email, you receive automatic updates to your inbox – each daily devotion will release at 6:00 am cst every morning between Apr. 24-Jun. 2. Enter your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the HOME page
  • Follow the Bishop’s Blog daily: just log on to www.BishopBillMcAlilly.com every day to read the daily devotions from the 40 Day Walk With God prayer guide – each daily devotion will release at 6:00 am cst every morning between Apr. 24-Jun. 2

You can also get links from our social media presence on Facebook and Twitter:
> Memphis: Facebook | Twitter (@UM_Memphis Conf)
> Tennessee: Facebook | Twitter (@tnumc)

Use hashtag #40daywalk when sharing and tweeting through Twitter – let’s let the world know that the Memphis and Tennessee Conference’s are in a season of prayer and encourage our brothers and sisters across the connection to join us!

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