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Naked Spirituality

More and more churches are using Naked Spirituality as a basis for sermon series and small groups. Pastor DavidlTinney of Vancouver First United Methodist Church prepared a set of daily devotions based on the book and graciously agreed to share them.

You'll find the first ten weeks of devotions below, covering the words Here, Thanks, O, and Sorry. Again, thanks to David!

The Beginning of our Journey Theme for the week: Our response to God’s call

Day 1
Scripture: Genesis 17: 1-17
Reflection: It is good to know that the Bible is real and not written to hide emotions. I cannot imagine a document with such brutal honesty being written in today’s world of spin doctors and PR departments. We have all decided to take a journey together for the next year. We will also write and sign a covenant about how we treat each other and hold to the promises we agreed we wanted to share. Today’s reading is about a covenant and also about Abraham’s frank response to God’s promise. As you read this story today, put yourself in Abraham’s sandals and imagine that you are the one talking with God. Read it through completely and then go back again and find one word or phrase that captures your attention and spend a few moments repeating it slowly and heart-fully.

Questions to ponder:
What promise would you like to receive from God as you embark on this year-long journey?
If God spoke to your heart right now and said, “I am going to make you a mighty disciple and you will do great things,” would you fall down and laugh?

Prayer for the day: Lord this is all new to so many of us. This is the first time for many of us to take our spiritual journeys seriously. So we ask for your guidance and help.
As we enter into this journey we pause right now to pray for what we need for a covenant between us to be strong enough to bind and grow us.

You'll find the rest after the jump ...


Thanks to DavidTinney
Pastor at Vancouver First United Methodist Church 
for sharing these devotions based on Naked Spirituality!
http://www.vanfumc.org


The Beginning of our Journey
Theme for the week: Our response to God’s call

Day 1
Scripture: Genesis 17: 1-17
Reflection: It is good to know that the Bible is real and not written to hide emotions. I cannot imagine a document with such brutal honesty being written in today’s world of spin doctors and PR departments. We have all decided to take a journey together for the next year. We will also write and sign a covenant about how we treat each other and hold to the promises we agreed we wanted to share. Today’s reading is about a covenant and also about Abraham’s frank response to God’s promise. As you read this story today, put yourself in Abraham’s sandals and imagine that you are the one talking with God. Read it through completely and then go back again and find one word or phrase that captures your attention and spend a few moments repeating it slowly and heart-fully.

Questions to ponder:
What promise would you like to receive from God as you embark on this year-long journey?
If God spoke to your heart right now and said, “I am going to make you a mighty disciple and you will do great things,” would you fall down and laugh?

Prayer for the day: Lord this is all new to so many of us. This is the first time for many of us to take our spiritual journeys seriously. So we ask for your guidance and help.
As we enter into this journey we pause right now to pray for what we need for a covenant between us to be strong enough to bind and grow us.

Day 2
Scripture: Exodus 3: 1-15; 4: 1-17
Reflection: Moses is thought of as a great man of faith and courage, but look at the way he started out. He lived a great and easy life in the Pharaoh’s court, killed a man who was beating up an Israelite slave and instead of owning up to it, he hid in the desert for years. He was not what some would call the “perfect candidate for ministry.”
Some of the imperfections of his character show up in the story of the burning bush. Nearly every person called by God responds with a flurry of “buts,” “ifs,” and “what ifs.” What is it about God’s call that puts us in this defensive posture?
As you read this story today, put yourself in Moses’ sandals and imagine that you are the one talking with God. Read it through completely and then go back again and find one word or phrase that captures your attention and spend a few moments repeating it slowly and heart-fully.

Questions to ponder:
Have you ever sensed being called by God to step out into the unknown? Recall it and read the story again. Did you offer up some of the same excuses?
Moses was given one sign after another that he could use to show that he was a legitimate disciple of God. What sign would you need? Would one sign be enough?

Prayer for the day: If you dare, pray these words, “Lord, I want to be your disciple. Call me and use me in whatever ways you want. Give me the courage to step out in faith.”


Day 3
Scripture: Numbers 13: 1-3, 16-33; 14: 1-10
Reflection: This is one of those “do you see the glass half full or half empty” stories, or in this case do your fears stop you from seeing the possibilities of God? The Israelites have been wandering in the wilderness for years and it is time to test them to see if they are filled with fear or faith. Moses sends twelve spies into the Promised Land to see what it holds for them. They return with stories of giants who could destroy them as if they were insects. They see their future through the “eyes of grasshoppers.”
As you read this story try to imagine a time in your life when you were consumed by fear. How did the world look to you? What would it take to be a “Joshua” and come back with a different report?

Questions to ponder:
Moses was ready to pass on his leadership and was looking for someone with courage and faith. He must have seen something in Joshua before they even left because he changes his name from Hoshea to Joshua, which means “deliverer or savior.” What do you think he saw in Joshua? Do you have some of the same qualities?
What is your greatest fear in life? If you knew that God was with you could you let go of that fear and step out in faith?

Prayer for the day: “Oh Lord, often times my fear gets in the way of my faith. I see the world through the eyes of grasshoppers rather than through the eyes of a disciple. Give me the courage to step out in faith.”

Day 4
Scripture: 1 Kings 19: 1-16
Reflection: If you have time you can read the story leading up to this story, but the condensed version is this – Elijah is one of the greatest prophets and has been called by God to bring a great drought to the land because of the evil and wicked actions of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. To show God’s power Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal to a contest – kind of like the Super Bowl of prophets. You have to read the details of the story to appreciate what went on. After a clear and amazing victory, Elijah hears that Queen Jezebel is angry and going to destroy him and he runs away. That is where today’s story picks up. After a great act of courage, he is now shaking.
As you read this story, put yourself in Elijah’s place and consider what it is like to be threatened. Consider moments when you have taken a stand and then met with resistance. What did it feel like?

Questions to ponder:
Where have you felt like Elijah in your life? How long did you hide?
The most beautiful part of this story is God’s response. God comes not in the great wind, not in the earthquake, and not in the fire, but in the “still, quiet voice.” When have you heard God’s still, quiet voice?

Prayer for the day: “Lord your call sometimes puts us in dangerous places where we need to take stands that are not popular. Protect me Lord when I stand for you. Give me the courage to keep stepping out as your disciple.”


Day 5
Scripture: Luke 1: 26-38
Reflection: It is time to fast forward to the New Testament and to the story of God calling Mary for a special mission. As you read this story today, please don’t let its familiarity stand in the way of letting it speak to you in new ways. Read it slowly and ponder its power.
Mary is one of the most vulnerable people that God has ever called and she is being called to one of the greatest of all tasks. She is barely a teenager and living in a male dominated, male governed society that would easily stone her for being pregnant out of wedlock. Imagine the cost of saying yes to God’s outrageous “offer.”
As you read this story, put yourself in Mary’s place and consider what is at stack in this offer to serve God. Consider the emotional impact on your parents, friends, and on Joseph. Consider what your own reputation might appear if you take this wild offer. What did it feel like?

Questions to ponder:
Sometimes we over-think things in life. Sometimes we know what is right and true but our minds get in the way and we think of all the terrible things that could happen. I am not saying that we should bridle discernment, but I am asking you what would happen if you thought with your heart?
Mary’s response is as genuine and pure as any could be. “Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be according to your word.” What would it take for you to respond with words like these?

Prayer for the day: “Lord your call sometimes tests my faith and my courage. Sometimes you call me to places and actions that threaten my security and pull me out of my comfort zone. As your disciple I stand with those of the past and say, here I am the servant of God, let it be according to your word.”


Day 6
Scripture: John 1: 29-42
Reflection: Too often we read the opening chapter of John and we get swept up in the first 18 verses and don’t read about Jesus’ encounter with John the Baptist or his meeting with his first disciples. Often I wonder about the story where Jesus merely comes by fishermen in the boats and says, “Follow me,” and they drop everything they are doing and follow. By reading John we realize that there were some who had been waiting for the messiah to come and they provide the opening for others in the future.
Jesus asked the question, “What are you looking for?” Make that you question this morning as you ponder this year ahead. What are you looking for?

Questions to ponder:
Jesus said to the very first disciples, “Come and see.” What would you like to see within yourself as you come and walk with Jesus this year?
If you read the story carefully you will notice that one of the first disciples is Andrew, the brother to Peter. It was his witness to a member of his own family that brought his brother into a relationship with Christ. Who can you witness to? Who do you know who needs an invitation to “come and see” our Lord?

Prayer for the day: “Your words to the first disciples ring in my ear today. What am I looking for? What do I hope to gain from this journey with you? O Lord, may this journey with you deepen my faith and my love for you.”

WEEK #2
Theme for the week: The difference between “religious” and “spiritual”
Please read the introduction and preface in book “Naked Spirituality” by Brian McLaren


Day 1
Scripture: Matthew 9: 9-17
Reflection: This week we will take a look at the difference between being religious and being spiritual and we will use a lot of Gospel stories along the way. Brian McLaren raises a lot of issues about how religion, when used improperly, can turn people off from their spiritual journey and from wanting to walk closer to God. He asks the question in the introduction of his book, “How can we become truly spiritual people?” and I would like to really think about that all week with you.
Today’s reading can often be a confusing text because we don’t know very much these days about storage of wine. To appreciate the reading, please note that new wine expands greatly in the early months of fermentation and needs new wineskins that are elastic. But when the skins become old they lose their elasticity and the new wine would break the bag.
Christ’s message is like new wine – active, volatile, life-changing – and it could not be put into the wineskins of the religion of his day.

Questions to ponder:
In what ways is Christ’s message today still being put in old wineskins?
In what ways does the wine of spirituality stretch the wineskins of the religion around you?

Prayer for the day: O Lord, so often we get caught up in the rules, traditions, and particularities of our flavor of religion that we miss the bigger picture. We use our religion some times to judge others, to justify ourselves and condemn others, and to create restrictions rather than open new pathways to you. In this week ahead, help me to understand the difference between being religious and being spiritual.


Day 2
Scripture: Exodus 32: 1-20
Reflection: What does being spiritual mean to you? I chose this story of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf because it is such a great example of people being addicted to dramatic spiritual experiences. They needed their “spiritual fix” which in this case also involved drinking and revelry.
Brian McLaren notes in his introduction that there are some people who experience very dramatic spiritual experiences and some who are even addicted to them, but most of us are more used to “ordinary spiritual experience where we find, expand, and hold a quiet sacred space at the center of our lives, a space where we experience vital connection to the living God.”

Questions to ponder:
As you read the story of the worshiping of the golden calf where do you see the addiction to spiritual experiences?
Where do you see addictions to it in our culture?
How do you nurture everyday experiences with God that strengthen, deepen, and sustain you?

Prayer for the day: Great and gracious God, there are so many times I wish that you would speak in burning bushes or in powerful winds so that I might know you are there. There are times that I pray for one of those “dramatic spiritual experiences” that I hear so much about so that my faith might grow even deeper. Help me to understand that I don’t need dramatic moments for my faith to grow. I need to simply trust more and more in you and you will provide the experiences I need to deepen my faith.

Day 3
Scripture: John 12: 1-11
Reflection: Sometimes we get so caught up in the dos and don’ts in religion that we miss truly worshiping God or our Lord. This story today is one of those moments. A woman (and there has always been a lot of speculation as to who this woman was) breaks open a large and costly container of nard or perfume and then anoints Jesus with it. She is so absorbed in the act of honoring him that she even uses her hair to do the anointing. That was a huge social/religious taboo of the day – and we would probably frown upon it in our culture today.
But this was a spontaneous act of worship. It was an explosion of love and adoration. It didn’t fit with the rules and there were complaints – as there always are in matters like this. But what a joyful moment! Put yourself in her place and imagine a time where you worshipped with such abandon and joy.

Questions to ponder:
Are you restricted from worshipping the way you would want to by “rules” and “traditions” of the church?
What would it be like for you to raise your arms in the middle of a song and simply praise God?
Think of the ways that religion helps your spiritual journey. Think of the ways that it hinders it.

Prayer for the day: It would be hard for me O Lord to be like the woman in today’s story. My upbringing, training, and my concern about breaking rules seem to interfere with my ability to gush with this kind of emotion. Forgive me O Lord for times when I cannot give you all my heart.

Day 4
Scripture: John 2: 1-12
Reflection: Think about how all the other Gospel writers begin their stories about Jesus’ ministry. There are healings, sermons in his hometown, and stories of his childhood. But John begins with a story that is not found anywhere else – the changing of water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana. What a strange story to introduce Jesus’ ministry and yet it was the perfect one.
As you read this story I would like you to see the story for the symbols that are contained within it.
It is no coincidence that Jesus took those containers that represented rigid religious ritual and declared there is spirituality breaking through
It is no coincidence that Jesus took the jars used for old purification and getting clean and declared that he was going to be the way to be cleansed of our sins.
It is no coincidence that Jesus took the common wedding feast to show that God loves a celebration and that He is calling us to an eternal celebration around the heavenly banquet table.
It is no coincidence that Jesus filled the containers to overflowing with new wine because his ministry was one that overflowed with new grace.
It is no coincidence that Jesus filled the containers with the best wine that had ever been tasted because he was showing that you could shop around and try other ways to know the Lord but once you have tasted him, the best that heaven has to offer, you will not be satisfied with anything else again.
It is no coincidence that Jesus performed this miracle without anyone having to earn it or pay for it. It was free gift just as his grace is for us today

Questions to ponder:
When I learned that Jesus was kicking off his ministry with this exhibition of “signs” I was blown away. What does this new look at the old story do for you?
If Jesus came to change the existing “old religion” with “new wine” what does that mean for us today?
How can you and I show bountiful, overflowing, the-best-wine-ever-tasted grace to the world around us?

Prayer for the day: When I read this story I used to chuckle at the idea of changing something like water into wine but the story O Lord runs so much deeper. It is about change on so many levels. It is about your love and grace changing the systems of religion. It is about your abundant love changing me. It is about a real miracle that is far greater than changing water – it is about changing my heart. O loving Savior, please change my heart.


Day 5
Scripture: John 3: 1-21
Reflection: Let’s stick with the Gospel of John for a little longer and look at the very next story. We are introduced to Nicodemus, a very wealthy, connected, high-ranking Jew. In many ways he would represent the “establishment” that Jesus came to change.
As you read the dialogue with Nicodemus try to put yourself in his shoes. Jesus’ words sound like a coded message that you don’t understand. He talks in riddles about new life and being born again. As a “religious professional” this is a moment where you can explore the wonders of a new idea about spirituality and becoming closer to God through surrendering and being born again. But what is your response.

Questions to ponder:
Where have you been like Nicodemus and spent more time defending your point of view rather than listening to another?
Where have the religiously powerful grown-ups (Nicodemus) stopped you from being like a little child born again in the Spirit?
Christ didn’t come to replace one religion for another or one image for another. Even the term “born again Christian” has become something today that is restrictive and threatening to some. What is your reaction to “born again?”

Prayer for the day: To be born again is such a strange idea and yet in many ways it is so freeing and liberating. To be born again means to have a second chance at life. It means O Lord that you are not only willing to give me the gift of physical life but you love me so much that you are willing to give me the gift of spiritual life. It means that I can start experiencing eternal life right now.

Day 6
Scripture: John 4: 1-26
Reflection: We can’t do Nicodemus without doing “the woman at the well.” The two are perfectly matched bookends and John does a tremendous job of writing their stories in perfect symmetry. Nicodemus has a name, rank, station, is a religious insider, and comes to Jesus in the night because he is worried about being seen by his peers. The woman at the well has no name, no rank, no station, and is a religious outsider and comes to the well in the middle of the day so that she will not be seen by her peers.
The interaction between Jesus and this woman is a classic example of cutting through the layers of religion with love and awakening this woman’s desire to know God. Read the story as if you were the woman and feel Jesus’ love. It is amazing how many rules he breaks and traditions he dismantles in order to get to her heart.

Questions to ponder:
When you read the stories of Nicodemus and the woman at the well side-by-side what point do you think John was trying to make with his skilled authorship?
Brian McLaren notes that religion often worries more about what “mountain we worship at” than about putting aside the differences and allowing them to find God’s love and awaken them to a spiritual journey. Have you ever laid aside differences to show God’s love?

Prayer for the day: Lord Jesus, you risked a lot that day at the well to reach out to a woman most would have walked by. Give me the grace to reach out as well. Help me to be able with love to cut through the religious junk we sometimes assemble and truly show others around me your love.

WEEK #3
Theme for the week: The seasons of spiritual journey
Related to the book: “Naked Spirituality” by Brian McLaren – chapter 3


Day 1
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9
Reflection: This week we are going to look at the seasons of spiritual journey and hopefully recognize that we are all in various places in our journeys. The fact that we are in various places is not at all a problem. In fact it is something to be celebrated. The locations of our journey are not as important as the journey itself!
In the chapter that we are studying this week from the book “Naked Spirituality,” author Brian McLaren talks about the times in our lives when we have approached our spiritual journey from different needs, desires, and even deficits. There are times when we crave simplicity and then times when we yearn for complexity to push our minds. There are times when all the complexity of theology and Bible knowledge gets too confusing and we desire answers to more questions than we have time to ask. There are times we need to stand back and take a higher view of our lives and search for how all the pieces fall together.
There is NO perfect path!
Because your path is different from someone else does not mean it is wrong!
Because you are in one season of faith and all the others around you are in another season does not mean you are spiritually challenged!

Questions to ponder:
The reading for today is a familiar passage that is often used for momentous occasions like graduations, weddings, and memorials. But the words were spoken in the midst of life when the author was trying to make sense of his journey. What is your time right now?
We are changing seasons and moving from summer to fall with all of its busyness. What lessons did you learn from summer? What did your soul tell you this summer about the joy of summer Sabbath?

Prayer for the day: There is a time O Lord for all things. There is a time to grow inward and touch the depth of our souls and there is a time to grow outward and touch the hands and hearts of the less fortunate around us. There is a time to share our knowledge and a time to learn more. Thank you O Lord for the seasons of our lives and the knowledge that cycle through the seasons until our final season of death overcomes us. Thank you Lord for the gift of life’s seasons.

Day 2
Scripture: Luke 24: 13-17
Reflection: I would like for us to take the familiar story of the walk to Emmaus very slowly. It is a story of growth and discovery and in many ways it reveals some of the stages of spiritual growth identified by McLaren in his book. So even though you may have heard this story before, I would ask that you find a place in the story. It is convenient that Luke does not mention the name of the second person walking with Cleopas, so you could be that person.
Imagine as you read this short text that you have seen Jesus been touched by his words. Something unexpected has awakened inside of you. But just as you want more Jesus is crucified. This was not how you expected the story to end, was it?
Note how even the author of this story describes your demeanor. You are sad and confused. Isn’t it great to know that there were others in spiritual journeys long before you who were confused and sad?


Questions to ponder:
This experience of being in a small group and being on an intentional journey has raised a lot of emotions for many in the group. There have been times of great confusion where you questioned why you were even chosen or if you were capable of making the journey. As you read this story today I would ask that you think about a time recently in our journey when you were confused and perhaps sad. Journal about how it feels to have other disciples feel as uncertain as you have felt.

Prayer for the day: Gracious Savior, you worked with other disciples in the past that were just as confused as I seem today. Thank you for their stories. Thank you for showing them warts and all so that I find comfort when my journey if filled with potholes and detours.

Day 3
Scripture: Luke 24: 18-24
Reflection: Cleopas and his friend were able to tell the story about the recent events in the life of this man called Jesus but they had no idea what they all meant. Again put yourself in the story and think of the times when you were able to talk about the happenings in your church or some new idea that was talked about in church or Sunday School and you could tell your friends about it but you didn’t understand completely how it fit in with the rest of your faith. You understood parts of the story but you couldn’t connect the dots. That is what is happening with the two who are walking with the Risen Lord.

Questions to ponder:
Have there been times in your faith journey where you felt like the two people walking on the road to Emmaus? Have there been times of doubt?
Please understand that doubt is perfectly appropriate for any journey of faith. Please understand that doubt helps us to ask the right questions and to keep looking for the right answers. What are some of your doubts?

Prayer for the day: Lord, you walked with two disciples long ago and they didn’t even recognize you. There are days that I wonder if I would recognize you if you were to enter my life. There are times O Lord when I feel lost and cannot connect the dots. Are all journeys supposed to be like this? Are all journeys filled with periods of confusion? Help me in my disbelief O Lord.

Day 4
Scripture: Luke 24: 25-27
Reflection: We are continuing with the story of the two disciples walking with the Risen Lord and we come to the place in the story where Jesus seems a little harsh. In most of the translations he says something like, “Oh, how foolish you are and slow of heart…” Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message is usually a gentler and kinder one but it reads, “So thick-headed! So slow hearted!”
It is hard to imagine being spoken to like that from someone as gentle as our Lord, but there are moments that we as parents get tired of trying to teach our children lessons and we want to say, “If I have told you once I have told you a thousand times…” or “How many times do I need to tell you this before you understand?”
In many ways journeys of faith need someone to come along beside us at times (not all the time) and push us. A good coach does that with his or her players. A good personal trainer does that with his or her students. As uncomfortable as it feels, it is an essential part of growth.

Questions to ponder:
When have there been times in your non-spiritual journeys that you have had someone push you where it was uncomfortable to go? Physical therapist? Boss? Spouse? Child? Was it good for you as you look back?
Where have you been pushed in your spiritual journey? Hopefully your guide did not say “How foolish you are and how slow of heart,” but she or he said words that pushed you out of your comfort zone and stretched you. Where has that happened recently?

Prayer for the day: There are times O Lord that you spoke directly and firmly and as we listen in on the conversations we are amazed at the bluntness of your words. We live in a day of political correctness and we worry about words that are harsh and pointed. O Lord, thank you for showing us that blunt words, spoken in deep love can be good for our journeys.

Day 5
Scripture: Luke 24: 28-32
Reflection: The story continues and I would ask that you continue to put yourself in the place of the twosome walking with the Risen Lord. Jesus has just spent a long time connecting the dots and suddenly the lights come on and you understand things you never did before. Instead of seeing the small details you understand the bigger picture.
As you put yourself in the sandals of one of the disciples, I would like for you to feel the excitement they felt. They are filled with joy. Their hearts are burning with excitement. Enter into the text and experience it.

Questions to ponder:
Have you ever had a moment where your heart was strangely ablaze with a deeper awareness of Christ? Write about it in as much detail as possible.
Have you ever had an AHA moment where suddenly things made sense that never made sense before? How did you feel?

Prayer for the day: There have been moments O Lord, where the confusion of theology and the perplexity of the Bible suddenly clear and I become aware of things that I never saw before. It was like a fog lifted and suddenly I saw a scene that I didn’t know existed. Thank you for those rare moments. I know that you give them to us so that our hearts start to burn with holy desire.

Day 6
Scripture: Luke 24: 33-35
Reflection: The story ends with today’s reading but I would like once again for you to keep in character and feel the excitement that comes from having a heart set on fire for the Lord. Notice what the two men do. They can’t wait to tell the other disciples and they drop what they are doing and run back all the way to Jerusalem. Isn’t that cool? They don’t sit there and say tomorrow we will get around to telling people about this. They immediately respond. That is the power of a heart set on fire.


Questions to ponder:
Where and when do you remember a time when your heart was set on fire with a new idea (it doesn’t have to be spiritual) and you wanted to tell the very next person about it? Recall your passion.
If the church was filled with people who wanted to share their experience of the Lord working in their lives, do you think we would have room on Sunday mornings to put all the visitors?

Prayer for the day: The story of the two disciples is a powerful story of growth and transformation. It touches each of us in deep ways O Lord. Speak to us in the way you spoke to the disciples of this story. Touch us in ways that set our hearts ablaze. Then O Lord, give us the courage to go and spread your word with the passion it deserves.

WEEK #4
Theme for the week: Starting “HERE”
Related to the book: Naked Spirituality: chapter 4


Day 1
Scripture: Exodus 3: 1-15
Reflection: This week we are going to read about being present with God but not in the usual ways that we have thought of in the past. In his book “Naked Spirituality,” Brian McLaren pushes us away from old ways of viewing God and pushes us to engage the “mystery” of our Creator. It starts with simply being “here.” “Here is the simply word by which we show up.” I like that. When I went through the stories of the Bible looking for holy encounters there is a lot of “here I am” language. One of the first is Moses’ famous encounter with the burning bush. As you read it, notice how Moses turns from fear to curiosity and then to wanting to know God’s name.

Questions to ponder:
What would your response be in a moment like this?
Would your encounter be one of humility, wonder, and awe?
Do you see how Moses tries immediately to get God’s name so that he might be able to contain God somehow? Do we still do that today?

Prayer for the day: Here I am, O Lord my God. Surprise me this week as we journey together. May I come before your mystery with wonder and awe. May I come as openly and as honestly as you come to me.

Day 2
Scripture: Isaiah 6: 1-13
Reflection: Talk about a strange encounter with God! Today’s lesson is one of those you have to wonder, what Isaiah was eating or smoking. The seraphs are supernatural beings, probably serpentine in form and usually associated with spitting fire. Having seen this vision the young boy is petrified by fear. When God asks, “Who will go for us?” the frightened boy says, “Here am I.”
Put yourself in the story. If McLaren wants mystery he really has it in this passage. If he wants us to encounter God without titles, he really has a good example here. Read the text again and not only put yourself in the young prophet’s place as he encountered this strange vision but also then listen to the job description that God gives you. Your first task to is to make the people of Israel more hardheaded and stubborn because God has already decided to punish them.

Questions to ponder:
What do you make of this strange encounter with God?
What would your response be?

Prayer for the day: Here am I, O confusing and enticing God. You have called your servants in the past through burning bushes and flying seraphs. I am not sure those vision would work on me today but speak to me in ways that will get my attention. For I am trying to free myself of expectations of how you will come. I simply am HERE.

Day 3
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3: 1-11
Reflection: This is the last of the “here I am “ responses for this week and it is one of my favorite. I love the conversation between the young boy Samuel and his old mentor Eli. The latter has fallen out of relationship with God to such and extent that he doesn’t even recognize when God is at work. It takes three times before Eli catches on and says it must be God.
Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t “talk” with us today? Could it be that we are like Eli and we don’t recognize God’s voice? Could it be that we are so out of touch that we don’t know what to listen for?
Notice how the passage begins. “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; vision were not widespread.” Doesn’t it sound like a description of our culture today?
It is interesting to see how the story ends. Samuel responds to the Lord, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” These are words of obedience and expectation. But listen to the next words from God. “I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.”

Questions to ponder:
What would make your ears tingle today?
Young Samuel was “here” or present for God. Can you imagine in your prayer saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening” and really wait with an open heart and mind for words to come?

Prayer for the day: Speak, Lord for your servant is listening. I await the message that you would like to impart today. I simply am here and await your presence as well.

Day 4
Scripture: Acts 9: 1-9
Reflection: Saul (soon to be Paul) is so different than the previous people who responded to God. Perhaps it is because of how he is introduced. “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” Not a great intro is it?
So this man who is such a defender of proper religion gets a good dose of in your face spirituality. He is literally hit with a spiritual 2x4 and knocked off his horse. Instead of a kind message, like some of the other calls, Saul receives a question, “Why are you persecuting me?”
This is not a “here I am moment” and Saul responds with a question. Can you tell he was a lawyer? “You are you?”
As McLaren writes in his book this call was a reframing of Saul’s spiritual life. He needed something dramatic to move him “from de-ligion to deep religion, from religiosity to spirituality.”
This call is so different. Instead of bringing comfort or the feeling of security, Jesus takes away his sight and humbles him. He shakes him to his very core and reduces him to a man who is now able to listen. As you read the story today, put yourself in Saul’s socks and think of moments in your life when you have been resistant to God. Think about times when you needed a spiritual 2x4 to get your attention.

Questions to ponder:
Did you recall the times of God trying to get your attention? Can you share them with the group?
The great thing about the call stories in the Bible is that they are all different because the people who are called are different. What does that say about God’s persistence?
How would God have to talk with you in order to get your attention? Some people talk about heart attacks, cancer, accidents, or major tragedies as God’s way to get our attention. Is that the way you see God working?

Prayer for the day: Thank you Lord for your persistence. There are times O Lord when we get so caught up in doing our jobs or in living our lives that we need your persistent prodding to get our attention. Don’t give up on us O Lord. We long to be “here” with you.

Day 5
Scripture: Isaiah 2: 1-4
Reflection: A few days ago we celebrated the eleventh anniversary of a tragedy that shook our country to our very core. Violence erupted in many of the Arab nations all in the name of religion. In so many places in our world and community we are still struggling with distrust, anger, rigid judgment, and nasty de-ligion. Take a moment today and simply recall the events of the last decade and all the things that have changed.
As you ponder the scripture from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, know that God’s law of love calls us to live above petty bickering and vicious violence. What would life be like if we could take the weapons of the world and replace them with implements of peaceful coexistence?

Questions to ponder:
What could you do in your own community to bring peace, understanding, and hope?

Prayer for the day: Lord of peace and justice for all people, we pause this morning to remember the hundreds of people who died eleven year ago in a senseless act of terror and the ambassador and the three others who just died. We also remember those who have given their lives or who have been wounded in wars that were supposed to rid the world of terrorists. We know in our hearts O Lord that the only end to violence is practice mercy and justice for all. We know O Lord that as long as we rely on weapons rather than wisdom, violence rather than mercy, retaliation rather than reconciliation then we are forever going to repeat the cycles of violence.

Day 6
Hymn (instead of scripture):
I, the lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All you dwell in dark and sin my hand will save.
I, who made the stars of night, I will make the darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have borne my people’s pain.
I have wept for love of them. They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone,
I will speak my word to them, Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame, I will tend the poor and lame,
I will set a feast for them. My hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide till their hearts be satisfied
I will give my life to them. Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.

Reflection: I went with a song rather than scripture because I wanted to have you practice the spiritual discipline of “here” today. One way to relax into God’s presence and simply be is to sing this song. So let it refresh you on your journey today.
McLaren writes, “Here is the simple word by which we show up, respond to the one calling our name. Here is the way we name where we are – pleasant or unpleasant, desired or not – and declare ourselves present to God’s presence.”
“Here” is like an invocation calling inward to our souls and summoning ourselves to wake up and attend to the Presence whose attention we are held and in whom we live, move, and have our being.
McLaren invites us to practice the discipline of “here,” which means that we go through the day saying, “Here I am Lord. I am here, God. You are here. We are here together.”

Discipline to practice:
Throughout your day try the practice of saying, “Here I am Lord. I am here, God. You are here. We are here together.” Whisper in meetings and while you are driving, “Here, Lord, I’m with you. You are with me.”
Record and journal your insights. Did you feel more present? More open? More receptive?

Prayer for the day: Here I am Lord. Here you are Lord. Let’s enjoy our time today together!


WEEK #05
Theme for the week: HERE, Naming the Mystery
Related to the book: Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren

Day 1

Scripture: 1 Kings 19: 1-18
Reflection: This week we are going to be finding ways to name the mystery of God and one of my favorite passages of divine appearance is this one with Elijah. This bold prophet has just scored a major victory over his archenemies Ahab and Jezebel and he should be rejoicing, but he runs instead. He flees for his life and journeys into the wilderness where he is given sustenance for the journey and then directed to a cave in the side of Mt. Horeb.
A voice instructs him to go to the mouth of the cave and wait for the LORD to pass by. The rest is made for Hollywood. Winds splitting mountains, earthquakes, fire, and after the fire silence, sheer silence. One of my favorite descriptions of how the LORD speaks comes from this story – the still, quiet voice.

Questions to ponder:
What are the ways you expect to experience the LORD?
How can the LORD speak out of sheer silence? What would that sound like? How can that be?

Prayer for the day: O LORD, we expect when you speak that the earth rattles and the skies open and angels descend. We have read so much about pillars of fire or cloud, and our imaginations run wild with ideas of divine manifestations. But that is not how you usually speak or act. You nudge our hearts, you touch our souls, and you whisper in a still quiet voice. For that voice we give you thanks. For the ears and heart to listen we give thanks as well. Keep speaking, O LORD, your servant is listening.


Day 2

Scripture: Genesis 32: 22-32
Reflection: I need to set this story in proper context because it helps to understand Jacob’s nature and the change that takes place in our reading today. Jacob is the trickster. He has tricked his brother Esau out of his inheritance and he was pretty much a scoundrel until he had some of the same tricks played on him. Life has taught him some lessons and he is headed back home and to reconcile with his brother. Before he does he spends a night alone or at least he intended on spending it alone to get prepared for the encounter with his brother.
In the middle of the night an angel (some translations have it a “man” and others translate it “God”) wrestles with him. We don’t know the reason for the attack except that Jacob still had some soul work to do and some wrestling with his own inner demons so to speak. The match was a deadlock. Finally the angel told Jacob to let him go for the day was breaking and Jacob still having a little of the scoundrel in him said he would not let him go unless he got a blessing.
It is interesting that the story began with Jacob grabbing hold of his elder twin brother’s leg and not letting go so that he might be first in line and get the blessing as eldest. The story then shifts to Jacob tricking his brother and stealing the blessing from his father. Now he is asking for a blessing from his heavenly father.
The angel (or God) then asks Jacob for his name and when Jacob tells him the angel changes it to Israel, which means the one who wrestled with God and with humans and prevailed. When Jacob asks the angel for his name, none is given.

Questions to ponder:
How often do you wrestle with the LORD?
How are we changed when we wrestle?
When Jacob wanted to know the angel’s name it was to try to have control over him but the LORD is not going to be put in a box and be controlled. The LORD is free to remain mysterious. How does that feel to you?

Prayer for the day: O LORD, we expect when you speak that the earth rattles and the skies open and angels descend. We have read so much about pillars of fire or cloud, and our imaginations run wild with ideas of divine manifestations. But that is not how you usually speak or act. You nudge our hearts, you touch our souls, and you whisper in a still quiet voice. For that voice we give you thanks. For the ears and heart to listen we give you thanks as well. Keep speaking, O LORD, your servant is listening.


Day 3

Scripture: Matthew 6: 6-15
Reflection: Jesus must have astounded his followers when he taught them how to pray. He took the name of the Most High God and gave a brand new address – Abba or Daddy. This is a name that is more than a title. It is an intimate relationship. It is an invitation to grow deeper, to explore a love that seemed distant and impossible before, and to climb up into the arms of someone, something that was secure and willing and to love.
As you read this very, very familiar passage try to embrace the mystery of the title of the LORD. Try to remember good moments with your father (if you have a hard time with father then use your mother) and crawl up into his/her arms and relax into the passage.

Questions to ponder:
What did it feel like to use the word Daddy to speak to the LORD this morning?
Did you gain a deeper sense of intimacy?
Notice that the rest of the prayer does not try to domesticate God but continues the mystery. What does “hallowed be your name” mean to you?
Prayer for the day: Abba/Amma (Daddy/Mommy) holy is your name in all the earth. This morning as I imagine crawling up into your loving embrace, I can remember moments in my own life when I came to my parents for love, comfort, security, and presence. I come today to you seeking the same things. You are much more than Daddy or Mommy but for now I rejoice in the moment of sitting in your lap and rejoicing in your love.


Day 4

Scripture: Proverbs 1: 1-7
Reflection: This morning we are going to journey back to a book that is seldom used for morning devotions and yet it contains great wisdom. Some say that the wise King Solomon wrote it as he paused between building projects.
In this day and age where we have a glut of information and knowledge we still find that wisdom is in short supply. The writer of Proverbs said the same thing way back then.
In the prologue he wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (some translations have it as knowledge but the truest translation is wisdom).”
Fear in this case is not terror or dread but intense reverence. There should be an emphasis on intense. It is the kind of emotion that stops you from following evil, lust, greed, arrogance, etc. because you understand deep within the intense dislike our Lord has for these things.

Questions to ponder:
Why would “fear of the LORD” be the beginning of wisdom?
McLaren wrote: “Reverence or holy fear suggests this dynamic tension of being drawn to the beautiful and mysterious flame, while always remembering that the flame is powerful and transcendent beyond imagination. Reverence means wanting to avoid the dual dangers of thinking of the living God as a distant, impersonal, uncaring or faceless force, on the one hand, and reducing God to one’s pet personal deity on a leash or a genie in a bottle, on the other hand.” How does this idea of “fearing the LORD” keep this tension for you?

Prayer for the day: O LORD, yesterday we came so close by calling you Daddy or Mommy and today we learn that we are to “fear” you. The contrast is hard but help me to remember that even when I climbed up into the loving arms of my parents, I too feared or should I say revered their rules and wisdom. I remember times when I wanted to show my love for my parents by living into their rules and plans for me. Is this not the same O LORD?

Day 5

Scripture: Psalm 27
Reflection: If you read many of the Psalms you quickly realize that these ancient poets used all sorts of metaphors and modifiers to describe God. I just picked one of the poems this morning that was full of descriptions of God.
The LORD is my light and my salvation.
The LORD is my stronghold.
The LORD is like a house.
The LORD has beauty.
The LORD is like a tent.

Questions to ponder:
As you read today’s Psalm let your imagination run wild with possibilities about who and what God is in your life. What would be some of the possibilities that you would use to describe our God?

Prayer for the day: O Lord, you are the foundation on which I want to build my life. You are the light that shines upon my path to show me your true way. You are the rock of my life that is firm and immovable when it seems that the rest of the world is spinning out of control. You are my true north when I lose my bearings and I am hopelessly lost. You are the wind beneath my winds that enables me to soar over the everyday obstacles that used to trip me up. You are my all and all.


Day 6

Scripture: You pick the Psalm you want to read
Reflection: Yesterday I started you thinking about descriptive ways of addressing God that might name the mystery of God. McLaren has a whole list of his own. I would like you to spend time today writing a psalm of your own that, if you are willing, you might share with the group tomorrow. Use descriptive language. Let your heart speak. Enjoy!

Prayer for the day: “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34: 1-3


WEEK 06
Theme for the week: THANKS, The Happiness of Appreciation
Related to the book: Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren
Read chapter 6


Day 1
Scripture: 1 Chronicles 15: 25-29; 16: 7-13
Reflection: This week we are going to be exploring the discipline of gratitude or appreciation. According to McLaren, “Its not how much you have that brings happiness; it’s how much you appreciate however much or little you have. Again, it’s not the amount of stuff you have that counts; it’s the amount of appreciation you have that matters, and appreciation means gratefully holding rather than simply having without gratitude. Gratitude may be the greatest secret to happiness there is.”
The Bible is filled with texts about gratitude so I wanted to start early in the Old Testament and follow early instruction on giving thanks to God.
In today’s lesson David has just become king and has taken Jerusalem from the Philistines and he is one happy guy. He has his troops bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem and they being worship, dancing, and THANKING. When you read verse 15:29 notice that David is willing to looking foolish in the eyes of others in order to express his thankfulness to God.
Chronicles 16: 8 begins a song of thanks. “O give thanks to the Lord…. As you read follow the instructions provided by David.

Questions to ponder:
How do you make a habit out of giving thanks to God?
In this passage David instructs us to tell others about the greatness of God, to remember God’s wonderful works, and to rejoice in God’s wonderful works. Do you do this on a regular basis?
Would you risk looking foolish in the eyes of others as you show your thanks for all that God has done for you?

Prayer for the day: O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good and his mercies endure for all generations! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is great and his steadfast love calls me from my slumber and beckons me to draw hear. O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Day 2
Scripture: Psalm 9
Reflection: “Thankful praise is expressing to God our appreciation and understanding of God’s worth. It is saying thank you for each aspect of God’s divine nature. Our inward attitude becomes outward expression. When we praise God, we help ourselves by expanding our awareness of who God is.” (from a footnote in my Bible)
This psalm is a great example of giving thanks for the many attributes of God that we often overlook. Please read it slowly and ponder each of the verse couplets. Find one that is your favorite attribute and spend time in prayer thanking God for that characteristic. Find one that you often overlook and again spend time thanking God.

Questions to ponder:
What did you discover about slowly giving thanks to God that you hadn’t realized before?
Was there one characteristic or attribute of God that really grabbed you or as you were giving thanks was there a moment in your prayers that your soul was lifted up?

Prayer for the day: Holy and loving God, the psalmists of old overflowed with gratitude for you. So often I fall short and it takes reading one of these ancient poems to remind me of all the ways you provide for me and protect me in my journey. This day, O Lord I am going to spend giving thanks to you with my whole heart!”

Day 3
Scripture: Psalm 136
Reflection: There is a phrase that is often repeated in the Old Testament and it is repeated in nearly every verse in this psalm. “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” When I looked the verse up however it was used in many other places from the prophets to other psalmists.
As you read the psalm today consider what it means to give thanks because God’s love endures forever.

Questions to ponder:
Have you ever considered the promise that is contained in the phrase, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever?” This verse is repeated at the end of stories of rebellion, of sinful behavior, of attacks by enemies, and after times of repentance and reconciliation. What does this verse do for you?

Prayer for the day: Through high times and low, through times when you felt so very present and times when you were very absent, the saints of the past would pray these words, “O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” They knew, O Lord, something that we are still learning. They knew how deep, how wide, how constant, and how powerful your love was. O Lord, today I will spend my time in prayer, giving thanks for your enduring and endless love.


Day 4
Scripture: Isaiah 12
Reflection: Most of the prophets interrupt their visions and their prophecies with words of thanks. In today’s reading you get the feeling that Isaiah has fallen short in some way of serving God because he says, “you were angry with me.” It is hard to give thanks to someone or to God when you feel that they are at odds with you, isn’t it? But Isaiah pushes that aside and starts praising God.
Some say that this hymn of praise is in anticipation for the coming of Christ because of the many references to future salvation. Notice that Isaiah does not completely forget his job as prophet. He tells those who are giving thanks to “make his deeds known among the nations,” and “proclaim his name” and “let all that the Lord has done be known in all the earth.”

Questions to ponder:
It sounds like giving thanks is not a private thing and that we are to make sure others know about the works of our Lord. How do you intentionally do that?
In what ways have you “proclaimed God’s name?”

Prayer for the day: O Lord, I sing praises to your name for you are my salvation. You love me and provide for me even when I disappoint. You comfort me when I am afraid and strengthen me for the challenges of life. I give thanks for your love and today I will proclaim it to others.


Day 5
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5: 12-22
Reflection: Paul’s final instructions to the members of the community in Thessalonica are pretty hard to follow. He has raised the bar especially when it comes to verses 16-18. He issues a trifecta of “always.” Rejoice always! Pray always!! Give thanks always!!!
I always wanted to ask Paul, how is it possible to do three different things “always”? Doesn’t doing one knock out the other? Technicalities! I think what Paul is trying to tell us is that we need to be more intentional about prayer, praise, and gratitude or we push it to the back burners of our lives. Please don’t read over these instructions quickly. Spend time thinking what it would be like to “always” rejoice, no matter what the circumstance; to always have a prayer on your breath, and to always give thanks no matter what the situation.

Questions to ponder:
How would Paul’s “always” instructions change the way you go through your daily life?
Is it possible to give God thanks for your annoying boss, your pesky neighbor, and the person who is spreading rumors about you in the office?
If you gave thanks for even the toughest situation and the most unbearable circumstance, would it change the way you approached it? How?

Prayer for the day: Sometimes O Lord, the bar is set so high that I feel like I am constantly failing. With all the demands that already feel like heavy burdens it is difficult to think of adding the tasks of “always rejoicing, always praying, and always thanking you.” But maybe Lord, that is the point of those three always. Maybe Lord the other things in my life will fall in around these three instructions and my life will be less frazzled and more focused on you. I pray that I can face today and all my future tomorrows with the attitude of these “always.”


Day 6
Scripture: Colossians 3: 12-17
Reflection: Today’s reading contains more of Paul’s instructions. I use this particular passage for nearly every marriage ceremony that I perform because it is so powerful. I use the translation from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” because he has a way of bringing this text to life. I have attached his version to this reading.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God has picked for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master has forgiven you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, instep with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the word of Christ, the Message, have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the father every step of the way.”

Questions to ponder:
How do you cultivate thankfulness?
How do you let every detail in your life – your words, actions, and whatever – be done in the name of Jesus, thanking God every step of the way?

Prayer for the day: The power of giving thanks is life changing, O Lord. As the scripture so beautifully states, it is something that we need to cultivate not only for our relationship with you but also for our relationship with those in our family and in our workplace. If I am to be a person chosen for a new life of love, then Lord, help me to cultivate thanksgiving.


WEEK #07
Theme for the week: THANKS, Dayenu – enough and more and more
Related to the book: Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren
This week we are using the psalms that were written by members of last year’s class. Even though the psalms do not go with the reading for the week, I would ask that you still read the chapter on “Thanks” and simply enjoy the psalms. There is one devotion shy this week. Use the time to pray for our Abundance campaign and meditate or write down where you see God’s abundance around you.

Day 1
Kristi Griffin’s psalm:
Father, I am here, You are here
I sing praise to the one who is almighty.
You are the Creator and the Redeemer
I see your glory all around, ever present in the world around us
You are in the wind; whether it is a gentle breeze to comfort or a storm to help cleanse
You are the trees growing from the small seed to towering giants reaching up to the heavens standing tall and strong
Our faith might sway from you at times but like the tree we are strong and will stand with you
I hear the peacefulness in a babbling brook as it progressively grows on its journey to the ocean; similar as our faith grows in our journey with you.
You grace us with such beauty and surround us with love; you fill us with amazing grace
I am filled anew each morning watching the sunrise knowing that you are always watching
The setting sun brings peace and a time for quiet reflection on the day to once again
Thank you for all you have provided us.
Fill my heart with your love dear Father
I listen for your voice to comfort me in times of doubt and trouble
Help me to hear your calling and teach me to put all my faith and trust in you

Reflection: This beautiful psalm uses images of nature to describe the mystery of the One we call Creator and Redeemer. It puts feeling to the small rituals of the day and connects them with the one who makes the rituals possible. It invites us to slow and pay attention to the way God appears in the everyday moments of our lives.

Questions to ponder:
Where do you see God in the small rituals of your day?
Where do you sense God’s presence in your interactions with nature?

Prayer for the day: We give thanks to you O Blessed LORD for the many ways you make yourself known in our lives. When we watch the sun rise or set, help us remember that you were the one who created them and set order to the universe. Fill our hearts O LORD with gratitude and joy.

Day 2
Carol Tinney’s psalm:
This morning I wake and God greets me with sunshine;
Sunshine to warm the earth and my soul.
God, let your warmth and light fill me so full that I might
spread it to everyone I meet today.
You are beyond generous dear Lord;
Anyone who sees your light and feels your warmth
is free to accept it.
When they do you will be with them till the end of time.
Thank you precious Lord for trusting me to spread your
warmth and light. Amen

Reflection: For generations poets have used images of light and sun to express the power and warmth of God’s love. In so many ways what the sun does to the earth is what God does to our souls. When you read this psalm this week, I hope the sun is rising and you have a chance to experience the parallels between the sun breaking through and your soul awakening for another day. Take time to give thanks to a gracious and generous God.

Questions to ponder:
In what ways did you feel your soul awaken?
In what ways did you experience the generosity of God?

Prayer for the day: Creator God, your handiwork is beyond our comprehension, but not our senses. The warmth of the sun, the breaking of a new day, the flooding of light into the darkness of our world is all gift. We did nothing, absolutely nothing, to deserve it. And yet it comes. Thank you LORD for trusting and loving us so much that you were willing to allow us to share your creation.

Day 3
Donna Rominger’s psalm:
God is like the ocean,
 
God is like the sea,
 
God is like my parent
Looking after ME!

Reflection: Psalms do not have to be long to express a deep and significant truth. In fact, we pastors would be wise to learn from our congregations how to say less and feel more. One of the most significant relationships we have is with our parents. They gave us life and then shaped us “in their image.” Like it or not we have a lot of our parents’ attitudes and ideas, reactions and responses, likes and dislikes, beliefs and doubts, and looks and mannerisms pouring through us every day.
The same is true of our Heavenly Parent. As you read this psalm consider the ways your parents looked after you. Then ponder the many ways your Heavenly Parent does the same.

Quest