“Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat. However, I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters.” Peter responded, “Lord, I’m ready to go with you, both to prison and to death!” Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster won’t crow today before you have denied three times that you know me.” -Luke 22:31-34

This story takes place in the Upper Room on the day we call Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” means “mandate” or “commitment”. In Luke, this mandate was to keep the Lord’s Supper. In John, the mandate was to wash feet. The mandate is to remember to re-member.

Around the table, as part of his farewell, Jesus had a conversation with his disciples. The conversation covered the life they had together, what was about to happen, and the pressures they were going to face. As the disciples engaged in the discussion, they revealed their self-seeking quest for status, which brought about betrayal and denial.

Jesus offered an assurance of comfort, guidance, and strength as he instructed his disciples in ways to address the squabbles and temptations of their time.

Sift You Like Wheat

In this story, we get this strange reference to Satan. “Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat…” Jesus predicts that they all will fall away. Peter objects. He says he will not fall away. Luke uses this story to place the problem of unfaithful disciples in a larger context. The community falls apart after the shattering experience of the crucifixion. Luke sees this as a test.

In the Hebrew, the word “sift” means to test. It is an image which comes from the prophet Amos, “…to sift like wheat.” In Jewish Literature, Satan is one of the angels in the council of heaven.

The word “Satan” means “adversary.” It refers to “one who is the devil’s advocate” or “one who raises an objection.” It is also used to refer to “one who calls for a test” or “brings about the opposition.” Luke uses this image as an assault by the ultimate power of evil on the emerging kingdom of God.

Job & Sifting Wheat

This image comes from The Book of Job. It is here that we get an example of this understanding of Satan. Job believed in God. He was a good and righteous man in his living.

God in the council of heaven was bragging on Job. “My servant Job is a good and righteous man.” The Adversary, Satan, raised his hand and said, “Of course he is good because you blessed him. Anyone who has what he has can afford to be good.”

God said, “He would be good for nothing, even if his life were a disaster.”

Satan replied, “I don’t think so.”

God said, “All right. You can sift him like wheat, but not to kill him.”

From this story, we see that Job went through terrible experiences. He lost all his possessions, his family, and all he held to be important. His friends questioned his faithfulness to God. But, according to the story, he stayed in there with his trust in God. In the end, even though he had been “sifted like wheat,” tested, and challenged, he remained faithful to God.

Jesus Is Praying For You

So, here in Luke, Satan has permission to sift the disciples like wheat. It is like the adversary is looking out over humanity and thinks, “If I am going to get hold of this bunch, now is the time. With the death of Jesus, they will be without a leader. I’ll get them all.”

Around the table, in a group conversation,

What does it mean to you to know that someone is praying for you?Jesus says, “Satan has permission to put you to that test. I have been praying for you so that after you turn, after you repent, I want you to be leaders and strengthen the others.” Now, of course, Simon Peter does not think he needs to repent nor does he need prayer.

Jesus says, “Really? Before the rooster crows in the morning you will have said three times that you do not know me.”

From Luke’s perspective, when Jesus is tempted in chapter 4, he resists three temptations. Luke says, “Satan departed from him until an opportune time.” From that moment in chapter 4, Satan does not appear again until this story. (Luke 22:31).

The opportunity comes in two ways. The first, “He entered into Judas.” The second, Satan has asserted the right to sift Simon Peter like wheat. Satan got Judas and he almost got Simon Peter.

The contest is over Simon Peter’s loyalty. One side is Satan with deceitfulness. On the other side is Jesus with the weapon of prayer. “I am praying for you.”

Simon Peter doesn’t think he needs Jesus’ prayer. “I’m ready! If it’s prison, Yes. If it is death, Yes.”

Jesus said, “Simon, you are not ready.”

What Happens?

Now, we know what happened. Simon Peter stumbled.

When asked at the trial “Do you know Jesus?” He answered “No.” “Aren’t you one of his followers?” He answered, “No.” “You sound like one of those Galileans.” And with an oath, he answered, “I never knew the man.”

Jesus said, “…I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters.”

Jesus prays for Peter, but Peter must do the turning. Here is the difference between Judas and Peter. Salvation is not only personal but for the whole Christian community. Jesus’ prayer was answered, Peter did “turn back” and did become the leading figure in regathering the disciples after Easter to continue Jesus’ mission.

Simon Peter repented. He came back. Simon Peter became a leader. He strengthened others. St. Peter is connected to just about everything Christian. Not because he did not fail, but because he turned, he repented. Jesus’ prayer was answered.

You Have to Wonder

There is nothing like knowing someone is praying for you. As you seek to follow Jesus, know there are others praying for you too.

I wonder if Judas had repented could he have expected the same thing? Judas became the judge and jury over his own life. He did not give himself or the community the opportunity to turn back to Jesus.

What does prayer have to do with it? As Jesus prayed for those who crucified him, so he prays for his followers.

Paul says the Holy Spirit prays for us. John says Jesus prays for us. There nothing greater in all the world than to know that every hour of every day someone is praying for you and for me.

It is true. No matter what your situation or circumstance. No matter what the test or challenge. The time has come to turn and strengthen others. Jesus is praying for you!

For Luke, the Scriptures and Holy Communion are at the heart of the church. To read and understand the scriptures is a divine gift in and through the risen Christ. When the Lord’s Supper takes place, there is an invitation to the outsider and hospitality to the stranger. It is in the “breaking of bread” that the stranger is recognized as a friend.

When the people are feeling weary and hopeless, Jesus prays. He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it. Through these acts of Holy Communion, Jesus is known and a new hope is born.

What does prayer have to do with it?

The story of the road to Emmaus gives us insight into Luke’s understanding of Jesus and the church.

Here is part of that story.

When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?” – Luke 24:28-32

For me, this story clearly reveals Luke’s understanding of the meaning of resurrection faith. It is a story of two Jesus followers, walking to Emmaus, having a conversation about Jesus’ death and his missing body.

A Divine Gift

In the middle of their conversation, Jesus joins them on their journey. He is received as a stranger. Luke writes, “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.”

This is Luke’s way of saying that being with the earthly Jesus, hearing his teaching, seeing his miracles and knowing the example of his life are not enough apart from an experience of the risen Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. To recognize God’s act in Jesus is not a matter of our human insight but is a divine gift.

Jesus, the stranger in their midst, asks, “What are you talking about?” The one named Cleopas replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have taken place over the last few days?” And Jesus asks, “What things?”

The two Jesus followers began to give a summary of what had happened. Their summary was not wrong but, because of his death, they did not perceive that Jesus was the promised Messiah. They recited the correct events but did not perceive what had happened.

One of them said, “We had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel.” I think it is important to understand that Jesus’ followers believed that God was present in what Jesus said and what he did. They believed that God’s kingdom of justice was about to dawn.

Was Hope Gone?

Then came the crucifixion and the shattering of their hopes. Their human wisdom said, “While there’s life, there’s hope.” The death of Jesus was the death of their hope. Even though they had his message, his example, and his ministry, the crucifixion meant that Jesus was another failed idealist. They had no reason to think differently.

Their hope was that God would send the Messiah to restore Israel and set Israel free from oppression. These two on the road with Jesus perceived God’s redeeming work in nationalistic terms. For them, it was over. Hope was gone.

In a New Light

Jesus then says, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

After the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples began to understand the scriptures in light of their Christian faith. They discovered many passages that illustrated their new faith. Luke is clear.

He believed that the risen Christ, through the Holy Spirit, was guiding the church into the true meaning of the Scriptures. In his story of the road to Emmaus, Luke introduced the process of reinterpreting the Scripture under the guidance of the risen Christ.

Prayer and Hospitality

While on the road with the two travelers, Jesus is not recognized as the Christ but only as a weary fellow traveler. The two extend an invitation to food and fellowship. As they offer hospitality, Jesus is revealed to them. It is here we get a clue to prayer and hospitality.

“So, he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” Luke 24:29-31

Jesus did not force himself on them, but when invited, the guest became the host. The meal was an ordinary meal, but the words were the familiar words of Holy Communion. The words, “took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it…” reflect the language of the liturgy of the Lord’s Table.

Jesus took and blessed the bread. Blessing in the Greek is the word “eulogy.” Blessing is to eulogize God. The prayer was, “Blessed are you Lord God creator of the universe. For you sustain all your creation and satisfy our hearts with good things.” God is eulogized as creator, sustainer, and keeper of life. So, the prayer was praising God and not the food.

prayer and hospitality are essential to the Christian life. What do we encounter in Luke's gospel that illuminates how we can unite prayer and hospitality? Read the blog post at transforming mission.Word and Deed

For Luke, God’s saving work in Jesus was a matter of both word and deed. He spoke the word of God and reflected God’s justice and mercy that represented the kingdom of God. Jesus’ followers did the same thing in the church. They not only proclaimed the gospel but they embodied the gospel in their lives. They became the evidence of the Jesus alive on earth.

Word and deed were integrated into both Jesus’ life and the life of the early Church. Words without deeds are hypocritical and hollow. Deeds without the word of the gospel miss the point of God’s act in Jesus as the source of normal loving living.

I find it interesting that the church in the past has been guilty of speaking without acting, but the church of today might be guilty of acting without speaking the Word.

Being Known

With that in mind, there are two things important to Luke and to his church.

  1. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

Jesus provides the lens through which we are to look at the scripture. He is the key to our understanding the scripture.

Luke wants us to know that knowing about earthly Jesus, hearing his teaching, seeing his miracles, and knowing the example of his life are not enough apart from experiencing the risen Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of bread. (Luke 24:35)

Three times in Luke’s gospel, we get a story of eating with others: feeding of the 5000, last supper in the Upper Room, and with the travelers on the road to Emmaus. In each story, we have the liturgical formula used in Holy Communion.

The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, is central to the life of the Church. In the house at Emmaus Jesus is a stranger, yet a guest. Even though he is the guest he becomes the host.

It is in the breaking of the bread, the stranger, the outsider, becomes known to them as Jesus himself.

Word and Table

Prayer and hospitality come together at the Table. There is enough room for you. Read more on the blog.

For Luke, this is the church. The services of Word and Table are at the heart of the church. To read andunderstand the scriptures is not solely a matter of our human intellect and insight but is a gift in and through Jesus, the risen Christ.

When the Lord’s Supper takes place, there is an invitation to the outsider and hospitality to the stranger. It is in the breaking of bread that the risen Christ is made known to the community.

When the people are feeling weary and hopeless, Jesus prays. He takes bread, blesses it, breaks it, and gives it. Through these acts of Holy Communion, Jesus is known and a new hope is born.

Even though there were only three at the table that day, the table was large enough for the stranger.

I think it is important to understand that Jesus put prayer and action together. When you are at the Table with friends and strangers, and when you are giving thanks and praising God, look and listen closely.

You are in the presence of Jesus.

read “We Have Received Power” – Part 1

We Need Help

For me, the more important something is, the harder it is to say. When something is profoundly important to me, the first thing to go is my voice.

I confess you to you, that for me to witness, to say something about God, about Jesus, or about my faith, I need help. For me to put my faith into action, I need something more than my good intentions and the backing of the crowd.

When I read about Jesus and the work of those early disciples from Luke’s perspective, I see that Jesus promised to give me and you the power to witness. That means that you and I, to be faithful to our call as followers of Jesus, we will have to witness past a lot of obstacles, barriers, and silences.

Pentecost

On the Day of Pentecost, there was a lot of excitement. Simon Peter stood up and got carried away. He stretched out his arms and said, “For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:39).

His message was all-inclusive.

It was for everyone.

A little later the Holy Spirit led him to the home of a Roman soldier, Cornelius. I can image Simon Peter saying, “Lord, I have never been in the home of an Italian, a Gentile, in all my life.” And God responds, saying, “Peter, on the Day of Pentecost you said…” And Peter replies, “O God, I was only preaching.”

We need help in our witness.

Casting Out Demons

Do you remember when one of the disciples said to him, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us”? Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:46-48) Were those early disciples separating themselves into groups of “who is for” and “who is against”?

We need help in our witness.

Teaching

Remember the story of Jesus teaching? There was a group of mothers bringing their babies to be blessed by Jesus.

When the disciples saw what was happening, they sternly ordered the mothers not to come to Jesus. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” (Luke 18:15-17).

Was the early church trying to decide whether they should extend their witness to persons who could not teach, give, or who weren’t prospects for ministry? Was it too costly to include everyone?

We need help in our witness.

Baptizing

Remember Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch?

Deuteronomy 23:1, (Bias paraphrase) “Any man who by surgery or accident who cannot father children does not have a place in the assembly of God.” The scripture is clear.

Philip encounters the eunuch on his way to Jerusalem. The eunuch is reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asks him if he understands what he is reading. The eunuch replies, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”

Then he invited Philip to get in the chariot. Philip tells him about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch asked, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Philip baptizes him. (Acts 8:26-40).

Overcoming Barriers

How was it that those early disciples and the church moved past the barriers of race, gender, nation, and condition?

How were they able to witness past the barriers?

It was by the power of the Holy Spirit! And unless you and I have the power of the Holy Spirit to witness, we will give up in the face of difficulty.

That is the reason I need help. I need the power of the Holy Spirit to be a faithful witness to the resurrection.

Our Next Step

Please continue to pray that I will take people by the hand, walk them around the edges of their inheritance, tell them of the unsearchable riches of God’s love and grace, and then be quiet. I need help to be a witness. Pray that I will receive power to be a witness starting right where I am.

Remember, I am praying the same for you!

This week we’ll be reading, reflecting, and responding to the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin found in Luke 15:1-10

 

April 22

These Reflections on Reality reveal the extravagance of God’s amazing grace. Jesus not only does not reject sinners; he does more than merely tolerate or condescendingly accept them. They are guests at his table.

 

April 23       

  • Read 15:1-2
  • Reflect and Respond: With whom do you identify? Tax collectors and sinners? Pharisees and scribes?

 

April 24          

  • Read Luke 15:3-6
  • Reflect and respond: When have you risked your reputation and security to care for someone who cost you both time and money?

 

April 25  

  • Read Luke 15:7
  • Reflect and Respond: When have you celebrated when someone has experienced God’s amazing and extravagant grace? Have you ever been offended by God’s amazing and extravagant grace?

 

April 26 

  • Read: Luke 15:8
  • Reflect and respond: How much time and effort do you put into caring for people who are considered outsiders

 

April 27   

  • Read: Luke 15:9
  • Reflect and respond: What are you rejoicing about today?

 

April 28     

  • Read: Luke 15:10
  • Reflect and respond: Can you imagine the joy over one person whose life is transformed by the grace of God?

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What Parable is Next?

Week of…

April 29: Parable of the Lost Son – 15:11-31 – Part One (Focus upon 15:11-24)

May 6: Parable of the Lost Son – 15:11-32 – Part Two (Focus upon 15:25-32)

May 13: Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:9-14

Last week I asked you to pray that I would be found guilty of being a Christian. In a way that was a foolish request. I was baptized at age 6 and confirmed as a member of the Methodist Church at age 11. I received a call to ministry at age 14 and my first appointment as a preacher at age 20.

For the past 44 years, I have faithfully preached the gospel, introduced people to Jesus, led congregations into their communities to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, care for persons with HIV/AIDS, etc.

To ask that I be found guilty of being a Christian was foolish.

What Does it Mean to be a Faithful Witness?

In another way, I was asking you to pray that I am a faithful witness to the Resurrection of Jesus. Luke, over and over, uses these words to express the life and work of the early disciples:

  • “…of that all of us are witnesses” – Acts 2:32
  • “To this we are witnesses…” – Acts 3:15
  • “And we are witnesses to these things…” – Acts 5:32
  • “We are witnesses to all he did…” Acts 10:39

I want you to pray that I am a faithful witness.

The question is, “What does it mean to be a faithful witness to the Resurrection?” Here are a few possibilities.

Possibility #1: To Believe the Resurrection is True

Is it to believe that the Resurrection is true?

For many people today, belief in the Resurrection simply acts as a guarantee of eternal life. We talk about Jesus being raised from the dead and how he is going to take us all to heaven one day. I must say I don’t believe God raised Jesus from the dead to prove that he could raise a few cantankerous saints.

God could do that.

The belief in our own immortality is persistent. It seems, that for many of us, belief in the Resurrection is actually a barrier to the reality of it. We can find people within the church who affirm the Resurrection for selfish and self-serving reasons. It is all centered on the desire to enter heaven. I believe God raised Jesus from the dead for a different purpose.

Possibility #2: To Live the Truth of the Resurrection

Is it to live the truth of the Resurrection? In and through the Resurrection, God established permanent residence on earth. The Resurrection places Jesus on this side of the grave, here and now, in the middle of this life.

Jesus is not standing on the shore of eternity inviting us to join him there. He is standing beside us, strengthening us in this life.

The good news of the Resurrection is not that we shall die and go home with Jesus, but that Jesus has risen and has come home with us. On the morning of the resurrection, God put life in the present tense and gave us the power to live in the here and now.

The early disciples proclaimed, “He is risen!” not because the dead rise. They made this proclamation because they were alive and were doing the things he had taught them to do.

Being a faithful witness to the Resurrection is to proclaim, “He is risen” by doing the things he has taught us to do. In and through the Resurrection, our lives are reshaped to conform to his life. Because of the Resurrection, our minds are reshaped to conform to his mind, and our living is reshaped to conform to his living.witness to the resurrection transforming mission

Possibility #3: Being the Living Presence of Christ in Everyday Life

The good news of the Resurrection is Jesus has risen and has come home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoner sisters and brothers with him. What if being a witness is not related so much to what we believe but is the primary way we respond to the hopelessness and brokenness in the communities in which we live?

Does the living presence of Christ show through our living?

The good news of the Resurrection is Jesus has risen and gives us the courage to confront the evil powers of this world. The evil powers of racial bias, gender bias, cultural bias, economic bias, residential bias, educational bias do not stand a chance against the power of the Resurrection.

What if being a witness is not based upon an affirmation of Christ’s living presence, but upon the incarnated presence of Christ in each of us? Would that mean that our faith in the Risen Christ would be seen in the way we love and care? And not only in how we care for each other in our church families but for everyone. By everyone, I mean all who are hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoners – all our sisters and brothers Jesus already loves.

Be the Resurrection

What if we, as Christians, are not called to believe in the Resurrection but rather are called to be the Resurrection?  Christ’s presence will be witnessed in what we say and do.

This season of the Resurrection, I continue to hear the words of Peter Gomes:

“…the resurrection is a continuing event which involves everyone who dares be involved in it.  Easter is not just about Jesus, it’s about you.”

Jesus has already claimed his new life.  What about you? Easter is not just about the past, it’s about the future.  Your best days are ahead of you.  The proof of the resurrection is in your hands and in your life.

witness to the resurrection transforming mission

“The proof of the resurrection is in your hands and in your life.” Please pray that I am a faithful witness of the Resurrection! And know that I am praying for you.

O God, raise Jesus in our lives so that all we do is a witness to your love and presence. So let it be!

During the month of March, there are abundant reminders of the importance of resilience, fortitude, and determination. Lent always has these reminders.

But, there’s another event that happens annually that’s also hard to miss. Whether or not you’re a college basketball fan, the stories that unfold during the NCAA Tournament can leave you sitting on the edge of your seat.

More than once over the weekend, I thought to myself, “It’s over.” And then…

The Unimaginable Happened.

Late Saturday night, the Michigan Wolverines were in a battle with Houston. With 3 seconds on the clock, Houston was in the lead, 63-61.

They had a chance to add two more points but missed two free throws.

At the opposite end of the court, Michigan passed the ball to a freshman, Jordan Poole, who had not scored the entire game. He lobbed a 3-point-shot in the air with one second on the clock, and at the buzzer, won the game. (Perhaps much to the dismay of Buckeye fans following their 86-90 loss to Gonzaga.)

The Wolverines said, “the game is not over.”

After the Michigan v. Houston game, Coach John Beilein said of Jordan Poole, “He practices that shot at the end of every practice.” They also made their free throws, a fundamental shot in basketball.

Reminders of Resilience

Sunday’s games reinforced the message of resilience:

  • Nevada, down 22 points, came back to beat Cincinnati in a 75-73 stunner. The Nevada team said, “the game is not over.”
  • Syracuse, a first four qualifier, beat Michigan State, a favorite to be in the Final Four, 55-53 in the last minute of the game.
  • The 2017 National Champs, North Carolina, fell to 7 seed, Texas A&M.
  • Xavier, another favorite, fell to Florida State. The Seminoles showed the Musketeers “the game’s not over” with four minutes on the clock. Florida State won 75-70, knocking off a number one team.

Perhaps you’ll say, that’s why they call it March Madness.

Or, perhaps, you’ll say, “the game is not over.” While there is nothing about leading the church that is “a game,” I do believe God’s not finished with us yet.

God is NOT Finished With Us Yet

Just like the players, the coaches, fans, and referees, we have a choice to make as we lead the church. God’s not finished with any of us. The challenges leading the church can feel like the pressure of a big game.

Whether you’re frustrated because of leadership challenges in your church or trying to navigate a changing community. God’s not finished with you yet.

Whether you’re lamenting the demands of the church or yearning for the Easter morning celebration. God’s not finished with you yet.

Whether you’re feeling your church is disconnected from your community or you’re tired of trying to connect with little support from your church. God’s not finished with you yet.

Whether you’ve raised money in your church for special ministries or you have run out of money to be the special church in your community. God’s not finished with you yet.

To stay the course and embody the resilience, determination, and fortitude of those who are “playing to win” we need to practice our fundamentals.

If we’re honest, we all know how easy it is to overlook the daily practice of reading Scripture, prayer, and reflecting the love of God in my life. Busyness and the weekly rhythms of the local church can wear on even the most faithful.

You’re Invited to Practice

We’re on the Saturday side of Easter. Sunday is coming. There are opportunities to continue to live as faithful followers of Jesus who are filled with resilience and fortitude.

During the season of Easter, we’re heading into spiritual spring training with Parables: Reflections of Reality.

Sign up below. You’ll practice the disciplines that remind you, “the game is not over.” Or more importantly, God is not finished with you yet.

Sign me up!

 

 

Tell me, “Where did you see God today?” Yes, today.

Have to think about it? Quick to reply?

Either way, it’s good sign you’re the person we want to help “Awaken to God’s Presence.” Over many years and hundreds of people, we’ve watched people wake up to God’s presence around them by engaging in a simple, transformational practice.

Transforming Mission Awaken to God's presenceThe Process:

  1. Read a Scripture.
  2. Reflect on a focus word.
  3. Respond to one question.

We told you, it’s simple. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. It’s also what leads to individual and community transformation.

Sign Me Up!

What You’ll Do:

We’ll  post a Scripture, word, and question on the Facebook Page every morning at 6:30 a.m.  Look for it to be “pinned” to the top of the page before 8 a.m.  Each day stands on its own. While this series started on 1/6/18, you can jump in at any time. Here’s what we’ll do together.

  1. READ the Scripture.
  2. REFLECT on a focus word throughout the day.
  3. RESPOND to a question after 7:30 p.m.

Again, the process is simple. The outcome is transformational.

Can you imagine what might happen in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods if we awaken to God’s presence? What might happen if we then joined God in ministry where we live, work, worship, and play? I believe our lives and our communities will change.

So, it wasn’t a rhetorical question. Where did you see God today? Let us know in the comments below. Better yet, sign-up below to join us in waking up to God’s presence. And remember, you can join at any time. The dates below simply serve as a guide.

Week 1

January 6

  1. Read Matthew 2:1-12 
  2. Reflect on JOY.
  3. Respond: Where did you witness joy today?

January 7

  1. Read Mark 1:4-11
  2. Reflect on LOVE.
  3. Respond: Where did you see God’s love today?

January 8

  1. Read Isaiah 60:1-6
  2. Reflect on LIGHT.
  3. Respond: Where did you see the light of Christ today?

January 9

  1. Read Ephesians 3:1-12 
  2. Reflect on GRACE.
  3. Respond: Where did you experience God’s grace today?

January 10

  1. Read Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
  2. Reflect on COMPASSION.
  3. Respond: Where did you see God’s compassion today?

January 11

  1. Read Genesis 1:1-5
  2. Reflect on GOODNESS
  3. Respond: Where did you see God’s goodness today?

January 12

  1. Read Acts 19:1-7
  2. Reflect on SPIRIT
  3. Respond: Where did you witness the HOLY SPIRIT today?

January 13

  1. Read John 1:35-45
  2. Reflect on what it means to FOLLOW
  3. Respond: How did you FOLLOW Jesus today?

 

Week 2

January 14

  1. Read John 1:43-51.
  2. Reflect on SEEING.
  3. Respond: What did you SEE today that showed God’s presence?

January 15

  1. Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20).
  2. Reflect on God’s CALL. Everyone has a calling. It’s not just for pastors!
  3. Respond: What experience today aligned with God’s CALLING on your life?

January 16

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.
  2. Reflect on WISDOM.
  3. Respond: Where did you witness God’s WISDOM today?

January 17

  1. Read Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18.
  2. Reflect on what it means for God to KNOW you.
  3. Respond: What experience today affirmed that God KNOWS you?

January 18

  1. Read Hosea 2:14-20.
  2. Reflect on FAITHFULNESS.
  3. Respond: Where did you see God’s FAITHFULNESS?

January 19

  1. Read Acts 8:26-39.
  2. Reflect on REJOICE.
  3. Respond: Where did you witness REJOICING?

January 20

  1. Read John 1:29-34.
  2. Reflect on TESTIMONY.
  3. Respond: Where did you witness a TESTIMONY about Jesus today?

Week 3

January 21

  1. Read Mark 1:14-20
  2. Reflect on CHANGE.
  3. Respond: What CHANGE is Jesus inviting you to make so you can follow him?

January 22

  1. Read Jonah 3:1-5, 10
  2. Reflect. The focus word today is GO.
  3. Respond: Where did you GO today that you recognized God’s presence?

January 23

  1. Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  2. Reflect. The focus word today is TIME.
  3. Respond: Where did you see Jesus occupy TIME today?

January 24

  1. Read Psalm 62:5-12
  2. Reflect. The focus word today is STRENGTH.
  3. Respond: Where did you experience God’s STRENGTH today?

January 25

  1. Read Deuteronomy 5:12-15
  2. Reflect. The focus word today is HOLY.
  3. Respond: What did you experience today that was HOLY?

January 26

  1. Read Acts 9:1-19.
  2. Reflect. The focus word today is OPEN.
  3. Respond: Where were your eyes OPENED today?

January 27

  1. Read John 2:1-11
  2. Reflect. The focus word today is REVELATION.
  3. Respond: Where did Jesus REVEAL his glory today?

Week 4

January 28

  1. Read Mark 1:21-28
  2. Reflect on the focus word TEACH
  3. Respond (later today): What did Jesus TEACH you today?

January 29

  1. Read Deut 18:15-20
  2. Reflect on the focus word SPEAK
  3. Respond (later today): How did God SPEAK to you today?

January 30

  1. Read 1 Cor 8:1-13
  2. Reflect on the focus word BELONG
  3. Respond (later today): What happened today to remind you that you BELONG to God?

January 31

  1. Read Psalm 111
  2. Reflect on the focus word AWE
  3. Respond (later today): What happened today that made you stand in AWE of God?

February 1

  1. Read 2 Kings 2:1-12
  2. Reflect on the focus word: FAITHFUL
  3. Respond (later today): How did you experience God’s FAITHFULNESS today?

February 2

  1. Read Acts 10:1-23
  2. Reflect on the focus word GUIDANCE
  3. Respond (later today): What GUIDANCE did you receive from the Lord today?

February 3

  1. Read Mark 1:35-39
  2. Reflect on the focus word PRAY
  3. Respond (later today): Who or what are you PRAYING for today? Bonus question: How can we PRAY for you today?

 

Week 5

February 4

  1. Read Mark 1:40-45
  2. Reflect on the focus word WHOLE
  3. Respond (later today): Where did you witness God’s WHOLENESS today?

February 5

  1. Read 2 Kings 5:1-14
  2. Reflect on the focus word RESTORATION.
  3. Respond (later today): What RESTORATION is God doing in your life and the lives of the people around you?

February 6

  1. Read 1 Cor 9:24-27
  2. Reflect on the focus word DISCIPLINE.
  3. Respond (later today): What DISCIPLINE did you practice today?

February 7

  1. Read Psalm 30
  2. Reflect on the focus word JOY.
  3. Respond (later today): Where did you see JOY today?

February 8

  1. Read Lamentations 3:1-25
  2. Reflect on the focus word FAITHFUL.
  3. Respond (later today): Where did you witness God’s FAITHFULNESS?

February 9

  1. Read Psalm 50:1-6
  2. Reflect on the focus word BEAUTY.
  3. Respond (later today): Where did you see BEAUTY today?

February 10

  1. Read Mark 2:13-17
  2. Reflect on the focus word HOSPITALITY.
  3. Respond (later today): Where did you see or experience HOSPITALITY today?

Are you ready to Get Real?

Week 6

February 11

  1. Read Mark 2:1-12
  2. Reflect on the focus word PRAISE.
  3. Respond (later today): How did you PRAISE God today?

February 12

  1. Read Isaiah 43:18-25
  2. Reflect on the focus word NEW.
  3. Respond (later today): What new this is God doing in your midst?

February 13

  1. Read 2 Cor 1:18-22
  2. Reflect on the focus word WISDOM.
  3. Respond (later today): Where did you experience God’s wisdom today?

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Emmanuel

God disrupted all creation as Emmanuel. In the midst of all the chaos and crisis, in the midst of the violence and pain, and in the midst of despair and grief, God came to be with us. God came to be with us with true peace and love.

Emmanuel means “God with us.” God came to us. God left God’s place and came to our place. When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife…she gave birth to a son.

Joseph called him Jesus. Jesus means “Savior” or, “saves his people.” Together, the names Emmanuel and Jesus help us see in the birth of Jesus, God has come to heal us and to make us whole.

A New Year

What would happen if this new year, you and I think differently about ministry? In addition to inviting people to worship, what could happen if we invite the people in our congregations to serve in the community?

What would happen if we disrupted the community by leaving our places and going into the community to be with the people? What would happen if we took the love of God, the special music, the light of the world and became holy communion in the communities in which we live? God did not say “come to my place and I will give you peace.” God came to us with peace and love.

Disrupt our Communities

I will be in worship every Sunday in 2018. But in every church I worship I will be thinking of how you and I might disrupt our communities. Not for the sake of disruption. But disrupting our communities by bringing love and peace into every situation and circumstance we find ourselves.

I’ll sing the hymns, the praise songs, and listen to the music. But I will be thinking about how you and I can bring a kind, caring, encouraging word into our communities. I’ll be thinking about being God’s Word in the places we live, work, and play.

I look forward to celebrating holy communion with God’s people. But I will be thinking of how you and I might enter our communities, come alongside our neighbors, both friends and strangers, to include all people in God’s love in Jesus.

The Word became flesh and lived among us. How will you and I become part of God’s love that brings peace to our communities and goodwill to all people…whether we like them or not?

I hope you will make worship a regular part of your spiritual discipline through 2018. But even more, I hope your worship will be a true celebration of disrupting the world in which you live. Why? So that you might become more the person God created you to be.

I’ll be praying that your worship will lead you into the community with the God’s peace and love. So let it be!

disrupt our communities transforming mission

Prayer for Today

O God, disrupt my peace so that I may experience your peace. By your grace fill me with so much of your shalom that I have to disrupt the world in which I live to share your shalom in all places with all people. I offer myself to you in the name of Jesus. Amen.