date: wednesday, february 1, 2012
scripture: Genesis 17: 1-3
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him …
as i thought about how we would end this thirty-day journey, my first thought was to make this post about victory and rejoicing that we made it through. i thought that it would be great to “go out with a bang!” i also thought about doing this dramatic ending, highlighting the sacrifices that we’ve made and our righteousness for having made them. i thought about ending on a self-aggrandizing note.
but, then i thought about it some more and thought that both of those “endings” would be antithetical to the very thing for which we’ve been aiming: deeper intimacy with God. to assume that there’s an “ending” to these thirty days of prayer is like assuming that we can get our fill of God in a mere thirty days. so, on this thirtieth day, we are not ending. we’re going deeper.
in this passage, i love the order of the events. Abram is approached by God and receives an initial promise. then, in a fashion that suggests that Abram wanted to hear more from God, he fell facedown. with his body, he let God know just how deeply he longed for a closer encounter, a more intimate conversation, a transformative word from God. he fell facedown to get closer, to hear clearer, to go deeper with God.
it has been our prayer that these thirty days of prayer has helped you to overcome your challenges, to fortify your weaknesses, to be healed from your infirmities.
to inspire you again and to incite your creative imagination.
to draw you closer to your purpose and to excite you for the plans that God has for you.
to ignite your holy passions and your holy curiosities.
to dispel your fears and to convince you of your potential.
to agitate your inner prophet.
to point you towards the ways and the places that you need to surrender to God. to show you that you can let go and allow God to minister to you.
to draw you facedown, hanging on to God’s every word, desperately waiting to hear what God will say next…
God, thank you for this thirty days. however, i’m not done. i’m not finished. i’m only scratching the surface on my quest to know you more. continue to fill me with a holy hunger for you. continue to draw me to my face, to the space in which You can speak to me with deep clarity. continue to reveal Your plans, Your will, Your voice and Your presence to me. i give you these thirty days. i give you the days to come. i invite You to disrupt my plans. i invite You to interrupt my vision. i invite You to insert Your plans and Your vision in their place.
draw me ever nearer and ever closer to You.
amen and ashe.
date: monday, january 30, 2012
scripture: Matthew 25:21
…His master replied, “well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in a few things; i will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (NKJV)
ever notice how things just seem to get a little more tedious around the time that it is about to be over? remember that lag you felt right at the end of your last semester of high school or college? we called that senioritis. coming up right at the end of a journey or process, and losing motivation to complete the task in excellence. we’ve all felt it.
however, this scripture tells us that there is a blessing in sticking to something and seeing it though to the end. to remaining consistent until the task has been completed. in this parable, Jesus tells the story of a servant who was given five coins from his superior, and invested those five coins until his superior returned. during this time, the five coins gained interest and doubled. seeing his wisdom and his follow-through, the superior affirmed him and told him, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
while many of us desire to hear such affirmation, do we always do what it takes to receive it? do we endure with the same fervency, passion and excitement with which we began? do we stay the course instead of cutting corners and finding shortcuts, just to ease the journey?
i, for one, am extremely excited about what has taken place and will take place as a result of our prayers. like the feeling of being in a relationship… when things are going so well and your hopes are so high that all you want to do is put in the work it takes to progress to the next place. like the excitement that comes from seeing who can love who the most and the mad-dash to out-love each other. like the excitement that comes from moving towards him/her and seeing them move towards you, an embrace or a kiss just on the brink. in this type of a situation, we are inclined to give nothing but faithfulness, for fear that anything less will cost us the blessing of what could be. this is how excited we should be about God right now. after moving towards God and putting in the work to build our intimacy with God the way we have, we should be excited to see how God responds in our lives. it is out of this excitement — not a sense of duty or obligation or an begrudging attitude - that we ought to be faithful. to the end.
God, blessed are You who gives grace on a day-to-day basis and renews Your mercies every morning. help me to keep my head in the game and to remain focused on what is in front of me. continue to renew me and inspire me with vision and with purpose. and i will continue to give You glory, honor and praise. help me to remain faithful to You in all that I do. amen and ashe.
date: sunday, january 29, 2012
Scripture: 1 John 4:16
We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (NIV)
Of course each day is a blessing, but some days are just so much more enjoyable than others. I had a long day yesterday, however, it was spent doing things that I love to do with people that I love. I was fortunate enough to go play basketball yesterday (in an attempt to get in shape) with some close friends and family, and I had a great time. After playing two-on-two with my boys, I played two-on-one with my nephew (10 years old) and my friend Mike’s nephew ( 5 years old). This was extremely significant to me because I have never played basketball with my nephew in a real gym (we have played alley ball together), and my friend Mike, who just passed a little over a month ago, was teaching his nephew how to play basketball. After our game we went and got happy meals and watched the Bulls game. After the Bulls game, my nephew and I went to go get my sister and my niece to go to church.
So you may be thinking why are you writing about this? And what does this have to do with love? Well, I am so glad you asked! So many times in life we get so caught up in things we have to do, i.e. work, homework, running errands, planning special events, making business plans, that we forget to embrace the little things which can’t be bought and to express our love and joy. Seeing the smiles on my little peoples’ faces and being able to play ball with my friends made me thank God for even giving me those opportunities. Although I am super sore and feel like a senior citizen today I am so thankful that God thought enough of me to allow me play a sport that I am extremely passionate about with people that I love. Also this was the second week in a row that my sister and her kids have come to church with me and I am so happy that they have enjoyed themselves.
Thank you God for loving me and allowing me to love others. Continue to show me how to take time out of my schedule to do things that I enjoy doing with people that I love. I won’t take for granted the time that you allow me to spend with loved ones because I know one day they (or I) can be taken away. Thank you Lord! In Jesus name I pray, Amen!
written by Dave Howard, 20Something Ministry Co-chair
date: tuesday, january 31, 2012
scripture: Joel 2: 20b-23
Surely God has done great things. Be not afraid, O land; be glad an rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great thing. Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing fruit … Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for God has given you the autumn rains in righteousness, both autumn and spring rains as before. (NKJV)
Black History Month 2012 begins tomorrow! i love the celebration and i believe that it’s important to take 28 days to pause and relearn, remember and celebrate the powerful narratives of Black historical strength and determination. however, have you ever noticed how it seems as if the same stories are told every year? as if these are the only stories in our collective history? sometimes, don’t you desire to go underground and hear something new?
this passage speaks to the existence of multiple stories in the midst of a larger timeline. here, the prophet Joel is admonishing the people to take a look around and see all that God has done around them. in the beginning of the book, Joel talks about the destitution of the community and calls them to repent in some very particular ways. finally, by this point, God is responding to the peoples’ cries and giving them an opportunity to tell another story. the time for fear — that old story, that familiar experience, that dead place — was over.
be not afraid, O land!
so often we are telling the same story. about what happened in our past. about what we are still overcoming. about what we have lost hope and become discouraged over. realize that when we tell the same story over and over again, we are bearing witness to a God who lets us linger in the same place. we are not proclaiming a God who takes us “from glory to glory” on an-almost daily basis, if we allow God to do so. but, today, let us open our eyes all around us and see what new stories we can tell. about what we’ve come through. about the doors God has opened. about the new self-awareness that has come from drawing near to God. about what we are excited to experience of God, even if we haven’t seen it yet. let’s open our eyes to the new stories that are springing up all around us.
God, you are doing a new thing and writing new stories in my life. You are springing up new possibilities and promises around me every day. help me to see the riches of these possibilities, and to tell the story of how i’ve placed my hope in You and how You will not let my hope be unfulfilled. amen and ashe.
date: saturday, january 28, 2012
scripture: Matthew 6:30-31 & 34
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never even seen – don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do the best for you? What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (MSG)
Anxiety, the feeling of being uncertain and worrying, has been something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. As a graduate student, my anxiety peaked towards the end of my second year. I was feeling out of control, worrying that I was not a “perfect” student, that I was not going to finish in 5 years like I had planned and feeling like these things reflected something about who I was. The problem was that I was putting my trust, my faith, in myself and my ability to work hard enough, to be smart enough, to know enough to do well in graduate school. While God has given all of us gifts and talents, God has not given them to us so that we can rest on our abilities instead of trusting in God’s power and love for us.
While I believe that God is able to do anything God wants to do, somewhere deep down inside I wonder, I worry, whether I will be content with what God has planned for me. When my thoughts go down this path I am encouraged by the fact that God knows me better than I know myself. Also, Ephesians 3:20-21 reminds me that God’s plans are so much bigger and better than I can imagine and that if I was limited to my own imagination I would miss out on so many wonderful things God has planned.
If we can figure out where our anxiety comes from then we can begin to move forward. Matthew 6:30-34 pushes us to challenge our anxiety by trusting in the fact that God has it all taken care of for everyone and everything. If God cares so much about the flowers, how could God not care about us and have the best planned for us? We are not called to focus on what we don’t have and to worry about what the future holds but instead to focus on the abundance of things that God is blessing us with right now. God’s awesome plans cannot be diminished by our worries; we must rejoice in the fact that God will not limit our blessings or the purposes for our lives to our abilities and imagination.
Awesome, omnipotent, omniscient, loving and grace-filled God, thank you for your patience with us as we work through weaknesses in our faith. Thank you for the constant reminders that your plans for us are good and that you have it all under control. God please strengthen our faith and remove our feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Help us to trust completely in you. Please carry out the awesome plans you have for us; do your will, God.
written by Trinity United Church of Christ 20Something Member, Adia Gooden.
date: friday, january 27, 2012
scripture: 1 Kings 19:4-8 (NIV):
I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
How difficult is the journey that you are travelling? What is the thing in your life that you think may be too much for you? Sometimes we become so overwhelmed by life and circumstances that we dare to think that “we have had enough,” and we beg the Lord to take our burdens from us. Sometimes it gets so dark that we dare to ask God to take our lives. But scripture tells us that even when we are exhausted to the point where we pray that “hit rock bottom” type of prayer, an angel of the Lord will remind us what we need to do to keep going—to remind us that physical and mental strength is necessary in order to be that which God called us to be. Perhaps you are doubting that you have what it takes?
Remember: You may have many doubts, but never doubt that the God that has called you will support you and provide you with all you need. Perhaps you don’t feel like you deserve to take the time that you need to prepare yourself for the journey. You are worth it. Remember: God wants to make sure we have what we need for our journey, whatever it may be.
Get up and eat—for the journey is too much for you.
Sometimes we get stuck, and find ourselves in situations that we believe we can’t get out of. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story. God is continually inviting us, beckoning us to embrace life. God has hope for us, even when we don’t have hope for ourselves. God provides for us.
Get up and eat—for the journey is too much for you.
Lord, thank You that whatever our journey, no matter how much despair we may feel, You remind us that we have what it takes to be victorious. You remind to us to take the time to prepare for the journey we face. Thank you that whatever our challenges, if we turn to you, you will provide us with what we need to meet them. When we are tired, we can rest in your everlasting arms. When we need sustenance, you remind us to eat, and you direct our path to the right source of nourishment. Thank you that when we feel alone, You remind us that we are never alone. We are never forgotten. Thank You for your presence, and for answering our prayers. Amen.
written by Pamay Bassey, Creative Experience Officer of My 52 Weeks of Worship. Check her out at http://my52wow.com/.
date: thursday, january 26, 2012
scripture: Psalm 37: 27-29
Turn your back on evil, work for the good and don’t quit. God loves this kind of thing, never turns away from his friends. Live this way and you’ve got it made, but bad eggs will be tossed out. The good get planted on good land and put down healthy roots. (MSG)
It’s 7 am Wednesday morning and I hear the garbage truck coming down the alley. I ran outside only to see that the Garbage truck has already passed my house. The logical thing to do was put the trash in the can because I’m not taking the trash back into my house.
I thought only if I used those same principles in my life and not dig my spoiled eggs out of my personal trashcan. My spoiled eggs include: Calling people who I know don’t mean me any good. Responding to text from exes because I didn’t answer their phone calls. Eating things that I know aren’t healthy. Vowing to give up old habits while I partake in them ” one last time.” And the list goes on and on…..
What’s in your trashcan?
After examining my trashcan I began to really examine my spoiled eggs and place them in my personal trashcan. It’s not going to be easy but every step I take forward, I can’t go back. The more I learn about why some of those habits started have also made me begin to make positive steps forward. The goal for today is to unfriend on FB, delete people from my contacts list, and get back to the gym!
Thank you God for second, third, and fourth chances. God teach me not to bring bad eggs back into my life. Give me strength to acknowledge when I am not doing things pleasing to you and learn not repeat those same habits. Thanking you for your grace and not letting those bad eggs give me what I deserved. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
written by our co-chair, Nicole Comer
Date Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Scripture: Psalm 142:1-3
I cry aloud to the Lord; lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy, I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. (NIV)
Just yesterday my friend called me and informed me that she received an email from the counseling department chair at our university stating that she would have to receive counseling, write a twenty page paper, and redo her entire year of practicum and internship. Needless to say she was very upset. I agreed that I felt that these were harsh consequences to some issues she was having. After all, she has not been able to work to in order to satisfy her required number of hours for practicum and internship and she pays tuition. Why would a board of educators even feel that this was fair? Don’t they know how difficult it is to not work, pay tuition, and support a significant other (that does not work either)? Although my friend is aware that she made some mistakes, she believes (as do I) that her consequences are very extreme.
This made me think about how I’ve made mistakes in my own life. We have all done things or know someone who has done things that we realized at some point was a mistake. Then we have the nerve to say “O.K. God I have learned my lesson, you can stop now” as if we didn’t know that their would be some kind of consequences for our action. We want to control our punishment when we believe that it is too harsh. The truth of the matter is just as when we were children and our parents had to punish us, God treats us in the same way. My mom would tell me all the time when I was a child that “I whoop you cuz I love you!” In my sanctified imagination I can hear God saying the same thing.
After my butt whooping, punishment was sure to follow. Sometimes my mom would say the only way your getting off punishment is if I can see that you have learned your lesson. What if God is willing to do the same thing? What if when we (or somebody we know) makes a mistake and all God wants us to do is to call out to Him, acknowledge we have done wrong, and turn from whatever it is we have done wrong? What if all God wants you to do is pray? What if all God wants to do is to have you make him a priority in your life? Could/would you do it?
I tried to give my friend option after option so that she could come up with a way to resolve her situation. However, each time I thought I had come up with a brilliant plan, she would cut me off before I could finish and tell me why it wasn’t going to work. So finally I told her, “I don’t know what else to tell you, you better pray!”
Sometimes because we are so emotional and in such a state of shock that we forget who is in charge. We forget to cry out to the One that created us. Thus, we limit God’s power and don’t trust that he can change our situation. Well, once we stop being so emotional we should remember that God is a way maker. We should remember that God is merciful. We should remember that God wants us to put him first. We should remember that God loves us and that is why he disciplines us. Also, remember that God can do anything, including change your situation.
God forgive me because I know that I am not perfect and at times I make mistakes. Forgive me for not calling on you first when I needed help. God please help me to learn from my mistakes and help me through this storm. Please move in my life and in my situation in a way that only you can! Thank you, Amen!
Written by Dave Howard, 20Something Co-Chair
date: tuesday, january 24, 2012
scripture: Psalm 46:10
God says, “be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
Two days ago, I spoke to a young adult whose mother recently made her transition. I was surprised and encouraged by his outlook on her passing. Twice, I heard him say that he was just blessed to have her for the 25 years that he did. He lauded how “fantastic” she was and what a difference she made. This conversation has stuck with me ever since.
things happen all of the time. change is inevitable. but, i feel like i’m more accustomed to responding with worry about how i’m going to survive the change or fear at what i don’t know. i remember facing graduation from graduate school, and instead of thanking God for all that I had experienced in those three years and being excited for what was ahead, i was worried about what i was going to do after graduation. was i going to go work? and if so, where? was i going to straight back into school? when i say that i was worried, i mean i was losing sleep… and hair from incessant, around-the-clock worrying.
it would have been good to have the confidence and the trust in God to really beleive that God would have my back. but, i just wasn’t there. even after all that God had previously done. in the aftermath, i can say that it did nothing for me to worry the way that i did. there were a few detours, but the story has turned out to be better than anything i could have contrived in a state of worry.
today, be still and know. know that you are in God’s hand. you are the apple of God’s eye. God is taking care of you and your family and all of the things that concern you. be still and know that God is God.
God, today, grant me the stillness to know that you are God and you are in control. that you do all things well and that all things are beautiful in your time. help me to cast my worries aside and to cast my cares on you, for you care for me. help me to know that and to just be still.
date: monday, january 23, 2012
scripture: Exodus 18-19a;21-23)
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. … There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you rill see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (NIV)
i understand that this is a familiar verse, but as i meditated more on it, this thought came to mind.
Moses was really bold to ask to see God’s glory. in general, yes. but, specifically, within the context of the entire conversation, it was especially bold of him to make this request. a little disillusioned by what he’d been called to do, Moses pressed God to find out just how the task of moving into “the promised land” was going to get done. was God going to send someone extra strong and powerful to help Moses? no. God was going to go with Moses and see him through the work that he’d been called to do (i’m paraphrasing vv. 12-17).
it was almost as if Moses needed a little extra confirmation that God was going to accompany him in leading the people. he needed a little extra reassurance. but, instead of asking God for that, he decided to go all out and say, “now let me see your glory.” it was almost as if he was looking for proof of the Presence that he’d been promised. he needed to know just what to look for, what to feel for, when the Presence of God showed up to help him complete the assignment. he wanted a preview of what was to come, but not necessarily of the greatness that was in the future, but of the Presence that would take him into the future. i like that Moses was more excited about God’s Presence than he was about God’s promises.
if God has already spoken to us about our future, and reassured us that God has GREAT plans for us, (Isa. 43.19) why do we continue to press God for those things as if God has forgotten or God will forget? does it not take more boldness to take God at God’s word and just have peace in God’s presence? does it not take more boldness to trust God and let God do God’s thing? at some point, we should take on the attitude of Moses that says, You’ve already told me that great things are in store. Now show me your glory. Let me into your Presence where there is the fullness of joy and life evermore!
God, you’ve already promised me good and great things. in fact, you’ve already shown me that you are a God of your word. now, grant me the boldness to take you at your Word and to be held and covered by your Presence as you are taking me where you desire for me to be. Amen and Ashe.
date: sunday, january 22, 2012
scripture: Exodus 33: 12-23; 1Cor 13:12-13
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. … There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you rill see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (NIV; Exodus 18-19a;21-23)
today at Trinity, we were blessed by the preaching ministry of Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. He preached three wonderful sermons, but the sermon at the 6:00 service was particularly “on time” for several of us. entitled “faith from a rear view mirror,” the sermon called on the gift of divine memory, the ability to “look back over my life” and recall the great things that God has done. in a context that regularly gets excited about what God is about to do, this was a powerful admonishment. there are some major takeaways from this sermon.
there are times when we just need to be reminded that we are surrounded by God’s presence. we need to be shown God’s glory to know that we’ve found favor with God. we need to be reminded that as we are transitioning that God’s presence is going before us and going with us. During these seasons, Dr. Warnock suggests that we consider:
a. trying obstacles you’ve already passed through. remember those seasons that you’ve already come through. the ones you thought you wouldn’t survive. the ones you thought would take you out. then stop to note that you are still here. instead of being so busy to move through life and see God’s face, we should stop and look at God’s back, and know that if God could do it then, God can do it now! “through many dangers, toils and snares, i’ve already come…”
b. the tragic options that passed you by. we could have been in a much different place than we are in. in fact, many of us deserve to be much worse off than we are. we’ve all made some decisions that could have taken us out. but, by God’s grace, tragedy has passed us by. the worser reality passed over. “…’twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
c. the terrific opportunities that God has granted. despite what we really deserved, God actually opened tremendous doors for us. God made amazing ways for us to move higher and gain more knowledge and experience. God actually did the very opposite of what we deserved, and did MORE than we ever imagined. “i once was lost, but now i’m found, was blind, but now i see!”
God, I remember what you have done to me. I remember how you’ve covered me, protected me, provided for me, blessed in my countless ways. i remember, God, because i know that if I forget, my walk with you becomes stagnant. i pray that you will help me to recall the things that i’ve forgotten, and to praise you for how faithful you have been throughout the years of my life. Amen and Ashe.