Gotta Say Something…

Well, there’s a lot going on in our world that calls us all to having meaningful conversations about the brokenness of this world. While I’m sure how to respond to any of what I read on Facebook, hear in conversation wherever we may be, hear in the news, etc. I think it is important for us to be wise in how we respond and to table our ignorance’s. Here are my thoughts on what we all need to do and remember.

 

  • Each day is a new day and enjoy the blessings of it and all the beauty that it brings. Enjoy the conversations and connections that you get to have with each person.
  • Always seek God and listen for how he is leading you.
  • Stay positive and enjoy the journey. You are being shaped and molded with each step.
  • Be slow to respond and contemplative in all things that you do.
  • Recognize the humanness of others. We’re all flawed and will make mistakes.
  • Do not allow social media to replace the need for genuine face to face communication. In my opinion what we say over the internet or text is not what we would say if we were having a genuine face to face conversation with one another.
  • We all are entitled to our own opinions and viewpoints. And shockingly, we’re allowed to disagree.
  • Kindness and respect for each other can get us a long way. Jesus talks about this a lot, oh and your Kindergarten would be proud after all that’s is one of the first places a lot of us learned communication and that we don’t always get our way.
  • Sometimes are not as black and white as we make them. Our world is complex and we are complex people with many layers.
  • Everything isn’t about you!

 

Friends, with your eyes may you see the beauty of Gods handiwork. With your hands may you share Christs love with one another and extend a helping hand to your neighbor. With your feet may you carry Gods love into this broken and messy world we live in. Amen.

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Kindness Feeds The Spirt

I had the opportunity to do something different for Easter, I went with friends to provide Trail Magic on the Appalachian Trail at Deep Gap. My friend, Jerry started this tradition 26 years ago following his time on the Appalachian Trail. He began taking is Ford F-150 out and providing meals for individuals on Easter weekend each year and from there it grew into a beautiful expression of giving and blessing those who are hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Jerry had invited me to go with him several times to provide Trail Magic however the timing just never felt right but this year it seemed like this was what I needed to do so I agreed to go and help. I was unsure what I would experience or who I would meet. The only exposure I had with the Appalachian Trail was the stories I had heard and read. Completely unaware and unsure of what I would experience I went with an open-mind prepared to meet people and learn. Well, I learned a lot and met a lot of interesting people of the weekend.

Jerry coined the phrase “Kindness feeds the Spirit” and I believe there is a special Spirit that can be found on the trail and at this yearly event. I met people of all ages, from many different places around the world and all were grateful to come around the corner and see a spectacular spread of food and welcoming faces welcoming them and inviting them to come rest and feed their spirt! This experience is one that inexplicably has changed my life and I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Be kind to one another and remember “Kindness feeds the Spirit”!

 

Lenten Reflections

Last week I wrote Ash Wednesday Reflections about how I believed Ash Wednesday calls us to reflection and renewal. I’ve made it a point to notice when those holy moments happen in my life, to savor them and to genuinely be grateful for points of connection with our Creator.

This week the connection came as week sang a familiar hymn in worship “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”, the first verse and chorus says:

1 Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and pow’r.

Chorus:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.1

This hymn reminded me how important it is for us to be in relationship with Christ, for us to be continually praying and listening.  “I will arise and go to Jesus” begs of us to put all of our trust in him for us to genuinely follow him in spirit and truth. This is what Lent begs of us I believe to be in relationship with Christ to spend time renewing and reconnecting with him.

 

 

1 Come, ye sinners J. Hart (1759)

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday Thoughts

Today we begin our Lenten journey for the next few weeks we will pause to stop and ponder the ways in which we can draw closer to God and be honest with ourselves about our wretchedness and sinfulness. I’ll be the first to admit these aren’t easy things to admit or deal with and/or focus on its necessary for us to draw closer to God and is something we should do daily. We must be honest with ourselves and refocus our lives in a way that commits us to daily confession of our sins and that allows for God to shape and mold us into who we were created to be.

It is my prayer this Lenten season they we all will spend time in Gods presence renewing and refocusing our relationship with our creator. Be vulnerable with  God and see what happens…

Perspective

Yesterday I hiked around Max Patch with a friend while I’ll admit yesterday wasn’t the picture-perfect day to be at the top of a mountain standing on a grassy bald, I think it was where I needed to be. It was cold, windy and gray. As I looked out I could see the outline of mountains all around me and could feel Gods presence as the wind blew around and thru me.

As I stood  and took the view in I said this prayer:

God, help me to take a wide view of my life. Help me to see where you are at work and the things I need to change about myself. God, our creator, thank you for the gift of mountains and the ability to stand at the top, get perspective and listen to you. Speak God, for I am listening and willing… Amen.

May we all take time to get perspective and listen.

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Keep Improving

As I sit and reflect on this year I must it has been good, I’ve learned a lot, struggled with a lot and grown in many ways. I’m beyond grateful for the journey that I am on and look forward to where God will be taking me in 2017. While I’m not someone that believes in making “New Year’s Resolutions” because I believe we should all be constantly working to make ourselves better – I hate seeing the quote “A New Year, A New Me” don’t wait for the new year to change, work hard to grow and change yourself every day!

Here are my intentions for 2017:

  • Be more thankful in all aspects of my life.
  • Recognize where God our Creator is at work.
  • Slow down and enjoy life. (I have to realize my calendar and to-do list aren’t supreme)
  • Spend more with those that are close to me and that I love.
  • Give more and spend less.
  • Smile and laugh more.
  • Talk to God more.
  • Not get wrapped up with media.
  • Not let my professional life rule my life.
  • Notice the small things.
  • Write more.
  • Spend less time look at a screen.
  • Be introspective.
  • To listen more and talk less.
  • Be mindful.

And the list goes on…

As a good friend of mine says “The Best Is Yet To Be” … Bring on 2017!

Peace Be with You

Psalm 46:8-11

Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

This Psalm reminds of just how powerful our God is and provides us with words of comfort, hope and peace for the present day. I think of all that is going on in the world: poverty, crime, hate, unrest, political wars, food insecurity, homelessness, sex trafficking, terminal illnesses, need for healthcare, equal education, people suffering with mental illness or substance abuse, and many other terrifying realities.

I become saddened and overwhelmed when confronted with all of the issues of this world, but I am comforted knowing that our God is in control and is at work in all situations!

After suffering from an extended period of illness, German Church Reformer Martin Luther wrote the hymn A Might Fortress Is Our God based on Psalm 46. On the 10th Anniversary of him publishing the 95 Theses, this hymn was a comfort and reminder of the power God’s word held. The fourth verse reminds us of God’s power and presence among us in this ever-changing, broken and messy world – he (God) is exalted among the nations.

That word above all earthly pow’rs,

No thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours

Thro’ Him who with us sideth:

Let goods and kindred go,

This mortal life also;

The body they may kill:

God’s truth abideth still,

His kingdom is forever.[1]

In the fourth verse I’m reminded of how “Be still and know that I am God’ calls us to quietly trust God and hold his hand as he leads us along the journey of life. I find hope in knowing that we serve a Christ of love and compassion that call us to love all who we know and to share his peace with those we love and don’t know.

This Advent season it is my prayer that we all will abide in God’s love and peace!

[1] Convention Press, The Baptist Hymnal, 1991

Saturday Morning Prayer

This morning, I reflected on the natural beauty of Western North Carolina. I’m amazed by the beauty of this area so I wrote this little prayer.

God free me from my possessions. Help me to see you in natural beauty of this world. Help me to see you in the world through natural eyesight and not a device. Help me to spend time in the present. Amen.

Now go get outside and enjoy Gods beautiful gifts!

Snow Day Vespers Guided Prayer

Read Philippians 4:4-9 as if you’re reading it for the first time.

Philippians 4:4-9New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Spend time reflecting on what phrases or words stood out to you while reading the scripture.

Read verses 4 – 7.

Reflect on what those verses mean in relation to your life.

Read verses 8 – 9.

Reflect on what you have learned and received and how you have applied those things to your life.

Read verses 4 – 9.

Reflect on the entire scripture and pray as a group.

 

 

I led this guided prayer experience at First Baptist Church of Sylva Snow Day Vespers on January 24, 2016.

 

 

 

 

Snow Day Prayer

While I wish I had answers and knew how to solve every issue in this broken, fragmented and unfair world I don’t but I’m reminded of Mother Teresa who said ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” While we sit in our cozy warm homes on snow days let us think of those who don’t have warm homes or clothes or enough food. .

Creator God,

As we recognize need in this world help us to learn what we can do to help and provide encouragement. Help us to be a voice with the voiceless. Help us to help the helpless. Help us to share the peace of Christ will all who we come in contact with even when it isn’t peaceful. Equip us to be ambassadors for you. Now God help us to not turn our head when we see need but to stand up and make a change. Amen.

 

Go make a difference!