Saturday, August 15, 2015

On the road again ...

... but this time the destination is a more permanent one: Lake George, New York. Four weeks ago, the Vestry and Search Committee of St. James Episcopal Church called me to be their next Rector and I accepted.

St. James Episcopal Church, Lake George NY

This is the culmination of 2 years and 8 months of prayer ... not only my prayers but the many who walked this journey with me. And, it answers the prayers of the St. James' Family who have asked God to grant them discernment and wisdom during their search for their next Rector.

What amazes me is God's incredible weaving of all the various strands of prayer. Every thread of warp and woof (or is it weft?) of this tapestry was woven so that at the perfect time we would come together in agreement that this was indeed God's plan. Over the past years it took great courage for all of us ... those who prayed with us and for us as well as for the Vestry, Search Committee, and me ... to say "no" when our hearts wanted to say "yes", and to wait when we wanted to act. One of the greatest lessons in all of this has been learning to listen to the heart of God for what He wanted to do ... in us and through us.

The lectionary for this coming Sunday talks about Solomon asking God for wisdom to lead the people of God. "Understanding mind" can be translated "listening heart". We all need to ask God for "listening hearts" – hearts that are tuned to His frequency, listening for His voice, His transmission of what he desires for us, His blessing for us. There are so many times we want to jump ahead, get going, step on the gas ... but He asks us to wait, say "no", be still. Ugh! Please can't we get going?

No. Wait. Listen. And, Understand.

Solomon asked for a heart that listened to the heart of God in order to govern and lead His people. Don't we need that same listening in order to live this life with{IN} Christ? It's not necessarily something that comes naturally BUT we can learn to do. I know we can, because I have learned to do this over the last few years. (And, I continue to learn!) I testify that it reveals the wonderful and amazing ways of our Master. I witnessed how he marvelously provided for me over the last few years and now, I get to go to St. James, Lake George. What a blessing!

Ask with me. Ask for the LORD God to grant us listening hearts that will understand and discern the ways of God that we may live life wisely ... full of His grace and peace.

Abundant and scandalous blessings of God our Father to you as you listen for Him. +++

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Crazy Christians

Over 200 years ago 13 colonies took crazy measures to join together for the cause of freedom and liberty. Many among them were Christians navigating very dangerous and challenging waters of that revolution ... in this country and in the church ... to bring about a historic birth of The United States.

Although we live in this nation where we know countless blessings of freedom and liberty, we continually must navigate very dangerous and challenging waters of our times. Recent news events demonstrate this. Yet, as Christians we know the true freedom and liberty in Jesus Christ and our work here is to bless others in our family, community, and nation with that blessing. Now, is the time for Crazy Christians to join together for the cause of blessing the nations.

At The Episcopal Church's General Convention Presiding Bishop Elect Michael Curry challenged us to be Crazy Christians for Jesus Christ.  
"Mine eyes have seen the glory ..."
AMEN!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Killing Giants, Stilling Storms: Take 2

So, what does it look like to take steps of faith vs. fear? Sylvia Gunter has an excellent email devotional today that answers that question. (My apologies to Sylvia that I could not locate it on her website, The Father's Business, and have copied it here.)

 Praying Psalm 28
A Prayer For Help And Praise For The Answer 

     Has there been a time when it seemed that God was not listening to you? Did you feel as if He was far away? Be encouraged that God sees and hears you. He will renew your sense of intimacy with Him, for He has not moved. Take your eyes off the problems and raise them to praise Him for His loving care. The psalmist said, "It is pleasant and fitting to praise the Lord" (Ps. 147:1).
1 To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. 
     I run to you when things get tough. I desperately need help. Hear me, and don't be silent. Don't turn me away. I am crying from an honest heart. I am struggling and in pain. My trust is fractured, and my feelings are hanging by a thread. I want with all my being to trust that You are my Lord and my Rock of safety.
2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. 
     I earnestly throw myself on Your mercy. I call to You as desperately as I ever have in all my life. By faith I lift my hands to Your holy throne of grace. Answer me, and let me hear Your voice. I need You to be there for me. I need to know You are close. I need Your answer to be clear and tailor-made for my desperation.
3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. 
     Don't let me be ignorant of the enemy's devices. The people I see are not the real adversary. Don't let me fight according to flesh and blood. The workers of iniquity hide themselves behind smooth words. Don't let their destructive intent have its way against me.
4 Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back upon them what they deserve. 5 Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. 
     I choose to bless the people who are being used to come against me, and I beg You to take Your rightful authority over the invisible powers behind their visible actions. They have set themselves primarily against You and secondarily against me, the work of Your hands. Lord, it's Your battle.
6 Praise be to the LORD, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 
     I praise You for who You are to me. Thank You for Your work in my life. Because of Your character as a committed covenantal Father, You are gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, desiring to bless me. I thank You that in Your mercy You hear the cry of my heart when I plead Your promises.
7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. 
     You are my strength, or I have no strength to withstand. I hide myself and still my soul in Your impenetrable shield. The habit structures of self-protection do not serve me. You are my refuge, my fortress, my protector, my help, my hope, my high tower to which I run and am safe. Renew my broken trust in the innermost parts of my heart. Enable my heart to lean confidently into You and shout for joy because of the joy of the Lord. I will choose now to give You an offering of songs of thanksgiving.
8 The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 
Abba, I belong to You. You committed Yourself to protecting me. You alone are my unyielding strength and my sure salvation. On Christ the solid Rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. I stand still in Your fortress to see Your salvation. I will hide my soul deep in the Rock. I am Your special treasure, chosen, anointed, appointed, sealed by Your Holy Spirit.
9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever. 
     Save me and nurture me, and let me enter into all my inheritance of Your blessings. You are my good Shepherd. You will lift me up onto Your shoulders and carry me all the days of my life. So Lord, for today... give me this day the Bread of life that is my rightful portion. You alone are my Victory!
     Write your own personal paraphrase of Psalm 28, as aspects of God's character and works exactly fit your need: He is your rock, mercy, holiness, justice, strength, shield from every danger, faithfulness, help, saving refuge, protection, and shepherding presence. Does your heart fill with joy and thanksgiving over who He is? Do you see how you can turn dire circumstances into a showcase for our praise-worthy God? Always "It is pleasant and fitting to praise the Lord" (Ps. 147:1). 
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Taken from Prayer Essentials For Living In His Presence, Vol. 2, page 78-79,      © 2000 by Sylvia Gunter. Available from www.thefathersbusiness.com.  
An archive of past devotionals is available on the website.