Lord, Make Me Kind

A Little Kindness by Michelle Chiang (aka voodooxfishy)

Micah 6:8 NRSV
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness. – Mother TeresaA Gift for God: Prayers and Meditations

Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for living in someone’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me unless there is peace and joy finally for you too. – Frederick Buechner, Beyond Words

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again. -Og Mandino

If you have not often felt the joy of doing a kind act, you have neglected much,
and most of all yourself. – A. Neilen

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. – Mark Twain

Proverbs 21:21 NRSV
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life and honor.

Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.
– Charlie Chaplin, in ‘The Great Dictator’

Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
-Lao Tzu

A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.
– Joseph Joubert

Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings.
A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
-Steve Maraboli, A Savior At the Grocery Store

1 Samuel 20:14 NIV
…show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live…

Hidden in simple kindness is the power to change a situation, change a life, change the world. What is God’s power in the world, even the power to create the universe, but God’s overflowing kindness? All the great spiritual teachers tell us this: that loving kindness is not a little thing, or even an ordinary thing. It is a superpower.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Kindness

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. – Dalai Lama

Lord, Make Me Kind
ONE SPEAKING: Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

ALL SINGING: Jesus’ Hands Were Kind Hands, verse 1
Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all,
Healing pain and sickness, blessing children small,
Washing tired feet, and saving those who fall;
Jesus’ hands were kind hands, doing good to all.

ONE SPEAKING: Colossians 3:12 NIV
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience.

ALL SINGING: Jesus’ Hands Were Kind Hands, verse 2
Take my hands, Lord Jesus, let them work for you;
Make them strong and gentle, kind in all I do.
Let me watch you, Jesus, till I’m gentle too,
Till my hands are kind hands, quick to work for you.

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For a post entitled Compassion, click here
For a post entitled Little Things, Great Love, click here

For more from today’s featured artist Michelle Chiang (aka voodooxfishy), click here

Jesus’ Hands Were Kind Hands (United Methodist Hymnal #273) Words by Margaret Cropper © 1979, Stainer & Bell, Ltd. (admin. Hope Publishing Company)

Lord, Make Me Kind compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Freedom from Worldly Concerns

romans 8 38Romans 8:6, 14 (NRSV)
To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.

There are three evil forces that stand in opposition to the three Persons of the triune God. Satan stands against Jesus as Lord, the flesh wars against the Holy Spirit as Enabler, and the world system opposes God as Creator.
– Frank Viola, Rethinking Water Baptism

As disciples of Jesus, being in relationship with Him must be our focus. When we allow others’ perceptions of us (or even our perceptions of their perceptions!) to control how we live, we are enslaved. We become entrenched in the ways of this world and do not live as citizens of heaven, which is another kind of kingdom altogether. Though there is a sense in which this kingdom of God is still future (Zech. 14:9; Acts 1:6–7), there is also a sense in which it is here now (Matt. 6:10; 12:28). As citizens of this kingdom, we are called to live in a way that reflects the reality of the kingdom of God. When we become overly concerned about our appearance, our spiritual reputation, our coolness, and our acceptance, we are living as citizens of this world rather than as ambassadors. – Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

Neither expelling nor excluding (conservative temptation), nor perfect explaining (liberal temptation) is our task. True participation in God liberates us each from our control towers and for the compelling and overarching vision of the Reign of God— where there are no liberals or conservatives. Here, the paradoxes— life and death, success and failure, loyalty to what is and risk for what needs to be— do not fight with one another, but lie in an endless embrace. We must penetrate behind them both— into the Mystery that bears them both. This is contemplation in action.
Richard Rohr, Contemplation in Action

When will we acknowledge that none of our freedoms are absolute? My freedom of speech is balanced with my respect for people who disagree with me. My freedom to worship is bounded by the freedom of others to worship God as they are led or to ignore God entirely. My freedom to own guns (a freedom I’ve never exercised) is held in balance with our national vision of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
– Jim Harnish

Be my armor, God of love,
my skin, my world, my home.
– Steve Garnaas-Holmes, selection from The Armor of God

Do not care much who is with you and who is against you; but make it your greatest care that God is with you in everything you do.
-Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

The Imitation of Christ would like to offer Thomas à Becket as an example that Christians today might emulate when trying to discern their vocational path. … Becket decided, finally, that the only honor worth defending was the honor of God. He freed himself from the burden of trying to please everyone, including himself, and choose to follow a calling that the world—and especially the king—could only regard as madness. Trying to please oneself as well as one’s family and friends can be an overwhelming burden. In contrast, Jesus said his yoke is easy (Matt. 11:30). While it might seem to be the most demanding, depressing, demoralizing, and debilitating thing in the world to try to defend the honor of God—to live as if the good name of God depended on your behavior—in fact, when we take on this “yoke of Christ,” we find just the opposite. Thomas à Becket made clear the true nature of things when he said that defending the honor of God was the most freeing thing he had ever experienced.
– Gregory S. Clapper, Living Your Heart’s Desire: God’s Call and Your Vocation

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Click here for another terrific post by Steve Garnaas- Holmes entitled Lay Your Burdens Down.

For more information on use of the scripture, art and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Parable of the Talents: Fearless or Fearful?

Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25:14-30

John of the Cross wrote that “In the evening of life we will be judged on love alone.” The two servants, probably more experienced in loving, fearlessly invest their portions of love. Heedless of sheer foolhardiness, they risk ego, rejection, derision, even death, adventurously increasing the master’s wealth of love in the world. The last servant misses the point, and like sinning against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:32) the poor clueless man finds himself in the outer darkness for clinging to the supposed safety of burying his love in the ground. John Wesley comments, “So mere harmlessness, on which many build their hope of salvation, was the cause of his damnation.”
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless. –Tertullian

Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.
– William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37)

Only those who risk going too far will ever know how far they can go.
– T.S. Eliot

Whatever you do you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you into believing your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Moving ahead requires us to face the present with its hardships and afflictions, knowing that these, too, are part of the way. To do this requires a measure of courage, that word formed from the Latin cor, or heart. In such circumstances, the challenge before us is not simply to avoid losing our heart. Rather, it is that of finding our heart, of living “heartfully.” – Mark S. Burrows and John H. Ohlson, Love is a Direction from Weavings, Aug/Sept/Oct 2012

Click here for a thoughtful reflection on this passage by Steve Garnaas Holmes

Zephaniah 1:12
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, “The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.”

Philippians 4:13 (NRSV)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Dear God,
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
… and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
– Henri Nouwen

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For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please leave a message in the comments.

Worship Resource: Awakening

Worship Resource: Awakening
Scripture is spoken during the instrumental introduction to
Awakening by Chris Tomlin and Reuben Morgan (CCLI #5677399)

ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 57:9-10 (NIV)
I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 57:11 (NIV)
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
Let your glory be over all the earth.

ALL SINGING: Awakening
Verse 1, Chorus 1, Verse 2, Chorus 1, Chorus 1

ONE SPEAKING: Psalm 57:7-8 (NIV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

ALL SPEAKING: Psalm 57:7-8 (NIV)
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

ALL SINGING: Awakening
Bridge (twice)

Worship leader encourages prayer or praise during the instrumental interlude

ALL SINGING: Awakening
Chorus 2, Ending

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compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on use of the art, scripture translation and this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Church as House of Prayer

Praying Boy Stained Glass by Bansky

Mark 11:15-18 (NRSV)
Then they came to Jerusalem. And Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.

We are called to pray not because we feel like praying or because it gives us good insights, but simply because we want to be obedient, to listen to the voice that calls us the beloved.
Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Living

The feature that is supposed to distinguish Christian churches, Christian people, and Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer. It doesn’t matter what your tradition or my tradition is. The house is not ours anyway; it is the Father’s.
– Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Only a recovery of the greatness, supremacy, sovereignty, brilliance, and “allness” of Christ will lead us to restoration and even revival. The wonder of Jesus as “all in all” is the only hope for igniting the flame of a new reformation and resuscitating a church that’s presently on life support. – Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Manifesto

Revival is a matter of arrival, the arrival of God in a greater measure. Services that are soaked in prayer—whether traditional or contemporary—are alive with God’s presence. And it is his presence that changes lives, heals brokenness, and brings people to the saving knowledge of Jesus. If anything the worship in a church needs to be “user friendly” to welcoming “The Presence.” In worship, we should be more concerned about pleasing him, and not them. Meeting early to pray, anointing the chairs, and praying behind the scenes are all components of vital worship.
– Terry Teykl, Prayer and Presence

The sad truth is, in the city where I live – as in Chicago and Philadelphia and Houston and right across to L.A. – more people are turning to crack than to Christ. More people are dipping into drugs than are getting baptized in water. What is going to reverse this tide? Preaching alone will not do it; classes aren’t going to do it; more money for more programs won’t do it. Only turning God’s house into a house of fervent prayer will reverse the power of evil so evident in the world today.
– Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

God Builds a House
based on 1 Peter 2:4-5, Ephesians 2:11-22
Meter 88.88 (LM)
Suggested tunes: DUKE STREET (UMH #101) or TRURO (UMH #213)

God builds a house with living stone, with mortar made of sweat and prayer.
It’s beams of faith are nailed to Love and sealed with blood that will not wear.

Come bless the building of Your house around Your hearth of living bread;
through sacred meal and Word proclaimed so hearts and souls and minds are fed.

Come gift the building of Your house with healing ways for life and land;
through water bath and oil outpoured for prayer and laying on of hands

Come free the building of Your house from all that binds Your holy work.
Lay waste our walls that now divide so all may live their sacred worth

All praise the Master Carpenter. Creation’s God now glorify,
who makes a house from old, dry bones; from us once dead, but now alive!

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God Builds a House © 01/2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form. Lisa is especially interested in collaborating with someone to set this text to original music.

For more information on the use of the quotes, scripture translation,and this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School

student college dorm

Blessing College Students as They Leave for School
We offer this blessing during worship the second Sunday in August. This is usually the last Sunday our college students are in worship before they return to school.

The students are invited to stand where they are seated. (Option: If the congregation is small enough, the students could be introduced at this time and/or given a gift.) The rest of the congregation is then invited to stand and lay a hand of support and blessing on the student closest to them.

Option: The blessing may begin with an invitation for the congregation to offer their own prayers for the students silently or aloud. The following prayer concludes the time of blessing.

ONE: Holy One,
Bless and protect these college students
as they leave us to begin another school year.

Keep them encouraged and full of hope.
Surround them with godly influences and opportunities.

Fill them with discernment,
that they may remain focused, disciplined and far from foolishness.

Grant these students the mind of Christ-
that they may grow in your wisdom and truth
that they may serve with both power and compassion
that they may carry your light throughout their campuses

Thank you for these students
and for providing the resources for them to continue their education.
Thank you for family members, friends, teachers and coaches
who have mentored and supported them so that this day might be possible.
Thank you for creating us with the capacity to think, speak, discover and reason.
We rejoice in these good gifts from you and give you the honor and glory for them.

Receive our thanks and extend your blessing in the name of Jesus,
who saves us and leads us and teaches us to pray…

Finish with all praying The Lord’s Prayer

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Blessing College Students as They Leave for School © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Jesus, The Bread of Life

breaking-of-bread-by-sieger-koder

The Breaking of the Bread
by Sieger Koder

John 6:30-35 (NRSV)
So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

What is manna? Is it a Hebrew pun on mah hu, or as Everett Fox suggests, “Whaddayacallit”: What is this stuff? Is manna mountains of sweet insect excrement, as proposed by some scholars, or the stuff of legend, of a tale told over the generations about how, in some mysterious way, God gives us life? The New Testament’s version of this question is “Who is he?” – and Christians have told one another, over the generations, that in some mysterious way he is the life that God gives. Our manna is Christ. – Gail Ramshaw, The Christian Century

Jesus is the divine light and life made visible, audible, touchable … and finally ingestible. To “see” him, to listen to his words and believe in him, and thus to feed upon him, is to begin to surrender the boundaries of one’s own consciousness and one’s own being. – Bruno Barnhart, The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center

When [Jesus] wanted fully to explain what his forthcoming death was all about, he didn’t give a theory. He didn’t even give them a set of scriptural texts. He gave them a meal.  It was, undoubtedly, a Passover meal. But it was, undoubtedly, a Passover meal with a radical difference. . . . Instead of Passover pointing backward to the great sacrifice by which God has rescued his people from slavery in Egypt, this meal pointed forward to the great sacrifice by which God was to rescue his people from their ultimate slavery, from death itself and all that contributed to it. ~ N. T. Wright, Simply Jesus

John 6:48-51a (NRSV)
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever…”

Jesus said I AM the bread of life not I was or I will be but I AM and that I AMness of Jesus transcends time so that his I Amness is available to us in the present moment.
– Nadia Bolz Webber, Sermon on Eternal Life

The cross must be a choice, a free decision, or it is not the sign of Jesus’ love. The cross is an invitation; each person must say yes. No one becomes a disciple without saying yes to Jesus taking us, blessing us, breaking us open and passing us around.
– Edward J. Farrell, Gathering the Fragments

Bread of Life by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Why nibble on the Bread of Life
when you can chow down?

Why only smell it, faintly,
when you can feast upon it,
every moment, every breath?

The Baker of the Universe
has made for you a special batch
of your favorite —
and it’s him!

All of his teaching, his healing, his love;
his passionate arms around you;
his insistent draw into the deep,
to the other side, into this crazy
trust and delight and brokenheartedness,
his terrifying stagger toward the cross,
his complete collapse into resurrection—
this is no time for moderation,
for politely picking at the crust.
Take the whole thing.  Both hands.

Here, eat it slowly.
Close your eyes.
Let it fill you.

What use are right beliefs
about bread?
This is the work of God,
that you savor the Bread
God has given you.

John 6:53-56 (NRSV)
So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. -Thomas Cramner

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For more sacred art by today’s featured painter, Father Sieger Köder, click here

For an original hymn text based on these passages, “Come Sup with God”, click here
For a reflection entitled Bread of Life, click here
For a worship resource entitled Seeking Christ the Bread of Life, click here
For a worship resouce entitled Claiming Sabbath and the Bread of Life, click here

For more information on the use of the scripture translation, art and this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.