Step Forward (Exodus 14)

stepping into waterBased on Exodus 14:5-18

Step forward? How?
To one side an impassable sea
On the other Pharaoh’s 600 war chariots thundering down upon us,
blackening the horizon

You promised new life, O God
Yes you sent signs and wonders to free us,
but now, here, we are trapped
Have you brought us this far just to die?

Your voice comes to us again through your faithful, flawed servant

Do not be afraid
Stand firm
In the midst of this trouble, see the deliverance God will accomplish
God has fought for us, is fighting for us, will fight for us
The oppressors will be destroyed
The unknown of the wilderness is better than the slavery you’ve known

Step forward
You are not trapped
You are not tricked
Step forward into freedom and possibility
Trust
Have faith
Feel the water on your feet give way to a way only God can provide
Step forward

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Step Forward © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer- Come, Good Gardener (John 15, Matthew 5)

vineyard grape vine

Based on John 15:1-17 and Matthew 5:38-42

Jesus,
we live, move, and have our very being
in the vineyard of your abundant grace

Grow in us
your vulnerability, generosity, and mercy
that we may join you
in breaking the cycle of retaliation and revenge

Come, Good Gardener
For the honor and glory of your name we pray
For the hope of a new humanity we follow
Amen!

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Come, Good Gardener © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

2016 Bookshelf

2016-bookshelf-collageIn November of 2014, I read a blog post encouraging persons to set aside a bookshelf for all the books read in a calendar year. As the year goes by, you see the shelf filling and are reminded of time well spent. (I wish I could remember who to thank.)

The project was so rewarding in 2015, I continued it in 2016. I again found the process of adding books enjoyable and helpful. Sometimes you forget a really good book.

Helpful hints-

  • If you read most of your books electronically, consider setting up a virtual bookshelf on Pinterest.
  • Another option is to set up a profile on Goodreads.
  • This year’s list includes books I read and books I listened to while traveling. There are wonderful, free audible books available through your local library and via streaming if you subscribe to Amazon Prime.

So my friends, here’s my 2016 bookshelf. I hope it encourages you and that you find a treasure or two. Should it be helpful to you, I’m glad to provide more feedback on specific selections. Just leave a comment below.

Happy reading. Happy exploring. Happy growing. – Lisa <><

Relationships and Peacemaking

Novels

Devotional Memoir

Bible Study and Theology

Poetry and Prayers

Sermon Recording- Meeting Your Match (Genesis 29)

Jacob Sermon Series

Sermon Series – Jacob, Punk to Patriarch
Jacob’s journey to faith and accepting his place in God’s plan is full of schemes, betrayal, and family dysfunction. Yet, in the midst of the mess, God remains steadfast- offering relationship, provision, purpose, and new life. In Jacob’s story, we see our own mess and God’s saving grace for us as well.

Message: Meeting Your Match
Scriptures: Genesis 29:1-30
Offered 9/18/16 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida

Something is going on in Jacob’s life. He’s learning to love and sacrifice for another person. He’s gaining an honest work ethic. When he’s deceived by Laban he takes the high road, maybe for the first time in his life. He could have killed Laban, he could have rejected Leah, he could have run home taking Rachel with him. Instead, Jacob stays husband to Leah (who’s been cruelly used by Laban) and works another seven years for Rachel. Could Jacob be connecting his pain to the pain he caused his brother and father? Could he be learning empathy as well as love? Could it be, when Jacob awoke from his dream, God also awakened him from the selfish, manipulative nightmare of his early years?
– Lisa Degrenia <><

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Prayers for the Start of the School Year

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Would you join me in praying for educators and students as they start a new school year? Below you’ll find a few prayers for your quiet time. Pick a few to pray each day between now and the end of the month. The prayers are inpired by a resource called Keys to the Kingdom by Prayer Point Press. May you and your community be blessed and growing in the wonder of God’s good earth and the hope of Rabbi Jesus. Lisa <><

Covering our Community in Prayer
August Emphasis: Education

Comforting One, bring peace to all those who are feeling anxious about the first days of school. Fill them with confidence and encouragement. Amen.

Father, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Open the windows of heaven on each school in our community. Supply what they need. Help students, teachers, and administrators to use your gifts to bless others and bring you glory. Amen.

Mighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, reveal your wisdom in every teaching moment. Draw students to you as they study the wonders of your world. May your truth be evident and rise above false voices. Amen.

Gracious God, thank you for those who serve as administrative assistants, food preparers, and maintenance workers. Their example inspires us to serve others with love and humility just as Jesus did. Show us how to do all things, big or small, as unto you. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Companion and Counselor, reveal yourself to school social workers and guidance counselors, especially when they are working with students. Give them supernatural wisdom and insight. Use them to enlighten, encourage, and confirm your purpose in young lives. Amen.

Jesus our Savior, raise up Godly role models in our schools. Give them courage to live both humbly and boldly for you. Empower them to be wholesome examples in speech, life, faith, and purity. Let their light shine for you. Amen.

Creative One, thank you for those who sacrifice their time to help with extracurricular activities. Bless them with joy and enthusiasm. Help them see good and lasting fruit from their labor. Amen.

Loving God, your joy is our strength. Fill classrooms and administrative offices with delight and hope. Help educators, students and parents to see you at work and to give you glory. Replace fatigue, frustration, and fear with joy. Amen.

Welcoming One, help every student to feel that they belong- that they are precious and important to others and to you. Protect them from teasing, isolation, bullying, discrimination, and despair. Fill them with truth and hope. Amen.

Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guardian, thank you for bus drivers, crossing guards, and police officers who work so hard to keep students safe. Protect students as they travel to and from school, field trips, and other events. Place an extra hand of protection on student drivers. Amen.

Prince of Peace, cover every school campus with your shalom. Make them safe sanctuaries of learning and growth. Guard hearts, minds, and bodies against every type of evil. Bring an end to bullying, abuse, discrimination, prejudice, and violence. Build bridges across dividing lines. Amen.

Heavenly Father, give young people a healthy attitude toward competition and achievement. Keep them from unhealthy pride, perfectionism, and from making success an idol. Amen.

Jesus you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Show students the way out when they are tempted. Keep them far from pressures which tempt them to cheat in order to get ahead. Keep them far from compromising integrity or purity in order to fit in. Give them a strong No! to sin and a resounding Yes! to wholeness and holiness. Amen.

God of the nations, thank you for the great gift of education. Thank you for making us a thinking people and for the blessings of curiosity and discovery. Bless and help developing nations to provide education for their people. Help us never to take education for granted. Amen.

Loving God, bless every home in our community.
Bring peace where there is anxiety.
Provision where there is need
Wisdom where there is confusion
Understanding where there is anger
Freedom where there is addiction
Recovery where there is illness
Reconciliation where there is division
Shalom where there is brutality
Unity where there is prejudice
Hope where there is despair
Faith where there is none

Thank you for your help and healing power
Thank you for your presence and salvation
We need you Lord Jesus, come quickly.
Amen.

2015 Book Shelf

2015 bookshelf collageIn November of last year, I read a blog post encouraging persons to set aside a bookshelf for all the books read in a calendar year. As the year goes by, you see the shelf filling and are reminded of time well spent. (I wish I could remember who to thank.)

Since I read most books electronically, I set up a virtual bookshelf on Pinterest. I found the process of adding books enjoyable and helpful. Sometimes you forget a really good book.

So my friends, here’s my 2015 bookshelf. I hope it encourages you and that you find a treasure or two. Should it be helpful to you, I’m glad to provide more feedback on specific selections. Just leave a comment below.  

Happy reading. Happy exploring. Happy growing. – Lisa <><

Relationships and Peacemaking

Novels

Devotional Memoir

Bible Study and Theology

Poetry

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread (Psalm 1, Matthew 3:8-12, Matthew 13:24-30, John 6)

wheatThere are times when a line from scripture opens up a path through other scriptures to a new place with God.

My most recent trip began with Psalm 1, a comparison of those who follow and delight in the ways of God and those who choose their own path, which is often destructive for themselves and others. The first are like trees “planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.” The second “are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Chaff is straw- withered, brittle stalks remaining after a grain harvest. Nothing like a tree. Trees take longer to produce fruit, but remain season after season.

Chaff is also the discarded casing around the grain itself. Wheat and chaff, for example. The wheat is separated from the chaff by throwing it into the air. The heavier wheat falls to the ground while the chaff is “driven away” by the wind.

This led to Matthew 3:8-12 and the sharp, prophetic voice of John the Baptizer. I knew I’d find references to the division of wheat and chaff, but also found references to trees and fruit. “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” (v. 8) Repentance means to do a u-turn, to do a 180 from walking in our own ways to walking with God. Our lives should show this change season after season in delicious (from the Latin words for delight and entice) and nutritious (life-giving) words and actions.

A tree must be nurtured to continue to bear fruit, just like our relationship with God must be nurtured. Presumption, apathy, legalism, entitlement, and judgmental attitudes bear no fruit. Barren trees represent a withered, brittle, barren being. The Baptizer reminds us trees can be cut down the same as crops.

The wheat theme led to Matthew 13:24-30, a parable of Jesus about a field of wheat and weeds. Life is a mixture of good and evil this side of heaven. We are a mixture as well. Will we cooperate with God to nurture the wheat or will we go our way and nurture the weeds? Will we embrace God’s patience with all that is in and around us, knowing we may not recognize it’s truth now, knowing there is still time for change?

Images of seeds, wheat and harvest led to bread which led to John 6, where Jesus reveals his divine person and purpose using the metaphor of bread. This is where my imagining opened my heart again to God’s great love and grace in Jesus.

Jesus- the seed of eternity sewn in a humble womb
Growing in strength and wisdom
Irrigated in water and the Spirit
Bearing much fruit

Jesus- cut down in a harvest of hate
Sifted in the wind of accusation and mocking
Broken between the stones of injustice and fear
Seasoned with spices
and salty tears
Covered in cloth
and set in a dry cool place
In time… risen
The Bread of Life

John 6:32-35
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.”

And we come full circle to the water promises of Psalm 1. Wow!

Now, more wow. If we are followers of Christ, we become like our Jesus. The scriptures even name the followers of Christ his Body. Our journey is too one of seed, wheat and bread for the world.

Take a breath and let that nourish your soul. – Lisa <><

Jesus we want to be wheat,
But we are so often weeds
Sewn in self deception
Driven by winds beyond our making

Take away our bent to sinning
Our twisted torture
Our dry disorder
and dis-ease

Take us
Plant us anew
Nurture us to fruitfulness

Take us
Harvest us anew
Deliver us from evil

Take us
Make us anew
Your Body
Your Bread
Blessed and broken
Risen and redeemed
A mystery
A meal of grace
For our hunger
And our hungry world
Amen

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Click here for a collection of quotes on the theme Jesus, The Bread of Life

Reflection and Prayer: Seed, Wheat, Bread © 2015 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.