All posts by wacondalakeumc

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
I arise today, through
God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

A Prayer to Have Faith in Difficult Moments

 By Victoria Riollano

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going – Hebrews 11:8

The lights started to flicker. 

Before long, the slight flickering turned into a multi-county power outage. On a chilly day in January, what started off as a small snowstorm turned into a family emergency. The first day with no power, cell services down, and or heat source was uncomfortable, to say the least. That night, my family bundled in layers and prayed that we would soon get relief from the 30-degree house. Yet, with the estimated time for power restoration being a week and downed trees covering the streets, it was certain we needed to find a place of refuge quickly. 

The next day, with the help of many neighbors, we managed to get our 13-passenger van out of our icy snow-trapped home. With no family in sight and all our friends in the same predicament, we knew we had to go, but certainly didn’t know where. All we knew was that the Lord prompted us to leave quickly to keep everyone from getting very sick. With little money and no hotel in sight, we simply drove away and trusted in the Lord.

As we traveled for hours in traffic and icy roads, I was reminded of the story of Abraham. In Genesis 12, Lord speaks to Abraham and says, “Leave your land and go to a place I will show you.” I can only imagine how unsettling it was to pick up and suddenly go. Leaving his place of comfort and having no real direction, Abraham had to trust God with every aspect of his journey. He had to trust him for the provision. He had to trust him for protection. Abraham was a perfect example of walking and changing his entire life by faith! Hebrews 11:8 says it like this,

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (NIV).

God is our refuge, inspirational image

Today, the Lord is searching for those who, like Abraham, will make a choice to follow when it’s not easy. Abraham’s obedience set the platform for many to be blessed. I believe we’ve all found ourselves in this position of having to trust God in a big way. Maybe the Lord was leading you to a new job or out of a toxic relationship? Perhaps, He asked you to go back to school or start a business. In these moments, we seem to have more questions than answers. Do we leave our place of comfort or step out on faith? Do we risk failing or trust the Lord for success? I want to encourage you with this: the Lord will never lead you somewhere to leave you stranded! There will be many times when we won’t know all the details. Yet, there is comfort in knowing that He does. We can walk in pure confidence that He will take care of us, no matter what the circumstance. 

That wintery week taught was a powerful lesson. Though the power outage was unexpected for us, it wasn’t for God. As expected, He took care of everything. He helped us to get to the only available hotel within 50 miles. He sent family, members, and church members who willingly sent money to us, without being asked. When it was all over, every day of the hotel was paid, the food for our family of nine was covered. Even the gas money needed was provided. Once again, the Lord showed that we could trust Him for our every need. Certainly, we can trust Him as we go through the unforeseen trials and the unknown places. Like Abraham, may we be brave and move when He tells us, even when we don’t know all details.

Dear Lord, 

I thank you that you never leave me or forsake me. I ask that you always remind me of your ability to protect, comfort, and lead me. Thank you for going before me in every scenario. Lord, I ask that you help me to trust you in difficult situations. Teach me to have faith when I feel out of control. I ask that you give me courage and help me to keep my eyes on you. You are my safe place and my refuge.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for Ukraine, by Kayla Craig

Prayer for Ukraine, by Kayla Craig

O God of peace, our hearts are heavy
And our brains can barely keep up with the breaking news.
We don’t know what to say or what to do in a world so wounded.
So we come to you with hearts heavy for
All who sit in the crossfires of violence and acts of war.

O God of peace, be with the people of Ukraine.
With the mothers who carry babies to subway shelters.
With the fathers who hold their heads in their hands.
With the children who absorb the traumas.
Of violent acts of powerful men.

O God of peace, we don’t know the words to pray
For a warring world and all who are vulnerable in it.
We don’t pretend to know the extent of the damages
Or what tomorrow (or today) will bring.
But we know that you are a God of peace
And we can’t bomb our way to shalom.

O God of peace, comfort the crying and heal the hurt.
Tend the aching and soothe the fearful.
Make us instruments of your peace
Creating a sacred symphony where
Rhythms of grace are danced upon
And evil has lost its sting, now and forevermore.
O God of peace, hear our prayer.

Still Lost, Despite Handheld Directions

By: Meg Bucher

"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. - Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

I blindly began to follow the directions after clicking on the linked address, but a quick glance revealed the wrong state map. Thankfully I hadn’t gotten far, because my sense of direction is not reliable!

How easily we trust our hand-held directions, and so often we let our little devices direct our thoughts as well as our traveling routes. Our portable screens can hijack what we think about, are upset over, discontent in, or jealous of. Accessibility can make it incredibly easy to lose our sense of direction, even when we’re grounded in Truth. Though created in God’s image, we have the innate temptation to wander away from Jesus’ lead.

Jeremiah had a troubling message to deliver to God’s people, who had continually chosen to wander the side trails of idolatry, which means putting anything above God in importance. Even though God had made His love for them so evident and clear with centuries full of miracles and rescue moments, their attention remained easily diverted. The consequences wouldn’t be easy for them to hear, or walk through. Many would never return to the land God promised for them, for it would be seventy years before anyone went home. But God still cared so deeply for the state of their hearts, He assured them in today’s verse, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

They would not lose God’s love. Not even in consequence for their rebellious wandering. Though it would be a long and hard journey, Jeremiah prophesied of a Messiah that would be born from the line of David. Something unimaginable for God’s people. When the small remnant promised to survive the exile returned home as God promised, they were still the same easily distracted people they were before. Many missed Jesus when He did, in fact, come exactly the way God said He would. (Fulfilling over 300 prophesies!)

The VOICE paraphrase of today’s verse reads: “I have loved you with an everlasting love- out of faithfulness I have drawn you close.” 

God’s love cannot be earned by what we do, or lost by what we’ve done or will do.

He is God, and His love does not waver like human love. He is not like our earthly caregivers, who become exhausted with our antics. His embrace is always at the ready, faithful and steady. Our Rock. Our Redeemer. When we get lost, we can drop to our knees,  and in an instant remember who we are. There is power in the name of Jesus, and when we are lost, whether on the road or in our thoughts, we can call it out knowing He will calm our souls and guide our minds.

Important for us, today, is the sacrifice Jesus made for ALL. Meaning, we will share in the inheritance of God’s people, all who believe in Jesus Christ, and the salvation He died to give us. God’s plan cannot be overturned. He faithfully reminds us, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Skydiving with JesusBarb Roose

Today’s Truth:

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here” (Matthew 14:27 NLT).

During a Monday morning planning meeting, I was given two choices: pet a tarantula or jump out of an airplane. I picked jumping out of an airplane because I am that afraid of spiders! Which one would you choose?

The next morning, I drove across my home state with two co-workers to go skydiving. As I passed the highway exit near my hometown, I considered giving my parents a call. However, wisdom, or maybe self-preservation, prevailed. I figured that if I didn’t die skydiving, my mother would surely kill me to keep me from jumping out of the plane.

After I arrived, the training staff taught us the basics of how to jump and how parachutes worked. I appreciated the information; however, thousands of nervous butterflies were skydiving in my stomach. It was knowing that my experienced jump instructor would be present and tethered to me during the jump that made the difference with my anxiety.

In Matthew 14:27, Jesus reminds the disciples of His presence in perilous circumstances. Shortly after feeding 5,000 men and their families, Jesus sent the disciples across the lake to wait for Him. Even though the disciples knew how to manage the boat, that didn’t take away their fear when a fierce storm blew across the lake. The disciples were in trouble and in Mark’s account, he wrote that the disciples were rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves (Mark 6:48).

Are you “rowing hard and struggling” in one of life’s storms? It’s easy to panic when you’re doing all that you can and you still fear that all will be lost. Perhaps you’re facing a parenting challenge and no matter what you’ve learned from the therapists or books, you’re still pacing the floor at night. Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with a life-changing illness and while you’ve got treatment plans and expert care, the waves of grief and uncertainty pummel you day and night. Not only do you feel the fear, but it’s exhausting, isn’t it?

Jesus speaks eight, powerful and practical words to the disciples that apply to you today, no matter what you’re facing:

“Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.”

Notice how Jesus didn’t tell them to steer the boat differently. Furthermore, He didn’t criticize them for being afraid. In their panic, Jesus knew that the only effective measure was to show up with his calming presence. Jesus called the disciples to take their eyes off the storm and focus on Him and experience His peace in the midst of the storm. An interesting note, as the story continued to unfold, Jesus invites Peter to walk on water and yet, the strong winds and waves continue. Yet, in Jesus’ presence, Peter had the courage to step out and walk on water in the midst of the storm.

Today, you can be encouraged! Jesus’ presence is always near, so you can live in bold courage rather than fear. Even as the circumstances of your life whip and whirl around you, courageously do whatever God has called you to do. He is right with you!

When the tiny crop plane reached 10,000 feet over the jump point, my instructor tethered his jumpsuit to mine and opened the door. The loud rush of cold wind filled my ears, but I heard his voice in the wind: “I’m right here.” Even though we would free-fall at 120 mph back toward earth, I felt the intensity of the fall, but never the fear because my instructor was near.

What are those waves named in your life? Imagine yourself sitting in a boat and picture Jesus walking toward you saying, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here.” Even if you can’t see him in your difficult moment, he is near to you today.

Let’s Pray

God, I am grateful that I can face the storms of life with peace and courage because Your presence is always with me. Whisper Jesus’ words to my heart and soul today whenever I focus too much on the waves of fear, uncertainty or stressful circumstances. Thank You that I am never alone! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prayer for Ukraine

This prayer was written by a Resonate missionary in Ukraine, Rev. George de Vuyst. As conflict escalates in this country, consider using this prayer on Sunday to pray for peace for our brothers and sisters around the world. In the midst of war and conflict, we join our voices as one to pray for one of our own and for many of God’s own.  **NOTE THIS HAS BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT THAT RUSSIA STARTED A FULL SCALE INVASION**

Heavenly Father, we come to you with heavy hearts as we see war in Ukraine.  We pray that you would be merciful on the people of Ukraine and Russia and end this war.  Grant wisdom to world leaders to effectively stop evil.  Allow for the truth to be known, for lies to be shown for what they are, and for evil-doers to be thwarted.

Lord, we pray for those who have lost loved ones, homes, and livelihoods.  Comfort and provide for the needs of those who have been displaced and seek refuge.  Lord, we ask for mercy and we seek justice.  We pray that you would be at worked in both.

We pray for the day when all wars will cease and when your peaceful reign will come fully.  But in the meantime, we pray that you would use us to facilitate the coming of your kingdom here and now.  Help us to take action to bring peace, to care for the victims of war, and to work for justice.  Help us to live according to the principles of your Kingdom today, and to remain faithful until your Kingdom comes fully at your return. Grant courage to your church in Russia, in Ukraine, and here to speak truth to power and to prophetically proclaim the truths of your Kingdom as well as the day of grace that still remains for those who repent.  

Lord, we pray for Vladimir Putin.  We pray that you would change his heart and work your miracle of salvation in his life.  If he continues in his wicked ways, we pray that you would restrain his evil and have mercy on those who suffer because of it.

In all these things, we trust you, because you are our loving Father.  We ask that you would keep us faithful by the power of your Spirit and that you would be with your church in Ukraine – that in times of war it would faithfully follow you and represent you before the nations.  Heal the wounds, we pray, both physical and the wounds of the heart.  Reconcile the nations with you and with each other by the power of the cross of our reigning Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Why do we observe Ash Wednesday?

One Wednesday a year, sometime in February or March, you notice people at work, school, or elsewhere with a smudge on her forehead. Then you remember it is Ash Wednesday and they must have received the imposition of ashes.

This practice we use to mark the first day of Lent may seem odd. People go to church mid-week to have a cleric place dirt on their foreheads.

In the early days of the church, it was even more dramatic. Pastors did not dip their thumbs into the ashes to draw the shape of a cross on your forehead. Instead, they poured or sprinkled ashes over your head.

Under other circumstances, most would run from the filth of ashes. Yet we participate in this practice that is growing in popularity. In fact, the receiving of ashes seems to connect with all sorts of people.

The Rev. Kim Kinsey applies ashes outside of her church building.

The Rev. Kim Kinsey offers ashes to a youth on the sidewalk outside of Christ United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, NM. Photo courtesy of the Rev. Kim Kinsey.

Why ashes?

In “A Service for Worship for Ash Wednesday” in the United Methodist Book of Worship, two suggestions of what worship leaders may say as they make the sign of the cross on another’s forehead are offered: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” and “Repent, and believe the gospel.” Each points to an aspect of what the ashes represent.

Remember that you are dust…

Ashes were an ancient symbol of our humanity. In Genesis, we read that God formed human beings out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). The Hebrew word translated dust, is occasionally translated ashes elsewhere.

When Abraham felt the need to acknowledge the difference between him, a human being, and the infinite God, he referred to himself as dust and ashes. “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord,” he said, “I who am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27).

…and to dust you shall return

Our humanity also calls to mind our mortality.

After expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the first humans are told by God, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19 NRSV). A sobering thought for each of us.

Ancient people wore ashes as a sign of mourning. For example, Mordecai puts on sackcloth and ashes to grieve the many deaths he sees coming from an order King Ahasuerus gives to kill all Jewish people (Esther 4:1-3). The prophet Jeremiah later calls the people of God to “roll in ashes” as a way of mourning the coming devastation from an opposing army (Jeremiah 6:26).

Receiving the imposition of ashes is a powerful way to confront our humanity and mortality. They remind us that we are not God, but God’s good creation. In them we recognize that our bodies will not last forever, and come face-to-face with the reality of our eventual death.

Repent…

Ashes also signify our sorrow for the mistakes we have made. People in ancient times wore sackcloth and ashes as a way of expressing their repentance of their sins.

When Jonah reluctantly preached to the people of Nineveh after the giant fish spit him up on the beach, the King and his people put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. God saw this act of repentance and spared the people (Jonah 3:1-10).

In the New Testament, Jesus warms the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida saying, “if the miracles done among you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have changed their hearts and lives and put on funeral clothes and ashes a long time ago.” (Matthew 11:21 CEB).

The dried palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. Photo by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

On Ash Wednesday, we confront our sin. We recognize our inability to live up to all God has created us to be, and our need to be forgiven. No matter how far we have come in our spiritual journeys, each of us has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

The palms waved the previous Palm Sunday to welcome Jesus as our King, are burned to form the ashes. In a sense, they serve as a reminder of how far we fall short of living up to the glory of Christ. 

…and believe the gospel

While this all may sound fatalistic, it is not the end of the story. Lent leads to Easter, the day we celebrate that though our bodies are temporary and our lives are flawed, a day of resurrection will come when we will live in the presence of God forever.

One Wednesday every year we worship to remember who we are, and hopeful of who we can be.

A Prayer to Remember Where Our Help Comes From

By: Maggie Meadows Cooper

I look up to the mountains- does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! – Psalm 121:1

Over the years there have been many people and places that we turn to when we need help: Facebook friends, Dear Abby, Google, our moms. But so often, in spite of good intentions, their advice leaves us longing for more. Many times the advice hurts more than helps, and sometimes they are simply dead wrong. So why do we choose them? Convenience, proximity, or maybe a secret hope that they will tell us what we want to hear? All possible reasons that each of us can identify with, I think. But when Mary was faced with a problem and needed help in John 2:3, she turned to the only One who could be her Helper that day. The only One who is the Helper we all need: Jesus.

Mary, Jesus, and the disciples were attending a wedding in Cana, and the hosts ran out of wine. According to their culture and that time in history, they risked great humiliation. Mary called Jesus for help and told the servants to “do whatever He tells you.” So they did. And Jesus performed his first public miracle, turning water into wine. If only our problems were that simple to solve, right? But maybe they are. The truth is that their problem was resolved because of two simple choices, the same choices we all have to make:

First – Who will we ask for help?

“I look up to the mountains- does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” -Psalm 121:1

Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.” – John 6:68

Our problems do not always have simple solutions, but the decision of who to ask for help should be the simplest of all. David, Peter, and many others knew Who to go to. It didn’t mean they didn’t fear or fret or doubt at times. But they made a choice to trust, to hope, to turn their hearts and minds and souls and spirits to the One who is able to do so much more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph.3:20). And sometimes the help that the Lord offers may come in the form of Godly counsel from other Believers or counselors. It may mean waiting and doing nothing. But seek His will and wisdom and guidance first, and the rest will fall into place.

Psalm 121:1, inspirational image

Second – Will we do whatever Jesus tells us to do?

“If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15

I sure wish this was easier to carry out. I know from experience that my heart wants to obey. I want to speak and act and love like Jesus would have me do. But carrying those things out with my earthly flesh that wants what I want when I want, that gets offended and hurt and embarrassed, that, truth be told, wants to rebel many times because of my feelings and judgments, is much easier said than done. And I find myself half-obeying many times. I may feel His nudge to forgive and actively serve the person who hurt me. So I agree to forgive…but don’t carry out that action of love and service. The “whatever” He tells me may seem unreasonable at times. Too odd or unjust. And I don’t know what people will think…so I choose to blend in with the crowd rather than risk looking foolish.

“Whatever He tells you…” Those servants risked looking foolish that day as they filled jars used to cleanse others with water, expecting it to somehow become wine. Noah, Moses, Esther, John the Baptist and so many others risked looking foolish because they agreed to do what the Lord told them to do. His directions take faith, y’all. They take extreme courage and a longing to please God rather than men. And in this world, that is so very hard. But the choice is ours to make.

Pray. Pray hard and seek the Lord and His will above all else. Avoid the temptation to seek earthly wisdom first. Then wait. And see how the Lord will help you when you choose to seek His approval above all else.

Dear Jesus, 

Forgive me for running to the people and things of this world for help before coming to you. Thank you for being my Helper and loving me in spite of my shortcomings. Help me remember Who you are and where my help comes from. Give me strength, courage, and a boldness to seek you and your approval above all else.

In Your Mighty Name,

Amen

A Prayer for You, God’s Masterpiece

By: Alisha Headley

“The Lord will work out his plans for my life — for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not abandon me, the works of your hands.” – Psalm 138:8

I love the idea that God, through the work of His own mighty hands, created me and only me once. Like paintings by a world-renown artist – there’s something unique about the first one. Anything else after the first one, are copies and replicas.

How beautiful to know that we were worth the work the first time. God threw away the mold because one of us is enough for Him. We are enough. We are a sacred painting, the original piece. And God has made us for our own unique purpose.

Psalm 138:8, inspirational image

Today’s scripture verse reminds us that he will never abandon us, His beautiful creation, His “masterpiece – His workmanship.” (Ephesians 2:10He won’t abandon the work He created.

Yes, He will work out His plans for our life. He didn’t just create us and then leave us. Oh no, He created us with intention, His very own masterpiece.

Whatever God has called you to, He will equip you for it. He will work His plans for your life. You might not feel ready, or feel you have the tools or the skills to do what you feel God calling you to do. But if He’s called you to it, you better believe He’s also equipped you for it.

You are his work of art, created by Him for a purpose of doing good works for His kingdom. He didn’t create you for nothing. You were beautifully created for a purpose, a one of kind, unique purpose. He will accomplish what he started by the work of His own hands.

Rest in the promise today that He will work out all that He planned to work out for you. Rest in the knowledge that He is our faithful God, and you “can be confident, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until it is finally finished on the day that Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

Dear Lord,

Thank you that your love is so personal, that you created me, and that there is only one of me. You set your eyes on me from the beginning. You created me with a purpose and you promise to work out all the plans you have for my life.

Thank you that you are a faithful God. That all throughout Scripture, time, and time again, you showed your faithful love to your people. Lord, remind me in moments of doubt, that you will never abandon me, for I am your unique workmanship. I am yours. I am your creation.

Lord, help me to not compare myself to others. You created me, just as I am, and you view me as your masterpiece. Help me to see myself the way that you see me, not as the world sees me. Remind me that you have given me everything I need to work out the plans you have set before me. Help me remember that if you have called me to it, you have also equipped me for it.

Thank you for your Word as my guide, the “lamp unto my feet” (Psalm 119:105), and for the Holy Spirit as my “Helper” (John 14:26). Allow us to rest in the confidence that you will finish what you began in us. We worship you, Lord, praising you for your everlasting love for us.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.