"We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves" Romans 15:1
For me, reading the Bible, is more than just sitting down and reading a book. It is having a conversation with a Living God. Sometimes the conversation flows easily. Sometimes there are lulls in the talking. Sometimes God is extremely comforting and encouraging! Other times, the conversation gets quite heated.
That is part of what amazes me about finding a life verse. It is often just one sentence or two from the Bible, but throughout every season of life, it speaks to me. It challenges me in unique ways. It encourages me. It reminds my heart to return to Jesus. No matter what I'm going through, God speaks to me through my life verse. Despite that it is written for all people to read, it feels like God wrote it just for me... like he preordained this as the mission statement for just my life.
Hebrews 4:12 puts it this way:
Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
When it comes to life verses, I cheat a little. Mine is a life book: 1 John. I grew up hearing my dad recite the book from memory every Saturday when we drove to church. I could see God working on his heart though it week in and week out, even though the words he recited were always the same. When I became a teenager, I started to sit down and read the book for myself. I cried. It was like God was speaking right to my heart. Now, 15 years later, when I sit down to read 1 John, do you know what happens? I cry. It's like God is speaking right to my heart. Despite how many times I've read it, it's more than an old comforting text, it's living and active. God convicts my heart of sin. God reveals new things to me. God leads my heart closer to Jesus as I'm reminded of who he has called me to be.
My prayer for every person in Washington Cathedral, and every person reading this, is that you would make God's word a bigger part of your relationship with him. That we could all find life verses, memorize them, and allow God to speak to us through them in living and fresh ways.
Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 (NLT)
This week I have the privilege of kicking off a series of messages for Sunday mornings. It is called #Together!
I was born in this church. My dad's assistant Jane Bishop, who is now in heaven, had a dream that my mom and dad would have a baby that would be a great blessing. (Talk about pressure being put on a baby) My mom Jackie, prayed about it and God opened her mind to the possibility of me. My dad joked that he always wanted 10,000 kids so he was already sold on the idea. When my mom was in labor with me I refused a quick easy child birth, so my dad drove my mom up to the church property and drove fast on the bumpy dirt road so they could go back to the hospital. It worked - and I was born. Emily Boyce, Pastor Linda’s mother, was watching my big sister Elise and my big brother Roman. And my parents named me after her, Rebecca Emily White.
When I was a baby, all of the church meetings were in our home. When people held hands in a circle, I crawled into the middle because I could feel the prayers. When the church had a board meeting at our house, I thought the Board of Directors would enjoy passing around my guinea pig and my brother’s turtle so they wouldn't get bored.
When I was in Junior High, I was BORN AGAIN in the church. I went to SPU and one of my professors came to preach at our church. I was blessed to marry my sweetheart, Ben McCary, who also was born in the church and I met him in the nursery. When I was in kindergarten I would help with the babies. I helped teach Sunday school with my mom. I was blessed with a scholarship to Princeton Seminary where I was able to get my Masters of Divinity while attending a conservative Baptist inner-city African-American church.
All of this is to say is that I, like every other child who grows up in a church has a deep desire for unity, teamwork, and an authentic love of Christ. It hurts kids when adults suffer a divisive spirit. When egos take over in the church kids are discouraged in their faith and want out.
Come this week and hear how the Bible shows us that God designed the church to run smoothly through the love of Jesus Christ.
This is me with a few of the kids from our church’s Cathedral Kid ministry getting ready to worship and pray at camp.
This Prayer technique developed for me during the season of pregnancy, labor, and lack-of-home-ness. In the past 3 years we’ve had 2 kids. We’ve had roofs over our heads, but not a home of our own for the last year. In other words, this has been a season where prayer has been essential. I thought I’d share how I like to pray and how I teach the kids in my ministry to pray too.
Think of this practice as a chiastic structure, where each step is essential.
Part 1: “The second commandment is equally important, love your neighbor as your love yourself”
1. Listen to yourself
a. Set a timer for 60 seconds. Take one full minute to sit still in silence. Try to breathe.
2. Understand yourself
a. Write down on a piece of paper the main thoughts that occupied your mind during that time of silence. What worried you? What felt out of your control? What feelings were alive in you?
3. Respond to yourself
a. Take a moment to care for your body. Stretch, breathe deeply, reflect on what you’ve eaten, how you’ve slept, and if you can, take a short walk outside.
Don’t stop here. Step one only prepares yourself to listen.
Part 2: “Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…”
1. Say thank you.
a. Write down as long a list as you can of what you are thankful for.
b. Now go deeper, write a paragraph on why you are so grateful for one of the things from your list.
2. Remember who you are talking to.
a. Listen to the noises in the room, how it smells, how your seat feels under you. Think of where you are located in your building, then your street, then your city, then your state, then the country, then the continent, then the world then the universe. You are in the presence of the creator of the universe.
b. Picture Jesus with you. How is he sitting or standing? What expression is on his face?
3. Turn from Sin. Turn to God.
a. In light of the greatness of God and His intentions for humanity, is there anything in your life, in your heart, in your relationships, in your workplace, the way you vote, the wat you’re spending your money, where your thoughts have been that are out of line with God’s best intended life for you?
b. Ask God’s forgiveness. Trust that God is powerful enough to forgive you. Set your heart back on Jesus.
4. Trust God; Ask for help.
a. Based on the worries that most occupied you in part 1, ask God for help, knowing that he loves you, he wants to help you, and he is capable of helping you.
a. Set aside time just to listen to God. Listen in the way that is most helpful for you. Listen while walking, listen while playing a worship song, listen with a pen in hand and blank sheet of paper in front of you.
Don’t stop here. Step two only prepares yourself to obey, change, and grow.
Part 3: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”
1. Act on what God has told you to do
2. Keep Listening and involve your community- you are not alone!
a. The 10 commandments are not a suggestion, be involved in your church community, honoring the Sabbath day so you have the support you need to follow God.
Have you ever had a slightly (or maybe not so slight) irrational fear of something? I think we all have something that frightens us and we really can’t quite figure out why, but it is still there. My fear was of being alone. It did start when I was a child, but as a child I can’t think of one time that I did not have either my mom or my dad in the house with me at night. Even in college I had a roommate asleep in the other room at night. When I was a live-in nanny, I had the family I worked for with me. So it wasn’t until I got married that I had my first experience of being totally alone.
My husband, Rich, was in the Air Force and he had times that he would need to travel and I would be left in our apartment alone. This was in Forest Hill, Maryland, and I knew no one. My parents were 3,000 miles away (literally) and I had not had time to get acquainted with our neighbors. I laid awake all night tossing, turning, and crying. It was so bad that Rich finally called my mom and dad, unbeknownst to me, and arranged to have my dog flown out to live with us. That was really sweet and I will love him forever for his kindness, but Gidget weighed all of 15 lbs and was not what you would call a watch dog.
Even after Rich was discharged from active duty and took a job at an advertising agency in Philadelphia, he still traveled. My fear kept me awake most of the nights he was gone. This continued for about 30 years of our marriage. I could not seem to shake it. It was so bad that even installing an alarm system did not help me sleep.
I kept telling myself it was not rational and I needed to get over this. But all the self-talk in the world was not making a difference. I loved my life, I knew I had many loving friends, I knew that I was loved by God, but being alone haunted me.
One night I was crying out to God to take away my fear and I opened up my Bible to Psalm 91. The entire Psalm spoke right to my heart, but the words that jumped out to me were “You will not fear the terror of night…If you make the Most High your dwelling – even the Lord, who is my refuge – then no harm will befall you….For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” I felt a peace come over me. That night I slept so soundly and awoke refreshed and renewed.
From that point forward, if I ever felt anxious, I recalled God’s angels standing guard. I thanked Him that He was with me. It became real to me at that time, that I am never alone. You are never alone either. God’s loves you. He designed you specifically to live in relationship with Him and He will never leave you. That is not my promise to you. That is His.
Pastor Linda Skinner
18. God showed us love, making himself vulnerable, by coming to us as a baby, so that we could be close to him. Over a cup of hot chocolate, reflect on what relationships in your life could improve with more vulnerability and less defensiveness.
Written by Pastor Becca McCary An ancient Christian prayer/bible study practice called "Lectio Divina" (Latin for Divine Reading) is meant to help you listen to God as your study His Word. This prayer practice is not just for adults or “serious” bible scholars but can also help young children grow in their faith- bringing the pages of the Bible alive and helping them make connections to biblical characters.
This prayer practice can easily be done as a family in a developmentally appropriate way if crayons and paper are used.
Here is how it is done...
1.) Choose a bible passage to read and appoint one person to be the reader. - HINT: A great place to start is part of the Easter Story from Luke 22 or 23.
2.) Give everyone a sheet of paper and Crayons or markers
3.) Read your passage one time. As the passage is read, everyone draws the scene, but NOT Jesus yet. Try to soak up every detail of the passage. The scenery, what people are thinking and feeling. All of it.
4.) Read the same passage a second time. As the passage is being read, everyone adds a layer to their drawing by including Jesus this time. You can use light colors to show characters responding to him with open hearts and dark colors to show characters whose hearts are closed to him. What is Jesus thinking and feeling? Where is his power seen? Is anything surprising about Jesus?
5.) Read the passage a third time. As the passage is being read, everyone adds in one final layer- the put themselves in the drawing. How would you respond to Jesus in this scene? What colors would be around you? How would Jesus address you? What would he have to say to you?
6.) Share what you drew and why? What did you learn from the details of the passage? What does God want to teach you personally from this story?
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Colossians 3:16 (NLT)
God wants to meet with you this Lent. He wants to come into the ordinary times and places in your life in a holy way, transforming your life. This week’s ordinary space transformation challenge is: Study.
1 John 4:9-10 (NLT)
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Write down or paint the word "Study" on a rock or piece of paper as your holy reminder. Then choose an ordinary space in your life where you are going to focus on study. Try to practice study one time in that ordinary space your life this week. Then, watch God transform this ordinary space into a holy space for you.
Put the word "Study" in an area of your life like your lunchbox, your end table, or fireplace. When you go to eat lunch, before you watch TV, or when you are relaxing by the fireplace, take a moment to read the story of Jesus' death.
As you study God's word, remember that the creator of the universe loved you enough to die for you. This story is the root of our faith.
Written by Pastor Becca McCary
God wants to meet with you this Lent. He wants to come into the ordinary times and places in your life in a holy way, transforming your life. This week's ordinary space transformation challenge is: Worship.
Psalm 104:33-34 (NLT)
33 I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.
Write down or paint the word "Worship" on a rock or piece of paper as your holy reminder. Then choose an ordinary space in your life where you are going to focus on worship. Try to practice worship one time in that ordinary space your life this week. Then, watch God transform this ordinary space into a holy space for you.
Put the word "Worship" in an area of your life like your shower, your makeup mirror, or running shoes. When you are showering, doing your makeup, or exercising, sing a worship song.
The worship will begin on your lips, move to your mind as you understand what you're saying, and then move into your heart as you start to truly mean what you're saying. As you worship in these ordinary spaces, you will see that they are suddenly transformed into holy places.
Here's a song to start your week in worship:
Written by Pastor Becca McCary
God wants to meet with you this Lent. He wants to come into the ordinary times and places in your life in a holy way, transforming your life. This week’s ordinary space transformation challenge is: Serve.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Write down or paint the word "serve" on a rock or piece of paper as your holy reminder. Then choose an ordinary space in your life where you are going to focus on serving. Try to practice serving one time in that ordinary space your life this week. Then, watch God transform this ordinary space into a holy space for you.
Put the word "serve" in an area of your life- like the place you eat, your toolbox, or your cell phone charger.
Then, this week, as you eat, clear away someone else's plate. When you fix something, try to fix something for someone else. Or when you go to charge your phone, text someone, offering to help them with something specific that you know they might need.
As you serve others you will remember the ways that God serves you. Thank Christ for all he has done for you.