Alcoholics Anonymous, Baptism, Christian, devotion, faith, Mark, Presbyterian Church (USA), Uncategorized, United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for July 29, 2017

Devotional Reading from the Daily Common Lectionary: Mark 6:1-13

Text: And (Jesus) was amazed at their unbelief. (v. 6)

Years ago I picked up a copy of Twenty-four Hours a Day, a devotional book for recovering alcoholics. I picked it up because I was volunteering as a spiritual director at an adolescent residential treatment center based on the twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I found the book to be one of the most powerful insights into developing a childlike faith that I had ever read before or since. I have given away countless copies to individuals who want to develop a deeper faith.

The very first step is to acknowledge our powerless and give ourselves to a Higher Power, however we may understand that Higher Power. We have to be dependent upon Someone besides ourselves. This is very counter-cultural, especially in America where I do too many funerals that have the ballad of individualism “I Did It My Way” included in one way or another.

In today’s reading Jesus sent His disciples out traveling light, we nothing more than the bare essentials and trust in the grace of God–as they understood Him (or, perhaps, Her!). And when the disciples returned they couldn’t contain their joy and their surprise for they were able to “cast our demons”, make a real healing difference in the world. Their experience contrasted the experience of the people in Jesus’ home town, a place where He could do no wonders because of their lack of faith–trust in anything other than themselves.

I believe that we have to constantly remind ourselves that we don’t know the answers, can’t figure much of anything out and have to ask God to show us the way. My experience has been that when we can humble ourselves to do that, that life gets a whole lot easier and better.

Lord, my way isn’t working working so well. Show me Your Way, the Way of Truth and Life. Amen.

Baptism, Christian, devotion, faith, Lenten Devotion, Love, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Gospel of John, Uncategorized

Glimpses of Grace for the 32nd Day of Lent, 2017

Devotional Reading: John 10: 19-42. Morning Psalm 27; Evening Psalm 126

Text: No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. (vss. 28b & 29)

I remember the elderly parents who were nearing the end of their life. They were worried for their only son. They couldn’t have biological children so they adopted their son as a toddler. Unfortunately, he had already been scarred by life. Nevertheless, they loved him dearly. This is why they were afraid, not just what would happen to him after their death, but forever.

Faithful in the rural Presbyterian church that my wife and I served, they had somewhere in the later years of their faith journey fallen under the influence of a radio evangelist. The concern they expressed to me was that their son, while a good husband, father and faithful in church and community, had not said “the believer’s prayer.” I asked the couple if they loved their son. They said that did. Then I asked if they thought that God loved their son any less than they did. They didn’t. Next I reminded them of their son’s baptism. Baptism is the visible sign of an invisible Truth–“We love God because God first loved us”. (I John 4: 19) In baptism we acknowledge the mystery of this love and commit ourselves to raising a child in Christian nurture.

Salvation is not our story but God’s. It is not about us, but about God. Our salvation is secure. It was secured on a hill far away over 2000 years. It is this truth that seems to lie at the heart of John’s gospel; God’s love–for the world, for you and for me. “No one can snatch them out of my hand,” Jesus said. Grace is unconditional and irrevocable.

I believe that we need to remember this during the season of Lent as we prepare for Easter. We need to tell others, too, because there is no greater news to share. Our challenge, as followers of Jesus, is to live into our baptism,

Lord God, remove ALL fear from my heart. Show me how to live into my baptism and give me the strength to do what You show me to do. Amen.