We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
I’m to preach this week on talking to our families about faith. That feels like asking Hakeem Olajuwon to talk about what it is like to be short. I don’t know how to do it. I don’t talk to my kids or my parents or even my wife about it very much. I preach it on Sundays, and give my whole heart to following you all the time, but it is hardest at home to talk about faith. Why is that, God? Is it because I know they see the real me, and my words would seem fake or shallow? Sometimes, I feel like sort of a fraud. Please forgive me for my lack of courage.
The old saying is that the cobbler’s children have no shoes. Well, thankfully, my kids all have spiritual shoes—they just must have been made by other cobblers! Thank you so much, God for the people who had conversations with my children about you, who witnessed to your love in word and in deed. All of those in my family have claimed their own spiritual journeys, and each one approaches that journey with integrity and passion.
And I guess we did some things right. We took them to church every Sunday. We encouraged participation in youth ministry and parachurch ministries. We allowed them to own their own faith, and to doubt and question. We show them that Dee and I can walk our own Christian walks in our own ways, and still walk side by side together and love and respect one another. We allowed our children to grow rather than artificially forcing them to adopt our values. Thank you God, for taking our meager efforts and working miracles.
Mostly, I am so grateful that you are a God who works sometimes through us and sometimes in spite of us. As Francis Thompson says, You are “the hound of heaven,” chasing each one of us “down the nights and down the days… down the arches of the years.” You pursue each of us with your prevenient grace, seeking to woo us into relationship with you. I am so grateful God, for your pursuit of those whom I love. I pray that each of them would know you intimately, and live out your calling in her or his life as you see fit, not as I think is right for them.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
KEY VERSE FOR THE WEEK:
Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7 Read the whole passage for this Sunday’s sermon here: Deuteronomy 6:4-9
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION:
Who are the people who have “smoothed your edges” on your faith journey? What keeps you from talking to your family members about issues of faith?
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, we will continue the conversation Dr. Chap Clark began last week about “Yours, Mine, and Ours.” I have found that it is harder to talk about issues of faith at home than it is at church, or even with neighbors and friends. Why is that? This week, we will look at the role of our immediate family in shaping our faith, and how we might have those important conversations with our parents, our siblings, and our children about matters of faith. Interestingly, it is often children and young people who pass on the faith to their parents!!! Let’s talk!
Three other important things:
1. We begin a new class for Stephen Ministers on Sept 25. These classes offer extensive training that prepares men and women to serve as effective listeners for those who are struggling, suffering or grieving. If you think that God may be calling you to serve in this area of ministry, we would love to talk to you. If you, or someone you know, would like to have someone to simply come alongside you through a difficult time, a Stephen Minister would love to help. Either way, please call Reverend Bill Denham at 713-402-5156 or email him at [email protected]. Bill will be glad to visit with you and answer your questions.
2. I love the book Toxic Charity, by Robert Lupton. We want it to be a foundational book for the way we do outreach ministry here at St. Luke’s, for the way we guide you to give yourselves away in generosity and service. It is aimed at making sure we don’t do more harm than good as we seek to do God’s work in the world. We have a nine-week book study starting on September 22 about it, and would love to have you plug in. Register at www.StLukesMethodist.org/groupfinder
3. Finally, To help with Parking, we want to encourage as many people as possible to use the shuttle parking from the Briar Club. Please try and reserve our main south parking lot for those who have mobility challenges, as well as families with children five and under, who cannot ride the shuttle busses because of lack of car seats. To help you know where to park, there is a map here.
Sunday, September 18
Almighty God, you tell me to teach your words to my children, to talk about your words when I sit at home and when I walk along the road, when I lie down and get up. Help me to remember that it is my job as a parent to teach my children about you. Amen.
Monday, September 19
Dear Lord, I confess I do not always have your words written on the doorposts of my home as scripture commands. Thank you for forgiving me when I place words of the world above your holy word. I desire to have only your word as the foundation of my home and life. Amen.
Tuesday, September 20
Father, today I desire to love you with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my might. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that will always provide the strength when the ways of the world derail this desire. Amen.
Wednesday, September 21
Almighty God, thank you for the ministers at St. Luke’s who speak your truth in the middle of this large, diverse city. Each week they remind me of your goodness and faithfulness. Please give me the same resolve to speak in my circle of influence about your goodness and faithfulness. Amen.
Thursday, September 22
God of Wisdom, I admit I do not always give you the credit for what you have done in my life. I’m sorry I too often believe I, alone, am responsible for the goodness around me. I pray for clear vision to see your hand in everything and for a strong voice to give you the glory. Amen.
Friday, September 23
Heavenly Father, the world is very loud. But scripture says you came to Elijah in a whisper. I commit to sitting quietly today to listen for you and be strengthened by you. Amen.
Saturday, September 24
Dear Lord, I seek to speak your name today. Give me the courage to tell someone I love about my love for you. Amen.