Our inside-out habits: We pray. We study the Bible. We make friends. We tell our stories. We give ourselves away in generosity and service.
Friends, this Sunday I begin a special three-part sermon series sharing a new statement for St. Luke’s identity – vision, mission, spiritual journey, and inside-out habits. The sermon series is titled “A City Transformed.” It is not a remake of who we are, as it simply gives us new language to talk about who we have always been – a church family that seeks to make an impact outside of our walls. But my hope is that it provides some clarity for us and gives us the language to share with our friends and neighbors. Our church leaders and I have been praying about this and working on it for some time, and I am so excited to share it. I hope you will make an effort to be present. If you can’t be present, watch on livestream. If you can’t watch livestream, watch online later or listen to the podcast. These are all messages we need to hear and appropriate into our lives.
A PERSONAL PRAYER
You know how I find myself running in circles sometimes, just going from thing to thing, letting my circumstance set my agenda for me. Today, I return once again to my own mission, to bring your light and love to my family, my church, and everyone I meet. I recommit myself to you and that mission today, to invest myself in what you have called me to do and to be, to be focused on others rather than myself, to see the crowd of people around me and have compassion on them, and to give myself a way to make a difference in their lives. You have placed me as pastor in this marvelous church, a church with a heart for others and a passion and compassion for our city, and I want to be a part of leading us together to fully realize that identity and to make that aspiration a reality. We are surrounded by people who are hurting or lost, families struggling with brokenness, people overcome with grief, neighborhoods beset by poverty, a culture divided and angry with one another. God, I pray that you would give me the compassion of Jesus for these people, that our whole church would see those around us and that it would break our hearts like it breaks yours. And I pray that you would show us again and again how we can do something to make your love for them tangible in some way, and then lead us to actually do so.
Refocus me, God, on others, that I might lead your church well. Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
Don’t forget 2019: the Year of Gratitude! This week, I received a number of notes of gratitude from you all. They encouraged me so much. I also wrote notes of gratitude to some folks. It is a marvelous discipline. Remember, the principle is that the practice of thanksgiving builds a heart of gratitude. We are challenging one another to write 365 thank you notes or other expressions of gratitude, one each day, offered for what someone has done or who they are. These expressions should be beyond expected common courtesy. If you haven’t started yet, start now, and just aim at one each day. If you quit, just come back and start again, and keep at it. Send me some of the thank you notes you have written to others so that we might use them to encourage one another.
Sunday, February 10
Loving God, we confess that we cannot even begin to fathom your understanding. Thank you for the gift of Scripture that illustrates your great love and that guides us to righteousness. Thank you for small groups that give us the discipline to read and study your word. Thank you for the way that you speak to us through your written word. Keep growing us in your ways and moving us forward on our journey of faith. Amen.
Monday, February 11
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the many blessings we receive from you every day. Please help us be good stewards of all that you have bestowed on us. Help us understand what these blessings mean and how we should use them to help others and to do your work. In your son’s name, we pray. Amen. -Prayer by Don Sinclair, St. Luke’s Board of Trustees
Tuesday, February 12
God of the future, thank you for being in control of all of the things that we cannot control. Thank you for going before us and preparing the way. Thank you for preparing us over the years and for giving us what we need for this exact moment. God, help us rise to meet the challenges of today and guide us so that our actions are pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Wednesday, February 13
Heavenly Father, thank you for creating me as your personal masterpiece. Thank you for being my Father and reminding me that I am a child of the one true King. Help me to remember that you are always with me and that you will never leave me. May your hand and your favor be with me in all that I do. Amen.
Thursday, February 14
Gracious God, grant us your love so that we are patient and kind. Let us not envy, boast, or be too proud. Keep us from dishonoring others or being self-seeking. Help us to be slow to anger and keep no record of wrongs. Let us shun evil and rejoice in truth. Guide us to always protect, always trust, always hope and always persevere. Keep us from failing. Amen.
Friday, February 15
Heavenly Father, YOU are love. Please forgive us when we forget this, and as a result, we forget you. Your mind-blowing, steadfast love is the fuel needed to bring glory to you and your kingdom, yet it is not always our priority to recognize or receive this wonderful gift. Today, God, we ask you to help us remember you are love and to integrate that into everything that we do. In doing so, we can face anything. Thank you so much for loving us without limitations. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. -Prayer by Louise McEvoy
Saturday, February 16
Heavenly Father, thank you for the special people you have brought into our lives who make a difference for us. Thank you for the good times that we have shared together and the special way that we connect with one another. Thank you for binding us together in your love. Please bless them as they have blessed us. Amen.