A PERSONAL PRAYER
Gift Giving God,
I don’t understand why I do not always, always, always feel grateful. How do I grumble when you have blessed me so much? Why do I feel this sense of entitlement and resentment, when I have been given so much?
So God, in order to change my mindset, let me say thank you and bring to the front of my mind the gratitude that is in my heart. Thank you, God, for (in no particular order)…
Your love, made flesh in Jesus Christ, and the eternal abundant life that I have in a relationship with him.
A wonderful place to work.
A congregation I love, who loves me back.
A wife with whom I can share life and love.
Hot coffee in the morning.
A sense of purpose for my life.
Great medical care and insurance to pay for it.
Five amazing daughters who are way better people than I am.
Four really great sons-in-law whom I love like sons.
TEN grandchildren, who make life interesting, and who will change the world.
A home to live in, and a bed to sleep in, and a table with food.
Friends who feel like family.
Colleagues in ministry on St. Luke’s staff, and the joy of working together as a team on a mission.
A car to drive.
Enough money to provide for what I need.
Your provision in the days and years to come.
A country in which I can say what I believe without fear of reprisal.
People who work to keep me safe.
Those who keep the places of my life functioning and beautiful – leaf blowers and lawn keepers and custodians, a/c repair technicians and plumbers, garage door repair people and so many others whom you only think about when you need them.
Mail Carriers and package delivery folks.
Airline pilots and crews who get me where I need to go, and baggage handlers.
Life. Breath. Movement.
Trees and Mountains.
A busy city, teeming with all sorts of life and diversity.
City leaders who work together to solve problems.
The Texans playoff team, and the fun of watching football with friends.
Ok… I could go on and on, God. I suppose I should.
But God, now that I have said thank you for all of these things, I am feeling more grateful. Funny how just saying it has changed my heart. I thank you God for… everything. Especially for your love and grace.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday, January 6, St. Luke’s will kick off a special emphasis which will be a part of our programming for 2019. 2019 is “The Year of Gratitude,” and we will learn to practice thanksgiving daily, and train ourselves to keep gratitude as the basic spiritual response of our Christian life. The habits of our hands and voices help to form the habits of our hearts, and so the practice of thanksgiving daily shapes our hearts to be grateful. We will continue to focus on gratitude in various ways throughout the year, including challenging each of you to write a thank you note or other expression of gratitude, beyond the customary courtesy, every single day for 365 days. We will have sermons scattered across the year to keep us thinking about it together. This will make a great beginning for the year. Make it a point to be with us in worship on Sunday morning, January 6. The message is titled “The Always Imperatives.”
We are almost to our goal for the 2019 Glorifying God Through Generosity campaign. We currently have received 1,233 commitments toward our total of 1,320 commitments, for a total $8.35 million toward our goal of $8.5 million, not including the commitments we have from The Story Houston. This includes 185 new commitments and 405 increased commitments! Thank you all so much for your faithfulness. However, there are still 187 people who made commitments last year that we have not yet heard from. If you have not had the chance to make a commitment, you may do so online here, or email Teresa Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Did I mention I am grateful?
In the marvelous movie about John Nash, the brilliant physicist with schizophrenia, there is a scene in which Nash says to a representative of the Nobel Prize committee inquiring about his mental health, “You see, I am crazy. And I still see things that are not real. I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I choose not to indulge certain appetites.” Beginning next Sunday, January 13, I will begin a sermon series “A Diet of the Mind,” and we will look at the appetites and drives that can own us. How can we choose not to indulge them? Over the course of four weeks, we will consider our desire for possessions, intimacy, approval, and other addictions. St. Paul says “all things are permissible, but I will let nothing master me.” Plan to be a part of this important series.
Sunday, January 6
Dear Lord, as this new year begins let me look back at last year and celebrate all my accomplishments. And when I remember the hard times, disappointments, and hardships, let me see where you were with me and grew me. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I am now filled with new hope knowing that you will be with me through it all. Amen.
Monday, January 7
O Lord, how good and pleasant it is when your people live together in unity! Heal the divisions in our city; bind up the rifts in our country; bring us together as one people. Amen.
Tuesday, January 8
Thank you, God, for the joy we feel when surrounded by family. The time we have with each member is fleeting. Help us to cherish each and every moment that we are able to spend with loved ones. We praise you for those opportunities! Amen.
Wednesday, January 9
Dear God, with a new year comes new opportunities. Open our hearts to be ready to share your power and your love with others. Nudge us with the Holy Spirit to be ready to respond and share our faith. Strengthen our awareness of the needs of others and lead us daily to serve. Amen.
Thursday, January 10
Lord, we pray for those who are struggling with addiction; may they find freedom from their struggles in 2019. God give them the strength to seek the help that they need and the courage to face their addiction. Amen.
Friday, January 11
Father God, I pray that you would help me with my ever growing anxiety; give me peace about the things that I cannot control. Help others who struggle with anxiety as well so that we can face tomorrow. In your name, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Saturday, January 12
Lord, we give thanks for all the blessings and abundance bestowed upon us in this country. And, we pray that children are not hungry anywhere in the world and that we in our country learn to respect each other.