Dr. Tom Pace, Dr. Tom Pace lll, Senior Pastor St. Lukes UMC, Sr Pastor St Lukes

It’s Houston Marathon Weekend. We are praying for all of those at St. Luke’s who are running this year. Don’t forget: LOTS of road closures on Sunday morning, so plan your route to St. Luke’s. Here are the road closures: http://www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com/race-weekend/street-closures/  Remember, Christians in Africa walk MILES to get to church. You can leave a little early and figure out how to get here!

A PERSONAL PRAYER

Gracious God,

“Ah, look at all the lonely people…” Eleanor Rigby… 

God of love, the Beatles had it right. There are so many lonely people, so many who are starving for love, starving for someone to really see them as they really are and love them anyway. Indeed, all of us have flashes of loneliness, moments in which we just long for real intimacy, real connection. Our hearts long for it, and often our bodies do too.

Instead of that deep, real connection, we are prone to cram in cheap substitutes – casual sex, pornography, inappropriate relationships online, secret affairs and all sorts of other ways to kill the pain, fill the void. Ah, look at all the lonely people. But these local anesthetics wear off soon, and the pain returns greater than before. Ah, look at all the lonely people. I pray for them.

God, I pray for relationships today. I pray for marriages where partners are distant. I pray for those who long for someone to share their lives with. I pray that friendships would strengthen and provide true intimacy. I pray for those caught in relationships that are destructive and abusive. I pray for those who are in inappropriate relationships that bring pain to themselves and so many others. I pray for young people as they try to negotiate the dating decisions in today’s culture. I pray for those who had a partner they thought would be for life, but the relationship ended. I pray for those whose loved one has died, and the hole in their heart has not healed.

God, in those moments when I feel completely loved and loving, completely known and knowing, when loneliness seems far away, I know that it is a foretaste of heaven. And I know that it is something divine – a reflection of your love. Thank you, God. Amen.

SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE

Don’t forget 2019: the Year 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. The practice of thanksgiving builds a heart of gratitude. Send me some of the thank you notes you have written to others so that we might use them to encourage one another.

This week, we are working to conclude our 2019 Glorifying God Through Generosity campaign. Thanks so much to all of you who have made your commitment. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of this congregation. We do have very important decisions to make about our 2019 budget based on commitments we receive. So if you have not yet made your commitment, I invite you to go online and do so here or email Teresa Robertson at [email protected].

Beginning this Sunday, January 29, I will continue the sermon series “A Diet of the Mind.” 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.” During this series, we will look at the appetites and drives that can own us, and how we can choose not to indulge them. Last week, we looked at our desire for possessions. This week, we will consider our desire for intimacy, and the cheap imitations we use to try to appease that appetite. St. Paul says “all things are permissible, but I will let nothing master me.” Plan to be a part of this important series.

Men’s Life begins this Wednesday morning, January 23rd at 6:30 a.m. Come and join us. This semester, we will be taking a look at “One Anothering,” and the art of living together in line with the Biblical commands. Go to https://my.stlukesmethodist.org/lift-group-finder to sign up.

Next Sunday night, January 27, join us for the Family Reunion – A Church Conference, at 5:00 in The Story Houston Building. All of our ministry centers – The Story Houston, St. Luke’s, and Gethsemane Mission will come together to reflect on 2018 and look forward to 2019! It is gonna be great! 

PRAYER CALENDAR

Sunday, January 20

Dear Heavenly Father, we are reminded with the new year another year has passed. With this new year help us to be good stewards of our time. Let us grow in our love for you and let us be better at serving you and others who need to know you and your love. Help us to use our days wisely. Amen.

Monday, January 21 – MLK Day

Heavenly Father, today we remember Dr. King and celebrate his life. Thank you for his example of making a difference through love, not hate. We pray that you would help us to love others as you have loved us. Let us continue your great work that he was a part of. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.

Tuesday, January 22

God guide us in the new year and help us to be the people that you are calling us to be. Bless this nation, our church, and each of her members so that we may be a blessing to others. Amen.

Wednesday, January 23

Faithful God, we have big dreams and goals to develop new habits for this year, but it is hard to stay on course. Grant us self-discipline to develop our inside-out habits so that we may draw closer to you. Amen.

Thursday, January 24

Father in Heaven, Christmas was amazing, and it was powerful to be in your divine presence. But, now, we are back to our daily routines, and it is easy to get caught up in the ways of the world. We pray that you would help us to make this year different; help us to prioritize and focus on you so that this may be the Year of our Lord. Amen.

Friday, January 25

Heavenly Father, captivate me with your presence and set my heart on fire for you. Give me the courage to boldly take the next step in my journey of faith. Let me be a part of your legacy. Amen.

Saturday, January 26

Lord, grant me the wisdom to know that your love is all I have ever needed. Grant me the courage to share my faith story and proclaim the good news to others. Grant me a heart that shares your love with others through service and generosity. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.