Walking the Heart of Jesus

Above the clouds, sitting in a tight airplane seat, I sense God close. Is it because his angels fly on the wings guiding us safely back to solid ground? Is it because my child’s heart still thinks heaven lives in the skies? Is it being untethered to the earth? Could it be the stillness and quiet I enfold myself in when ensconced inside a steel bird? Is it the praise music that fills my headphones singly directly to my heart only? Whatever it is that hugs him to me, I welcome the embrace.

Tonight, I say a prayer of gratitude for the work I do that brings me into the orbit of people who care, with genuine mission and strength. They let their hearts serve those who need their talent and compassion. There is no glory in their work. There is no great financial reward. They are not heaped on with gratitude and recognition. They are called by something greater than themselves. Their caring souls make my heartbeats smile. They reflect the face of God.

I have spent a week in their presence, soaking up their effervescent spirits. While I am dog tired, I am rekindled with a sustainable energy that makes my weariness feather light and assures me it is transitory. I say a quietly loud thank you for people like them who walk the heart of Jesus in our messy world.

Above the cloudsAs I watch the sun set on top of the clouds, melting into a softness, it transforms the clouds into a brilliant thank you for yet another day. Day leaning into Gods tender love. This journey has wrapped its heart around my own and I know I am blessed beyond any words I can speak. I think of the love of a man and puppy that waits for me on the other side of today and this week. A silent but loud thanks to God who knows my heart better than I do for this extraordinary life he has gifted me. So, so blessed.

Here is the question this has stirred in me.  How do you walk the heart of Jesus?  I am going to try and let this question lead my days that I hope to end with a soft melting into God and a brilliant thank you to match the sunset. 

Dear God, Help us to take a moment to say a little prayer every day to thank all those who walk the heart of Jesus. Pray that their hearts remain open even when their hard work is not acknowledged or given gratitude. We ask that you continue to give them the strength to do the hard work of caring much. Last, thank you for this day and all I have seen and known today as well as all the blessings in my life. With a grateful heart, Amen.

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Finding God in an Underdog at Kids Club

Adam Pugh in the kitchen on a mission trip to Montana.

Adam Pugh in the kitchen on a mission trip to Montana.

Hello my name is Adam Pugh, I am going to be a senior and I went on a youth works mission trip to Lame Deer, Montana which is on the Northern Cheyenne reservation.

One of the things we did in Montana was Kids Club. It is like an all summer vacation bible school for the kids in the community that we help at. I found out that kids loved getting underdogs from me because I am so tall. One of the days we were there a little girl came and sat down at one of the open swings. It took me a moment to recognize her. But I soon realized that it was Asia, the girl the YouthWorks staff had said was deaf and could not communicate very well.

So not knowing if she wanted to be pushed or not and not knowing how to ask her I just kept pushing the other kids. Then one of the times she caught my attention and pointed at someone who had just been pushed. Cautiously, I went behind her and gave her a little push and I got a little hint of a smile in return. So I went back and gave her a full underdog, turned around, and saw her laughing and smiling while the swing soared through the air.

It wasn’t until later while I was reflecting on the day that I realized how God was in that moment. It was in the way she communicated, it was in the underdog, and it was in her smile. Because like Asia, God doesn’t just come right out and say what He needs to say, He does it with a little point and a smile and we are the ones that need to put it together to make the push. So I would like to thank the congregation for all of your support and prayers to send so many of us on mission trips this year. It certainly makes a difference in the community, and in all of our personal growth toward God.

God’s Handiwork

As I was driving to the office the first week in November, I noticed some of God’s handiwork. First as I was pulling out of my development in Apple Valley there was beautiful frost covering many trees and the grassy fields. The lake looked serene with the sun up, the frost glistening on the banks and the steam rising off the surface.  As I drove up Hwy 52 toward the river it got really foggy and I couldn’t see anything other than fog surrounding me and the cars right near me on the highway. This got me thinking about an old children’s song that we sung with the kids while we were in Guatemala in October. It goes like this … sing with me if you are familiar …

Hip Hip Hooray (Hippopotamus)

Mary Rice Hopkins

Actions in blue.

In the beginning, God made the sea

{spread your hands out to make a wavy sea in front of you}

And the forest filled with trees

{bring your arms up and out at the shoulders, hands pointed down, to make a tree}

He made the mountains up so high

{Bring your arms above your head and make a mountain pointed over you head}

And on the top he placed the sky

{Leave one hand pointed up and use the other to make a motion over the mountain for the sky}

God’s fingerprints are everywhere

{touch fingertips “everywhere”}

Just to show how much He cares

But in between He had loads of fun

He made a hippo who weighs a ton.

{Drop voice to a low deep voice} {Make your hands out like a fat hippo and hunch down}

Hip-hip-hip-hippopotamus

{Jump up and down as a “Hippo”, with a low voice still}

Hip-hip-hooray God made us

{Raise your hands in praise and jump for joy, use a normal voice for this line}

Hip-hip-hip-hippopotamus

{Jump up and down as a “Hippo”, with a low voice}

Hip-hip-hooray God made us

{Raise your hands in praise and jump for joy, use a normal voice for this line}

Writers: Mary Rice Hopkins

Publishers: BIG STEPS 4 U   Song ID:408217

Copyright: ‘ 1988 Big Steps 4 U (admin. by Music Services) All Rights Reserved. ASCAP

http://www.dltk-bible.com/hippo_song.htm (if you go to this link you can listen to the song)

It wasn’t the whole song that kept coming to  me as I drove out of the fog and into more frost covered glory was the line “God’s fingerprints are everywhere” … isn’t it true. God is everywhere and God’s fingerprints are in the frost, fog, and messiness of life. God is with us wherever we go and whatever we do. Lately many things make my thoughts wander back to Guatemala and isn’t it funny that the frost and fog this morning would take me there. The life transforming experience of worshipping with others in so many unique settings will clearly not be forgotten anytime soon. So my thoughts wandered to a cave in Guatemala where a group of women overcame many varied fears and felt God in the darkness and grew in wisdom and understanding that God is everywhere and in everything. God is always present. Psalm 89:15-16 says “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness.”

1st Corinthians 2:9-12 “9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,

   and no mind has imagined

what God has prepared

   for those who love him.”

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (NLT)

Let us pray … God thank you for the promise that you are always with us, watching over us constantly. You are Immanuel (God with us); your presence enfolds us in radiant Love. Nothing, including the brightest blessing and the darkest trials, can separate us from You. Help us seek you all the time in everything. Help us to see you in the beauty of this world and to know that all things wonderful are from God.

Adoration
Creator God,
you are beautiful in the morning fog when all is gray
you are beautiful in the landscape of rolling hills, steep mountains and cold Adirondack lakes
you are beautiful in the deep purples, warm whites, and almost-green yellows of cut flowers on my kitchen table
Creative God,
you are beautiful in the rhythms that resonate through the speakers
you are beautiful in the comforting smell of fresh bread baking in the oven
you are beautiful in the span of generations, from the wide-eyed wonder of infants to the life-lined smiles of their elders
Creating God,
you are beautiful in the places where your people are praying
you are beautiful in the work of hands that feed others around the table, around the world
you are beautiful in the alliances that seek reconciliation across lines of difference and power

You’re beautiful, Creator God, so very beautiful

Beyond your wildest dream, God is holy!

Hackenberg, Rachel (2011-03-30). Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen (p. 35). Paraclete Press. Kindle Edition.

Additional Prayers written by the Spiritual Life Team

Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God of Hosts …
thank you for words that draw pictures in my mind … pictures of the many colorful images in nature, the blue skies, cloudy grays, green leaves, red rocks towering in Monument Valley over the vast high desert plain.
Help me, Lord, when the fog closes in and I cannot see the painted canvas you are creating.
Help me, Holy Spirit, to truss that you are leading us always — help me to hear your voice and sense your presence, even in the foggy days.

The man with the sign at the side of the of the road
The vet pulling the O2 tank behind him.
The women in line at the food shelf.
Lord help us to see the holiness in these people,
For when we look into their eyes we see your face.

Holy, Holy, Holy are you oh God.
You are Savior, friend, Redeemer, Lora and so much more. You are full of grace, beauty, majesty, and love. Let the whole earth sing songs of praise to you oh glorious God. How good it is to sit at your feet. I humbly come before you, ashamed and embarrassed for my sins. My sin of busyness. My sin of pride. Thank you for cleansing me of these sins and all my others, for your name’s sake. I come to you in reverence and adoration. Not because I deserve you. Quite the contrary in fact. Rather I come in response to your loving arms wide open ready to receive and love me just as I am. In Jesus’ name.

Holy, Holy, Holy.
Your fingerprints.
Holy fingerprints.
Proof of your love.
As if we need proof.
Fingerprints
on Mikey, as he helps boys grieve and navigate the horror of two deaths in a weekend.
Fingerprints
on caregivers like Daddy’s doctor, caring for his eye.
Fingerprints
on the servers at Perkins, so full of grave love and service.
Fingerprints
on Mom and Michelle, whether they know it or not.
Fingerprints
on me. on me.
I can feel them. And I am grateful.

Holy, holy, holy
Thank you Lord for your abundance of beauty and love. As your beauty flows from you, it is exemplified throughout all the people and things that you have surrounded us with. Whether it be a cold snowy, Minneapolis morning, or a warm beautiful day at a lake, thank you for the showering of blessing you always drench us with. bless us all with a whole vie of your generosity and love.

Loving God you are all I need
You are there when I feel awesome
And there when I’m stressed
Holy, Holy, Holy
Loving God you provide for my every need
And you hand to me more of my wants than I deserve.
Holy, Holy, Holy
I love to see you all around me.
It’s amazing to see you in my children’s actions
And in all of earth’s splendor, grace, and power
Holy, Holy, Holy
Loving God I cannot thank you enough.

Holy, Holy, Holy God
You are beautiful. You made all creation
Imago dei – thank you!
You are an artist of creation. And you make all things new everyday.
Help us to remember that in creation you are always doing a new thing, and it is good and pleasing and perfect.
Oh God, that we, your people, can also be good and pleasing and perfect!
Open us to your love and light and creative work that we might, every day, be more like you … Imago dei.
Thank you for the wondrous world that reminds us how beautiful you are.
You are doing a new thing
You are doing a beautiful thing —
In your Son’s name.

Holy, Holy, Holy.
I see you as I pass through the halls.
In the eyes of friends and others whom I don’t know
I see you in deeds and daily activities.
In the beauty you pour into souls.
I see you work through your people,
helping to create even more beauty.
I see you God, as I walk outside.
In all of your creation.
Though the tree leaves, sun, and snow may fall,
you hold me up to see this beauty.

Holy, Holy, Holy
God I praise you for your creation,
the mountains praise you
the valleys cry out to you
Holy are you Holy are you
God I praise you for your creation
the stars shine for you
the sun and moon give us light
Holy are you Holy are you
God I praise you for your creation
the rivers ebb and flow
the ocean proclaims your greatness
Holy are you Holy are you

Holy, Holy, Holy God creator, You are in everything and are everywhere. You’re presence is felt in the people around us. Your glory shines in the light, surrounds us in the fog and comforts us in the darkness. Blessed Holy Father thank you for surrounding us with such love and guiding us in all that we do. Your fingerprints are everywhere.

Amen

Author note: Sarah Barber is a member of the Spiritual Life Team (SLT) at Easter. Her other involvement at Easter includes helping Hans with Youth Group activities, leading summer mission trips, attending Monday evening Chick Talk and Worship Committee. Sarah had the amazing opportunity to travel to Guatemala at the beginning of October with 10 other women from Easter forming the first all women delegation to our sister synod, congregation, and school. Outside of Easter Sarah is involved with Southern Minnesota Teens Encounter Christ ministry and works as a pharmacy informatics analyst at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics.

Adding Prayer During Lent

Often people choose to give up something during Lent.  During the Ash Wednesday night service at the Lake, Pastor Paul suggested a different approach this year.  Why not decide to add in something this year?  Why not choose to focus on prayer during this Lenten season?  Prayer is the best way to keep your eyes on God.  

Prayer can take many forms.  Prayer doesn’t have to involve reviewing a laundry list of requests.  Prayer can be quietly sitting in God’s presence and enjoying His peace.  Some people choose to light a candle before they pray each morning.  The candle can serve as a reminder of God’s light that permeates the world around us.  For more ideas and thoughts on prayer, come back and visit this blog periodically.  As you pray for God to change the world, you might be surprised at how prayer changes you!