Archive for Daily Walk

Serving in Marion 2018






Marion Cares has a number of great local volunteer opportunities to give of yourself in 2018 through Marion Cares. These kids need YOU – to listen, to play games, to support, to color with, to talk to, to read with, to spend time with.

We are currently providing opportunities for kids to have positive activities outside of school and home. This helps them engage in new relationships and be exposed to new experiences that can give them tools for a growth mindset. We have Team Time activities for everyone, and Boy Scouts & Girl Scouts for both the younger and the older children. We are at Marion Village on Mondays, Squaw Creek on Tuesdays, and at the Marion Library on Thursdays.

Will you give some of your time to the children of Marion Cares?

Please contact LCR representative Jen Christopherson at if you are willing to serve the children of our community. Volunteering as a family is welcome, too!







Churches of Marion Food Pantry, located near the downtown Marion Presbyterian Church, is looking for help. The pantry currently serves from 60-100+ local families every week and is completely staffed by volunteers, so many hands are needed to help our families in the community.

 Will you help at the Marion Food Pantry?

Training is provided for all tasks. If you are interested, please contact Cari Redondo at Please note that scheduling & coordination for these positions is done by e-mail.

Stocking shelves at the food pantry

– Tue and/or Thu mornings, approx. 9:00-10:30 am.

Checking in donations

– Tue and/or Thu mornings, approx. 9:00-10:30 am.

Vacuum & clean windows

– Weekly, 1 hour or less. Help keep the Pantry tidy.

Recycle cardboard

– Twice a week (Tue/Thu). Pick up cardboard for recycling.

 For the jobs below, you must be able to lift boxes/cases/crates of food, etc.

If you have vehicle that will hold large loads, that would be helpful, too.

Shop for food at Marion Aldi

– Once a month for 2 hours.

Shop for food at Sam’s Club

– Once a month for 2 hours.

Pick up supplies at Marion Hy-Vee

– Backup to our current weekly helpers; 1 hour or less.

Pick up supplies at Dollar Tree (NE Cedar Rapids)

– Once or twice a month for 1 hour or less.

Transport food boxes from storage to the Pantry

– As needed. Bring boxes of food from the Carnegie library building to the food pantry (2 blocks).

Daily Walk for Feb 28- Mar 6

Monday, February 28, 2011: Joy
Daily reading: Isaiah 58:6-10
The focus of chapter 58 is worship. As the Jewish community returns to Jerusalem after captivity in Babylon, God is calling them away from rigid, heartless adherence to the law (particularly fasting), and calling them to repentance. The fast that God desires has to do with justice for the poor and oppressed, not abstaining from food. When God’s people work for justice, then, God says, they will call upon God and God will respond. Specifically, verse 10 promises that if the Israelites will feed the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, their lives will shine as a witness to the world and they will know joy again. Isaiah is pointing the way for joy to return to the lives of the people of Israel. Do you feel like you have been in exile and need these words of promise that joy will return? Pray that God will direct you on the pathway to greater joy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011: Lawyer
Daily reading: Luke 10:25-37
It all begins with a lawyer, an expert in God’s law. He wants to know what he has to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, in typical rabbinic fashion, answers this question with a question. He asks the lawyer how he reads the Scriptures, and the lawyer answers beautifully: “Love God; love neighbor.” Jesus himself had said that the entirety of God’s law could be summarized with those two commands. So Jesus says, “Bingo! Good answer. So, just do it.” The lawyer asks the legal question and gets a response he’s not ready for. You can imagine the series of questions the lawyer would ask next. But how? I can’t do this on my own, can I? We hope that the “letter of the law” will answer our questions, but it often creates more questions. Are you seeking to follow the “letter of the law” or the spirit of what God intends? Ask God to open your eyes to what the law intends.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011: Self-Suffiency
Daily reading: Luke 10:38-42
The lawyer’s original question was, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” According to Jesus, if we just love God and neighbor we’ll inherit eternal life. But the point of the gospel is that we can’t, at least not perfectly and consistently! In fact, in today’s reading, Jesus chastises Martha for her busyness, her acts of kindness. We are saved by grace, and grace alone! Perhaps Jesus is being a bit ironic with the lawyer in the Good Samaritan story. By telling him to “go and do likewise,” he knows that the lawyer will come to realize the depth of his need for grace, because self-sufficiency is a spiritual dead end. Are you feeling like a Martha, one whose busyness produces acts of kindness but looks a lot like attempts at self-sufficiency? Ask God to motivate your actions from a deep gratefulness for God’s grace.

Thursday, March 3, 2011: Grace
Daily reading: Romans 3:21-26
The fullness of life does not begin with what we do, but with what has been done for us by grace in Jesus. The concept and reality of grace can drive us to our knees with gratitude because we are set free by God’s remarkable, unconditional, unending love for us. We don’t love God or our neighbor because we have to, because that wouldn’t be real love at all. That kind of love wouldn’t breathe life into us or into others. It would only leave us dead, choked with guilt and shame. Instead, the good news of God’s love for us in Jesus sets us free to really love. By grace through faith; that’s how we are in relationship to God. God initiates this relationship as a gift. Are you overwhelmed and grateful for the unconditional, unending love of God? Ask God to draw you deeper into fullness of life by grace.

Friday, March 4, 2011: Free
Daily reading: Galatians 5:1; 13:15
It’s easy for us to get out of alignment, like a car whose wheels constantly veer toward the ditch of “just do it” righteousness. We get caught up into believing that we have to earn God’s love, and we wind up trying hard and failing miserably. Then we feel guilty, telling ourselves we’re worthless and hopeless, which makes it even less likely that we’ll be able to love anyone well, making us feel even more worthless and hopeless. It’s a vicious cycle. But the good news of Christ knocks us off that cycle and into the arms of God’s mercy and grace, reminding us again that we’re loved, not because of what we’ve done, but because of what God has done for us in Jesus. God’s love sets us free to love. And in this freedom we get to love God and love others. Do you feel “free” in your relationship with God, or are you living out of rules and regulations? Ask God to move your heart more toward “get to” than “have to.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011: Vision
Daily reading: Revelation 21:1-4
We can’t love God and others on our own. We need help. As people so dearly loved by God, we are moved to love God and love our neighbor, but as soon as we try we realize how challenged we really are. We need new eyes, new vision. We need eyes of faith that will allow us to see all people in need as our neighbor, not as a nuisance or a distraction. We need eyes that can see the new heaven and the new earth coming together, and all of God’s plans and purposes coming true. Jesus is calling us all to see in a new way. Can you envision the time when there are no more tears, no more death or mourning? Can you see the marriage of earth and heaven, and God dwelling among it all? Ask God for new vision.

Sunday, March 6, 2011: Heart
Daily reading: Ephesians 3:14-20
This text about spiritual maturity involves having a new heart that beats for the things that matter to God. We read the story of the Good Samaritan, and wondered how the priest and the Levite could ignore the bleeding man. At a closer look, they were adhering to the law that said you don’t touch a bleeding or dead body. But another law commanded them to aid someone in need. How could they be obedient to both aspects of the law? How will we discern between lesser or greater laws? Spiritual maturity would lead us to this conclusion: when it comes to living God’s agenda, love trumps everything. We need a heart that beats with that kind of love. Dare to believe that God has already done it all in Jesus Christ. Does your heart beat for the things that matter to God? Ask God to lead you into deeper spiritual maturity where love trumps everything.

Daily Walk for Feb 20-27

Monday, February 21, 2011: Encourage
Daily reading: Ephesians 4:25-32
To encourage is to be kind and tenderhearted, to forgive as we have been forgiven. Some might think this kind of behavior is equated with weakness. Yet it takes real strength to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving, to encourage one another. It’s very easy to make fun of someone, to gossip, or to tear someone down. The hard part is to encourage. To encourage is to give someone something, to not expect uniformity but unity. To encourage is to love as we’ve been loved, to live into a new humanity where we all are equals. To encourage is to allow someone else’s dream the space to grow. To encourage means that we invest in the success of others, even those with whom we become angry. Who can you encourage? How? Ask God to direct you to the right person to encourage today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011: Dream
Daily reading: Isaiah 41:8-13
Isaiah 41 reminds the Israelites (whose imaginations of God have been squashed in captivity) about the true nature of God. “Do not fear, I am with you, do not be afraid, why? Because I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (10). These are powerful words that bring infinite hope to a people who have lost the ability to dream. Discouraging words have the power to deflate our dreams, but one encouraging word might be enough to help us dream again. God’s words of encouragement in Isaiah must have been startling to a people in captivity who might have felt abandoned by God. Where do you really want to dream again? Ask God to give you new dreams.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011: Yes!
Daily reading: Isaiah 41:8-13 again
We live in a trash-talking, dream-killing, winner-take-all culture. As Christians, we are uniquely positioned to speak about what it is to be held up with the victorious right hand of God, the cross of Jesus Christ. This is God’s embrace of humanity, a limitless, ultimate encouragement that moves outside of “winner take all.” The cross as the victory of God is the final “yes” in God’s promise. This is a proclamation, but we desperately seek confirmation. In faith, we realize that the “yes” is an unfinished “yes,” yet we have not been abandoned. God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is actively creating unity and community. Isaiah reminds us that God is here, and we are to strengthen and encourage one another. Our words matter. Are you experiencing God’s “yes” each day? Ask God to speak “yes” into the most troublesome times of your day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011: Angry
Daily reading: Psalm 4 and Ephesians 4:26
Sometimes people do things that we don’t want to encourage. In fact, sometimes we simply get angry and begin to tear others down. This is our cable news 24/7 reality. We are a culture of personal attack and tear-down. Yet the Scriptures don’t tell us not to get angry. Both the psalm and Ephesians say, “be angry, but don’t sin.” Anger is not the sin. The gossip, the tear-down, and the anger that turns to hate and bitterness, is the sin. The anger that refuses to acknowledge the truth of a diverse, new humanity characterized by a unifying love is the sin. There are times when rightly-directed anger can serve a useful purpose in the Kingdom of God. Are you angry with someone? Is this helpful or hurtful anger? Ask God to redirect your anger.

Friday, February 25, 2011: Truth
Daily reading: Ephesians 4:15-16
How is this diverse, new humanity, characterized by a unifying love, supposed to live together? Speak the kind of truth that is bound to a diverse, new humanity characterized by a unifying love. Far too often what we understand as speaking truth does not pass Ephesians’ smell test. Instead, the truth we speak is often simply evil talk. Just because something is true doesn’t make it truth. Think about where and how most of us find ourselves in “truth” talk. It’s gossip. We say what very well could be true things about someone. “They are too ____.” “They’ve done ___.” We may be speaking truth, but it may not be in love. The truest truth we can speak is when we encourage one another. Do you ever speak “evil” words? Ask God to help you discern what to say and when to say it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011: Speech
Daily reading: Colossians 4:1-6
We need to hold each other accountable for encouraging speech. We need to name gossip when we hear it, and stop it. We need to change our speech when it becomes cynical or hopeless. It might mean turning off that television commentator, and holding our politicians to a higher standard of speech. It might mean having a difficult conversation with a friend on Facebook who sends discouraging emails. Or it might mean not only talking to a teacher, parent or supervisor about someone being bullied, but also befriending that person and sharing some encouraging words. How is your speech? Do you ever fall into a questionable use of words? Ask God to show you better ways of sharing words with everyone in your life.

Sunday, February 27, 2011: Bullying
Daily reading: Titus 3:108
Bullying has become a major focus in schools and workplaces, and it comes in many forms. Bullying speech or behaviors are not just discouraging, but extremely harmful. If you were a bully, or have bullied someone, pray and seek guidance about the possibility of finding the person you hurt and extending an apology. You have the potential of sharing life-giving words, not only for them but for yourself. If you were bullied or are being bullied now, talk about it to someone you trust, who will encourage you. Words hurt, that hurt is real, and you are not weak for experiencing that hurt. You are not responsible, but you are experiencing a broken promise from your fellow human beings. For today, remember this: God is here, you have not been abandoned, and the promise of God is for you.

Daily Walk for Feb 14-19

Monday, February 14, 2011 Relationships
Daily reading: John 15:12-17
Maintaining healthy relationships is hard work. The foundation of life-giving relationships is forgiveness. Anyone in a relationship with an emotional or spiritual investment knows how vitally important and powerful forgiveness is. But the road that leads to forgiveness is strewn with the risks of hurt, of vulnerability, of putting another person first. It’s strewn with the risks of saying, “I have wronged you. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” And “Yes, I forgive you!” On this Valentine’s Day, is there someone who needs to know you are sorry? Ask God for the strength to follow through and say it to them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011: Broken
Daily reading: Matthew 18:21-35
The unconditional nature of the forgiveness that Jesus models will ultimately preserve the community. But, due to our sin and brokenness, we cannot do this on our own. Broken relationships are restored through confession and forgiveness. Jesus’ message is simply that we must be ready to forgive anyone who repents. Confession leads to repentance leads to forgiveness leads to restoration leads to community. But perhaps someone seeking forgiveness is only interested in the short term, and soon returns to damaging behavior. It’s in that context that Peter comes to Jesus with the question, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Is there some broken relationship in your life where someone needs forgiveness over and over? Ask God for the strength and courage to forgive again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011: Three or seven
Daily reading: Amos 1:3 and 2:6; Job 33:29
Some background about the Jewish understanding of forgiveness: it’s understood as beginning with God. We’ve been created for community, and how we live with and treat one another reflects our relationship with God. Peter’s question is rooted in the Jewish teaching that forgiving three times shows a forgiving spirit. In ancient rabbinic teachings it was understood that, if a person kept repeating offenses, they might not be repenting at all. No behavioral change, no transformation. “If a man commits a transgression, the first, second and third time he is forgiven, the fourth time he is not.” Peter seems to be aware of this as he asks his question. When he suggests to Jesus that he should forgive seven times, Peter is more than doubling the expectation based in the Hebrew Scriptures. Even choosing the number seven points to a sense of utter “completeness.” In your life, is it hard to forgive twice? Three times? Ask God to expand your heart in your willingness to forgive again and again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011: 490
Daily reading: Matthew 18:21-35 again
The Apostle Peter, Jesus’ good friend, comes to Jesus with one of the most loaded questions that has ever been asked: “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answers, “Not seven times, but 70 times seven.” Does Peter think that revenge comes after the seventh forgiveness? Seventy times seven is 490. Does that mean that at 491 we don’t forgive anymore? Is there a numerical limit to forgiveness? Of course not! Jesus is saying that forgiveness is limitless. Seventy times seven is meant to be a number at which we could never arrive. We can never extend enough forgiveness, can never apply too much forgiveness where forgiveness is necessary. Is there someone in your life who needs extravagant forgiveness? Ask God to help you stop counting the times you’ve forgiven and simply forgive.

Friday, February 18, 2011: Transformed
Daily reading: 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Mercy is not giving people what they deserve. Grace is giving people what they do not deserve. This points Christ-followers to a core principle of Kingdom life together: those who have experienced the grace and mercy of God will be so transformed that they will want to pass it on to others. A transformed life will be evident on every level, beginning with the community of faith. The disciples will see this lived out as Jesus moves through the final months, weeks and days of his life. The significance of the cross and empty tomb will mark their lives and the lives of Christ-followers in every generation. Where can you pass on the grace of God to someone else? Ask God to continue to work in you and transform you.

Saturday, February 19, 2011: Happy
Daily reading: Psalm 32
The term “happy” appears often in Psalms, always in the context of moral life, which is why the Hebrew word was formerly translated “blessed.” It was believed that happiness which came through immoral means was temporary at best. Lasting happiness was found only through a right relationship with God, the source of happiness. Refusing to acknowledge sin and guilt takes a physical and emotional toll. The psalmist describes this toll as physical pain and groaning. When we fail to acknowledge our failings before God, we live in broken community with God and one another. Notice what happens when these failings are acknowledged. The forgiveness we need is here for us, all along. Where do you need to be more “happy?” Acknowledge your failings to God and see what happens.

Sunday, February 19, 2011: Is – Is Not
Daily reading: Colossians 1:9-14
Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Will we let go of our self pity, demand for justice and desire to retaliate? Forgiveness is not demanding that a person change before we forgive them. It’s not forgetting that the hurt happened. It’s not pretending that it doesn’t matter, or thinking that time alone will heal the hurt. But forgiveness is facing the wrong that has been done to us and recognizing our emotions. It is choosing not to hold it against our spouse, brother, sister, friend, coworker, or partner, and releasing them into God’s hands. Are the boundaries around forgiveness unclear for you? Ask God to lead you in the most healthful way to forgive someone else

Daily Walk Jan 24-30

Monday, January 24, 2011: Covenant
Daily reading: Exodus 2:23-25; Hebrews 9:15-16
Because we are named and claimed in baptism, and made to be royalty, therefore each day is an opportunity to live into those promises. This week, live into each promise more fully, one day at a time. In our baptismal liturgy we say “You have made profession of your faith. Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism?” God has called us into a covenant relationship; God promises to be faithful and merciful, and we agree to live in a new way. Think about what it means to start there, and how that can impact our relationships with others. How will you choose to live into, and then out of, that relationship with God today? In your prayers, ask God to reveal how to live more faithfully in a covenant relationship.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011: Community
Daily reading: Acts 2:44-47
Acts 2 gives us a beautiful picture of Christian community. In our baptismal liturgy we promise “to live among God’s faithful people.” Baptism is a beginning, a covenant relationship that is lived in communities of faith all over the world. Here the mystery of faith is learned, shared, and tested. Here the people of God pray, worship and serve in the name of Jesus. In community, life transitions like baptisms, weddings, and funerals are surrounded by those who support and care for one another. The community surrounds the newly baptized and promises to be supportive and prayerful. The community gathers at the table and celebrates the risen Christ in bread and wine. How are you both creating and supporting faithful community this week? How will we live out our call to faithfulness in the lives of those around us? Pray for the faith community that surrounds you, and for those who were recently baptized. Pray for those to whom you have been a godparent.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011: Word
Daily reading: Psalm 8
In our baptismal liturgy we promise to “hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper.” As you read Psalm 8, did something stand out? One of the beautiful aspects of God’s word is that, each time it’s read, we hear something new. It comes alive in a new way. Daily reading of God’s word is a discipline that will provide guidance and direction for your life. Test this theory by going back to Psalm 8 and reading it out loud again. What did you hear differently this time? What words, phrases or thoughts stood out? What is the passage saying to you? What is the passage asking you to do? Ask God for clear guidance that comes directly from Scripture.

Thursday, January 27, 2011: Proclaim
Daily reading: Luke 9:57-60; Luke 17:20-21
In our baptismal liturgy we promise to “proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed.” What is this good news? Jesus himself describes the good news to be that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. In word, we proclaim that God is not distant and angry, but near and loving. In deed, we live into the promise of Christ’s resurrection life and the reality that we are privileged to join God’s work in the world. When Jesus walked out of the open tomb everything changed, and this is the good news that we proclaim. In your prayers today, thank God for being near and loving.

Friday, January 28, 2011: Serve
Daily reading: Matthew 20:25-28
In our baptismal liturgy we promise to “serve all people, following the example of Jesus.” Someone needs you today. That’s the way God made us. Someone has said that God’s plan for “justice” is “just us.” We live our lives in the pattern of the one who came not to be served, but to serve. We live our lives oriented toward the things that matter to God, not the things that we desire. How will we be the hands and feet of Christ in someone else’s life today? Ask God to guide you directly to that person who needs you today.

Saturday, January 29, 2011: Justice
Daily reading: Psalm 37:23-28
In our baptismal liturgy we promise to “strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” What a calling! For some, today looms large. They may be caught in a cycle of poverty or living from day to day without shelter. The call for justice points us toward a day when there will no longer be a need for charity, because justice will have prevailed. Our calling is to become part of that movement. And peace? In all the earth? Maybe those two words are related in some way. If justice prevailed, there probably would be peace. There would be no more reason to fight or steal. How will your call to do justice and work for peace in the world materialize in the coming week? What’s one thing that you will do to bring justice and peace to those around you? In your prayers, ask God for guidance into deeper involvement in bringing about justice and peace.

Sunday, January 30, 2011: Winner
Daily reading: 2 John 1:4-11
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘“winner, winner, chicken dinner?” This phrase is used in our current culture to convey a positive outcome. It means something like, “Yes! We have a winner!” Many people agree that the phrase originated in Las Vegas where, as legend has it, years ago, every casino had a three-piece chicken dinner with a potato and a veggie for $1.79. A standard bet in those days was $2. Therefore, when you won a bet, you had enough for a chicken dinner. The moment of joy was accompanied by the phrase, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” Our culture’s understanding of “winning” usually comes at someone else’s expense. The disciples’ understanding of “winning” comes from someone else’s sacrifice. The starving child in Haiti says “I am a ‘winner’ because someone sacrificed something to put this Feed My Starving Children chicken dinner in front of me.” In your prayers, pray for all the children of the world who don’t have enough to eat, and pray that this inequity would come to an end.

Daily Walk Jan 17-23

Monday, January 17, 2011: Messenger
Daily reading: Jeremiah 33:6-11
In 587 BC, Jerusalem is besieged by Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon.The city will fall and its inhabitants will be deported to Babylon. God calls Jeremiah to prophecy to a nation so corrupt and sinful that God needs to tear it down in order to build it back up. Jeremiah is not a popular figure because of this message. Not only does he convict the people of idolatry and injustice, he also foretells of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. Even worse, Jeremiah advises the people to not resist the Babylonian aggression, to live life “as usual” in their captivity. Judah’s King Zedekiah is so upset by this message that he imprisons Jeremiah until Jerusalem falls. Jeremiah is just God’s messenger bearing a very troubling message. Are there times when you need to deliver an unpopular message? Ask God for the courage to speak the truth whenever necessary.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011: Hope
Daily reading: Jeremiah 33:6-11 again
Jeremiah does not only predict gloom and doom. He also holds out a message of profound hope: the God who loves the people too much to allow their sins to rule them will also restore them in due time. Chapter 33, which comes to Jeremiah while he’s under house arrest, is a powerful proclamation of restoration. God promises to bring the people of Judah and Israel back from captivity; to “rebuild them,” to reestablish them as a nation; and to forgive their sin and rebellion against God. God promises to restore the people, the land, and, most importantly, their relationship. Where do you need a word of hope from God? Ask God to give you that word of hope.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011: Hunger
Daily reading: Psalm 107:4-9
Do you hunger to experience restoration personally? Biblically, restoration often carries a sense of turning, or returning, to God. Throughout the Scriptures, God’s restoration follows a period in which God disciplines his people to turn them back to God. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we are tapping into that same hunger that God’s people have sensed and experienced throughout history. As people who have experienced the restoration of our lives through the grace, love and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ, we are called and empowered to proclaim with words and with our lives that God is loose in the world, restoring all things. Are you hungry for the things of God? Ask God to give you a deep desire for God’s work to be active in and through you today.

Thursday, January 20, 2011: Restoration
Daily reading: Psalm 23
Have you seen the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Families in the midst of devastating circumstances apply for a home restoration. The family selected is sent on a week’s vacation while crews work 24/7 to restore their home, transforming broken spaces into places of function and beauty. The high point of each show is the unveiling of the home makeover to the family. Tears of joy make it clear that more than a house has been restored. Lives are restored with hope. What the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team does for homes, God does for our lives and for all of creation. God is in the business of restoration. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we are asking that God would enter into those rooms in our life in need of repair and do the work of restoration that we are unable to do for ourselves. In your life, what’s in need of restoration? Ask God to do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

Friday, January 21, 2011: Cleanse
Daily reading: Psalm 51:10-12
There are times when we need to clean our hands. We might be working on a project or cooking a meal. We might have been working in the garden or painting the house, and we need to wash our hands. God is in the business of cleansing, as well. There are some things that only God can do, and this is one of them. Try as we might to cleanse our hearts, only God can do this work. Today, every time you wash your hands, repeat this prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Say it over and over and as your hands become cleansed, let it remind you that God is cleansing your heart at the same time. The dirt of sin and rebellion are being washed away through the power of God. Make this your prayer for today: create in me a clean heart, O God.

Saturday, January 22, 2011: Reveal
Daily reading: Romans 8:18-25
At the end of every episode of Extreme Makeover we see “Reveal Day,” when the family returns to find their ugly, decrepit, toxic house transformed into a place of beauty and joy. They squeal, giggle and cry with delight. Someone has done for them what they could never do for themselves. As Christians, there is a “Reveal Day” coming. When we engage with a hunger initiative, we don’t just do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it because it is our response to God’s call to be agents of restoration in this broken world. We discover along the way that, when our hearts beat along with God’s for the restoration of this world, we are powerfully restored in the process. We love because we have first been loved. By God’s grace we will keep on loving and restoring until that great reveal day when Christ returns and the fullness of God’s restoration is complete. How can you live as an agent of God’s restoration? Ask God to reveal how you can join the movement of God in the world today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011: Sustainable
Daily reading: Matthew 4:1-4
It’s interesting that Satan begins tempting Jesus with bread. Jesus hasn’t eaten for 40 days, so this is probably a great place to begin. To pray “give us this day our daily bread” is to move into partnership with God to be a systematic and sustainable answer to this petition for others. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread” we are so often focusing on asking God for what we need, but by praying for “us” and “our” we are also praying that God will provide for all people. We are literally answering our own prayer, and the prayers of those who really do hunger for daily bread. We are the sustainability in this prayer as we carefully steward God’s resources and eagerly share this daily bread with others. Who needs you to be the sustainability factor for them? Ask for God to guide you directly to someone who needs you to be God’s agent of restoration.

Daily Walk Jan 10-16

Monday, January 10, 2011: Priorities
Daily reading: Proverbs 16:16-18; Mark 7:20-23
In the U.S., we create 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This equals 1,642.5 tons of waste per person, per year. Are we really praying for our daily bread? What do we mean by daily bread? To petition “give us this day our daily bread” allows us to repent in those areas of our life that have skewed priorities. We often love our things, but find it hard to love the people around us. We place our trust in temporary things and orient all our energies toward them. We often define success in monetary terms, and wealth in dollars and cents. Instead, we can learn to appreciate the wealth of our relationships and invest our lives in others. Where do you have skewed priorities? Pray for God to show you what they are and lead you to real change.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011: Landfill
Daily reading: Luke 16:1-9
There’s good news and bad news about landfills. The good news: according to the EPA, the number of landfills in the United States dropped from 7,924 in 1988 to 1,754 in 2006. The bad news: landfill capacities have increased enormously. The EPA states in its 2006 municipal solid waste study that, “while the number of U.S. landfills has steadily declined over the years, the average landfill size has increased. … Since 1990, the total volume of MSW going to landfills dropped by 4 million tons, from 142.3 million to 138.2 million tons in 2006.” This is remarkable, considering that the U.S. population increased by more than 50 million people during this time. As Christians, we have a lot of “junk” that gets in the way of us stepping into the movement of God in the world. We have every kind of excuse for why we can’t engage in God’s mission in deeper ways. What “junk” stands in the way of you engaging with God’s mission in a deeper way? Ask God to help you navigate this landfill.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011: Nameless
Daily reading: Luke 16:19-31
The story of the rich man and Lazarus, found only in Luke, is a study in deep contrasts. What’s unique about this story is that the beggar, Lazarus, is named. That intensifies our concern for the poor man; makes it personal. It illustrates how God cares for the poor, and how God is completely aware of their plight. The rich man is nameless and faceless, and could be any rich person. Isn’t it interesting how this nameless person seems to have everything in life, but has nothing in death? Isn’t it interesting that Lazarus is named and known, and has everything in death, while seeming to have nothing in life? How do you view the “poor” in our society? Ask God to help you identify with the needs of the lowest among us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011: Heart
Daily reading: Luke 16:19-31 again
The rich man calls to the great patriarch of the Jewish faith, and asks for Lazarus to be sent to give him some relief from the heat of his agony. Several points are worth noting. First, the heat of the torment may well depict the intense agony of what it means to be confined to the underworld, knowing that God exists and knowing that you are not in heaven. Second, the rich man knows who Lazarus is. During his time on earth, the rich man knew that the poor man was out there and had needs. He even knew his name. Third, the rich man’s view of Lazarus has not changed since death. The rich man still views the poor man as someone beneath him who might be sent to give him relief. This reveals the rich man’s lack of heart. Are there people in your life who you view as “beneath” you? In your prayers, ask God to correct your lack of heart.

Friday, January 14, 2011: Excuses
Daily reading: Matthew 6:11; Matthew 19:16-22
As we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we must consider what this means in the context of our relationships with others. When we ask questions about our skewed priorities, those priorities should always begin with the relational question. Perhaps this story is less about how are we going to miss hell, and more about how we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to provide for others. Perhaps the “wide and gaping landfill” has something to do with the excuses we throw out preventing us from being the hands and feet of Christ. In Matthew 19, another wealthy person is confronted with the reality of what it means to follow Jesus. What excuses have you created that keep you from connecting with God’s mission in the world?

Saturday, January 15, 2011: Will
Daily reading: Romans 1:8-12
The image of the landfill is very potent, serving as both a tactile and metaphorical reminder of all the junk that we accumulate. What junk gets in the way of our reaching out to others? “What’s in your wallet landfill?” In the story, there is a chasm between Lazarus and the rich man. This leads us to ask how we get across the chasm between where we are and where God wants us to be. In the story, the chasm was bridged through conversation. How do we open the conversation about how God’s will is being done through us now? Paul longed for the day when he could see his friends in Rome again, but there was much standing in the way of that happening. What chasm, or landfill, separates you from the things you long to do? Ask God to bridge that chasm and set you free to do God’s will.

Sunday, January 16, 2011: Opportunities
Daily reading: Luke 16:19-31 once more
The story is intensified because, while the details could be reversed in life on earth, they are permanent in this scene of eternity. Abraham tells the rich man that what he is asking Lazarus to do for him now, in death, he could have done for Lazarus in life. This is ironic, and perhaps the point. The story ends with a cryptic note pointing to the crucifixion of Christ, and a dark and tragic comment about how we frequently miss the opportunities to serve that God sets before us. Where are the opportunities that you are missing? Ask God to open your eyes to the possibilities of service all around you.

Daily Walk Jan 3 – 9

Monday, January 3, 2011: Feast
Daily reading: Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:1-4
This text looks forward to the day when God’s promised restoration will be fulfilled. No longer will God’s people need to hide in walled cities for fear of war. Instead, God’s Kingship will be celebrated with a feast on God’s mountain. The poor, the needy, and the alien will be special guests. God will be a faithful refuge for his faithful people, and God will restore all that has been broken by sin. Just as in John’s revelation, death will be swallowed up and every tear will be wiped away. God’s people will be restored. This is one of many texts that portray the consummation of God’s work of reconciliation and recreation as a wedding feast. There will be abundance for all people, provided free from God’s gracious hand. Think of the most fabulous feast you’ve ever experienced. We simply can’t imagine the greatness of this feast that God has planned. In your life, look for ways that you can experience a “foretaste” of the feast to come. Pray for God to open your vision of the future to what God has in mind.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011: Manna
Daily reading: Exodus 16:31-36; Revelation 2:16-17
We cannot pray these simple words, “give us this day our daily bread” without being catapulted back into the story of the exodus. God’s people wander through the wilderness, crying out in hunger, “Why did God drag us out of Egypt just to starve us to death?” God responds by sending bread from heaven. Manna, a white flaky substance, covers the ground each morning. God commands the Israelites to gather enough manna to make enough bread for one day. Here the story gets interesting, because some of the Israelites gather more than they need for the day, perhaps to ensure they have enough for tomorrow. But what was left over rotted. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we’re not only asking that God would provide just what we need for this day, we’re also asking that we might learn to live one day at a time, trusting in God’s daily provision. Are trusting that God will provide just enough for each day? Ask God to help you trust in God’s provision for today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011: Foretaste
Daily reading: Leviticus 23:4-8; Matthew 26:26-29
The Bible often talks about God’s vision for the future as a great banquet in which there is abundance for everyone. Perhaps this isn’t so much a prayer for whatever we need to sustain us today. Perhaps it’s actually a request for a “foretaste of the feast to come,” a nibble, an appetizer to keep our faith alive and whet our appetite for the future. For Christians, the Lord’s Supper is one form of this “foretaste” of the coming feast. When we gather at the table we get just a glimpse of the coming reality of the Kingdom. We are God’s people who know the promise of God, that one day God’s Kingdom dream will be fully revealed. What things in your life give you a “foretaste” of the feast to come? In your prayers, ask God to remind you of this coming feast in the small and ordinary things of life.

Thursday, January 6, 2011: Prayer
Daily reading: Matthew 6:5-15
Jesus’ teaching about prayer falls in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount, his teaching about life in the Kingdom of God. Jesus focuses on our hearts more than the outer form of prayer. Prayer is not about performance, but relationship with God. The number of words matters less than our heart’s inclination. In your prayers, do you ever struggle to find the right words? Don’t worry. You don’t have to use the right words. Incline your heart toward God and trust that God listens to your prayers and, in time, will answer them.

Friday, January 7, 2011: Prayer 2
Daily reading: Psalm 39:12; Matthew 21:21-22
Jesus says two core things about prayer. First, it’s a matter between you and God. While Jesus isn’t forbidding public prayer, he is saying that God is the recipient of prayer, not other people. How often do you get hung up on your words when you pray? Some who pray in public try to impress others with their smooth words, and some refuse to pray publicly because they are afraid that they aren’t articulate enough. The question is, “articulate enough for whom?” The second thing Jesus says about prayer is that we don’t need to pray with an endless amounts of words. The “pagans” that Jesus refers to could be those who prayed magical incantations, repeating the same words over and over, in an attempt to get God’s attention. But we already have God’s attention. Our prayers need to be honest, heart-felt, and to the point. God wants our prayers, and we need to pray. Today, talk to God in an honest, heart-felt, to the point way.

Saturday, January 8, 2011: Persistence
Daily reading: Matthew 6:7-8; Acts 2:37-42
You might ask: “If God already knows what I want and need, why should I bother to pray at all?” It’s a logical question! One answer is that words affect relationship. For example, your wife knows you love her, but it’s important for her to hear it from you, and it’s important for you to say it. Prayer also opens our hearts to give God access. What’s unspoken is not as available to God because God won’t forcefully engage us in conversation. And prayer is more about allowing God to change us than about us changing God. This tension is a mystery, but it explains why Jesus is so persistent about teaching persistence in prayer. Do you pray with persistence? Ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking.

Sunday, January 9, 2011: Framework
Daily reading: Matthew 6:5-15 again; Luke 11:1-4
Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer to serve as a framework. Notice the core topics that the Lord’s Prayer addresses: It begins by reminding us who God is, and therefore who we are. It reminds us of what God’s primary agenda is, and what ours is to be. We are invited to pray about our needs and the needs of the world. It addresses the need for healthy relationships and reconciliation. We are encouraged to pray for protection. It ends with a doxology in later manuscripts. Allow this framework to shape your conversation with God.

Daily Walk Dec 27-Jan 2

Monday, December 27, 2010: Present to Give Us Hope
Daily reading: Isaiah 62:6-12
According to some scholars, the book of Isaiah is really a melding of three prophets. If that’s true, our text is from third Isaiah. Third Isaiah is written to the Israelites after their return from exile, facing broken walls, a destroyed temple, and chaos. The condition of the holy city leaves them hopeless. Chapter 62 is meant to address these feelings. Third Isaiah paints a picture of Zion’s future glory, the glory of a city reborn. The people are to pray for the city day and night until God restores it and it becomes the talk of the town; indeed the whole earth (6-7). God promises that the inhabitants of the city will not be plundered again by a foreign nation who will devour their grain and wine. Instead, the people of God will enjoy the produce of the land and the fruit of their labor. Where in your life are the walls broken down? Ask God for the gift of hope for a new day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010: Present to Point to Jesus
Daily reading: Isaiah 62:6-12 again
Salvation and restoration are indeed coming to the people of Israel who once walked in darkness; they will be compensated for their suffering (11). Once they had felt unclean and abandoned in exile, and perhaps in the currently destroyed city, but their new names point to the reality that they cannot yet see, that they are not forsaken, but sought after in love. Sorrow will give way to salvation. Read through the lens of Christmas, third Isaiah points to a reality far greater than Jerusalem. Through the gift of God’s grace in the Christ child, we are now a people who are sought out, redeemed, saved and deeply loved, even though we don’t always see it or feel like it in this broken world. Where do you need God to be more present in your life? Ask for God’s presence to point you to Jesus.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010: Present to Shepherds
Daily reading: Luke 2:8-20
Anyone but shepherds! If you had a daughter, you’d rather she marry a tax collector than a shepherd. They worked on the Sabbath, let their sheep graze on land that didn’t belong to them, and smelled like sheep. They were so low on the social scale that they were not allowed in the city, not allowed to testify in court, or even to enter the Jerusalem temple. They couldn’t be any lower on the social scale. Yet these were the very people to whom God chose to reveal the birth of his Son into the world. God often uses surprising people in surprising ways. Sometimes, when we encounter a new person, we judge them by their looks or the way they dress. It would be easy to judge a shepherd this way, but the angels know what they are doing. Who is a surprising person in your life that God is using in a surprising way? Ask God to lead you to surprising people today.

Thursday, December 30, 2010: Present for Everyone
Daily reading: Luke 2:8-20
The Savior has come for the humble of this world, those who know they haven’t got a prayer. While Matthew traces Jesus’ genealogy to Abraham, the father of the Jews, Luke traces it to Adam, the father of all humanity (chapter 3). The Messiah is not just for the Jews; he has come for ALL people, and he has cosmic implications. It isn’t the righteous and religious who “get it.” It is those on the outside who respond with faith: a peasant girl, shepherds, Roman centurions, lepers. Jesus is found by and found in “the least of these.” Remember that Jesus is descended from David, who was also a shepherd. Jesus will shepherd his people. Are there people you think are outside of God’s plans? Ask God to lead you to “the least of these” today.

Friday, December 31, 2010: Present in the Face of Evil
Daily reading: Matthew 2:13-23
Another angel appears to Joseph, allowing the baby Jesus to escape Herod’s wicked intentions. We see the violent reality of the world that Jesus was born into: the slaughter of male children two years and under. Evil is one reality of every time and generation, and Jesus has come among us to be God’s presence with us, even in the midst of a cruel and messy world. This escape to Egypt echoes stories in the Old Testament and foreshadows Jesus’ fate. A peasant girl and her husband, with a new child, far from home, might not have the funds to make the journey that the angel encourages. Some scholars believe that the gifts of the Magi were the way God provided for their escape. In your life, do you see where the presence of God confronts evil? Ask God to actively confront evil in our world.

Saturday, January 1, 2010: Present in Silence
Daily reading: Isaiah 62
The relationship between God and the people of Israel resembles that of a parent and a child. The parent calls the child to a certain way of life marked by good health and sound living. But from time to time the child disobeys, tries to “do it on their own,” discovers that won’t work, and returns to the heart of the parent. The parents don’t always jump in and rescue the child; nor should they. The child must learn on his or her own. We could call this a silence; not a “silent treatment,” but certainly a learning kind of silence. This parent/child relationship is played out in Isaiah. Leading up to chapter 63, God is in silent mode. The people of Israel misunderstand, thinking that God has not fulfilled God’s promises. But God remains faithful, and does fulfill promises. Do you ever feel like God is in silent mode? Ask God to help you learn from these times of silence.

Sunday, January 2, 2011: Present in Steadfast Love
Daily reading: Isaiah 63:7-9
In our times of trouble and despair, when we are overwhelmed by life, God is not silent. We can give thanks, honor and praise to God, who shows steadfast love. The word “hesed,” or “steadfast love,” is an important word in Hebrew Scriptures. Of the 250 times it appears, eight are in Isaiah. God’s love for us is steadfast, cannot be moved, shaken, loosened or undone. It’s like a knot: it grows stronger and tighter when you pull away from it. At Christmas we celebrate the presence of God’s steadfast love in our lives. Do you sense God’s steadfast love in your life? Ask God to guide your life in 2011.

Daily Walk Dec 20-26

Monday, December 20, 2010: Incarnation?
Daily reading: Isaiah 7:10-16; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Incarnation is defined as “taking on flesh” or “becoming human.” What a radical idea it is that God is coming among us in the One envisioned by Isaiah: “the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” The Kingdom of heaven comes to earth in the One named Immanuel; “God with us.” Because Christ comes to be among us, everything is turned upside down.The low and despised becomes that which is exalted. In your life, what difference does it make that God came among us in human flesh? Ask God to help you believe that God has entered our world to initiate a new creation even in the midst of our messy lives.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010: A Sign?
Daily reading: Isaiah 7:10-16 again; Luke 2:12-13
Through Isaiah, God gives Ahaz a sign, or a promise. In the original context, the promise is that a young woman will bear a child. This child will perpetuate David’s line (verse 14 most likely refers to Ahaz’s wife), continuing God’s promised line of leadership. The child’s name will be Immanuel, signaling that God will be with his people in a new way. Unlike so many of the kings before him, this child-king will develop a strong moral sense by the time he’s ready for solid food, implying that he will rule with righteousness. In Luke, we find the fulfillment of this sign of God. Can you more fully believe that God has entered into our world to forgive our sins and set us free from sin and death? If so, how would we live differently?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010: Who?
Daily reading: Matthew 1:18-25; Isaiah 61:1-3
In his narrative about Jesus’ birth, Matthew focuses on this question: “who is this child?” With this text’s connection to the genealogy before it, this child is placed within the context of David’s line and God’s promise of a great King to come. That Matthew intentionally uses the phrase “the genesis of Jesus” (verse 1) points to the reality that Jesus is part of God’s creation history. His birth has cosmic significance. In him a new creation has begun. Matthew answers this question by telling us the child’s name: Jesus, or “God saves.” The angel tells Joseph that this name points to the reality that this child will be God’s instrument to save “his people” from their sins. As the story unfolds, we’ll discover that this child is the promised, anointed One. Who is Jesus to you? Ask God to increase your understanding and experience of the anointed One, Jesus.

Thursday, December 23, 2010: Nature?
Daily reading: Matthew 1:18-25 again; Luke 1:27
Matthew also asks, “what is Jesus’ nature?” To answer, he points to the “virgin conception.” While belief in the virgin conception is a test of orthodoxy in many Christian circles today, it doesn’t seem to have been significant in the New Testament community. Only Matthew and Luke mention it. Apparently it became significant by the end of the second century, when the Apostle’s Creed was written. It explains how Jesus can be both fully God and fully man. We confess this idea every time we say the Apostles’ Creed. Incarnation; God in human flesh, in the One named Jesus. Can you grasp the incredible reality that God would come among us? Ask God to reveal more clearly to you the enormity of this reality every day.

Friday, December 24, 2010: Waiting?
Daily reading: Luke 2:1-20; Psalm 130:5
Advent is a season of waiting. Today the wait is over, at least partially. We believe that God came to be with us on this night more than 2,000 years ago! While Christmas announces God’s presence with us and the depth of God’s love for us, our rescue is not yet complete. We await that day when Jesus returns, when God’s work of reconciliation, redemption and recreation is completed – not by our efforts alone, but by God’s grace working in and through us. We live by faith in this tension and mystery, that the King of kings is here with us now, and will one day return to finish what he started. The King is here, and the King is coming. That’s a mystery. But God’s relentless love for you is not. What are you celebrating today? Ask God to fill you to overflowing with the good news of Christmas.

Saturday, December 25, 2010: Worship?
Daily reading: Matthew 2:1-8; Psalm 25:5
It’s Christmas Day, and we worship the one who came to us at Christmas. Even 2,000 years ago, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem and asked where this child was born so they could worship him. Centuries later, we are still asking the same kinds of questions. Who is he? Where is he? How can we worship him? Even Herod asked the same questions, although his motives were completely wrong. On this Christmas Day, stop and pause for just five minutes to consider how incredible God’s plan was, and is. Thank God for Jesus, and how his coming to us can change the way we live.

Sunday, December26, 2010: Rescue?
Daily reading: Daniel 6:27; 2 Timothy 4:18
On August 5, a copper and gold mine collapsed, trapping 33 miners 2,050 feet below the earth’s surface. For the first 17 days they had no contact with the surface, surviving on two spoonfuls of tuna, half a cookie and half a glass of milk every 48 hours. On day 17, a bore hole from the top finally reached them, bringing hope and joy to the miners below and their families above. On October 13, the world was riveted to televisions screens as the last miner was brought to the surface. And the whole world rejoiced. In a very real sense, the miners’ story is our story. Entombed by sin and death in this very dark and broken world, we wonder if there is hope for us. We may wonder if God really loves us, or if God has washed his cosmic hands of us and leave us to ourselves. That is the question that Christmas answers. Christmas announces a rescue operation. God loves you and me and all of this creation so deeply, so desperately, that God chose to drill down from heaven to reach us, to bring light and life to the darkness and deadness of this world. God is relentlessly pursuing us with unconditional, incomprehensible love.