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Everyone Is a Storyteller

Today’s Reflection

EVERYONE IS A STORYTELLER. I didn’t say that everyone could be a storyteller; everyone already is a storyteller whether he or she realizes and acknowledges it or not. …

Human beings live in story like fish live in water. We literally experience our lives as narrative—not as a series of random events but as a sequence of connected occasions and experiences stitched together in narrative form. … We learn to understand the world, other people, and God through a narrative lens.

We also live surrounded by God like the very air we breathe, often invisible to us but absolutely necessary for life. … For this reason, when we speak of our experiences of God, we most often tell stories. Telling stories is not only a way of framing our understanding of the world and the people around us but also the means by which we speak of our divine encounters.

– Michael E. Williams
Spoken into Being

From pages 13-14 of Spoken into Being: Divine Encounters Through Story by Michael E. Williams. Copyright © 2017 by Michael E. Williams. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Share a story of a divine encounter with a friend. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Romans 6:10, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Thomas More (June 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Faith Before Feelings

Today’s Reflection

EVEN WHEN WE find ourselves in a place of complete loss, we can still believe there is a bigger picture. We can let go of our fears and hold on to God’s power to do more than we see possible.

In my first appointment as a pastor, I was sent to two small, rural churches in the mountains of western North Carolina. I was twenty-five years old and single, and most of my congregants were of retirement age. It was one of the loneliest times of my life. There was no office. No staff. I worked out of my study at home. I bought a dog to keep me company and to give me a reason to get out of bed at a decent hour every morning. I remembered wondering whether I really wanted to be a pastor. …

One day I went to see Dr. George Thompson, a pastor who served the largest church in the area. … I poured out my struggles, the self-doubt about my call to ministry, and how I was wondering whether I had made the wrong decision.

He explained that he viewed his own call to ministry much like he viewed his feelings about marriage. “Some days,” he told me, “I wake up and don’t feel like being married that day, but my marriage is based on a commitment that’s greater than my feelings day to day. My ministry is much like that. I have many days, and sometimes longer periods of my life, when I don’t feel like being a minister, but I continue on, because my call is based on God’s covenant. It’s bigger than feelings.”

Moravian missionary Peter Böhler once said to John Wesley, “Preach faith till you have it; and then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”

Being able to place ourselves in God’s hands even as we doubt God requires putting faith before feelings.

– Rob Fuquay
Take the Flag

From pages 96-97 of Take the Flag: Following God’s Signals in the Race of Your Life by Rob Fuquay. Copyright © 2016 by Rob Fuquay. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What do you do when you lack faith? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life.
Romans 6:4, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Thomas More (June 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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The Nature of Salvation

Today’s Reflection

IN A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE, both people eventually understand that being married takes work, and then they commit to growing together in love for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, Christians also seem to make the mistake of confusing the beginning of something with its end. There is an abbreviated form of Christianity that has become popular in recent years. It can be expressed in a simple statement: “I got saved.” When I hear someone say this, I cringe.

The main reason this statement is inadequate is that it suggests that all that really matters in people’s spiritual lives is one significant experience. They need to “get saved.” Nothing they do before or after that moment is very important.

When the church adopts this approach to Christianity, there is a lot of effort put into simply asking people if they have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If the answer is “yes,” then we can check that person off our list. If they say “no,” then all of our effort is focused on trying to get those persons to come to a place where they will pray one prayer, often called the sinner’s prayer.

– Kevin M. Watson
A Blueprint for Discipleship

From pages 27-28 of A Blueprint for Discipleship: Wesley’s General Rules as a Guide for Christian Living by Kevin M. Watson. Copyright © 2009 by Discipleship Resources. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Discipleship Resources. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What does salvation mean to you? How do you describe it? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Show me a sign of your favor, so that those who hate me may see it and be put to shame, because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 86:17, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Thomas More (June 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Choosing to Be Bold

Today’s Reflection

SOMETIMES I DOUBT my sacred worth.
Would fate just have me lose?
Although I feel the weight of doubt,
still I can choose
to be bold.

Sometimes I discount my own strength.
Do I have what it takes?
Yet even when I’m not convinced,
a choice I still can make
to be bold.

Speech could falter, knees might shake,
and courage all rebel.
But stumbling over genuine words
does not mean I have failed
to be bold.

I might feel gripped and choked by fear,
afraid to lift my voice.
But timidity does not have power
to rob me of my choice
to be bold.

– Misty Butler, Bowling Green, Kentucky
devozine

From page 55 of devozine: the devotional lifestyle magazine for teens, March/April 2017. Copyright © 2017 by The Upper Room. All rights reserved. Used by permission. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

When have has God called you to be bold? How did that feel? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Psalm 86:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Thomas More (June 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Praying for Others

Today’s Reflection

WE ARE NOT MEANT to travel through life alone. We are meant to encourage one another, to pray for one another, and to love one another. When we hear of someone facing a particular struggle, we often respond by saying, “You’ll be in my prayers.” But how often do we remember to hold this person in our prayers? We so easily say those well-meaning words only to let the action fall through the cracks and disappear into the busyness of life.

I have found the process of coloring the intercessory prayer mandala to be an especially helpful way to hold myself accountable to praying intentionally for others. Contemplative coloring provides much needed focus for my frequently scattered heart and mind. The intercessory prayer mandala includes small interior circles in which I can write the names of those for whom I’m praying. As I color, I hold each person in my heart and mind. In this way, I offer my undivided, prayerful attention as a gift to those I hold in prayer.

– Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Praying with Mandalas

From pages 48-49 of Praying with Mandalas: A Colorful, Contemplative Practice by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. Copyright © 2016 by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What helps you focus when you pray for others? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow.
Genesis 21:20, NRSV

This Week: pray for compassion. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Thomas More (June 22).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Prayer for the World

Today’s Reflection

O GOD, Creator and Redeemer,
I bring before you this world you so lovingly made.
Forgive us for the ways we have turned our backs
on you and on one another.
Have mercy on us, O Lord. Have mercy on us.

– Mary Lou Redding
Prayers for Life’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments

From “Prayer for a Hurting World,” page 42 in Prayers for Life’s Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments, compiled and edited by Mary Lou Redding. Copyright © 2012 by Upper Room Books. All rights reserved. Used by permission.Sharon Seyfarth Garner http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Matthew 10:23, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone who is experiencing a new beginning. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Boniface (June 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Thirst for God

Today’s Reflection

IN THE SCRIPTURES faithful folk find no limits on what they can say to God. They understand that the living God has granted them freedom to express their distress, and they exercise this freedom to the fullest. If we listen thoughtfully to the biblical words, we begin to hear this all-encompassing freedom:

My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?” –Psalm 42:2-3

This freedom allows the faithful to express deep longing. It permits them to cry out against isolation and even to accuse God:
“O Lord, God of my salvation,
when, at night, I cry out in your presence,
let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry.

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;
I am like those who have no help,
like those forsaken among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more. —Psalm 88:1-5

Exercising this freedom, a psalmist may pour forth impatience:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?”—Psalm 13:1

– Steve Doughty
To Walk in Integrity

From pages 87-88 of To Walk in Integrity: Spiritual Leadership in Times of Crisis by Steve Doughty. Copyright © 2004 by Steve Doughty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Find a Psalm that expresses your longing for God. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
Matthew 10:7, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone who is experiencing a new beginning. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Boniface (June 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Share the Gifts I Have Received

Today’s Reflection

LORD JESUS,
may I trust the faithfulness of your Father
who feathers and feeds the birds.
In the people I meet,
the places I go,
the food that I eat,
help me to see and hear,
taste and touch
the abundance of your grace
within the landscape of your love.
Set me free from anxiety
and the burden of excess
so that I may share with others
the gifts I have received.

– Sam Hamilton-Poore
Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation

From pages 105-106 of Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God’s Creation by Sam Hamilton-Poore. Copyright © 2008 by Sam Hamilton-Poore. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Pray today’s prayer. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone who is experiencing a new beginning. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Boniface (June 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Support in Our Grief

Today’s Reflection

GRIEF IS such a messy thing. It fills us with many ideas and images, memories and fantasies, celebration and bitter regret all at once – all superimposed upon one another. No wonder it wears us out. …

However isolated we may feel in other areas of our lives, in our grief we are not isolated at all; we have with us not only the presence of God but the whole human race solidly with us, supporting us even when we do not allow ourselves to feel it.

– Roberta C. Bondi
Wild Things

From pages 19-20 of Wild Things: Poems of Grief and Love, Loss and Gratitude by Roberta C. Bondi. Copyright © 2014 by Roberta C. Bondi. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Where do you find comfort when you are grieving? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
Romans 5:1-2, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone who is experiencing a new beginning. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Boniface (June 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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Music to Move the Soul

Today’s Reflection

WHAT MUSIC brings a lump to your throat or tears to your eyes? What melodies make you jump with joy? What cadences spark the natural rhythms of your body?

Anything that reminds you of the wonder of your own created self can trigger a prayer. Whether you are reacting in sadness or joy, the feelings testify to the humanness you share with all people. Music can calm, excite, enliven, and, yes, carry your prayers. So select the music that moves you. Hearing it with loving attention sings a song to your soul.

– Linda Douty
Praying in the Messiness of Life

From pages 55-56 of Praying in the Messiness of Life: 7 Ways to Renew Your Relationship with God by Linda Douty. Copyright © 2011 by Linda Douty. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

What music sings to your soul?Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Psalm 116:1, NRSV

This Week: pray for someone who is experiencing a new beginning. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Boniface (June 13).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA

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