Monthly Archives: December 2013

Do We See What God is Doing Now? Express YOUR awe anew! Thoughts approaching the New Year,


Devotional THought to End the Year:

1  Praise the LORD! Sing a new song to the LORD; praise him in the assembly of his faithful people! 2  Be glad, Israel, because of your Creator; rejoice, people of Zion, because of your king! 3  Praise his name with dancing; play drums and harps in praise of him. 4  The LORD takes pleasure in his people; he honors the humble with victory. 5  Let God’s people rejoice in their triumph and sing joyfully all night long.  Psalm 149:1-5 (TEV)

950  We should indeed respect things that are old, and be grateful for them. Learn from them by all means, and bear in mind those past experiences, too. But let us not exaggerate; everything has its own time and place. Do we now dress in doublet and hose or wear powdered wigs on our heads?  (1)

As a minister, as a servant of Christ and His church, I have had the chance to stand in awe, as I’ve observed God work. Last year, as I was in China, and saw people hungry for the gospel, as I saw pastors and church leaders hungry for training.  As I visited missionaries and saw in them a hunger to be minister to, a hunger so met, that a simple worship service was fileld with tears, with incredible joy, with incredible love.  I’ve seen it here at my church, as those who needed God’s comfort and peace in times that trusting in God and knowing HIs presence shuold have been challenged, were comforted and able to pray with a quiet confidence.  As people approach the altar, leaving burdens dropped, and receiving in exchange, the Body and Blood of Jesus, and treasuring that joyous moment.

He is amazing, this God of ours, and we should stand in awe of His presence.  A presence we should melt in, not from fear, but in awe of His love that I can only use terms like passionate, and intimate, not because of it being erotic, but because of its power and completeness.

A love that is the stuff of song, a love that creates in the musician, the artist, the poet, the wood and metal worker, the blogger, a new work as we find ways to express that awe.

Others have done this in the past, as they have used their heart and minds and hands to create masterpieces in every form, visible, audidble, tactile, They give us examples of what can be done, they can help keep us focused on Jesus.

Without such awe, Luther would have never realized what a place of rest God’s presence is, and written of Him as our Mighty Fortress.  Augustine wouldn’t have penned tomes, exploring the fullness of theology.  St Francis and Mother Theresa wouldn’t have found His beauty among lepers, Pascal wouldn’t have written of the fire that burns.  And people like Michael Card, John Michael Talbot, Matt West and Mark Hall and Chris Gillette wouldn’t be writing music now.  To express the joy that is found in knowing God’s presence here, in that awe inspiring us to worship Him.

You see, God didn’t stop inspiting people after the sixteenth century, He didn’t stop working in people’s lives after the death of the apostles, Or after the publication of any hymnal. When we cling to these things, and demand that they are the only way to properly worship God, it can be admission that we don’t see Him working today, that nothing He is doing leaves us in awe, and we create an idol out of past. We stand in awe, not of God, but of their experience, their awe.  We end up like the sons of Sceva, trying to rid people of what oppresses them by incanting God because of someone else’s relationship.

Do you see what God is doing now?  In your life?  In the life of your family, the church, and in your community, which He longs to bring into Christ, through your love demonstrating His?

God;s presence recognized now means that people will need to express their awe, people will need to use their words, their instruments, their talents within their culture, within their time, to do so.  Learning from those who’ve gone before, listening to ensure they do not stray, yes.  But the people of God need to praise God for what He is doing in their lives, Lives that are claimed at the cross, year lives we lived in 2013, and soon in 2014.  The Lord is with us!  Rejoice! Be in absolute awe!  With all you are, respond in joyous praise!

Words and music as published in The Chorale Bo...

 

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3851-3854). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

I was glad when they said, “let’s go to the house of the Lord?” Really?


Devotional THought of the Day:

 1  It made me glad to hear them say, “Let’s go to the house of the LORD!”   Psalm 122:1 (CEV)

 4  The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his TemplePsalm 27:4 (NLT)

Have you ever woken up in the morning, and felt ashamed because you didn’t bounce out of bed, eat reakfast and race to the car, wanting to get to church a little early, to help or just to pray?  

Or when people are so joyously ravind about their worship “experience”, have you wondered if they somehow were in a different dimension and were part of a different service?

Do you worry that you are becoming like that church in Revelation that was described as having lost their “first love”?

Good, that means I am not alone!

It may not happen as much anymore, but there are seasons in my life, even as a pastor, when church became a chore.  Where my sense of worship became more mechanical, where I just did my job.  And no, I wasn’t glad when the alarm went off, when I wasn’t overjoyed at being in church, and my mind ran off to a thousand other things.  Where scriptures like the first one above, just seemed to cause more guilt, than encouragement. Where I figure, well if I can’t get anything out of it. at least I can serve God.

Which leads me to ask, what are expecting? Hopefully some good music (here excellent music) a decent sermon, some needed hugs and smiles.We expect to hear that our sins are forgiven, that all is right in God’s view of the world.

These things are all awesome things, but they aren’t the reason we are glad to go up to the house of the Lord.

Pslam 27 gives us the reason, to gaze upon Him, to fidn the greatest joy in His presence, to be able to just, know His love, and revel in it. What we need to remember about such gatherings that God draws us to be part of, the communities He brings us into, is that He is there.  The reason I am glad to go to church, is when I think through all the ways He makes His presence clear to us, when are gathered by Him in His name.  When we can breath and slow down, and His comfort and ehaling find us, where we feast with Him.  When I can realize the motions I so often find myself going through, as not just motions, but God ordained dance steps with Him as our partner. Where we hear his guidance, where we look upon His love, the body and blood given and shed for us, when we remember His promises poured out on us in Baptism. Church isn’t about the actions, but the Lord’s presence those actions reveal.

Think about Moses, walking onto Holy Ground, about Isaiah before the throne of God, about Solomon as they dedicate the temple – and God’s presence fills it,  about Thomas in the upper room gathering, seeing the hands and side… pierced for Him.  Know His love, revel in the relationship that is manifest there.

the reason I was glad to go to the house of the Lord?  Because He is there… calling me to come be part of His family… to come home, to be home, with Him.

 

 

He Has Sent, and Sent Again, and therefore, We Call Out to Him!


He Has Sent, and Sent Again,

and therefore, We Call Out!

Galatians 4:4-7

† IHS †

May you truly know the grace and mercy of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, which has seen you through this year, and will accompany you in the next!

 The Trinity at Work…as the Father sends.

One of the things I find fascinating is the heritage of the church in Ireland.  Perhaps we know about St Patrick and his three leaf clover, or the a Celtic cross and the knots on it like I am wearing today, the kind of cross the one hanging over the altar is modelled after. There are others. Bede, the author of “Be Thou My Vision”, and one of the great historians of the early church, and Adain and Finian.  The early Irish Christians were known for their artwork, especially their Biblical manuscripts and stone and metalwork.  If you do a little research, they were also know for their missionary zeal, for bringing word of God’s love to mankind.

One of the reasons we did our Advent series on a Celtic look at advent, is that of the theologians I’ve read, the early Christians in Ireland and Scotland were amazed at the interaction of the Trinity in Scripture.  The mystery of how Three are One, and One are Three, and the paradox of what that means for us.

It’s been said that every denomination plays favorites among the Trinity.  Some focus on the authority of God the Father.  Others, especially us in the Lutheran sphere, focus a lot on the work of Christ, how He came to make us right before God, how when we are joined to His death and Resurrection, we are cleansed of our sin.  Others have focused primarily on the Holy Spirit, with an emphasis on personal holiness and using the gifts the Spirit gives us, as we are made alive through the Spirit’s power.

Yet God is three, and yet one, Three who love us and work in our lives.  We see it in today’s reading, as we hear Paul tells us that the Father has sent Jesus, and sent the Holy Spirit, and that is why we can truly call on Him, our heavenly Dad.

He sent Christ to deal with our sins

We’ll get to the Father at the end of the sermon, so we start looking at what St. Paul tells us about the Father sending Jesus to us.  Quite appropriate as it is the fifth day of Christmas, don’t you think?
Paul says in verse 4, “when the right time finally came, God sent his own son,” He sent Jesus.  The word there for sent is “apostled”, to send someone was an emissary, an ambassador with the authority and power to establish a relationship.

What it would take, in this case, was simple.  He had to buy our freedom from the things in our life that captivate us, that seem to control us, that oppress us and stop us from loving God, and stop us from loving each other and those that so dearly need it.

That is the what is so devastating about sin, the actions and thoughts and life that we count on, that society tells us brings us joy and fulfillment; they don’t bring us joy, they enslave us. We spend so much time chasing them, and when we “get” them, trying to defend them, or defend why they are the center of our life. This sin, for all sins are part, ends up owning us, owning our time, our lives, our souls.

Which is why Jesus came to purchase, why he came to take us off the market.  To not only purchase us, but also to free us and to make known that we are adopted by the God the father. To enter into not just a business relationship, but also one of family, of not just respect, but love.

He sent the Spirit to confirm our adoption.

It is incredible to think of this freedom that has been purchased for us, these chains that have been broken. It is so incredible, that I think we often lose sight of the freedom, and the incredible relationship that we have with God.   Which is why the Father sent the Son, and then they sent the Holy Spirit to us, to confirm in us that which Jesus had already accomplished.

If we need it confirmed, and I most definitely believe we do, for so many things would try to steal the peace and comfort of knowing God’s love, the Holy Spirit is here, in our hearts.  The proof, the guarantee of God’s love for us, that He will never leave or forsake us.
Knowing that presence, knowing our place in His heart, and His place in our hearts, we are prompted to call out to God, as a child calls out to his father.  Sometimes this is in time of need, in desperation.  Sometimes it is in excitement, as we realize His glory, as we are excited in His presence.

Luther wrote:

63 In addition, you must also know how to use the name of God aright. With the words, “You shall not take the name of God in vain,” God at the same time gives us to understand that we are to use his name properly, for it has been revealed and given to us precisely for our use and benefit.

Since we are forbidden here to use the holy name in support of falsehood or wickedness, it follows, conversely that we are commanded to use it in the service of truth and all that is good—for example, when we swear properly where it is necessary and required. So, also, when we teach properly; again, when we call on his name in time of need, or praise and thank him in time of prosperity, etc. All this is summarized in the command in Ps. 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” All this is what we mean by calling upon his name in service of truth and using it devoutly. Thus his name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.[1]

Here is why the Spirit comes and dwells with us, why He comes into our hearts, so we have such a relationship with God, that we can run to him, when hurt, so that He can comfort and bring us peace, or when we are excited, and want Him to share in our joy.

This is our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a God who comes to us, a God who brings us into His presence, who share with us His glory, who gives to us in ways that are so incredible, that we struggle to believe that He didn’t make a mistake.  The entire Trinity, their work focused on communicating to you and I a love that is beyond anything we can imagine.

A love for us…

So what do you need to cry out to Him for? 

So maybe this morning, we’ve found ourselves in need of crying out for His help, crying out with our last hope.  This is your God, who sent Jesus to make it so, and the Holy Spirit to convince you that it is the fullness of time for those cries.

Maybe this morning you are just overwhelmed with His grace, and you need to cry out to Him with excitement, with praises that go on.

Both cries are appropriate, and we can, as His family join in those prayers, and in those praises.

Then, may we all realize, that because we are His children, because the Trinity has heard our prayers and praises, that we can dwell in their peace, in their love.  For God is here, He has freed us from all that would hold us captive, and has made us His children.

It is the fullness of time for us as well…. To know the Lord is with us.  AMEN?


[1] Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 373). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

To what extend do we sacrfice for others? And for what purpose?


English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional Thought of the Day:

 16  This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others! 1 John 3:16 (TEV)

“there comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t even jump a puddle for you…”

“But then I realize there is never going to be a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’ I’m confident that God will take care of me.” -David Platt

The above two quotes in black were on my facebook news feed this morning, one above the other. They contrast they set was incredible, as they look at relationships from different perspectives.

The first, while it is willing to make sacrifices, demands a “give and take” to a relationship.  That if I am to pour my love, my sacrifice, my all into a relationship, then I should be able to expect something in return. If there isn’t some return, then the relationship should be tossed aside and no more put into it.   It may not be demanding much, but it still demands, it still expects and it still will be disappointed, for such investments rarely pay off quickly, and sometime, never directly to the person who invested their all.

The second take a different tack, reminding us that the meaning of life isn’t found in our personal gain, our being valued.  It puts faith in the result of our investing our lives in the hands of God, not the hearts of others. It assumes that we might wonder whether this is all “worth it”.  It makes clear that suffering or denying ourselves so that others will benefit is the norm of life, for the norm of life is Christ.

This means using God given wisdom of course, knowing how to sacrifice that people will benefit, but it doesn’t mean that part of that calculation is our own pleasure, our own “fulfilment”. It assumes that fulfillment is found with Christ, on the cross, giving Himself for us, as John’s passage tells us, even as it encourages us to give our lives for others.  This sacrifice is for the same reason as Jesus’s – that they may know the love of God.

Don’t hesitate to live your life in ways investing God’s love into others.  Be there for them, encourage them, love them.  As Paul also wrote:

 1  Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another. 2  I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind. 3  Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. 4  And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own. 5  The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had: Philippians 2:1-5 (TEV)

Lord have mercy on us, and help us to love those you have brought into our lives. AMEN!

 

Need A New Years Resolution? Here’s An Miraculous and Missional One!


Devotional Thought of the Day!

5  Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. 6  Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. Colossians 4:5-6 (MSG) 

918 You should always avoid complaining, criticising, gossiping… You must avoid absolutely anything that could bring discord among brothers. (1)

Within the next week, you will hear people talking about their New Year’s resolutions, the changes they know they need to make, and at least will verbally commit to attempting… and least for 3-4 weeks.

The above verse from Colossians, and the corralary from a devotional work from St Josemaria Escriva, I would ask you to consider, if you are making such resolutions.  If not, I would simply point out that the red letters above are scripture, and they are how God has planned us to live. ( in other words. resolve to make this a change anyway!).  I pray that the resolution is not just something in passing, but starts a movement.

We live in a society, where this is so counter-cultural, that we take to twitter, fb and every other means possible to complain, to criticize, (which is a nice way of saying condemn), to divide us from others. We fight for rights, we demand respect, we forget that the person we are upset with may have had a long tiring day, or that they are in grief, or that they are struggling with anxiety or fear.  We can’t know what they are going through, and that God may have sent us into their life to show them love, to impart to them a little joy and peace. To give them a moment to catch their breath and know that God will make everything alright.

Think of what that would mean to us, if someone did that for us when we are stressed, when we are dealing with loss, or fearing it. When we are feeling alone, and the one that feels like an “outsider”. We’ve all been there, we’ve all known the hurt, the pain, the anxiety, even to the point of compromising ourselves to avoid it. So how would we feel if someone reached out to us, in that very moment we were at our weakest?

This is what Christmas is all about, and in a sense the idea of New Years.  That God would reach into our lives, and put a stop to our being outsiders.  He makes us family, He creates in us a sense of belonging, by reaching out, comforting, drying the tears, forgiving us from sin, helping us to realize the height and width, depth and breafth of His love.  Then, He commissions us to go and bring word of that love to others that are outsiders as we were, People that are just asa broken, but hide it.  People that are just as in pain as we were, and strike out at everyone, people whose sins require the healing that only God can bring to them, but brings it through us.

They need Him.

You want a resolution that will chagne more than the numbers on your scale?  That will change life for others?  Here it is…scripturally sound, missional, loving, and can only be done,even miraculous, For it can only be done by living in Christ.

Lord have mercy on us, and flavor our speech with your grace, mercy and peace!  AMEN

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3732-3734). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Christmas Day Sermon – He IS RISEN


 He is Risen Indeed!

John 1:1-14

 

May we know the joy that is our because of Christ’s Birth, Death, Resurrection and Ascension as we look forward to His coming again

 

† IHS †

 

Pastor Parker Parable;  Christmas is like Opening the batteries first.

It’s time for another Pastor Parker Parable!

Christmas is like opening the batteries first on Christmas Eve.

Obviously, I need to explain.  Back when I was a child, it seemed to happen every year,  Not sure whether by design or simply a coincidence, I would always get the package with the batteries in it among my first packages – right up there with the life-saver books and the socks.

You knew something special was coming, but what it is…. You had no clue.

As I think about it – it must have been by design, for whatever the batteries went to, was the last present you opened that year.  One year that I remember, it was cassette recorder, another year, walkie-talkies, one year, it was a battery operated trainset.

But you had to wait, but the batteries were as sign of something even more awesome to come.

Christmas is like that…

It’s a glorious sign that there is more to come…

We look at we know something more is coming…

I always have a slight chuckle when I hear that Christmas is someone’s favorite holiday.  Usually because I know that when I ask why, the answers might not have anything to do with Jesus, or at best they will be what I call the “fringe benefits” of Christmas.  The gift giving, the family – all at peace for once, the decorations and bright lights.  The music, the movies,  the traditions.

Comparing that to my favorite Christian holiday seems bleak, because I like to celebrate Good Friday!  It is my favorite, it is special because even as we do it, I am reminded that my sin was nailed to that rough old cross. That my brokenness is overwhelmed by God’s desire to fix what is broken, whether it is the relationship with one of my brother or my cousins, (usually because of their breaking my Christmas presents!)

It does seem a bit odd to like the holiday where Christ was crucified more than the one celebrating His birth, until we look at Christmas happening so Christ could be crucified, and then those words we love to hear – Alleluia!  He has risen!

But what the present is, the glory that we are invited to share with Christ, that is the present, the reason for His coming, the point at which we find out how deep His love, and the Father’s love is for us.

Christmas – it’s what causes us to look forward to Good Friday and Easter, the greatest presents of all, as we find ourselves united to Christ, and sharing in His glory!  AMEN?

Christmas is like the batteries, but the present is seen at the cross, when His love for us is made manifest.


We beheld His glory… not at His birth, but at His death and Resurrection.

In our gospel this morning, we heard of it all, we hear of the creation, of Jesus prior to birth, but then we hear this, the reason that Christmas is Christmas,

10  He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13  They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. John 1:10-13 (NLT)

John will go on to say – and we beheld His glory….the glory of God’s only begotten son, the son who came to us, that we could be His sons and daughters, the glory of the one who not only died to make that so, but is risen.

So know this – this one we worship – who is pictured here in this manger, Alleluia, He is Risen… and Alleluia He is with us. AMEN!

Shadows Cast on the Manger


Shadows Cast on the Manger
Isaiah 9:2-7

 

IHS

May you know the awe of the shepherds as you realize your salvation is near!

\

On us a light has shined…

I am trying to imagine what it must have been like, during the dark hours when the angels appeared.  When Isaiah’s prophecy we heard tonight, a moment that would change the world, and change us.

Isaiah tells us the in our greatest darkness a light has shined, and for the shepherds, there at the stable, the glory was unbelievable, a moment that would never be forgotten.  The time was now, Christ was here.

As they rush to Bethlehem, as they look into the stable, were the shadows cast over the Baby there in the manger?  As the stars shone done upon the very glory of God, was there enough starlight to see the glory they had been told about?

As I stand here, as you will come up to this place, and stand before this altar, what shadows will be cast, and will they obscure the glory of God with us?  For each of us this night cast a shadow, but will we find ourselves free of them, as Christ is revealed? Till we realize the only shadow that would remain, and that now… it too has gone.

The shadows cast…until we kneel in adoration
The shadows I am talking about, symbolize those things in our lives that can turn these days into something less than a joyous party.  Maybe it is that we are missing someone.  Maybe it is the stress over relationships that are broken, anxieties over health, or finances, or just our own sin.  Or maybe, it’s that I am so busy trying to get all the ministry done, that I forget to be amazed at the love of God, that is revealed to us!

Shadows darken the room, they threaten cause us fear, they would cause us to not see the babe in the manger, or understand that this great light that has come, has come to be an end to the shadows, and end to the darkness.

The challenge is seeing past the shadows, seeing the brilliant glory of this child, this baby laying in a manger. It looks so peaceful and serene, the shadows so ominous, so threatening.

We need to see Jesus more clearly, we need to understand that He is here for us.

We need to understand this scene is about God coming into our world, into our darkness, invading it.  That this babe we sing about in Mary’s lap, and artist would eventually render like this.  (slide of crucified Jesus.)
I am not sure she ever held him like that, but the picture is clear… there is one shadow over him, that would not be taken away.  The shadow of the cross.

But that shadow is glorious – for it leads to the resurrection and reveals a glory of God that is only hinted about here.  The salvation promised by the angels, the salvation that God had planned for, even before Adam and Eve had to leave the garden, and creation fell.

The One shadow remains…

Often we see the pictures of the manger with Mary and Joseph, with an Angel above the roof juncture of the barn, of the shepherds, and the kings moving to bow before Christ, to worship Him, to adore Him.

They are falling to their knees, and the shadows they cast are no longer long, the shadows no longer cover His face.  They know the moment is special, just as when we kneel here, before His altar, before His Throne, but struggle with what it means that Jesus the Christ is here… with us…

Until we remember that the Babe in the manger is the Lord who gives us His body and blood, broken and shed for our sakes. Broken and shed because as we realize that love, His glory shines, not just from heaven, but into our lives, into our hearts.

For there, as we dwell in His presence, the shadows cease.. the cross becomes not a shadow, but a glorious message of love –  a love that overcomes the darkness….

For unto us a child is born…unto us He is given,

and unto a light – His glory is shining…

So come and kneel, not because of the porcelain baby, but because here, you will know the depth of His love, as your shadows are loosened and left behind, as you are fill with His mercy and peace, as we are reminded why Christmas is here.. to prove to us that the Lord is with you – and that He loves you!

God Showed His Love for Us!


God Showed His Love for Us!

1 John 4:7-11

 IHS

May our recognizing God’s love for us, the mercy and peace given in Christ’s presence be something that is revealed to others throughout the year!

Christmas every day?

Christmas is here, the presents, well, most of them, sit under a tree, wrapped and ready to be ripped open. Children on Christmas break, people coming and going, food cooking, sermons written, music singing and sung, peace on earth, God’s will evident for the moment, peace among families, at least for this moment, Love can even dominate the days, as we are encouraged to love each other, as we are challenged to prove our love and devotion to God.

One could almost ask, couldn’t it be Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, every day?

Don’t worry, I said one could almost ask, I didn’t say I would!

We get so caught up, we get so overwhelmed, even so exhausted by it all.  Our focus is so easily taken off of Jesus, and His coming to be our Lord.

For some, it might even seem that the question might be asked, do we have to celebrate Christmas any day…

But that’s not the questions for this night,

Here again John’s words to the church,

10  This is what love is: it is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven. 1 John 4:10 (TEV)

Which raises a few other questions about days we could celebrate every day….

What about Good Friday every day?

First, if we desire to celebrate Christmas every day, do we also desire to celebrate Good Friday every day?  For there God’s love is demonstrated even more clearly.  The apostle Paul wrote,

23  As for us, we proclaim the crucified Christ, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; 24  but for those whom God has saved, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God.    1 Corinthians 1:23-24 (TEV)

We should celebrate Good Friday everyday, as well as our baptism, which unites us to that death, His death, for our sins were nailed to that cross, never to be accounted to us again.

What about Easter?

But we can’t divide the cross and Christ’s death from His resurrection, for as Paul says again,

5  Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6  We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.  Romans 6:5-8 (NLT)

So yes, we should remember – and indeed celebrate both Good Friday and Easter for these days reveal God’s love to us, for they shatter everything that would keep us from God, He used these days to work such miracles in our lives.

What about the 2nd Coming?

Should I fail to mention that each day we should also celebrate ascension?  The day when Christ ascended to the Father’s right hand, there to intercede for us, Or Pentecost, the day when the Father and the Son gave us the Spirit, the very birthday present of the Church?  Or the 2nd coming, the day we long for, when we will see God in all His glory.

Each of these days, yes including Christmas, needs to be celebrated everyday, for these days remind us of God’s love for us, shown to us in Christ Jesus,

And knowing that love, shown on Christmas and Good Friday, Easter and the Ascension, Pentecost and the Day of His return; we are overwhelmed by mercy and peace, the peace that cannot be explained, but can be revealed to us, for we live in Christ!

AMEN!

Pastors, Priests and other ministers: Breath, Shift and Accept and Rejioce that it’s all about Jesus!


Devotional THought of the Day:

 6  A child is born to us! A son is given to us! And he will be our ruler. He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,” “Prince of Peace.” 7  His royal power will continue to grow; his kingdom will always be at peace. He will rule as King David’s successor, basing his power on right and justice, from now until the end of time. The LORD Almighty is determined to do all thisIsaiah 9:6-7 (TEV)

Breathe, Shift, Accept…. ( a tool a counselor taught my son, which I need to remember as well!)

Things are beginning to get hectic around here.  Three services, plus meals, plus people coming over to our place in between services, plus last minute edits and finalizing sermons.

I am beginning to feel like I am losing it, and expect readers that know me would pipe in with “beginning?”.  Seriously – there has not been enugh time this month, because there have been people who needed to know God’s grace in the moments they face.  That’s cook – I understand it,and that is why I am here.  Even so, I am beginning to feel a lot of pressure.  It’s Christmas, and everything has to be perfect.

My son has asberger’s.  To be honest, as I’ve learned about it, I’ve wondered about myself.  When we went to a child psychologist to find out how to help him with his schooling, Dr. Dudley taught us a lot, but he specifically gave William a tool – to help him avoid a meltdown, or if in the midst of one, to find the peace to come out of it. Three simple steps.  And it works, even for us older folk.

Breathe – deep slow breaths, with lots of focus on the breathing.

Shift – take the time to move into the mode you have to – this comes only after breathing, to slow everything down – and to get needed oxygen to our muscles.

Accept. – this is it… this is the reality I have to work in..

For me, I add a few words to the accept.

“It is all about Jesus”. Because that is where i have to focus.  It is the point of all this we go through in ministry.  We may strive for perfection in our ministries, in our worship services, especially these days when we know people are here.. that desperately need to hear of God’s love. This can all add more pressure, more stress as we try to know the place for everything, and put everything in its place.

Breath my brothers and sisters….
Shift you thinking to the babe in the manger, the one in the shadow of the cross, which is in the shadow of our being welcomed into the very glory of God’s presence.
And accept that this is all about Him… and point to Him, the lamb of God, who has come…

And rejoice, for our King is with us now, even as we prepare to lead others in rejoicing that He has come!

THe one who will care for us, our benevolently providing Lord,
Our  Wonderful Counselor,
Our Mighty God,
Our Eternal Father,
The One who brings us into His peace..>

Breath, Shift, Accept and REJOICE!

King David in Prayer

King David in Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3653-3657). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Pastors, Christians and Enforcing “the” Law


Devotional Thought of the Day:Photo: I hope this isnt a comment on what they perceive my role to be as a pastor. ... ( yes I was wearing my collar)

13  “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14  “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16  In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”   Matthew 5:13-16 (NLT)

 15  This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them, 16  but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for all those who would later believe in him and receive eternal life. 17  To the eternal King, immortal and invisible, the only God—to him be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen1 Timothy 1:15-17 (TEV)

Yesterday, on the way to church, I stopped by my usual fast food restaurant at 6 am.  This has become, if not tradition, something close to it.

One of the reasons is the manager, who at 6 am always has a smile and a warm greeting for me, something I imagine is part of her – for who else is cheery and bright that early in the morning!  ALthough I have noticed her staff is usually that way as well, perhaps because hers is contagious.  About a year ago, I started to notice that she was discounting my large Ice Tea from on the ticket, and thanking me for serving others.  You see, on Sundys, especially, I am wearing my clerical collar.  It’s a nice thing – but the reason I return is their friendliness and attendtiveness – even when I am wearing a polo shirt with the church’s name on it, or even old raggedy clothes.

Yesterday, I actually looked at the receipt and noticed that the discounted Ice Tea was labelled. “Law Enforcement Discount” and I had to chuckle, actually laughed quite a bit.  Because I know that is how some perceive pastors, and far too often, Christians in general.  Matter of fact, people often ask me why I don’t slam those who regularly flaunt God’s law with their very public behavior. The Miley Cyrus’s, or the politicians, or those who would shut Christmas celebrations and signs, those who would justify killing, whether euthenasia, or abortion, or depriving the poor of food.  I get the sense that many Christians are disappointed when I don’t single out one sin, and that non-Christians often expect me to condemn them.

My primary mission isn’t to condemn people, or to enforce the law.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  It is to comfort and free sinners from shame and guilt, carefully using the Bible and the sacraments, the ways in which God has promised His grace to be be delivered.

Neither is “law enforcement” the mission of Christians, it is not in our job description, for were we to do it well – all would stand condemned. That’s why Paul points out that he is the chief of sinners, so that others who have sinned (IOW all of us) can know the joy and peace of being freed from sin’s effects.  That is the light we are called to be, the grace that is the “salt’s” flavor.  Condemning others robs them, and us of the grace of God, which should be so predominant in our lives, that others know it, even before we begin to explain the reason we have this hope.

Yes, there are times, as a pastor, where I ahve to confront some specific sin, some problem that is on going and is wrekcing people’s lives. Yes there are times where it helps to identify the sins and temptations that overwhelm us, to warn of the dangers, to encourage people to come and confess them – so that they can hear those beautiful words, “your sins are forgiven”.  So they can realize the need for Christ’s grace, at that point in their lives, allowing Him to bring healing, restoration, and enable them to peacefully rest in His presence.  Perhaps then, as we understand that pastors are priests aren’t law enforcement officers, we will be less anxious when the guy in the black uniform with the little plastic “badge” at his throat shows up,

So that together, free in Christ Jesus, we can praise and glorify God

Law Enforcement is a good thing, and I thank God, and often those involved in it, for fulfilling their calling.

But mine is different, as is the church’s.

May we get this – and may Christ’s grace bring light whereever we go!  AMEN

 

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