Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Luke 1:26-38 is the inspiration for this blog post. In these verses, Mary finds out that both she and her cousin, Elizabeth, will be having a child because of a miracle of God. Elizabeth is already 6 months pregnant with John the Baptizer, while in her old age. Mary will soon be with child (while unmarried) and give birth to Jesus. Both these women were able to recognize this as a work of God to be shared as a great praise.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Phileas Fogg: Watch out to the right!
Phileas Fogg: No, my right.
[Passepartout is hit]
Passepartout: Stop helping me!
Friday, September 2, 2011
Monday, August 29, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Jacob had a God moment. Though he must have heard the same promise from his father and his father’s father about his family being blessed to be a blessing to the entire earth, it did not become real to Jacob until he had his own face-to-face with God himself. The significance of the encounter was life-altering! He made the time and place a marker, a reminder for the times to come when he needed to recall that God was on his side, that he had a good future, and that God himself was with him. God is here with us, also. Jesus, Immanuel, is the fullness of this reality, and may we recall the God-moments in our lives as our own markers: God is with us, God has a great plan for us, and we are blessed to be a blessing!
Monday, July 11, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
The spark that keeps us from a life of business as usual is the fire from above. It is God’s initiative that we have life, life full and free, and more life. It was his initiative to speak our life into being in Genesis, his decision to send his son to give us direct access to himself, and his decision to send his spirit. Spirituality is defined in many ways, especially today. I’m glad that more people are becoming aware of the spiritual nature of life. But the true source of holy fire is in God alone, who sent his holy fire, not just one altar fire this time, but a fire to all who sought him together, and that holy wind & fire blew away the barriers to everyone knowing how glorious our Lord is. Keep blowing us away, Lord!
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Lectionary passage 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11
Following Christ puts us in a process of refining. If we want to have our lives refined, we stay in the refining process. We do this when we are willing to be alert and admit to where we tend to get tripped up. We all have hang ups and places where we get tripped up. It’s in our Christian community where we recover life and are refined. It’s a life recovery group. Our ‘higher power’ is Jesus. We do not have to keep getting tripped up over the same things. We get honest about our hang-ups, have each other to hold us accountable, and recover the life Jesus meant for us to have. Jesus has the last word, and words well worth remembering often: “It is finished!” Jesus said these words on the cross as he took away our bent toward missing the mark in life. When we get ready to be finished with our hang-ups in life, God’s gift of power to us to overcome is ready for the taking and unpacking in our life recovery group- Christian community.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
At times when the Christian community is faced with great challenge, even our central purpose of making Disciples seems so out of reach! In this passage, we are encouraged to do three things. 1) Stay focused on Christ with our heart and mind, not giving a second thought to the difficulties. 2) Be ready with a testimony about what Christ did for us. And 3) let Christ do his work of salvation in the middle of seemingly impossible times for the furtherance of his church. This advice got the Christian community through their rough season, and the church did get to a productive season of making disciples. Our hope today comes from this same advice at such similar times.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Like an infant grows up, consuming increasingly complex nourishment, we are encouraged to grow up spiritually with the rich nourishment God gives us. We can go beyond the childish concerns of life to grow into our calling to be like a nation of priests, using the words of our testimony to act like a door into the things of the kingdom. The words of our testimony tell how we went from darkness into life, and these words of testimony act like keys to unlock doors to let the light of Christ in.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
An amazing thing about the life of Christ was the mixture of both the occasional miraculous occurrence along with a lot of seemingly normal humanity. Large portions of the life of Christ we do not know, and the parts we do know involve a lot of ‘normal’ everyday life. Christ’s simple, humble life contrasts with the profound impact of the hand of God on account of his life. Jesus was ‘content to let God set things right’ (as worded in the Message,) even while he suffered hatred for his service.
Often we cannot see the profound impact happening now or yet to come on account of our simple, humble service to God. But with Christ as the living Word, fulfilling it all, we are in him, and his word does not return without having the effect of growing the kingdom. We serve simply, but expect profound impact by God’s hand.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
What were you thinking? This may be what our mother asked us after something we did, or it may be the question going through our mind when we look at much of what is going on in the world around us! Mindlessness is rampant! But this is also nothing new! The Christians living in the hostile world of the time of the writing of 1 Peter needed to hear of a way to face a hostile, mindless-acting world, and so do we. The answer is deceptively simple: live with a deep consciousness of the good news of Jesus Christ. With Christ in mind, we can live out the faith. We can respond to any situation in love, honor, and respect, even if this is not the attitude in which we were addressed. Having a Jesus-minded consciousness keeps us awake to his kingdom of light coming in the midst of this crazy world!
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Apostle Paul reminds us that we all may feel like resident aliens. Since we put Christ at the center of our life, we tread against the flow of the world. We are on assignment to live out this new life in Christ. It will necessarily make for trying times. But it will also serve to refine us. Living like we are in foreign territory is uncomfortable. But just as these difficulties make us feel like we’ve had the wind knocked out of us, God’s spirit refills our spiritual ‘lungs,’ bring us life, enough life for us, and enough life to share. This is our assignment, and it brings us joy to the assignment!
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Jesus is everywhere, right? Actually, Matthew records one place where Jesus no longer was: the grave. Jesus was no longer in the place where he was buried. We often go looking for Jesus in the place where we once knew him to be, the place where we last encountered him. But just as Jesus had already moved on from that garden tomb, he’s so often ahead of us in resurrecting a new reality far better than what we had hoped, dreamed or imagined. But those (who at least wanted to tend to where Jesus body had been) discovered the evidence of Christ’s resurrection, and they ran into Christ face to face. He redirected their focus from where he had been placed after his death to where he was at work: here and now, so go and tell! We don’t need to rehash where and how our hopes and dreams for life got buried, we can focus on how hopes, dreams, and lives get resurrected in the kingdom that is alive and active in the here and now!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
When it comes to celebrating, a parade is a great way for everyone to blast! But not everyone in Jerusalem was having a blast on we have come to know as Palm Sunday. Many were glad to celebrate salvation in human form. But some were disturbed. Why? Maybe because Jesus messed up their plans! We all want to have it our way. Make our own plans. Plan our day. Our life. When Jesus shows up, everything changes. Changes of plans, interruptions, and disturbances- what good can come out of them? Actually, what good can happen unless things as they are get disturbed?! The Lord just loves messing up our plans. Maybe we can come to realize that we need to be messed up real good. I hope we get so many interruptions to the way things are in this world that God’s kingdom breaks into our plans, lives, and our world in ways we have never dreamed of!
Monday, April 11, 2011
Ezekiel had a vision. He saw clearly how devastated the spiritual community was. And he also saw clearly how the hand of God could bring about the restoration of God’s people. Years of a poor spiritual diet led to an emaciation of the spiritual body, like old, dry, dismembered skeletons long since picked clean by vultures and left unburied like a vast ancient deserted battlefield. The spiritual body no longer had an intact spine to stand up to all kinds of spiritual quackery of that day and age. Neither did it have the spiritual muscle to face the issues of the day; the spiritual skin to hold its shape was long gone. And most importantly the breath of the living spirit of God was long past: only scattered bones remained as a reminder of the life that once was, and is no more. It was the bleakest of pictures. But as clearly as Ezekiel saw the devastated spiritual condition of God’s people, he was willing to let God paint a new picture in his mind. God’s vision was one of a miraculous and complete resurrection. As I look forward to celebrating Christ’s resurrection this Easter, I so long for the resurrection of so many things: God’s church resurrected in power, the troubled nations across the globe resurrected to peace and freedom, our city resurrected to health and employment, our nation resurrected to prosperity and joy, and each of us, myself included, resurrected to a beautiful picture which only God can both envision and paint. God is still in the resurrection business, and I can’t wait to see all these areas that look like bones of life in times past become vibrant life in the here and now! Lord, take us from bony to beauty!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Lectionary reading: Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
Do-It-Yourself is big. To do lists- not sure what I’d do without them! Apostle Paul reminds us though, that there is one thing-belonging to the family of faith- that is beyond simply what we can do ourselves- it is a gift. This is from the same man who tells us of how important it is to have spiritual discipline, and know the spiritual growth and power in our lives that comes from that discipline. But Paul reminds the Christians in Rome in about the 5th century A.D. that we are a people of faith, and that God gives us the gift of belonging to the family of faith. Using Abraham as an example, Paul reminds us that it was not by works ( and we know that also, not by physical birth, or just religious tradition) that we enter this life of faith in God’s spiritual family. God offers this life in his family as a gift to be received and lived. Living it will involve plenty of spiritual discipline if we want to find life at its fullest, but the offer to enter into the family of faith is a gift. What a relief that we are not working to obtain this gift. We are happy to receive the gift and live out the joy of what we have been given!
Monday, March 14, 2011
Jesus faced all the same tests of life that we face. As he faced starting his calling, he took 40 days to sharpen his focus and clear his head before diving in to the challenge. And just as we hear the whisperings of the accuser as he tries to muddy the waters of our concentration, so did Jesus. He kept his eye to the goal and knew the answers to these accusations all ready, answers based on what he knew of his father and what he knew of his calling and goal. Satan tested Jesus at the time when Jesus was physically hungry, 40 days into his spiritual discipline. But even as Jesus’ body was weak, his will to stay on task was strong. Spiritual training is a real test, but it draws forth strength, more strength than was there before the testing and trying. Satan tested Jesus by taking him to the pinnacle of Herod’s newly rebuilt masterpiece of a temple, not just a monument to spiritual worship, but also a monument to Herod’s desire to make a name for himself. Not many people can withstand being at the pinnacle of human achievement, recognition and fame. Hollywood stars fall from the limelight daily as the things of this world refuse to give them the satisfaction that does not come from without. Finally, Satan tempts Jesus with the awesomeness of creation, an awesome creation which is meant to draw our praise and worship out of us and onto the creator. But Satan wants Jesus, who is in view on the mountaintop of all the wonders of God, to give worship to himself instead. Jesus is ready with an answer from the Psalms- worship is directed at God alone.
The daily tests of life can be won today the same way that Jesus won them. He remembered who he was, why he was here, and who he needed to listen to, and who he didn’t. We are here for the good plans God has for us. We are here to enjoy life in Jesus. We do not have to believe the voice of the accuser tell us who we are and what we should do. We have the voice of truth, who has smacked down our opponent, and made the way for us- we Wrestle With Fear and win in the name of Jesus!
Monday, March 7, 2011
“…go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, …”
from the Message
Recently I began a technology project, and quickly saw how out-of-my-league it was. Somewhere between ‘easy steps 2 and 3’ the picture and explanation went oh so wrong. An actual human voice (after countless ‘press 1 for…press 2 for….for all else refer to our web site….’) was a welcome relief, but after three calls to technical support and hours later, I was so ready for just one living, breathing, human being’s presence in the room with simple instructions on how to solve this mess!
For God so loved us, he sent not a hot line, a web page, or technical support chat screen, but he sent his living, breathing, completely human son to show us the way. Jesus said he is the WAY, the truth and the life. Though we are created by God in infinite varieties of gifts, looks, talents, he gave us our life support technician who lived among us and showed us the way.
His name is Jesus, and his examples of how to love and live came as simple as things like (living) water, (daily) bread, and a light shining in the darkness. I just love it when complicated issues of life can be explained to one such as I in terms I can understand, by one who is real, personal, and right beside me.
He is my life's technical support, available 24/7 and his name is Jesus- the WAY.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Judge Judy, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Judge Alex, Judge Mathis, Judge Brown, Judge Karen, wow! There is no lack of courtroom shows, and we just love to see someone get what’s coming to them! But when it’s me on the highway going 65mph in a 50mph zone (OK, it was a 40mph speed limit! But, just barely!) it’s not justice I want, it’s mercy! Last week I was never so glad to hear an officer tell me ‘I’ll just give you a verbal warning.”!!!!! Apostle Paul reminded us that regardless of our opinions, it’s what Judge Jehovah thinks that is really important!
And, as we sing in the praise song, “One day every tongue will confess you are God, one day every knee will bow, still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you now!”
I don’t want to wait for justice in the last day! Mercy is available for we who humble ourselves in repentance now, and get free and clear right now, and enjoy life to its fullest!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
So, today, when our deliverance seems to be taking our whole life, I guess it’s rather scriptural! Overcoming can seem to take forever! But we know that this revolution, the overcoming of evil by the blood of Jesus, is the REAL revolution. This one is the real thing. Choose to take heart, our deliverer is Jesus!
Building the kingdom is like building a house. Apostle Paul speaks to people of a long heritage of faith. It is a long line-a spiritual heritage which has seen great political kings and kingdoms come and go- Egyptian, Babylonian, Syrian, Sumerian, Persian, Roman. These ancient superpowers came against generations in this spiritual linage. All these kingdoms came and went, but this spiritual house remained, and came to it’s fullness at the cross. Christ showed us the ultimate example in kingdom of God ways, ways that don’t make sense to the cultures around us. His peaceful ways were a contrast to our warring world. His putting himself on the line in the name of love and mercy began a counter-cultural move which points us still today toward his Kingdom. A kingdom where mercy disarms our idea of justice, and love disarms hate and violence. In the spirit of Jesus, architect of our faith, we are being built into a living, breathing, house of faith, hope and love. It’s so simple we could miss it. But let’s not miss it!
Monday, February 14, 2011
You could call the condition arrested development. Apostle Paul pointed out that the spirituality of the Corinthians was as immature as a baby at the breast. A sweet, suckling little child can turn into a holy terror when removed from the breast. It’s quite expected from a newborn, but not from we who should have been weaned long ago. Growing up in Christ should be as natural as graduating from grade to grade in school, going on to bigger challenges and opportunities. Paul points to the division and contentiousness in people as proof that they do not understand the basics; first and foremost that Christ is our model, not any church figure, including himself. Paul’s humility mirrors that of Christ, who humbled himself to the point of death, showing us what true heroes do- serve humbly, give their lives, and grow into their gloriously humble and holy destiny.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Lectionary 1 Corinthians 2: 1-12 (13-16)
Of all the preachers and writers from the time of Apostle Paul to now, surely Paul could be considered an authority on communicating spiritual matters. But Paul humbles himself asking his audience to realize that the Spirit of Christ is the real authority as to what God is doing at any point in time. Paul knows well that people crave to know what the experts say on matters spiritual and otherwise.
We have Christian authors of books instructing us how to pray, how to grow our church, how to educate our children, and how to reach our communities. It’s easy to take what they have to say wholesale. It’s not that we cannot be inspired by how other ‘experts’ or churches have listened to God and scripture and responded to the needs of their community, but what about our own need to be in that same listening process? God is ready and able to speak to each of us individually and corporately. To know what in the world God is doing, why don’t we just ask and listen?
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Apostle Paul gave good advice to the Christians in Corinth. Knowing our bent toward the need to worship something, to talk up (or down,) something, or someone, he told them how to use their energy in a way that would count. ‘If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God!’ Within us all is the need to know and worship the power higher than ourselves. It shows up in our appetite for hero stories, superhero movies, and American Idols. It shows up in archeology- idols have been discovered from every age and nation.
But Paul reminds us that it is in the lifting up of Christ, who was exalted by being lifted up on the cross, that the energy ‘spent’ on lifting him up is not energy lost, but energy invested in an eternal kingdom.
In the preceding verses, Paul recognizes the futility of diluting our energy for God by spending it on talking up or down our religious subgroups. Paul redirects their energy to the only one who died for them - Christ.
Our human efforts will one day be over. Effort we invested in many things will stop when our breathing does likewise. But our energies invested in lifting up Christ will bring about a harvest- a harvest that will go on forever. All our life energy, including the way we use our speech as a tool, is meant to be directed upward to Christ, and this will draw us together, and others to the Savior. Cheer the Hero! His name is Jesus!