Saturday, December 24, 2011

Almost Christmas

“Are we there yet?” It might be the hundredth time you hear it on your trip/vacation/errand; but the little voice is so sweet, you just have to answer with patience, “Almost!” It’s the innocent anticipation of the blessed destination of the vacation or the trip to Grandma  & Grandpas, or just a trip to the corner store. But that little heart knows that there are good things in store when we get there!
For Mary and Joseph, even a few miles while 9 months pregnant must have begged the same question: “Are we there yet?!”  Even ‘almost’ doesn’t seem sufficient!

We have so many ‘not yet there’s in our life! We live waiting for so many things that are long in coming. But tonight, with Christmas almost here, we will finally get to Christmas for sure.

The special anticipation tonight is because deep in our hearts, we know that getting to Jesus is what this whole life is about. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

He Never Left the Building!

For a world hit by wave after wave of destruction, war and catastrophes, Good news comes! God news! God comes in the outpouring of his spirit, bringing fresh news: the young and old alike will have inspired dreams and visions! As we read the words of the prophet, we get a fresh perspective on our world today, and every day. Today’s news (just like the news a few millennia ago!) seems to be summed up by something like: ‘Where’s God?” “God must be absent!” “I can’t wait till God comes back!” But, truth is, he never left! He, Emmanuel, is here with us, and, he is not through giving us a glimpse of what good things he has in store for us!

The short little book of the Old Testament prophet, Joel, is the inspiration for this blog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do I Have a Surprise For You!

God’s presence and work in our lives is a blessing under any circumstance! Even the simplest existence is a joy when we are living day to day in his presence! But beyond the blessing of the everyday, is the blessing when the Lord breaks into our everyday with an extraordinary surprise which only he can bring! Such was the case with Mary and Joseph. Surely their everyday walk with the Lord prepared them for recognizing the words of the angel prophesying Jesus birth. Not that this wasn’t a shock! But they were able to come around and see this as God’s work.

I hope that I, and we, can walk so close to God daily, and enjoy the blessing of this simple life enough to recognize the surprises of God as good, even when they come in contradiction of our plans, ideas, and opinions.   

The angel speaking to Mary gave her a big shock, but in just a few sentences, she knew enough about her heavenly father to know that this was going to be good….very good.

 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

The Message of Life Can Get You Killed?

As Jesus spoke the words of the prophet, Isaiah, it almost got him killed! The message was one of the life, freedom and release of those captive to sin- so what was so infuriating to the religious elite of his day? Perhaps those listening to his words of the prophecy, in the place of worship, hearing the words of scripture that they had heard so many times before, realized that maybe they should have been not just preaching, but living this good news…news of forgiveness and a new start. News of being released from what ails them, release from judgment and condemnation.

Perhaps the contrast between who they should be and who they were so embarrassed them, that they were filled with rage to kill the messenger. They eventually did! But not before he spoke the message of good news, and lived it for all to see.

May we today be messengers of the good news, preparing hearts to meet the Messenger, by letting them know that we believe in their salvation, that his name is Jesus, and it’s a message of life that even our earthly demise cannot kill!

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 is the prophecy of the need to prepare the way for the one to come to release we sinners from our sin. When Jesus read this as the scripture of the day in the Temple,(Luke 4) and let them know that this man in front of them was he; they took him and tried to throw him off a cliff! He got away, for a time, until he later let them kill him, but the message is still alive, and may it be in us!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Expect an Answer!

I’ve got good news and bad news! First, the good news: we’re almost done serving our term! The bad news (like we needed to be told!) is that we all have made choices deserving of being sentenced to a term in our own personal cell of consequences! Knowing our state, and refusing to leave us to our own deserved path, God so loved us that he sent his Son. God knew our track record of choices. And God would not be content to let us remain in separation from him, at least not without offering us the choice of his presence, if we would so choose to believe in him, and live! Jesus is the real, live, answer to the root of our problems.

And we can be as joyful as any expectant parent, because we know what to expect: Jesus to come into our mess, and be our cure, our freedom to begin again, free and loved!

Isaiah 40:1-11 is the inspiration for this blog. The prophet foresees the birth of Christ, bringing the salvation answer to our personal and corporate ‘prison terms’ that we are in on account of our sinful choices.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Show Me a Sign!

We’re a sign. We say something or point to something. We do this as an individual, and as a group. We are a group of people who wear the name of Jesus. Through the eyes of Jesus, we can see the work which God has already done in the people we meet.  And we decide to see the good work of Christ in them even as we walk beside them encouraging them to move ahead in their walk with Jesus.  The ability to spur each other forward with Jesus comes in the context of our relationship with each other. Our ability to love people into the walk with Jesus, and together in our walk with Jesus, is a sign. It’s a sign pointing people to Emmanuel, God with us, for us, in us. Everyone is looking for a sign from above. May we be a sign pointing to Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 Is the inspiration for this blog post…Apostle Paul affirms the work of Christ in a group of Christians who had come along way, but had a long way to go, especially in the love of each other, shown in unity. He expected them to have long-suffering grace, combined with accountability.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Cure for Crazy

Ephesians 1:15-23

It is only fitting to give thanks for faith in our heavenly Father, and giving thanks for a love for our brothers and sisters, all of them, poured through us as we grow in faith in the Father. But, we can seek and expect that we will continue to grow up in faith and love, and it will be expressed in a continuing work in and through us: a growing intelligence and wisdom for every part of our crazy life in a crazy world! It’s not like this is a different thing! It’s simply the further work of God, who wants to be our everything! As we give thanks to God, especially this week, when we celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s not be content merely giving thanks for the past work of God, let’s expect further work! Our heavenly Father is ready and willing to bring us enlightenment for all the crazy issues of life!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Productive Energy

1 Thessalonians: 1-11

In the 2001 animated movie, Monsters, Inc., a whole city’s energy is generated by the screams of children in fear of the monsters that appear at night in the dark! A great story line, and, how true, that fear can generate a lot of energy, though rarely for positive gain! In fact, it is the energy created by the opposite of fear, faith, which propels us in the positive direction.

This passage of scripture reminds us that fear of what will happen in the end is not productive or even necessary. We have a description of our being taken care of in the end. We have the complete story of how we had our lives designed for a good life, now and forever.  The importance of the details of how the end will happen pales in comparison to the picture of our destination, and presence of our deliverer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Foot in Front of the Other

Joshua 3:7-17
It seems that we are always in the process of going from one stage of life to another. Just when we get adjusted, and, perhaps comfortable, it’s time to cross over into another one! Such was the case with God’s people in the book of Joshua. The wilderness journey of 40 years was behind them, the land of promise was before them, with a barrier in between that only God could remove. This scene was a lot like the one at the Red Sea. But this time, they had to start toward the water before they could see it parting. The hand of God was upstream, holding back the water, but it took time to dry up, and it was only after they began to get their feet wet that they would see the miracle of God.

Today we still have to move ahead each day in faith, knowing that God goes before us, making a way, which we will see as we continue forward, putting one foot in front of the other!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I'm qualifying!

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

I’m not breaking the law, I’m qualifying! (Don’t say this to the police officer pulling you over!)

Where’s Moses when you need him? Right where he belongs! We are each born at the right time, for our time. Not only was God pleased to make each of us with the physical characteristics and personality traits of his choosing; he also chose us to be born into the place in time where we belong. And then, as  if those qualifications where not enough, even all our ‘mistakes’ and downright screw-ups, in his redemptive power, only serve to become further qualifications of experiences out of which we can fulfill the purposes he had in mind. Surely Moses had no idea how the difficulties of his first 80 years (not the least of which was murdering an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew and fleeing the country as a fugive from the law) and first two careers (Royal family, then wilderness Shepherd) would be qualifications for his third, and most memorable career- Sheppard of Israel and God’s ambassador to his ex-family Royalty!

It’s as if God just laughs at the things that we think are the end of our existence, and weaves them into qualifications for his original plan! Don’t you just love it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Only If You Go With Me

Exodus 33:12-23

How many times have you felt like you were surrounded by a million complainers? That’s how Moses felt, and it was true! When you’re surrounded by a bunch of stubborn complainers, it’s easy to forget that we ‘have it made’ with our life with God. In fact,  Moses said it well when he told God he wasn’t feeling very ‘special to God’ (Message translation.) Feeling not so special means that we are merely reacting to our circumstances as if we are human.  That’s understandable. But the answer was also right there in Moses speech- the job that God gives us is 1)God’s job, God’s people, God’s responsibility; 2) it’s only possible if God goes with us, and we’re not going anywhere without it!!!  God walks with us on the path that he’s chosen.  Don’t leave home without him.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Let Him Get The Best of You

Philippians 4:1-9

Two of the lessons of the joy of the first date: 1) You put the person in the center of your attention, 2) your choice to give attention to them makes other concerns seem small and ‘handleable.’ (handleable is a word in my book!)

It’s like that with letting our love of Jesus be the lens through which we view life. When we allow relational issues or life worries become our center stage, life builds with drama, and Jesus takes a balcony seat.  But when we begin with a personal face-to-face love conversation with Jesus, we have the inner energy and courage to face (not ignore) life’s challenges and not let them get the best of us, because Jesus has the best of our love, our first attention.  When we have our mind and our heart convinced that the first issue of life, (our being unconditionally loved,) has already been settled, we face life with a settled heart. What a difference! Life is good! Very Good!

Revised Common Lectionary 23 (28)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Eye On The Goal

Philippians 3:4b-14

Bang! I can’t believe I backed into a car! And neither could the other driver in the Target parking lot. I had looked behind just a second or two ago, but got distracted. Luckily, we were both going so slow, there was no real damage to either car. At faster road speeds, it is even more important to keep your eye on the road- there is more at stake, damage from driving distracted goes up.

Worse than driving distracted, is living distracted. And it’s not just ‘unspiritual’ or evil influences that can get us distracted. In our spiritual life, sometimes the ways and means or methods by which we use to get to God, may actually get out of balance and become the focus, rather than help us to focus, on Christ.

We stop and take a moment to pause, and remind ourselves, that ‘it’s all about Jesus!’ With Jesus at the center, the rest of life can fit in (or, not; and that’s ok!) around our center-Jesus.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Do Me A Favor

Lectionary Reading- Philippians 2:1-13

Have you ever gotten so into the song playing in your earphones that you lost ‘sight’ of those around you and started singing, oblivious to the fact that, though you aren’t paying any attention to them, they are beginning to pay attention to you and your singing? And, they don’t know how awesome you sound with the music! It happened to me. I was shocked back into reality when someone in the room got my attention, I took the earplug out of my ear, and, very politely the lady asked, if I was going to sing, could I tune into the same station playing on the boombox in the room.

Apostle Paul has a similar wakeup call to a group of his friends. He asks, if you can at all understand the beautiful love song the Savior has been singing to you, then, will you do me a favor, and tune into the same love song and sing it in unison? If God’s extravagant love is as real to us as we say it is, let’s get on the same page of the song.  Let’s love each other, and the world, like our lives depended upon it.

[Lectionary Year A- Proper 21- for September 25, 2011]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


For a hungry, wandering group of God-loving people, God decided to literally rein down bread from heaven. (See the Old Testament book of Exodus for the full story.) They were told that they should gather enough for each day. Fast forward to the time of Jesus, when his simple prayer included the idea that we trust God for our ‘daily’ bread. God has proved himself in this area- so much so, that one of his names is Jehovah Jireh- literally- our provider. Fast forward once again to the economic crisis of not just our nation, but others in the news. With billions and trillions of dollars (or Euros, or whatever form of currency,) in debt, and it is mind-numbing! How did we get in this situation? While I’m no political or economic expert, it appears to me that we just have not been satisfied with the amount of stuff we have been given, considered it not enough, and made ourselves a slave to those willing to indulge our wants today, for our future security.

Our contentment or lack thereof with what we’ve been provided is a spiritual matter.  It’s a matter of trust in our provider. It’s a matter of denying our flesh and its demands for immediate satisfaction. We all have a human appetite for the things of this world. But we are also given the opportunity to choose to have faith that our provider will give us our daily needs, and we can be content in each moment. We have an awesome God, Father, Savior and Provider- we have enough.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Courage in Suffering- Shields are for Arrows!

Philippians 1:21-30  Lectionary reading

We pray for faith. We seek courage. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we get the ‘opportunity’ to use them! Faith is called a shield for a reason! God gives us plenty of reasons to trust him, to grow in our faith of how awesome is our shield and defender, our provider and king! So, when we’ve been given the chance to grow strong and courageous, why should we be surprised when the darts of the enemy begin to fly our way? Are we not warriors for a reason? Is the shield of faith God has given us just for looks? We are clothed for battle! Apostle Paul writes this letter to Christians who will face battle just as he is facing at the time, he’s chained and imprisoned for his faith life, and his joy could not be contained!

Don’t be surprised. Don’t be taken off guard. And don’t be afraid-your shield of faith, a gift from almighty God, is more than a handsome shiny toy- it’s as perfectly effective when lifted into place as is our Christ, whom we lift up.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When God Says, 'Stop Helping Me!'

Romans 14:1-12  Lectionary Reading

This passage reminds me of the famous line by Jackie Chan as Passepartout in the 2004 classic Around the World in 80 Days:

[Passepartout is fighting while the caged Phileas coaches him]
Phileas Fogg: Watch out to the right!
[Passepartout misses]
Phileas Fogg: No, my right.
[Passepartout is hit]
Passepartout: Stop helping me!

It is a lot like our trying to help God make moves, judgments, especially considering the level of God-relatedness of others. How fitting, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, is this reminder from Apostle Paul: sometimes God tells us- ‘Stop helping me!’

We are each accountable to God. We grow in our relationship to God as we give God permission to transform us. Others around us do play an important role, that is, in the areas in which we have ourselves made our choice to allow God to shape and form us.

When we begin to put ourselves in the role of God, making the decisions, judgments, and punishments which belong to him, we step out of the God-like grace, mercy, and love, and toward the dark and relationally destructive side- a path that led ultimately into the kind of dark and violent actions which we saw so horribly that day the towers fell.

God does not need our help acting on his behalf in judgment and punishment of others, but does call for our help in sharing the debt of love we owe to each other.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Love Can't Go Wrong

Romans 13:8-14  Lectionary reading

With all the current talk about how to cure our national obsession with Debt, it sounds odd to our ears to think that there is a ‘good’ debt! Apostle Paul talks about how we owe a debt of love to each other. When we remember the kind of love that the Father had for us, to send his son to die for us, we are filled to overflowing with a joy and love that we can live out in our dealings with others. And we are all living in times where people are so hungry for honest, pure, love, that we are filled with the urgency to live in love…and when we live in love, we can’t go wrong!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Love From A Full Tank

Romans 12:9-21

For all the times in life when we feel like we are running on fumes, Apostle Paul reminds us of the remedy. Stay fueled! (“Love from the center of who you are…Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Verses 9, 11 The Message) The energy, love, and wisdom we need come out of the overflow of what we are filled with daily: the spirit of the living God! It’s this lifestyle of daily filling that enables us to live out life from a full tank!   

Monday, August 22, 2011

We Are An Offering (The Joy of Re-Learning How To Do Life)

Romans 12:1-8

Finding the joy of being in God’s presence, and knowing that God finds joy in us, is one of many realities of worship. This is the ‘offering’ that Apostle Paul describes in Romans 12. As we offer our selves, our everyday dealings in life, to God, to sit at his feet, listening to the spirit direct us in life’s details, we can bring delight to our heavenly father, and we can share the delight. Keeping God’s personal instruction in mind, literally in mind, allows us to be re-formed in our thinking. Our thinking is so programmed by our culture-of-origin, from all the unwritten rules of conduct that we gathered in our first few formative years, that a life-time of listening at the feet of our heavenly father is necessary to re-program us for kingdom of God living. What a joyful offering of worship!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Under Warranty

Romans 11

Ever wish life came with a warranty? Actually, it does! As far as our ability to have a relationship with God, that promise is under full warranty. God guarantees us that if we want a relationship with him, that we are welcome to ‘come to the table’ anytime. The call to live in this goodness is never revoked, even when we walk away! He’s always ready to plug us back into the vine, to get continual nourishment from the root of life, the author of our salvation. This is the true source of life- the spiritual food placed before us as we live in God’s presence. This is the life-giving daily bread. Thank God that life comes with an unconditional guarantee of the goodness of our heavenly father!

Monday, August 8, 2011

It is Still God Who Sets Things Right

Romans 10:5-15

Apostle Paul (one more time!) reminds us how easy it is to forget who it is who sets things right. He sees how we can set up religious shop and go about all kinds of potentially godly stuff, but miss out on who it is at work. There is plenty of work for us to do as followers of Christ, but all the salvation, redemption, and every other way of absolutely everything being set right is the work of our Lord, and him alone. Once we stop stressing about who is really in charge, we can more joyfully be followers of Christ, released from the false impression that it all depends upon us.

Monday, August 1, 2011

(Getting Past) Sorrow Over A Calling Missed

Romans 9

Apostle Paul saw how his own spiritual family of origin got so caught up in the spiritual ‘projects’ that they missed their calling of seeing the God behind it all. He also grieved at his newly developing spiritual family, Christians, the heir of his spiritual heritage, also ‘missed it’ in that they took pride in seeing that the old group missed out. Today we run the danger of doing the same thing as either of these two groups if our energy is focused on how others miss out. The joy that lifts us up out of our sorrow of others missing out comes as we look beyond the ‘old’ or ‘new’ of the method, and give primary focus to God, the God whose hand is at work among us, and who is among us!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Psalm 105

What can bring joy in the middle of a long, difficult road? I imagine that some of the Psalms such as the 105th Psalm, could have brought much comfort to those who knew the pain of being carried off into years of exile.  Such extended valley experiences require looking at the big picture. The Psalmist looks not just at what is happening at the moment, but what has happened over history. When the immediate picture is set in the long-term picture, we can see more clearly the hand of God in the story- history, Biblical history, and our history. In the recalling, we find joy, and the strength for working through the long valleys.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

God Is Here

 Genesis 28:10-19

 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

Family Feud

Genesis 25:19-34

War and Peace is more than a classic book- it’s a tale that most any family could write from personal experience! Such is the case in this story in the book of Genesis, with prominent characters in our story of faith playing leading roles in a drama that still unfolds to this day. Aside from the fact that God’s plan all works out in the end, we should also take note that the actions of one generation toward the next can help set the stage for long-term effects. With two twin boys, each with very different gifts and talents, we find out that one is a momma’s boy and one is decidedly dad’s favorite. All kinds of calamity will result from this disparity. The disparity is that each child is not affirmed for their uniqueness. We all want to think of ourselves as a person of worth, and giving this affirmation while our children are young helps set the stage for a smoother road in life.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Family Tree

Genesis 24
Just like Abraham, we wonder what will be the outcome of the next generation, and what can we do to pave the way for them. Abraham desired that his son, Isaac, have a wife of faith. He knew that God would have a hand in the matter, just as in his birth. As the potential wife-to-be, Rebecca had a surprising amount of power and control for such a time and place, in the face of arranged marriages, she had the power to say yes or no. But Rebecca and her family were people of faith, and saw God’s hand in the course of events. Abraham and his family had a huge calling- to be a blessing to the world! Within this blessing and calling, there was still plenty of room for all the characters to have freedom to make decisions and be an active participant in the story. And it was no suffering to submit to this plan! Isaac and Rebecca found a beautiful love from which to build a life together. God’s plan is for us to have life, a life with many blessings!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Give Me Freedom

As summer is upon us, I can’t help thinking of July 4th, Independence Day. We remember Patrick Henry saying, ‘Give me freedom or give me death!’ I’m reminded as I recall my family history of my ancestors from Germany, England, and Ireland, of the great struggles they were willing to go through, for a purpose. Yes, economics and opportunity would be on this side of the ocean. But the great cost paid in so many ways had to be for more than just that. Freedom is a great motivator. And for many, the oppression they sought to get away from was most grievous in the area of freedom to have a relationship with God in their own way, not the way dictated by the elite authorities of the dominate national religious institution. Freedom to love, worship, and relate to God was worth all the sacrifice, even to the point of the risk of life. Life without freedom with God was unthinkable. May it still be!

Blown Away

Acts 2:1-21
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

Who's Laughing Now?

A few years ago as we in the North Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church) were considering our coming together with the South Conference to be one conference, we had a laugh moment. A delegate likened our two well established conferences coming together to a widow and widower in a nursing home getting married and moving into the same room. He said that it might be nice, but ‘don’t expect any children!’ We laughed. But, I seem to recall that Sarah laughed at the thought of she and Abraham, both well blessed in years, having a child. God got the last laugh, when a year later they were parents! And this year at Annual Conference, we celebrate that as our conferences have come together, this year, for the first time in my memory, we have Grown! Who’s laughing now? It’s a good thing our nursery is painted, because our (over age 100) churches have newborns! God is so good!

Monday, June 6, 2011

God Gets the Last Word

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

The End of the World (Again!)

If you are reading this, then the end of the world did NOT happen on Saturday, May 20 as predicted by a West Coast minister. This same minister also predicted that the world would end on September 6, 1994. Twitter and other social media sites are having fun with Rapture jokes. A group of atheists, ‘Eternal Earth-Bound Pets’ has set up a company to care for the pets belonging to those Christians who have been raptured. There is also a company called ‘You’ve been left Behind’ which will, for a fee of $14.95, send your digital music to an un-raptured friend after the judgment day. While this all makes for lots of laughs, the subject is really serious. Biblical prophecy at its core reminds us that there will be a day when all the wrong of this world will be set right. It’s called The Day of The Lord. Our hearts long for all the wrong around us to be made right. Jesus did not even claim to know the day or hour that this would take place. The important thing to keep in mind is that the day is coming, and we don’t have to know when, but we can know Him until then.

Don't Give A Second Thought

Lectionary Passage 1 Peter 3:13-22

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

Growing Up

Lectionary Passage 1 Peter 2:2-10

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

Let God Set Things Right

Lectionary Passage: 1 Peter 2:19-25

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

Time to Regain Consciousness

Lectionary Passage 1 Peter 1:17-23

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

On Assignment

Lectionary Reading 1 Peter 1:3-9 (also vs. 1,2)

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

He's Not Here

Lectionary passage Matthew 28:1-10

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


Lectionary Passage: Matthew 21:1-11

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


Lectionary Passage Ezekiel 37:1-14

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

Looks Aren't Everything

Lectionary Reading 1 Samuel 16:1-13 If only we saw through the eyes of God. It’s often as we look back on life and history that we come to appreciate the wisdom of God. From our perspective, David was a natural for leadership. It didn’t look that way at first. The youngest son, a shepherd, and not the biggest baddest boy in the family. But God looked on the heart of this young man who had learned the courage to proctect his flock and God saw the potential. In every area of our life, we seek God’s wisdom. He sees beyond the earthly images that impress us. Outward appearances are not necessarily an indication of inward reality. But, ironically, even initially unlikely choices may eventually be seen for what they truly are. David was not initially thought to be in the running for God’s choice of leader. But when he was summoned, the crowd could see that he was not a bad looking candidate, and the spirit of God came on him with evidence that would last a life-time. It seems that looks aren’t everything, but when we begin to see what unlikely things God has in store, things can look pretty awesome.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Not the Biggest Loser anymore

Lectionary passage Romans 5:1-11 Seeing life by way of the cross, we see that nothing can keep us from what God has for us. Case in point- All the injustice surrounding the trial and suffering of Jesus did not keep him from fulfilling his purpose. In fact, all the evil choices of those who crucified him only served to make the kingdom of God come in more power than ever before! Of all the times we are tried and tested to think otherwise, by the things that we do or by what others do, or by the condition of what is going on in this world, we are never losers! ‘…we are never left feeling shortchanged…’ [the message Ro 5:4] The reality of the cross means that we are made right with God and life in God in ways that were not humanly earned and cannot humanly be taken away. Being made right with God is a gift purchased on the cross, and we gladly accept and live out the life purchased for us. We have a winning life waiting for us to life out, and live out to its fullest!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't D.I.Y.

Don’t DIY

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

WWF: Jesus Smacks Down Satan

Lectionary reading: Matthew 4:1-11

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

The Way

Matthew 28:18-20

“…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

Reality Show- Judge Jehovah

Lectionary passage: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

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


Oppressed thousands in Egypt cry out for relief. It’s the story in today’s newspaper. It’s also the story in Exodus. Years of oppression and people will cry out for relief. And God heard them. And he sent Moses to lead them out. Not with a military force equal to that of Pharaoh, but with the words of God, to let his people go. Deliverance. They needed it then. We need it now. And God is the redeemer. It took 40 years for the Hebrews to navigate their wilderness, a lifetime for all but 2 of them.
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!

The House That Breathes

Lectionary Reading 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

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

Graduate from the First Grade

Lectionary passage 1 Corinthians 3:1-9

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

How to Know-What in the World God is Doing

February 6, 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

Cheering The Hero

Lectionary, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

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!