Sunday, March 25, 2012

Like Honey
Honey attracts. So does Jesus! He told us “as I am lifted up,…[I] will attract everyone to me…” (from John 12:20-33, The Message)  I got a chance this week to once again see a child of God profess faith in Christ! It came after years of one woman seeing Jesus in others. It came in the great personal suffering of her own, and in those in whom she saw Jesus, even as they, too, had sufferings.

The light of Christ shines bright even when, or perhaps especially when, we are in far from ideal circumstances. After all, the cross was an unspeakable suffering, yet Christ brought us new life through his own suffering, death, and resurrection. The addition of souls to God’s kingdom happens as God does a work that only he can do in hearts, while he desires to shine through us, using each of us uniquely as those whom he created us to be.

What a mystery! Only our Lord can do a restoration within a soul, yet he wants to make us instruments through which people come to this awesome place in their lives! It’s awesome to know, and, awesome to witness as people come the saving knowledge of Christ! May this harvest of souls keep on coming!  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thank God for more Paperwork
As I was preparing for entering weekly statistics for my congregations, It must have been God, reminding me of the importance of the figures. I had just read Ephesians 2:1-10. But it took an ‘elbowing’ from God to refresh my memory of the meaning of it all. Besides financial figures, attendance, small group numbers, is a line with a blank to be filled in: How many professions of faith this week. In other words, because of the witness to who Jesus is, how many people have chosen to come to know Christ and his salvation? I must confess, when I learned that our churches would have not just yearly or periodically, but weekly more paperwork, thanksgiving was not an immediate response. But it is now. Accountability for being who we say we are in Christ, and loving others into the fellowship of believers is a core issue!  
I thank God for our denominations leadership, to get in our face and ask: How many people came to Christ because of you this week?
There isn’t a greater joy than knowing that a soul came to know Christ, and we have the privilege of being a bearer of this awesome story of salvation, available for the asking, and worthy of walking it out daily.
Not too long ago, I had the privilege of ‘filling in a blank.’ A lady who had been living in the small rural community surrounding one of my churches called me. She had been friends with one of our members all her 80-some years, and the decades of seeing the fruit of a life of one who consistently loved Jesus drew her to make a long-overdue decision. With more joy than I can express she professed her faith in our small church gathering, was baptized, and is now a member.  
I look forward to more ‘paperwork.’

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Difference Between Sense and Nonsense: Jesus

When Jesus tried to explain the path of his life, even the closest disciples struggled to make sense it! Through speaking of the gospel- the good news of Jesus Christ making the way for us, we can make sense of life today. And there is no other way to make sense of all the details of life! Jesus explained it many ways: the last will be first, serve instead of being served, and choose to believe in him when the world tells you to believe in all else. The mysteries of life go from cloudy to clear in the light of the cross.
Jesus showed us that it is in the person of the savior, is our way. His passionate actions at the temple courts (John 2:13-22) remind us that even the institution of the church cannot take precedence over the person of the Savior. Not just the possessions of this earth, but even our system of religion itself can become an idol, if we let it. But when we and the church are bowing our heart’s knee to the Savior, sense can come to life and our life together, a blessed and holy life as His church, an instrument for bringing salvation to the world.
But all this, the hope of the world, only comes when Jesus is #1!  

This blog is inspired by this Sunday’s lectionary passages: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; and John 2:13-22

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What's My Way?
Who can forget the line from The Princess Bride, when Andre the Giant, portraying Fezzik, wants to know how to kill Westly?

Vizzini: Finish him. Finish him, your way.
Fezzik: Oh good, my way. Thank you Vizzini... what's my way?
Vizzini: Pick up one of those rocks, get behind a boulder, in a few minutes the man in black will come running around the bend, the minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock.
Fezzik: My way's not very sportsman-like.

It’s good for one of many laughs! But it’s not so funny in the Gospel of Mark when those who have been around Jesus don’t recognize his ways! Even Peter, the one who seemed to understand best who Jesus was in the conversation just before (Mark 8:27-29, Jesus: ‘Who do people say that I am?’ Peter: ‘You are the Messiah’)  now has no clue The Ways in which Jesus wants to be this Messiah.

There are so many ways! My Way (see Sinatra,) Their Way, the Easy Way, the Hard Way, the Old-Fashioned way….and Jesus says ‘Let me teach you my way (Mark 8:34-37.) He wants us to let him let us in on the mysterious ways he works, in the present day, today. His ‘secrets’ of how he works are only secret if we are out of listening range.
Sitting at his feet and listening is still the highest place on earth.  There’s no shortcut to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. But the teacher is ready to instruct. He is ready to share. He’s ready to let us in on what in the world he’s up to.
Lord, speak! We’re listening!

This Sunday’s Gospel lectionary reading, Mark 31-38, speaks of Jesus trying to tell his disciples that they need to let him teach them his ways. Above are some of my thoughts on this.