Sunday, September 8, 2013

Family Ties

Jesus surprises us in Luke 13. He speaks to the crowd, the large group of people willing to hear the
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message. He doesn't candy-coat the price they must be willing to pay to go from a mere crowd-follower to a disciple-follower. He says that you have to be willing to put everything else 2nd. Everything. Including the things dearest to your heart, including plans and family. It's hard to imaging for those who desire to put family first that we would be made to make this choice. It sounds harsh and even 'un-Christian'! But let's unpack this. Jesus did not practice his ministry in a way that disrespected his family. When he wanted to stay and listen to the teaching in the temple, he followed his parents when they came back for him, even though he surely wanted to stay longer. He began his public ministry earlier than his desire would have been, when his mother made her wishes known that Jesus could fix the party problem of not enough wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. Even when dying on the cross, his desire to see his mother taken care of took precedence, and he made arrangements for her to be taken care of. But he did show us what he was talking about here when his family tried to pull him aside in Luke chapter 8. He was in the middle of his ministry of speaking, teaching, and healing when his family apparently wanted to adjust his priorities and schedule. ("your family needs a word with you!") His response was surprising. "My family are those who hear and do God's will." Jesus did not go out and set his family straight. He just stayed focused and kept on speaking, teaching, healing, and fulfilling his purpose; including dying on the cross to save the same family members who thought they could straighten him out! And in doing so, he set us an example. Staying focused on doing the father's will, we all do family in ways that bring joy to our heavenly father first, and, in the long run, to all of us, too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jesus Sounds Like Mom!
I remember one daily recurring theme for my mother: will we all be at the dinner table at the same time? After school activities, work schedules, and just plain old life all seemed to creep in on this important time. Family time.  All the family at one place at the same time.  A place to share the happenings of the day. Catch up on what’s happened and what’s happening. Getting everyone together is what Jesus spoke of in John 17:20-26. He prayed that all his children would get on the same page, for God’s sake. That all who believed would be of one heart and mind, and many more would believe. Each of us with our God-given unique personalities, our differing takes on just about everything, have many excuses to grow apart. But Christ prayed that we be one. And he gave us the unifying answer: himself. The unity he spoke of did not depend upon agreement on other views. It was agreement on one thing: belief in Jesus, the perfect Savior of the world. It is this belief, this faith in God coming to us in human form, which is bigger than all of life’s other issues, if we will let it be.

Everyone all together, all saying thanks, at one table. Mom’s dream.  Jesus prayer. Let it be!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hungry for Shalom greiving Sandy Hook tragedy
In Revelation 7:9-17 we see a glimpse of life as it is intended to be. Every kind of person is there. Everyone is on the same page. All are worshiping the Lord. There are no conflicts, no worries. How our hearts long for living in this peace, love and joy! Our national and international turmoil and grief are at such a high level. We hear more commentary and speculation on our condition and how we got there than on a clear solution. But here is our clue into achieving the state of being we seek: salvation comes from the blood of the Lamb. Salvation, honor, and glory come from no other. This state of being does not come easily, but by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, we can start to live into it. ‘These are the ones who have come out of the great ordeal’ John’s revelation tells us, these who have complete joy in that place-a life of perpetual worship of their Savior. We face the great ordeal of a world with little peace. But as we humble ourselves before the Lamb, we can be put in process to have our limitations on how to live increasingly overridden by the surpassing power of Christ to transform us. Even now we can begin learning how to live in Shalom, at peace with God, and at peace with our brothers and sisters. Heaven is a paradise and state of being that we begin to live into here and now. And whether it’s Boston in the wake of the Marathon tragedy, Texas and the terrible explosion, or any where across our war-torn globe, or the parents of children taken before thier time, oh how hungry we are in this world to taste and see how good it is to live at peace! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

As Easy as A, B, C, 1, 2, 3!!!
John 21:1-19

Several years ago, I was listening to our Missionary, Ken Vance. He showed us the picture of a Congolese girl, Grace. She appeared to be about 9 years old when the picture was taken.  Grace fell ill while the nation was in the middle of a military conflict, which kept her from receiving the simple medical care which would have easily cured her. She had fallen ill, by a disease common there and here, preventable with a pair of shoes.  Grace died. I asked myself, whey should she and others die on account of an illness preventable with a pair of shoes, when we on this side of the ocean have shoes to spare?! The message was clear to me: they need shoes; we have shoes; SEND SHOES!!! Many of us did.  
The solution was simple. The answer was in front of us. We just had to put 2 and 2 together.  We just had to take the simple solution and put a bunch of sweat into it! Jesus spoke to his disciples three times after his death and resurrection, pointing them to their purpose. The message: 1) I Live 2) You believe 3) Follow Me

The ‘Follow Me’ he illustrated simply. He fed them bread. He said feed my sheep; do with them like I do to you! How much clearer so we need to hear ‘You’re all HUNGRY? I’m the bread! Let’s all Eat!’
It’s so simple! We may see life as very complicated, but thank God, our purpose is simple, and clear! So let’s put some sweat into it! Let’s take the message of the Bread of Life, Christ, to this hungry world!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


John Calvin,
“It is a promise which eminently deserves our observation that all who are united to Christ and acknowledge Him to be Christ and Mediator will remain to the end safe from all danger, for what is said of the body of the Church belongs to each of its members since they are one in Christ.”
John Calvin


Can we count on a God who makes good on his promise(s)? Of course we want to answer ‘Yes’!  But if we honestly look at ourselves, don’t we sometimes let our faith slip, and doubt God? Or maybe even argue with God about how he doesn’t keep his promises? Let’s be honest! In Genesis chapter 15, Abram challenges God in the promise of a future. Abram assumes that since he has not had children, and God’s promise of blessing must, in Abram’s mind, come that way, that God isn’t coming through with his promise. God reassures Abram that the promise will be made good, but it takes Abram a while to get it. (To get the children, and to get it, as in getting a clue!)  Abram does get to the believing part. Let’s do the same! The longer we spend arguing with God (do we really think we are going to win?!) the longer it takes to get to the good part of our story: faith! Faith that says: my Savior’s promise of my future is a good one! Despite a church history that unfortunately includes arguing with God and each other, let’s remember the other part: ‘and he believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness’! God always keeps this promise!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Live The Dream
It was hard to believe, with the classic book being over 150 years old, the Broadway musical getting ready for its third run, and over 55 million people seeing it, [  June 21, 2011] that someome actually might seriously (not jokingly) call Les Miserables ‘Less Miserable.’  But they did. As we wanted to see the blockbuster new movie, the movie phone announcement went through the whole list of movies and show times, and for this movie said, ‘and the show times for Less Miserable is….’.  I guess not everyone is into the genre (musical or opera.) That’s ok. But the theme is something we can all get into. The heart’s desire within us all is to overcome injustice and oppression. We are born knowing that freedom and living life to its fullest is our destiny. We seek it. We can get discouraged in the quest, but deep down is the spark for soaring in life, ready to be fanned into flame. See the movie if you want to see this masterfully portrayed by Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. But if you want to truly ‘live the dream,’ it takes more than a couple of hours in the theatre, and will cost more than $8-12. It’s a lifelong pursuit. Just as the magi had a long, tiring journey to get to the Christ child, and had to leave their nice dwellings to go to a stinking barn in a small crowded city, and share the space with shepherd outcasts, our journey will take all we have and our whole life. But when we seek we find. The light of life dawns as we seek Christ, find Christ, and the joy in the journey is priceless. I have found this to be true! Have you? Leave a comment if you wish, and tell me how you’ve found joy and relief in life as you journey toward Christ- I’d love to hear about it!