Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Hurting people. Jesus spent a lot of time serving them.
A woman was caught in adultery. The people wanted to throw rocks at her. They asked Jesus what they should do. Jesus looked at her with compassion and he told the people, “Let the one who is sinless among you throw the first stone.” Jesus then said to the woman, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:1-11) Instead of defining the woman by her broken past, Jesus gave the woman a second chance and offered her hope.
The man had leprosy. Jesus did the unthinkable. He reached out and touched him. I wonder how long it had been since somebody touched the man? The touch was what he needed most. Jesus gave the person a sense of sacred-worth and dignity. The leprosy also disappeared. But, somehow I don’t think fresh skin was quite as valuable as a fresh spirit. (Matthew 8:1-3) No matter how far we have fallen, Jesus offers his healing touch.
A paralyzed man was later brought to Jesus. They asked Jesus to heal him. Jesus said: “Your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9:2) The caring men thought that the man needed a physical cure and that if he could walk again all would be well. Jesus gave the man what we need most: forgiveness. When Jesus said that He “doesn’t give as the world gives,”(John 14:27) maybe that is what he was talking about. We desire what we want. God gives us what we need.
Lazarus died. Mary and Martha were grieving. They told the story to Jesus. He listened. He comforted them. And then two simple words provide for us one of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible: Jesus wept. (John 11:35) Beautiful because God isn’t some disengaged, distant God who doesn’t care. Our pain is His pain. Our burdens are His burdens. Jesus then raised the dead man to life. God cares and He still raises the dead everyday. Dead people and dying people are given life and raised to new levels of life. The old becomes new. The lost is found. The sinner transforms into a saint.
Before Jesus there was David. David was a lot like me and you. He had his shortcomings. He had strengths. He was both good and bad. He had an affair and killed an innocent man. He showed courage when he fought the Philistine giant Goliath. He was a man after God's own heart when he sat by the campfire and wrote the Psalms. But perhaps David’s finest moment came when he served a hurting person. Mephibosheth was crippled. He was alone. He was afraid. One day, David called him to the palace. Mephibosheth knew these were his last days. Instead, David showed him kindness and invited him to eat at the King’s table. So the boy, in all his brokenness, rolls his wheelchair up the table and feasts with the king. (2 Samuel 9:1-13)
God invites you to feast with Him, no matter how broken you are. God also invites you to serve others and show them the kindness He offers you.
Feast and be kind,
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
$2,500 + 50 volunteer hours = 10,000 people fed for one day.
Two weeks ago we challenged the church. We said we needed $2,500 to feed 10,000 hungry people. We also said we needed 10 people an hour before worship and 40 people for an hour after worship. We have exceeded all our goals! This Sunday we will package meals for 10,000 people. I am so grateful to do life to such generous and committed people.
Check out the Kid's Against Hunger web site.
Here is a video of the ministry.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The Anonymous Artist is back. This is the third piece he or she has given me. The metal work on all three is nothing short of outstanding. The first one says, "Run Pastor Run" and sits on one of our kitchen counters. The second piece says, "The Water's Edge" with a great big cross for the "t" in the word "Water's." It sits on my office desk. I think when we get a new web site that it will be our new logo.
The third piece was recently given to me for our third birthday and currently sits on top of a old wooden chest near our front door. It has the word "Forgiven" at the bottom.
On top is a cross that is surrounded by a chain. The cross is two big nails with sharp tips. Reminders of the nails used on Jesus' hands. The chain is heavy metal: symbolic of the strength of the chains that we can find ourselves in during this journey we call life. Because of the cross the chains are no longer connected. The prisoner has been set free! The broken chain and the cross are both gold: priceless worth.
I don't know who the Anonymous Artist is. He or she obviously participates in the life of the church and is an artist of extraordinary skill. This time, for the first time, a thank you letter was attached. It was even more meaningful the the art.
This is my thank you back to the artist. Thank you for blessing me.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
A few highlights:
We are all imperfect people and every relationship we are in is comprised of two imperfect people, so conflict is inevitable.
The four areas I suggested people look at are:
- Have clear expectations of people and seek clear expectations from others.
- Communicate clearly.
- Forgiveness is essential to relational health.
- Grace is something that God gives to us and something we get to give to others.
Here are some scriptures, thoughts, and study questions:
- “You can’t change other people, you can only change your reaction to others.” How does that statement affect the way you think about the way you relate to other people?
- “The forgiveness of others is ultimately a gift to the one who is forgiving.” Why is forgiving others difficult? What possibilities does forgiveness open up in your life?
- Craig talked about the correlation between our relationships with self, others, and God. How has this affected you in the past? Moving forward, what challenges and possibilities do you see in the web of relationships that you have?
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Relational dysfunction is part of life. It started with Adam and Eve. They decided to eat some of the forbidden fruit. God asked them what was going on. Adam threw Eve under the bus and blamed her. Paradise was lost. And things got worse fast. Adam and Eve had two kids: Cain and Abel. Cain got jealous of Abel and killed him. After Noah saved the world, he got drunk, and passed out. Ham saw this and was quite amused. He told his brothers. Noah found out and cursed Ham’s son Canaan. I’m only in the ninth chapter of Genesis and we have already witnessed greed, blame, jealously, murder, drunkenness, gossip, and unforgiveness.
Amber and I have two boys. Life is good when the two boys are getting along. I love watching them laugh and play together. I also have to be honest: 8 year olds and 2 year olds raised by marriage and family therapists and pastors probably aren’t too much different than 8 year olds and 2 year olds raised by anybody else: sometimes the boys don’t get along. I’m generally not too pleased with fighting and crying. And so it goes with God and His children. God’s dream is that His kids get along. His heart breaks when His kids don’t get along.
God doesn’t just have dreams for us. He fills us with the Holy Spirit and equips and empowers us to thrive in our relational lives. He also gave us Jesus. Jesus related to the stranger with hope, his enemies with grace, his friends with loyalty, outcasts with compassion, women with dignity, and all with love.
Everyone who reads this is going to be in a little different position in their relational life. Some are blessed with life-giving relationships. Others have been seriously hurt by another and are struggling to move on. Many of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle: some of our relationships are good and some are not-so-good. The blessed can maintain and model. The broken can mend and somehow move on. The masses can embrace the healthy and seek to improve the not-so-healthy.
God gives us grace and allows us to give it to others: forgiveness from the past, power in the present, and hope for the future. Sometimes forgiveness means a restored relationship. Sometimes forgiveness is the realization that it is better to live in peace apart than it is to live in constant conflict together. Forgiveness is something we give to others, but the person who benefits is the one who gives it. It is the way God works.
Ultimately we can’t control other people, but we can control the way we react to others. Knowing that one thing and knowing God who wants paradise restored for his children will help us as we live out God’s dream of living in healthy relationships with others.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
My training log looks like one of two things:
1. Ten miles easy. Felt OK.
2. No run. Too busy.
I did a 10K tempo run today at Lake Zorinsky. I did better than I thought I would.
.75 mile warm-up
10K in 37:18
(6:21, 6:02, 5:56, 5:52, 5:50, 6:07, 1:10)
.4 mile cool-down
It was a beautiful afternoon for a run. I still have a few residual effects from the injury I had last spring and summer. But, I absolutely love running this time of year! I'm doing a relay race in two and a half weeks with some friends and then my next races won't be until 2010.
This is the race I was injured in
Sunday, September 20, 2009
So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” -Acts 1:6-8
Making Known through Action
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. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 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. 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
Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. -1 Peter 3:1-2
Making Him Know through Prayer
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” -Mark 1:35-37
Making Known through Invitation
Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi,”, “where are you staying?” “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. Andrew, Simon’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” Then Andrew brought Simon to meet Jesus. Looking intently at Simon, Jesus said, “Your name is Simon, son of John—but you will be called Peter.” -John 1:38-42
Friday, September 18, 2009
This morning’s column is from a childhood friend, Jennifer Lee. She and her husband recently built a house on their farm in Northwest Iowa. I want to share her thoughts on prayer with you. You can read more of her writing at: www.gettingdownwithjesus.blogspot.com.
They dug a hole in an Iowa cornfield, and lay a foundation. They erected two-by-fours, leaving rectangles for light to illuminate this house. They lifted trusses to the top, and we moved in six months later. That's how they built the house in which we live. And that's how we're building this House of Prayer –one two-by-four at a time, with space to let Light shine in.
We weren't always a House of Prayer—unless you count the mornings when I woke up with these words dripping from my lips: "Lord help me." For that is all I knew to say.
I thought Houses of Prayer were made of marble, granite, and Travertine –a series of thees and thous and thys. I thought Houses of Prayers were holy places made for the righteous, not dirty sinners like me. If this was a House of Prayer, it was a dilapidated shack. And that's why I didn't invite Him in very often. I didn't want Him to see the mess I'd made. But He showed up anyway. That's what finishing carpenters do, you know: With nails and wood and grace flowing down a Carpenter turned my rundown shack into a holy place. He heard the invitation -- "Lord help me" -- even when it was all I had.
And He came to heal us, the sick and weary. Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” –Mark 2:17
He's still building this imperfect House of Prayer, and He's using little carpenters to help. In the pink glow of lamplight, I curl up next to my daughter Anna, wrapped in Princess Blankie. We close our eyes as we begin again, easing into this work on our House. Anna puts up another beam: "Dear God, Thank you for this wonderful day," she prays, like she always does. She thanks God for her cats, and our food, and a warm place to sleep, and for this Mommy laying beside her.
"Remember, Anna," I tell her as she finishes, "You can pray to God any time, not just at supper or in bed. You can come to God wherever you are." She stopped me short: "Don't say we come to God." "Why not?" I ask. "Don't say we come to Him because He's always at us."
"Oh, Anna, you are so right," and I hug warm thanks and plant a kiss on little lips that speak Truth of a God who is here. Always here, always "at us" ... in the midst of our mess—a holy mess ever in need of a finishing Carpenter.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I surprised Benjamin after school on Monday when I picked him up in a little red convertible. We went and had some ice cream at Sonic. Then we drove to Amber's parents. This was a beautiful week to drive it.
The owner of the car came to pick it up tonight. Benjamin and I took it for one last spin. He seemed kind of sad. I asked him if he was sad we were giving it back. He replied, "A little." I said, "Are you glad we got to use it?" He smiled and said, "Yes." I told him that we should be happy that somebody was nice enough to let us drive this while has was out of town this week. A lesson learned.
Yesterday I did a funeral. In this funeral, I said something like, "It's better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all." Saying goodbye can be tough in life, but it sure beats the alternative of never having anybody to say goodbye to.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. –Ephesians 3:14-20 (New Living Translation)
Paul’s Writing on Knowing About God versus Knowing God
You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God's law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting the church; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God's law Book. The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God's righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power. Philippians 3:5-10 (The Message)
John Wesley’s Salvation Experience
On May 24, 1738, he had an experience that changed everything. He described the event in his journal:
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is thy joy?” Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes withholdeth, them according to the counsels of His own will.
After my return home, I was much buffeted with temptations, but I cried out, and they fled away. They returned again and again. I as often lifted up my eyes, and He “sent me help from his holy place.” And herein I found the difference between this and my former state chiefly consisted. I was striving, yea, fighting with all my might under the law, as well as under grace. But then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.
Jesus as the Vine
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. –John 15:5 (The Message)
Two Paths of Knowledge
There is a difference between Greek and Hebrew concepts of knowledge. Greeks felt no obligation to or for what they knew; Hebrews did. To know for a Hebrew meant responsibility. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge—and much of the basis of our current thinking in science and technology—is Greek. With statements like, “Let it take its own course” or “It is not my concern, I am merely an observer,” the Greek view avoids responsibility. The epitome of this paradigm is the news / journalistic cameraman or photographer who just records the horror in front of him without doing anything about it. For a Hebrew, to know something meant they had the moral and ethical demand to act on that knowledge. This is the basic premise underlying God's revelation of Himself in scripture and how we must use that revelation (what responsibilities that knowledge imparts to us) as we study to show ourselves approved.
You must know your starting point to be able to chart your course. To come to a usable knowledge of God and what He demands from our life, we first have to come to terms with whether we know Him at all and if we do, how well do we know him? In addition, we must accept responsibility for what knowledge we have and what knowledge we acquire.
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. –Revelation 3:20
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I’m amazed by what God has done in the last three years. We have literally quadrupled in size. More importantly, people are discovering (and rediscovering) what it means to live in community with God and with others. It has been exciting times and I know and I believe that the best is yet to come! We’re having lunch and cake after the worship experience. We have lots of other fun and exciting things planned next Sunday. And we’ll be starting a new sermon series that day as well. It will be a great day to bring a guest. Hope to see you Sunday.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Most of us wouldn't consider ourselves overly rested. Our jobs keep us busy. So do our families and our friends. Then there is paying bills, grocery shopping, hobbies, church, fitness, household management, and dozens of other things. We aren't an overly rested population. Just check around and notice how many people are yawning this morning. You will be listening to one of the top young preachers in Methodism, maybe even God's entire Church, and people are so tired that they yawn. Seriously, this one life that God gives us is right in front of us and some of us are too tired to live it much less enjoy it.
I pray that this weekend is a time when you can go to God, give Him your burdens and tiredness, and accept his rest. More important, I pray you can find small nuggets of time each day and a good part of one day each week where you allow God to replenish your soul, mind, and body.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Yes, that's the book for me
It stands alone on the word of God
The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever. -Isaiah 40:8
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. -Joshua 1:8
Application: Spend 5 to 10 minutes per day reading God’s Word. Let God speak to you. Develop a biblical worldview overtime as you are fed by God’s Word.
Be Careful Little Eyes
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
There's a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little eyes, what you see.
Be careful little ears what you hear
Be careful little mouth what you say
Be careful little hands, what you touch
Be careful little feet, where you go
I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. -Psalm 121
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -Colossians 3:17
He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole wide world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands,
He's got the whole world in His hands!
He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. -Psalm 146:6-10
This Little Light of Mine
This little light of mine...I’m gonna let it shine
hide it under a bushel, no…I’m gonna let it shine
Everywhere I go…I’m gonna let it shine
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. -Matthew 5:14-16
Jesus Loves Me This I Know
Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong; they are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. -John 3:16-17