Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 30th - Reflection

Romans 7:1-6 (NRSV)

Dying to the law through Christ
Do you not know, brothers and sisters -- for I am speaking to those who know the law -- that the law is binding on a person only during that person's lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

Being dead to the law, we are now free to be united to Jesus. You are free and we are free. You, since you die to the law individually through Jesus, and we, since when we are free, we are in the body of Jesus with Jesus as the head and Lord of all.

We can live our lives bound up in the rules and laws created. Some laws are good that show us our sin and our need for a Savior. Other laws are just laws that trap us into behavior desired by others and ourselves.

We can repent of our sin. But it's a little more than just confessing our sin. When we confess our sin we acknowledge the sin. We smell the stench of our sin. We know that the sin is there and present. But when we repent, we humbly turn to God and acknowledge that through Jesus is our only way to salvation. Jesus death and resurrection is our only course. We can't ever be good enough to confess and free ourselves from sin. Only through Jesus are we free from sin. And in this repentance we join other believers as one in the body of Christ. What a joy! What a freedom! Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I acknowledge the stench of my sin, I come to you a broken man. I know that it's not all about me. It's all about you. Only you can save me from my sinful self. Lord, I ask this day that you would forgive me, renew me, and restore me to your grace. For you alone are my Savior and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

June 29th - Reflection

Matthew 11:20-24 (NRSV)
Jesus prophesies against the cities
Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum,
will you be exalted to heaven?
No, you will be brought down to Hades.
For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you."

These are towns that rejected the good news of the kingdom. They didn't listen to what Jesus had to say. As in Sodom the people rejected God's words and messengers, these cities did the same. And, to me, I can see this as a message also. If I walk away from Jesus and his salvation, let me be warned of the consequences.

We all have this choice to make. We can walk with Jesus as a disciple or we can turn and walk away. When we choose to walk with Jesus, we find that the Holy Spirit calls, enlightens, and empowers us to live with God and act out in justice and love and peace. It's a wonderful choice that all can make. Even right now people are making this choice. You could make this choice at this moment also.

Choose to be Jesus' disciple and get up and go. It's the best choice you could ever make. Thanks be to God!

Lord, be with those who are making decisions. Give them all they need to make wise and loving choices based on your gospel. Fill cities, nations and the world with your Spirit that we may be one in forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June 28th - Reflection

1 Kings 21:17-29 (NRSV)
Elijah confronts Ahab

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: Go down to meet King Ahab of Israel, who rules in Samaria; he is now in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession. You shall say to him, "Thus says the Lord: Have you killed, and also taken possession?" You shall say to him, "Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, dogs will also lick up your blood."

Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" He answered, "I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel; and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. Also concerning Jezebel the Lord said, 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the bounds of Jezreel.' Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat; and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the air shall eat."

(Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites.)

When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son's days I will bring the disaster on his house."

The Lord speaks through Elijah and correction is brought to Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab repents and the punishment is delayed. When we hear God speak to us about a social or political wrong against another person, we stand up and voice that opinion. At least we may be able to delay a decision that leads to injustice if not remove the injustice. Not always will this work But it is best to know that you stood up and took a stand in the direction that you thought God was leading you.

In prayer and study of the Word, listening to fellow disciples, take these decisions seriously. Then boldly step out. Be willing to be found wrong. We all make mistakes. But by all means take the stand and work the decision. Constantly bouncing off your steps on the Holy Spirit in prayer.

Lord, lead me and guide me in the words I say and the actions I take this day that they my be the words and actions you have designed for me. --- Amen

Monday, June 27, 2011

June 27th - Reflection

1 Kings 21:1-16 (NRSV)

Ahab and Jezebel rob Naboth
Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. And Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, so that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money." But Naboth said to Ahab, "The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance." Ahab went home resentful and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him; for he had said, "I will not give you my ancestral inheritance." He lay down on his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said, "Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?" He said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it'; but he answered, 'I will not give you my vineyard.'" His wife Jezebel said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Get up, eat some food, and be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."

So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal; she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who lived with Naboth in his city. She wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; seat two scoundrels opposite him, and have them bring a charge against him, saying, 'You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out, and stone him to death." The men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. Just as it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. The two scoundrels came in and sat opposite him; and the scoundrels brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead."

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, "Go, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead." As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

So something is wanted by someone of more societal power and worth. Let the plot begin. Jezebel sees the opportunity to get something for someone she loves and respects, Ahab. The plot and plan takes place. Naboth is accused by two false witnesses about something Naboth said. It is difficult to defend your words against two false witnesses, so Naboth looses and is killed. Seems extreme but also Naboth's sons were put to death also because it all implicated a plot against the king.

Ahab got what we wanted. Jezebel got to show her allegiance. But the act taken was wrong and no one in this passage stood for right. This happens over and over, one way or another today, and has been repeated throughout time. Who stands up? At a minimum these people need to be made aware of the cost of getting some land and be told that their actions can't be upheld, that punishment is in order.

Lord, if I'm involved in a plot like this, get through to me beforehand, and if I'm involved in a sin like this, teach me to be the one who stands up and speaks of the wrong taking place. Show me how to love others and you would love them. --- Amen

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June 26th - Reflection

2nd Sunday After Pentecost
Matthew 10:40-42 (NRSV)
Welcome Christ in those Christ sends

"Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."

The smallest act of kindness is truly significant. A humble believer that acts in kindness and love to another shows what Jesus life was all about. Reaching out with some conversation, a little food, or even time to play, to a person who is struggling to recover from some unfortunate life situation is one response to make in love towards God and each other.

You are an agent of Jesus. As an agent you take on the qualities of Jesus and display those qualities to those you meet. It's a tall order. But through the Word, the gifts of the Spirit and your call from God you can freely go out each day to those God gives to you and act out the love God first showed you in Jesus. Be yourself as you know Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I step out each day, send your Spirit to guide my words and actions, that I may emulate your forever. --- Amen

Saturday, June 25, 2011

June 25th - Reflection

Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 (NRSV)
I sing of your love

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to my servant David:
'I will establish your descendants forever,
and build your throne for all generations.' "
Selah ...

Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
they exult in your name all day long,
and extol your righteousness.
For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.

We are faithful because God is faithful. God has shown us faithfulness and trust. God displays the attributes that he wants his children to possess. And in Jesus we can see all of these characteristics that God would want in each one of us.

As we give our bodies and lives to God in trust and faithfulness, we cry the "festal shout" - the shout that declares the Lord as King and our "horn" or strength is exalted in God. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I see and learn your qualities, build them in me that I may grow into the servant and son you wish for me to forever. --- Amen

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24th - Reflection

Galatians 5:7-12 (NRSV)
Beware of false teachers
You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

Ouch! But Paul has it right here. This is an extreme measure. All is at stake. If we cheapen the cross by adding a ritual to salvation, then it's no longer what God has done through Jesus, it's what God did through Jesus plus what we do to be good enough for God.

Through Jesus death on that cross alone do we reach divine redemption. Otherwise salvation is no longer grace but something we need to earn.

It seems we always get in the way of ourselves. We want to justify ourselves by our actions and our goodness. God wants to justify us through his son Jesus. And that's how it is. It's through Jesus. But we just can't stand to take something for nothing.

Take it! Take it and you'll see how your life changes. The goodness comes through a freedom to express that same love Jesus expressed on that cross. Stop worrying about that "goody two shoes" stuff. Through grace something much better occurs all on it's own and not because of any effort you apply.

The Spirit works through you. The Spirit moves you. The Spirit invades your body and life and joy abound. Joy even in the midst of a sinful, painful, world. Joy takes over in death. It's the most amazing change you'll ever experience. So let go and let it happen. Thanks be to God!

Lord, take my life and make it yours. Take it! Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 23rd - Reflection

Galatians 5:2-6 (NRSV)
The nature of Christian freedom
Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.

You can't count on your own fulfilling of the law. It just won't happen. Salvation is through Christ alone. It's not Christ plus how good you are. When you throw in the plus mark, you cut out Christ alone and you fall from the grace of salvation. No longer is you life bound up by grace, it is now bound up by the law. You are stuck in this "trying to be a goody two shoes" aspect and can't escape. Your only escape is through Christ alone. Once you trust Christ fully for your salvation, you then are bound by grace. And when bound by grace only faith expressed through love exists. What a wonderful gift! What an act of salvation! Through Christ alone. Thanks be to God!

Lord, it's only you. Work that faith expressed in love through me this day to those you give to me. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

June 22nd - Reflection

John 14:25-26 (NRSV)
Father, Son, Spirit
"I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
A Paraclete statement. Now there is a funny word. Paraclete means Advocate. It's a term that belongs to the courts such as your attorney. Jesus is our Paraclete. So when Jesus gave the statement above it brought comfort to the disciples. The Holy Spirit would be an extension of Jesus in this case. The Holy Spirit would take the teachings of Jesus into the world through the disciples. The Paraclete would aid the disciples in understanding the truth. And as we have heard during Jesus trial, the Truth is Jesus.

Through the Holy Spirit we receive the comfort of Jesus and the teachings and the "memory" of Jesus' teachings. It's kind of like that urge to dig deeper, that movement towards a closer relationship with God in Father, Son and Spirit. It's like the inward movement of God into my and your being of life.

What a wonderful gift and comfort statement from Jesus to his disciples...a Paraclete statement. Thanks be to God!

Lord, move close to me as I move closer to you...teach me I pray. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 21st - Reflection

Job 39:13-25 (NRSV)
Creation story from Job "The ostrich's wings flap wildly,
though its pinions lack plumage.
For it leaves its eggs to the earth,
and lets them be warmed on the ground,
forgetting that a foot may crush them,
and that a wild animal may trample them.
It deals cruelly with its young, as if they were not its own;
though its labor should be in vain, yet it has no fear;
because God has made it forget wisdom,
and given it no share in understanding.

When it spreads its plumes aloft,
it laughs at the horse and its rider.

"Do you give the horse its might?
Do you clothe its neck with mane?
Do you make it leap like the locust?
Its majestic snorting is terrible.
It paws violently, exults mightily;
it goes out to meet the weapons.
It laughs at fear, and is not dismayed;
it does not turn back from the sword.
Upon it rattle the quiver,
the flashing spear, and the javelin.
With fierceness and rage it swallows the ground;
it cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
When the trumpet sounds, it says 'Aha!'
From a distance it smells the battle,
the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.

Sometimes what appears to be real isn't.

I heard this very same expression from one of my fellow workers this past week or so. And it applies to the ostrich and the horse. The ostrich appears to be a rather foolish bird. Sometimes the ostrich wanders away from her eggs and can't find her way back. She appears to be neglectful but is really forgetful.

And then other times some eggs are laid outside of the nest. This may be by accident, but it could be by design. Those eggs are typically used for food for the newly hatched chicks. The broken pieces of egg shell appears be an example of the ostrich's neglectfulness, but are really her loving care.

To say the ostrich has no care suggests she is foolish. But here, we can see that the ostrich may be following an act of God in love and care.

The horse is truly a powerful animal. The quivering mane can be seen and compared to thunder. The horse is fearless in the charge of battle. Contrast the horse and it's power to the foolishness of the ostrich who has no fear. Sometimes it seems the spreading of the mighty wings may just be enough to ward off the enemy.

Sometimes what appears to be real isn't.

And so with you and I also. What may appear weak, such as the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, in reality is awesome strength of the resurrection and ascension. What may appear foolish, such as tongues of fire, and apparent drunkenness, is the mighty Spirit of God descending on his people. What looks like nonsense, like the feeding of thousands with a little bread and fish, becomes the feeding of the world through the communion of the bread and the wine, the body and the blood. All gracious, loving, powerful acts of God. Wondrous in every respect.

Sometimes what appears to be real isn't. And likewise what doesn't appear to be real is. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you never cease to amaze me! Wonderful, loving Savior! --- Amen

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 20th - Reflection

Job 38:39-39:12 (NRSV)
Creation story from Job
"Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens,
or lie in wait in their covert?
Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God,
and wander about for lack of food?

"Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you observe the calving of the deer?
Can you number the months that they fulfill,
and do you know the time when they give birth,

when they crouch to give birth to their offspring,
and are delivered of their young?
Their young ones become strong, they grow up in the open;
they go forth, and do not return to them.

"Who has let the wild ass go free?
Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass,
to which I have given the steppe for its home,
the salt land for its dwelling place?
It scorns the tumult of the city;
it does not hear the shouts of the driver.
It ranges the mountains as its pasture,
and it searches after every green thing.

"Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
Will it spend the night at your crib?
Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes,
or will it harrow the valleys after you?
Will you depend on it because its strength is great,
and will you hand over your labor to it?
Do you have faith in it that it will return,
and bring your grain to your threshing floor?

God seems to point to a different way of caring for creation. Instead of dominating creation for our own advantage, for fuel, for food or to uphold a materialistic lifestyle; God seems to point to a very different way of interacting with creation.

The lion is cared for in the event food is needed. The beauty of birth and the significance of life is enjoyed and honored even with the animal kingdom. Animals are free from labor for the advantage of humans and the drivers are silenced, so that the wild ass can range the mountains for it's pasture and be free.

The ox is released to be an ox and not a beast of burden.

It seems when you look at it, that God looks at the creation and says, hey, I created this good. Why don't you just maintain what is good instead of trying to use what I created for your own good.

This passage seems to point to how selfish I can be in my use of the provisions God has given me. I use what God gives for my own good. Maybe I should use what is given for the beauty of what God has already done. Maybe I should be sustaining the life of another with the gifts I have received. Maybe I should be adding beauty with the beauty God has already given me.

Come to think of it. Isn't that what God did when he sent Jesus into this world. He added beauty to this world. But we tried to take Jesus and make him into what we wanted...A ruler of the world for our own advantage. Stop it!

Take Jesus and the beauty of his life and the Spirit and add beauty to this world. Quit taking for myself. Take the gifts of Jesus and the Spirit and the Father and add beauty of life and giving to what is already here. Maybe that's the message here.

We can't add beauty by taking advantage of beauty. We can't add beauty by reaping the benefits of the worldly resources for our own advantage. But we can add beauty through the love of Jesus, the gifts of the Spirit and the empowerment to go and love one another and care for creation, because God first cared for us.

Maybe that's the point. God cared enough for us to send flesh in Jesus to save us. Let us love as Jesus loved. Thanks be to God!

Lord, change my view to see the beauty you intended in this creation...and that includes me too. --- Amen

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19th - Reflection

The Holy Trinity
Matthew 28:16-20 (NRSV)

Living in the community of the Trinity

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

God accomplished his work of being man. In Jesus the world and each individual now has a close look at God. In Jesus God became flesh. In Jesus, God became flesh and took on the punishment issued due to original sin and all sin since. Jesus took on our sin in our flesh to save us from the death we deserve.

No doubt death is real. We came from dust and for most of us to dust we will return in death. But through Jesus we can look forward to a resurrection of the dead. Jesus defeated death in the flesh. Jesus defeated death for you and for me. We no longer need to fear the eternity of death. We now can look to Jesus, believe in God and receive eternal life in him.

Work through your doubt and see life in Jesus. Watch that resurrection and rejoice. Smell the stench of the crucifixion and see the love and compassion of God ache for your love. Feel it all and love the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.

So close and yet moving in and about our being is Jesus Spirit of life. Put away doubt and believe. Then rejoice in that love to share it with the world. Rejoice in the love of God made flesh in Jesus and bring it close to share with those God gives to you each day.

"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Thanks be to God!

Jesus, you have come so close... so near. You have come to me and now through me in Spirit. Your love has expressed itself to me and through me. Give me the compassion and love that I need to go out into your Kingdom and declare the glorious wonder of your name, your life and your love for each forever. --- Amen

Saturday, June 18, 2011

June 18th - Reflection

Psalm 8 (NRSV)
How exalted is your name
O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
It all blows me away. Go for a walk and look around. Look listen and observe. How did all this come to be? You see flowers, grass, children playing, streets and cars, airplanes, a small creek, dogs barking, other walkers. You smell all sort of fragrances from the perfume of a flower or the perfume of a lady blowing in the breeze to tree rot in the creek and perhaps a waft of fume from the sewer manhole as you walk by. You listen and hear birds, cars, lawn mowers, loud neighbors, music, the water of the creek flowing around rocks. All of your senses point to something magnificent that has taken place. Creation brought all of this to life. But who created it? Sure, I am even part of the creation of the airplane, but only a tiny tiny part of the whole. But what about the dogs, the trees, the flowers, water, air, and on and on? I have taken for granted the glory of all that is right here in front and all around me. God's touch is everywhere, and I take it all for granted.

Leap now into the spiritual aspect of life. I can sense a force much greater than mine when a child grasps the truths of God by observing an ant and discovering life. The child knows that there is more here than just an ant and confounds me with the creation question. My answer is such a goofy answer in that I tell the child that God created the ant. But how did the ant get here? The child and I banter back and forth until the child simply gives up. I really don't have an answer that satisfies this spiritual question. The child walks away satisfied with my answers. And I realize that the simple faith of the child has silenced my arrogant answers that I have given with little faith.

God is majestic. Our Lord, our Sovereign is the universal ruler. It's way beyond my understanding. But this is the truth from which the assurance of all my faith is born and rises up from within me.

God created a paradox to all of this when Jesus was sent into this world. The Creator was sent to be the created and bring all things under him. In so doing Jesus raised me up to a level that I can't comprehend. Through the love of God, Jesus brought me out of my insignificance, my frailty and my failures to be just lower than God. Go figure that!

When God places all things under the feet of man, I realize that God is speaking of Jesus. Jesus in whom I see fully the dominion which God intended. Jesus has raised me up through his life, ministry, healing, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and the gift of his Spirit to all the world. Jesus granted a redemption in which all can share. It's all about Jesus.

This creation that I walk through, what my senses experience, all point to the glory of Jesus. How majestic is that name in all the earth! All earth points straight to Jesus! What glory! What honor! Jesus has brought me in close to him. Jesus sends his Spirit daily to gift me, empower me, call me, guide me! How majestic is that! all blows me away! But it's great! Thanks be to God!

Prayer majestic is you name in all the earth!...It all points to you! Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17th - Reflection

2 Timothy 1:12b-14 (NRSV)
The treasure of the triune God
I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
We have received a wonderful treasure from Jesus. We have received love and trust and salvation.

This treasure reminds me of Luther's Rose. We look to the center at a cross, the symbol of death, yet there is life. The cross is black, like death, yet it brings life. A black cross inside a red heart. Although the cross brings death, the heart is red with faith and life. The cross and heart are enveloped by a white rose. White is like all that is pure and heavenly. The cross, heart and rose within a backdrop of a blue sky. Look out into the blue sky and you see forever. This cross of death and life, the heart of blood red of Jesus alive, and the white rose of all that is pure, against the blue sky of hope brings forth a joy that is forever. All of this is encompassed by a gold ring. A gold ring is the precious gift of Jesus. An eternal never ending gift of faith and love. A treasure beyond belief given to you and to me.

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you and with the help of the Holy Spirit, make known this treasure to all the world that they too may see and know Jesus. Thanks be to God.

Lord, what a wonderful gift you have given. What a wonderful act you have taken. Fill me with that faith and love overflowing to all you give to me today...tomorrow...and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16th - Reflection

2 Timothy 1:8-12a (NRSV)
Grace revealed in Christ

Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust.

We like to think that If we're good enough at something we will be put to use at that particular thing. This may or may not work with God. God does not call us because we are good. God calls us for his own purpose. You don't get to pick or choose God's calling. You may or may not even get to choose if you are going to participate in that calling. It's not about me or what I want. It's all about what God has in store.

But, when you look at things differently. God gave life. Jesus saved us from eternal hell and damnation and gave us life. Our life is not our own. Our life belongs to God. When we believe and accept the gift of salvation through Jesus, it no longer is about you or I anyway. We see that it's all about God.

Our response to this gift draws us to worship and praise God. Our response draws us to prayer and listening to God's Word and will for our lives. Our response is of such joy and love that we willingly and gladly give our lives back to God, not out of goodness, but out of joy for what God has done for us.

So, we discern what God is calling us to do. The Spirit empowers us with gifts to use towards the calling God has for us. And we joyfully, maybe fearfully, but joyfully, go into the ministry God has called for us to take action.

If that leads us to prison such as Paul. We are not ashamed of God. We are proud of God and are willing to endure all things. For in God is life. In God we place our trust. Thanks be to God!

Lord, lead me to obedience in your will and your way. Make my path clear. For I am so anxious to do all that you have in store for me to forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 15th - Reflection

John 7:37-39 (NRSV)
Jesus, the true living water
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

It's the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the great day. The climax of the feast. The feast had a daily water ritual that was so important on this final day. It was important because of the need for rain during the upcoming year. Water was so important for many things. If you have ever went without water in your house for even a short while you understand the importance of water and how easily it is for us to forget that water is needed to live.

Jesus was saying that if any thirst to come to him and drink. Jesus was a better provider of water than this important water ritual. Reminds me of my catechism again, when God joins a physical element and a spiritual element with a promise. So we join water, with trust and faith in Jesus, with the promise that Jesus will pour his Spirit in abundance from our heart in rivers of living water. A refreshment only available to believers.

Jesus brings back memories of water flowing from the rock to quench the thirst of the wandering Israelites. Even today Jesus, the cornerstone, the rock of the church, now proclaims that he is the source of this living water if only we believe. Jesus is the source of life. And when we drink of Jesus, he pours his Spirit in rivers of living water straight from our hearts into all the world.

Living water pouring into all the world, straight from our heart. Water that points the world back to the truth of Jesus. We are filled with the Spirit to give that water that Jesus has given us, to all the world. What a purpose! What a mission! What a God! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I believe! Send your Spirit and fill me with this living water that a river may pour forth from my heart to all you give to forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June 14th - Reflection

Ezekiel 39:7-8, 21-29 (NRSV)
The promised spirit of God
My holy name I will make known among my people Israel; and I will not let my holy name be profaned any more; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel. It has come! It has happened, says the Lord God. This is the day of which I have spoken. ...

I will display my glory among the nations; and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward. And the nations shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity, because they dealt treacherously with me. So I hid my face from them and gave them into the hand of their adversaries, and they all fell by the sword. I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their transgressions, and hid my face from them.

Therefore thus says the Lord God: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for my holy name. They shall forget their shame, and all the treachery they have practiced against me, when they live securely in their land with no one to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them from their enemies' lands, and through them have displayed my holiness in the sight of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord their God because I sent them into exile among the nations, and then gathered them into their own land. I will leave none of them behind; and I will never again hide my face from them, when I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God.
Gog and Magog, godless nations, learn of the power and glory of God.

It's time for all people to see and know how great and glorious God is in all the earth. God restores and protects his children.

When we feel separated from God due to our sinfulness, we can trust that God wants us to be near him. God draws near to us and gathers us in. God will not hide his face from us. We can always know that God is closer than you think. And God will pour out his Spirit upon us for we are his. What a word of hope! What an awesome God! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you certainly are faithful to me. Forgive my sinfulness and my pride when I draw away from you. Pull me in and close to you and pour out your wonderful Spirit upon forever. --- Amen

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13th - Reflection

Joel 2:18-29 (NRSV)
The promised spirit of God
Then the Lord became jealous for his land,
and had pity on his people.
In response to his people the Lord said:
I am sending you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a mockery among the nations.

I will remove the northern army far from you,
and drive it into a parched and desolate land,
its front into the eastern sea,
and its rear into the western sea;
its stench and foul smell will rise up.
Surely he has done great things!

Do not fear, O soil;
be glad and rejoice,
for the Lord has done great things!
Do not fear, you animals of the field,
for the pastures of the wilderness are green;
the tree bears its fruit,
the fig tree and vine give their full yield.
O children of Zion, be glad
and rejoice in the Lord your God;
for he has given the early rain for your vindication,
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the later rain, as before.
The threshing floors shall be full of grain,
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.

I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again
be put to shame.

Then afterward
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.
This thought of a jealous God always puzzled me in catechism. But when I found out that the translation also included the emotion of zealous, it all began to make sense. God is zealous for us in a jealous way. God's love is personal and direct. God's love is the love of a living God, both zealous and jealous. There are times when I need to be punished. But God punishes me in a loving way. A way that draws me out from myself and closer to God. God punishes me as a loving father would punish his children. God loves me in a close and fatherly or motherly way. And God's jealous or zealous love flows even more so with blessing and reward. God provides all that I need, food, family, friends, and all needs for daily bread. Yes, God is a jealous God that acts out his love in a zealous way towards his children.

In this love, God chose to pour out his Spirit upon his children. In the Old Testament, it seems as if the Spirit is given to certain special people. But this passage refers to a future time when God's Spirit would be poured out in abundance. This came true in the passage of Acts chapter 2 and is true today. God has poured out his Spirit on the church. We are called, empowered, gifted with the Spirit and sent into the world to act in jealous ways towards those God gives to us in our daily lives. We are sent to love and point to that love God has shown us. We are sent to be active for the poor and oppressed, the hungry, the ill and those who don't know that a jealous-zealous God is alive and active today. All in that jealous-zealous love! Thanks be to God!

Lord, I hear the call, I'm aware of the blessings, I know of the gifts you have given. You have poured out your Spirit and empowered your people. As this day progresses, may I with jealous zeal proclaim the love you have given and act out that love in service to those you give to me this day. --- Amen

Sunday, June 12, 2011

June 12th - Reflection

Day of Pentecost
John 20:19-23 (NRSV)

The Spirit poured out
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
The Greek pneuma means both breath and spirit. Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. And this was Jesus for sure. Jesus showed proof and granted "Peace be with you" twice. This greeting brings so much more here from the usual. These words of peace come from Jesus at a time that the disciples were afraid and doubtful of their future. But, oh what a future!

Here we are today, living in the presence of the Spirit. That breath of life blown throughout the world to all Jesus' disciples. Sending peace to one another and granting forgiveness. We live in a new and a different age of sin. We live in a free age of sin that does not promote cheap grace but promotes a passionate fire to live the life God has chosen for each one of us with the fire to dare to sin. We live the life inspired by the Spirit that produces joy and honor and glory towards God. We live in a time when we know of struggle, of failure, and also of a God that picks us up, forgives us and teaches us to move forward with his plan and mission for us in this world.

Breath and spirit. Feel the warm breath of the words of Jesus and feel the indwelling of the Spirit in your life. Give in and live in joy. Thanks be to God!

Spirit, instruct me and give me the gifts I need to carry out the mission you have in store for me. You are the power that moves me and the wind that makes me soar. --- Amen

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11th - Reflection

Psalm 33:12-22 (NRSV)
Our help and our shield
Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all humankind.
From where he sits enthroned he watches
all the inhabitants of the earth
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
and observes all their deeds.
A king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
and by its great might it cannot save.

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,
to deliver their soul from death,
and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Don't think that you can be saved by anything other than God. You can't be saved by any super power, or any natural power. Even the strength of the horse can not save you. Human ingenuity can not save us. Any creative use of military power can not save you. Natural forces can not save you. Not a pastor of bishop or any church leader can save you. You can't even devise a plan to save yourself.

If you desire salvation, God must step in. And God did step in by sending Jesus. God did step in by Jesus breathing his Spirit. God has stepped in to save you and me. This is the true basis of life that is available to all. This is real life.

God has been and always is faithful to all of us. Any one of us who honor God and believe that God steps in and is faithful, God delivers. We place our trust and hope only in God and are faithful to God. And due to what God has already done for us, we respond with joy and thanksgiving, honoring our Lord and Savior. Thanks be to God!

Lord, you alone have the power to save me from my sin and bring life from death. You alone! --- Amen

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10th - Reflection

Romans 8:14-17 (NRSV)
Led by the Spirit of God

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

We seek to follow Jesus as his disciples. When we believe and follow Jesus we receive the Spirit of God. As children of God in baptism, we are filled with the Spirit and free to boldly follow Jesus. Just like any child we will stumble and fall and sin. But we have a Father that loves us so much that he picks us up and encourages us to go on and boldly continue to follow. We are Children of God and his offspring. We have a big brother in Jesus who shows us the way. We seek to follow Jesus as his disciples and gain a family. Thanks be to God!

Abba, Daddy, when I stumble and fall, I need your help. Pick me up. Correct me and show me the way you would have me forever. --- Amen

Thursday, June 09, 2011

June 9th - Reflection

Romans 8:14-17 (NRSV)
Led by the Spirit of God

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

We're all really just a bunch of kids after all. A bunch of giggling, wise cracking, joke poking, goofy kids running around in God's Kingdom here on this earth. Our Daddy is the best you could imagine. He takes care of us and when we get in trouble we can run to him yelling "Daddy, Daddy, I need help!" When we get hurt we can run to that same God yelling "Imma, Imma, I have a boo-boo!"

God is that perfect parent that Jesus spoke to so often. In God we have the Father, Jesus and the Spirit. The Father and Jesus lend a masculine trait. The Holy Spirit leads towards some feminine traits in the usage of the original language. But the point is that we are loved as God's children. Even though we are adopted children, God treats us as his own and makes us full heirs of God. And the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

So we learn and grow up in the shadow of God, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit. We learn to sacrifice, to serve, and to love those in need. We discover how to give our life for another. And we give our life to God. We discern our call and graciously accept the gifts of the Spirit and joyfully put those gifts to full use in God's Kingdom daily. What a family, Abba-Daddy, Imma-Mommy, and Brother Jesus! All of us together as one with a host of brothers and sisters. Thanks be to God!

I'm so thankful for my family Lord! --- Amen

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

June 8th - Reflection

John 3:31-36 (NRSV)
The Son and the Father
The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God's wrath.
It's all about Jesus. Everything seems to lead back to Jesus. Reading the Old Testament and the New Testament all seems to point to Jesus. In the Old Testament we see the message pointing towards Jesus. In the New Testament we see the message pointing to Jesus. And we even see the Bible pointing to Jesus throughout time and space. Beginning to end and earthly and spiritual all seems to point to Jesus.

After all the Father loves the Son and has placed all thing in his hands. ALL things. Since it all seems to point to Jesus...believe. Why not? What reason would we have not to believe? If in doubt, read the Old Testament and the New Testament. Experience the gift of the sacraments. Pray and talk about it. But take it all seriously. Your life depends on it.

Lord, take my life and point it straight at Jesus. Lead me. Guide me. Call me and show me what you would have me forever. I believe! --- Amen

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

June 7th - Reflection

Numbers 16:41-50 (NRSV)
The high priest Aaron makes atonement
On the next day, however, the whole congregation of the Israelites rebelled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, "You have killed the people of the Lord." And when the congregation had assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting; the cloud had covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Get away from this congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment." And they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer, put fire on it from the altar and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them. For wrath has gone out from the Lord; the plague has begun." So Aaron took it as Moses had ordered, and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague had already begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. Those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. When the plague was stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

The people were testing God's patience. People upset with their leader Moses and upset with the way things are going. People no longer sure of the leadership of Moses and Aaron. People no longer sure of the direction. Death occurs and diseases occurs. Troubles and pain and agony with the people.

We beg God for life. Life in our sinfulness, we fall to our knees and confess and repent of our sin. Much more than words. Repentance is a gut feeling of remorse and sadness for what we have done. God has every right to return death to us for our sin.

But, just as Aaron ran with the incense and fire offering into the midst of the people to cover that sin, we have a loving God that sent Jesus in the midst of the people to cover our sin. Jesus came just as Aaron came to stand between the living and the dead.

As Jesus stands in the midst of the congregation the plague is stopped. We are redeemed. We have new life. Thanks be to God!

Lord Jesus, thanks for the cover. Thanks for hearing me cry out to you. Thanks for life! --- Amen

Monday, June 06, 2011

June 6th - Reflection


Leviticus 9:1-11, 22-24 (NRSV)
The high priest Aaron offers sacrifice
On the eighth day Moses summoned Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. He said to Aaron, "Take a bull calf for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. And say to the people of Israel, 'Take a male goat for a sin offering; a calf and a lamb, yearlings without blemish, for a burnt offering; and an ox and a ram for an offering of well being to sacrifice before the Lord; and a grain offering mixed with oil. For today the Lord will appear to you.'" They brought what Moses commanded to the front of the tent of meeting; and the whole congregation drew near and stood before the Lord. And Moses said, "This is the thing that the Lord commanded you to do, so that the glory of the Lord may appear to you." Then Moses said to Aaron, "Draw near to the altar and sacrifice your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people; and sacrifice the offering of the people, and make atonement for them; as the Lord has commanded."

Aaron drew near to the altar, and slaughtered the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. The sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood and put it on the horns of the altar; and the rest of the blood he poured out at the base of the altar. But the fat, the kidneys, and the appendage of the liver from the sin offering he turned into smoke on the altar, as the Lord commanded Moses; and the flesh and the skin he burned with fire outside the camp. ...

Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them; and he came down after sacrificing the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the offering of well-being. Moses and Aaron entered the tent of meeting, and then came out and blessed the people; and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
Sin offering - burnt offering - peace offering.

We present an offering to God for our sins. We come to God and repent of the sins we have committed and humbly seek God's forgiveness.

We then offer the burnt offering and dedicate our lives to God. God does forgive us. We acknowledge this forgiveness with a deep joy that leads us to offer our lives and our very beings to God. This offering is a response to the love God first shows us through Jesus Christ. This is a deep and personal moment even though it may be in the midst of the congregation.

Finally the peace offering which is true communion with God. An offering that results in the eucharistic meal. God in us and we in God. God is in one yet as we see through many. God invades our very being with his sacrifice of love in Jesus Christ.

In these offerings we are set on fire with the fire of the Holy Spirit. We are alive in Christ and called, gifted and sent into the world to proclaim God's glory through Jesus Christ.

What an offering of love! What a wonderful God! Thanks be to God!

Lord, you gave yourself for I give myself to you. You are God! --- Amen

Sunday, June 05, 2011

June 5th - Reflection

Seventh Sunday of Easter
John 17:1-11 (NRSV)

Christ's prayer for his disciples
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

"I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

Eternal life is knowing God. Knowing God because God comes close and reveals himself in Jesus. Knowing God because Jesus sends his Spirit to us and comes close and within, and around, and all over. God reveals himself to us as the Father that loved us before we were born. God loves us as the brother and creator through Jesus throughout all time. God loves us as the Spirit that envelopes us with joy and rich gifts that we may act out the call God has for our life.

Eternal life is knowing God and glorifying God here in this life in whatever place God chooses to set us with whatever people God chooses to give to us. Eternal life is knowing God and is here and now. Glorify God and live eternal life through Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, as you prayed for your disciples teach me to pray for those you give to me. To pray of your glory and your kingdom and your love...forever. --- Amen

Saturday, June 04, 2011

June 4th - Reflection

Psalm 93 (NRSV)
Praise to God who reigns
The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.
He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,
more majestic than the waves of the sea,
majestic on high is the Lord!

Your decrees are very sure;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.
Just take a walk and look around. Look up and see the sky so vast and far, endless. The sky filled with clouds or crystal blue. Look down and see the grass. Look closely and you will witness an entire community of moving and living life. Look back up and listen to the bird. Hear the bark of dogs and then the noise of traffic. In one way or another, God created all of this or enabled the creation of all of this. God provided all the resources for all you see all around you right now.

And God has given you the faith to accept God. We can speak to God directly, we can worship God corporately, we can be with God at any time and any place. God has given us the faith to do this. The very God that creates and sustains everything we can see and so much more all that we can't see.

This God loves us deeply to save us from our sinful self and provide for a way for us to unite with God through Jesus. This God, through Jesus saves us and loves us. How much more do we wish that all the world know about our God?

Praise the God who reigns! Praise God!

I'm awestruck God. Sitting, standing, walking or just looking around, you love is amazing! Thanks! --- Amen

Friday, June 03, 2011

June 3rd - Reflection

2 Kings 2:1-12 (NRSV)
Elijah ascends in a chariot of fire
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?" And he said, "Yes, I know; keep silent."

Elijah said to him, "Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho." But he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, "Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be silent."

Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan." But he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha said, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." He responded, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not." As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, "Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

We follow the Word of God spoken through the prophets. That Word is Jesus revealed to us. We begin to understand the love of God and how God is caring for all of our needs. We want to hold onto this Word in any way that we can. Here, Elijah is the prophet proclaiming the Word of God. Elisha, as his disciple wants to hold onto that Word that Elijah speaks and doesn't want to part from Elijah.

But Elijah's journey on this earthly realm is about the end for now. Elijah is about to be with the saints in glory. Not that his work has ended, just that it will change. So Elisha clings to Elijah. Elijah does leave something behind though. Elijah leaves his mantle. His cloak or coat to Elisha. A symbol to carry on the prophecy of the Word. To carry on the hope of the Messiah in Jesus.

We move on in life. We move on and as disciples of Jesus we have received the mantle of his Word and the Spirit of Jesus to live out the calling we have been given to love in this world and proclaim Jesus glorious grace until he comes again. Jesus has left us so much. We can only respond in joy and thanksgiving. Jesus and Elijah are not gone. They are just with us still in a different form. Live through the Spirit of Jesus and act out in forever.

What glory you have shown through prophets, people, animals, and all creation. What glory you show through Jesus! Thanks be to God! --- Amen

Thursday, June 02, 2011

June 2nd - Reflection

Ascension of Our Lord
Acts 1:1-11 (NRSV)

Jesus sends the apostles
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
The fortieth day of Easter - forty days in temptation and forty days in resurrected glory. Ascension Day falls on the fortieth day of Easter. Jesus ascends to God's right hand. Jesus resurrection and ascension however, were a combined occurrence that brought exaltation to God. This fortieth day marks the last time that Jesus would be with the disciples before he vanishes into the cloud.

The cloud of God has to remind you of the Cloud that God led the Israelites throughout the wilderness. Jesus likewise ascends into a cloud and gives us direction. Jesus promises his Spirit will come upon us. A cloud envelopes the space it is contained within. A cloud fills and pours out life-giving water. A cloud nourishes growth and brings life. A cloud is mysterious yet very nourishing and helpful for life. We glory in the multiple shapes that clouds bring into our lives.

Now we have the Spirit that moves and breathes life into us in so many ways through so may shapes and fills one another with the life that Jesus Spirit gives us. Jesus vanishes but he is still with us in Spirit to feed us and grow us and nourish us to do the ministry on this earth we have been called to do.

And behind it all is that realm of being that we have beyond flesh and blood, but the spiritual realm of ourselves and all the saints. We have Jesus Spirit now. Thanks be to God!

Lord, as I see you vanish, I feel your presence in and throughout! Thanks! --- Amen

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

June 1st - Reflection

John 16:16-24 (NRSV)
A little while, and you shall see
"A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me." Then some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying to us, 'A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'; and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" They said, "What does he mean by this 'a little while'? We do not know what he is talking about." Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, "Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, 'A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me'? Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.
Do we really get the resurrection? There was sorrow in the death of Jesus, no doubt. In child-birth there is pain and anguish but joy over new life that exceeds the pain and anguish.

So like Jesus there is pain and sorrow and fear and separation from us in his death. It must be so. Sin must die through Jesus. Our sin must die in Jesus as he hangs from that cross. We are separated. On that cross hangs our sin. We are separated from our sin for a moment. But then there is joy in the morning.

On the morning of the resurrection all the pain and sorrow of the crucifixion is over and God gives us new life through Jesus. We are filled with joy at seeing Christ alive again that we now have an everlasting joy which nothing can destroy. Ask and you will receive. Believe! Christ has risen! He has risen indeed! Alleluia!

Lord, hear all the world rejoice in the resurrection. You have brought life out of death and delivered an everlasting joy that overcomes all sin and death. Life in you! Thanks be to God! --- Amen