Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Luke 9:51–62
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

God comes down to this world in the form of flesh, in Jesus. God comes to this world, but it seems the very people Jesus comes to save, for the most part, are the people that reject him. This passage makes me think of how Jesus was in this world but not really of this world. Jesus was from heaven and sent to this world. So, while in this world, in some way he was home but in other ways he was away. Away from heaven.

Sounds pretty confusing to me as I try to form words around this thought. Jesus realized, it seems, that even though people wanted to follow him, they hadn't a clue as to what they were really committing themselves to. Do any of us that say we follow Jesus have any idea? I think that we may have a hint, but we really don't know that much. We are following out of obedience, we are following out of trust, we are following out of hope, we are following in faith.

Jesus himself was rejected in this world. Jesus himself had no place to lay his head. Jesus himself was not at home. Jesus was away from home. Jesus came on a trip to save you and me. Jesus home was heaven and to heaven he has returned. But, oh what a story he left in this place. Oh, what a Spirit he left to lead and guide us in our journey on this world and towards eternal life in heaven.

If Jesus hadn't left his home and came to us, we would truly be left behind. But God loves each of us so much that he gives us chance after chance after chance to turn and follow him. Even if the following may be tough. Even if we have to leave some of the things and feelings of this world and focus on the following of Jesus; we are given chance after chance after chance.

God didn't take any chances with us. God came to us in Jesus to save us. Jesus, determined, focused and on a mission to save the very people he created. Jesus came to save the people that he gave minds of their own to decide who to follow.

Wouldn't we be foolish not to turn and follow? Take a chance! What do you really have to lose?

Lord, forgive me when I look back. I know... what greater thing do I really have to do than to follow you. Forgive my selfish desires and lead me where you would have me go... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 28th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Galatians 5:1, 13–25

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.

This passage tells us about freedom. A true freedom. A freedom that comes from the law. This is a freedom that is God's desire for all people. This is a freedom that brings with it servant-hood to God and to one another. We are free to love and serve God and each other.

This freedom God has given us does not free us to indulge in selfishness. This freedom makes serving an honor and a joy. Jesus did not come to be served but he came to serve and give his life a ransom for many. (Mark 10). Likewise this freedom we are granted from the law takes the law and stands it on it's head. The very things and characteristics that the law is attempting to correct are the works of the flesh. Through our freedom we put away those works of the flesh and put on the fruit of the Spirit.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control... that's the results of this freedom spoken of in this passage. These characteristics are the result of God's freedom from the law. These qualities bind us together in Christ as one. This willingness to be servants display true faith in God.

But don't get confused. Christian service does not save you. Christian service is a result, it is a fruit, it is the evidence of your salvation and the freedom that faith in Jesus brings into your life. A freedom and a servant-hood that is not a burden but rather a joy.

Salvation comes through the cross and what God has done through Jesus. Salvation is not something you can work yourself into. Salvation is God's doing... not your own doing. When we accept this we accept God and the Love God offers to us and to all people... and faith grows... the fruit of the Spirit develops... we serve God and we serve our neighbor out of the freedom from the law... we give our lives to God and to one another. "We love, because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19)

Lord, I want to be part of a world that lives in the spirit while in the flesh. I want to be part of a world that is full of your fruit. Forgive me when I live in the flesh and display the carnal qualities that disgust you. Lead me and guide me in your freedom to live a life that grows the fruit of the Spirit. May my life be a joyful service to you and to those you give to me because of the freedom you have granted me. Use me this day and harvest the fruit that I bear to your glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 77:1–2, 11–20 
I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, that he may hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord; I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work, and muse on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the peoples.
With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; the very deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water; the skies thundered; your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lit up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Sometimes all I can do is cry out to you O Lord.
I cry out in the night for your presence.
I cry out and beg for you to listen to me.
I cry out to you for your comfort and grace.

I know that you come to save your people.
I know how you have called me.
I know how you have gifted me.
I know your grace, yet hear my cry, O Lord!

And then I hear you and I remember.
I remember how you hovered over the waters of chaos.
I remember how you saved Isaac with your grace.
I remember how you rescued the slaves.

Yes, Lord, I remember how you saved Joseph.
I remember how you forgave David.
I remember all the times of salvation.
Salvation in the days of old.

I remember your Son, Jesus,
I remember the healing and teaching.
I remember the praying and the dying.
I remember the saving and the resurrection.

I remember those you give to me.
I remember their accounts of your grace.
I remember how you forgive me and save me.
I remember your presence here and now.

You are my salvation.
You are the salvation for all people.
You have saved my friends and come to my neighbors.
Lord, I hear, I remember, I glorify you.

Lord, there are times when I think you aren't present in this world. But then I recall your presence and your Word flowing through friends. I recall your Word written for all to see. I remember how you come to your people in the sacraments. Yes, Lord, you are present... but sometimes I'm not... forgive me. As I go out into this world that you have set me in, may I remember your Word spoken through a friend, may I remember your Word written in Holy Scripture, may I remember your presence in the sacraments. Lord, I go this day, with you present and in the grace of redemption to those you give to me. May I help them remember your gracious redemption... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 26th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 16

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In you Oh Lord I trust.
You are enough for all I ever need or want.
How happy I am to fellowship with the saints.
In worship we glorify you.

You satisfy all of my hearts desires.
All food and drink are from you.
My destiny is in your hands.
My heart is only for you.

You show the path of life.
You never abandon my soul.
In your presence I find all joy.
In your love I will live forever.

Lord of life and love, be with us today as we walk upon this earth. Make our lives a testimony to the love you have freely given through your Son, Jesus Christ. We live for you today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

June 25th Reflection by Bill Lynch

2 Kings 2:1–2, 6–14

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. 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.

He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

Elisha was a faithful disciple of Elijah. Elisha followed Elijah with integrity and devotion. At the point of Elijah leaving and Elisha's beginning ministry of his own, they pass through water. Likewise, after Elijah departs in a whirlwind into heaven, Elisha takes Elijah's mantle and strikes the Jordan waters to pass through the waters once again.

We pass through waters in our lives. Waters that signify change and cleansing. Elijah passed through the waters that had parted to the glory of God as he next went to heaven. Elisha passed through these same waters to witness God's glory and Elijah's passing into heaven. Elisha passed through waters to begin his life with God as prophet without Elijah by his side. Elisha now must turn to God.

When we pass through God's waters, we can't help but to turn to him. We depend on God in our lives. We depend on God's love and guidance in our daily living.

These changes in life... as we walk through the waters of God's grace... we come to a point when our friends and our mentors are separated from us by the Spirit of God's fires. We rejoice in the victory God has graciously given them. We rejoice in our presence with them on this earth. We mourn for our separation, but we hope for a reunion as all are made One through Christ. And the Spirit, the mantle, is passed on to you and to me, to live in God's grace and to pass God's Spirit on to whomever God gives to you.

Water and fire... signs of God's love and hope for all who believe. Thanks be to God!

Lord, may I carry the mantle, the covering of your grace and your Spirit, into the world in which you place me, that all you give to me this day,  may turn to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Kings 19:15–16, 19–21

Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

So he set out from there, and found Elisha son of Shaphat, who was plowing. There were twelve yoke of oxen ahead of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle over him. He left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” Then Elijah said to him, “Go back again; for what have I done to you?” He returned from following him, took the yoke of oxen, and slaughtered them; using the equipment from the oxen, he boiled their flesh, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Elijah still had work to do. Elijah had more to do for God. Just at the time that Elijah thought all was said and done, God came to him. Just at the time that Elijah was ready to give up on his work and his life, God came to him. Just at the time that Elijah felt all alone, God came to him. God came to Elijah and told him to Go!

As a result of Elijah following God's command to "Go!" Elisha was given his purpose and mission in his walk with God. Elijah cast his mantle over Elisha. This was a symbolic act that was understood in that day. Elisha would now follow Elijah in learning and in time also. Elisha too is God's prophet to point to God.

We have been given a mantle to cover us also. As Children of God, through baptismal waters, God cast a mantle upon us. We have been covered by God's grace to follow, Jesus. We follow Jesus as his disciples in this world and point to the salvation that all can realize through Jesus. We are taught by Jesus' words and works. We are given the gifts of the Spirit as the Spirit chooses for us. We are sent by God and called to action. We too are called to "Go!" We are called to go in the places, in the vocations, in the way that God has sent us to proclaim to all that God gives to us this mantle of grace that God has for all people. A covering of love and salvation offered from Jesus... God himself... for all people.

Lord, I feel the warmth of the mantle of Grace. I feel the love and the call and the mission. Today I go. I go to those you give to me and proclaim your mantle of Grace that is available to all... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, June 23, 2013

June 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch - In memory of my Mom

So yesterday was my birthday --- early birth --- around 4:00 a.m. --- but it was also a celebration of my Mom's birthday --- late birth --- around 11:30 p.m.

At the beginning and at the end of a great day for me and Mom.

Mom died on this date last year. In a celebration of life.

Somehow, I can't help but think of "Left Behind" --- just kidding!

This was a tribute and memorial I wrote last year that my son, Bryan, read during Mom's funeral service.


In memory of my Mom.


Happy Birthday!

It's my birthday today! A day 56 years ago that a new life was brought into this world. A new life born through the struggle and pain of childbirth. A new life that also would live the struggle between carnal desires and spiritual freedom. I was born before the rise of the sun around 4:00 a.m. The day had yet to begin.

The new summer season was fresh within a day. A season of full life. Nature at the height of it's glory and in full bloom. Green grass, flowers everywhere, why even the insects are hard at work during this time of the year. The time of vacations that relax and vacations that exercise the mind, body and soul. Summer is a time full of life and activity.

Summer is also a time when the heat cranks up and people come out and crime increases. Humans seem to be at their best and their worst during the summer season. Summer is a time of contrast. Good and evil side by side in the usual struggle. We become hungry yet don't feel like eating when it's too hot. Motorcyclists desire the danger of speed to feel open and powerful. Traffic accidents increase, yet leisurely walks with the dogs become habitual. Summer is a time of contrasts; sometimes contrasts in extremes.

Yes I was born 56 years ago this day before sunrise. By contrast 56 years later my Mom died on this day after sunset around 11:30 p.m. A day when faith was expressed in love. Christ expressed love in life through a personal relationship with each one of us. In relationship we learn of faith and love. Mom expressed, throughout her life, a relationship of faith and love. As 56 years ago Mom began to teach me the expression of faith and love through relationships with those God gives to me each day, she exhibited her own faith and love for the moment, this day, through relationships with Jesus and each person that crossed her path.

My Mom displayed in her daily life with the Holy Spirit, this expression of faith and love. One of my favorite memories of Mom was seeing her read that Bible on the coffee table, by herself each day. This act displayed her relationship with God to me. This act demonstrated the importance of God active in the here and the now. What does God have to say for me at the beginning of this day? The question would intrigue me to daily reading of the Word for my lifetime also. Mom demonstrated the importance of relationships and the living of the moment.

We live life in this world of contrasts. We live in this world of plans and priority lists, yet we must always live this life in the moment in relationship with God and each other. It's not the plans that matter, it's the relationship of the moment that takes priority over everything else. This moment will only last a moment and then will be lost forever. It's this moment and relationship that matters in the now. Plans can always be made but not at the sacrifice of the moment and the relationship with God and one another.

Works and rites can become a stumbling block to the cross. If we focus continually on works, salvation ceases to be of grace. Works can bind up our spirit. By contrast grace frees our spirit to be in relationship with God in the moment. Jesus has freed us to live a life devoted to him, not through servant obedience for self justification, but through Jesus justification and the obedience of love forever. When Jesus frees us from the law we don't live lawlessly, but we live under Christ with charity and morality that gives up selfish control and comes to life in the sacrifice of our own will and way, to the will and way of God in Christ Jesus. It's no longer about our plans but about our life in the moment in love for God and one another. In Christ we live a life of relationship in the present because the past is done and the future is in God's hands. Our conduct is now controlled by the moment of Christ in our life. Our new freedom in Christ implies service to others.

It is here that we experience the presence of Christ. In the moment we sit at Jesus' feet. In the moment we discuss our sin at the well. In the moment we wash Jesus feet with our tears. In the moment we pour perfume on our Lord and Savior. In the moment we shed tears to Jesus' final words from the cross. In the moment we run from the tomb to shout glorious praise. We now live each moment in the presence of God. We live in the moment, knowing that the future has been lovingly cared for through the grace and love of Christ Jesus and knowing the comfort we have in the Spirit of God in and with and through all God's people.

We walk the day with the Spirit of God by our side. Walking in the moment with full trust for the future held in God's hands. For God has shown us a love beyond our human understanding. A love that is in the moment, before the moment, after the moment and forevermore. We are led by the Spirit through faith and love.

I recall as a small child, perhaps nine or ten, a moment that goes on in the Spirit that I had with Mom. Living on Sutphin Street in Middletown, at the kitchen table, Mom brought out a Bible, some paper, scissors and perhaps crayons, pens and pencils. The exact details blur a little but the act is what stands out in my mind. Mom read to me Galatians 5:22-24

Paul states:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

And with these verses in mind we cut out the shapes of various fruit and named them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and strung them together as if from the same tree. As each fruit was created Mom would relate the spiritual meaning.

Love-God's love revealed in Christ- not a selfish love desiring control but a love that gives away control
Joy- Happiness in relationship with God and our love for God
Peace- A peace with God that affects our relationship with others
Patience- forbearance with one another in relationship
Kindness- Regard for human personality and human need
Goodness- character that is not fake but real as God created each of us to be ourselves yet softened with love
Faithfulness- Faithful devotion to God and one another
Gentleness- we submit to the will of God and to consideration in relationship to one another
Self-control - curbing the fleshly desires

All words of relationship first with God our Creator, Savior, Redeemer and Spirit and words of relationship with those that God gives to us that we may give ourselves as Jesus has taught us. We live in the moment, remembering the past and trusting the future to God.

It's with this passage that I recall my life with Mom. As Mom, this day... 56 years ago... brought new life to me... prior to sunrise... in a wonderful world that Jesus walked... that I clasp Mom's hands and look into her eyes with  a smile as wide as could be... that after sundown... Mom breathed her final breath with the hands of my sister and I... that I witness to you a life filled with the fruit of the Spirit... in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Happy Birthday Mom!

What a wonderful gift you have given on this my birthday too.

Happy Birthday to you!

Thanks be to God!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch

Luke 8:26–39

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

It was just too much for them. This healing of a man with demons. Jesus had gone too far! He healed a man yet they lost a herd of pigs. Where was the priority? With Jesus the priority lay in the life of the man that was tormented. With the people of the area the priority lay with the loss of some pigs.

We seem to get our priorities screwed up at times. We take wealth over life. We take plans over love. We take our selfishness over the needs of other's. As we look to what Jesus life displayed, we can witness the priorities we should have and learn and then live those priorities.

We would try to control this man with the demons. We would try to restrain him. However, this man knew who Jesus was. This man had escaped the devices of the people of the area to place him in restraints and to control him. This man was wild! This man felt that he must be possessed by 5000 demons. But Jesus had compassion for this man. Jesus felt love for this man. Jesus did not want to restrain this man, rather Jesus wanted to free this man from his mental pain and anguish.

Jesus doesn't come to us to restrain us with our demons of sin. Jesus comes to us to free us from the restraints of our sin. Jesus comes to us to give us life, not death in restraint to what we have done.

The people of the day and the region and of this day and this place fear this freedom Jesus offers us. We are the man. We are the man that people seek to restrain to the sins we have committed. We are the ones possessed. We are the one that Jesus comes to free from our sinfulness, our selfishness, our guilt, our pain, our greed, our lust for power, yes, our sinfulness. We are the ones that Jesus comes to free.

Jesus comes to us with love and grace and forgiveness that frees us. Jesus comes to us with compassion and mercy and gives us life.

We are the man that returns home free and full of the love of Christ to proclaim what God has done for us and for all people. We are the man... you... and I. Jesus is our Savior. Thanks be to God!

As I run to tell all you have done, may all you give to me see your love and your grace and your forgiveness... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21st Reflection by Bill Lynch

Galatians 3:23–29

Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

First we had the law. The law to lead and guide us and protect us. Laws set up by God to keep us on the path. Laws that led us to faith in Christ. When we are freed from the law by faith in Christ we are given new life. This freedom does not set the law aside. The law remains good and right. We are free from law in such a way that we need not strive for perfection. Perfection comes with Jesus and with Jesus we place all of our hope and trust. Jesus is the perfection of the law.

So, through faith, we put on the new clothes of baptism. We are new and we are claimed as Children of God who live by faith in what Jesus has done for us in order that the law be fulfilled. The law is fulfilled through Jesus, not by our actions. So, in faith we respond to this grace from God through Jesus by following Jesus and keeping the law in freedom.

We find ourselves as little children totally dependent on God in Christ for life. We have all become one on an even playing field that unites us in Christ. By faith you are saved through grace. This is not our own doing, but a gift from God --- not a result of works so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2).

Father, thank you for the law. Thank you for the guidance and love you have shown your people through the gift of the law. Jesus, thank you for being the fulfillment of the law and the perfect keeper that frees us from our sinful selves and frees us from the law as a disciplinarian and gives us the law as a source of life through you. Through you, Lord Jesus, we are one... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 42
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”
As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, “Where is your God?”

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

Psalm 43
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people; from those who are deceitful and unjust deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off? Why must I walk about mournfully because of the oppression of the enemy?

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

A couple of Psalms possibly written as one. Both of these Psalms are about separation from God and the pain and agony we feel when we are apart. We long for this relationship with God when we have known the love God has for us. Yet for some reason we keep trying to live on our own and through our own will and way.

It's OK to be independent and live a life responsibly by my way of thinking. But independence doesn't mean that we can do it all on our own. We need relationships. We need each other and most of all we need, rather we must have God. Without God, life is short. Life would be just this brief moment of living that we can handle. But, we can't handle death. We can't solve this on our own. We must have God to save us and we must have faith and hope in God to save us from ourselves and our sin.

So, we live in relationship with God. When we are apart from God we begin to die, like the deer panting with thirst in the wilderness. We long to be with God and one with God. We crave the living God and that relationship and love we have for God and the love God has for us.

We recall those times that we are in sanctuary with God. We remember the joy of being in God's presence. We remember the services of joy and the celebration of Holy Communion with God and with God's People. We long, we lust, we desire this relationship with God.

So when we are away from God we cry. We cry not only for ourselves and our separation, but we cry out because of our sin. We cry out for God to rescue us and save us from the mess we have created and the mess we live in. We cry out in desperation.

Yes, there are times that we are led away. We are taken like the Israelites and the Jews to a foreign land. There are times of exile and separation from God. Times brought on by our own bullheaded determination to make it without God. Times when we create our own gods and worship them. These are gods of wealth and power and greed and desires that separate us from God. Times that we created, not times that God has caused. In the depths of this separation, even upon the mountain, we cast our eyes upon that relationship we "used" to have with God and long for a return home. We long for God to be with us and see how it was from our own snowy Mount Hermon.

So we confess. We confess our failures and our sin to the only One who could rescue us. We confess with tears and sighs and we are forgiven. We are always forgiven. God gave Jesus to die for us and we are forgiven in the deep love of our Savior. Faith wells up within us and hope stands strong. Our God is faithful and powerful and leads us to himself. God sheds the warmth of his Light upon our soul. God leads us with his Light to his arms of comfort and joy. God's Truth wins out over our separation in sin. God saves us from ourselves!

God continues our relationship, even while we are in the midst of our sin. God is there to save us and guide us and return us to that wonderful Sanctuary of love and of life and of joy in the Spirit. It's no wonder we pant for God when we are away. God's draw to relationship is like no other.

Lord, when I'm led away by myself or by anything or anyone else; I long for you. I long for you to always be with me. May I never turn my back on you and leave. Your love is just too strong and too much to stay away from for any length of time. Guide me this day to your sanctuary. As I run to you, open your arms to me and to those who are with me running to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 22:19–28
But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion! From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard when I cried to him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the families of the nations shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

I see the suffering and I see the pain.
I see my Savior on that wicked throne.
I hear his words crying out to God.
My sinless Savior upon that cross.

Yes, it's true he spent his life.
Spent his life for you and I.
Jesus gave and gave until all was given.
The healing, the teaching and miracles from heaven.

I see my Savior upon that cross.
I see my sin, the suffering, the loss.
Yet listen carefully to Jesus cry.
Hidden in the pain is triumph and victory.

Salvation has come to you and I.
Upon that cross as our Savior dies.
We see our sin, how ugly and stained.
Yet praise our God's glory in heaven.

Praise to the Father, the Son and Spirit.
Praise to the Love of God this Friday.
Praise to God for our Easter wait.
Praise to God for new resurrected life.

We read your Psalm from ages before the crucifixion. We ponder the likelihood that the author spoke of Jesus. We know your Spirit moves through space and time and sit in awe of your glory. Thank you Jesus for all you have done to save your people and bring new life. Send us out this day with your Word and your Way that we may witness your glory... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18th Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Kings 19:1–15a

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram.

A fearful moment in the life of Elijah. Elijah had carried out the will of God with the Baal prophets and now Jezebel had threatened his life. Elijah had had enough and was ready to give up. But God came to Elijah. God came to Elijah as Elijah was hiding. God came to Elijah not in the mighty ways that we all tend to remember. God came to Elijah not in the wondrous miracles. God came to Elijah while Elijah was afraid and ready to give up. God came to Elijah in a small voice.

God comes to us in many ways. God comes in ways that we do not expect. God comes to us to lead and guide his faithful in his will and his way. God comes to us to encourage us to go on with this life. God loves us and uses us in the here and now. Even in the midst of the trials of life, even in the depths of depression, God comes to us, and bids us to go on. God comes and tells us time after time to "Go."

In the depths of depression, God comes to Elijah with a meal. A meal that would sustain Elijah for a long time. God comes to us in meals. Meals of fellowship and love that sustain more than just our body, but meals that sustain our spirits. God comes to us in meals of bread and wine, body and blood and salvation. God sustains his people with meals that are miraculous. God sustains us with meals that we sometimes take for granted. God comes to us and God sustains us for the journey.

Yes, God comes to us in unique and various ways. Here God comes to Elijah in a meal and in the sound of gentleness. God comes to Elijah in gentle silence in the quiet of a cave entrance. I wonder if God came to some women early one Sunday morning in the gentle silence of a different cave opening at the tomb of Jesus on Easter. I'm sure God comes to us at these moment when we stand in the face of death. God comes to us in that gentle silence and proclaims Easter life. Life from death. Resurrection life granted freely to us through faith in Jesus our Lord and Savior.

Yes, God comes to us in various ways. But one of the most powerful is at the entrance to the cave in that quiet, gentle silence and in that still small voice. God comes and commands that we GO! It's all taken care of... it all will be fine... now Go!

Come Father... come... come Lord Jesus... come... come Holy Spirit... come... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Isaiah 65:1–9

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that did not call on my name. I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. See, it is written before me: I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their laps their iniquities and their ancestors’ iniquities together, says the Lord; because they offered incense on the mountains and reviled me on the hills, I will measure into their laps full payment for their actions.

Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,” so I will do for my servants’ sake, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall settle there.


Do you seek God or do you forsake God, that is the question. God wants us to seek him, even to the point of making it obvious where he is. God shows himself to us daily in many ways both obvious and sometimes a little hidden just for the surprise. God shows himself to all people, both those seeking and those forsaking.

The actions of the Israelites aren't any different from the actions of people this day. Think how hurt God must be when the people that once followed him and the people that once would seek him with all their heart turn into people that forsake God. Think of how this hurts the relationship. God desires to love us and we who once were with him, turn away and do our own foolish, selfish, sinful things right in the face of God.

But God is steadfast in love. I don't know why. In my experiences with this I can't stand it! I want to love, but love is so hard when the person that you care for and love forsakes you. I have a deep respect and honor for my God who still declares his presence when he is forsaken. I don't see how God's love is this tolerant.

The description in this passage of how God must feel fits exactly how I have felt when someone I love forsakes me. But somehow God has the patience to wait and seek the wine in the cluster. God knows that good can eventually come from the bad. That goes for all of us. How God has the patience to wait for this to develop is beyond me. It's a characteristic I need to work on myself.

But at what point do we come into this picture. Do you seek God or forsake God? Count me in as one who seeks God. I know there are times when I forsake God. Those times are usually when I'm in the midst of my sin. But thanks be to God, he has always been there waiting for the wine from the cluster when I finally come around in repentance. And thanks be to God, he is there in the midst of my sin declaring loud and clear... "Here I am, here I am!"

Lord, today I seek you. I seek your will, your way, your desire. I seek you and give my life to you. Direct my footsteps this day. Speak your language of love through my mouth this day. Guide me that I may point to you to all you give to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch - Father's Day

So, I got to thinking about Father's Day today. I thought about how I needed to talk to Dad. Then I remembered this old post from several years back. It still says it all...


SUNDAY, JUNE 18, 2006

Father's Day

Father's Day

So I got this idea yesterday, Dad. I thought I would try to talk to you once again. So I figured if I could hook my ham radio up to this antenna and crank up the power, maybe I could make contact with you. Maybe we could talk about things. I could see how things were going with you. But then I thought about it some more and figured this gift would be more of a gift for me than for you. But maybe not. I know how you liked to know how things were going with me. How my life was progressing. How the kids and family were. How it was at work. So then it seemed like a great idea again. I thought yea, we could talk like we used to at the bowling alley, at the kitchen table over coffee, or even talk like we used to on a walk. I could tell you about my life. Ask you all kinds of questions that I've gotten so far behind on. Talk about God, talk about Jesus and faith and all that stuff especially. Talk about Bible stories we recently lived out. Tell you all of my troubles. Listen to your wisdom. Hear your life stories. Hear how to be humble yet honorable. Just talk.

But it didn't work that way. I couldn't get the connection through this antenna. So then I got this bright idea that at least if I hooked up to this antenna, I could tell the world what a great Dad I have. How he is always there for me. But that wouldn't make much sense either. Everyone already knows that. Everytime I mention your name people say what a good guy you were. And I think "was?" --He still is a good guy. But they don't get that part usually. They think of you in the past.

So last night I cried. Wanting to wish you a Happy Father's Day but not knowing how. I got up real early because of this. Or was it real late? I got up and sat and thought. Then like always, I heard your voice. I heard you talk about how you missed your Dad, Gramps. I heard you say how you really wished you could talk to Gramps from time to time. Then I heard you tell me how sometimes you felt Gramps was with you. And.....there you were!

We talked last night. I realized I didn't need some big antenna or radio to talk to you. All I had to do was look inside. Look in my heart. And there you were. With all the advice and wisdom and knowledge and comfort you always have to give. Right there with me all the time. Then you pointed out to me that anytime I need you, you are there, in my heart.

That's when we had one of our old time talks. And I pointed out a scripture that enlightened both of us. We looked up John 14 together---We talked about how Jesus is with us all the time too. --

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip siad to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me: Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father?' Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves.

And that was it! Now I know that you are in me too, we are family together in and through the love of Jesus. Both you and I are family with Jesus too! But more and most importantly I can be with God because the Father, the real Father, is in Jesus. And if we know Jesus we will know and see God. And I can't make all this happen with a big radio and a huge antenna. All I need to do is believe what Jesus said. And if that's hard then look and believe in what he does. There Jesus finds us and we see him.

Now that's a gift, Dad, that we can both celebrate Father's Day with.

I love you Dad! - I'm going back to bed now.

Talk to you later. The easy way!

Your Buddy,


Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Luke 7:36—8:3

36 One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner." 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Teacher," he replied, "speak." 41 "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" 43 Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." 48 Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 50 And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Luke 8

1 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Jesus was invited to a meal. Some say it may have been after a service. In that day and place it wasn't shocking for an uninvited guest to be present also, as we see in the woman. This woman was well known as a prostitute. It could be that she earned the ointment which she used on Jesus' feet as a result of her prostitution. The woman anoints Jesus' feet with the ointment and with her tears. This woman was in the depths of her sin and in the midst of repentance it seems to me. I can empathize with her feelings as she turns to Jesus, falling to his feet with an offering and tears, seeking repentance from God. She knows who to turn to in her sin.

But as viewed by the Pharisee host, Jesus is wrong in accepting such actions. This is an unclean woman. Her touching and crying at Jesus' feet makes him unclean as well. Jesus should know better! From the Pharisee's point of view this display was an embarrassment to him and to all his company at the meal. Jesus is wrong!

So, Jesus tells a story. I wish I could do this when accused. Be calm and not go on attack in the defensive. I wish I could stay calm and tell a story that punctuates an eternal truth. But, I'm not Jesus either. So, I read, I listen and I learn from Jesus. Jesus tells a story.

Jesus tells a story of love. Love and repentance and forgiveness. The more a person is forgiven, the more that person will love. You would think anyway. But I have seen some who don't care. I have seen some that are forgiven yet the repentance doesn't exist, so the response of love is missing. If one doesn't feel the need to repent and takes advantage of another by boldly taking, the love is missing.

We first must smell the stench of our sin. We must know that we are sinful and need forgiveness. The Law points us to that need. When we are selfish, when we hurt, when we take what its not ours to take but have no remorse we remain in our sin. Where is the point when we come to our senses and know that we have sinned and need forgiveness? What drives us to the knowledge of our sin and our need to run to God with our tears and our offering of ointment? Did the woman or you or I come to Jesus because of our love for Jesus? I'm not so sure about that. How do we even know to love Jesus if we haven't been introduced to him? How are we introduced to Jesus in order to learn to love him? How does this coming to Jesus relate to the forgiveness of the greater debt and the result of the greater love?

I think this woman came to Jesus through faith. She came as a result of someone introducing her to Jesus in conversation. This woman, prior to the feast, must have heard about Jesus and what he could do by someone who had faith in Jesus as well.

We tell each other the Gospel in words and in our actions. We tell those what God gives to us and confess our lives with God through our trust and faith and hope of what God has done in our lives. We tell each other about Jesus. We profess the forgiveness of sin. We tell and encourage one another to see Jesus and to run to Jesus for forgiveness. We tell one another because we have experienced the love in the forgiveness of sin that Jesus grants to sinners. We tell of the love of Jesus.

So the woman comes to the meal. She comes to the meal with her tears and her offering. The woman and you and I come to the meal seeking forgiveness from God in Jesus. We come and Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us even in the midst of our sin. Jesus loves us and forgives us and restores us to a new life in him.

Happy and in love with Jesus and God we run to tell what Jesus has done for us. We run to tell of a God that loves us even in the depth of our sin and forgives us. We run and tell of a God that accepts our tears and our offering and forgives us. We tell of a God that doesn't care how unclean we are and permits us to touch him and make him unclean as well out of love. We came to God with faith and run out in love, full of the meal of forgiveness and new life.

As we run and tell forgiven and loved and in love with Jesus, Jesus moves on into the world. Jesus moves on to reach out to all the world as a God that forgives and loves even those that are rejected by this worlds standards. Jesus loves his creation and wants to restore all of it. Even me... the greatest of sinners. Thanks be to God!

Jesus, here I am once again, in faith and hope and love. Here I am with my tears and my ointment and come to your feet. I come to the foot of that cross and see the blood flowing. I come to the meal of your blood and your body and see the pain that you suffer because of my sin. I come to you in hope that you will love me. I come and seek your forgiveness for what I have done. Jesus forgive me for I have sinned. Restore me to new life in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Galatians 2:15–21
15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17 But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.

We depend on Jesus. We depend completely on Jesus. We can't do enough to save ourselves. We can't obey all the law. We will fail. So when we turn to God and tell about all of the Law we have upheld, we will fall short. Once we think we have done it all for God and deserve salvation by what we have done we have fallen in this act alone.

So what do we do? We rely in faith on what Jesus has done for us. God grants us forgiveness and pardon not based on our action, but based on Jesus' action for us and in our place. Through faith God begins a new relationship with each of us. A relationship that puts sin behind and life in God ahead and before us.

Since we are born Gentiles we didn't stand a chance in the first place. But through Jesus we are wrapped into relationship with God. Through faith we are now God's children.

The Law is good, but to turn to the Law for salvation is misguided. We can't get to God through the Law. We can only gain our salvation through Jesus. We fall short of the Law. So when we think we can gain God's favor through the Law we disgrace the life of Jesus in his keeping of the Law, in his life, healing, ministry, suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection. Jesus is that fulfillment of the Law that we could never obtain by anything we could ever do on our own.

In a sense, we were crucified on that cross with Jesus. In our faith we have placed all hope on Jesus. We are crucified and give our life to Jesus upon that cross. Our old life is gone and dead and a new life begins in Jesus. Our "self" no longer is the ruler of our life. Jesus is the ruler of our life. It's no longer about what I can do but about what Jesus has already done and about what Jesus does in and through me and you.

So, if we believe we can be justified before God by obedience to the Law, we deceive ourselves and have sinned. We are only justified before God through Jesus. All our trust, hope and faith are in Jesus Christ, our one and only Lord and Savior. Thanks be to God!

Lord, it's so easy to want to do it all myself. It's so easy to believe yet impossible. I think that I am the answer and I get in the way of myself. I fail and am lost. So, I get up and try again only to fail again. I have this notion that I can get this right and will get it right and force myself. I know that I don't need you or anyone else. But it doesn't work that way. I'm in the way. So, I turn to you and see Jesus on that cross. I glance back and see myself on that cross. But Jesus felt all of the pain. Jesus became me on that cross and took on the punishment I deserved. Jesus saved me from myself. Jesus saved me from sin. Jesus saved me from death. And then came Sunday with Jesus resurrection. In me a new life begins, all through Jesus. How grateful I am for salvation. How grateful I am because I could never have done this on my own. A new life in me is growing and living and breathing. In me I feel your love... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 5:1-8 (New Revised Standard)
1 Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing. 2 Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. 4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you. 5 The boastful will not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 6 You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful. 7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house, I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you. 8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

I come to you each morning.
I tell you all of my problems.
I seek your guidance each day.
I look, I listen, I wait.

I come to you each morning.
I repent of sins I know.
I repent of sins I'm not aware of.
I look, I listen, I wait.

I come to you each morning.
I find you always awake and ready.
You set the order of my day.
I look, I listen, I wait.

I come to you each morning.
You remove the obstacles before me.
You grant me freedom to love this new day.
I look, I listen, I wait.

I come to you each morning.
I rejoice in your love and safety.
I'm refreshed to serve and love again.
I look, I listen, I wait.

I come to you each morning.
Father, Son, Spirit, I praise.
I sing of your glory.
I look, I listen, I wait.

Father, I come to you once again. I come with an open mouth and an open mind and open ears. Teach me your love and guide my life that I may love those you give to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Psalm 32

1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. (Selah) 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Selah) 6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. (Selah) 8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you. 10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

I'm so depressed about what I have done.
It seems that sleep will not come at all.
I can't fathom any rescue from my sin.
So I sit and wait and mourn my actions.

Lord, I come to you with a broken heart.
I come to you and seek forgiveness for what I have done.
My actions have separated me from you.
The thing I have done has caused great pain.

Yes, Lord, you forgive me!
My heart is full of the joy of your mercy.
You have heard my cry and shown love.
You are my Savior and Lord!

Teach me the will you have for me this day.
Instruct me in your way.
I live my life to please you.
You have shown me life from death.

Glory to you today and forever!
Hear my song in the heavens above.
You have healed the broken.
You give life eternal.

Lord, there are times in my sin when I feel so ashamed, so guilty, so far away from you. I come to you this day and in silence seek your forgiveness. I come to you this day with my Friday heart in pain and suffering. I come to you seeking that Saturday quiet and hoping for your Sunday resurrection. Forgive me and restore me and bring me to new life in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11th Reflection by Bill Lynch

1 Kings 21:1–21

1 Later the following events took place: Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of King Ahab of Samaria. 2 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." 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, "The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance." 4 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. 5 His wife Jezebel came to him and said, "Why are you so depressed that you will not eat?" 6 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.' " 7 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." 8 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. 9 She wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth at the head of the assembly; 10 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." 11 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, 12 they proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the assembly. 13 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. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead." 15 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." 16 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. 17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying: 18 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. 19 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." 20 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, 21 I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel;

King Ahab has all he needed in life but he wanted more. Ahab wanted Naboth's vineyard. He was willing to pay for it, but Naboth didn't want to sell. If Naboth sold his vineyard, for religious reasons Naboth would have placed his family into the hands of King Ahab as dependants.

Ahab was upset and told his wife, Jezebel the story later in the day. Jezebel was a woman that would plot and scheme a dishonest plan to have Naboth falsely accused. Naboth was brought forward for cursing God and a couple of witnesses gave false accounts to this. Naboth was punished and killed for something he didn't do. Now Ahab could have Naboth's vineyard just as he wanted.

The rich and the wealthy getting what they want through dishonest means. I can't help but to be disgusted with the weakness of Ahab and the conniving spirit of Jezebel. Lies and dishonesty and a man and his family taken advantage of, all for someone to get their way.

Whenever we resort to lies and deception and the silence of hurting another person, evil looms in the background. Evil and sin that destroys and takes away. But lies will not stay hidden. There will come a time when the lies will be exposed and the hurt and pain will come full circle. The blood of Naboth will cry out from the very same land of his death and the blood of Ahab and Jezebel will be exposed for the lie that is at the core of their beings.

The blood of Friday calls out in the life of Jesus. That disgusting lie of humankind will be exposed. The Thursday blood of Jesus will be fed to the Friday world of death. All followed by the cleanliness of the Light on Sunday. Take and eat and drink, Jesus body and blood given for you Naboth. Given for you and me when we die in the falsehood of a jealous world taking advantage of us. Naboth lives... King Ahab and Jezebel die in their lies.

So, who are you? At times I know that I am the weakling Ahab. At times I know that I am that evil Jezebel. At times I know that I am the victimized Naboth. In all times, I come to that Friday cross and repent. I seek the forgiveness of my sin. I seek the justice of my innocence when lied to and about. I come to that Friday cross and witness and wait for that Sunday resurrection to new life.

Lord, you play me on both sides of the story. Sometimes I'm Naboth. Sometimes I'm Ahab. Sometimes I'm Jezebel. Sometimes I'm the lie and other times I'm the victim of the lie. Teach me the clear and honest path to live my life that I may bring glory to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10th Reflection by Bill Lynch

2 Samuel 11:26—12:10; 12:13–15

2 Samuel 11:26-27
26 When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. 27 When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,

2 Samuel 12:1-10
1 and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, "There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds; 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him." 5 Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; 6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity." 7 Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; 8 I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.

2 Samuel 12:13-15
13 David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan said to David, "Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die." 15 Then Nathan went to his house. The Lord struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became very ill.

It's as if David hurried up and mourned the death of Uriah. Hurry up in the midst of the sin. Hurry up and maybe it will go away. Maybe God won't see the sin that I have committed.

We all have some of this "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

So, along comes Nathan with a story. A story that will appeal to David's sense of good. A story that will evoke judgment from one who judges. A story of David's own sin. A story of my sin and your sin as well.

We all have some of this "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

David witnesses to the story of Nathan in anger against the man who would take advantage of another man. David proclaims the punishment deserved. We all deserve this just punishment for our sin. But God graciously puts away our sin so that we will not die.

We all have some of this "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

Just because God puts away our sin so that we will not die, does not mean that the evil that our sin brought has disappeared. Sin brings with it an infectious spread of pain to those that are innocent. Our sin causes hate to spring forth. Our sin has an impact far wider that we could ever imagine. We will not escape the pain and the stench of our sin in this world. There will be consequences to our sin that we must live with and live through.

We all have some of this "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

And that's why we need a Savior. That's why God comes to us. We can't get out of this on our own. God will see us through and put that sin away. So we look and we stare at that cross. We see the blood stains and the body fluids. We hear the painful cries from Jesus and see those dirty rusty spikes in his arms and feet. God knows our sin in Jesus. God puts that sin away. God puts our sin... our "David" sin upon that cross... that awful Friday of darkness and death and sin ends in death. Silent, horrible death ends our sin.

We all have some of this "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

So we cry out lonely and desperately and in sorrow to God. "Forgive my sin! Lord, forgive me!" In God alone is there life after sin.

We all have some of the "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

We turn to God. We turn from our sin. We seek life from death... and we stare at that cross... and we see our Savior.

We all have some of the "David" in ourselves. We all are guilty of sin.

Father, forgive me for I have sinned.......... Only you can grant life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, June 08, 2013

June 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch

Galatians 1:11–24
11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. 14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord's brother. 20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, "The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy." 24 And they glorified God because of me.

The gospel doesn't come from me or any other human on this earth today. The Gospel comes from only one God and through one man and that man is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Don't look for the gospel of a person other than the Gospel of Christ. Paul stresses this in the passage above.

We are witnesses to the Gospel, we are not the gospel itself. Jesus reveals himself to us on his terms and in his way. We don't control how Jesus reveals himself to us. God determines this. Sometimes when I pray I limit God to only a few minutes to reveal his Word to me. Who do I think I am? God will reveal himself to me when and at the time God chooses, not the time allotment that I provide!

We receive the Gospel. We receive the Gospel when and where God chooses to give it to us. It's not ours to control. But the Gospel will come. It always has come to the people of God that wait in the faith and hope and love of God. We wait, trusting in the grace of God to come to us. We wait in anticipation of the love that God has shown so many people past, present and future. We wait on the revelation of Jesus in our lives. We wait and listen and pray and seek God at every turn and every corner and every place.

Yes, God set Paul apart before Paul existed in the flesh. And God sets each of his children apart. God set you apart and me apart before our flesh was formed. God picked the time that he would reveal himself to each one of us. God chooses the Gift and the means of giving. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- not the results of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Paul's conversion was through grace and your conversion and my conversion are by the grace of God. When God reveals himself to you... look out! You are on fire with curiosity and wonder and amazement. The Gospel becomes your message in your life. You begin to live, really live. I've recounted my first memory of Jesus revealing himself to me many times in this blog. At the age of five or six, through a dream or a memory or something else, I recall Jesus coming to the door of our house on Washington Street in Sidney Ohio. Jesus was accompanied by Moses, Elijah and some other person. Did I as a young person perhaps hear the transfiguration story? I don't know. I don't remember and I don't think it matters. I remember Jesus, not asking to come in, like the picture of Jesus knocking at the door, but rather Jesus asking me, "Can Billy come out to play?" This is how I remember Jesus revealing himself to me. Jesus revealing himself that time and so many times to come that I can't count them. Jesus revealing himself to me not because of anything I had done, but Jesus revealing himself to me on Jesus terms and conditions.

Then years of growth. Growth in the gospel maintained by a mother and father faithful to uphold baptismal promises made on July 15th 1956 to bring their new Child of God to church and provide instruction in the Word, the Sacraments and the Bible. Years of growth that continued to the time that at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Middletown Ohio on May 17th 1970 when I stood before a congregation of believers and proclaimed my belief in all that God had chosen to give to me in baptism and in life. A time when I took responsibility for what I had been taught in life by so many people about faith in God, and professed that faith with my own mouth and my own soul and my own mind. A time that Jesus once again revealed to me that the Gospel was alive and well and living in the life of myself and the Church. A time that was once again a beginning, or more like a continuing of Billy going out to play with Jesus in the world in which God would set me day after day in his grace and love. A world that would include Jesus, a world that would include other's of faith, a world that would include friends. Jesus at my door with Moses, Elijah and some other guy. Some other guy that came to be those God would give to me throughout my life. All inviting Billy to come out and play.

So, what about Paul and the passage above? Jesus was revealed to Paul and Paul went! He went to where God chose to send him in the way God chooses. Paul called and set apart before he even became flesh. You are called and set apart as well. I am called and set apart. So, we wait, we listen, we pray and we go. We go in the grace of God and the Gospel revealed to us through Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Lord, I wait, I listen, I wonder and I look for you. I look knowing that you have set me apart. I listen to hear your voice when you are ready to speak. I seek your will and your way daily in my life that I may bring glory and honor and praise to you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen