Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 30th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Isaiah 5:1-7
Let me sing for my beloved
   my love-song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
   on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
   and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watch-tower in the midst of it,
   and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes,
   but it yielded wild grapes.

And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
   and people of Judah,
judge between me
   and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard
   that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
   why did it yield wild grapes?

And now I will tell you
   what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
   and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
   and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a waste;
   it shall not be pruned or hoed,
   and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
   that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
   is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
   are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
   but saw bloodshed;
righteousness,
   but heard a cry!

Reflection
It's not just the Israelites. It's not just the other guy. It's me too! God invests a lot of time and love into my life. God works on me to change me into what God would have me be and I fail at it. I don't produce the fruit God is looking for and it seems all the work God has placed in me hasn't done one bit of good.

It's not like I don't see this myself. It's not like I can't see my own short-comings. But I've found out that I can't please God from my own doings. I can't do this on my own. I discover that I need God to work on me and to prune me and to take care of me in order for growth and fruit to happen.

And then when I turn from myself and see the mess I've left behind from my own selfish doings; God comes to me. God comes to me in a Savior. God comes to me in Jesus and makes something out of the mess that I have made of myself. God comes to me and lives and dies for me so that I can live and grow in God.

That's my God! That's the God that saves me from my sinfulness and my selfishness and my desires to tear apart what God has planted. God comes to me to give me new life and new hope and everlasting love and relationship with God.

No, God is not finished with me. I'm finished with myself but God is not finished with me. I turn from myself and turn to God for salvation and life. God in love for me has provided a new hope and new life and a wonderful opportunity for me to love God and love those God gives to me each and every day.

Yes, God has loved me to the death of myself and now I live!

Thanks be to God!

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhHWeAYJN14

Prayer
Lord, as I see the mess I've made of myself; I look to you. I watch for you. I see you coming to me in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit and as Father, Mother, Creator. Lord as I turn from the mess I've made, come to me to help me be what you would have me be. I want to always be in your love. Teach me to love those you give to me each day. Forgive me as I forgive. And show me your will and your way for me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 21:23-32
 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?’ And they argued with one another, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will say to us, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “Of human origin”, we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.’ So they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’ And he said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, the tax-collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax-collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Reflection
Well, now we know the answer to Jesus' question. Jesus is God so the authority is God's authority to do the things that Jesus was doing. It's like pretending to know something just because you came afterwards. But now that we know this... now what? What do we make of this passage? What does this passage of scripture say to you and to me?

I still need to read the parable that Jesus tells after the question. I still need to hear this and understand it a little to know what to do with this passage for myself. Jesus as God came into this world to do the Father's will. That will was to love all of us to death in a way. Jesus came from the perfection of heaven into this messy, sinful, evil world filled with illness and death in order to save all of us from this situation we have created for ourselves.

It's not just like one person created this mess either. We all have sinned. We all have contributed to the mess of this world. We all carry some responsibility for the illness, the death, the sin, the war, the hunger, the pain... All of us are guilty.

But Jesus wasn't guilty of any of this. Jesus as God came from heaven into our mess to be with us to walk with us to teach us to heal us to save us from this mess and take us to him. Jesus as God comes to us and does the will of the Father.

I don't know... but Jesus may not have wanted to come into the vineyard of this world and this mess to pick the grapes that the Father directed for him to do but Jesus did it anyway.

So, what about me and what about you? How are we to respond? We are in this mess of a world with illness, with war, with death and on and on. Now what? I think we listen to the authority of Jesus. I think we stay in this world and walk along side of Jesus and learn from our teacher to heal the sick, feed the poor, console the depressed, teach the Word, proclaim the Gospel, stand up for those that are persecuted, help the addicted...

You can go on and on with action items that even Jesus took in his day that we could perform today. You can do each or any of these things with the knowledge that the Holy Spirit will give you the gifts and the abilities to perform the tasks that God directs you to do.

You can do these things even while you yourself are sick, poor, ill, and in pain. I think God calls us to live in this world knowing that Jesus has taken care of the next world that will be vastly different. Jesus will take us to heaven... but for now... for now... we have some work to do even in the midst of our own struggles and pain.

But why?

Because God chose to come to us in the flesh and blood of Jesus and in the spirit of the Holy Spirit to save us from what we have done to ourselves and one another. God chooses to have a relationship with each and with all of us. God chooses to love us and call us God's own. God chooses to pour a new cleansing water on us and give a new birth and seals us with the cross of Jesus pain and suffering and Jesus resurrection right on our forehead and claim us as God's own.

Even in the midst of the pain and illness of this world we ARE children of God, chosen by God to live out the hope of salvation for all the people God gives to us each day.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsqBApmC11s

Prayer
Lord, especially when I don't feel like it or feel good myself due to illness, sin, persecution, misunderstanding or any other reason, give me the guts to carry out the mission you have for me in this world to love those you give to me as you have loved and saved me and all the people; that we all may join in that perfect relationship of love with you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 17:1-7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Reflection
I work in maintenance. For the most part I work to support and manage a group of highly skilled technicians who maintain and repair machine tools, lasers, metal spray, water-jet, chemical cleaning/stripping and NDT equipment. The technicians possess the needed skills to troubleshoot and repair. I assist with any knowledge I may be able to add and  provide organization and the evaluation of the maintenance work and the priorities of such work. All of this equipment is used to support the repair of aviation engines and components.

There is more to maintenance than this side of the business as well. There are the buildings, the roofs, the HVAC systems, the material handling and the safety of all the employees. And as well there are all of the distribution systems including electrical, water, gas and of course what we all need the plumbing that removes human and factory waste.

With this in mind... I hear complaints! I hear complaints all day long! Most of the time... in the 90% range, equipment is available for use and running. This percentage stays high because all of the effort that is placed by the maintenance department upon preventive and predictive maintenance. This is work that is done to keep the equipment in running order and minimize unexpected repairs.

Even with this... for the most part... all I hear are complaints! I don't hear about how the equipment is running and capable of running even while sitting idle. I hear the complaints that a "hot" part can only be run on one of many machines that are capable of running this "hot" part that are not set up to run this "hot" part and the machine that production needs to run the "hot" part did not function just like expected.

So... I hear complaints! Hurry up and get this one machine running... the only machine set up out of many machines that can run the "hot" part. When will someone arrive? What's wrong with the equipment? Can you make it run in 15 minutes? How long? Hurry!

And then I think of Moses. People complain. They complain about the "hot" part not running. They complain it is too hot or too cold. Sometimes both of the complainers are standing in the same place... one is too hot and the other is too cold. The toilet doesn't flush to their liking. The desk drawer is stuck. The roof leaks. The water tastes funny. On and on and on and on... people complain. Hurry up!!! I can't take this or that or whatever the complaint of the day may be any longer! I'm going home! People complain!!!

Like Moses... sometimes I just have to stop and think... "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me."

And then it hits me. I complain as well! Just look at it! Look at the past few paragraphs... my complaints!!!

We all complain and cry and pout and shout and want something to go away or to just get better. We all complain and I think the complaints are for sure directed to one another but they are also directed towards God. We complain to God all the time! We want everything to be easy and fun and no problem.

But we live in a world full of sin, death, the devil and problems. We brought this whole thing upon ourselves. God didn't do all of this to us... we did it to ourselves! And we complain! All of us complain and whine and moan and groan about this situation or this person or this machine or whatever!

And then... and then... we find God right there with us. God listening to our complaints. God coming to us in the midst of the mess I made and in the center of the mess you made. God comes to show us something different from the life of complaining. God shows us how to accept what we have been given. God show us how to walk through this world of illness, sin, death, complaints and sorrow to be with him now and forever. God comes to us even when we are the most bitter people on the planet and shows us Jesus.

God comes to us and saves us from any and all complaints we could ever come up with by coming to us in flesh and blood and in the body and spirit of Jesus to live, to suffer and to die for us that we may look forward to an everlasting relationship of love for God and love for one another.

Yes God comes to us and gives us the refreshing water of a renewed and remarkable life right here and right now... even in the midst of our complaints and sin.

Think about it a while... so now what do you have to complain about?

Let's live in the joy and hope of our saving God that always comes in the midst of our complaints and has given us a new frame of mind and a new spirit of love for God and for all the other complainers we live with each day.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtdC4If0tyM
No matter what... God still thinks you're the sweetest baby in town.

Prayer
Lord, forgive me when I complain and moan and groan. Open my eyes to your gracious salvation and the joy that only you can give, that I may joyfully live with all the complainers of this world in the love of Christ Jesus... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23rd Reflection by Bill Lynch


Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
The word of the Lord came to me: What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? As I live, says the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.

 Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ O house of Israel, are my ways unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?

 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, all of you according to your ways, says the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions; otherwise iniquity will be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.

Reflection
"It's just not fair!" This was and and still is an expression I've heard from my children, from friends, from family and from my own mouth. Well, life is just not fair! That's all there is to it. Life is not fair. Or is it?

Perhaps life is fair. Perhaps it's not life that is not fair but rather my motives, my reasons, my sin that causes things in life to be unfair. I don't think God created you, me and all that exists out of a sense of not being fair. Then again... maybe fair or unfair was not any part of creation.

I think that God is fair in every way possible. It's my sin that gets in the way of fair. And there isn't a one of us who can escape some of the blame for unfair lives. God granted life to live and life to the fullest. It was my own doing that ruined this life. God was fair... but I wasn't fair to God. I'm the one who took the chance and sinned. I'm the one who thought I could get away with sin and God wouldn't find out. I'm the one who wasn't fair to God and return the joy of life that God graciously gave me.

I'm the one that needs to repent and turn to God and change. Yet, out of love, God turns and repents and changes. Yes, God repents and changes and turns to me out of deep compassionate love and repents and changes his mind and decides to love me to death. God loves me to the death. God comes to me in Jesus and gives his life for my sin and changes just so that I can live. Yes, God repents... so why wouldn't I repent and change?

God is the fair one and when I realize that... God's repentance and God's change... springs forth a repentance and a change that comes spontaneously in my life to God. Both God and myself have repented and changed and turned back. Both God and I turn back to one another and I see the love in the eyes and in the face and in the Spirit of Jesus.

God the Creator of all that is fair. God the Redeemer of all that is unfair. God the Spirit who graciously gives all that is needed for life... a life that is fair... and even a life in the midst of my sin that is unfair.

"Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is unfair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair?"

So, I think I'll put away that worn out expression of mine, of yours and of so many people... "It's just not fair!"

No... God IS fair and loving and saving and life.

Thanks be to God!

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbZ124lFz60

Prayer
Lord, hear my words of repentance that you may see the change in my life as I turn towards you. Show me how to live fairly with those you give to me each day that I may turn to them as you have turned to me in love and compassion and understanding and action... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22nd Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 20:1-16
‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the market-place; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the labourers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’

Reflection
From the passage cited a couple of days ago the message of privilege becomes clear. As I hear Paul's message it's a privilege to believe. It's also a privilege to suffer for the sake of the gospel. And in this passage I can see where it is a privilege to work for Jesus in the kingdom of God, or in the vineyard in this case.

It's not about the pay or the reward or the satisfaction it brings to myself. It's about the privilege that God gives each of us and all of us to be able to work in the vineyard, to be able to believe in Jesus, to be able to suffer for the gospel.

We all are homeless and begging for work. None of us deserve anything. In fact, due to my sin, your sin and the sin of all the people we only deserve... deserve... death and eternal punishment in hell. Think about that. We don't deserve anything and we aren't owed anything by anyone... especially God. We aren't entitled to one little thing!

But... but... God sent Jesus into this world as flesh and blood. God came to us in this world through flesh and blood. God came to us in the power of the Holy Spirit and Mary gave birth to Jesus who is God. And through Jesus life, ministry, teaching, healing, suffering, death and resurrection gave us a privilege. A privilege that we did not earn. Jesus gave us a privilege to believe. Jesus, that is God, gave us a privilege to work in the kingdom of God. Jesus, gave us a privilege to live with God in God's Kingdom and enjoy everlasting life with God and with all God's people. God GAVE this privilege.

So why grumble? The longer I'm in the realization and the promise of this gift of the privilege to believe, to work, to suffer for the gospel... the happier... the more joyful... the longer I'm with God in God's love.

Yet... when you think about eternity... what's a few hours in a day. Let's all be happy for the one that is given the opportunity to enjoy the privilege... even if they only arrive to work at the end of the day.

Thanks be to God!

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJH9BLrN83U

Prayer
Lord, lead us all to hear your call and join in the privilege to work in your Kingdom... no matter what time of day... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, September 19, 2014

September 19th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Philippians 1:21-30
For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

 Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well— since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Reflection
I like the way Paul puts it here... it is a privilege to believe in Christ. I like that way of putting it. It's why I live. It's why I exist. In the privilege of believing in Christ I can live to die. I can live to die to myself, my sin, my desires for all of life to be about me and live for Christ. In the privilege of believing in Christ I can be Jesus' disciple and follow in his teachings, his ways and his will. And in the privilege of believing in Christ, I no longer need to worry about my own needs but the will of God in my life and the needs of those God gives to me in this life that I live.

I think that was what Paul was trying to convey in his letter. Sure, Paul and I too, would like to be with Jesus. But my death will come and so did Paul's death on this earth. But while all of us are here we need to "get over ourselves" and live out the privilege we have been given to believe in Christ. In the believing in Christ we live in the here and now knowing that Jesus has already taken on our sin and freed us to live a new life that follows him in the love Jesus has shown all the world through his saving grace on the cross and his resurrection to everlasting life. We live the privilege of believing that the work that God gives us to do here and now is just what God wants us to do here and now. That work is to love God and love those that God gives to us each day.

Easier said than done for most if not all of us. Some of the people God gives to us each day we just love to hate. But we still live the privilege of believing that God has something in store even for those we can't stand. Something wonderful and life-giving. And maybe... just maybe... at some point... those we can't stand will too... live the privilege of believing in Christ.

Enough of that will change everything. And that's just what this world needs.

All the people living the privilege of believing in Christ.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQBDtKC-cQ0

Prayer
Lord, thank you for granting me the privilege to believe in you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 145:1-8
Praise. Of David.
I will extol you, my God and King,
   and bless your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will bless you,
   and praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
   his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall laud your works to another,
   and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendour of your majesty,
   and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
   and I will declare your greatness.
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
   and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Reflection
Get up some morning and just look around. Look around at what you see, hear, smell and taste. Just use whatever senses you have at whatever level you can garner to observe everything around yourself. Then ask yourself... how? How did this come to be? How did the light come on? Why did I hear the alarm clock? What about that dog that seems to show me all the love in the world even at 4:00 a.m. Why?

You could come up with probably fifty questions like this in a matter of three minutes. Then pick two or three of those questions and dig deep into the answer with the resources you have available. Maybe you will need some tools or instruments or meters to measure sound. Maybe you will need to understand the waves of the sound that you can't even see, Perhaps an oscilloscope would help to visualize sound for you. Sometime during the day go to the library and research sound. Use the internet and Google all sorts of new questions about sound. Why did you hear anything at all and how did that sound get into your head? How does the ear work and how does the sound go from the ear to the brain?

This question in this example is just one of the many... Why did I hear the alarm clock?

Your research really takes some people a lifetime. We really can't reach all of the answers to this one question even in the lifetime of one person let alone a group of scientists looking at this same issue. Now imagine just two more of your early morning questions and how long that would take to fully understand just the beginning of knowledge on the subject.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
   his greatness is unsearchable.

All we have and all we see and even what we can't see comes from God. The greatness of God is unsearchable. Well, we can search... we just can't realize the greatness of it all. Even with the one question about sound. We can search but can't fathom in our minds the greatness of God. It's just beyond our understanding. But, in that comes a great joy in life. The search draws us towards God and we stand, perhaps kneel, better yet fall on our face before God in joyful proclamation of the fun of discovering even a tidbit of what God has in store for us. And that's just the one question about sound! How great is that!

We have a God that loves us so much that we can't even fathom the depths of that love. We have a God that loves us so much, God became one of us to live and die for us, to unite us with him in an everlasting relationship. We have a God worthy of praise! We have a God that is highly exalted and all powerful and all knowing and everlasting. We have a God that wants to be with us, even and because of, just how we are. Yes, we have a wonderful Savior!

And just on this first question about sound...

On the glorious splendour of your majesty,
   and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed,
   and I will declare your greatness.
They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness,
   and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

And then to bring this all home to me and to you and to anyone who chooses to believe and even to some of those who don't yet believe...

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Wow!

Video


Prayer
Lord, you astound me each and every day... each and every moment... I am surrounded by miracles... I am surrounded by angels... I am surrounded by the heavenly host most of whom I can't see and some that you reveal to me in the people you give  to me each day. All I can say is WOW! I give you all the glory and honor and praise, for you have chosen to be with me and come to me and save me from sin and death. Use me this day to proclaim your power and majesty to all the world that all... some... any... one... may realize your presence in their life as well. For you are gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September 16th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 16:2-15
The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’

 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.’ So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?’ And Moses said, ‘When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.’

 Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, “Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.” ’ And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked towards the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” ’

 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.

Reflection
The Lord comes to our rescue and we are glad and happy. But how short lived is our sense of joy and satisfaction. Soon we become complacent and begin to grumble and complain. It seems we always want things to be better than what they are. We want and demand for things to continuously improve.

There is a system of management around continuous improvement. This is a very effective set of values that create increased quality of materials, products, processes and workflow. A process that does work and has brought many manufacturers back into greater sales of goods and processes. There seems to be no reaching the goal of "good enough." But, this is a process  that works within the realm of imperfect goods, services, people and processes.

What the passage above questions is just this. The end result of God leading the Israelites into freedom and the relationship the Chosen People have with God is not limited to imperfection. God IS perfection in all ways. God is perfect in love and compassion and understanding and caring. It's just that our human sense keeps us from returning that love with the same trust and understanding and caring and love and compassion. And in this failure, we are the sinners. It's not that God doesn't care... it's that we don't  trust God to take care of us completely.

This difference in trust is our sin. This difference in trust is our failure. Oh, how easy it becomes to blame it all on God. God didn't love me, care for me, have compassion for me in my hunger, my sickness, my poverty, my homelessness, my addiction, my...

None of this is true! These are all the things that we tend to unjustly blame God for a lack of something. God DID save us after all. Why can't we trust God even in the dark times? We rejoice in the good and awesome times with God and celebrate the power and love of God, so why not trust and have faith even in the darkest of moments?

It's in these moments, the dark moments of life, that we find God. We find God's love IS caring and understanding and loving and compassionate. God even comes to us in the midst of our mistrust and doubt and faithlessness and shows us his unending love and compassion and understanding. God is with us in the good times and comes to our rescue in our moments of doubt.

In this we see a God that doesn't need continuous improvement. God is perfect in love and compassion and understanding. Nothing can get any better than this God we have that loves us to death. So, as we live our lives God works on us to make us into what God wants us to be through love, compassion, understanding and salvation from the very sin that we do that separates us from God. God takes our sinful separation and closes the gap and comes to us anyway.

With God we can look forward to a new glory and a new life. We can look back to remember what it was but always look forward in the trust and hope that God's perfection in love, compassion and understanding far surpasses any notion that we can achieve our own salvation through our own efforts of continuous improvement. With God we see the vision of perfect love in Christ Jesus.

"...in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” ’"

Yes... each and every morning... God comes! So, we live in this trust and hope and faith.

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjVgm9-XTqQ

Prayer
Come, Lord Jesus, come. Come to me as the bread, the body, the blood, the wine. Come to me in your Spirit that I may see you in the midst of my sin, repent and return to you. For you are always there, even in the midst of my complaints you are there to save me from myself and sin and death. Yes, dear Lord come... I need you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Jonah 3:10-4:11
 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.

 The Lord God appointed a bush, and made it come up over Jonah, to give shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort; so Jonah was very happy about the bush. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the bush, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God prepared a sultry east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint and asked that he might die. He said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.’
 But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’

Reflection
They need to get what they deserve. It's the only way they will learn to behave! I know what's best in this case and it's certainly not mercy or love... it's punishment... expel... remove... defeat... death! They've had plenty of chances to turn this thing around!

That's how I feel sometimes when I think I know what is needed to solve certain group or people issues that I have decided need to end. I'm sure I'm not alone in some of these feelings either. In fact, I think Jonah had a few of these thoughts floating around in his head as well.

Jonah was sent on a mission to tell the people the consequences of their sin. I believe that Jonah was already so upset with the people of Nineveh that he didn't even want to go tell them... just take care of this God! You know what to do!

How may times have I been angry with a vendor or a contractor, in my line of work, that I didn't even want to go tell them the consequences of my dissatisfaction with product or service? I just wanted to, and have, just ended the relationship without a warning. I know this seems like a trivial comparison to what is going on in this passage with Jonah above but I can relate to it. I'm sure you have other ways to relate as well.

And then after Jonah finally delivers the message he didn't want to deliver in the first place. God forgives the people! How could God do this! Jonah went out of his will and his way to do what God wanted and God didn't back him up one bit! Jonah knew God would back down after all. Especially when he thought about how God is merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. God! I'm the one on your side and you pick their side!

That's it! I've had enough of life! Jonah seeks death. But God reaches out to Jonah even in the midst of his despair.

God demonstrates to Jonah how Jonah cared more for a bush than Jonah cared about the people that God created in Nineveh. Jonah wanted to watch a show from the bush. A show of the death and destruction of the people of Nineveh, just as he had warned them with God's Word. But instead... all he got was this lousy bush for shade that died instead.

God is saving people. God is saving creation. God is coming into relationship with all the people, not just the "good" ones... all the people

God reaches out with comfort and teaches Jonah. God is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love; now to Jonah as well. God's mercy is for all people. The messengers and those in need of repentance. Which in the end turns out to be be not only the people of Nineveh but Jonah and you and I as well.

And then in this struggle between God and Jonah and the people of Nineveh and you and I; we are shown the gift of God's love in salvation. Salvation where God comes to us in relationship with us and is merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. And God saves... saves it all...

"And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’"

Yes... even the animals!

"... for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing."

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngIR-EtbvQo

Prayer
Lord, change me into what you would have me be... give me your qualities of patience, slowness to anger, mercy and steadfast love as I deal with those you present to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen


Saturday, September 13, 2014

September 13th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 18:21-35
 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
 ‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

Reflection
We all need forgiveness. How much we all need forgiveness! We need forgiveness from God and we need forgiveness from one another. When need to forgive and be forgiven by God and each other. We all are in this same position. All...

And God sent Jesus to grant us forgiveness. God took the first step. A step that we could not take on our own. We need Jesus to show us how to forgive and to forgive us. Because... we all need forgiveness. So, in the act of Jesus upon this earth and in this place, his living, his dying, his resurrection; we have all been given forgiveness.

So now what? What are you and what am I to do with this forgiveness that God has graciously and freely given?

First is to recognize that I need forgiveness and you need forgiveness and we all need forgiveness. So we turn to God and repent. We repent and recognize that salvation is not through our own efforts but through the giving of Jesus life to us to forgive the sins we have committed.

Second is to respond to this glorious gift of God and praise God. A spontaneous response to the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Third is to boldly reach out in forgiveness to one another and seek forgiveness from each other.

After all... we all need forgiveness.

We can't back off from this. Forgiveness is not one and done. It's something we all need to do all of our lives. We all need forgiveness.

That's the way of the love of God through Christ Jesus.

So, we forgive and grant new life in the love of God through Christ Jesus.

Because... we all need forgiveness... and God has shown us how!

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSl5KTc2D0o

Prayer
Lord, life knocks us down. Life presents twists and turns that we could never have predicted. But you have remained with us each on our own path throughout life. You have never given up on us. You have lead us through all the various life challenges set before us and put us together to live in unity with you and one another. In this life, may we as you have forgiven us, forgive one another. May we seek forgiveness and forgive, for it is the way you have shown us to live... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, September 12, 2014

September 12th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Romans 14:1-12
Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

 Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God.

 We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

 Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written,
‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
   and every tongue shall give praise to God.’
So then, each of us will be accountable to God.

Reflection
How it seems we all like to get our opinion out there and make sure everyone knows that only our opinion is the one that is correct and the one that counts. How we love to hear ourselves talk and be the expert in everything. Well... some of us like to do this... but I don't think all of us like to do this.

One of the things I enjoy the most about the Saturday Morning Men's Group that I attend at church is hearing the opinions and viewpoints of the other guys present. That's what I really want to hear. That's what sparks my mind and spirit to think about God and our relationship with God in different ways. After all... I know what I think for the most part. I'm the first to admit that my way of thinking is just one way of thinking and I want and need the checks and balances that come from hearing the opinions of the other guys and the Word of God speaking through them to me. I don't want to go to argue about things. I go to hear God's Word spoken through fellow Christians.

And this same logic goes beyond just the Saturday Morning Men's Group. I like to hear the opinions and viewpoints of all sorts of various Christian denominations and then even follow that up with hearing the viewpoints of people that aren't Christian at all. God even speaks in many and various ways to me.

But through it all, I have remained a Christian. I have remained a person that is in love with my relationship with God and with Christians and with all those God gives to me each day.

Do I agree with everyone? No! Do I get along with everyone? No! Do I think that I ever will agree and get along with everyone? No!

But I will continue to live for the Lord. I will continue to seek and hunt and ask questions and listen. I will continue to express how God is active in and through me and how God has been with me in all the phases of my life. I will continue to proclaim that awesome saving grace of what God has done for me and for all people through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I will continue to express the Holy Spirit's gifts and call and guidance in this life and all life. I will continue to stand in awe of the Creator's power and mystery and majesty of life as presented to me on this earth and in heaven forever.

And most of all, I will praise God.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oADMOG89UPg

Prayer
Lord, daily you show me your power, authority and majesty. May I see you in those you give to me no matter who they may be. You have created all and all are valuable in your sight. May my opinions not get in the way of another person's sight of you. May I not live to myself but rather die to myself that I may live for you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 103:8-13
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
   nor will he keep his anger for ever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
   nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
   so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
   so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
   so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.

Reflection
How grateful I am that God doesn't treat me in accordance to my sins. God doesn't give me what I deserve. How wonderful it is to have a Heavenly Father that knows me enough to work with me and teach me and guide me through my sinfulness in order to keep me as His child in His Kingdom.

If I were to get what I deserved I would be lost in hell forever. But God has chosen to keep this relationship with me and I'm overwhelmed with joy that God has made this choice. Overwhelmed to the point of a joy that creates a spontaneous response of love towards God, God's will for me, God's mission for me and God's relationship with me that causes me to want to please God with all my being.

When I sing this psalm to the Lord I see and understand how I fear the Lord. Not a fear that is a retreat and run type fear but rather a fear of honor and glory and love and service towards God.

Yes, how grateful I am that God doesn't treat me in accordance to my sins.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy4ytwKfjBI

Prayer
Lord, as I come to you this day; keep my priorities in order. When I get all wrapped up in the worries and the hustle and the bustle and the demands of this day that many times are wrong, misguided and foolish; help me to see You. Help me to understand what is temporary and what is eternal. Help me to see through my sin and the sin of those around me to see the compassion and love you have offered and given to all of us as we struggle each day. Lord, thank you for forgiveness. Lead me in forgiving others instead of living a life of angst and bitterness towards those you present to me... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

September 9th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 14:19-31
 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’
 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Reflection
You're being chased and hounded from every side it seems at times. You are forced to do things that just don't make any sense. All of life is beginning to seem hopeless and for nothing. You toss and turn at night with thoughts that fly by into the darkness. Sometimes the life you are living seems like torture.

Yet there is this inkling that you need to get alone. Get alone with God. You need God to rescue you from your life situation. You have tried every angle and solution that you could ever imagine and still no one listens to you and no one leaves you go to get with God.

The time comes to go to God. So, you give up on your own selfish ways and take a leap of faith. You trust God and just go. You go to be with God not knowing what will be next or how anything will take place along the way. You just do it and go. And as you go, you discover something.

When you let go into the hands of God... God is there. God is there to light the way. God is there to lead and guide you. God is there looking and watching and taking care of your back. God is there preparing the way to cross over. Yes, God is there to lead you in that great "cross over" that abar that passover. God is with you all along the way to care for you and lead you and guide you, even into what is unknown for you and for me... abar.

"Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses."

And it goes as well for all who let go and believe in the One who came to save us all.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnxsyWw6A6I

Prayer
Lord, as life situations present themselves help me in the letting go. Forgive me when I cling to my own will and my own way and lead me in your will and your way that I may cross over in the power of your love salvation... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Monday, September 08, 2014

September 8th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Genesis 50:15-21
 Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, ‘What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?’ So they approached Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this instruction before he died, “Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.” Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.’ Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, ‘We are here as your slaves.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.’ In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

Reflection
Forgive! Forget about the grudge and just forgive it! Wow! Seems like such an easy statement to type but the reality of this for myself and many other people is so far different. I can't get that rotten offense out of my head! How can I forgive something like that! He knew what he was doing at the time. I heard those words spoken. I can't just ignore what happened and forgive it all. It's just not that easy.

Look at what Joseph said and did though. He forgave. I wonder if in the back of his head somewhere he was thinking, "Ha! It didn't work out like these guys thought and I ended up on top!" Well, if so, then maybe forgiveness was a little easier. Maybe it wasn't even forgiveness. But, what if Joseph had remained in prison and died there? How would he feel about the sin of his brothers against him? Would it be as easy to forgive?

Then again, I have to think about the situation. Joseph wasn't left in prison to die. Joseph was in the position he was given by God at this moment. Joseph did forgive his brothers and take care of their needs. Those are just the easy things that Joseph did.

The hard part was for the brothers. The brothers needed to repent of the wrongs they had committed. They came to Joseph and wanted to make up. Did they want to make up because their father had died and the father was the uniting figure of the family? Most likely perhaps. But this situation was presented now and the reason to repent was at hand to seek forgiveness from Joseph. Paybacks are hell when they are evil and calculated. So, the brothers turn to Joseph for forgiveness.

And they get something they didn't expect. They hear the Word of God spoken through Joseph. Actually, I think, maybe the Word that comes from Joseph's own mouth may have even surprised Joseph as well. In my opinion, I think that Joseph and the brothers begin to realize the grace of God in this place and time.

What the brothers meant for evil, God has turned into something wonderful. Something wonderful for not only Joseph the brothers and family but for two nations of people as well and for the entirety of all the created.

God shows us how to forgive. God shows that even in the midst of our own sinful acts, God is in control. God has a plan. God has a mission to carry out that saves all the people. That mission is through forgiveness and renewal and new life in relationship with God and with one another. Even in the midst of our doubts and evil schemes for control ourselves; we realize that God brings to us forgiveness and new life and salvation.

Salvation to be fulfilled through God. Salvation through God's actions of Jesus for all the people. Forgiveness comes through the cross and the sacrifice God paid for all the people. God's plan is unfolding and we are a part of it.

How could Joseph or the brothers help but to respond...

"But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God?"

Both Joseph and the brothers were set in a forgiving situation by God. A situation to forget your power and authority and forgive; and a situation to realize your sin and repent. Both Joseph and the brothers are humbled in the presence of the forgiveness of God.

Forgiveness is God's work and we too can and will forgive one another. We too can do what we thought couldn't be done and forgive. We can because we have been graciously and freely forgiven ourselves by the life giving actions of God through Christ Jesus. We CAN forgive and we WILL forgive.

How else could we respond to what God has done for us... how else?

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtZA8XOpvUc

Prayer
Lord, show me those situations that I need to repent and those situations where I need to forgive, that I may act boldly in your grace... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Saturday, September 06, 2014

September 6th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Matthew 18:15-20
 ‘If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’

Reflection
Last night on my way in to the high school football game in Middletown there was a few people standing with some signs. I didn't even read the signs. At first it seemed like this one man shouting, as the people lined up to buy tickets, was John the Baptist or something. He was shouting how we all needed to repent and turn to God. OK, I thought sure, that's true. But the judgment of the people walking in by this man started to become pointed at certain people and confrontational. I listened and kept my mouth shut just thinking about how this isn't what makes me feel good about being a Christian myself. It seemed way to lopsided on how the people buying tickets would take away as a viewpoint of God. Is God just this guy who yells and screams at all of creation and the people that God created about how awful we are and how we are going to hell if we don't do something and change ourselves? That's sure what seemed to be the portrayal that I was getting. I didn't like it at all. It didn't seem to meet up with my viewpoint of God.

The yelling became hurtful at some point when a young man from the opposing team (I believe), came in dressed up, as so many dress at football games. I think he may have had painted colors on his skin for his team and he was wearing a little fake cheerleader dress of sorts. It was all just part of his costume to cheer on his own high school team. The man yelling at the crowd told him that cross-dressers were going to hell. Really? Where does this man representing Christians get off making a judgment as this? This kid was just coming in to cheer for his team. What if he came in dressed as their mascot the "Tigers," would that be a hell bent judgment as well from the yelling Christian? So I mumble something to my son in line with me and go on. Should I have spoken up? Maybe... maybe not... not sure.

None of all of this action seemed to portray the life, healing, teaching, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus to my way of thinking. Oh, how I wanted to reach out to the screaming Christian and tell him to take two minutes of his condemnation and take one minute reflecting on his own life about what he was yelling at these people buying tickets and seek his own forgiveness. Oh, how I wanted to speak up... but I didn't... I mumbled and went on. I didn't even comfort or say anything to the kid as a guest to our home field.

So, is this how we portray Christ in public. Maybe the screaming Christian and myself both should reflect and repent. I know it's weighed on my mind since that incident. So, as I reflect on the passage above I think about how we judge. How do we draw the line? What is the gauge? Who decides who is right or wrong about the issue and who goes forth to point out the sin to whom? Who get tossed out of the game? Who gets to stay and why? Repent... repent... repent... these words just keeping coming to mind.

But then I think about the other side of the story. The part the screaming Christian was leaving out. What about shouting to all the people God LOVES YOU!!! God LOVES each one of you!!! God LOVES you sinners, and I'm one of the biggest sinners here as well!!! But, rest assured that I know God LOVES me and God LOVES you!!! Rejoice in God's LOVE for you! Jesus came to die for your sin because he LOVES you and me!!! All the repentance in the world will not save you. You are only saved because God LOVES you, me and all of us. First realize this! Realize the love of God in Christ Jesus... then turn from your sin and repent. Repent right here with me! Repent and realize this awesome gift of forgiveness that God has graciously and freely given to me the greatest of sinners and to you too.

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’"

Why don't we bind the LOVE of God here on earth rather than the judgment and condemnation of one for another by some standard we have created on our own? Why don't we loose on earth the LOVE of God rather than the hate of one for another because of our different sinfulness? Why don't we gather in the name of Jesus and let the LOVE of God in Christ Jesus draw us together in a relationship of love towards one another and towards God?

Oh, how I want Jesus to be there with us together... in my inaction... in my speechlessness... and even in the words of the screaming Christian at the football game.

"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them."

Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MblrWZDpPQ

Prayer
Lord, teach me to see your grace, your love, your forgiveness, your will and your way as I discern when to speak, when to remain quiet, when to comfort and when to join in prayer with all those you give and present to me each day. Unite all people in the love you have shown to all the world through Jesus' death and resurrection that we all may live in the relationship with one another and with you... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Friday, September 05, 2014

September 5th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Romans 13:8-14
 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Reflection
Love is the fulfilling of the law. Love God and love neighbor. It sounds and seems so simple. That's the beauty of the message. It's easy to hear and easy to understand but our sinfulness makes it mighty tough to do.

I don't want to love some people. It's that simple too. There are some people that I just don't want to love. They are the ones that you work and work to obey this commandment all life. And these people aren't just one and done people, where you finally find a way to first just put up with them and then you finally make a little room to kind of like them. And then maybe just maybe you care about them and then every once in a while you love them. Then there are other people that come along that you just can't stand and the cycle starts all over again. It's exhausting trying to love people you don't even just dislike a little bit!

Yet...
"'Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law."

Man! That's hard... at least for me... I'll admit it. I'm not going to smile and pretend this is not easy. Some people, especially Christians will put on that smiley face and act like it's all so easy. I have a problem thinking that they are sincere in their attempts to fully love the person they can't stand. Then throw in those people you flat out disagree with or can't even stand to hear their viewpoints on life or anything. And what about evil people? It's not that easy!

Then consider...
"Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness..."

Well, each passing moment we are closer in closer in our human realm of time to getting this love done. Each passing moment in our human element of time is a gift from God to do God's will and to love ALL the people. Isn't that what Jesus did when he was in our human realm of time? Jesus was on a mission! He was here to love ALL the people and he did it! He was born, lived, taught, healed, gathered the outcasts and the people that had been set aside along with all the people of creation to offer a gift so wonderful, unique and one of a kind. Jesus offered to be the sacrifice for all of our failures to fulfill this commandment to LOVE, by giving his very life and rising again. ALL for ALL of us who fail and continue to fail to this day.

Why? So that we can see a wonderful, powerful, godly, true demonstration and actual LOVE. A Love that comes to us and frees us from the shame of all those times we fail to love, to get back up and go at it again and again. It's a lifetime mission for me and perhaps for all disciples of Jesus. A lifetime mission to love God and love one another... even those we can't stand... even the enemy... even that guy at work that gets right under your skin in a second. All those people are God's creation that God has chosen to love to death. Death on a cross so that God could show a resurrection from the dead and true unity and love with God in eternity at the heart of Love.

So we look to God to give us the strength and courage to...
"Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."

So, we can walk away from our spirit of sinfulness in loving and be pulled forward by the love of God in Christ Jesus to the Spirit of love for God and for neighbor in a mission that God has called us to from this point now and into that eternal relationship of love with God and with all God's people.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zSaOgz_X48

Prayer
Lord, help me with this mission of Love. Help me to love all those you give to me each day. Help me to emulate the love you have shown for all creation and all people so that all the people you give to me may see your love and your glory and you will and your way in life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen



Thursday, September 04, 2014

September 4th Reflection by Bill Lynch


Psalm 119:33-40
Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
   and I will observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
   and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
   for I delight in it.
Turn my heart to your decrees,
   and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
   give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
   which is for those who fear you.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
   for your ordinances are good.
See, I have longed for your precepts;
   in your righteousness give me life.

Reflection
There always seems to be those times when you are running along frustrated with life. Maybe it's something at work or home or anywhere for that matter, but something is just getting under your skin and you can't help but to live agitated.

That's when I am led to a psalm passage such as the one above. One that helps to center my attention away from the frustrations towards what is really important. I ask for God to teach and guide me in the way that God would have me be and in the way of God commandments.

This thought alone draws me away from the agitations of life or things or technicalities that all seem to get in the way. The learning and teachings of God put this earthly life into perspective and help me to not get all wrapped around the wheel of daily living but concentrate on God's Word and God's will.

God's way is always good and it's in God's righteousness that I feel real life.

Just what I need... stop... listen... pray... God will guide you if you only stop the wheel for some time.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SLHWFpSlq4

Prayer
Lord, when the night is sleepless and I can't stop my mind thinking about the little things of this life; come to me with the focus that I need on your eternal presence in all life that I may hear your Word and see and understand your will in my life... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

September 2nd Reflection by Bill Lynch


Exodus 12:1-14
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.

Reflection
"Tell the whole congregation..." Yes, we are to tell the commands of the Lord. We can see the commands of God in our presence as well. We can see the commands of God in the Bible. We can see and hear the commands of God in the Sacraments as well. "Tell the whole congregation..."

As we hear and read the Word of God in the Bible this Word made flesh in the coming of God in Christ Jesus becomes active in ourselves as well. We hear what is being told to the whole congregation and the whole of God's creation. We hear in the Word and see in the Sacraments and see in the actions of disciples of Christ the love God has for all creation and all people.

Through the blood of the Lamb; through the giving and offering by God of the sacrifice of himself in flesh and in the blood of Jesus; God has promised to passover us and our sinfulness. When God comes with a command, God comes with a promise and this promise for this passage for the Israelites is salvation from persecution and freedom through the blood of the Lamb.

The blood of the Lamb to be fulfilled in completion at the time of God's coming in Jesus and the shedding of Jesus blood for all. Yes, that's the depth of God's love.

This passover for us as well as for the Israelites of the Scripture above was a time of change. A time of change from day to night. A time of change in the lamb upon the fire as God speaks to us like God spoke to Moses in the burning bush. A time to be prepared to leave something behind and go towards new life. A time of change in the eating of the Lamb along with the bitter herbs of slavery. Slavery to Egypt and for us slavery to sin. Yes, this passover is a time of change towards the face and commands of God, towards life and salvation eternal all through God's gracious, life-giving, promise of love for us and all people.

"Tell the whole congregation...." Even tell all those God gives to you each day. Perhaps tell all the world the love of God in Christ Jesus through the blood of the Lamb and the passover and salvation from sin, death and the devil.

Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WpQA9ybz8c

Prayer
Lord, I come to you sinful and need your passover. Turn me from my sin and as I face you to follow you, I seek your forgiveness and life saving blood. May I live my life with active love as you have shown all the world... today... tomorrow... and forever. --- Amen